Present: Oidche, Oren, Rory, Una
3 Seed 91
The party goes back to Fallsport to open the door to Hel. They try to figure out where they should do this, and argue back and forth on the most appropriate place, finally landing on Pyre Island , as it is near the castle in case they need help, but also the synchronicity of layering a bridge to the land of the dead over a bridge leading to an island of the dead is just too good not to take advantage of. Eventually it occurs to Una to ask the Earl what she would want done. Una goes to see her, and when she attempts to explain the situation, stumbles when the Earl is sarcastic to her about their achievements regarding Eitrdottir, and ends up babbling a bit as she tries to defend herself without being disrespectful to the Earl. Eventually the Earl tells her to take Tam, and Una leaves before she sounds MORE like a madwoman, trying to avoid the dumbfounded looks of her companions. Tam, more than happy to stand on a battlement and gleefully watch the party go to their deaths, agrees without a problem, and the party goes to the bridge, and Una turns the hourglass over.
Across the bridge is a giantess, who is unwilling to let the party pass, despite Oidche laying on the charm. So they start the fight by stepping foot on the bridge, a fight which goes well, but isn’t precisely the easiest to win, Rory being laid low by her giant club almost instantly. Once she is dead, the party cuts her white dragonscale armor off, and takes her magic torq of water walking from her bag, and then, realizing that they only have a minute to get into the door, run across the bridge, and into the gate to Hel.
The landscape in Hel is a cold, featureless wasteland. The sounds of Garmr howling. After a moment to take this in, the party talks about what they can possibly do. The expectation was that Hel would be waiting on the bridge for them, and when she was not, it put a crimp in plans. Finally Oidche remembers a story about where her palace might be, and so the group heads north. There are faces in the mist that is all around, and burial mounds here and there. Dead people occasionally follow the group, but none of them end up attacking. Una, who is carrying the hourglass, gets sadder and sadder as time goes on.
Eventually, some of the faces in the mist look familiar. The Orcs from the attack on Riverbend , who were then turned into undead orcs. Trying for a third time to kill the party, they attack. They do not last long, and after a moment to catch breath, the journey continues.
Soon the sound of huge wings flying breaks the eerie silence, and a White Dragon lands on the ground in front of everyone. Although everyone else tries to talk to the dragon to keep it from attacking, Una, affected by the hourglass, makes all negotiation impossible with sarcastic barbs, boasting, and a bad attitude. The dragon, not impressed, attacks everyone. Oren and Oidche run, the might of the dragon’s presence frightening them out of their wits. Rory and Una are left to face the thing alone, so Una puts up a circle of roaring hot flame to circle them both, catching part of the dragon within it, and causing so much pain that she nearly cuts Una in half with one bite (Una’s usual magical protection not being up). Then the dragon attempts to flee, but Rory stabs her spear through the beast’s neck, and forces her back down to the ground with sheer muscle, and then kills her. After that, everyone insists to a nervous Oidche that they absolutely must stay for at least an hour to regroup, heal, and catch their breath. The icy mists taking their toll, Rory manages to set a fire in a cooking bowl, and everyone huddles around it.
When it is time to continue the journey, Oren changes into a great stag, and everyone rides him. In this way, the party gets to the palace just as it becomes too dark and cold to survive any longer. The walls around the palace are massive, massive enough to repel giants, with a huge, giant sized gate. Someone knocks upon it, and it swings open silently. The palace within the wall is sized for a normal person, and the door is answered by an old man, who looks irritated to actually be standing there holding the door open. Oidche says that the lore names him Ganglot, and his wife as Ganglotte (Lazy man and lazy woman). He seems very irritated that the party is not dead, and leads the way inside, muttering the whole while.
Hel recieves the party in a great hall with a throne on one end, and a huge table in the middle, set for a feast. In the throne is Hel herself, a woman, half a desiccated corpse, and half beautiful and young. She looks at the party with a dispassionate gaze, and asks what they want. Oren takes the hourglass from Una so she can talk without the problems of before. Una and Oidche try for some time to convince the goddess to give them the necklace of Eitrdottir, without success, for there is nothing the party can offer her (Una even offers to straight up kill and sacrifice the kills to her) to get her to betray her neice. She seems to vaguely like Una, and so tells the party that they may be guests there tonight, to eat, and sleep, and in the morning, they will leave. Then she rises and departs. Reeling from their stunning failure, the party regroups, and eats. The food, though, is not at all filling, and doesn’t even taste good.. it seems as unreal as the rest of the place.
Oidche gets the man and woman in a game of cards, plying them with liquor. Oidche and Rory get them gossiping while they play, and eventually they start talking about the enormous vault filled with treasures that Hel possesses. They say that the Raven King is pulling people out of Valhalla by raising them from the dead, and that he has promised those souls will go to Hel. This is how he has access to the vast amount of necromantic powers that allow him to do his work. His soul, the lazy man says, is in his sword. He also lets it slip that the two witches the party killed are in the palace right then, in negotiations with Hel for something. Oren spends this time concentrating very hard on making a piece of wood grow, just to annoy the goddess. Eventually, with huge effort, he gets a dandelion growing,and seems satisfied with that. Una, once she hears about the vault, spends the time looking for it. She finds the door, complete with magic lock.
Once the servants are asleep, everyone gathers in front of the doors, and discusses a pile of options, none of them as good as anyone would like them to be, and most of them likely to cause an alarm to go up in the palace. Finally, Oidche offers tosimply go steal the key. There’s a lot of deliberation, but finally everyone realizes that this is the best bad plan out of all the bad plans. Una casts invisibility on Oidche, and he steals the keys from the sleeping servants, and grabs a fireplace poker while he is there.
Oidche carefully opens Hel’s door, and sneaks carefully through her room. Carefully, he cuts the cord holding the key, ties the poker to it to approximate the weight of the giant key, and then sneaks off as fast as he dares. There is much (quiet) celebration at the door when he returns victorious, and Una tells him that there is no way she is not writing a poem about this. Then, they open the door.
The vault is filled with treasures, all of it magical. The necklace hangs on a beautifully carved magical harp. Too many objects to name are collected here, and there is a brief, intense period of greed, in which Oren is a steady voice for reason. In the end, the party takes only the necklace, and leaves a pile of very good alcohol in return, with a note from Oidche thanking the goddess for not killing him. Then the party exits the palace with much haste, and opens the bridge immediately upon leaving. As they start to run across the bridge, Hel appears, filled with great vengeance and furious anger. She flings a massive spell at the party, almost killing Oidche. Oren brings him back up with a spell, and Oidche immediately gets up, and runs all the way down the end of the bridge, passing everyone else. At the end of the bridge, Una curtsies to Hel. As she turns to leave, the baying of Hel hounds rings in her ears. She has only time enough to suddenly register that they are not coming out of Hel where they started, meaning that Tam is not waiting to help.. when the Hel Hounds are bounding down upon them.