Regent of Jade

Session 25
Summary of Session 25

The dungeon of Ravenscraeg threatened to become the party’s grave. With their ears still ringing from the thunderstones, trolls in the hall behind them, and a forbidding staircase leading further down into the dungeons, the party was running short of options.

Rehoofa volunteered to scout ahead down the stairs. He crept ahead, tripping over a tripwire trap. Deaf as he was, he couldn’t hear anything, but he suspected an alarm had been triggered. Then he poked his head around the corner to find a horde of zombies waiting for him. He fired, taking down a few of them, but many more were coming. He retreated back up the steps, finding out the hard way that there was more than zombies behind him: acidic rays blasted him from behind, nearly knocking him flat.

Rehoofa was in full retreat, but the rest of the party was trying to figure out what had spooked him. They found out soon enough, as a twisted, troll-ish thing made it to the top of the stairs, throwing spells and backed up by zombies. Elsa tried to slow it down with her Flaming Sphere, but flubbed the spell because of her deafness.

The party soon joined Rehoofa in running away, though Ulf took several bad hits from Magic Missiles. They ran into the hall, where Rehoofa did his best to distract the trolls, using both his monk moves and dwarven defensive training to buy time. The trolls still got a few furious swipes in, wounding the party as it ran past.

Somehow the party broke away, bloody and broken but still able to run. They made it to the back exit and ran, pursued by ravens that harassed them as they escaped down the mountain.

By the time the party got to the bottom of the mountain, their hearing had finally returned. They quickly broke their camp, making way for another part of the Grungir Forest to hide out in. Later in the day, they chanced going back to their first camp site, since Spivey was going to come back soon.

Grigori, on his way back to Kalsgard with Lute, had a sudden premonition, a whisper on the wind that his friends were in trouble. He gave Lute some food and pointed him towards Kalsgard, before wheeling around and making his way back to Ravenscraeg. He arrived at dusk, to find Spivey hovering around looking for the party. All she knew was that they’d made camp near the secret back entrance. Finding no horses and no sign of a camp, she was at a loss for what to do. Grigori suspected that the party might have gone into Ravenscraeg, and the two of them were just about to start their way up towards the hall when Marcel called out to them: the party had come back to try finding Spivey.

Spivey was happy to find her friends, and dropped off the wand of Cure Light Wounds she’d bought back in Kalsgard. She stayed the night with the party, while they caught up Grigori on what had happened. Ulf explained that the troll-creature had been none other than Goti Runecaster himself. Quite frankly, they were lucky to be alive. The party also used up about a quarter of the wand’s charges healing up their wounds. They realized they were going to need another wand, sooner rather than later.

The party sorted through their loot so far. They read through the notebook from the strange, demonic bedroom, finding it to be the experiment notebook of Goti Runecaster. Goti wrote about several experiments, the most notable of which was infusing a sea hag with demonic essence. Apparently the hag had transformed, shedding her old skin like a snake and becoming obsessed with a demon lord. Goti had chosen to release the transformed hag, seeing no more reason to keep her around (and possibly feeling she was dangerous to keep). The hag’s skin in the bedroom was undoubtedly hers.

When day broke, the party awoke, recovered and stronger. They gave Spivey some of the platinum pieces they’d found and sent her back to Kalsgard to get another wand. She wished them luck and flew off. The party, plus a much more hesitant and doubtful Ulf, went back up to Ravenscraeg.

This time there were no thugs waiting for them. Instead, the Spider Eater from earlier had taken up residence just inside the hall, and ambushed them as they tried to get in. It fought fiercely, but the party regrouped quickly and fought it off. This time, they brought it down and killed it.

The party made its way into the hall and back downstairs. This time they investigated the room full of water. Rehoofa leapt across the water easily and landed on the other side, where he picked open the locked door and found a small well with a flickering orange glow coming from it. He looked down to see the well had been used as a sort of dumpster, filled with rubble and detritus from the recent excavations. Wedged in with the rubble was a sword, that appeared to be on fire.

Rehoofa suspected he may have finally found the real Suishen, the magical blade that had brought them to Kalsgard in the first place. But the sword lay fifty feet down a well that was less than a foot wide. So close, and yet so far. Rehoofa grumbled that he wished they hadn’t sent Spivey away that morning.

Rehoofa was about to leave when a bizarre flying, bag-like creature dropped out of the ceiling, wrapping itself around his head and biting. The party saw Rehoofa struggling and tried to help, but they were quickly distracted by an all-too-familiar high-pitched giggle. Buttersnips, the Quickling from Brinewall, had appeared.

Buttersnips was up to her old tricks, zipping around the battlefield, skipping off the water itself with her amazing speed while she cut up the party with a poisoned knife. The party had some new tricks, though: Marcel cracked out his new spell of Blindness, which struck the Quickling blind. She was frustrated but still dangerous, cutting up a few of them before Rehoofa finally pinned her down with some arrows and Marcel struck her down with his sword.

While most of the party was fighting Buttersnips, another battle was going on. Ulf, Grigori, and to a lesser extent Rehoofa, fought a small group of the flying bag-things. Grigori slipped in the water and floundered around, largely trying to stay out of the way after one of the bags enveloped his head and another bit at him. Ulf fended off two or three bags at a time, doing his best to stay alive. After Buttersnips went down and Rehoofa successfully stomped her to death, the rest of the party regrouped and helped Ulf fight off the bags.

The party healed up and fought off the last of Buttersnips’ poison. Elsa revealed her latest ability, shape-shifting herself to look like Goti Runecaster before stepping out to see the trolls. Unfortunately, she had forgotten that she doesn’t speak Giant. A Tongues spell from Marcel translated for her, but then she had to speak very quickly to explain that she was escorting prisoners, even though the “prisoner” was casting spells on her. The trolls looked less than convinced, but another Charm Person spell helped keep them distracted.

The trolls referred to Elsa/Goti as “little cousin,” and seemed to defer to her, though they did complain about the cold and asked if any of the prisoners were going to have to deal with “the scary ’un.” They also asked which prisoner they’d get to eat, since apparently they always got to eat a prisoner when a new crop came in. Elsa talked them off of that and distracted them by giving them Buttersnips’s body to eat. One of the trolls chomped down the little Quickling in one bite; it was then that Elsa realized the party hadn’t taken the time to strip Buttersnips of her gear, and the troll suffered some brief indigestion as Buttersnips’ poison reserves hit him.

While the troll was burping off the upset stomach, the party went into the dojo and closed the door behind themselves, closing the trolls off in the hallway again.

Things had changed: a prisoner was against the back wall, tied up with a bag over his head (this bag a standard canvas thing, not an animated monster). He cried when the party came in, and said he was just a puppeteer named Omoyani. Marcel gasped and went to help, getting the bag off the prisoner’s head and confirming it was the puppeteer they’d taken in at the caravan.

Rehoofa decided to investigate the rest of the dojo and opened a door at random: he was immediately hit by a sword as the ninja hiding behind it struck.

Then four more doors opened and more ninjas came out to attack…

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Session 24
Summary of Session 24

The party was ready to explore more of Ravenscraeg. While most of them were ready to move upstairs, Rehoofa suggested downstairs, as a possible entrance to the secret back door. Ulf pointed out that there was one door the party had missed on the ground level, practically a stone’s throw from the tower. The party went to investigate, finding a kitchen area that had very recently been evacuated, and a door out to a hidden dell behind the hall.

The dell was an almost peaceful area, with sheep grazing on grass and a mountain stream running through, off into a small waterfall down the side of the mountain. There was also a pathway leading south, off through the crags and cliffs of the mountainside around the hall.

The party investigated the path, finding it wound three miles south, extending down to Grungir Forest. Ulf warned them that the forest was a known den of forest drakes and lycanthropes, but the party still went to explore, just to see where the path ended. Ulf remarked that the path in the forest was so well-hidden that you could walk right past it and not see it.

On the way out the exit of the trail, the party ran into an obstacle: a small pond that had an ooze in it. The ooze tried to attack Marcel, who quickly backpedaled away. The party tried to fight it, but found that many of their weapons just split the ooze into smaller versions of itself, letting it attack them from more and more directions. Rehoofa’s blunt arrows were able to pummel the creature into submission, and a Scorching Ray from Marcel using the wand backed him up. The ooze was destroyed, and the Rehoofa jumped into the pond to clean up. In there, he found a skeleton – a past victim of the ooze – that still wore a beautiful silver necklace.

With the ooze dealt with, the party found themselves in Grungir forest, behind Ravenscraeg. They hiked around the mountain to retrieve their horses, Spivey, and Lute from their first camp, then went back to the forest to make a new camp near the back entrance.

Ulf remarked that the party must have had someone else around who made the battle plans, or at least who dragged them along on sheer momentum. He said the party needed to figure itself out, or else the chaos from the werebear battle was just going to be the beginning.

The party also realized it had to restock its supplies, or at least get a new Wand of Cure Light Wounds. They took stock of their treasure, finding that the necklace from the ooze fight was worth a bit less than 800 gp, enough to buy a new wand. Since Spivey can fly quickly and doesn’t need to sleep, she makes the ideal messenger. The party gave her the necklace and sent her back to Kalsgard in the night, with instructions to buy a new wand and then head back. Spivey cheerfully shot off into the night, though even at her top speed she likely wouldn’t be back until late the next day.

The party camped for the night, but had to weather an attack from a rogue forest drake who came upon them. They slew the beast and took its hide, though no thanks to Grigori, who kept his distance even when the rest of the party was yelling at him to come and cast Mage Armor.

In the morning, they decided to send Lute back to Kalsgard, where he could hopefully recover from the malnutrition and torture that had been inflicted on him. Grigori volunteered to escort him back. The party, figuring they’d had enough of Grigori for a little while, agreed. Grigori and Lute rode for Kalsgard, leaving Elsa, Marcel, Rehoofa, and Ulf behind Ravenscraeg.

The party decided to continue their explorations. They went back to Ravenscraeg, where Rehoofa briefly climbed down the mountain to see where the mountain stream went. He found that it actually went back into the mountain, but the entrance was too small for anyone to fit into.

They went back into the hall, where they fought off another gang of thugs with relative ease, even after the thugs maneuvered into a narrow corridor where the party’s movement was restricted. There was a brief moment of panic when one thug ran into the lab with the glass-enclosed wasp’s nest, but Rehoofa shot him down before he could do break the glass.

The party had originally intended to go up the tower, but in the light of a new day they changed their minds and went down instead, into the dungeons of Ravenscraeg. Down below, they found that construction of the hall was ongoing: the stream from outside flowed through portions of the lower level, leaving a partially flooded hallway, with a bell on one side of the stream.

The party also found a flooded chamber, with a door waiting on the far side of a small pool. They elected not to investigate that door, and instead went back to the bell.

Marcel gave into temptation and made a Ghost Sounds of a bell, then ran and hid. The party heard a heavy creature come to the far side of the stream and grunt angrily before leaving. Rehoofa went to investigate, nimbly jumping over the stream and trying to drag a wooden plank over it to make a bridge. Marcel tried to follow, but his feet slipped and he fell in the stream. Marcel’s splashing and spluttering caught the attention of the large creature from earlier: a troll from a coal storage room, who grunted at angrily at Rehoofa.

Elsa cast Charm Person and Marcel (after getting out of the river) cast Tongues, letting them charm and speak to the troll. Some quick words managed to convince the troll they had every right to be there. He levered the plank over the river and allowed “the pritty one” (Elsa) to cross. Marcel, using Fascinate, managed to distract the troll, as well as a second, non-charmed troll that had been waiting behind him. This let the party walk past and get to a locked door that Rehoofa quickly picked. They party got inside and locked the door behind themselves.

The party found themselves in a former dungeon, now refinished into a dojo, decorated with banners from Tian Xia. They were soon ambushed with thunderstones, leaving them all deaf, and then a trio of black-skinned elves attacked them. Rehoofa recognized them as drow, and fought bravely, though they landed several hard blows on him, one of which hit a nerve cluster and left Rehoofa stunned.

The drow were quiet and efficient, and communicated with hand gestures the party recognized from Kaellara. The party took a few heavy hits, but managed to overcome the drow and strike them down. Shortly afterwards, the door to the dojo broke open and a troll stuck his head in, curious about all the noise. Elsa quickly convinced him all was well. All told, the party is incredibly lucky it was the charmed troll who’d decided to investigate.

They then investigated the cells around the dojo, finding they had been redone as monks’ bedrooms. One room was a bit more decorated, and had bits of treasure and a document that gave the bearer rights to the Linnorm King’s guards, though Elsa recognized it as a forgery.

Rehoofa found a secret door in one of the cells, leading to a recently-built hallway, off of which was an arcane laboratory and bedroom. Rehoofa went to investigate with Marcel, leaving Elsa and Ulf to investigate the rest of the dojo.

This proved to be a bad move, as the arcane lab had a defender: a disembodied, undead hand that attacked Rehoofa, wrapping itself around his body and crushing him nearly to death while Marcel struggled to get it off. Ulf and Elsa eventually came to see what they were up to, and joined in the fight. The hand was vicious, spraying hot pus over anyone who attacked it, while continuing to crush Rehoofa. Between the four of them, they managed to pry the thing off of Rehoofa and pummel it until it stopped moving.

The party investigated the room, finding bits of arcane projects, a notebook, a stash of money, and the skin of a hag. Specifically, it was the skin of a sea hag. Not sure what to make of it, Marcel took the skin and the notebook.

The party now must decide what to do. For there are more stairs at the end of this hallway, leading further downwards. Yet their magical resources are running low, and there are still two trolls to deal with behind them…

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Session 23
Summary of Session 23

The party was in the main hall of Ravenscraeg, having just defeated its first line of defenders. Most of the party took the opportunity to lick their wounds, while Rehoofa tried to take a look at Ulf’s injured eyes. For his part, Grigori went to go retrieve Marcel from the foot of the cliff. He started by shouting down to Marcel to come up. Apparently Grigori had given up on stealth.

The party had barely had time to breathe, when arrows suddenly started shooting at them out another side door in the hallway. Rehoofa returned fire and then barrelled in to investigate, finding himself facing a small group of Frozen Shadows ninja.

Two of the ninjas went out to harry Elsa and the others, while Rehoofa took on another one in single combat. Rehoofa punctured the ninja quite effectively and then went out to back up the rest of his group, which was having trouble nailing down the agile, magically-enhanced attackers. Rehoofa literally nailed one down, hitting him with an arrow that stuck him to the wall.

Shortly after the ninjas had been taken down, Marcel finally arrived, asking with a smile what all the fuss had been about.

Finally reunited, the party pulled back to the entrance of the hall and set about healing their injuries. Rehoofa struggled for almost half an hour trying to restore Ulf’s vision, before Grigori finally stepped in and fixed Ulf in ten minutes. The party looted the bodies and dumped them into one of the rooms. The party also found rubble that was evidence of recent digging. Apparently the new residents of Ravenscraeg have been making some renovations.

The party also investigated the room the ninjas had come from, finding it to be a bunkroom with a small altar to a Tien god of harsh justice and assassins. The room also had an entrance to a coal chute: a metal chute which coal may be dumped down, to be stored and then burned for heat. The party was curious about where the chute went, especially because it was too small for any of them to fit down. Grigori threw a rock down the chute, the clanging effectively announcing the party to the entire lower levels. Marcel remarked that they hadn’t seen anything, so he threw a pebble down with a Light spell on it, but that was futile as well: the chute turned and the party lost track of the pebble. They considered sending Spivey down, but decided against it, thinking that she might bring back more trouble. So they decided to leave the chute alone for the time being.

The party had managed to recover their strength when the next wave of defenders came: a couple of thugs, accompanied by an elite guard of some sort, who transformed into a giant, anthropomorphic bear, wearing armor and hefting a large axe.

This battle proved quite difficult for the party: Ulf identified the creature as a werebear, which could only be harmed by silver. Worse, Rehoofa was the only one with silver weapons, and he had a very limited supply of silver arrows. Still worse, the werebear had a massive axe and heavy armor, letting him chop up pretty much anyone who got within his reach.

Ulf suggested that the party retreat back to the walkway outside the main doors, which would be too small for the large werebear to follow them onto. Elsa agreed, and saying she had a plan, tried to lead a retreat.

The retreat was less than ordered, as Elsa ordered them to head for “the door,” only to have confusion over which of the many doors she was talking about. Weathering intense blows from the werebear’s axe, the party managed to get outside the doors to the walkway outside. Elsa then revealed her plan: the party should throw ropes up on the roof of the hall and climb up, to where the werebear wouldn’t be able to reach them.

Unfortunately, Elsa hadn’t accounted for whether anyone had grappling hooks, how long it would take the party to get out ropes, or what the werebear would be doing to them while they tried to climb. She had also forgotten the ravens which swarmed in the skies above Ravenscraeg.

Grigori managed to get up on the roof, while Marcel, crying “what’s happening?!” struggled and failed to climb up. The rest of the party meanwhile tried to hold the werebear at bay. After some efforts to throw Rehoofa off the walkway, the werebear closed and barred the door into the hall, sealing the party outside. It then started healing itself with potions and sent a minion to get reinforcements, while the party together struggled to get through the door into the hall.

The door proved almost as difficult as the werebear. Ulf, Rehoofa, Elsa, and Marcel bruised and battered themselves trying to break it down. Ulf climbed up onto the roof to try and get Grigori to contribute: Grigori, having taken a shot at the werebear through a hole in the roof, had given up and started exploring the roof, as well as the tower extending up towards the sky. So, while Marcel, Elsa, and Rehoofa bruised themselves on the obstinate door, Ulf started chasing Grigori around the roof. Grigori tried to escape by hopping back down to the walkway, but he slipped on the mossy, icy roof and missed, sending himself falling down the cliffside again, this time without a Feather Fall spell to save him. His sylph nature slowed his fall a little, just enough that he could grab a railing and crash onto a lower landing, rather than fall all the way to the ground.

While Grigori tried to get back up to the entrance of the hall, Elsa finally managed to break down the door of the hall. The werebear resumed its attack, nearly knocking Rehoofa off the cliff, but Marcel ended up saving the day: he got out his wand of Scorching Ray, and burned the beast to death.

The entrance of the hall secure yet again, the party paused to heal its wounded bodies and egos. Ulf chewed out Grigori for his tactics, and Marcel for holding out on the Scorching Ray wand. Still, he was glad they had succeeded. Marcel also handed off the Scorching Ray wand to Grigori, who would be able to use it more easily.

In healing up, Ulf talked a little bit about Kaellara. He and she had been an item fifteen years ago, but now he feels they’ve both moved on, emotionally for Kae and age-wise for himself. He revealed that Kae is a snowcaster elf: an elf originally from the frozen Crown of the World. She had left her home behind some time ago, which was impressive. When elves leave their homes, there is no going back. Having left the Crown of the World, Kaellara will always be an outcast among her own people. Ulf wasn’t entirely sure why she had left her home, but guessed she had found a human, or human family, that she swore allegiance to.

Ulf also remembered when Kaellara had still spoken. He’s not entirely sure why she’s not talking now, but he feels it might be just for shame: apparently at some point Kaellara had talked to the wrong person, and had gotten someone hurt. On top of that, on their last mission together Kaellara had talked to the wrong person yet again, and the mission had gone very bad as a result. Ulf didn’t reveal more details than that. It’s possible he just wasn’t in the mood, having just barely avoided being killed by a giant bear.

Once they were stable, they set about exploring the remaining rooms. One room proved to be storage for food, leading to a narrow hallway that ended in some kind of alchemist’s laboratory in the middle of the tower Grigori had been exploring.

The party explored the laboratory, finding stairways leading both up and down the tower, as well as dozens of half-finished magical projects. One “project” was a twisted, humanoid figure lashed to a slab and sealed in a glass case. The creature was covered in pulsating boils and infested with wasps, and pleaded in an alien language for the party to help it, that it had been trapped here for ages. Only Grigori, with the aid of magic, could make any sense of what it was saying. Most of the party was undecided about whether to release it, but Grigori firmly believed it should be released, especially if it could help them attack their enemies.

The party was slowly leaning towards releasing the creature when Spivey stuck her head out of Elsa’s backpack, pointing out that the thing wasn’t talking in a voice at all: it was speaking in a sort of synchronized buzzing. The creature wasn’t speaking at all, it was the wasps inside of it. The party decided it was better to leave the thing sealed up.

Further explorations of the lab revealed another prisoner: an Ulfen man named Lute Haggersly, who explained he was on the board of the Rimerunners Guild, and had been taken prisoner when he’d disagreed with Thorborg Silverskoor, the guild’s leader. Lute had clearly seen better days: he was half-mad from hunger and had been beaten. He explained that Goti Runecaster had threatened to experiment on him and use him as a nest for wasps. He also explained that there was some kind of orange-skinned ogre running Ravenscraeg, and that it was apparently working with Thorborg.

The party sent Lute back to their camp, with Spivey as a guard and guide. They then set about deciding their next move. They ultimately decided to make their way up the tower, which was their best guess of where prisoners, such as Kaellara, might be held.

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Session 22
Summary of Session 22

The party was set up at the base of the cliffs of Ravenscraeg, waiting on Spivey to return from reconnaissance. The little azata did come back, but with an escort: a large flock of ravens that were chasing her in a cloud of feathers and talons.

The party drew their weapons and went on defense. Grigori tried talking to the ravens, but was only answered with screams that “the master” had demanded the intruders be driven out.

The birds pecked and scratched wildly at everything, going for the party’s eyes. Weapons were only somewhat effective against the cloud of birds. Spivey drove off some of them with a burst of holy light from her body, but even that wasn’t very effective. Elsa summoned a swarm of bats for backup, which worked a little too well: she was unable to control the swarm after summoning it, so after the bats overwhelmed the ravens, the party found itself fighting bats.

The bats dispersed shortly after Elsa stopped concentrating on the spell, thankfully. Nursing raven scratches and bat bites, the party healed up and listened to Spivey’s story: she had gotten a look around, but the cloud of ravens that flew around Ravenscraeg had attacked her, led by a large raven with a red feather in its breast. She was able to outrun most of the ravens, but the last flock had been more stubborn.

With the ravens driving her off, Spivey hadn’t been able to find any sort of back entrance to the hall. Which left the rickety staircase as the only known way into Ravenscraeg. The party waited for daybreak, and started up the stairs. The party tied Ulf up with a fake knot he could slip out of, to keep up their ruse of bringing him in as the prisoner with the party as his escorts. Spivey rode in Elsa’s backpack, while Marcel volunteered to stay behind and cover the horses, at least until the rest of the group had seen what the stairs were like.

The stairs proved quite perilous. Not only were they rickety and loose, they weren’t empty. The party ran into a vicious, poisonous creature called a Spider Eater, which beat them around quite a bit. The party wasn’t able to kill the creature, merely drive it off.

Near the top of the stairs, the party found Ravenscraeg’s first real defenders: a small group of tengu, trained as ninjas. The tengu struck quickly and viciously, using poisoned weapons and ninja tricks to evade and sneak attack the party. One of the tengu managed to throw Grigori off the stairs, but a Feather Fall spell saved his life. The party won when the tengu ran out of ninja trickery and Rehoofa and Elsa were finally able to nail them down. Two of the ninjas were sent flying off the stairs, while another was left dead on a landing.

The party took a moment to loot the dead and then moved on. They got to the top of the stairs, where they found the door into the hall barred from the inside. Elsa used a Spider Climb spell to investigate other ways to get inside. She found that the windows were narrow arrow slits, too small for the party to squeeze through. She also found the hall had a tower in the back, extending up towards the sky and its flocks of ravens. There were some smoke holes in the roof of the hall, letting out the smoke of cookfires. Those were big enough for Elsa to fit through.

Elsa investigated the holes, but she had already been found: swarms of ravens were descending on her and the party. She tried to escape into the hall, but the ravens just followed her in. Meanwhile, more ravens were attacking the party outside the hall’s doors.

Grigori tried to force the doors open, but just succeeded in bruising his shoulder. Elsa managed to get to the door and un-bar it, letting the party push their way inside. Together, they managed to fight off the ravens, but Ulf was injured. His eyes scratched up by ravens, he was blinded.

It was about then that Elsa realized she could have just sent Spivey to look around, instead of splitting up the party. Spivey, for her part, was happy to not have been sent out alone again.

The party didn’t have time to second-guess itself, or even help Ulf, as a door opened and thugs came out, investigating what had brought in all the ravens. The party’s attempted ruse, of escorting a prisoner, quickly fell apart when one of the thugs asked them for the secret sign.

The party fought, a Web spell from Grigori tying up many of the thugs and burning them when the web caught a cookfire. It also slowed down the party, leaving Elsa randomly opening doors while she waited for the web to burn away. She found some empty guard rooms, now being used to hold rubble.

Many arrows from Rehoofa, a lot of slashing from Elsa, and a lucky hit from the blind Ulf wore down the thugs, sending most of them running. One of them managed to escape, dashing to an upper level of the hall and vanishing.

Now the party is left in Ravenscraeg, having gained a foothold in the hall, but wondering what is waiting for them further inside.

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Session 21
Summary of session 21

The group started off by taking a step back and retiring, letting themselves recover a little of their strength overnight, with a little help from Meckrin. In the morning, Elsa and Meckrin’s magic went a long way towards undoing the damage from the poison. At that point, they set down to figuring out details.

Meckrin explained that a man in the Jade Quarter had traded him some poison in exchange for a little potion-making help. The man had explained the poison would just give some bad stomach cramps and vomiting, which Meckrin saw as a proper revenge on the party who had wronged him. Of course, Marcel hadn’t had any of the poisoned food, which led to some new disagreement over whether Meckrin still owed him some revenge. Most of the party also suggested that now they had to get revenge on Meckrin.

Maia suggested that Meckrin could make up for the poisoning by tracking down the man who’d given him the poison and finding out what he could from him. Meckrin knew this was a dangerous, if not suicidal mission, since everyone in the Jade Quarter was looking for thieves, and a goblin asking about poison was going to get some attention. Still, he saw that going through the Jade Quarter was still better than dealing with pissed-off caravaners, not to mention the adventuring party that had killed its way through Asvig Longthews. With his jaw set and his walking stick clacking along, he hobbled off towards the Jade Quarter.

The party decided its next move. On Arach’s prodding, Marcel went over to the gate guards to figure out how hard it would be to get the caravan out. Marcel found it would be very difficult indeed: caravans were subject to search until the thieves from the Jade Quarter were tracked down. This might lead to trouble for the party’s caravan, which was trying to keep the seal from Brinewall a secret. Even worse, Marcel managed to find the single most moral guard in all of Kalsgard, who was not even interested in taking a bribe.

The trip was not fruitless, though: Marcel found that just a few hours earlier a cart from the Rimerunners had been allowed through without being searched. When he told the rest of the group about this, Arach asked Marcel and the rest of the group to take some horses and go see what the Rimerunners were in such a hurry to get out of the city.

The party mounted up on horses, some of which were borrowed from the caravan, and rode out of the city. Marcel and Elsa’s quick tongues got them past the guards without trouble. Afterwards, the chase was on. Rehoofa picked up the trail of a cart that left the main road, angling towards Ravenscraeg. After a couple hours of riding, the cart was in sight. After lighting up a few magical enhancements, Marcel led a full-on charge towards the cart. The cart and its guards saw the party coming and made preparations of their own.

The fight torpedoed across the open land, with a mounted mercenary cart guard giving the party quite a bit of trouble: she had a strong bow and a keen eye, along with a few magical arrows that stung pretty deep when they hit.

Things went haywire during the fight, with Marcel, Rehoofa, and Grigori dismounting to try fighting the archer-guard, using Fog and Grease to scramble and frustrate her, to some success, but at the cost of their mobility against the mounted archer. Elsa stayed mounted and split off on her own to go after the cart. After a time, the guard became frustrated and heavily injured, and decided it wasn’t worth the fight. She rode off after the cart, seeking to cut off Marcel and Elsa while also making her escape.

Grigori took this chance to turn and go in the other direction, trying to recover some of the carvan horses that had run off during the fight. Rehoofa, unable to keep up on foot, took longer and longer shots with his bow, while Elsa struggled to bring down the cart’s drivers with her claws.

The fight ended abruptly as Marcel unleashed such a blistering string of insults that both the mercenary guard and one of the cart’s drivers burst into flames, dropping them both. Elsa ultimately was able to catch up to the cart and overpower the other driver. Rehoofa struggled to save the mercenary guard’s life, but her injuries proved too extensive, and she died. Marcel, with healing magics that could have saved the guard in moments, was content to stand and watch her expire.

Elsa went through the cart, finding one large box that she pried open. Inside was none other than Ulf Gormundr, half-drugged and quite angry at the rough treatment he’d received so far.

The party regrouped, Ulf explaining that he’d been taken by the Rimerunners and kept poisoned, stashed in their guildhouse in the locked room Rehoofa had passed by. He’d been scheduled to be moved to Ravenscraeg the day before, but the transfer had been delayed because someone had stolen his transfer papers and new copies had needed to be drafted.

Ulf was more than ready to leave Kalsgard behind and go anywhere else. He said that he and “Kae” could lead the caravan anywhere they wanted to go. The group sheepishly explained that Kaellara had vanished, likely taken as well. Ulf agreed, mentioning he had overheard the Rimerunners mentioning other prisoners who had been moved out to Ravenscraeg recently. Apparently that was where they moved people they wanted to get rid of.

As before, all roads pointed to Ravenscraeg. The party hastily recruited Ulf to come along with them, and they set off for the hall. They arrived as night was falling, seeing Ravenscraeg was a sturdy building set high up in a rocky cliff surrounded by ravens, just outside of the Grungir forest. The only visible way to get up the cliff was a narrow staircase switchbacking up the cliffside.

The party decided to set up camp for the night, recover their strength, and test Ravenscraeg the next morning. On the plus side, no one had survived from the cart, so there was no one to go in and raise an alarm. On the negative side, Ravenscraeg was undoubtedly expecting Ulf to arrive soon, and when he didn’t, people were going to start getting curious.

The party decided their best move would be to pretend to be Ulf’s prison guards, who had intended to carry him up the cliff in his box. Ulf was less than happy about this plan, but as he was still weak from poison, he didn’t have any better plans.

Overnight, the party saw flashing lights approaching them from the direction of Kalsgard. Marcel and Grigori went to investigate, Grigori expecting something sinister. It turned out to be Spivey, who had come looking for the party after they hadn’t returned. She was quickly filled in on what had happened so far.

Now with morning coming, Spivey has agreed to go on a reconnaissance flight around Ravenscraeg, looking to see if there are any other ways in. The party remembers there is a back entrance; the trouble, as usual, will be finding it.

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Session 20
Summary of Session 20

Grigori had a secret. Back at Brinewall, just before Maia had woken up, he had experienced a set of visions, seeing Maia standing against an army of monsters coming out of the forest in a storm, descending on a city of pagodas. He hadn’t said anything about it at the time, wishing to keep his mostly peaceful, calm life as the caravan’s cook. But now, having seen how the caravan and everyone in it was in danger from shadowy assassins, he began to feel the drive to leave the cookpots behind and take up his adventuring gear again. So he put on his gear, packed his spellbook, got directions from Arach to the Rimerunners guild, and set off.

The party, meanwhile, was taking stock of their situation and developing a plan. Maia was uncomfortable pretending to be a princess, and in any case the story Marcel had given the Rimerunners was that the exiled royal had died. Maia was willing to play along with that routine, pretending to be a master of servants come to carry out the dead noble’s wishes of setting up a trade route. She said that as for a story, perhaps the princess she “served” had been betrayed and killed by some elf who’d come to rob her.

Elsa gave Maia the name Yama, the Tien word for “mountain,” and also an misbegotten effort at spelling her name backwards.

Grigori appeared then, saying he’d come to help. The party accepted the help readily, Maia having mentioned earlier that she thought they could use some magical assistance.

The party approached the Rimerunners guild, in time to see the main doors open up and a squad of guards exit, escorting a well-dressed, intense-looking woman. Marcel, having acclimated to the social environment of the city, recognized the woman as Thorborg Silverskorr, the owner of the Rimerunners, and one of the more powerful people in Kalsgard. Marcel also knew that customarily Silverskorr stayed out at her manor house, managing business contracts, and only rarely came into the guildhouse.

Guillaume, seeing someone of that power, thought he should see what she was up to. Her presence at the Rimerunners the morning after Kimandatsu’s purge was a bit suspicious, after all. Taking his leave, he headed out on Acimon, tailing Silverskorr.

The party, now a little light on muscle but heavy on social skills, headed into the Rimerunners. Marcel talked up the clerk, smoothly getting them an audience with a merchant factor. The party split up, Elsa and Rehoofa pretending to be “Yama’s” bodyguards while Marcel and Grigori accompanied her as servants and merchants. The factor led them to a meeting room, though he mentioned a few of the rooms on that level were off-limits.

With some prompting from Maia, on the premise of feeling out the Rimerunners to see if they were a solid business, Marcel questioned the factor. He heard some gossip about the Kalsgard business scene, and also heard a bit about Thorborg Silverskorr. Apparently she had been a merchant in the Rimerunners a few years ago, but through some talented moves on her part, had risen to ownership of the guild. She had recently acquired Ravenscraeg, an old hall, from Snorri Stone-Eye, and had been spending most of her time out there, managing business matters and refurbishing the place. She also had a great personal interest in Tien antiques, and was a collector of rare Tien antiquities.

While Marcel and Maia were talking with the factor, Elsa stood watch, letting Rehoofa creep down the hallways and have a look at the “off-limits” doors. The first door was locked and had the sounds of movement on the other side. Not wanting to tempt fate, he went on to find a back door to the outside, with the sound of an armored man standing guard on the other side.

Back with the merchant factor, Marcel managed to convince the factor to call in the guild’s day manager. Rehoofa got back to his post just in time to avoid suspicion. Then, seeing the manager’s office was open, he went to investigate.

The manager’s office was almost a dead end, having nothing out of the ordinary for a business. A closet full of office supplies gave a break, though: a trap door was hidden in the ceiling, with worn spots on the shelves where they’d been used as a ladder. Rehoofa stuck his head out the door and told Elsa he would be awhile, and then disappeared into the manager’s office and up through the trap door.

Back with the factor and the manager, Maia hit a few nerves all around when she asked if the Rimerunners dealt with moving people around. She mentioned she had heard kitsune can fetch a fair price. The manager and merchant factor were offended, and Marcel bristled. Still, the group recovered and continued on with their talk. Grigori managed to subtly cast Detect Thoughts, but unfortunately the only mind he could read was Maia’s, picking up she was half-joking about the kitsune, and was having some after-images of the burning church.

Eventually the manager went back to his office. Elsa covered for Rehoofa’s absence by saying he’d had to run off with a message.

The party left, Grigori hanging back for a little while to read a trade contract, which didn’t have anything out of the ordinary. That unfortunately left Rehoofa behind in the Rimerunners guild, where he’d vanished.

Rehoofa had found his way to a secret room on the second floor, where a solid metal strongbox with a high-quality lock stumped him for several minutes until he finally managed to get it open. Inside was a stash of gold coins and bullion. More importantly, there were also a series of documents, showing that the Rimerunners had rented out the supposedly-stolen ship, the Aril’s Hammer, to Asvig Longthews on the night the caravan had been attacked on the riverside. There were also documents showing Asvig Longthews being hired to acquire a “Tian antique” from Fynn Snaevald’s address.

There were also financial ledgers detailing the purchase of Ravenscraeg from Snorri Stone-Eye some years ago. There were also records of enormous sums of money, as well as Tian antiques (including the one from Fynn Snaevald) being transferred to Ravescraeg, listed as “development expenses.” Finally, perhaps most damning, were records of the imprisonment of Ulf Gormundr as a “rabble-rouser,” and also authorizing his transfer to Ravenscraeg.

Rehoofa knew he’d found something good, and had to get out. So he waited for night to fall and the Rimerunners to close up shop for the day, while he reviewed the documents. As he got ready to make his move, though, he made a mistake: he knocked over the strongbox, which clanged loudly. A guard, passing by on patrol outside, came to investigate. Rehoofa tried to escape back out the trap door, but slipped up again and the trap door slammed loudly. The guard raised the alarm.

Outside, the rest of the party heard shouting from inside the Rimerunners, then sparks and colored smoke started pouring out of the chimney. Within moments, alarms were being called out down the streets.

Rehoofa found himself locked in the manager’s office, where he rapidly picked the lock and ran for the nearest exit. Meanwhile the guards began to catch up to him. Rehoofa barely managed to squeeze out, the guards trying their best to slam the door shut as he pulled it open.

Outside, the party had spread out to try and find where Rehoofa was going to come out. When the door opened, Grigori cast Fog over the area, and also called out for Elsa to come help. Rehoofa managed to get out of the fog, using it for cover while he and the rest of the party made their escape.

Back at the caravan, Maia and Arach chewed out the party, Maia being the least pleased. The rest of the party was more open-minded, glad that Rehoofa had gotten the evidence he had. They laid low for the night. Elsa took the opportunity to page through the Frozen Shadows book from Wodes. She found it to be a primer in the ways of stealth and assassination, also including instruction on the weapons of Tian Xia. The paths of the assassin and the ninja now lie open to her. Only time will tell what path she chooses to take.

The next morning the party started making plans for their next move. They first went to Fynn Snaevald, to try and see if they could get a blood feud against the Rimerunners. Fynn was unwilling to declare such a blood feud, unfortunately: the documents Rehoofa had found were only hard evidence of the Rimerunners running a business. There was no definite proof that they were actively involved in criminal dealings. Furthermore, a blood feud against the Rimerunners would mean the party could legally kill anyone in the guild, from Thorborg Silverskorr all the way down to the lowliest clerk. It would take a lot of evidence to declare such an overarching blood feud.

The party also found that the Jade Quarter was on the lookout for a group of thieves with a dwarf and a girl named Elsa (the name that had been yelled out last night in the street). Perhaps even worse, Guillaume had been captured as well, for his association with known thieves. He was currently imprisoned in the Kalsgard dungeons near the Linnorm King’s palace. He would get a chance to fight for his freedom in a trial by combat, but his accusers might let him sit in prison a few days to weaken him before letting him have his day on the battlefield.

The party could see their best route was to investigate Ravenscraeg, though the outlook was grim: Marcel knew from word around town that Ravenscraeg was practically a fortress, built by the crazed Snorri Stone-Eye in preparation for an Armageddon he’d been sure was coming. Still it was all they had.

The party returned to the caravan to make preparations, where they found Meckrin had made lunch, filling in for Grigori now that he was busy and away from the cookpots. Everyone except Marcel took the cooked chicken with thanks.

Shortly after eating the lunch, however, the party started to get stomach cramps. They quickly got critical, draining Rehoofa, Elsa, and Grigori’s vitality. Meckrin was laughing at first, jeering that maybe next time the party should give him better directions. His laughs started to trail off when he saw how bad it was getting. He said that the person who’d given him the stuff had said it would only give upset stomachs. Seeing the party rapidly sliding towards death’s door, he started helping, stabilizing Elsa and then using his magic to try and undo some of the damage.

The party was less than pleased, and Arach was outright furious, strangling Meckrin until a Grease spell from Grigori slid the goblin out of Arach’s deathgrip. The party was shaken quite a bit, and one of the caravan’s cats lay still, dead after nibbling on the poisoned chicken.

Meckrin is now left trying to explain himself, and the party is left gravely weakened, and Ravenscraeg, the Rimerunners, and the Frozen Shadows still wait for them.

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Session 19
Summary of Session 19

The party was floating down the Rimeflow river on their “liberated” canoes, Elsa shivering from her dip in the river. She attempted to sit with Guillaume to try and warm up, only to find that her weight plus Guillaume’s on one end was enough to jackknife the canoe, sending her, Guillaume, and Rehoofa into the drink. They were able to right the canoe and get back in, but now all three of them were soaking and shivering. Marcel and Kaellara watched from their own canoe, now the only dry ones. Fortunately, Marcel was able to dry them off with magic when they got to land.

The party retired to the Red Station Inn. There, Rehoofa left, saying he had to go to the caravan to meditate on the night’s events and recover. Kaellara also stepped away, indicating she had business to take care of as well.

Guillaume and Marcel went to bed, but Elsa went to talk to the Varki, to explain the loss of the kayaks. She also told them about the canoes the party had ditched. The Varki were impassive about the night’s events, and mentioned that Elsa’s companion had come with a message as well.

Elsa went a little ways down the docks, finding the blood-feather raven Wodes waiting for her. Wodes was pleased that Elsa had survived: Kimandatsu, the leader of the Frozen Shadows, had chosen that very night to strike down her enemies across Kalsgard, cleaning out all threats in a single night of bloodshed. That Elsa had survived the strike of the ninjas meant she was probably in the clear.

Wodes stated that tonight was the perfect night to strike against Kimandatsu, since so many of her forces would be deployed in Kalsgard. Even better, Goti Runecaster would be in the city as well, meaning he would be safe from any strike against Kimandatsu. Wodes said that Goti was part of a particularly big strike: Kimandatsu had heard a group of people was in Kalsgard looking for Suishen, so she had arranged for a duplicate to be found, knowing it would be delivered to a person she wanted dead. Goti would track down the fake Suishen and kill whoever had it. And, unlike most Frozen Shadows, Goti was not known for subtlety.

Wodes was thrilled to have a chance to set up Goti as the successor of the Frozen Shadows, with Wodes himself as the brain behind him. Goti’s magic, guided by Wodes’ cleverness, would be a powerful combination. He told Elsa to meet him with whoever she trusted outside the south gate of Kalsgard, where he would lead her to the back entrance of Kimandatsu’s lair.

Elsa ran back to the Red Station Inn, where she woke up Guillaume and Marcel and gave them the short version of the story: they’d been duped, and Maia was in danger. The party armored up, mounted up, and took off towards the temple of Shelyn. Guillaume, mounted on the faster Acimon, pulled out ahead. He arrived at the temple to find it already on fire.

Guillaume broke the door down, to find the interior of the shrine wrecked, ruins of benches and decorations piled up to block doorways, and everything on fire. Some of the flame broke away, forming as humanoid fire creatures that attacked him. Guillaume fought them with a great amount of difficulty, Acimon getting badly burned when he tried to stomp one of the fire creatures. While Guillaume fought, he saw a misshapen, cloaked figure. The cloaked person didn’t say anything, but grinned at Guillaume as he blasted Guillaume with acid, and summoned a larger fire creature, which set about setting the town square on fire.

Elsa and Marcel arrived in the square shortly after Guillaume had struck down the smaller fire creatures and stood against the large one. The cloaked figure in the window had by then cast a spell and vanished. His voice could still be heard, shouting out orders in a bizarre language, commanding the large fire beast to attack the shrine.

The party joined back up, coming together and fighting the large fire beast. Guillaume was burned almost as fast as Elsa and Marcel could heal him, but was able to hold the beast off until the spell that had summoned it ran out, and the fire creature vanished.

Guillaume and Marcel hung back to heal up, while Elsa ran into the shrine. In the lower levels, she found Bjorn in one of the cells, and Maia in another one. She was able to wake up Bjorn and send him on his way, while Guillaume and Marcel caught up. The party found Maia unresponsive, standing against the back wall of her cell paralyzed with fear. When Elsa tried to grab her, she fought her off.

Guillaume made the connection first, realizing that Maia was severely pyrophobic, or afraid of fire. He tried to snap her out of her panic by punching Maia in the face, rehsaping her nose a little. Elsa followed up with Charm Person spell, that seemed to stabilize her a little bit, at least enough that Elsa’s smooth words could guide Maia out. On the way out of the shrine, Marcel revealed his particularly morbid humor, making a joke about how setting someone on fire keeps them warm for the rest of their life.

Outside, Maia was still only barely responsive, so Elsa mounted up with her and took her back to the caravan. En route, they ran into Arach, who’d heard the commotion at Maia’s hiding place and had come to investigate. He took them back to the caravan, where Maia finally started to recover and hugged Arach, hitting him and crying in Tien “you bastard, where were you?”

Back at the shrine, Guillaume, Marcel, Bjorn, and a bucket brigade of Kalsgard citizens managed to put the shrine out, but not before its roof had fallen in and most of the artworks inside (including the painting of Shelyn Bjorn had brought to Kalsgard) had burned up. Bjorn was heartbroken. He also mentioned that apparently their elf friend Kaellara had come by earlier and then left in quite a hurry. Another priest had gone out after her, and Karl had not been around that night.

The party retired to the caravan, though Guillaume and Marcel briefly had it out about Marcel’s dark sense of humor and Guillaume’s sometimes overbearing attitude. At the caravan, Arach comforted Maia until she fell asleep, then put her to bed and came back outside to stand guard. There was no sign of Kaellara. The party, shaken by the night’s events, retired, except for Elsa. She went to the south gate of Kalsgard, where Wodes was waiting.

Wodes was displeased at Elsa going to save Maia: in doing so, she’d wasted a window of opportunity. Elsa said that she was depleted of spells, and more importantly that Wodes shouldn’t have asked her to sacrifice her friends. Wodes berated her, saying that a Frozen Shadow doesn’t have friends, they have missions, and if Elsa can’t keep that straight, maybe she didn’t belong with them. Wodes left Elsa then, mumbling to himself “the hag was so much more pliable.”

In the morning, the party reconnoitered at the caravan, comparing notes. Arach explained out of earshot from Maia that as a child, she’d seen her father burn to death, which explained her pyrophobia.

Still, Maia had recovered from the church burning and seemed ready to continue on with whatever leads they had. She thanked the party for saving her yet again, though she couldn’t figure out why her nose was sore. She was also quite angry at Kaellara: Maia had walked in on Kaellara stealing the sword. When Maia tried to stop her, Kaellara knocked her down and ran. A priest had chased after Kaellara, but before Maia could get after her, the fire creatures had appeared, and Maia had run back to her cell.

The party and the caravan leaders tried to decide what to do. Since entering Kalsgard, at every turn they’d been blocked by shadowy forces. Ulf Gormundr was missing, the magical sword had been a trap, Kaellara was still nowhere to be found, Maia had nearly burned to death, and the party itself had been ambushed and in mortal danger on several occasions. Arach suggested that maybe it was time to cut their losses and leave, and find some other way to continue on. The party was silent at that.

Maia was the one who protested first, calmly saying that her father had had a saying: if they’re trying to kill you, you’re doing something right. Kimandatsu and the Frozen Shadows were afraid of them for some reason. Maia wasn’t ready to run away, and the party agreed.

They compared notes to determine their next step. The party found that through it all, the common theme was the Rimerunners Guild: it had been their ship Asvig’s men had used to attack, they had been managing Snorri Stone-Eye’s estate, and Arach mentioned he’d heard Snorri had sold off most of his assets to the Rimerunners Guild to try and cure a mysterious illness he’d suffered from, an illness that had eventually killed him. The Rimerunners had been one of the few groups that could have known the party would be boarding Snorri’s funeral ship. Arach also guessed that a shadowy organization like the Frozen Shadows would need serious resources to function smoothly, and a trading guild like the Rimerunners Guild would be the perfect setup for something like that, providing funding and a legitimate front business that would have ties all over the city.

It seemed that the next logical step was to move on the Rimerunners, at least to see if there was any proof of this theory. At Maia’s suggestion, the party decided that the best way to find out what the Rimerunners knew was to approach them as a business contact. After all, a business tends to welcome in anyone who can promise more money.

Marcel and Elsa had already laid the groundwork, hinting that an exiled royal was in town. Of course, the exiled royal was apparently “dead,” but maybe it had been a mistake. All it would take was someone presenting herself as the royalty.

Arach was firmly against Maia walking into the Rimerunners Guild, possibly the people who’d tried to burn her to death, and announcing herself as royalty. The party and Maia were able to talk him down, albeit grudgingly. He also made sure Marcel knew that if Maia were hurt, he’d be holding Marcel personally responsible.

The party made preparations, going to restock their supplies and recharge their magical reserves. Guillaume made a stop at a church to recover the life force that the undead Snorri had pulled out of him. And Elsa took Maia out clothes shopping, to make her look a little more royal.

While out shopping, Elsa and Marcel ran into Omoyani, who looked roughed up. He said his troupe had been attacked the night before. He’d walked in on the attack, seeing shadowy forms attacking. He’d been hit on the arm before running away. The party wondered why the Frozen Shadows would have attacked a troupe of performers. Arach came up with the solution: the party had been watched since they’d come into town. The watchers had probably seen Marcel spending time with the performers, and in Kimandatsu’s purge must have targeted them too.

The party took in Omoyani, though Guillaume was suspicious. Guillaume also had a look at Omoyani’s arm, seeing a deep wound that didn’t come from a blade, but from fingernails.

The party didn’t tell Omoyani their plans about the Rimerunners, but left him resting in the caravan. Taking Maia along, the party made a stop at Kelda’s, finding to their relief that she was still alive and unharmed. Kelda also told Elsa she hasn’t forgotten the favor she owes her.

With everything squared away for now, and a tentative plan to work with, the party took Maia as they headed for the Rimerunners.

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Session 18
Summary of Session 18

The party made it back to the caravan and updated Arach on the situation. They also met up with Kaellara, who had found nothing at Asvig’s farmhouse. She was worried about the missing Ulf Gormundr, especially when Guillaume mentioned Asvig’s quip that Ulf “would soon be joining Snorri Stone-Eye.”

They met with Meckrin as well, who appeared rather smug that Marcel and Elsa were asking for help. That worried the party, but not as much as how Meckrin didn’t ask for anything when he healed them. The goblin almost certainly has something planned, but he isn’t letting on what it is.

Guilluame showed Arach the sword they’d recovered as well, though Arach was hesitant to touch it. He had heard many stories and superstitions about intelligent weapons, and many of them were not good. He suggested bringing it to Maia , who might be able to control it, whatever it was.

The party was nearly certain that Ulf was on the funeral ship, to be thrown out with all other evidence of Asvig’s wrongdoing, but the ship was due to depart at sunrise, giving the party a few hours before they had to be there. So they took the time to run a few errands first.

First, the party sent Kaellara out ahead to scout the funeral ship and figure out a way on. Second, Guillaume wanted to stop in at the house of the trader Fynn Snaevald, the original owner of the sword Suishen. Specifically, Guillaume wanted a list of the goods that had been stolen by Asvig Longthews, so they would know what to look for on the funeral ship. However, they didn’t want to go while they still had Suishen, since Fynn might ask for it back, and they needed it for long enough to get some answers.

So instead they went to the temple of Shelyn in the Fire District, where Maia was still hiding out. They went in and woke up Bjorn, who tiredly welcomed them and showed them to Maia’s quarters, one of the cells for the priests down in the basement, before retiring again.

Maia answered the door quickly, saying she hadn’t been asleep, and mentioning she hasn’t been sleeping much lately. She heard the short version of the party’s story and accepted the sword, at least for safekeeping while they dealt with things. She drew the sword from its ornate sheath and admired it, saying she was not sensing a response, but could still feel something there, almost like it was waiting for something.

The party explained they had to go save Ulf, and asked Maia if she wanted to accompany them. When they explained Ulf was on a funeral ship which would be set on fire, Maia declined. Guillaume in particular noticed how Maia paled at the explanation of where the rescue would be.

Marcel left with a parting quip, which Maia repaid by “accidentally” clocking him with the sword, though it was back in its scabbard by that point. Guillaume dragged Marcel away before he could continue the exchange of insults and pranks which seems to be the norm when he deals with Maia.

The next errand was a brief stop at the house of the trader Fynn Snaevald, where Guillaume went inside briefly and got a listing of the items that were stolen. With that taken care of, the party finally set off to save Ulf Gormundr.

The party headed across the city, finding that the funeral ship was launching from Spear-Shaker’s point, a spot to the west of Kalsgard. They went through the Jade Quarter and out into the wilds around Kalsgard, where they raced for Spear-Shaker’s Point. They arrived minutes before daybreak, finding a crowd assembled to watch the ship launch. The party unfortunately ran into a stone wall at that point, in the form of a few dozen huscarls, elite warriors sworn to the service of Snorri Stone-Eye, now serving their final duties to him in seeing him off to the afterlife.

The huscarls did not speak Varisian and the party was still learning Skald, so the party found a trader who could translate for them. Through this trader, Guillaume tried to convince the huscarls to let him onboard to search the ship. He explained that there was someone on board who’d been left to die. The huscarls were not obliging, however, and adamantly refused to let anyone from the party onboard. They actually looked quite nervous at the thought of allowing anyone on board the ship. They only said that one of their own would look at the ship, though Guillaume was quite convinced that wouldn’t lead to anything.

Meanwhile, Elsa spotted the water creature Uksahkka in his human form. Uksahkka beckoned her over and heard her explanation of the situation. He pointed out that the huscarls were not going to let anyone on board, but their domain ended with the land. It would be far easier to get on the ship once it was out in the water. He agreed to help Elsa out, in appreciation for the help her mother had given his people in the past. Uksahkka took his leave, and not long afterwards, thick fog rolled in. The funeral was delayed until the evening, when it was determined the fog would have thinned.

The crisis delayed at least for the moment, the party took a moment to consider things. They could see the huscarls were not going to let them onboard, but boarding it at night after it left Spear-Shaker’s Point was a possibility. The only other lead they had was the Rimerunner’s Guild: the trader the party had conscripted as their translator mentioned that the Rimerunner’s Guild had been in charge of all the offerings left on the boat.

The party headed back, meeting up with Kaellara along the way, who had been unable to get on the boat either, and appeared quite worried about Ulf. The party went back to the Jade Quarter and attempted to go into the Rimerunner’s Guild, but were politely turned away by guards who said the Guild was closed and they could come back later, if they had business.

The party retired to the Red Station Inn, a pleasant nondescript place in the Jade Quarter. After resting and waking up stronger and fresher, the party took a moment to identify the magic gear they’d found at Asvig’s, Rehoofa finding to his chagrin that his new boots were boots of elvenkind. He has re-dubbed them boots of dwarvenkind, though the soft leather and delicate patterns on the boots don’t seem very dwarven. Freshly equipped, the party set off for the Rimerunners, also in the Jade Quarter.

At the Guild, the party got to test out its knowledge of the Skald language. Most of the party was recognized and welcomed back, and Guillaume introduced himself. The clerk and merchant factor they spoke to confirmed that the Guild had been handling Snorri Stone-Eye’s funeral arrangements, but they knew nothing of a prisoner being stowed in the funeral offerings. Guillaume explained that Asvig Longthews was probably not going to be checking in with the Rimerunners ever again. The merchant factor also asked if there was any progress on bringing in a certain “person of interest,” referring to the supposed exiled royalty the party was traveling with. Marcel quickly said she had died. He then had to politely decline the Rimerunners’ questions if they could handle funeral arrangements. The party then left, saying they had to see about getting a boat.

The party went to the docks, looking for a small boat for rent or sale. During their investigations, they heard rumors of a black knight who was giving out money to thralls, most likely referring to Guillaume, who had donated money to the thralls they released from Asvig Longthews. Guillaume seems accepting of this development.

The party was directed to the Varki people down in the poorer part of the docks. The Varki immediately recognized Elsa and told her of arrangements their shaman Uksahkka had made, and also warned her that he hoped she was going down the right path, and also that he now considered his debt to her mother repaid. Guillaume by this point was quite impressed with Elsa’s connections in Kalsgard.

As twilight fell, the party collected Kaellara and took her to a beach just outside of town, where, as the Varki had promised, a set of three kayaks awaited them. The party took an hour or so to practice with these strange boats. Guillaume in particular had left his armor and horse behind, feeling they would be a hindrance on the water. Elsa, for her part, wore her dragon scale fullplate, beautifully forged by the dwarven smith Rogar in Kalsgard, and which she had just become proficient in wearing.

As it grew dark and the party got ready to leave, a giant crab came out of the water, picking up one of the kayaks and cracking it in its claw. The party fought the beast, Rehoofa getting grabbed and nearly dragged out to sea until Kaellara’s knives, Guillaume’s sword, and Elsa’s fingernails brought it down.

The party rode out in their kayaks to Spear-Shaker’s Point, taking advantage of the darkness and the lingering fog for cover. As expected, the funeral ship was just departing, and the huscarls were shouting out their funeral chant.

The party got onboard the ship easily enough, where they disarmed the time-delay ignition: a bag of hot coals over a pot of oil and kindling. The ship wasn’t going to burn down just yet, so the party investigated, checking the body on the bier to find it was a simple wooden mannequin wrapped up in a shroud. The party explored below the ship’s makeshift deck, finding the cramped hold filled with fog and treasures alike. Rehoofa went in first, finding a barrel that exploded open, and a hideous undead creature, dripping with seawater and swollen with decay, stepped out. From the eyepatch over the creature’s eye, it seemed the creature was none other than Snorri Stone-Eye himself, the Mad Reaver back from the dead.

The fight was on. The party was at a disadvantage, fighting in the cramped, foggy confines of the hold. The undead Snorri swung a deadly greataxe, hitting powerfully and draining the life force out of several of the party. In the end Kaellara came to the rescue, squeezing into the hold with everyone else, outmaneuvering the creature, and slashing it to pieces with her knives.

The ship secure again, the party did a quick exploration. Though there were many treasures lining the hold, there was no sign of Ulf. A Detect Magic found the undead Snorri’s eye socket was magical. Guillaume investigated, extracting the stone “eye” that was Snorri’s namesake.

The party gathered up what artifacts of Fynn Snaevald they could find, and a few of them lined their pockets with funeral treasure as well. As they looted, however, they heard an explosion from above, and saw flickering flames. The boat had caught fire!

Elsa investigated, seeing, rather unexpectedly, five ninjas on the deck waiting for her. One of the ninjas had set the boat alight, while others moved in. Elsa fought but was injured, and the rest of the party made its way out of the hold, one by one, to help.

The fight was a dangerous one, made moreso by the rapidly spreading flames. Kaellara was badly burned by the fire, but the ninjas were wiped out. In one particularly brutal moment, Marcel fired a Scorching Ray Wand to finish off a ninja that had jumped in the river to save himself, and proudly announced there would be no survivors.

Eventually the party dispatched the ninjas, and quickly looted the gear off a few of them before abandoning ship. Their kayaks were long gone, cut free by the ninjas, but the party was able to commandeer the canoes the ninjas had used to get up to the ship. Everyone got into a canoe successfully except for Elsa, who ended up in the drink instead, and nearly sank. Guillaume and Rehoofa were able to pull her out, though she is now soaking wet and shivering in the frozen night of Kalsgard.

The party quickly made its getaway, as the funeral ship of Snorri Stone-Eye burned, broke up, and sank to the bottom of the river.

Unfortunately, they now find themselves short of leads. With no sign of Ulf Gormundr on the ship and Snorri Stone-Eye turned into an undead horror, the party wonders what fate befell Ulf, who was supposedly going to “be joining Snorri.”

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Session 17
Summary of Session 17

The party was approaching the farmhouse of Asvig Longthews. Kelda guided them there, telling them that most people stay inside after dark, to avoid trolls and other nasty things that prowl in the darkness. Fortunately, no trolls attacked the party.

The party reviewed their evidence, circumstantial though it was, that Asvig was involved in the goings-on so far. As they approached the house, they saw clear evidence of a party going on inside, but no guards. They found out soon afterwards that the “guards” were a set of magical posts surrounding the house, carved into the rough shape of a lion. The posts summoned lion-things that attacked, and were cut down quickly. The battle was over soon enough that the party-goers in the house heard nothing.

Marcel cast his Tongues spell on himself and Guillaume, though there was some confusion on Kelda’s part about “Marcel’s magical tongue.”

The party approached the house, and inside they heard the warriors inside calling for Asvig. Soon afterwards, Asvig’s voice could be heard, boasting of how he was going to advance to greatness soon, after “one small act of thievery.” He dedicated the party to his fallen superior, Snorri Stone-Eye, who had tragically died too soon.

After some discussion of searching the area, the party instead took the direct route and went in the front door. Guillaume called out Asvig and accused him of having his warriors attack the party. Asvig replied by almost casually ordering his warriors (over 15 in all) to attack.

The fight was on! The Ulfen warriors were a little slow to respond, having been in the middle of a party up until then, and several of them were drunk (two were outright unconscious). Once they got their weapons, though, they rushed the party in a mass. In the tight confines of the farmhouse, the party’s maneuverability was greatly restricted. Kelda and Guillaume took frontline positions, while the rest of them tried to take cover. Guillaume boasted to warriors, intimidating several of them. The warriors responded with several intimidating glares of their own. Elsa contributed with Flaming Spheres and Marcel, as always, added his taunts.

The fight took an ugly turn early on when Asvig’s wife, Helva, appeared. Looking down her nose at the adventurers who had interrupted her husband’s celebration, she cast a Fear spell on Guillaume, sending him running away. Elsa bought time with a Calm Emotions spell that stopped Guillaume’s fear and most of the Ulfen’s rage, but also took away their will to fight. The spell was broken when Asvig bonked one of his own warriors to wake him up. By then, Guillaume’s fear had worn off, and he was back to fighting.

The party took several solid hits, with Kelda and Elsa both going down. Guillaume took a position over Kelda’s body, fighting off the Ulfen warriors, while Marcel healed Elsa with a Cure wand.

Rehoofa contributed the most, taking a position on a raised part of the main room and firing arrows until he was out of Ki. He managed to single-handedly take down Helva with a few arrows. Asvig went after Rehoofa to avenge his wife, and blocked quite a few arrows with his shield and got in a couple good hits with his spear. He ultimately went down as well to Rehoofa’s constant stream of arrows.

Eventually the Ulfen were defeated, with a few stragglers trying to run away, only to get held back by angry thralls (slave/servants). The party took a few warriors prisoner and gathered up the thralls, who were cowering but generally accepting that the adventurers had struck down their former masters.

Questioning the thralls and the warriors, the party found that Asvig and a few other warriors had come in with a stash of loot a few days ago. They had quickly gotten rid of most of the loot, but Asvig had held onto a sword, which he had heard was worth quite a lot of money. As for Ulf Gormundr, there was no sign of him, except Asvig had said he would soon “be joining Snorri Stone-Eye.”

The party healed the most badly wounded thralls and gave them some money and weapons, sending them out with one of the warriors to disarm the ring of magical posts. Elsa learned the sigil that disarmed the posts and then killed the warrior, out of sight of the party. She let the thralls leave, but was then accosted by the blood-feather raven Wodes, who landed on a post and chided her for letting some escape alive. Elsa said she’d have no trouble killing anyone she’s asked to, but the rest of her party might have a problem with it. Wodes reminded her she was a soldier of the Frozen Shadows now, and expected to do as she’s told. And if her companions are a problem, perhaps she should get new companions.

Still, Wodes was pleased that Asvig was dead. Many in the Frozen Shadows will be questioning Kimandatsu’s leadership now. He warned Elsa that Kimandatsu was getting ready to make a big move against her enemies in Kalsgard, trying to drive out the problems. This was going to be Elsa’s chance to land a killing blow: Wodes plans to show her a back entrance to Kimandatsu’s stronghold while the other Frozen Shadows are out busy with whatever this “big move” is. This will let Elsa strike down Kimandatsu personally, or at least deal a “killing blow” to her reputation.

The party didn’t have much time to hang around, though. More party-goers were coming, and they were getting close.

Elsa hurried back inside, where she made sure Asvig and Helva were both dead. The rest of the party finished off the surviving warriors, healed Kelda, and searched the rest of the house. They found a few treasures, best of all was the sword they dug up in Asvig’s bedroom, which was magical and very familiar from the visions the party had had in Brinewall.

The party packed up their loot and rode off on a few captured horses, which they let go before reaching Kalsgard. Inside the walls, they parted ways with Kelda, who mentioned that Snorri Stone-Eye’s funeral was going to be that morning. The party strongly suspects that Ulf Gormundr may be on the funeral ship, along with the other loot stolen from Fynn Snaevald.

The party has only a few hours to heal up and ride out again before the funeral. Their resources are drained and they are bashed around, so they’ll have to rely on Meckrin to heal them.

Which means Marcel will have to beg for help from the goblin who has it out for him.

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Session 16
Summary of Session 16

Guillaume was in the caravan on his way to Kalsgard. Arach gave some encouraging words to try and make him feel better about leaving behind Brinewall castle, saying that on its own a castle is nothing more than a fancy cave. Guillaume also saw Maia practicing a two-sword technique with sticks. Maia explained that the sword from the visions appeared to be a katana, a longer version of the curved Tien swords the party had found earlier. She is a bit rusty on swordplay, since her father had looked down on her learning such things. Guillaume and Maia appear to be back in a holding pattern of tolerating one another.

Guilluame was impressed at Kalsgard’s size, and Arach got the caravan through the gates easily enough. Once they were set up in the Bones Quarter (otherwise known as the slums), Arach had Guillaume bring Maia to the shrine of Shelyn, having made some arrangements earlier with Bjorn. Maia was a bit stiff at having to go to the shrine, but went along, to where she was set up in one of the priest’s cells down in the basement.

While Guillaume was making conversation with Bjorn (who was very happy to have the painting of Shelyn in place), the shrine doors opened and Rehoofa, Elsa, and Marcel entered. Reunited, the party went back to the caravan for a little privacy so they could get Guilluame up to speed and distribute the funds from the sale of the Aril’s Hammer.

At the caravan, Marcel directed Meckrin towards the Hall of Splendid Valor, instead giving him directions to Madam K’s parfumery in the Jade Quarter. Elsa was in in the prank as well, giggling to herself.

Guillaume was a bit less than happy that Marcel and Elsa had blabbed about “exiled royalty” to the Rimerunners Guild, but was pleased that the party had discovered so much other information, like the name Asvig Longthews and the Frozen Shadows. He also steadfastly refused to ever pretend to be exiled royalty.

Kaellara was missing by the time the party came out of their meeting, having indicated she had something to take care of. Ulf Gormundr had also said he was going to deal with his ex-employers, and Kaellara had passed on that Ulf would be at his usual bar that evening, if the party wanted to meet him.

The evening came and the party decided to go see Ulf. Marcel reminded Elsa she had a date with Karl, and Elsa ran off to go meet him.

Elsa’s date with Karl went fairly well. After dinner they went for a walk by the river, where Karl introduced her to a friend of his, a strange mermaid-thing-man who leapt out of the river and transformed into an elderly man. Introducing himself as Uksahkka, the old man had a look at Elsa, asking who her mother was. He said he’d known a woman some years ago, a water-creature with magic powers who had mentioned a daughter she’d left behind in Varisia. He said that the water-woman had become a creature of snow and ice and left the city, but not before falling in with some questionable people. One of those people wanted to meet Elsa: at that, a familiar-looking blood feather raven landed nearby.

The blood-feather raven spoke fluent Druidic, and introduced himself as Wodes. Offering a professional apology for the earlier attack, he said that he represented the Frozen Shadows. Furthermore, Wodes has plans to install his friend, Goti Runecaster, as the leader of the Frozen Shadows. Apparently the party’s actions so far has left the Frozen Shadows questioning whether their leader, someone named Kimandatsu, is capable.

Wodes and Elsa came to an arrangement: if the party stirs up enough trouble, they’ll erode Kimandatsu’s power base and let Goti take over. In return, Wodes will tell them where to find the sword Suishen, and make sure they can leave the city unharmed. First, though, he tested Elsa’s dedication, sending her out to kill the young pickpocket who’d been spying on them earlier. Elsa agreed, went out, and, with some effort, dragged the pickpocket into the river and killed him.

Elsa swam away, passing by another mermaid-thing, who magically protected her from the freezing water and then swam off to take care of the body. Elsa climbed out, meeting Uksahkka again, who warned her she was going down a very dark path.

Elsa went out and met the party, who had been waiting at the bar for Ulf all night, and had seen no sign of him. She managed to convince the party she was soaking wet because her date had pushed her into the river.

On the way down the street, the party ran into trouble: a pack of citizens, led by an irate Gorvald, the hired muscle from Fynn Snaevald’s house. Gorvald started shouting at the party, accusing Rehoofa of having stolen golden arrows from Fynn’s house. The party soon found out that magic was at work: when Gorvald told Marcel the charges, for a moment Marcel started to remember seeing Rehoofa steal the arrows. It was almost like the big, beefy Gorvald was casting the spell himself.

Elsa calmed Gorvald with a spell, and some talented wordplay from Marcel managed to disarm the crowd. Marcel’s Countersong ended up carrying the day, canceling out the magic that was at work.

The party left, going to Kelda’s house to spend the night. In the morning Kelda ran through quick introductions and then snuck out with the party to go look for clues at the fighting pits. She thanked the party for not asking why she had to sneak out.

The fighting pits did not have much to offer, unfortunately. The party found out more about Asvig Longthews, how he had an honest shot at being a jarl someday soon, now that Snorri Stone-Eye was dead. Marcel and Elsa joked about going to crash the funeral, which Guillaume was having none of. The party found no immediate enemies of Asvig, at least not that the party could get the ear of. They did learn where Asvig’s farmhouse was, though, and made plans to go to it that night. The party also developed many new mispronunciations of “Asvig.”

While out at the pits, Elsa snuck off and met Wodes again in an alley, where he scolded her for talking to him in the daytime; he takes a great risk of being discovered by talking to her. Still, he was impressed with her work and told her go to Madam K’s parfumery for directions to the sword. He said that Asvig Longthews was at another farm that night, with the sword at least until morning, but that might change soon. He said that killing Asvig would send huge ripples through the Frozen Shadows, and lead many to question Kimandatsu. He also said that to avoid giving away her identity to the Frozen Shadows, Elsa would be smart to leave no one at the farm house alive.

The party then stopped at Fynn Snaevald’s again to introduce Guillaume to him and see that the golden arrows actually had been stolen. Fynn apologized for Gorvald and also gave them a signet ring to show they had his backing in tracking down the thieves who had attacked his house, now twice.

Elsa and Kaellara went back to Madam K’s, where they heard about the goblin (Meckrin) who’d come looking for “companionship” and ended up getting beat up when he didn’t take the hint. One can only guess what a goblin who worships the goddess of revenge will do now.

Elsa said the passcode Wodes had given her, and Madam K led them to a back room, where she dropped her thick Tien accent and let Elsa into a room full of high-class merchandise, most likely found through “back channels.” She gave Elsa a book that had been set aside for her; the book was written in Tien, but included a note in Druidic giving her directions to Asvig’s party. The note also said he looked forward to making her a member of the Frozen Shadows, and that the book was useful to initiates. Now if only Elsa could read Tien…

Kaellara, who had followed Elsa into the back room, stared at an amulet on the wall, which she indicated had been Ulf’s. Elsa bought the amulet and found that a warrior with a lion’s head arm ring had sold it to her that morning.

Elsa let the rest of the party know where the sword was, though there was a lot of suspicion about how she knew. The party made preparations to head out to where Asvig Longthews was holding a party that evening. They told Kelda about their plans, and at her offer, they took her along for the ride.

The party made it out of the city with minimal trouble, and was on their way. Now they’re off to crash a Viking party. Guillaume has correctly pointed out that all they really have is circumstantial evidence that Asvig Longthews’ men might be involved in some of the things that have been happening. The real test may be just to knock on the door and see if Asvig Longthews greets them with an ale or a sword.

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