After unlocking the vault in Brinewall and becoming guardians of the Scion of the Kaijitsu Royal Bloodline, the heroes were in no shape to continue their trek north to the inevitable destination of Kalsgard – they had been afflicted with strange illnesses that were unique to each person: Harwin would see endless possiblities several seconds ahead all at once in real-time. As he would spar with Erys, she would come in for a strike and suddenly he could see hundeds of possible angles at different times. Shie was forced to hear all sounds within several miles as if they were right beside her: the whispers of billions of leaves, the conversations of all within the caravan, every animal’s anguished death and the crunch of teeth on bone as the predator feasted. And, finally, Valkris was forced to see everything in slow motion, his mind working in overtime. But his body could only react so fast, as if he were trying to move a limb to quickly, and, many times, would injure himself. Worse, it varied – sometimes it was almost back to normal, and other times it was like time had stood still.
Harwin and Shie managed to have breakthroughs, finding ways to relieve their afflictions and, instead, gain minor control over them. Harwin, using his usual method to control his mind, managed to create a bridge between him and a strange entity, thereafter, he could use his flame of the void to toggle his foresight. Shie, on the other hand, was able to minutely hear a small voice in the clamor all around her. Listening intently to the voice, she was instructed to bond to an item like a wizard – unheard of for witches, whose patrons are channeled through beasts, but not undoable, especially with an artifact staff beside her. After making the bond, the entity whispering to her was able to fully recover and use the item to block the sounds – this entity turned out to be a long sealed and forgotten goddess, who vowed to help Shie control her powers.
Although unable to control his powers, Valkris was able to meet his own ‘friend’ – a peevish, soundless figure that moved quickly and smoothly even when Valkris’ body was slowed in time – only Valkris’s mind was able to keep up with the figure. Giving no concrete answers and, instead, challenging Valkris to catch up with him, he eventually disappeared, leaving Valkris to his own devices.
The caravan, in order to rest and recuperate – and deal with their guards’ strikingly strange and frustrating afflictions – had rested for more than two weeks before setting off on the road once again on Fireday, 10 Sarenith.
The Road to Jol
The visions showed them many things: among others, Ameiko was now the last remaining heir to the last surviving royal family of Minkai, the Kaijitsus. To recover her birthright, they would have to escort her across the Crown of the World and into Tian Xia. Additionally, the Kaijitsu’s sentient family sword, Suishen, had been sold to a man named Fynn Snaevald in Kalsgard. This sword would likely know more about the family than any of those currently in the group. Thus, Sandru set his sights on reaching Kalsgard: both to find Suishen and a guide across the Crown.
The first 4 days to Jol were in relatively clear and agreeable weather, with no attacks by either bandits or beasts. On the other hand, the Caravan had the fortune(?) of meeting with a band of adventurers consisting of a Bard, Fighter, Rogue, and Cleric. The whole group was very strange: the only one that ever really spoke was the bard, who was instantly recognized as a womanizer, doting on all of the women in the caravan (even Koya, although in a different light). The fighter and cleric did speak, but when they did, the Fighter would only shout loudly and very nervously, before promptly blushing and closing his mouth again. The cleric, on the other hand, had much to say and would begin preaching about her god Iori to any that had ears, before the Bard could grab her and cup his hand over her mouth to shut her up. The rogue never talked, but he always stayed near the bard and, many noticed, would eye the purses and goods of those the Bard spoke to. Gill could be seen glaring at the rogue every time he showed up, and sometimes Gill would merely be glaring at nothing… perhaps the rogue was truly a rogue to remember.
The caravan and the group spent a night together beside the road. In that time, the Bard told stories the Linnorm Kings and of their cities, including Kalsgard. It was noted that the ruler of Kalsgard, Svienne Blood-Eagle, was old and rumored to be waiting for a wualified warrior to come to take his place so he may travel West to Valhalla. The the East, as is normal, Trollheim was still skirmishing with the witches of Irrisen and their monstrous allies, except that, recently, the witches had made headway, destroying several clans within the last decade. Because of this, Witch Hunts had become standard and spellcasters, in general, weren’t trusted and highly scrutinized.
On the fourth day, during their scouting activies, Shalelu approached Harwin, saying she wanted to show him something. They traveled north to what she thought would be a beautiful grove but, instead, found a farmhouse. Devastated, she explained that the Grove was a grove they had passed through when she had saved him from his clan’s destruction years ago. Although they had not the time nor the temperament to appreciate the beauty back then. Still, as is evident in the farm, life goes on.
Harwin pulls her along, intent on having her meet the farmers herself, to try to show that the Grove was never truly lost while someone could make use of it – admiration of its beauty was one way to honor it. Living off its resources was another. Once they approach, a long faced, red haired, amber eyed man wearing hide armor and wielding a hand axe and a short sword approached, asking of them their purpose and identity. He was clearly hostile, and Shalelu was, in her own way, fearful of the man.
Harwin greets the man and asks what happened to the grove. The man, Valdi Adisson, explains that the grove had become infested with spiders, wherein the guards along with some farmers drove them out. Taking up residence in the abundant area, the farmers were still wary of the spiders that had moved northwest, to the southern tip of Grungir Forest.
Shalelu tells Harwin she would like to finish the extermination of the spiders. Overjoyed, the Farmer looks at them differently and answers many questions they ask – stuff about Opir and about rumors of a blood-feathered Raven seen around Losthome and Delmon’s Glen. He also asks that if they intend to enter Jol, he wants them to speak to Mari about a shipment of wheat – this Mari is one of the guards of Jol.
After the leave the farm, Shalelu and Harwin move into the forest, where they promptly wreck the spider’s shit up and, afterwords, purge the area with fire, keeping it from setting the forest ablaze. Shalelu, on their way back, asks Harwin to bypass the farm – she doesn’t want the reward the farmer promised.
The City of Jol
The caravan, tired from their 4 day trek, sets up in the nearest Inn to sleep one they reach Jol, sleeping well and planning their thoughts for the next day.
Mari and the Shipment
In the morning, Harwin and Shie ask about for Mari and also about how to meet with the Jarl, Opir, wherein they are pointed to the Guard Captain. The Guard Captain points out that Opir isn’t very predisposed to talking to anyone right now, as his legitimacy as a lsayer of Linnorms is being questioned and he has little power over Jol. In regards to Mari and the shipment, the Guard Captain puts on a ponderous facebefore calling out for this “Mari” who immediately appears and salutes. The Guard tells her to put together her squad and investigate about the wheat and Valdi – he explains that guards had already been sent for the shipment, as there were bandits on the road. The Captain was worried that the previously sent guards had been waylaid. He then advises the duo to search out Collie Caeimhghi who is a general store merchant. He knows she has a secret stock of goods due to her ‘job’ and that, to get "the good stuff” Harwin should say “the eagle’s eye sees a small rat running”.
Harwin and Shie move to the merchant district and are sidetracked by an alchemy shop owned by Niamha Essat, where Shie finds minimal supplies and odd antiquities using 5 gold. On the other hand, she notices the two of them are being watched – the two put their familiars on high alert.
The Giers of Fate
Valkris, once morning dawned, set out to do the one thing he had trained for life for: thieving. The crowd was tough and his skills were a little rusty before he snatched 10 silver in one go. Still…not much. He decides to head to the rich man’s district. Not long into his venture in the district, a dog spots him and barks acouple of times, drawing attention to the currently pickpocketing Valkris. He immediately attempts to pretend he was just picking up the money for the noble as guards approach to investigate the outcries, but isn’t very convincing. He even gives the money back…but it’s not enough and the guards grab him. Valkris breaks free and darts into an alley way, trying to be as chaotic and random as possible to lose sight of his pursuers – but what he did not know is that Ulfen citizens are obligated to help to apprehend lawbreakers. Everwhere he went, citizens called out his location.
Finally, after darting into yet another alleyway, he suddenly collides with another person frantically running. After leaning up off the ground and getting a good look, Valkris realizes the other escapee was none other than Giers, the man who had burned down Walthus’s home just to get revenge at Harwin. Inspired, Valkris throws money at Giers and calls out about how a thief had attacked him. Unconvinced, the guards arrived and set upon the two. And from the other direction came a lone woman, presumably chasing Giers. Giers sighs, smiles, unsheaths his weapon, and charges past Valkris and into the oncoming guards, metallic rings sounding in the crisp morning air. Not waiting to see how Giers would fair, Valkris jumps up and runs to the other end of the alley, but as he passed the woman he is forced to slide under her close liner. Surprisingly, she followed up by sliding a hook into his vest as Valkris slid by and then pulling on a rope connected to the hook. Frantically, Valkris breaks free and continues running – the woman does not pursue and, instead, turns back to the fight between Giers and the guards.
Shie and Hawin arrive at Collie’s general store, a 2 story building that sported two glass windows and awnings that sprouted from the walls. The door and walls themselves are unremarkable, but solidly built. A sign hung above the door, inscribed with the words, “Collie’s Calling”. Once inside, they were faced with a boy at the counter who looked no more than 15 years old. Named Jesse, the boy tells them Collie is ‘making a call’, a term she uses when she endeavors to expose a criminal and apprehend him. He also explains that her investigative process involves finding the most lkely categories that proof might be found as an item and then buying up such items from brokers around Jol. Once she finds the proof, she then ‘makes her call’ and the rest of the various wares are resold in her general shop. Harwin says the lines, “The Eagle’s eye sees a small rat running,” but Jesse doesn’t have the key to the basement and tells them they can wait for Collie to return. Making small talk with Harwin, Jesse mentions that he likes Opir from a fight he saw a year ago and he doesn’t doubt Opir’s legitimacy. But even though there isn’t really any proof, the other Jarls and Chieftains use this opportunity to ignore his power. Unlike normal Ulfen cities, this led to crime in Jol skyrocketing – although this is good business for Collie.
Jesse and the Key
When Jesse was asked how he met Collie, he explains that Jesse was ‘the proof’ in one of her investigations. With prompting, he elaborates: his father was killed when he was a baby and his mother was the prime suspect, but Collie believed she was framed. His father was killed in a locked room – locked with a key only he and his wife had access to. They believed she had just thrown the key away and lied about ‘it being lost for days now’. Determined, Collie looked from both where they key was as well as other ways to get into the room. After some investigation, Collie found out that Jesse – as a baby – had eaten the key and wandered out of the house. He, as a baby, then led Collie to the secret door. It ended up later being proven that the key had nothing to do with the murder and that the mother – who had, indeed, been the culprit – had led the murderers to the room where they then killed Jesse’s father. (Yeah this didn’t make much sense in game either…making up complicated investigations is hard. Kudos to the author of Sherlock Holmes…).
After hours had passed, Harwin and Shie gave up and returned to the Inn, wherein Valkris suddenly burst inn spouting stuff about Giers.
The Missing Piece
With the suspicion that the woman in the alley might have been Collie, the group heads back to Collie’s Calling, where they find Jesse treating some wounds on Collie. Collie recognizes Valkris and explains that, in the utter confusion of a lone warrior charging into a bunch of guards who thought they were chasing a thief, Giers escaped when a cloud of mist settled in the area. The group recognizes this escape method as the same one he used to escape them in the swamp and to escape them during his ambush of their caravan.
Seemingly suspicious that the group might be working with Giers , Collie announces her distrust. Harwin says the secret words so Collie would trust them, wherein she smiles and said she was joking – that Valkris tried to frame Giers was probably enough. After some deliberation, the group comes to the conclusion that Giers was the one that waylaid the guards on the way up and was following their caravan with malicious intent. Knowing this, the group heads back to see if the caravan could leave today. Loudly.
At the gate, Collie and Jess are met sitting in their own, smaller cart, with rations and supplies… seems Collie was intent on catching Giers. As the caravan + 2 left, the group noticed an incredibly large Raven that sported a blood-red feather…
The Road to Losthome
That night, the sky lit up with a terrifyingly erratic glow. Those in the caravan were frightened until Gill managed to make up a story about heroic and fatal battles being played out by the gods. The caravan took to the story easily and the night passed in merriment.
Pranks, But No Pranks
The next day, as they followed the treeline of the Grungir Forest, various odd events began to happen, such as ropes coiling or uncoiling themselves, mud being placed in boots, knives dulled, or sewing patterns found unwound. Tempers flare and people get angry as the blame runs wild. With some investigation and such, the group comes to find that the cuplrits are, in fact, playful fey from the forest. Looking for fun, the fey challenge the caravan to a game of wits. Koya accepts the challenge and whoops their butts, winning the caravan the integrity with the fey as well as a store of fey-worked materials that could be sold for substantially higher prices.
The caravan reaches Solskinn in the evening of the 14th of Sarenith and stay the night. In the morning, a large man and a bunch of underlings arrive, spouting about how the caravan broke some obscure law or custom. The group can tell he’s lying, but they can also tell he is truly outraged. The group challenge the caravan to 3 challenges of ‘manliness’ (Gill rolls his eyes).
First challenge is a horse race. Harwin climbs atop the horse to represent the Caravan. At the urge of the crowd, the opponent – a stable boy and, supposedly, the best rider in the region – began to trash talk Harwin. Harwin promptly put the poor boy in his place. But when it came to the actual race, the boy truly did have astounding horse riding skills and easily beat Harwin to the finish line.
The second challenge was an obstacle course – the two competitors would need to run to the river and cross it by hopping from post to post. They would then have to climb a wall to the top in order to circle a post 3 times, before climbing back down and swimming though the river. The last stretch was dashing across a rope tied between two posts in order to reach the finish line. In a very tight race, Valkris manages to cross the line first, winning the second challenge. The amazing part was that the opposing competitor was using a climbing kit, while Valkris used only his crook. It was a sight to behold.
The third and final challenge was pig wrestling. Representing the Caravan was Walthus. The thugs, on the other hand, chose the opposite route and selected a large, rotund man – likely the butcher. The butcher showed his stuff at first, wrestling down far more pigs than the small halfling, but t he size worked in the better for him: the man eventually fell in the mud and had a hard time getting back on his feet, allowing Walthus to surpass his score and win the third challenge.
Throughout the games, it became apparent that the thugs were just pissed that the caravan’s comparatively more handsome and interesting men – being well toned and gritty adventurers – were turning the heads of all the maidens in the town.
Inspired by the events, Ameiko and Carlia conspire to write a rousing victory song, which the caravan sings as they continue their adventure – to the sounds of both boos and cheers.
That night Valkris and Walthus are on watch. Walthus, alarmed, suddenly sits up, gazing into the night trying to listen. On alert, Valkris, too, begins to hear the sounds of muffled grunts and yells in the night. Walthus immediately pulls out his bow and Valkris darts to Gill, summarizing the situation. Gill rolls over and onto his feet, rolling over his shield and strapping it on in the process, and faces the forest. Walthus and Valkris then proceed to wake up others and prepare for an ambush. Some minutes pass and the noise eventually subsides. Nonchalantly, Shalelu leaves the forest and looks, alarmedly, at the armed companions. After asking what happened, Shalelu merely states she was taking a walk.
Upon investigation with his familiar, Harwin was able to identify the bodies of dozens of dead goblins, all killed by a single arrow wound.
At the end of the 16th of Sarenith, the caravan is forced to camp several miles outside of Delmon’s Glen, as continuing any further could be dangerous so close to Irrisen’s border. Besides, the group was large enough and strong enough that most wild creatures wouldn’t dare to attack a rested and armed group of adventurers. The next day, the finally reached Delmon’s Glen, the last city they would pass through before making the trek into Grungir Forest. After investigating rumors, the group discovered that a Linorm was sighted within the forest, apparently making its lair there. Additionally, the Fey within the forest had been acting up recently – most people thought this was due to the increasing witch activity within the region that bordered Irrisen.
After purchasing some stores, the caravan enters the forest to make its trek to Losthome on the other end. The forest was held in a thick mist and many in the caravans were wary of the Fey that could pop out at any moment, given the rumors. Over the treetops, Harwin’s familiar spotted the red-feathered raven, making tensions rise and phantoms all the more real… Instead of fey or monsters, what popped out was an ambush by thieves. But the thieves underestimated the caravan and were slaughtered almost to the last, before fleeing into the mist.
Without any more incidents, the caravan finally reaches a break in the treeline and suddenly see the view of wide plains spreading across the horizon in the sunset, split by a mighty river that snaked within the fields, golden rays pouring on a small town at the foot of the hill.
Losthome: A History of War
Inside Losthome’s Tavern, the group ponders why the town is named “Losthome”, to which the tavern keeper tells a tale of long ago, when the Witches of Irrisen marched West, spurred on by their victory over two Ulfen kingdoms. Many towns, then, were captured or raised and the witches seemed invulnerable. But then the Ulfen kingdoms allied together and pushed the witches back to the border known today. Losthome was a city retaken by residents that had left the town to fight another day, and the town was renamed Losthome in honor of retaking their homes from the witches.
Further investigation revealed that Trollheim, the capital of the border region named Hagreach, had no Linnorm King, and has been ruled by a governor of sorts. The governor and his military has been skirmishing with remnants of agents of Irrisen for years now – decades, even. And, recently, several clans had been annihilated and important figures assassinated. The witches were crafty and the raven spotted in the area caused much fear in that Losthome might suffer the witches’ cunning next.
The Bloody Solstice
The Ritual of Stardust
Near the end of the 19th of Sarenith, the caravan reached an ancient bridge named Skalsbridge that crosses the Thundering River where it joins the Rimeflow. Here, Sandru suggested they spend the night. With no objections, the caravan set in for the night. After sunset, a thick, frozen mist rolled in and blanketed the caravan, bringing with it the chill of the northern nights, giving the dead of night a menacing ambience. The caravaners found it hard to sleep, as they knew they were still being followed by Giers, and with the constant appearance of the blood-feathered Raven, suspicions that he was in cahoots with witches only made it worse. Plus, many in the caravan were still wary of others – Carlia held little trust in Zaiobe, and Kelda outright hated the creature, in addition to generally seperating herself from the rest of the group. Zaiobe refused contact with almost anyone but Valkris, and Spivey kept away from the deviants of the party, generally holing herself up with Koya, apart from escapades to check in on Shie and Erys, and engaging in small talk with Ameiko, Harwin, and some select others. Walthus, true to his hermit nature, slept alone and took to his duty at watch seriously but otherwise made no effort to get to know the others apart from Gill, and Bevelek still couldn’t get Vankor to relinquish his shell and open up to others – the boy still liked to draw and read alone and only joined in when stories were told.
At midnight, Shie, Koya, and Spivey began a ritual called the Ritual of Stardust – a desnan ritual of worship during the Summer Solstice. The three sang songs as Koya threw sand from the beach and crushed gemstones into the fire, causing the fire to surge into a miriad of colors. Intrigued, the rest of the caravan gathered ’round the fire and joined in whatever songs they could, turning them into raucous tunes that rang in the night.
The Onset of Battle
It was an enjoyable event and, for once, all voices of the caravan could be heard in the darkness, but as the night went on, Harwin heard the muffled sounds of oars. He notified Valkriss, who snuck off into the night and began to cross the bridge to peer into the waters. There he saw a ship full of massive Ulfen Raiders, clambering out onto the beach and raising a battlesong, drowning out the song of the ritual. But the caravan had prepared.
Suddenly a chaotic melee broke out as 40 Ulfen warriors crashed into the frontline manned by Gill, Harwin, Sandru, and Kelda, preceeded by intimidating roars and battle cries that could drive fear into even the most sturdy of warriors from Varisia.
Although completely outnumbered, the caravan had expert adventurers that could turn the tides of battle: the witch Shie went to work buffing thir martial powerhouse, causing him to double in size and become a monster in his own right. Gill, at the end of the defensive line, was immediately engaged by 6 Ulfen Warriors who came crashing into the terrifying shield he wielded, only to be flanked by the cunning Valkris who had been hidden up on the bridge above. The whole line was supported by a firing squad of archers: Walthus, Shalelu, Ameiko, Carlia, and even Bevelek and his crossbow he carried for defense. And the most notable support fire could be heard from Jesse, who had joined the melee alongside Collie.
A Company Divided
The frontline crumbled quickly, for the sheer number of battle-crazed Ulfen made up a tide too strong to withstand. As Ulfen warriors burst through to charge at the archers, many broke off and the caravan became seperated, fighting in tight groups. Even the battle-hardened Gill and monster Harwin became surrounded, fighting aginst whirlwinds of battleaxes. Even Shie was forced to move, to gain sight of her friends engaged and surounded on the frontline – dodging a battleaxe that came crashing headlevel, slamming into the wagon in front of her. Walthus proceeded to slide under and slice at the Ulfen warrior’s calves as Shie weaved past, gaining sight of a heavily wounded Harwin.
As she rounded the corner of the wagon, an Ulfen warrior slide around Gill and finally connected, slamming into Gill’s backside, a sharp thwap resounding in the frigid night. But Gill merely growled and slammed his shield in the Ulfen warrior’s gut, throwing the giant warrior to the ground like a ragdoll at the same time as Valkris opted to leap from the bridge above and drop behind the warriors engaging Gill. His time dialation kicked in and, for a moment, the peeving figure sat on a branch in front of him and mouthed, “duck!”. Valkris barely managed to dodge the backswipe of the warrior and responded with a crack of his Crook on the ulfen’s bare skin.
Shie, glad the two were safe, turned to heal the bleeding Harwin and, in the corner of her eye, saw Kelda holding a group of Ulfen raiders back from the wagon Erys and Mein hid in. With Shalelu ducking around the wagon to snipe at the warriors, picking them off one by one, Jesse stood tall on top of the wagon, his rifle cracking in the night repeatedly, dropping distant warriors as each ripped through their feeble armor. As Ulfen warriors were trying to surround the massive Harwin, the were about to drop in and replace their fallen brethren when Ameiko and Sandru, long time companions, dived in and, as a perfect duo, began to harry the raiders yet to engage their large companion.
A Conclusive Bloodbath
As the battle raged on, the strength of the caravaners proved too great for the singularly-driven warriors an, when they knew they could not end the adventurers, they fled back to the ship, intent on pushing off the beach. This was their grave and final mistake: the archer line reformed, with the aid of Jesse’s rifle and Erys, who had taken up a shortbow, and rained death on fleeing warriors, just as the now free front line warriors doggedly struck at the raiders’ heels.
No warrior lived to escape the beach. And no allied blood spilled tonight – it was a complete victory for the Caravan. But Koya felt no joy.
On a sacred night to Desna, the blood of 40 admirable warriors was needlessly lost and, from her influence, the group felt that the warriors who died in battle deserved a burial traditional to the land they were in – the raiders’ home. And so the warriors, lined up in the ship named Aril’s Hammer and resting with their weapons in hand, were sent out into the river and put to the torch in a funeral pyre. Among those in the caravan, that night became the notorious Bloody Solstice.
The only treasure recovered from the raiders’ corpses were their intricate armbands displaying a stylized lion’s head – perhaps these insignia might lead to their employers.
Last Leg to Kalsgard
Inquiries in Ullerskad
In Ullerskad, obviously curious about their attackers, Harwin and company inquired about the ship’s name Aril’s Hammer and about the armband. None in the city recognized the band nor the name of the ship, although they suggested the company try in Kalsgard. Kalsgard was, after all, the largest port city in the Linnorm Kingdoms. Plus, Kalsgard held many mercenary companies that could be hired, including guards and guides, as well as dozens of various Jarls, Chieftains, merchants, and guilds who all had their own contingent of warriors and guards. The insignia, itself, likely belonged to a Jarl or chieftain with a military force.
In regards to travel, the party wasn’t beset by any major setbacks – oddly enough (eerily so), the journey was entirely uneventful.
THE CITY OF KALSGARD
A Grim Arrival
The caravan finally arrived in Kalsgard at last. Knowing customs, Sandru led the caravan to the Bone Quarter, where caravans traditionally holed up. Considering recent events, Sandu suggested the heroes investigate matters within the city while the rest of the caravan lay low. He also suggested they pick an inn to stay in, separate from the caravan in the Bone Quarter, so as to avoid connecting the heroes and the caravan. Considering Giers knows their situation and faces, it probably wouldn’t do much, but it might help if he has to look via the populace. It was at this time that Kelda, who had agreed to be ‘escorted’ back to Kalsgard in exchange for being a guard and providing a reward, said her farewells and promised to return at a later date with the intended reward. She had to first report to her Jarl.
Tracking their Hunters
Harwin immediately set to work getting to the bottom of the raiders, heading to the Oak Quarter to inquire about the armbands and about Aril’s Hammer. But he got little to no cooperation – either no one knew or no one would tell him. He moves on to ask about how one might hire Ulfen Raiders. He is told that, apart from guard duties, raiding is usually done under the banner of a Jarl or Chieftain – hiring warriors for raids isn’t something that’s done. Knowing that the raiders, then, must be warriors under a banner, Harwin believed that a registry of insignia would lead him to a Jarl if he could match the Jarl with the Lion’s Head insignia. But the registry recorded every Jarl and Chieftain (including dead or retired ones) and all of their insignias, which could be hundreds for one jarl in some cases – and some insignia inevitably looked very similar. At the end of the day, Harwin could find no leads.
As in Jol, Valkris set about perusing the ‘market’. In both ways: the sheer amount of guards in Kalsgard was frightening and, considering his last experience in running, he knew that if he got caught once, he would have the whole city trying to apprehend him. On the other hand, he was intent on gaining more power to aid his party: being able to see in darkness was a huge priority. And, given the size of Kalsgard’s market, it didn’t take long for him to find exactly what he was looking for: Goggles of Nightvision. And the price? 12,000 gold… his goal was still a long ways off.
Back to ‘window shopping’ his crowd and their wares, he eventually decided to investigate about this legendary sword he’d seen in the vision. Being in the Amber quarter, he began to ask about this merchant named Fynn and quickly discovered that the man was still alive! Albeit ancient. Fynn Snaevald was working as an independent merchant in the quarter and had a habit of collecting Tian antiquities. With this knowledge, he returned to the caravan as the sun set and was directed to the Inn Shie had found.
Finding a Home
As Erys cared for Mein as a sister, she and Gill immediately set out to contact her family, the Eventyrs, who Sandru noted sounded like a familiar name of a family likely housed in Kalsgard. Guesses, only, could be made, as Mein never talked about her father or their family much, and no one pushed the subject.
After an evening of some being taxied around by, “talk to this person about this,” and ,“Let me meet up and deliberate,” the two returned to the caravan and then were directed to the established inn, with no leads apart from a step in the door to being noticed by the Eventyrs.
Although quite aware that Giers would likely arrive after the caravan, Collie and her protege, Jesse, separated from the group to begin laying a web of contacts to find and track Giers when he would inevitable make moves in Kalsgard. To their knowledge, Giers was their most present and obvious enemy.
The two later returned, hearing, of course, nothing about anyone matching Giers’s description, but with contact made. They wanted to act fast to trap the man. They later joined the heroes in the tavern, opting to room with the heroic bunch for protection.
Shie and Spivey opted to travel to the Ice Quarter, which houses the Sky-shrine of Desna. Heard from Sandru, the old priestess of the Sky-shrine is named Ormhilde Eilifdottir. Upon arrival, Ormhilde is already engaged in conversation with others. Shie and Spivey are content to approach the altar and pray to Desna, thanking her for her guidance in their trek north. After Spivey spent half an hour in prayer, she got up and the two left the temple – Ormhilde was still engaged in conversation. Perhaps they would get a chance later to speak to her.
Meeting the Hunting Serpent
With their first objective complete, the two needed to look for lodging for the night – and possibly longer. Sandru had suggested the Hunting Serpent Inn in the Ice Quarter. Taking his advice, they arrived a little while later to find a huge two-story building built from thick, solid logs. From the logs are carved ornately embellished window sills and a well crafted door frame. The double door into the inn is also embellished, although less extravagantly so.
Upon entering the establishment, they are immediately assaulted by a cacophonous roar of chatter and laughter, the hearty smell of smoked meat and thick stew, and the exotic smells of alcohol. They approached the counter and asked the tender if they could arrange for some rooms to stay in. The tender – a man named Tosti Finehall, both the brewer and the owner of the tavern – gave them figures. After some deliberation, the two decided on purchasing 2 rooms – one for Shie, Erys, and Collie, and another for Harwin, Valkris, Gill, and Jesse.
A Different Matter Entirely
It was 2 AM and Gil and Walthus were still deep in drink, unable to sleep – as were many others. Vankor could be seen in a corner, drawing and frowning deeply, his brother Bevelek pacing the common room, occasionally grabbing a snack, and then returning to watch over Vankor’s drawing. The two had also gotten a room, although Bevelek would attend to the caravan’s horses every day, leaving Vankor to his own devices in the tavern. Sandru and Ameiko – having come initially to make sure their companions had found a place to stay and were settling in – had stayed to enjoy drink and were now holding a heated, hushed argument. Finally, Shalelu was sitting alone at a table with a puzzled look on her face. Valkris, walking down and grabbing a drink, scooted closer and eventually asked if she was taking their attack well. Shalelu’s look became even more puzzled, before replying, “the raid is a normal thing – one fights to survive, at the orders of their masters, and for greed. All living things fight.” She paused before continuing, “it’s… sometimes fighting is pointless. And not just fighting. Humans do so many strange, pointless things. What is the point of arguing with family when you only live to be 70, or wasting a day’s wage on the roll of a dice.” Valkris explains that humans do things for a reason – even things that seem pointless. Driven by desperation or by thrill, some can chance everything because that chance may give them far greater gain. That family fueds exist because each is trying to do their best for the family, even if their ideas of what’s best differs. Valkris states that humans aren’t the only ones that confuse other races – elves confuse humans all the time, as do dwarves and gnomes. Each race has their own perspective on life that exists because that’s how they can influence their lifespan meaningfully. Shalelu ponders the examples and nods, gaining a little bit of insight. Her expression relaxes and she looks at the bleak – or intoxicated – expressions of her companions in a different light.
Each person spends their night their own way, preparing for the challenges to come. There is much to do and many that seem to want to stop them. Who were the ulfen raiders and who leads them? What is the blood-feathered raven that follows them and does it aid Giers? And the mysterious power that backs Giers – could it be, as feared, witches? The sword Suishen sold to Fynn Snaevald – can it be bought back? And with all these forces of Ulfen and Witches that seem to stalk the company, where does the Oni of the Five Storm – their ultimate enemy – stand? No trace has been seen and yet they must soon bare their fangs… an unknown enemy, surely, is the most dangerous. But before they can even begin to think of challenging the Oni in Minkai, they must first find their way to Tian Xia – and for that, they must find a guide.
And even with these questions swirling in everyones’ minds, the issue of Mein’s return and Zaiobe’s influence under Pazuzu is still at the forefront of matters. Not to mention the need to gear up for the coming days.