Tales of the Northern March

Get thee to Mapledell
"There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something."

1 Blood 90
Oidche, Oren, Rory, and Una are sitting in The Lord’s Head eating. Una is building towers out of bread, and Oren is knocking them down in irritation, and Rory is attempting to get Oidche to eat more, complaining that he is too skinny and frail. A castle page arrives (Oren and Oiche immediately attempt to hide) to announce that Lord Morgan wishes to speak with them.

Upon arrival in the great hall, the party watches as the Dwarven language tutor to Morgan’s daughter ends the lesson, and a few keen eared members of the party hear Morgan ask the dwarf for an audience with Graf Lothar von Dahl. Lord Morgan explains that there has been some increased Goblin activities near Mapledell, and the party is to investigate and report.

Oren and Rory pore over the map, planning the best way to go, while Una fusses over what books to bring. Oidche tries to make a case for bringing his cart and horse, but Oren dismisses that, because then they would need to cross the river at Cloverfield, and the town is ‘full of assholes’. The party sets off that day, to the sounds of Oidche wheezing in the back, trying to keep up.

As they are making their way along the river, south of Cloverfield, but still north of Mapledell, the keener eyes members of the party notice wolves stalking on either side of the trail;Oren reflects that they are oddly out of their normal territory. A fight ensues, which is won with the help of Kester, the Reeve of Mapledell. He looks much like Oren, but wears a wolf headed cloak. He and Oren speak about the wolves and how they are very much out of their way. He claims he has much to show Oren, and accompanies the group down the rest of the way to Mapledell.

Mapledell is a walled fort, with Goblin heads set atop it on spikes. Kester brings everyone around to see a few special heads, which he claims are no Goblin heads, but Hobgoblin heads. He tells Oren that a scouting party found Hobgoblins building a watchtower on the Odin’s Shield side of Goblin Pass. They were killed and the tower was destroyed, but it was difficult, and when everything was done, they discovered that the Hobgoblins were organized, with livery, and armor. He asks for help interceding with the Earl, saying that there needs to be a fort further down the pass; a proper fort, to protect them. He invites everyone to his home for dinner, and to stay the night. Oidche asks about tanners, and Kester says that for a hide, he will tan the wolf hides.

Hobcoa
The livery found on the Hobgoblins

Kester’s home is an expansive two story home (with two bedrooms!), where everyone in the village comes to pass the time and drink ale. There is a mighty meal, and afterwards the hunters of the village, Oren, Rory and Una look at maps and discuss where another one such tower might be placed (across Goblin’s Pass from the other one). Una posits that there will be more Goblins there, since they are an organized army, the original tower inhabitants will have been missed. Kester also relates that they have seen Wargs, and been told of Warg sightings even further north, and worries that if there is another Goblin war, that they will be wiped out again in Mapledell. The party is put up in the empty bedroom once belonging to Kester’s sons.

2 Blood 90
In the morning, there is another gigantic meal, and Una is chastised by Kester’s wife to eat more because there will be much climbing up mountains. Sure enough, the party climbs westwards, right up Smuggler’s Ridge, where they can get a good look at the goings on, yet not be spotted themselves. Sure enough, there is another tower being constructed there, and many more Hobgoblins there than on the previous tower, including Wargriders on patrol. Oren signals to Mapledell using a mirror. The party has a long and lively discussion on what should be done next.

Since the Hobgoblins are attempting to be subtle about the tower business (and doing a fairly good job of it), they are not clearing trees away near the tower, and are instead sending out foraging parties to cut lumber as they need it, and as the tower gets closer to completion, they are going further and further out. It is eventually decided to hit the tower during one of these forays. Una says she can sabotage the tower so that it will fall when significant weight is put on it. They wait, until one of the foraging parties leaves, and then attack the tower.

The plan works quite well; hit the two guards on the tower, and then wait for the Wargriders to come around, and kill the Wargs from beneath them, and then take out the riders. Despite some quite good marksmanship on the Hobgoblin’s part, they eventually succumb with no casualties (but some grievous wounds) on the squadron’s part. While Una goes to work sabotaging the tower, Rory makes it look like there was a serious unsuccessful attempt to bring the tower down, and Oren rolls all the bodies down the hill and secures them in a cave, covering it in leaves. Oiche searches each Hobgoblin, and finds the mentioned livery, as well as Dwarven coins in leather bags stamped with the same heraldic symbol (soldier pay bags). Oren obfuscates all trails, in the hopes of leaving the returning Hobgoblins mystified as to the fate of their comrades. Their heads are severed, and the squad returns triumphantly with them, and the hides of the Wargs, to Mapledell.

In Mapledell, Una writes a report to be brought back to Lord Morgan, including the livery and the stamped pay bag. Once again, Kester agrees to tan the hides, but no one will take them as payment, as Wargs are seen as demonically possessed wolves. That night, it is decided to continue to the remains of Ravencrest Castle to the south, and see what we can see. Everyone agrees that the heraldry indicates someone has taken over the place, and is now directing a small Hobgoblin force.

3 Blood 90
Since it is quite a distance to Ravencrest, the squad starts early in the morning. They go on the east side, walking along the Odin’s Shield side. They get to the ruins of the first tower immediately, and Oren notes that no one has visited the site since it was destroyed. They can also see the other tower being built, and as tempted as they are to watch it fall, they realize that they have a long way still to hike. Just as they are about to leave, they hear the sounds of something very large stamping through the brush. Rory pushes Una into a tree, and everyone else hides, and stays quite silent as they watch a Hill Giant with a very itchy bottom stomp by, scratching himself. They resume their hike with haste, once again helping the frail Oiche (and once making sure Una does not fall down a series of waterfalls) over the harder parts. As they travel, they can see a series of watch towers already built on the Goblin Mountain side, indicating the two towers already found are the latest in a slow and subtle encroachment. Una and Rory immediately recognize that the towers are very well placed to be signal towers, leading to Ravencrest itself.

As dusk falls, the squad comes to a ridge above Ravencrest. They can see immediately that it is occupied. Smoke from all the forges pump out of the chimneys. Active and working siege engines are on the towers. As it slowly grows dark, the squad can confirm that there is at least not an army currently outside the building, but neither could they see anyone going in and out. It is posited that perhaps the Goblins are using the tunnels that they once used to sack the castle to go back and forth in secret. As night falls, the squad find a place to camp, huddling together in the cold without a fire.

XP: 130

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Hall of the Raven King
'Escaping goblins to be caught by wolves!'

Present: Oren, Oiche, Rory, Una

4 Blood 90
The evening of the 4th of blood, the squad camps in a tiny cave, mostly without light, though a tiny fire is able to be lit in the far back of the cave for some warmth. While everyone else huddles together, they share the duties of sitting in the cave mouth on watch. Because it is the dead of winter, there are 16 hours to be spent in this way, since the night is nearly moonless, and quite dark, not to mention the ability of the Goblins and Hobgoblins to see in the dark. Part way through his watch Oiche hears some movement outside; a methodical searching by unseen persons. It begins to rain. All other watches go without incident, Una studying by magical light beneath her heavy and enormous quilt. Almost immediately after Una takes her turn at watch (being backed up by Oren, who is quite aware of her problems focusing on the world around her), two goblins run up to the mouth of the cave, and fling two vials of alchemists fire into the back, lighting Oiche and Rory aflame.

Oiche is awake immediately, and runs from the cave, still smouldering, and quite badly burned. Una, under direction from Oren, attempts to drag the sleeping, burning, Rory out of the cave, but her warrior’s bulk is too much for the bedroll, which rips, dropping Una out of the cave on her ass. Oren grabs the closest backpacks, and flinging them outside the cave, goes in search of Goblins. Once Rory leaves the cave, Una uses her magic light to light up one of Rory’s arrows, and she fires it past the Goblins into a tree, allowing the squadron to see some of their enemies.

Goblins, hidden in the trees (and some quite obvious), make great use of the roaring fire’s ability to hi-light the squadron, and a barrage of arrows fell Oren and Rory. Una crawls on her belly, using her mud soaked quilt as camouflage, and hides beneath a bush, occasionally peeking out to kill goblins with her missiles. A goblin goes up to Rory and Oren, and manacles them. Seeing that Oren is bleeding out, the goblin manacling him also stabilizes him, then falling to a missile from Una. Oiche, unseen and unheard, sneaks to Oren and uses a potion to bring him around. He does the same for Rory, unseen even by the goblin standing above her, although he is quite gravely hurt afterwards for his bravery. Una belly crawls to Rory, and the two of them hide behind rocks, occasionally popping up to attack goblins with spells and arrows. Oren strides forward to attack Goblins out in the open, discovering even the most cleverly hidden Goblins. Eventually, they sound a horn, sending for reinforcements, and the remaining one goblin stays quietly hidden, not attacking the squad as they relieve the dead of some of their possessions.

Oren spurs everyone on to a forced march, with Rory carrying the half dead Oiche. As the rain becomes oppressively heavy, the squad reaches the top of a hill, and looking down, see a fully armoured regiment of Hobgonlins riding Wargs coming to relieve the hapless Goblins. No one stops to rest until sunrise, but it is a short lived and breathless one. An hour before sunset, the squadron arrives back at Mapledell.

Two riders are sent to Lord Morgan, with a report in Elvish, though Oiche begs the squad to press on, knowing that if they stop, there will be no leaving Mapledell. Despite his protestations, it is time to eat and rest, as everyone is exhausted. Oiche is taken care of by Reeve Kester’s wife, Aileen, who fusses over him like a mother.

5 Blood 90
Everyone awakens a few hours after midnight, and Eileen has set a huge buffet in the main room of the house, and set the rest of the room up as a way station for soldiers, and as a future hospital. She paces nervously, adjusting everything and fussing over Oiche. Lord Morgan and Graf Lothar have arrived along with some castle guards, and are talking on the towers of the small town. The hills around Mapledell ring with the sounds of construction. Oren and Una go up to meet with them while Rory brings food to the castle guards (who happen to be mostly consisting of her brothers). The consensus is that the Hobgoblins are building catapults, and Lord Morgan tells Oren to gather his people together and go break them. Thus Oren, Rory, Una and Oiche (complaining about the physical stress of it all) go up Smuggler’s Ridge. Una has figured that there will be three of these, one on each side of the town, and one in front of it. The plan is to capture the catapult on Smuggler’s Ridge, and then use it to destroy the others. Once again, the nature shows her sense of humor, and it begins to rain as they ascend in the dark.

It is nigh impossible to locate the catapult in the pitch blackness, until it fires a pot of glowing green alchemists fire at Mapledell, burning it with a cruel, hot, unstoppable fire that ignores the effects of water. From below in the town, the keen eared can hear Lord Morgan yelling at Graf Lothar to listen to him, to stand down. The squad argues about the best way to get to the catapult, finally interrupted by the arrival of a loose pack of riderless wargs. Although they are dispatched surprisingly fast, the fight is not quiet (with Oiche and Oren admonishing Una for using fire magic during an attempt to be stealthy), and so Una sets alight one of Rory’s arrows again, which lands squarely in the catapult itself.

This time the squadron faces off against a military commander and his troops, which is hard, and nearly deadly. In the middle of this, Una kills a seige engineer who is attempting to load the catapult, and the dropped alchemist’s fire sets the machine alight. Towards the end of the fight, the remaining Hobgoblins attempt to overturn the cart holding all the alchemist fires, saying “For the glory of the Raven King”. Although it is close, the squad manages to stop them from setting the entirety of the forest ablaze. As Oren is killing the last Hobgoblin, it says “He comes…” As the squad returns with the cart laden with alchemist fires, and a prisoner, they can hear Lothar calling lightning to destroy the other two catapults. The lightning strikes he calls are echoed by real lightning in the rainstorm, and above them Oren sees a figure on the crest of the ridge who disappears into a flock of ravens.

Una helps the guardsmen put out the fires caused by the catapults, and Oren is told by Lord Morgan that he is to tell the dwarves where to put the new keep that is to protect Mapledell and beyond from the incursion of Hobgoblins. He then charges the rest of the squad with other jobs; Rory is to command the forces there, Oiche is to supply it, and Una is to oversee the armaments.

This cannot happen until winter is over, however, and so the squad returns to their lives with this looming in the far future.

XP: 165

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The Werewolf of Ottercreek
His heir was perfect.

Present: Oren, Rory, Una

13 Yule 90
Everyone but Oidche are in the great hall in Fallsport, enjoying the feasting and partying of Yule. During breakfast, Rory and Oren can see the lords talking to each other, and looking at the group speculatively. Oren immediately begins to cram as much food as possible into his mouth, knowing that soon he is to be parted from the breakfast mountain in front of him. Sir Aidan beckons everyone over, and explains that the grandson of The Dragon’s Bane (Lord Murdoch), Sir Murdoch, has been hunting The Beast of Ottercreek to little effect. Lord Morgan would like us to go an bring back its head. Everyone asks Sir Aidan for some silver, and he says “’Tis the season for giving”, and lets the group know that he can let them have some weapon heads ‘for the death blow’, and nods to Lord Evan the Steward, who brings them up through the castle, past the family’s floor, where he has cabinets that he opens. He presents a rattling box filled with weapon heads to Rory, and gives a silver dagger to Oren.

In preparation, the weapon heads are brought to various weapon-smiths to be fitted to spears and quarrels. Rory and Una go to the apothecary, a halfling named Anwen, a friendly woman who says that they are lucky to have come at that moment, as she was just about to leave. In the cramped and smelly shop, Rory and Una consult with her about werewolves. She tells them that Wolfs-bane will keep the beast away (and is useful in surrounding a camp, or wearing), but is also essential to a cure. She sells them belladonna also, and says that if anyone is bitten, they must drink it in a tea within an hour, or be turned, although the curse will not take effect until the next full moon, but after that first change, it will take more powerful magic to work. She also warns that the tea is vile, and will make the drinker quite sick. She says that if one is to be changed back from being a werewolf, that they must be brought to someone who can do the ritual while they are still changed. Rory and Una then attempt to stock up for the trip with good food instead of the jerky like rations, but Oren keeps urging them to move on, so after a purchase of snowshoes all around (and Rory leaving a message for her brothers NOT to kill her, should she succumb to a werewolf bite), they head out Mills’ Gate, and on their way to Ottercreek.

They pass by Cloverfield (“Full of assholes”), by going through their fields. All the cows have been brought in for the winter, so the fields are quite ‘steamy’, and not quite as clean an experience as bypassing it the last time. The sounds of Yule celebrations from within the various houses on the outskirts remind everyone of the Yule celebrations they are missing in Fallsport. Soon after passing Hermit Tor, they see Ottercreek’s modest palisades in the distance. A discussion is had about what to do, and everyone decides that since Una is related to the Laird Sawney MacKincaid (married to her Aunt Fyfe), that she should talk to him about their mission.

The first person they see is Una’s uncle Padraig sitting on his front porch smoking, and whittling another pipe. When he sees her, he hails her, and warns her that her mother will be quite angry should she not visit. Rory is instant interested in seeing Una’s family, and Uncle Padraig takes both she and Oren there while Una speaks with her uncle MacKincaid. The Fitzgerald house is part of a sawmill, and has been cleared out to host an enormous Yule celebration. Oren immediately upon seeing all the people leaves and finds a perch in the topmost part of another building. Padraig announces “Your daughter has returned!” and after declaring that Rory isn’t one of hers, immediately tries to set Rory up with various male relatives, and Rory tries to marry off her brothers, especially after it becomes apparent that Una’s family is beloved of the Goddess of fertility.

Meanwhile, Una goes off to see her Uncle MacKinkaid. Outside his home is Sir Murdoch‘s horse, with her Cousin Sorley (his squire) tending to it. Una asks that he whisper to her Uncle that she is outside, and not to announce her, as she wants to talk to him without talking to Sir Murdoch as well. While she waits, Una places, on some instinct, a bit of wolvesbane under the horse’s mane. When her uncle comes out, Una speaks with him about the situation. Everyone has agreed that they have no need to speak to Murdoch about this, because it is an insult coming straight from Lord Morgan. It is the hope that the beast will be killed and removed without Sir Murdoch even knowing that anyone was there. MacKincaid is not at all pleased with anything about this arrangement, but there is little to be done. Una returns to her parent’s home, where she collects Rory, and they go looking for Oren. After reassuring her father that she is not going to sneak away, Una and Rory join Oren in the attic of one of the silent mill buildings to discuss everything.

The situation is a perilous one. Should Sir Murdoch catch everyone there in the woods, he would be within his rights to either imprison or kill everyone, and everything worked out with Lord Morgan later in the aftermath. Oren suggests that we tell him, should we be caught, that we are looking for signs of Bugbears and Ettins because of the renewed goblin uprisings (in this area, the goblinoids that were causing trouble were these creatures), and it is decided that this is the best story to keep everyone out of a ‘situation’ with Sir Murdoch. The discussion then turns to Sir Murdoch himself. Even though he has a great reputation as a mighty hunter, there is a concern that perhaps he is making everything up. As the only grandson of The Dragonsbane, he is the apple of his eye, wearing his dragonscale armor, and having nothing to do but go on hunts. The speculation revolved around his haughty nature, and the thought that he might simply be trying to boost the opinion of his Grandfather. The talk of politics, such as Dragonbane’s jealousy of Riverbend and their closeness to Fallsport, the forced marriage of Sir Murdoch to his distant cousin, and the endless machinations to marry Cora, their daughter, off to various politically advantageous people, makes everyone weary, and it is decided to go out into the woods that very evening to look around. Another of Una’s relatives is manning the gate, and there is more talk about why she isn’t married, to her annoyance.

Out in the woods, Oren gets a lay of the land, leaving some markers for hunters to let them know that someone else was there. He finds a tree he calls a ‘homebase tree’, and all the food and equipment is bundled inside a hollow within it, with a rope left to easily and quickly climb into the tree. It is decided that the next day (the full moon) the squad will simply come out of the town in the morning and stay until night, as they don’t want to be noticed leaving before dark (and there is some concern that they will not actually be allowed to leave). During the discussion, a Wood Elf jumps from the selfsame tree.

The Wood Elf has many complementary things to say to Oren, saying that he has heard of him, that he ‘knows the ways’. Oren begins asking him questions about The Beast.. and the elf says that it began roaming the forest during the Hunger Moon, in the beginning of Summer, and has hunted every full moon since. When asked why the elves have not hunted it, he says that since the Beast stays close to the village, that they are not permitted to do so, due to an old pact having to do with borders. Una asks if the elf knows who the wolf is, but he does not, only to say that it is unlikely an elf, since it stays so close to the village. Werewolves, he tells her, tend to stay near their homes as a man, and are very territorial. Oren asks the elf if the elves can tell him if they see something, and he agrees, saying that they have no love for Sir Murdoch, as he goes deep into the elf wood on his quest for more things to hunt, and has, from time to time, awakened something that they’ve then had to pacify again. It begins to snow, and they return back to town for a night’s rest. They find the party ended, and bunk down in Una’s attic, lulled to sleep by the smell of hanging hams, onions and garlic.

14 Yule 90
In the morning (afternoon, really, they sleep until lunchtime), Oren says that Una should get more information out of her cousin the squire about Sir Murdoch and the ongoing hunt. So after studying, she heads over to speak to Sorley. It turns out that he has not been on one of these hunts, as he is newly a squire. He says that the Beast seems to travel a path between Oakridge castle an Ottercreek, on the west side of the creek, which it never crosses. He says his master has often been close on its tail, and though he has not ever seen the beast, he has seen its tracks (changing from man to wolf), and it has attacked his camp while he sleeps, slaughtering his horses, and destroying the camp, though never the knight himself. Sir Murdoch is of the opinion that it is taunting him, and following him. Una gives Sorley some wolfsbane, and tells him to wear it, and replaces it on the horse (since he found it while brushing, and removed it). Sorley puts some of it beneath his shirt immediately.

Before dusk, the squad leaves town. Unbeknownst to them, as they are leaving through one one gate, Oidche is coming in the other. Oren and Rory block off a few trails with felled trees or other debris, in order to guide the hunter in one particular direction; making following him easier. There is a long discussion on who the werewolf could possibly be, with suspects ranging from his family to someone in the village. Dusk falls, and the moon rises on the snowfall, making it glitter. Everyone waits. And waits. And waits. And waits. Eventually, Murdoch and his Squire leave the village, without the horse. Murdoch turns out to be quite wiry, wearing dragonscale armor, and looking like someone who actually knows what he’s doing. As soon as they leave, the gates of Ottercreek close, and the whole palisades are lit along the edge with torches, making it blaze with fire and light.

Oren and Sir Murdoch seem to be of one mind, as he goes along the route Oren had set for him without even meeting up with any roadblocks. To Oren’s eye, he appears to know exactly what he’s doing as a woodsman and hunter, and isn’t as ridiculous as it was thought he must be. The squad follows him until he stops to look at some tracks. Sorley sees Una as she isn’t as good at hiding as everyone else, and so is distracted from his master who is behind him changing into a werewolf.

A fight begins, Sorley standing, stupefied during most of it out of fear, and being saved by the wolvesbane under his shirt. Rory is bitten several times by the beast, and Una is hurt quite badly by a pack of wolves that shows up when Sir Murdoch calls. They hurt Sorley as he attempts to administer a potion to her. As Rory and Oren fight the beast and his pack, they get a bit of help in the form of arrows flying from the hidden elf nearby. Soon Una awakens and uses a spell to kill many of the wolves at once, bringing with it a clap of booming thunder. Rory subdues the beast, who lies unconscious in wolf form. The elf flees when he realizes that the beast is a noble, saying that he cannot be anyplace near this. A small discussion has everyone realizing that the only way out of this is to bring Sir Murdoch to Fallsport to be cured. He is bound, and Rory lifts him over her shoulders, and everyone begins to jog through the snow towards Fallsport, going clear around Cloverfield, almost up into the mountains to the north in order to avoid it. When close to Fallsport, Rory an Una wait, while Oren double-times it to the gate. Seeing Rory, wounded, carrying an enormous wolf, they are already waiting for Oren to get there, who insists on seeing Sir Aidan immediately. While they are skeptical, the guards eventually get him, who comes to meet the rest of the group out on the field. After some discussion, the beast is brought into the city, and they attempt to find Anwen, eventually sending Una into The Cider House to seek her. Una sticks out of the crowd of halflings like a giant, and is so obviously exhausted, wounded and tired that Anwen comes immediately. She brings everyone to the temple of The Vanir, where an ancient Halfling Cleric is roused from slumber. The beast is slathered in oil, prayed over and chanted over. Eventually, he turns back into Sir Murdoch, who lies unconscious on the altar. After intimidating Sorley into never telling this tale ever, Sir Aidan mulls the situation over, and then orders us to take him to Una’s room in the tower. Una is flummoxed, but obeys. The streets are deserted, and they are able to put Murdoch on Aidan’s horse and ride him to the castle without anyone being the wiser. Rory carries him up the winding stairs, and he is put into Una’s bed. Una asks Sir Aidan just what she is supposed to do if he wakes up, and he tells her to answer whatever questions he has, but in a vague sense. He tells her not to lie, but not to exactly answer him, either. Then he leaves. Everyone sits around awkwardly, and then eventually falls asleep waiting.

They are awakened a short time later by Lord Morgan, who, after an explanation, orders us to find out why he was a werewolf, and then leaves. The group decides to start this investigation by stripping the still unconscious Murdoch and looking for scars. After some awkward discussion on how to proceed with this, Rory makes Sorley do it. No one finds a scar, and on another whim, Una casts Detect Magic, and sees the fading magic of a curse lingering about his person. She sends Sorley to retrieve Sir Aidan, and he runs into the court wizard Tam on the way, who is offended by his presence in the tower and zaps him with a spell that makes his hair stand up and makes him smell a little charred. After some discussion with Sir Aidan, he tells everyone to continue perusing this, suggesting that Una seek out her mentor for guidance. Una frets about the naked nobleman in her bed, and is reassured that he will be moved shortly. Oren is pulled aside, and told that while Rory and Una are pursuing this, the Lord has a different task for him. They are ordered to go and enjoy the rest of the evening’s festivities downstairs, and they do so without hesitation.

XP: 130

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Big Sister, Little Sister
Go not to the Elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes.

Present: Oidche, Rory, Una

15 Yule 90
Oidche leaves Ottercreek for Rowanbrook, hearing along the way that Sir Murdoch left the night before to fight The Beast, and has still not returned. The Laird asks Oidche to ask after him in Rowanbrook.

Meanwhile..
Rory and Una wake in the Great Hall, along with a whole room of hungover castle dwellers. Rory wakes her brother Kirk by pouring cold porridge over his head. She again tries to get Una to marry her brother. Una suggests that her twin sister is also unmarried. After the shenanigans of the morning are over, Rory and Una split up to investigate the mystery of the werewolf’s curse. Rory goes looking for some gossip, and Una goes to the Academy for some information.

Rory discovers that the last time anyone saw Sir Murdoch in town was during the Summersday festival in Fallsport, during the jousting. He was wounded in a hand to hand fight with Sir Evan, Lord Duncan’s son. (the heir apparent for Trollwatch), and Lady Moira’s nephew.

Una goes to the Academy, hoping that she can find an answer here, and not have to go all the way to Sheer Hollow. She goes to see Lonan, a very ancient High Elf, and asks him the question. He deduces that this curse must have happened to someone very important, and then makes sure Una does not tell him who it is (although she was not going to anyway) and then lies to her, telling her that he does not know anyone who could do such a thing, except that it would need a dark patron to do. He says that Una should speak to “Lulla” about it, meaning Talulla in Sheer Hollow. The abbreviation is so informal that it takes Una by surprise. On her way out, Una gets accosted by one of the book makers there at the academy, and ends up buying a just put together Tome of the theory of magic.. because she cannot help herself. The haggling is hard, but Una prevails. Slightly.

Rory and Una borrow horses from the castle mews (and are given the hairy eyeball and a stern warning to return them), stock up on delicious food, and take the horses towards Sheer Hollow. This time, they go through Cloverfield, but don’t stop (assholes) . It is snowing quite hard by the time they get to Ottercreek, and the hope is that they can simply go right through it, but Una’s Uncle MacKinkaid is standing in the middle of the road with his arms crossed. When they stop, he demands to know where Sir Murdoch is. They stop for a meal at his house, and let him know that Sir Murdoch is well, and in Fallsport, having been hurt by the beast. Rory says she wishes she was in Una’s family, and Una’s Aunt Fyfe attempts to adopt her. After the meal, the horses are left with the Laird for safekeeping, and the two of them resume the journey on foot.

Meanwhile..
Oidche has picked up his delivery at Sheer Hollow, and is on his way back to Ottercreek for some warmth and hospitality. He spots a Bugbear ambush, and attempts to turn the sleigh around and head back towards the elves. They attack him, and Oidche leaves the sleigh to hide in the near blizzard like conditions. Una and Rory are snowshoeing their way through the woods, and see Oidche’s sleigh, but not the man himself, and see several Bugbears, one of which is slogging after Oidche, one of which attempts to hold his horse still, and several more see the two of them, and try to attack them as well. During the battle, Oidche attempts to hide behind Una so the bugbear will attack her instead, and Una climbs a tree, starting a shouting match between the two of them during the fight. Oidche, still angry, shows a bit of what he can do, and completely obliterates the Bugbear attacking him. Eventually they are all dead, but the fight was a hard one. These Bugbears are extremely rich, and each person gets a near fortune from their purses. Rory and Una manage to force Oidche to go back to Rowanbrook, making it there just before dark.

In Rowanbrook, Oidche goes to an herbalist, and gets two potions of healing, while Rory and Una set up the yurt, to spend the night. Rory says that there should be a holiday called “Be an elf day” where everyone wears marzipan ears. Oidche says that he is spooked by Una’s family of twins, and sits a little further away from her than usual. Rory explains what has gone on so far, and everyone discusses what could possibly be going on. Rory and Una press Oidche to come with them, despite his many protests.

16 Yule 90
In the morning, it is still snowing, but everyone presses on to Sheer Hollow, regardless. Once there, everyone eventually ends up in the tree, though there is some trepidation at the shimmering heat in the front door. Inside the tree it is the perfect temperature; warm and comfortable, without a visible source, as is the light. The others wait below while Una goes up the stairs to the library to find her teacher Talulla. She floats, getting books from the highest shelves without ladders, and then floats there reading until Una clears her throat, which brings admonishment for her impatience. Once Una relates the reason for her presence, Talulla looks out the window quietly at the brook, and asks her about the hills, Big and Little Sister. She says that the elves have a different name for “Big Sister”, that they call it “Lich Hill”. She says that her sister Saraid lives beneath it, and that Lonan lied to Una in order to allow Talulla to decide whether or not to speak about it, and it becomes apparent to Una that she has stumbled into some centuries long love triangle. Talulla explains, as Lonan did, that we are dealing with a person who has negotiated a pact with a dark power to do such a thing. She says that Saraid will be familiar with how it was done, and may be able to help us figure out who it was. She reassures Una, and says that her sister will not kill us immediately because we know her name, and because Talulla has sent everyone there. She gives directions to the opening of the cave, and tells us that it is her defenses that we should be the most worried about, rather than Saraid’s enmity. Oidche insists on asking for a scroll of haste, which Talulla gives to us bemusedly. Rory and Una ask to send notes; Rory to her family, and Una to Sir Aidan. Talulla conjures a small bird, who brings the message immediately. Then Rory tries to stall by insisting on some kind of plan, but because no one knows what is in the cave, there is really no way to plan, so eventually the group goes on their way, with great misgivings.

Along the way, Oidche almost falls down some waterfalls, and Rory carries him grumpily. Eventually the group gets to the cave, when they hear something extremely large crashing through the forest. It turns out to be an Ettin, arguing with itself. One head is yelling at the other, telling it that they are lost, and are going to end up in Sheer Hollow, and are going to get killed by elves. The other head insists that it knows where it is going. Una jumps through the incredibly cold and wet waterfall into the cave beyond. Rory shouts to the Ettin “The first head is correct!!” and jumps in the cave. Oidche, having secured a stash of dry clothes outside, jumps into the cave too.

After adjusting to the change, Oidche and Rory notice that the cave is covered in green slime, and everyone makes a run for it to the passageway. Rory’s boots are dissolved right under her feet, searing them badly, and a huge sheet of the stuff detaches itself from the ceiling, and falls on Oidche. Una freezes it, and it breaks up like a candy coating, and Oidche faints. After reviving him, Rory gets a pair of non winter boots from her pack, and everyone takes a moment to regroup before heading deeper into the Liche’s lair.

XP: 100

View
Into the Dark
Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety.

Present: Oidche, Rory, Una

16 Yule 90
The intrepid three, still in Liche’s Hill (Otherwise known as “Big Sister” Hill), gather themselves after a surprisingly devastating encounter with some green slime. They continue through the caves, with Rory being a lookout, Oiche looking for secret places, and Una mapping their progress. They go quite slowly, and take many rests, during one, Una uses a Comprehend Languages ritual. They come up short on a Gelatinous Cube, which Una sets on fire, and then freezes into a wobbling icy cube. After about an hour, in which only Oidche is capable of actually sneaking, everyone comes to a very large cavern, by going through a tiny tunnel. Rory hears a strange bug like noise, as if made by many extremely large bugs. They soon come into view; a pack of Rust Monsters. Rory immediately freaks out, and runs back as far as she can without squeezing back into the tunnel, and Una throws a bag of ball bearings at them, hoping it will distract them and give them time. During the ensuing battle, Rory’s armor gets badly damaged, and Una announces their presence by using Thunderwave to get them off Rory, as well as simply thumping them with her quarterstaff.

After the shock of this encounter wears off, they continue through this cave, eventually coming to a forest below ground, perfect replicas of real trees, made of stone that reflects the colors of the real tree it represents. Someone with a master skill has carved these trees, they are not made using magic. Within the trees float small balls made of some kind of delicate webbing that glow with a gentle light. Rory whistles, and the balls get slightly brighter and pulse whens she does so. Una takes a closer look at them, and discovers that the balls are magical writing wrapped around a glowing light, and deduces that these balls are her spellbook. She does not touch one, though she desperately wants to. The stream that has been running through the cavern leads into these woods, and Oidche says that it will lead to a pool, where we will find Saraid. As the group follows the brook through the woods, Oidche also notices that some of the trees are carved Treants as well.

At the centre of the cavern, the trees widen to a clearing, where there is indeed, a pool, which is bubbling. Beside it is a huge brazier with a fierce fire burning within. Standing in between the party and that, is an emaciated high elven woman with glowing green eyes, who is singing. Una can tell that she is singing elvish poetry, and the words are forming in the air in front of her, which then bend into one of the glowing word-balls, bobbing in the air before her, and she then turns her attention to the assembled group waiting in her clearing. Una begins talking by stammering, and Oidche takes over, being surprisingly smooth and charming.

After hearing the reasons for being there, she asks as her price “Tell me something I don’t know”, and the tale of the Raven King an the new Goblin uprising gets told to her, which she finds quite interesting. She says that a great, dark, magic was performed there, that the boundaries between the living and the dead were breached…in an uncommon way. She says they were breached twice, once during the war, once after. As for the reason we came, she tells us that this is the ‘Curse of Fenris’, and that the person casting it would need a patron for the power, that we are looking for a warlock. The victim would have had to be cursed on the new moon (during the festival, as had been pondered earlier), and that the victim’s blood and a warg’s blood would be mixed and fed to the victim, either by force or trickery.

Saraid continues by saying that this is most likely not an elf, unless it is someone who had made this pact very recently (or else she would know about it), most likely a human because of their short impatient lives, and poor grasp of magic. Here she looks at Una and complements her for being Tululla’s student, a rare accomplishment for a human. Saraid says that this warlock is a very subtle and crafty person to be able to insinuate themselves into this kind of position, and says that they might even be able to pass themselves off as a wizard. Then she changes topic, and says that the Raven Kind is undead, and that Ravencrest overlooks the Valley of Ghosts, and that we should be quite concerned about the wealth of material there for a necromancer to work with. She then pauses and asks if Talulla has sent a message, and Una says she did not, for she thought her sister would not want to hear from her. She says that their sister is still dead, and the tower still stands, nothing has changed. Taking this change of mood as a signal to leave, Oidche presents her with the unchanging rose he had made at the tower, and tells her that it will survive only a month. She seems taken with it, saying ‘A month will do’, and then loses interest in the party.

As everyone leaves, the fire in the brazier stands up and leads them out, killing the green slime for them. Once outside, Rory wraps her boots up in some fur taken from her cloak, and they make the small trek back to Sheer Hollow. Once there, in a building provided to them for the night, they discuss everything.

In terms of who would have access to Sir Muroch during the fights, and then afterwards during the meal, we decide that it would have to be Cameron McAidan, the Dragonbane’s squire, who was attending to all three of them during the festival. Oidche knows that he is the grandson of the Laird of Cloverfield, and that his other two brothers, Bryce and Scott, are also squires. Then Rory and Una attempt to get Oidche to come with them, and talk to the Reeve, Callum about his son. Oidche says he can’t come, that he has to get his stuff back. At first her will not admit that he’s going to Fallsport, but eventually does, with a deep, annoyed grumbling about how he has a job to do, he’s in supplies, why does he keep going on these adventures.. he can be hanged for missing his deadline, you know!

17 Yule 90
In the early morning, the group heads towards Ottercreek. On the way through, Una’s uncle tells them that Sir Murdoch came through to collect his horse, with “his Prize”; a huge Warg head, the biggest he’s ever seen! Going through, the party gets to Cloverfield, and stops there. Oidche, muttering still, stops in with a bottle of the wine in the cart for the Reeve. He and the Reeve talk a bit about the Beast, and the Reeve ends up talking a lot about his father, and rambling on and on about the things that he’s done. Eventually Oidche extricates himself from the conversation with nothing much learnt, and the trip resumes to Fallsport. Oidche reluctantly decides to come with Rory and Una, figuring that he should at least be there while the report goes to Sir Aidan. The group is taken into his personal quarters, which is filled with books, as much as a library. Una seems quite taken with Sir Aidan after seeing this, and flirts with him quite a lot during the briefing.

Upon hearing everything, Sir Aidan says that the story of the war and the desertion of Stonehold is incomplete. He says, that the story about the King staying after the doors were sealed, is true enough, but that the stories say nothing of the Queen. He mentions quite strongly that this is in confidence, and should not be repeated. The Queen was in a cult in the service to Freya. Her intention was to do a ritual to ask Freya to keep the Dwarves left in Stonehold to keep fighting, and never die. In addition, the King opened up the crypts, which are guarded by criminals who have been mummified. There have been excursions which have reported that those dead are still there, still fighting to defend the city. Sir Aidan seems extremely discomfited by Saraid’s observations, and says that they will put an extremely thick wall across that pass.

When asked about Sir Murdoch, he confirms that the man knows what happened to him, but that he’s keeping it from his family, feeling deeply unnerved. The problem that there is no real way to interrogate the squire without rousing suspicion comes up, and Rory suggests a plan to Una, who repeats it to Sir Aidan; perhaps there should be an entourage going to Oakridge tower to congratulate Sir Murdoch on his victory over The Beast, and that the servants in it could have a little talk with the household servants. Sir Aidan says that it would have to be Lord Morgan himself, or the Dragonsbane would be insulted, but says he could arrange it. He also idly worries about a dragon that likes to hunt in the cold, and worries about snow along the way. Realizing, however, that it could easily happen again, he puts that aside, and tells us to go feast and get ready. He also tells Rory to go and get a new set of armor, paid for by the castle.

XP: 190

View
Castle Fire Trap
“So comes snow after fire, and even dragons have their endings.”

Present: Oidche,Oren, Rory, Una

16 Yule 90
Sir Aidan tells Rory, Oiche, and Una that they will be going in the morning to Oakridge Tower, but that he is not going. He asks for subtlety, saying that everyone needs to tread carefully. this causes a bit of worry, because subtlety is not really everyone’s strong suit. He says that everyone is being given roles to play in the charade. Rory will be the head of the personal guard, Oidche will be in charge of all supplies. When Una asks what her job will be, he says “You are Lord Morgan’s pet”, to which Una objects most strongly. Sir Aidan seems worried that the Dragonbane will attempt to start some kind of fight, and urges everyone to simply stay silent in that case, or try to get Lord Morgan out of the room somehow.

Meanwhile
Oren is in Oakridge, having arrived with Sir Murdoch. They went out and tracked the Warg together, and then returned with it to the castle. He attempts to help Sir Murdoch by telling the story of the hunt to the Dragonbane, but the effort is brushed aside. Eventually, Oren settles in to eat the well stocked larder, everyone either ignoring him, or forgetting about him, which seems to suit him fine.

17 Yule 90
Before light even hits the dawn, Una knocks on the door of the Academy, looking for a book with knowledge about dragons and werewolves, so that she can bring it with her, and perhaps show off a bit, should Lord Morgan ask her questions in front of the Dragonbane during the visit. Ciar answers the door, and at first refuses to sell her a book, because he does not want Una to bring it anyplace and get it hurt or lost. Eventually after some conversation and sarcastic insults on the nature of human development, she is given an elven child’s primer on magical beasts… though it is amazingly comprehensive and helpful. She runs, with her book, managing to catch the caravan as it is on its way out of the city.

Along the way, Lord Morgan asks Una about Saraid, and she replies that she thinks the woman became a lich to create art, and does not think she intends to take over, or begin killing people. The procession stops in Otter Creek, and Lord Morgan goes inside the Laird’s home for a short bit. While they are waiting outside, Una’s Aunt Fyfe comes outside, and Rory introduces her brothers, adding that they are unmarried, and looking for brides (they look very worried at this). Lord Morgan comes out just as Fyfe is bringing the unmarried ladies of Una’s family to meet the brothers. He leaves his horse with the Laird, and the group continues onward, this time with Lord Morgan on foot.

When the tower comes into view, Oidche and Rory see Oren standing on the roof of the tower, but Una only sees a raven, which she kills with a magic missile. There is some consternation when it is thought that she’d shot Oren with it, but it turns out not to be true. Everyone is met by the Dragonbane, his son, and grandson, and a crowd of others; the ladies staying inside. Oren comes down and stands in the background, lurking. The Dragonbane asks Lord Morgan what he wants, and he replies that he has come to celebrate the killing of the beast. Dragonbane finds this acceptable, and everyone is allowed inside. A crowd of servants helps Oidche bring the supplies below, and everyone else goes inside, up a collapsible wooden staircase into the great hall, where the rest of the family is waiting. Oren and Una are a little discomfited by the fact that they are in a giant wooden tower (with one exit) just asking to be set on fire. Even though it is covered with tanned hides, they are really very uncertain about being inside it.

Rory and Una bring Oren up to speed with the goings on, and Oidche talks to the various servants down below, finding out that there was some serious friction between the Dragonbane and his son over how to kill the werewolf, with the Dragonbane wanting to let Sir Murdoch, and Sir Roy wanting to get together a lot of men and hunt it down. The issue is over now, but the tenseness still remains.

Over some time in the great hall, the three notice that Cora is being moved around like a game piece, with her mother trying to get her to talk to Lord Morgan, and her grandmother actively trying to position her so that she is not anyplace near him. The squire (and nephew of the Earl) Duncan Rose keeps looking at her with interest, as if he is trying to figure something out. Una retreats into the many shadows around the outside of the great hall, and casts a Detect Magic spell. She sees that the Dragonbane’s ax is magical, and that Lord Morgan’s sword is magical, and when she turns around, she sees Cameron the squire (the suspected collaborator with the warlock) has a very long running, powerful enchantment spell on him. She spends some time with one of her tomes, and comes to the conclusion that this is a charm effect, most likely Dominate Person (or a modified version of it). She knows that it is a spell that is castable only by someone of Tam’s ability or stronger. After a quiet hysterical fit in the shadows, she relates this to the group (Oidche having been ‘encouraged’ to join them by Rory), and the fact that Cameron can be operated like a puppet, should the caster choose to. The caster does not even need to be in the same city, or the same plane to do it. It looks to be something that has been on the boy for most of his life, in fact.

Just before the feast, Una brings this up to Lord Morgan, who seems only marginally worried about it, and tells Una to be subtle and keep an eye on Cameron. Then the feast begins, with seemingly every creature in the forest being served as dinner at once. Oren concentrates very hard on his food, making a sandwich out of meat, with more meat as the bread. Una expresses disbelief at the amount of food, and Oren says that Sir Murdoch is just unstoppable as a hunter. Eventually over the evening, the Dragonbane begins to fume, and he finally explodes, standing up and announcing that his great granddaughter is a prize to be won, not cattle to be sold to the highest bidder. He announces that any man who wants her should bring him the head of the green dragon that lives in the elf wood. After a moment of silence, Sorley speaks up, saying “I’ll do it”. Cora turns bright red, but does not look surprised. Duncan Rose looks amused, as if he knew this all along. Sorley looks kind of sick. The Dragonbane tells him that he does not take such promises lightly, and he says again that he will do it… which seems to satisfy the lord. Oidche quite urgently insists that Una do a Detect Magic spell again, which brings up nothing new. The Dragonbane insults Lord Morgan by telling him that this boy has more balls than he does.

Una looks at Lord Morgan and says that Sorley is her cousin. Rory and Oren start giving Una looks, but she keeps talking. Oidche sneaks away with his food, unseen, and goes to a private place in the tower, hoping to hide and not be included in the inevitable. He looks for a secret way out of the tower, and finds it, noting that it has not been used in a very long time. Lord Morgan, at Una’s prompting, muses that there will be all kinds of trouble, should the dragon be disturbed, but not actually killed. He continues, saying that he will not be allowed to accept help from Morgan, but that as gentry, he is allowed retainers on his quest. Oren asks some questions about the dragon. Lord Morgan thinks that the one in the wood might well be the mate or child of the one that the Dragonbane killed. Oren sighs, and says, “Whatever, let’s just leave in the morning”. He and Una muse about the person who put the enchantment on Cameron. As Una gets up to talk to Lord Morgan about splitting the dragon’s treasure, Oren sees Cora slip into the room from upstairs, carrying a box. No one else sees her. She slips up to Sorley and whispers, " When great-grandfather killed the dragon, he had this made from the bones", and slips off. Una’s second detect magic still being active, she sees that the box has a very strong enchantment within it. She makes Sorley come over, and looks within it to find a very enchanted arrow designed to slay a dragon. She takes the box, feeling that if he is found with it, he will be executed. Then she drags him to see Lord Morgan, making him ask to borrow some retainers. Lord Morgan questions him for a while, saying he’ll make Sorley a knight himself if he pulls this off, and then orders Una to tell Oidche to outfit him with weapons and armor and so forth. Lord Morgan says that we should ask Sir Aidan for more information, but Dragon’s Bluff will have kobold traps, bugbears, and that he’s heard of an owlbear there someplace. He says that there is something strange about the cave itself, that it is rumoured to lead to ‘someplace else’. The talk turns to the enchantment on Cameron, and Lord Morgan says that this kind of thing must be done carefully, and that this is likely a long term issue to be dealt with. He tells everyone to sleep, as Sorley will be ejected by the Dragonbane tomorrow morning.

18 Yule 90
In the morning, Sorley is indeed, ejected from the tower. Lord Morgan and his retinue go with him. Along the way, Oren begins tutoring Sorley in the ways of firing his bow while under pressure. Giving him targets to hit, Oren takes his own bow and shoots Sorley while he is concentrating, and then heals him using spells. The sudden emergence of spell casting has everyone extremely curious, and he explains that he had a vision of a white hart that spoke to him, and when he woke, he had these nature spells. Lord Morgan finds that fascinating, and there is some discussion with Oren about this. When Ottercreek is reached, Lord Morgan goes inside the Laird’s house, and there is momentary quiet. Then Fyfe comes out of the house, and begins hitting Sorley with a dishtowel, screaming at him. Then she begins to hit Una too, screaming that she was supposed to look out for her cousin. The Laird comes out with a bundle, and tells him that it belonged to his grandfather, and that he should be careful with it. Within the bundle is a set of plate mail armor, which fits very well. Everyone makes him put the armor on, and then walk the rest of the way to Fallsport with it on, with Oren continuing his drills.

In Fallsport, everyone meets with Sir Aidan, who gives the group an incredulous look when he fins out the news. He says that the dragon’s cave is rumored to be the entrance to Vanaheim, and all kinds of things found in the elf wood come from that cave. He believes that the stream within the cave leads there. Oidche says that nothing good comes of following streams in caves. Sir Aidan says that green dragons breathe out poisonous gas, and so, when everyone splits up, Rory goes to the apothecary, and gets some ingredients for Una to make some antitoxins and healing potions in addition to buying the potions from Anwen. She also tells her father about Aunt Fyfe, and the many marriageable family members in Ottercreek. Oidche goes to see about supplies for the trip, and Oren hangs about in the feast hall. Eventually, Una goes to see Lonan, to ask him for any more possible information. Lonan explains that the tunnel is indeed an entrance to Vanaheim, and that he himself saw Herne the Hunter come from the cave when he was a youth. He says that the other dragon did not have a mate, and so this one cannot be a child of it either, and that it must have come from Vanaheim itself. After a moment of musing, he brings Una to a cabinet, and brings out a huge spellbook, offering for her to copy from it. With the party’s help, Una can afford the components to pick two spells, and she gets to it immediately.

Next Time..
SEE… Oidche be carried grumbling through the wilderness!
HEAR… Una give away their position with a thunderclap!
WATCH… Epic eyerolls from Oren as he teaches Sorley how to fight!
FEAR …Rory’s attempts at matchmaking!!
110XP

View
Looking for Trouble
Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.

Present: Oidche, Oren, Rory, Una

18 Yule 90
While Una is doing her research and copying her spells, Rory, Oren, and Oidche get summoned to attend Lord Morgan. A squire brings a chest in, and Lord Morgan carries a smaller one with him. He says that he has some gifts for everyone. Opening the smaller chest, he removes two potions, and gives one to Oidche and one to Oren. Oren’s potion bubbles as if it is boiling, and trapped smoke swirls around beneath the cork. Oren and Rory joke nervously about it being poison in case the mission fails.

With a tolerant smile, Lord Morgan explains that Oidche’s potion is one of invisibility, and that Oren’s is a potion of heroism. He offers to trade with Oidche who gives him an incredulous look. When it is explained what the potion does, Oren looks at the bottle with new respect. Both potions last an hour. As he opens the bigger chest, he says that his mother will be furious. Lord Morgan says that if she succeeds, Rory may keep what is inside (at this there is much dark merriment), and then removes a suit of mithril scale mail. He explains that this was a gift from Stonehold. He asks her not to die, so that he doesn’t have to retrieve it. Rory answers that she would hate to inconvenience him like that, and he misses the sarcasm completely. Oren asks how far they are going, so Rory and Lord Morgan point out where it is on the map. Oidche mumbles, “I hate you people”. Lord Morgan tells Oiche that he had intended that Oidche could use the invisibility potion to hide until the battle was over, with which Oidche has a whole-hearted agreement. Lord Morgan tells them, perhaps to settle some of the constantly jangling nerves, that if there is success, that he will make Rory the captain of his personal guard, and Oren his master huntsman, and Oidche his personal steward. Una gets no promotion, but already possesses a position within Lord Morgan’s staff.

After this meeting, Rory goes to pick up her personally tailored person carrier. Oidche says rude things when she asks him to sit in it, so Oren sits in it, grumbling the whole time. Rory practices walking, wiggles around, jumps, and finally stops when Oren begins threatening her. She is pleased with how adjustable it is, and how sturdily it is made. Una spends several hours copying spells, and then comes to the shared lab she has with Tam to begin making potions. She finds him there, waiting. He hands her a scroll tube that contains a scroll of Lightning Bolt, and tells her ‘good luck". She is boggled by it, wondering just how badly she will fry her brain should she try to cast it. After she makes the potions, the party argues about when to leave; Rory insisting that they leave now, and stay the night in Ottercreek, with Oren and Una flat out refusing to do it. It is finally agreed to leave the next morning, and stay in the woods that evening. That night, there is a goodbye party in the barracks, which turns into an impromptu bachelor party when Rory reveals to her brothers that there is now a marriage contract with Una’s family for them. Oidche pays a significant amount of gold for a whole bunch of whores from Groper’s Alley. Una contemplates attempting to get Sir Aidan into bed, but realizes that is a very bad idea.

19 Yule 90
Everyone but Una and Oren awaken with a mean hangover. Breakfast is an extravagant affair, perhaps because the servants feel bad that everyone is going off to their doom. Then the expedition is off! Sorley is not wearing his plate, but is wearing studded leather, having packed the plate into the cart (the cart is for the dragon’s head on the way back). Along the way, everyone discusses the proper way to wear pants for meeting the dragon, assuming that Sorley will soil himself during the fight. He takes the joking in good humour, having accepted a certain kind of inevitability about the whole thing. We go through Cloverfield, explaining to a bemused Sorley that it is filled with assholes. In Ottercreek, we stop at the Laird’s house again, and Rory drops off the papers for her brothers to the Laird, who notices that there’s no bride price. Una objects, and he pulls her aside to yell at her about how much that will eventually cost the family, so she settles down. Oren gets antsy, and pushes the group out of Ottercreek, saying he is tired of being there. Eventually it gets time to camp, and it gets set up right at the split, where Otter Creek and Silver Creek become two different creeks. Rory and Oren disguise the yurt as best they can, and notice signs that an Owlbear is living here. They set up some traps around the campsite, and everyone separates into watches.

First Watch….

Rory hears something coming, and thinks it is probably the owlbear. Una goes to wake up Oren and Oidche. Oren tells her to wake him up when she is sure it is an owlbear. When the owlbear appears in the light, Una uses magic missiles on it, which enrages it, and it charges. Una screams for Oren, and then keeps pointing out that there is in fact, an owlbear there, to his extreme irritation. After the battle, Oren makes Sorley skin the owlbear, and goes back to sleep. Una accompanies him to the creek afterwards to clean up in the freezing water.

Second Watch
Oren shows Sorley how to make a necklace out of the sinew and feathers of the owlbear. Just as they are beginning to cook breakfast, Oidche, with an almost supernatural show of alertness, hears a hooved animal approaching with a rider. It isn’t until it is almost upon them that Oren hears it. An elven man, riding a stag comes out of the woods. He is wearing a helmet with horns, and has the kind of distant regal bearing that very old elves have. Oren, with a sickly kind of smile, invites Herne the Hunter to enter their camp and enjoy their hospitality. He demands to know what we are doing in his forest, and Oren tells him that Sorley (to whom he refers to as ‘boy’) has sworn a quest, and we are his servants. Sorley runs into the tent to wake up Rory and Una. Herne seems to accept that he is honor bound to be in the forest, and so does not move to obstruct the group. Instead, he offers his assistance. Oren stammers a moment, and then asks if there is a way that he can help the squad not to disturb the forest as they head through it. Herne tells him, that since they are following the Silver Creek, that his people do not live on that side of the forest, only enemies do. He then takes his leave, and there is a collective sigh. Una tries to come out to breakfast, but Oren yells at her to go back to sleep, so she does, even though Sorley tells her to stay awake. He then threatens to dump a bucket of water on her head… and after pondering a spell or two to cast on him, she gets up.

20 Yule 90
Oren wraps the hooves of the pony up with leather taken from the Owlbear, and the group is on its way, with Oren scouting about 70 feet ahead. Silver Creek shines in the sun, as if it was actually made of silver. Midday, Oren begins to find traps. After examination, he discovers that they are extremely clever, intricate, and well made. He sees maker’s signs down very low on trees, and everyone figures that these must have been made by Kobolds. After a discussion about whether or not the cart can be navigated through the traps, Oren and Rory remember a spot where the creek could be forded, and so it is decided to do this instead. Sure enough, on the other side of the creek, there is no sign of kobolds, and the trek continues.

Then Oren hears the screaming; the screaming of a child, screaming in what must be elvish. He whistles loudly for us to catch up, and then goes tearing off to save her from an Ogre who is chasing a little elven girl around in the woods. When the rest of the group catches up, Una gets a skeptical look on her face, and announces her intention to cast detect magic, but everyone is ambushed by whole lot of bugbears at that point. Una, mostly in a tree, gets to use one of her new spells, creating a small localized tornado that knocks many of the bugbears swarming Rory down to the ground. Sorley shows off his new bow skills by bouncing arrows from one bugbear to another. Oren takes on the ogre, and finally kills it with a vicious shot to the crotch. The little girl runs towards Rory, yelling for her mommy, and hugs her legs. Rory takes damage from a very powerful curse, and the girl turns into a hag. Rory yells at Una, telling her that she should have expected this, and Una gets very angry, seriously wounding the hag with a trio of missiles. Then the hag disappears. Even though there is still some fighting around him, Oidche shows off his incredible sense of hearing, and plugs her with an arrow dead in her chest. It becomes apparent that she has fled, and so the group sits and rests for a few minutes, Oidche loading the cart up with the bugbear’s weapons, and Una gets back one of her spells. Then Oren starts tracking the hag.

She is tracked up Elf’s Cap hill, finally ending the trail at a cave, with some bugbear and warg guards. The hag finally appears again, casting a burning hands at Oidche and Una who are in two trees, missing Una, and nearly killing Oidche, who falls out of the tree, on fire. Una kills her then with the same deadly missiles she hurt her with previously. She then revives Oidche, who throws a net over bugbears giving Oren some trouble. When the rest are dispatched, the group examines the cave, and finds a large hoard of treasures, most of which are beautiful elven made pieces of jewelry. Oren picks up a silvered short sword, named Moonthorn . It is decided to camp here in the cave, which has not been inhabited by the bugbears long.

Next time…

Marvel… as the party finds ways to delay attacking the dragon!
See.. amazing feats of Arboreal Locomotion !
Gasp… at billowing clouds of poisonous gas!
Covet… the piles of treasure that will be the party’s final resting place!

xp: 269

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Death and Glory
“Here be dragons to be slain, here be rich rewards to gain; If we perish in the seeking, why, how small a thing is death!”

Present: Oidche, Oren, Rory,Una

20 Yule 90
The party is staying in the cave recently vacated by the slain hag and her servants. The cave is pleasantly clean and dry, the hag having lived there only a short time. After going through her incredible pile of beautiful art objects, They set up for the night. Rory sets up the screens of sharp sticks and leaves that she had created prior to the Owlbear attack. The bodies are moved to the perimeter of camp, in the hope that predators will feast upon them, and ignore the cave. Everyone sleeps.

1st Watch: Una, Rory
Una is in the front of the cave, behind one of these screens. Rory is awake, deeper in the cave, behind the second screen. Una, despite doing her best, completely fails to notice the incredibly fast pack of ghouls running through the woods towards them. Before she can even take a breath to warn Rory, many of them fall upon her, and rend her to pieces. She stands, near death, unable to move. Rory and Oren, Moonthorne flashing silver in the firelight, start dispatching them as they nearly kill and paralyze Sorley. Eventually, Una comes to, and joins Oidche in fleeing out of the cave. Eventually they are all dispatched, and the party finds that the ghouls ate the bodies of the bugbears and the hag at the edge of camp. While moving the bodies, Una recognizes them as a family of a woodsman who lived on the edge of the forest outside Ottercreek, and were thought to have starved to death last winter. She also recalls the lore that Ghouls are said to be made when someone who has resorted to cannibalism while starving. With that cheerful revelation, the second watch takes its place (without incident).

21 Yule 90
The journey continues, with Oren still walking about 70 feet away, scouting. Without any warning, he falls into a pit filled with spikes, and extremely large biting centipedes. Everyone starts running as Oren tries to fight them off, getting quite poisoned in the process. When she finally reaches the edge of the pit, Una leans down, and sees the sick Oren fending the insects off, and advises him to use his antitoxin. After receiving the withering death stare from Oren, she kills each one with Magic Missile. Oren attempts to climb out of the pit, using the holes in the wall created by the bugs, but the earth is too soft, and he falls back into the pit. He throws up a rope, which Sorley ties to a tree. While Rory is pulling him to safety, more centipedes start coming out of the holes and biting him. Oidche takes a stick, and starts whacking them as the climb up the sides of the hole, and they finally leave, discouraged. Finally at the top, examination of Oren discovers that he is extremely poisoned, and that he needs a full day’s rest, and so camp is set up to wait out the day, and the night. Investigation of the pit trap discovers that the trap is indeed a kobold make, intricate and very clever, but that it has no signs attached to it, unlike the other traps that have been found. Rory attempts to remove their scents from the camp, and Una insists that Sorley takes her watch, having been convinced that sitting on a watch is not really in anyone’s best interest.

2nd Watch: Sorley, Rory
Sorley looks outside, and sees a beautiful naked woman standing in the woods, and begins mooning over her. Rory hits him in the face, which seems to wake him up a little. Rory looks outside to see the woman, and instantly decides she’s friendly, and goes out to meet her, and then brings her back into the yurt. Sorley wakes everyone up, and Una immediately tells her to get out, and threatens her. Oren and Una get into a near shouting match about who knows more about the fae wild, Oren having a spiritual and soulful connection with the woods, and Una being brought up by elves since she was about 6 or 7. Eventually, Oren, Rory, and Oidche tell her the entire plan, with Una grumpily and strenuously objecting at every turn.

The dryad says that the name of the dragon is Eitrdottir, and the granddaughter of Loki. She says that she knew the party were coming, because the dragon happened to be outside her cave, when a raven came with a message from the south (she says the raven smelled like the city), telling her that people were coming for her. Under polite and careful questioning (With Una finally shutting her mouth), she says that ravens have been coming for the dragon for a few years now. She also says that the Kobolds build traps for Eitrdottir, and revere her as a Goddess in her own right. Oidche asks what she would like in return for the help she’s given, making Una explode again at such an open ended promise, getting an angry retort in reply. About this time it is discovered that Oren has snuck out of the yurt. The dryad says that she would like to have Rory for her troubles, and Una tells her that Rory is already owned by Lord Morgan, and that the dryad would have to ask him for his chattle. After a short talk between them, the dryad finally relents, and lets the spell on Rory lapse. Rory is very upset, dumping the dryad off her lap, and the dryad leaves, with Una saying that they welcome her company, but perhaps not with the spell next time, and the dryad bats her eyelashes at Una as she goes, draping her fingers along Oren as she gets outside.

Meanwhile…
Oren sneaks out of the yurt to talk to the Great Oak who waits outside for his dryad. He speaks with him for a while, soothing the ruffled leaves that Una’s threat had caused, and making a friend. The oak says that he can help Oren learn the safe way to get through the forest to the cave, and lifts him way up high, above the other trees, to see the cave. When he gets placed upon the ground again, he’s made an ally from the powerful treant.

After the dryad leaves, Rory and Una, blowing off nervous steam, start needling Sorley about Cloverfield, and about his future father in law. Sorley storms out of the yurt, and gets called back and apologized to, Una and Rory coaxing him into fooling around and make him laugh. Una has some time to think, and then suddenly realizes something. The warlock, she explains, is looking for power, and the dragon is Loki’s granddaughter. The spell on the Dragonbane’s family was a tribute, or a favor, done to please Eitrdottir and curry favour with his sponsor. Though it does not bring anyone closer to an answer as to whom the warlock is, there is a certain satisfaction to putting some pieces in place.

22 Yule 90
As the camp is being packed up, the idea that the cart get left at the campsite is bandied about. The Dryad appears, and says she would be happy to watch the cart for us, and Oidche says he would be very grateful, prompting Una to snap at him rudely about not giving open ended promises. Eventually, it is decided that leaving the cart so far from the cave would be more of a pain than a boon, and the cart is brought along. During travel, there is some discussion about the plan. Oidche proposes getting on top of the cave, to throw a net on the dragon as she leaves it, and The Great Oak says he can lift him on top. As they continue forward, Silver Creek begins to narrow drastically, until at the cave mouth it is a mere five feet across. Oren knows that this means that the stream is now 30 feet deep, and extremely dangerous to fall into, with a deadly undertow that will drag the unfortunate down and under the water. Everyone takes the antitoxins that Una prepared for this moment. Oidche takes his invisibility potion, and Oren takes the potion of heroism, making him look extremely impressive and rugged. Una gets distracted. There is some discussion of the safety of the cart and (extremely unhappy) pony, so old oak awakens some trees to guard them, and then lifts Oidche up to the top of the cave. He leans over, to listen inside. Oidche, with his amazing hearing, hears some snoring deep within the cave, but the tone of it is off, so he realizes that it is fake snoring. Rory looks within the cave to see what she can see.

Inside the cave, the floor is thickly carpeted in bones, with some enormous piles of them that look extremely treacherous. As she squints into the gloom, she believes she sees that one pile is covering something large. She also sees glints of many shiny things partially buried within the various piles. As everyone begins to enter the cave, Oidche realizes that he won’t be able to do much hanging over the top edge of the cave, and so Great Oak lowers him down, and he joins the group within. Once inside, everyone has to pick their way carefully through the bones, but Una trips and starts a bone landslide.

“The traitor said you would be coming” , a low voice says from within the shadows. Oren sees her, and lets loose an arrow, which destroys the illusion. The dragon’s laughter fills the cavern. Una asks “Who is the traitor, since we are going to die..” And the dragon replies, “I know him only as ‘The Undying’” As the dragon continues to ask “Who are you to treat with me?” Una casts Detect Magic, at first getting distracted by the many magical auras in the bone piles, and then pointing out a new illusion of the dragon.

Oidche stands and listens to the dragon as she talks, and finally is able to discern a low breathing noise, almost undetectable, high up on a ledge in the cave. He places his hands on Oren’s head, and turns it upwards to face the dragon, and Oren lets loose an arrow which Una sets to glowing. “Treat with me, or defeat me!” the dragon threatens as Oren’s arrow buries itself into her up to the feathers, casting a crazy half glow up into the cave’s ceiling. Una brings out the scroll of ‘Lightning Bolt’ that Tam gave to her, and attempts to cast it, failing utterly to do it (luckily not ending up with a fried brain), and ending the failed spell with several unladylike utterances directed at Tam’s lineage.

Sorley fires the magical arrow, and hits dead on, causing the dragon to scream and bellow in pain and anger, the noise echoing in the cavern. She leaves her perch, and begins a dive heading straight for Sorley. Oren attacks her as she swoops by him, looking heroic and dashing while he swings Moonthorn. The dragon attempts to eat Sorley as she flies by, missing him, but hitting Oren with her tail, sending him into the dangerously deep river running through the cavern. As the dragon banks and gears up for another run at him, Sorley runs to the river’s edge to try to grab Oren, and Oren desperately begins to swim, trying to resist the massive currents. Rory’s gaze is drawn to a golden pike sticking straight out from the bones, and she draws it forth, feeling the sheer power of it first, and the fact that it is warm to the touch next.

As the dragon wheels around, Oidche ties off his net to a stalagmite, and as the dragon swoops down again, Oidche casts a net over her, her wings becoming entangled, and she falls like a stone to the floor.

Oren gets himself out of the river, and as he lies panting on the floor beside Sorley, Eitrdottir breaths her poison breath on them both. Sorley falls, poisoned quite badly. Rory walks fearlessly up to the dragon’s face, and stabs her with her new spear, which bursts into flame. Una uses magic missle on the beast, which proves to be too far gone to withstand them.

Rory, having held the spear for a while, knows now that this is the Spear of Lugh, a legendary high elf treasure from Vannaheim. She quenches it in the water, instinctively knowing that if she does not, that the fire will begin to hurt her in its thirst and fury.

While Rory stands guard, Sorley and Oren strip off their armor and most of their under armor clothing, and begin to butcher the dragon. Una assists Oidche with disarming the plethora of traps left by kobolds, and pinpointing the magic treasure within the pile of bones. Eventually everything that can be removed from the dragon is, so Oren and Rory make sure that Sorley’s plate armor is more dented and covered in dragon blood. Una identifies the cask of mead immediately as the ‘The Mead of Poetry’, a drink which will give the drinker the gift of poetry. It is decided to drink a toast to their accomplishments right there, and consume the delicious gift of Vannaheim together. Once everything is finally packed up and into the cart, Oren has an artistic inspiration, and crucifies what is left of the dragon. Moving quite slowly with the creaking cart, the party travels a short distance away, and camps. After making sure everything is secure in the cart, the yurt is erected, and Una settles down to use her identify ritual on each of the magical items within the the hoard. The sun slowly goes down as the first watch sets themselves up.

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Triumphant Return
"A tramp, a gentleman, a poet, a dreamer, a lonely fellow, always hopeful of romance and adventure."

Present: Oidche,Oren, Rory, Una

22 Yule 90
The party is camping after having killed the green dragon Eitrdottir. As the sky purples into dusk, Una is identifying the various magic items. Oren takes the hunting horn, his fate intertwined with that of the white stag.

1st Watch

Sorley and Rory are up, Una is identifying objects, and is so into it that she completely misses some of what happens next.

Rory hears Fritz, Oidche’s horse, whinnying and bucking outside. Sorley goes to calm the horse, and so he is facing away when the dark, ghostly elven forms come out of the locked wooden chest and attack them. Rory, however, sees them, and is prepared for the attack, and avoids Sorley’s fate. Several of them converge on him and drain away part of his soul, causing him to collapse on the ground. One of them comes into the Yurt, and Una screams at the top of her lungs to awaken her companions. She pulls the haste scroll from her bag (later, she is sad that she had to use it, as she was hoping to transcribe it into her spellbook when she was able to cast it without danger) , and casts it on Rory, who begins to fight.. a whirlwind of fire and death. Oidche awakens with the scream, and slips beneath the edge of the yurt. Oren rises and attacks the wraith within the yurt, but the blow isn’t really landing very well. Una’s magic missiles take care of the one in the yurt, and so Oren slices through the wall of the yurt to get out, as Rory’s whirling wall of golden flame is in the opening. There he saves Sorley’s life with some of his minor healing, and then is forced to dodge out of the way as Fritz’s flailing hooves nearly kick him in the head. Oidche skirts the outer edge of the camp, shooting into the melee with an expert marksmanship. Faced with Rory slicing through its companions, one wraith enters the yurt, and brutalizes Una, cutting out part of her soul also. Finally, frustrated by the real lack of harm that physical weapons are doing to the wraiths, Oren uses the divine magic given to him by the white stag to kill the rest of the ones outside, while Una puts extra magical oomph into her spells, barraging the one in the yurt with an overkill of magic missiles.

Oren then insists that the chest gets dealt with. Oidche had tried to open the chest earlier, but had been unable to get a mastery of the lock.. and since no one wants to destroy the beautiful chest, Una uses a spell to open the chest. Even though the side effect of the spell is to let loose a loud, booming, knocking noise that can be heard throughout the forest, no one seems to be too concerned. Within the chest is a pile of gold coins stamped with the face of Freyr, having come directly from Vannaheim. All told, there appears to be about 50 pounds of gold in the chest. As Oidche looks through the gold, Oren checks for secret compartments in the chest. Rory begins to accuse Oidche of stealing from the party, which Oidche hotly denies. Oren finds no secret compartments, and Una surmises that because the attack on the dragon took place in the daylight, that her treasure guardians simply could not attack then. The rest of the night goes without incident.

23 Yule 90
The next morning, more progress is made towards leaving the fae woods. Laden with a groaning cart, and loathe to fall prey to traps or attackers due to lack of diligence, movement is slow and nerve-wracking. Nothing even sticks its head out to annoy the party during the journey, though the snow makes it hard to see. Una rides in the cart because she is so tired from the spectral attack the night before. She spends her time sewing the side of the yurt back together. Sorley is also tired, but he walks. At the end of the day, camp is set tantalizingly close to the edge of the deep woods.

2nd watch
During this watch, Oren is buried inside the cart, peering out from the slats, and Oidche is hiding in the open yurt flap. Oidche and Oren get surprised by quite a lot of Kobolds, hiding in the snow laden trees. Oren blows the horn through the slats of the cart at the dozen or so on just that side of camp. The noise resonates and echoes through the woods. As Una comes out of the tent to see what is going on, she cannot see any of the Kobolds in any trees. She turns to Oidche to ask him what is going on, and he goes down in a hail of poison darts, and she gets quite a few stuck in her as well. The poison does not even annoy her, wearing the emerald necklace. The Kobolds, convinced that the noise inside the cart was the head of the dragon calling to them, start trying to lift it out of the cart. Oren stabs them through the slats, and Sorley jumps on top of the cart, and starts stabbing at them as well.

A huge white stag, even bigger than a warhorse, appears at the edge of camp, looking at Oren and stamping his feet expectantly. Oren asks him to protect his friends from the kobolds. Then it bellows, sounding like the horn itself.. bellows, and the sound resounds through the forest. The kobolds scatter like cockroaches. He then makes gestures indicating that the party should follow him. So the yurt and the cart is packed, and everyone follows him as he leads a winding path through the fae woods, where Ottercreek can be seen as the dawn arrives. The stag then, simply stands there and watches everyone, and Oren instinctively knows that he now owes The Woods a service.. something that worries him immensely.

24 Yule 90
The party heads for Ottercreek at quite a fast pace (after Sorley puts on his plate mail, and the cart is arranged for the best dramatic effect). Hunting horns sound, and the gates are thrown open. Everyone in the town comes out to meet the returning heroes. Una’s family surround her and Sorley, and there is a lot of happy crying and celebrating. After some quick discussion, the bulk of the treasure, those things not being given to the Dragonsbane and Cora as a gift, or the dragon head, is packed up into the cart. Una draws fake magical runes on the outside of the tarp, then makes them glow, which impresses everyone watching. Then they push it into the Laird’s biggest barn, and they lock it up. Oren then uses his new magic to make every dog in the town his friend, and they all leave their owners to join Oren, who tells them to watch the barn. They all sit around it dutifully, with little regard to their owners, scaring the populace, and making them suddenly very wary of the group. Along the way to Oakridge tower, the party eats meat pies, and Una begins an epic poem about the dragon hunt. She finds it remarkably easy to do this, and everyone else joins in, also now finding it second nature to be composing this epic tale together.

Everyone within the tower, women and men alike, greet the party with cheers as they arrive. Lord Murdoch is there in his full regalia, looking extremely happy, and his daughter-in-law (Young Cora’s grandmother) is just as un-happy. Sir Murdoch, who now has a great Warg helmet, and is now being called ‘The Wolf" (which deeply annoys Oren, who has always considered himself “The Wolf”), is standing with a grim look of satisfaction on his face. Sorley goes up and addresses The Dragonbane, presenting him with the dragon’s head. he makes Sorley kneel, and knights him on the spot, and makes a pronouncement that he and young Cora are now betrothed, and that they will be married in the Spring, as it is a portentous time for such things. He commands the ladies to coordinate it all, and Lady Cora looks as if she wants to destroy the entire party with her mind. As everyone goes in, Oren notices that the Dragonbane’s son looks a bit jealous, and tries to needle him by discussing Sorley’s amazing one of a kind shot in the dark with Una in context of the poem. He only looks proud, though, and doesn’t seem upset by it. Oidche coordinates efforts to get the giant head inside the tower.
Just before the feast, Oren gives everyone in the party goodberries, and gives them to Oidche to make sure that they get into the food. Oidche, hanging out in the kitchen, hears a lot of whispering that Lady Cora will be quite angry that her plans have been derailed. They also ask a lot about the group, and seem to form the opinion that they did the bulk of the heavy fighting instead of Sorley.

The feast itself is amazing, far better than the one laid out for Lord Morgan. The dragon’s head is mounted so that it overlooks the eating and drinking. Una begins to tell the epic poem-tale of the dragon fight. Rory starts a drumbeat with her pike haft, and Oren makes fog come out of the dragons mouth, which frightens everyone at first. Una’s oration is brilliant and hypnotic, everyone taking up Rory’s beat with their feet or hands or mugs on the table. Many things get attributed to Sorley that someone else had done, but Una makes sure everyone gets to shine in the tale, even Oidche, who has been trying unsuccessfully to keep himself out of it. Afterwards, it is hard to keep from getting massively drunk, and so everyone in the party needs to do a little creative footwork to avoid offending anyone by not drinking with them, and not ending up comatose on the floor. No one wants this, especially knowing that “The Undying”’s pawn is awake in the house. Eventually everyone sneaks off to sleep, the hard journey catching up with them, as the party continues to rage through the day.

25 Yule 90
Everyone eventually wakes up around midnight. The party has finally stopped, and everyone is passed out in a drunken stupor. Eventually everyone in the party figures out that Sorley and Cora are gone. Una goes upstairs invisibly, to find them, naked, in the Dragonbane’s bed. She wakes them up, scares them, and gets Cora to get rid of the bloody sheet, which she throws out the window, where it lands on top of some trees. Sorley and Una sneak back downstairs, where the rest of the party begins to berate him, and discuss what’s going to happen to the bloody sheets. Rory also talks about him being as careful as he can in this house. Oidche goes out the secret door to find out what happened to the sheets and sees that wolves are fighting over it. Sir Morgan lets his awake presence be known, and makes a ‘come here’ gesture. Una jogs over, and he stares at her, finally saying that he actually wanted to talk to Sorley. He then tells Sorley to go back to bed, and hope for sons. Boggled and pleased, he jogs upstairs. Sir Morgan then asks if the group can please take this conversation downstairs, as his family is both the topic of discussion, and sleeping right there. He begins to get dressed, saying that he is going to go out and kill some wolves.. he is not looking forward to dealing with his wife or his mother when they awaken. Family politics can go right on without him. On his way out, he sees Oidche tromping through the snow going back to the tower, and gives him an odd look. Just as Oidche comes inside, covered in snow, the party arrives to inform him that they are now leaving. Sighing, he gets his things.

The party breeze through Ottercreek. Oidche picks the lock, the cart is removed, and Una writes a note for her Uncle, the Laird. Oidche then re-locks the barn, leaving the note in the empty barn where the cart used to be. Then they make the trip back to Fallsport during the night. Because they are not carting a giant dragon head, the cart, and their entrance into the city, goes unnoticed. They call on Sir Aidan, and tell him a truncated story. Una gives him the poem they’ve written, which surprises him. He tells everyone to bring the treasures up to Una’s room in the tower, and says that arrangements to make presentations and gifts will be made later. Una and Rory move most of the enchanted things up to her room, leaving the treasures and reagents below. When she returns, Una finds Tam rooting through her things, and stands up to him, which almost doesn’t work. Finally relenting, he mutters something about seeing how smart she is on the ‘frontier’. Ignoring him, Una brings the rest of the things up to her room.

Oren and Oidche go from place to place, making deals for dragon-skin armor (and various things made of dragonskin, like bags), and dragon sausage. They also go to a master leather worker/tailor named Aulay, and get him to make a dress for the Earl and one for Una out of the wings of the dragon. Una’s dress is meant as a surprise. Oren feels that she should get to wear the dragon’s skin too, even though she doesn’t wear armor. Oidche also finds out a good person to sell the runes to; a Valla named Grisila, a priestess of Freya.

Una goes to the carpenters, and finds a master halfling toymaker named Esyllt. She agrees to make a puzzle for the hourglass that will keep it upright no matter how the box is twisted. She proposes a smooth wooden sphere on a stand, which sounds perfect. Una gets a pretty box from her store as well, and puts half of the reagents into them for Tam.

The party has two weeks until Imbolc, when everyone’s special purchases will be done, and they can present their gifts to Lord Morgan.

View
All along the watch tower.
and the wind began to howl....

Present: Oidche, Oren, Rory, Una

25 Yule 90
The evening of the 25th, the party gathers together to divvy up the treasure, which proves to be remarkably easy. Oren only desires those things that remind him of the woods, and the rest does not matter. Rory picks out a few choice objects for her brothers, and Una really only cares about the wooden box. Everything else is divided up, and the group goes to sell those few things which can be actually sold. The first stop is to the potion seller, Cillian. There, Oidche discovers that the potion is likely worth 750 gold to Laird Macaidan. There is some shopping about for potions, and several ‘climbing’ potions and an oil of etherealness are purchased, after concluding that the potion of heroism is prohibitively expensive.

Once outside, the group spots Vala Gisila outside behind a wooden table. She is a young dwarven woman in a blood red gown throwing runes. The group approaches and then gets distracted by food vendors, acquiring meat pies, hot cider, meat on sticks, and roasted chestnuts. As they approach Gisila, Oidche and Rory argue about food. The seeress smiles as they approach, Oidche as usual in front to do the talking. She calls him ‘Highborn’ as she asks how she can help, which is ignored at first. The runestones are of a great interest to her, and she begins haggling with Oidche, whom she keeps calling ‘Highborn’. Finally she says that she will trade one raise from the dead for these runestones, and we all agree. After this is decided upon, the subject of why she keeps calling Oidche “highborn” is brought up, and she keeps dropping hints, saying that no one knows who his father is, not even his mother, and Oidche seems quite happy with this, but it annoys both Rory and Una. Oren asks for a reading, because he wants to be the first to get one with the new runes, which seems to amuse Gisila. She says that she sees him returning home in the next year, in a position of high import, that he will be reluctant to accept because of the respect of the one who has it now. Una asks next, and Gisila gets a lewd smile on her face, and says that she doesn’t see any children in her future, but sees a lot of sex. Everyone starts making fun of her immediately. Una, trying to deflect, tries to get Rory to get a reading, which she absolutely refuses to do. She and Una both try very hard to get Oidche to get a reading about his father, and he finally asks if he is more likely to survive knowing or not knowing. Gisila playfully says that he is the oldest of his father’s children, and that if anyone knows who his father is, it would put him into danger. Then Una asks about The Undying. Gisila casts the runes, frowns at them, and looks extremely disturbed. She says that this person is likely literally Undying, someone who is actually dead in some way. Una asks if that means that the sunlight would be trouble to them, she answers that it depends on the sponsor. She says if The Undying had made a pact with Loki (though it appears that she’d taken that as an example out of the air, but Una doesn’t believe that for a moment), that the sunlight might in fact hurt them. Suddenly in a grave mood, she packs up her table, and leaves. Oren complains that it’s put him off his meat on a stick. Rory and Una give Oidche a hard time about figuring out who his father is, and Una begins to say that it can’t be that hard to figure it out without magic rune reading, and suddenly trails off, and looks unhappy, and stops talking. Rory pesters her the rest of the day to tell what she’s figured out, and Oidche looks extremely uncomfortable.

The next stop is the Merchant’s Exhange. Oren refuses to go inside, and so the rest go in. Oidche does most of the talking with the Laird. In small talk prior to revealing the potion, the Laird asks after Sorley, and is pleased that he has lived, saying that he bet on Sorley, and that he is now owed a lot of money. The negotiations with him go quite smoothly, though Una wants to take the offer of a building rather than money. In the end, he gives the group a pile of gems, and they are divided. The party returns to their various lives for some time, until the festival, when all their crafts and projects will be completed. During the weeks in between, the giant sized helmet is donated to the temple of the Aesir, as it is decorated with arms and armor taken from an enemy.

15 Ice 90 (Imbolc)
During the ensuing weeks, Una manages to get Sir Aidan into bed, and suddenly finds herself engaged, insisted upon by theEarl, after having an interview in which she massively impresses her. Though this makes Una incredibly nervous, she sees that it might be an actual boon. Their marriage is set for Beltaine, by the Earl herself. Oren, with Oidche by his side, pursues his ‘dragon sausage’ experiment. The proprietor of The Cider House makes a lot of things out of the dragon’s meat, but the best becomes the sausage.. by Imbolc, Drystan has perfected the recipe. He has chairs made in human size for the party, and they are allowed to get free food and drink.. soon it becomes the place for them to go.. especially with their new storytelling prowess. Rory spends her time arranging for the marriage between her brothers, and Una’s various family members (including her twin sister), and arranges for the mass of them to come up for Imbolc and discuss everything, taking over the whole of an inn for the occasion.

The gown for the Earl turns out to be a masterpiece, and the lesser gown for Una to be just as beautiful. Everyone dresses up for the occasion, the others in the party wearing their dragon skin armor. The day of the celebration, it begins snowing, and then it begins to blizzard. Una starts getting vocally nervous about the white dragon that feeds during blizzards coming, but eventually gets distracted by the festival itself. During dinner, Una once again tells the story of the dragon’s fight, with the others joining in as they did during the last telling of the tale. It takes on a hypnotic, almost supernatural feel, with the fog and the shadows seeming to take on their own life. During the tale telling, everyone gets their gifts. Sir Aidan seems a little puzzled as to why he is receiving one, but seems to like it. The Earl leaves in order to put the gown on. During the time after this, Una gets more and more antsy about the blizzard, when the horn on the watch tower blows, signifying that the frost giants are attacking again.

Everyone in the hall instantly scatters, with Tam heading towards the Fire Tower. Una, Oren, Rory and Oidche go to find out why the horn was blown . Getting out onto the top, the blizzard suddenly becomes a reality, as they realize that they have to be careful due to the winds, and their sight is restricted severely. Everyone but Rory can hear loud cracking noises down by the watch tower. Oren and Oidche can hear the sounds of Frost Giants climbing up that tower, and Oidche alone can hear the screams of panic drifting on the wind from the halflings at the bottom of the cliff caught unawares by invaders that did not get seen until too late. He also hears the beating of wings. Everyone rushes towards that tower to blow the horn again, so that those waiting on other towers will know the castle is under attack.

By the time they get to the tower, they can see the white dragon on it, eating a guard, and they can see the other guard go flying off the tower because of a tail swipe. The siege engines on this tower are completely decimated. Rory, knowing one of her brothers is on this tower, goes running at it, attacking with her flaming spear. Oren moves up to the horn, and just before he blows it, saves Roark’s (Rory’s brother, near death on the floor) life with a minor spell. Una casts darkness on a long piece of rope still attached to the wreckage of her beloved war machines, and sends it over the side, hoping to slow down the ascent of the giants. The dragon breathes freezing cold on everyone, and then everyone attacks it full force, driving it off. As it takes off into the storm, Oidche focuses his marvelous hearing and sees if he can hear it, and takes a blind shot based only on what he hears, killing the beast and sending into the Loch below with a road and a magnificent splash.

There is half a heartbeat while they tend to the groggy Roark, and send him back into the castle to find Lord Morgan and report. Just as he leaves, a huge, frosty hand comes over the side as the Frost Giants arrive on the top of the watch tower.

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