Regent of Jade

Session 36
Summary of Session 36

When the Amatatsu Seal had been opened, Rehoofa had seen everything vanish, and had woken up in the burning building, pinned under rubble like the rest of the party, too crushed to even call for help. When the vision ended, he saw Elsa and Marcel talking to the evil Marcel, and ending with Marcel saying “bring it.”

The vision shifted then, and Rehoofa found himself sitting in the darkness next to Marcel and Elsa, though Leo was nowhere to be seen. The three of them caught each other up, and also healed from their injuries from the visions so far. Then the party found themselves looking at Kaellara, standing sullenly in front of a window looking out at a moonlit night.

Marcel poked Kaellara with Mage Hand, though she didn’t seem to notice. Kaellara looked at them, and the party saw she was wearing a wooden toggle around her neck like the other snowcaster elves had. Then she spoke: “It was me.”

The party could tell this was another memory, and that Kaellara was not talking to them, but Maia’s memory. In the memory, Kaellara confessed, saying that she had known the danger: she had broken into Maia’s mother’s house since she’d known the mother had been wealthy. Kaellara said that she hadn’t known she’d been followed, or that her pursuers had gotten into the house as well, where they’d killed Maia’s mother, and worse, found out where to find the young Maia and her father.

Kaellara said that everyone was surprised Maia had lived this long, though they said she might still die of her injuries, so she wanted to confess now, so Maia would know. The party felt anger bubbling up in them as Kaellara lowered her head in shame, and the vision ended.

Rehoofa woke up in his old monastery, with no sign of Elsa or Marcel. He felt like the events of the last months had all been a dream. He got up and went about his daily jobs, sweeping floors, eating gruel, and practicing. The monastery was full of elves who looked down their noses at Rehoofa, making it very clear he wasn’t wanted there, and they didn’t think he was good enough to be an archer.

Marcel and Elsa woke up in another forest. Marcel worried that the party was vanishing: Leo was gone, and now Rehoofa was, too. Marcel took Elsa’s hand, holding on tight and hoping she wouldn’t vanish too.

The two of them saw a stone building standing in the middle of the forest. Elsa by this point wondered if she could just collapse the building or set it on fire. The two of them crept up and peeked into the stone building through its narrow windows, seeing a few elves inside, one of which was looking right at them. The door opened, and an elf beckoned them to enter.

Inside the building, they saw a group of elves practicing their archery, drawing and firing arrows on command. At the back of the main room, Rehoofa was sullenly sweeping the floor. Elsa went over to talk to him, though the elves warned her not to distract him from his duties.

Rehoofa at first didn’t recognize the party. As Marcel and Elsa talked to him, the elves spoke, in unison, saying that they were not to distract him. When Rehoofa was handed his old bow and arrows, his memory returned, and he recognized the party, as his clothes changed back to his adventuring gear.

The elves shouted their anger, and their bodies flowed together, becoming an amorphous ball of elf bodies intertwined together. The party got out its weapons right as every elf drew their bow and fired, sending arrows spraying in all directions.

The party fought the “elf-ball” as it thrashed around the building, attacking them with hands and arrows. Rehoofa tried shooting it, but couldn’t seem to focus, missing with every shot until Elsa shouted “Rehoofa, get with it!” His next arrow was a solid critical hit, putting the creature down.

The vision ended, and another one began: the party found themselves in Tien Xia, in a village of pagodas and simple huts. The inhabitants of the town were ghosts yet again, but the party proceeded through, seeing a tall pagoda that proved more solid than the others.

Marcel used a wand to make Rehoofa’s arrows flaming, muttering he should have done this much earlier. Upon entering the pagoda, the party was attacked by a doglike monster that cloaked itself in shadows. It chased them out of the pagoda, but outside the party regrouped and was able to bring the beast down.

The ground floor of the pagoda secured, Rehoofa scouted up to the next floor. There was a crowd of ghost-people up there, talking with each other and not seeming to notice Rehoofa. He found Leo lying insensate on the floor. When he touched Leo, however, the ghosts and Leo all vanished, and Rehoofa found himself cursed, turning old in moments.

Marcel and Elsa caught up with Rehoofa. Marcel used a Restoration scroll (after several unsuccessful attempts), managing to fix Rehoofa’s rapid aging. The three of them then explored the rest of the floor, finding a small room in the back, within which was Suishen, sticking blade-first in the floorboards.

The party was hesitant to approach the sword, especially after the trap Rehoofa had walked into with Leo. Almost as disturbing, they could hear muffled shouting coming from somewhere. When Elsa finally steeled herself and picked up the blade, the voice cleared, and she could hear Suishen talking to her again.

Suishen told them that the oni’s power was weakening: at the beginning of the vision, the oni had repressed Suishen’s intelligence and ability to speak, but now it could at least talk to its wielder.

Re-armed and ready to end the oni once and for all, the party moved up to the top floor of the pagoda, where they saw the evil clone of Marcel waiting for them. The evil Marcel taunted them, saying they would never escape and that the Jade Regent would triumph, and then attacked.

The evil Marcel moved like Omoyani had, vanishing and reappearing, attacking from the shadows. However, the party had learned a thing or two about dealing with ninjas, and this time they were able to fend him off much more effectively. Ultimately, Marcel stabbed him, bringing the evil twin to its knees, and then Elsa beheaded it with Suishen.

The vision began to break apart then, the pagoda crumbling around them. Rehoofa leapt out a window and used his monk’s slow-fall training against the collapsing wall. Elsa jumped out the same window, using Suishen’s Air Walk ability to control her fall. Marcel, having no such training or magic, simply jumped out the window and hoped to survive.

Moments before Marcel would hit the ground, however, the party awoke, all of them opening their eyes to find themselves in a wagon. Next to them, Maia suddenly sat up, gasping and sweating. It seemed the vision had truly ended. Nearby, Kaellara had been watching. Seeing them awaken, she dashed off.

Maia explained that it had been an different experience for her than for them: she had been watching, but had not been physically there. She had felt the oni pulling memories from her, and had done her best to stop it. She had found she could control the vision, bit by bit: guiding the party to the solid buildings, even bringing back Suishen. The party gave their thanks, though Marcel’s was a very grudging thank-you.

Rehoofa was trying to process everything he had seen, saying he was worried he might never leave the dream world. That reminded the rest of them: what had happened to Leo?

Their answer came momentarily, as Kaellara returned with Arach, who welcomed them back and explained that they had all been unconscious for days. He led them to Meckrin’s wagon, where Leo was laid out, being tended to by the goblin. Apparently, Leo had nearly died a few days ago, and it had taken all of Meckrin’s training just to keep him stable since then.

Suishen, on Elsa’s back, said to the party that it had sensed Leo lose himself to panic and fear during the vision, and had sensed Leo’s mind slip away, seized by the oni. However, Suishen also confirmed that the oni inside of Marcel had been dealt with: the dark energy that had been twined around Marcel’s mind was finally wiped out.

Suishen also explained to Elsa that she was proving herself a capable warrior, and so it was willing to let her use a greater part of its power. In Elsa’s hands, Suishen was now a Flaming Burst sword.

As the party thought on what had happened and tried to rouse Leo, the caravan was pulling up to the next town, the Erutaki village of Iqualiat.

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Session 35
Summary of Session 35

The party took what they could of the giant fish that had attacked them. Kelda gutted one and reached into its stomach, coming back with handfuls of fish guts that she handed off to the party. Though disgusted, the party cleaned off the guts to find a few gems and a magical ring had been in the fishes’ stomachs.

The caravan successfully crossed the Taraska river. After a few days’ travel on the other side, they found another pile of dead bodies, the bodies torn apart as though by a great beast, but many of them were marked with a three-taloned claw mark, much like the totem the ice trolls had carried. Interestingly enough, the bodies had been picked over after they had been piled, as well: their eyes had been removed, as well as many of their teeth. These were telltale marks of a raven picking over corpses. The party immediately thought of Wodes, the blood-feather raven that they had never gotten rid of back in Kalsgard.

Elsa and Marcel had an animated talk about what to do if it was Wodes. They considered perhaps Wodes was the one actually behind Marcel’s dreams, using whatever magic he had to play some kind of cunning illusion. Marcel wanted to kill the raven and be done with it, though Elsa wanted to try befriending him first, saying he might make a good animal companion or familiar. Meanwhile, Leo, out of earshot, found a single black raven’s feather. Seeing the stress that ravens were bringing to Elsa and Marcel, he hid the feather and said nothing to them about it.

The party considered asking Meckrin for some magical protection against possession or mind control from Wodes, but thought better of it. Meckrin was usually a perfect example of the cure being worse than the disease, after all.

The next day, Elsa started leaving corn along as a trail for Wodes to pick up on. She even left a note one day, saying that he had tried to kill them, so they had needed to kill his master. The note further said that Elsa was very sorry about killing his master, and if Wodes would care to join a smaller group, they would love to have him.

Then one night, things went wrong: in the cold of the northern night, Marcel had another dream. Elsa awoke to find Marcel wandering around the wagons. She asked if Wodes had something to do with this, and “Marcel” said that that pathetic crow was just a toy of a wizard and had nothing on him. He also said that he could see why Goti had had such a thing for her mother. Elsa took offense at this, but then Marcel said that he’d seed the goblin wandering around, and that she should probably look around for him. Elsa came under a powerful spell then, and went to go look for the goblin. When she ran into Leo, she said she was looking for Meckrin, and he suddenly came under the same compulsion to go looking around.

With Elsa and Leo busy, Marcel vanished suddenly, reappearing moments later across the caravan, clawing out a guard’s throat. Elsa and Leo, having found Meckrin by then, snapped out of their mind control and ran to try and stop Marcel. He disappeared into Maia’s wagon, only to be thrown out moments later, pursued by Kelda who bounded out after him, sword drawn.

Leo and Elsa attacked Marcel, though he moved incredibly quickly and vanished from sight like a ninja. Leo went in with Suishen, trying to attack with the back of the blade, but Suishen was not compromising on the safety of the Amatatsu heir. It partially dominated Leo, forcing him to attack with lethal force. After a brief but harsh battle, Marcel lay on his back bleeding. Leo lost his own battle of wills and became completely dominated by Suishen. He lifted the katana up, ready to cut Marcel’s head off.

Then as the blade came down, Maia’s voice interrupted with a sharp cry of “STOP!”

Leo froze in mid-swing, Suishen stopping mere inches above Marcel’s neck. Suishen hesited a long moment, before muttering “Suishen…heeds the order of the Amatatsu,” and releasing Leo from the domination.

Marcel awoke at that point, Omoyani chuckling and saying this was an interesting turn of events, and he couldn’t wait to see what they end up doing now. He receded, letting Marcel have control of his body again.

The story came out then, at long last: Marcel revealed that the nogitsune Omoyani had possessed him, and had been able to take him over in his sleep. The party wondered what they would do about him, and locked him up while they thought things out. Maia said that as much as she would have enjoyed watching Marcel get his head chopped off, but at the same time didn’t think he deserved it. Not yet, anyway.

Maia ultimately suggested using the Amatatsu Seal: she remembered that it had been able to bring her out of a coma that no one had been able to cure. There was a chance it could help Marcel, too, and it was worth trying.

They rested, waiting until morning. Then the party gathered a short distance away from the caravan, and Maia brought the Seal. She set it down in front of them all, and opened the warding box, revealing the Seal to the world for the first time since Brinewall. The party got a glimpse of the jade figure inside of the box, and then were blinded as it flashed with brilliant light.

Leo, Elsa, and Marcel opened their eyes, to see they were standing all alone in a sparse, snowy forest, with no sign of the caravan, the Seal, or anyone else. Leo tried to ask Suishen what had happened, but the sword was eerily silent. Its blade would not even catch fire.

The party realized that perhaps they weren’t in the real world anymore, and decided to investigate. Seeing a copse of trees nearby, Leo, Elsa, and Marcel headed over. In there, they heard voices speaking from the air, whispering “betrayal” and “failed us.” Then undead creatures started clawing their way out of the snowy ground and attacking.

As they fought, Leo remembered the copse of trees as a place where he’d guided travelers years back, and where they’d been ambushed by Ulfen raiders, leaving him as the only survivor. The undead were after revenge on him, trying to suck out his life force. Even worse, the snow covering the trees was poisonous, and dropped onto anyone who walked too close, sapping the party’s strength. Still, the party managed to pull together and fend off the undead.

The party’s vision clouded, and the forest changed before them, thawing out and becoming a dry, temperate forest. As the party walked, the woods gave way to a village, full of farmers and other peasants just waking up and starting the day’s business. Elsa recognized the village as the one she’d grown up in.

None of the villagers noticed the party, and passed through them like ghosts. The same was true of the buildings: Marcel stuck his head through a wall, getting a look at a pair of farmers getting dressed before pulling back out, disgusted.

One building was material, however: Elsa recognized it as her house. However, she had already concluded that whatever was happening, it was going to come to them killing something, so she was impatient to kill something.

The party walked into the house, where they found a woman trying to comfort a crying baby. Unlike the rest of the villagers, the woman could see and hear the party. Something was still off, though: she was acting distracted, trailing off mid-sentence. She said she had used to be an adventurer, but had retired and had taken in this baby that had been left on her doorstep. Marcel made funny faces at the baby, finally getting it to stop crying.

The mother spoke with Elsa, continuing to seem distracted, but her voice changed mid-sentence, saying “I never wanted you in the first place.” Elsa felt something in her pocket then: a note that read “20 gold to kill the woman.” She didn’t show this note to the rest of the party, however.

Elsa, finally deciding enough was enough, slashed at the woman. Her claws caught the woman’s throat, tearing off her flesh and organs like they were a mask, leaving a skeleton: armed, armored and attacking.

The fight was on, as the party faced off against the skeleton. As they fought, a group of farmers ran in, shouting “murderer” and “monster” at Elsa. The farmers looked like they were animated dead, their bodies rotting as they fought with rusty pitchforks and hoes. Marcel blasted quite a few of them with a fireball from his necklace, and followed up with an alchemist’s fire, which successfully set the house ablaze.

The skeleton destroyed and the farmers put down, Elsa grabbed the baby and was about to run for safety when the roof caved in. The party found itself buried under burning rubble, choking on smoke and burning. Elsa couldn’t find the baby she’d been carrying, but she could hear a young girl screaming nearby, screaming “daddy! daddy!” in Tien.

The party dug itself free as fire elementals detached from the burning building and attacked them. The party tried to fight them off while Elsa jumped through the flames of the burning building, going for the child she could hear. Elsa found the girl: a Tien girl about five years old, yet unmistakeable as a child Maia. The girl was screaming as she watched a Tien man fighting fire elementals. The man was struck down and immolated as the fire elementals piled on top of him. Elsa tried to dig the girl out, but her hands passed through the girl. As Leo and Marcel caught up and killed the last of the fire elementals, the building’s door broke open and a young Arach charged in. He scooped up the young Maia in his arms and ran out to safety.

Everything went dark again, and the party found themselves sitting in darkness. They saw an evil twin of Marcel grinning at them. Evil Marcel jeered that the story did have some good parts, but plenty of bad parts, too.

The party asked why the oni were trying so hard to kill Maia. The evil Marcel just shrugged, saying it wouldn’t matter if he told them, since they’ll soon be dead anyway. He explained that the Jade Regent wanted Maia dead. He said she is the last pureblood of the last noble family, and that it certainly wasn’t a coincidence she could use the Seal the way she could.

The party accused the evil Marcel as being afraid of the Seal. The evil Marcel rolled his eyes and said it was time to move onto the second act of the play.

Marcel replied, simply, with “bring it.”

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Session 34
Summary of Session 34

Elsa, her druidic powers still weakened, was worried about what to do with the dead fish-creatures. She was worried that perhaps dealing with them wrong would anger nature further, costing her even more. The party decided to have Meckrin drive out the bad luck of the bodies, then burn them. The Qallupalluk, on the other hand, they beheaded and kept its head on Mecrkin’s wagon as a trophy.

Caladrel and Faunra were respectful of the party’s help in finding what had caused the town to be abandoned, and also for taking care of the monster. They were still dismissive of Kaellara, however.

The caravan headed out, though shortly afterwards it was stuck in a blizzard which went on for days, half burying it in snow. The caravan dug in and waited it out. Rehoofa took the opportunity to test his martial arts abilities, punching and kicking trees down, though he ended up with bloody knuckles.

After the blizzard the caravan headed out again, though as they passed through a hilly area they caught glimpse something waiting for them up ahead. Elsa, Rehoofa, and Marcel went out to investigate, seeing three heads: a polar bear, a walrus, and a white dragon, peeking up over a cliffside at them.

Elsa hatched one of her plans: she would approach and see if any of the creatures would speak to her, putting her in the line of fire while Marcel and Rehoofa hung back with their bows out. Elsa’s plan “worked” as the monster revealed itself as a three-headed Chimera, and started an avalanche that buried Elsa alive.

Marcel and Rehoofa fired on the chimera, wounding it and driving it back temporarily. Elsa meanwhile struggled to free herself. Marcel dropped his bow and helped dig through the snow, getting a surprise when Elsa’s hands burst through the ground. He was able to pull her out, and then Elsa, Marcel, and Rehoofa climbed up the cliffside towards where the chimera had retreated. Elsa was surprised when the beast breathed frozen air at her from its white dragon head. The party regrouped and was able to bring the chimera down and loot its lair before returning to the caravan. As an extra trophy, they took the white dragon head along, mounting it on Meckrin’s wagon next to the Qallupalluk head. Mecrkin’s wagon was quickly becoming the caravan’s trophy wagon.

A few nights later, Marcel had another nightmare. In this one, he was wandering through the woods, and ran into some hunters. He told the hunters he knew where to find food. But then Marcel woke up, confused and disoriented, and saw his boots and clothes were crusted with dirt and snow. He said nothing, however.

The party was sent out ahead to scout the next village, though Leo stayed behind to guard the caravan. Rehoofa, Elsa, and Marcel got the village, smelling cooking meat, which smelled a bit like pork. They were welcomed by the village elder. They sat the party around their cookfire, saying that recently their hunters had started coming back with more food, and they were willing to share their bounty.

A few hunters recognized Marcel, thanking him for the idea he’d given them. The party was quite suspicious of what they were about to be fed, especially from how the village elder just insisted they eat the meat, and that it would make them strong. The village had apparently just recently found a way to get rid of its weaker people.

Marcel and Elsa pressed, asking what the meat was called, and eventually the elder relented and said that they could call it Kalukik, which Marcel recognized as a common name. For a person. Rehoofa also identified the smell as the meat of no animal he knew, but which might be human meat. The party quickly found an excuse to leave and left very quickly, though the villagers looked very offended, even aggressive.

The party got to the caravan and explained the situation quickly. Skygni caught up to them, gnawing on some of the person-meat the party had dropped in its rush to get away. He said that he had recognized the scent of cooking human meat. He also said it was not his job to warn the party about such things, just that he was to see them over the Crown. What they ate was none of his concern, though he was clearly amused by the party’s disgust at the cannibals.

Marcel, fearing what the possession had made him do, slept as little as possible, and was exhausted most of the time as a result.

The caravan reached the Taraska river, a barrier for them to cross on their way to the north. The caravan started fording it one wagon at a time, when two gigantic predatory fish attacked, devouring one of the caravan animals and panicking the others. The party fought the fish off, although they apparently found Rehoofa delicious: one of them started to swallow Rehoofa, Elsa clawed him out, and he managed to tumble out, directly into the other fish’s mouth. Elsa clawed him out again, thankfully.

The fish lay dead on the banks of the Taraska, and the rest of the caravan set about fording the mighty river.

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Session 33
Summary of Session 33

The caravan set up in the abandoned village of Rimakak, and started licking its wounds and fixing up its wagons. While the repairs were underway, the party investigated the town, trying to figure out what had happened. They talked with Caladrel and Faunra, finding Caladrel polite but distant, and Faunra just distant. Caladrel was the apparent leader of their expedition, doing most of the talking.

Both snowcasters wore wooden toggles on strings around their necks, a toggle that Kaellara was notably missing. They were also openly dismissive of Kaellara, pretending to not even notice that she was there.

The party invited the snowcasters to the campfire one night. Faunra was particularly guarded, not knowing what to think of them. Even more curious, while Caladrel had the same pale skin and light eyes as Kaellara, Faunra had gray skin and red eyes, giving her a striking resemblance to a drow.

Ulf explained that there are stories that snowcasters descended from drow who came to the surface long ago. Whether or not those stories are true, the snowcasters are divided into dayrunners (with pale skin and light eyes) and nightrunners (with gray skin and red eyes). Nightrunners in particular have darkvision with light-sensitive eyes, similar to drow.

Rehoofa, Maia, and the snowcasters had a polite archery contest on the lake one day. Rehoofa and Maia both faired rather well, but Caladrel was less than appreciative, claiming he’d gone easy on them for their sake.

The party’ investigations showed that something had attacked the town and scared the townsfolk into fleeing. Even worse, confirmed when talking to Skygni, no such monster had left. The party looked to the lake, feeling something was amiss. They posted a few guards, and Leo, on the lake’s shore. Leo heard splashes, and some of the caravan guards suddenly went missing.

As the rest of the party came to the lake, worried that the monster was about to show itself, Leo smelled something oddly briny and sweet. He heard ice cracking just before he fell through, to where a hideous fish creature grabbed at him, trying to drag him down deeper.

Rehoofa was busy exploring the town with the elves, trying to prove he can do better at investigation than them. Elsa, Marcel, and Kaellara joined the fight, which proved to be a very dangerous one. The fish creature was called a qallupalluk, a sort of ice-water hag. Its squamous lackeys, merrows and a scrag, broke through the ice to attack. Leo fought underwater until he managed to get up to the surface, where one of the party pulled him out.

The party fought hard, striking down the monsters, though more than a few of them fell through the ice. The qallupalluk referred to its scaly allies as its family, and screeched at the party to join its family. Anyone the qallupalluk grabbed found scales starting to appear on their skin. The qallupalluk took a particular interest in Elsa, trying to drag her underwater. Marcel fouled up its plans by dumping foaming powder into the lake, burying them all in foam. The party was then able to strike the monster down.

Afterwards, Elsa donned Suishen and dove into the lake, using the sword’s magic to protect herself from the bitter cold. She found a small cache of treasure which she returned to the party, and the party called it a successful combat.

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Session 32
Summary of Session 32

The caravan packed up and headed off on Kaellara’s planned course to the woods. On the way there, the caravan found overturned wagons and maimed bodies, with stinking piles lying nearby. Rehoofa shot an arrow into a pile, finding it to be a mound of troll feces. Ulf was worried about this; trolls were known to be in the Crown of the World, but not in this part of it, at least not at the beginning of winter.

Marcel had another nightmare days later, again feeling something chasing him, but not quite catching up. He kept his mouth shut, however. The caravan kept its collective eyes open, the party going out on a scouting mission when they saw a cloud on the trail indicating something was up ahead. They found a herd of wooly rhinoceroses ahead of them, in the path of the caravan. They considered waiting for the rhinos to simply pass by, but decided instead it would be better to resupply their food, and the party attacked the rhinos, driving them into a sudden stampede. Several bull rhinos broke away from the herd and charged the party, giving them a hard time for a few minutes before killing them. They stripped the rhinos for meat and took their prey back to the caravan.

The next day, Elsa found her druidic powers weakening, leaving her unable to refresh her spells. She realized perhaps she had taken things a little too far in attacking a herd of rhinos because it was in the way, and started thinking of ways to make amends. She confided in Marcel about her reduced powers, and Marcel reciprocated by admitting he thought the Nogitsune had moved into him. They talked for a while to figure out a course of action. Ultimately, they decided to go to Meckrin to see if his healing powers could help discreetly.

Marcel didn’t want to just announce he was possessed, for fear Suishen (and possibly others) would demand his beheading. So, Elsa and Marcel, both of whom could shape-shift due to their racial or druidic abilities, agreed to swap places. Then Elsa, disguised as Marcel, would say that “he” can’t cast spells because he’s a bad bard (explaining “Marcel” couldn’t cast spells). Then Marcel, diguised as Elsa, would claim to have a spirit possessing “her,” and ask if Meckrin could drive it out. That way, the Nogitsune could be driven out without agitating Suishen. Hopefully.

Meckrin was quite happy to help out Elsa, and put “her” through a demeaning and embarrassing ritual that involved her putting on a revealing garment that got soaked with oils, peeled off of her (to much hooting of the caravan drivers), and then burned.

Marcel hoped that perhaps following Meckrin’s magic, the possession had been driven out. He and Elsa agreed to keep it a secret as they moved on.

The caravan moved into the forest, and within days was attacked by a pack of ice trolls. The party fought them off, as did Maia, Arach, Kelda, and Kaellara. Meckrin hid under a wagon and waited for it to be over, so he was quite thankful of the party coming to his rescue.

The trolls had some treasure on them, bits of gold and jewelry likely taken from other raid targets. Also among the treasure was a human hand with the index and ring fingers bitten off, leaving a three-fingered hand that a troll had been carrying as some kind of totem.

The party found the totem and the trolls’ presence curious. Ulf thought that something was up north driving the trolls out somehow, forcing them to seek other prey. The party suspected oni involvement. Meanwhile, Arach wanted the caravan to limp along to the next city, so they could have a safe place to stop and fix the wagons from the troll attack.

That same night, Marcel was tormented by another dream. He woke up sweaty and with the taste of blood in his mouth. He was cleaning himself up when Kaellara appeared, giving him a curious look. Marcel said that he was dealing with something, and he would be all right. Kaellara gestured to indicate she would be watching him.

The caravan continued on, arriving at the small Erutaki village of Rimakak at the coast of a lake. They found the village deserted, except for a pair of snowcaster elves, Caladrel and Faunra, who approached the caravan to say that the village had been emptied out for some time, and they were there to investigate.

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Session 31
Summary of Session 31

The trip across the rest of the Lands of the Linnorm Kings began. The caravan crossed the great river over to Iceferry. Over there, they took on a few more guards, one of which was Leo, the man who had helped Elsa keep track of Acimon while waiting for the horse’s revival.

On the way across the Thanelands towards the Crown of the World, the caravan animals started getting agitated and worried, having picked up on a scent of something nearby. Rehoofa and Marcel broke off to go see what it was, and found Skygni waiting for them just over a hill. Skygni waited for Elsa to catch up so he could address them all. He said that he didn’t like being in debt to someone, and he offered his services as a companion for the duration of the trip across the Crown of the World, even though he was pretty sure they were all going to die. The party accepted his offer, and Skygni followed along with the caravan, staying at a distance to avoid agitating the animals too much.

Mere days later, Leo awoke one night to feel something calling to him. He found his way into a wagon, where he uncovered an ornate box and opened it, revealing the Amatatsu Seal. He was afflicted with the same visions the rest of the party had felt back in Brinewall, and was then left unconscious.

The rest of the party woke up to the blast of brilliant energy coming from the wagon, and found Leo, dragging him out. They accosted him, asking what his intentions were with the Seal, but Suishen set them straight, saying that he now sensed that the Seal had marked Leo as a scion, finding him worthy of such a position. Maia confirmed that she felt the Seal’s touch on Leo, much as she’d felt it on the others.

With wary acceptance of the new scion, the party continued on. As the caravan crossed into the Stormspear Hills leading into the frozen north, the caravan started to suffer from stomach cramps: some of the food they had bought had been rotten. Elsa and Meckrin set about purifying the food and tending to the sick, keeping the caravan mostly on its way. The troubles did not end there, however, as an invisible stalker attacked the caravan mere days later. With help from Suishen, Elsa was able to see the beast, an amorphous being of air. She and the rest of the party struck it down.

Caravan morale was low at that point: mere days into the journey across the Crown of the World, they had already hit two major problems. Marcel entertained the caravan that night with his jokes, helping to perk up the workers.

Marcel’s morale remained low however, as he had another nightmare that very night. He woke up stiff, and Elsa woke up to find some of her clothes had been shredded as though by claws. Suishen, who had been with her, mentioned that someone humanoid had come into her wagon that night, but it had not been able to recognize the person.

Marcel was worried, but kept his concerns to himself. The rest of the caravan took precautions, doubling up on sleeping arrangments so that no one was alone. Elsa originally shared a wagon with Maia, but would eventually move out to share with Marcel, while Kelda shared with Maia. Elsa also handed of Suishen to Leo, feeling more confident in her claws and teeth than with a sword. Leo accepted the gift, and Suishen approved as well, sensing that Leo was both a scion and a warrior.

The caravan moved across the Stormspear Hills, where Ulf explained they were passing through the Giant-Downs, formerly a land of giants, now a sort-of holy ground where old giants might come to spend their last days. As they passed through the Giant-Downs, Skygni warned them that they were being followed. The party branched off to look around, where they heard a voice demanding that they leave this holy ground. The party ignored this warning and challenged the speaker to come out. They soon found themselves facing a frost giant and his pet winter wolf.

The party fought the pair, striking them down with some effort. They then searched around, finding the winter wolf’s lair, where a picked-over corpse and a ruined wagon waited. They found a few scraps of treasure, the best of which was a magical map showing the Crown of the World, as well as the weather forming across it.

Ulf was impressed by the map, but also worried. He pointed to clouds forming on the far side of the Crown, explaining those were the early signs of a Morokozo, a hungry storm. He explained that the Crown of the World was infused with a bizarre magic, where some storms took on a strange semi-intelligence, seeming to seek out warm things and pull the heat from their bodies. These things were called Morokozos, and it was strange to find them this time of year. Usually Morokozos only appear in the summer, when there is more heat for them to feed on.

As worrying as this news was, the storm was hundreds of miles away on the far side of the Crown, and so was not really a concern for the caravan. The caravan kept going, to where they found an encampment of Erutaki, the nomadic natives of the Crown of the World.

The party made friends with the Erutaki and was accepted by them as guests. They resupplied their food and shared stories of their travels so far, leaving out details such as Tien nobility, oni, Suishen, and so on.

During their stay, the party found Ulf and Kaellara arguing over the map. Specifically, Ulf wanted to set a course around the forest of the Gaarjuk Hills, following the normal caravan path. Kaellara, on the other hand, wanted to chart a course straight through the forest, which would be more dangerous, but also quicker and also further away from questioning eyes who might be alerted to a caravan’s presence, especially after Leo had opened the Amatatsu Seal.

The party agreed to Kaellara’s course, hoping for the best.

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Session 30
Summary of Session 30

The party headed to the Fire Quarter. They looked for any sign of Guillaume, but realized that it was a big area to look for one man. They lucked out when they saw a familiar-looking goblin, Meckrin, hobbling around. Passerby mentioned that the goblin had been making a living wandering around the streets in the last couple days, begging for food wherever he could get it. The party got to Meckrin and found him working for one of the fighting pits, but he was in a tremendous hurry to get inside.

Finding that this was the fighting pit Guillaume was in, the party let Meckrin go and they went in as spectators. They placed bets on Guillaume just before the fight started.

The party considered loaning Suishen to Guillaume to give him an edge in the fight. Suishen took issue with this, however, briefly dominating Elsa’s mind, to make her say that parting with the sword would be a bad idea.

An announcer came into the pit and announced that this was Guillaume’s last fight, after days of constant combat. As Guillaume rode in on Acimon, the audience roared its support, chanting “HYDRA! HYDRA! HYDRA!” over and over again. Then Guillaume’s opponent lumbered in: a towering 2-headed ettin, the last champion of the Rimerunners Guild. It was an ex-champion of the fighting pits, named Big Ludd.

Guillaume charged, spearing Big Ludd with his lance, but the ettin was not slowed down. He bashed on Guillaume with a morningstar and a blade he was wielding in either hand. The party cheered Guillaume on from the stands, while also insulting the ettin. The fight was a close one, Guillaume fighting as best he could but slowly being worn down from the ettin’s relentless attacks. Guillaume wounded one of the ettin’s heads, but had his arm broken by a follow-up swing. At the climax of the fight Guillaume leapt off of Acimon at the ettin, ramming his sword into the ettin’s other head, right as the ettin’s sword came down and killed Acimon. Big Ludd then collapsed, dead from a broken neck and a pierced brain. Guillaume fell to his knees soon afterwards, nearly dead.

Meckrin appeared, hobbling across the field and tending to Guillaume’s wounds with his magic. The party found their way down to the ring as well, where they helped patch Guillaume back up. They even collected Acimon, confirming the war horse was dead. Guillaume was distraught by the loss of his horse, but the party promised to make it better. Marcel, Rehoofa, and Guillaume left to go fetch Sven, the priest of Shelyn they had befriended. Elsa stayed behind to watch Acimon, where a helpful ring worker named Leo helped push the horse out of the way.

Guillaume caught the rest of the party up on how he’d been kept at the fighting pit for the last several days. They had barely fed him or tended to his wounds, but Meckrin had come by every day with food and healing spells to keep him going.

Sven came back with the party and, after a donation of a diamond for the spell, cast Raise Dead, healing and reviving Acimon. Guilluame was thankful for this, and hung around with the party for a while longer, catching up on what he’d missed during his time in prison.

Confident that relative peace had come to Kalsgard, the party retired to the Hall of Splendid Valor, where they were welcomed and given a free stay in appreciation for all they’d done.

Marcel was enjoying a massage from his attendant, when he looked up to see Omoyani standing at the foot of the table. Omoyani grinned and whispered “you didn’t think it’s be that easy, did you?” Marcel screamed, though Omoyani was gone as soon as he blinked.

Marcel had a sleepless night, but the next morning the party went back to business. Most of the party was ready to move on to journey over the Crown of the World, but Guillaume turned down the offer. As it turned out, in appreciation of his services to Kalsgard and his fighting ability, he’d been granted a position as huscarl to a new jarl. It was a good political position that would give him a real chance to make a name for himself. Further, he no longer felt the connection he had to the quest.

Suishen backed up Guillaume here, saying that he sensed that the Amatatsu seal had marked Guillaume in the past, but that the mark was no longer there; it seemed Guillaume’s destiny had changed, and the quest to Tien Xia was no longer his. Suishen further explained that that had been why he had dominated Elsa: Suishen does not wish to be held by any who were not Amatatsu scions.

The party made their peace with Guillaume, and set about selling their accumulated loot, buying equipment in preparation for their long journey over the Crown of the World. After they were done, they packed up the caravan and set off. Elsa briefly talked with Uksahkka again: he wished her the best and hoped that her path would not bring her to darkness like her mother’s had. He also told Elsa that in the time she’d been at Kalsgard, Elsa’s mother had been named Katiyana.

The party set off on their long journey. On the first night, Marcel had a nightmare where he felt he was being chased, though he could not see what was chasing him. Fearing the worst, he did some research on Nogitsune, trying to figure out how he could handle a possession. His researched proved fruitless, however: the book he bought from Kalsgard only said that when a Nogitsune was killed, often it was best to kill any nearby kitsune, just to be sure.

The good news was that Meckrin was back in the group, having been accepted to the caravan after the party had seen how he’d cared for Guillaume. He even renegotiated his services with the party, offering a 10% discount on potions he could prepare and sell to the party.

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Session 29
Summary of Session 29

The party rode back into Kalsgard, ready to start spending their loot. Suishen warned Marcel that Nogitsune are particularly hard to kill, and knowing that Marcel was a kitsune, he would be watching Marcel for signs of possession. Suishen warned him that if Marcel was possessed, he would free Marcel quickly and mercifully. By parting his head from his shoulders.

The party went back to the caravan, where they were welcomed by Arach and the others. They found that there had been some serious changes while they were away. With the return of Lute Haggersly, there had been a serious upheaval in Kalsgard’s business environment: the Rimerunners Guild’s assets had been frozen while they were investigated thoroughly, searching for how deep the corruption went.

The party found Maia and presented her with Suishen. She accepted it gratefully at first, listening to it introduce itself, but then as Suishen finished, its blade burst into flames. Maia turned white and screamed, dropping the sword to the ground with a clang as she recoiled from it.

Silence fell over the group for a long moment. Maia caught her breath and asked Elsa to go on carrying Suishen for now. Suishen hesitantly acknowledged Elsa as its temporary wielder, so long as she had the permission of the Amatatsu family.

Maia told Suishen that she was no Amatatsu, at least not pureblood. She was a bastard of the lady Kaijitsu. Suishen disagreed, and explained: years ago, the Amatatsu family had come across the Crown of the World, to escape the political turmoil that Tien Xia was falling into. Upon arriving in Kalsgard, they had changed their name to Kaijitsu, to keep their anonymity and start a new life. Suishen had suggested selling him to a trader, giving them seed money to start a new business.

Suishen also revealed that he had felt Maia’s blood in her veins when she held him, and knew that she was a pureblood Amatatsu. When Maia said it was her half-sister that was the pureblood, Suishen suggested that perhaps the Amatatsus had taken another step to protect their line, switching her with a bastard as a sort of insurance against disaster. Insurance the family was in dire need of, as all other pureblood Amatatsus have died out. Suishen knew this last part, as it sensed that the Amatatsu Seal (the artifact from Brinewall) had marked Rehoofa, Marcel, and Elsa as proper scions of the Amatatsu family, a step it would only take if the family itself were dying out.

Marcel and Elsa expected Maia to become even more intolerable upon hearing she actually was a princess, but Maia instead went very quiet. She asked the party to leave her alone to sort out her thoughts. The party obliged, heading out into Kalsgard.

They went by Fynn Snaevald, the proper owner of Suishen. They considered simply “forgetting” to come by, but in the end they presented him with the blade. Fynn looked confused, saying that wasn’t the blade he remembered. When they instead presented him with the duplicate Suishen they’d recovered from Ravenscraeg, he nodded, saying that was definitely it, offering them a wink and a nod as he took the fake sword. He even gave them a magical, but normal-looking, scabbard for the real Suishen, wishing them good luck.

Fynn also mentioned that he was impressed at the chaos the party had brought into Kalsgard, especially with the Rimerunners Guild. He also mentioned that the black knight the party had been traveling with had been taken to the fighting pits, sentenced to fight for his freedom. The Rimerunners Guild had played a legal game: Thorborg Silverskorr and every guard on her had claimed offense by Guillaume following them, and so every one of them had brought a separate charge, meaning a separate fight for Guillaume for each of them.

Fynn had heard something about the knight still being alive, however. So with this news to embolden them, the party immediately made way for the fighting pits, hoping to find Guillaume.

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Session 28
Summary of Session 28

Ninjas were leaping out of alcoves hidden up near the ceiling of the room. The party soon found four ninjas coming at them. Elsa, her eyes still enhanced by Suishen, saw an invisible Thorborg Silverskorr flying up to another alcove in the room.

Rehoofa fired off arrows and Elsa and Ulf went in swinging their weapons. Marcel held back, tossing off insults and threats to throw the ninjas off-balance. Elsa went up under the alcove Thorborg had taken cover in, Suishen telling her that it could give her the power to go up and fight. Elsa challenged Thorborg to come down, and Thorborg snickered. Moments later Thorborg’s shed human skin hit the ground, while Thorborg’s voice overhead became deeper and more sinister.

Elsa and Ulf were wounded by the ninjas, but Rehoofa shot them down. Elsa, imbued with the ability to walk on air by Suishen, ran upwards to the alcove Thorborg had flown up to. She saw what Thorborg looked like under her skin: she had transformed into a giant, orange-skinned beast, which Marcel would identify as an Ogre Mage. The party had found Kimandatsu, the true leader of the Frozen Shadows.

Kimandatsu fired giant arrows, badly wounding Rehoofa. When Elsa came into melee range, it took out a giant studded club and pounded her mercilessly, while Elsa struggled to wield Suishen. Elsa was battered into unconsciousness, and Suishen ended the air-walking spell, allowing her to fall to the waiting arms of Ulf underneath her. Spivey, hiding in Elsa’s backpack with the fresh healing wand, worked quickly to heal Elsa back to consciousness. Rehoofa tried to shoot down Kimandatsu, but she revealed her ability to bat arrows out of the air.

Kimandatsu, sensing victory at hand, discarded her bow, took up her club, and leapt down to fight the party in melee. Her enormous body and long arms let her reach almost anywhere in the room. The party found itself in a tight spot.

Marcel’s insults and intimidation kept Kimandatsu off-balance, however. Kimandatsu tried to take out Rehoofa, but found that his martial training and dwarven anti-giant training made him nigh impossible to hit. Frustrated, she turned her attacks on the others, battering them around while Spivey struggled to keep them on their feet. She was impressed the party had gotten the sword to awaken, but also said that it didn’t have to be like this: any of them, especially Elsa, could join the Frozen Shadows instead. The party was not swayed by this offer, however.

Kimandatsu was not only strong, but also heavily armored, making her difficult to land blows on. She was also able to regenerate, healing damage almost as fast as the party could deal it through her armor. As if that weren’t enough, after days of combat, Rehoofa was running very short of arrows. However, Kimandatsu’s luck began to run thin: bit by bit, the party wore her down. She was considering pulling back to heal up, but then by chance Ulf, Rehoofa, and Elsa with Suishen all hit at once, cutting her down.

Elsa quickly made sure Kimandatsu would stay down, using Suishen to slice off the Ogre mage’s head. The party secured the rest of the room and healed up, and Rehoofa investigated for the secret door they’d heard about. Eventually his dwarven stonecunning tingled, and he spotted a part of the wall that could be swung away. He pushed the wall open, revealing a cold hallway beyond.

The party went down the hallway, finding one door behind which was a large, surly, cold-infused wolf. The wolf was intelligent and able to speak, suspecting the party as the latest trick by Kimandatsu. It began to believe the party when they showed it Kimandatsu’s head, and when they unshackled its chained foot.

The party noticed that the wolf only had one ear, and they remembered the town of Wolf’s Ear, worshipping a one-eared white wolf named “Sky’s Knee” in Druidic. When they brought this up, the wolf groaned, asking if they were some other batch of humans searching for whatever wisdom it supposedly had. It said that some time in the past it had fought off hunters, only to find it had unintentionally saved a group of werewolves, who saw it as their savior. It also corrected the party on its name: Skygni.

Elsa was enthusiastic about Skygni joining their caravan, but Rehoofa was worried about what a giant frost-wolf would do in a caravan full of horses and other animals. Skygni, tired and still surly, said it would think about it, and left. It mentioned that it had smelled an elf getting dragged past its cell, and so far no dead body had been taken away.

Emboldened, the party went on to the last cell, where they found Kaellara chained to a wall, half-submerged in a puddle of icy water. The elf was half-naked and shivering, having clearly been kept there for a long time. She looked around blindly when the door opened. The reason for this was clear shortly afterwards: disembodied helmets rose up out of the walls, blasting the party with blinding light. Rehoofa quickly found himself blinded. Elsa fought with a Flaming Sphere while Rehoofa shot blindly. The helmets were a nasty surprise, but ultimately went down.

The party freed Kaellara, Rehoofa saying if they were anywhere else he’d be challenging her to a blind archery contest. He was a bit upset at not being able to gloat over her; it was hard to look superior when blindly fumbling down the halls.

The party pulled Kaellara back to the furnace room the trolls had been working in, where the fire helped warm her back up. Marcel turned to his kitsune form and cuddled up to her, lending his body heat. After a time, Kaellara had recovered enough to put her gear back on. She signed – translated by Ulf – that the blindness would pass in an hour or so. She also thanked the party, and asked if Maia was all right.

Suishen was impressed that the party had recruited a snowcaster elf, remarking that she would be helpful in a journey over the Crown of the World. Suishen also seemed accepting of the party being full of shapeshifters, Marcel and Elsa both being able to change their appearance. It said that it has seen many combat styles over the years, but so long as it is wielded by a warrior, it should be happy.

The party wanted to investigate the rest of Ravenscraeg, but Ulf decided that he had what he’d come for. Ulf escorted Kaellara away, leaving the party to look around.

The party looked around thoroughly, looting Kimandatsu, the ninjas, and the entire upper levels of Ravenscraeg, which they hadn’t looked at yet. They found a few trinkets and treasures along the way, and also found the nest of Wodes, now abandoned. There was no sign of the giant raven himself, however.

The party made several trips, filling up their horses and cart with loot from Ravenscraeg, then set out for Kalsgard, ready to finally set things to rest.

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Session 27
Summary of Session 27

The party was in full retreat, making their way back up through Ravenscraeg. The trolls were still waiting for them. Rather than try to talk their way past the trolls (considering ninjas might be chasing them), they opened up the door and ran for it. The trolls tried to take swings at them, but the party was able to slip past and into the tight hallway, which was too small for the trolls to follow. Rehoofa managed to run past while carrying a chest of loot from the treasure room, though he spilled a few coins jumping over the stream the trolls had been guarding.

They made it outside and retreated down the mountain pass. On the way they found that the cloud of ravens overhead was markedly less thick, and none of the birds seemed to follow them this time. A few of the party made the connection that Wodes, Goti’s familiar, had been dealing with the ravens, and with Goti slain, Wodes and the ravens might not be an issue any more.

The party got back to camp and healed what they could, burning up the last of their healing wand. Fortunately Spivey arrived shortly thereafter with another wand, which they quickly started putting to use. Spivey joined Marcel in grief over Grigori’s death. The party considered sending Spivey out for yet another wand, but then remembered that Suishen was stuck down a well too small for them to fit down, and decided to bring her along on their next foray into the fortress.

When day broke again, the party pulled itself together and went back in, determined to make this the last time in. The party made it down to where the trolls were, this time deciding they’d had enough of having to sweet-talk or run past the monsters each way. They resolved to fight, but they rather unfortunately made their plans just down the hallway from the trolls, and as the party moved to fight, the trolls were fully alerted and prepared. The trolls started by throwing chunks of coal to throw the party off-balance, then pushing their way down the tight hallway to engage. The party was wounded but had the advantage: the trolls were crammed in tightly, and could only come one at a time. The party struck down both trolls and burned them with a Flaming Sphere, putting them down for good.

The party then moved to find Suishen, getting back to the well where the sword was hidden. The sword was still there, its blade bursting into flame as Rehoofa approached. Rehoofa stood guard over the well while he sent Spivey down. No sooner had Spivey headed down the well, however, than tengu ninjas jumped out of the water, attacking them.

The tengu were quick and could turn invisible, but the party had grown used to ninja tricks, and were able to strike them down. As the last tengu finally fell, Spivey managed to squeeze her way back up the well, the flaming blade of Suishen in hand.

Suishen proved to be the real thing, speaking in a gruff, Tien-accented voice, and referring to itself in the third person. It identified the party as scions marked by the Seal, and asked several sharp questions, such as “who sits upon the jade throne” and “what of the other noble families.” It realized from the party’s confusion that a lot of time had passed, and many things had been forgotten which should not have been. It promised to explain, but later, since oni were waiting for them to kill. The party at least appreciated the sword’s enthusiasm.

They tried to figure out who should carry the sword. Suishen studied them carefully, and settled on Elsa as its wielder, since she was the closest thing the party had to a melee fighter. It mentioned that Ulf was not a scion, and therefore was not worthy to wield it. Elsa proudly strapped on the sword.

The party went back through the dojo, where they saw that Omoyani’s body was gone. Suishen was impressed the party had killed a nogitsune, though it mentioned they were lucky there had not been any kitsune nearby when the monster had been killed. Marcel was unsettled by this and wondered what the sword was getting at, but decided that question might be better saved for later.

The party went downstairs, checking the doors on the way to be sure. Rehoofa was ambushed by tengu ninjas hiding behind one of the doors, remarking that that seemed to be happening a lot in this place.

The party fought the ninjas and their invisibility tricks. Suishen revealed one of its powers, granting Elsa the ability to see invisible foes. Unfortunately, Elsa was not trained in the use of katanas, and was swinging clumsily. Still, she managed to get one good hit in, slicing a ninja open and then biting out his throat. The party watched Elsa attack the air, and a dead ninja materialize seconds later.

The party healed up and went down the hall Goti Runecaster had retreated down, engaging the statues. Elsa hung back while Rehoofa fought with arrows, though Suishen, wishing to be wielded in combat, disapproved of Elsa hanging back. In its words, “Suishen feels shame.”

With a salvo of arrows and some acrobatic dodging, Rehoofa managed to bring the statues down. The party then healed up again and approached the door the statues had been guarding. The door Goti had been running for, and the door which, presumably, the prisoners lay behind.

They threw the door open, finding a large, Tien-decorated room with a fountain running out of the wall, and decorative screens dividing up the floor. The head of the Rimerunners Guild, Thorborg Silverskorr, stood waiting for them. An evil smirk on her face, she greeted the party, offering them one chance to turn back. When the party refused, she stepped behind a screen, and ordered the Frozen Shadows to attack.

The party suddenly found ninjas virtually coming out of the walls themselves…

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