The Saga of the Bjornings

Ragnar: Siege of Arndulant

1 healer is attached to each of our units.
Hemikon is Peldanorian. That’s his church name. He is of the sect of the Return faith from Argonia (the 2 are very close, its much minutae). He is a crusader type, too. Came here several years ago. He was involved in the great battle the Empire lost that led to the current emp’s takeover. Known to be loyal to the Emperor, his attention is on the adjacent pagan enemies. The losing of the area, to steppe nomads, and its reclaiming was just after that. He was a part of the reclaiming. Arndulant’s region is mostly under such crusader guard called the Knight Justicars of which Hemikon is a Bishop. They are effectively mercs, but also of the faith; paid in less loot and also land and titles. Plenty of proniar’s are crusaders.
The crusader faction here is the Prelatal Army: army of the Prelate of the Crusaders
’The Brilliant Casles" are a group of 7 castles, Arndulant is one of them. Called such for the stonework, enchanted with a daylight spell. They glow at night, the work of the Masters. All are in this part of the world, but Empire only owns 4.

As we ride through the territory, we see this land is great for cavalry movements.
We have marched for several days, when a foreign voice intrudes in each of our 3 minds. Its calm and speaks slowly:
This is Bishop Corrin, his divination tells them we are the closest adequate force which is under siege right now, heavily outnumbered. Our orders are now to report to nearest garrison to north who will outfit/reinforce us and give instructions. Further mind communications tomorrow.
Ingvarr, having been here before, says Corrin is higher up than Hemikon in the Justicars; and is also a First, hence the telepathic speak. The north town is named for one of the true Celestines, Tristor.

Arrive at the small walled town of Tristor; central location so has a garrison house for about 150 toops max. Squad of men greet us, leader looks more nomad than greek.
Ragnar steps forward as the team’s leader to talk to this Lt. Nakar; his men call him Nikophoros. His orders are to get us to the castle asap with part of his force; they have mounts for us. We are to leave here to a border fort where we turn east.
He hands Ragnar papers, reports that may or may not be accurate, he says. Big help there! No attempts at communication have been responded to. Carrin, btw, is at one of the other Brilliant Castles. Original accurate report was nomads, 500 strong, surrounding the fort. Corrin is suppposed to have more info which he will divine to us tomorrow. They have other gear that shows they are not just your typical nomad raiders: catapults, lots of tower shields, unusually metal armor among higher ratio than normal.
Ingvarr “Gozerians are aiding them.”
Kyy asks if the Master built casle is stronger vs siege than normal: yes the walls are a bit stronger but not impervious by any stretch.
He’s sending 10 of his 40 men with us.
Rags “That’s it? Might as well just keep them.”
Nakar “Every man will help.” Rags haggles and gets 10 extra. All 20 are auxiliary cavalry. Mail shirt, spear, sword.

On the way, we pass a couple small outposts of half dozen men within which we can squeeze in if need to to sleep the night and get food.
Rations and waterskins are replenished at each stop.

First day out we get the divination: if we go boldly into the heart of darkness we will be blinded and cut off from brilliance, swallowed and slain; southeast best approach; 150 axe, 50 spear, 130 bow, 100 shield wall, 50 clerics, 10 arcane, 10 bards; civilized support sited; unknown national origin.
Kyy “Civilized, huh. Gozerian paid mercs.”
Later divination: Justicars and prelatal army expected few days after us. So, we need to hold out a couple days, hopefully.

We pass the 3rd and last outpost. Leader says a swamp area ahead, to right are some markers and drainage ditches. From there 20 minutes from the castle.
As we leave “Good luck, northmen!” and we hear them close and bar the door.

By dusk, we come to the landmarks mentioned and make for a SE approach, the lowland side, on the lookout for enemy scouts and foragers.
Casle walls 30’ high and 12’ thick. 10’ fighting room at wall tops. Multiple steps up on each of the 4 sides of the wall. Gate on the southern wall. The nomad force is on the high ground to the west.
The terrain slopes to a lowland to the SE. It’s much less guarded by the enemy.
We carefully move forward. Rags and Kyy get a good grasp of what’s in front of us. A camp of the enemy is beyond the castle’s NW corner; an insignia of one of the noble’s who is not on good terms with the Emp. flies at that camp!!
That’s the civilized force we were told of. House Murtzouphlos.
In front of the castle is a camp of 200 ish nomad soldiers blocking the road and direct southern approach; 4 pickets of 50. Smaller pickets on N and W sides.
No major force from our SE way; likely scouts/skirmishers we expect though.
In the main camp, a mongol looking nomad in conical helm; banded breast; patch on one eye; looks in charge.
We 3 agree to wait for must after nightfall.
Kyy and Ingvarr will take the lead on foot to scout; they’ll scout out each cover area ahead of the us; then the army will be moved from one to the other quickly, until we reach the castle.
It’s a mile stretch.
The first 3/4 of mile are clear and easy. No sentries encountered and we aren’t spotted.

Moving from copse to copse over the last 1000 feet, Ingvarr is spotted and comes under archer fire. Kyy picks up his pace. He hears horses and movement w/in the trees. 10 byzantine looking men ride hard out for the S camp and calling an alarm.
Ragnar calls for full gallop to the front gate.
Couple torches light up on the castle wall and wave a signal. The same on other side returns a different motion. Ingvarr says they are calling out to us where to go; on the other side it’s a decoy signal to draw enemy attention there.
A scrambling in the enemy camp as we rush forward.
Some enemy are coming out of the area around us to harrass us. We engage only if they are in our way.
As Kyy and Ingvarr nears the enemy gate, a unit of nomads is able to cut us off, meeting head on with Kyy and Ingvarr. They wear all black over their armor, faces hidden by black veil. Each wields scimitar and a curved dagger, 2 wpn style.
Their elite cav is useless vs Ingvarr and Kyy on first engagement, we killing 5 of their men, as the front of our men catch up.
More nomads partially equipt are starting to move for us now from their nearby camp.
Men on the walls start supporting us with missile fire.

The gate is coming up, more xbowmen firing into the cav vs Kyy and Ingvarr. The remainder flee to their camp. Group of swordsmen forms a semicircle at the gate for us, a female calling us inside at speed. We don’t need told once much less twice.
A unit of heavy nomad cav are bearing down upon the gate now. Our allied cav ask to cut them off so we can get in, Rags shoots that down.
Rags says the unit they hit is who fights them, Tordekting 2. Kyy doesn’t budge either. They hit once, doing minimal wounding to the 2nd Tordekting. Taking missile fire too, the cav quickly disengage and we enter the castle safely.

Volleys of arrows are flying over the wall, all inside hug the inside of the wall and take cover.
The woman intro’s herself as Cpt. Ress, and is very happy to see us. THey have 35 men! Hemikon won’t come out of his tower!!
Rags “This castle has 45 men!”
Kyy “That’s all!?”
She says_ nomads have about 500. They are low on rest. Healing is holding out “praise the Masters”, otherwise low on magic._
Kyy “They might be praising Thor soon enough.”
They seem to have healers as well. This makes them retreat quicker when hurt, but limits their losses as well.
Snipers all round, so “stay under cover at all times”.
Rules of war are being followed, including peaceful of gathering of dead and fall backs for healing.
Hemikon heals all comers, but won’t do anything else. Been posted here since recapturing of the fort, it was out of Imperial hands only a very short time. A force of crusaders were killed during retaking of these forts, many friends of his, many died in horrible ways as prisoners of the enemy. He withdrew himself more and more, but felt the current force would suffice though she argued many times. She reported via the crystal what was happening here. He may no know even what is going on here, he talks as if in sermons. There used to be 300 men at this castle. He sent the rest away to other places. If he were at full capacity, he could smite many of the enemy with is magic. She has been in limited contact with Corrin via crystal. The castle is impervious to magic attack but it also blocks friendly things coming in like the Sendings we received. It’s like a barrier around it. Though magic items have an easier time, hence the crystal works.

She hasn’t mentioned the Murtsouphlos force, and when we tell her she is quite irritated, this if full fledged civil war on the horizon. It’s a powerful house.
Kyy asks about setting up an update at a certain time of night from Corrin on the Justicar’s movements. 1 person would have to get about 200’ from the wall to receive.
Kyy “It has to be risked at some point. We need to know.”
Ingvarr has the idea that during one of the moments of peace during the gathering of the wounded. She says it’s worth a try too. The timing would be a bit tricky but could work.
So, she says cool out, eat, relax. We are the power hitters, we’ll be needed a lot now. We are the fresh troops.
She says if the big bell rings, that means the castle is about to fall and we are needed. Otherwise, we are out of the fighting til tomorrow so we can be rested.

Next Day

Waking time is just before dawn. Cpt Ress is ash white, stumbling to a cot with a crash. The Lt. Ethliel is tall and slim. Slanted ears, half elf! Dirty but more rested. We are ushered out, he gives us each a set of bells, if being overwhelmed ring for assistance; they are on ropes so can be swung outside a silence spell from enemy arcanists. He then leads us outside and puts us at our posts after breakfast.
Lt says Ress took the fore last night, Bishop Hemikon brought her from the brink of death twice!!

Scyldings and our allied cav man the walls this morning. Arrows reign in when the waves of attacks come with ladders to scale, our units coming under combat from wall breechers as well.

Scene: Ragnar

7:30 AM, 2 men with tower shields guard a rough looking nomad dog with a ladder. The shield bearers brace the ladder from the bottom as the barbarian climbs to Rags position but with a crook he is able to push it off.

Scene: Kyy

9:30 AM, axe wielding barbarian and spear wielder with ladder covered by 2 tower shield men. Not wanting to risk 2 men getting on the wall he uses the crook to push the ladder. It wavers enough to keep the spearman from hitting him from the top but the shield bearers brace it back. Then he is able to push it off to the ground.

Scene: Ingvarr

11AM, the Lt. takes a couple arrows and he goes down! It’s up to Ingvarr to save him and get him to a healer. He runs to half elf ducking and weaving under a hail of arrow fire! He takes a slight cut from one and arrives as Ethliel is hit again while lying there, and cries out in pain. Ingvarr discards his shield as another arrow hits Ethliel but not badly. Now KO’d at neg 7 as Ingvarr picks him up rushing for the nearest healer. Ingvarr takes a big crit but continues on bravely to the healers.
Getting to the church, main building, he bursts into the entrance. Hemikon and his assistant Marius are there, the former putting his vestments on as if he were just w/o, with the ass’s help.
“Hail! I was lost in prayer until your rushed entrance Vorangian.” Hemikon’s sweaty; the white around his collar has the slightest hint of blood upon it.
Ress is not here, but back at the barracks by now.
Ingvarr brings the Lt in.
“Great Cpt of the heathens, bring me your wounded. Let me grace him with the light of Celestia.”
Ingvarr lays the Lt down. Hemikon lays hands, a faint white glow at his hands an the wounds begin to close.
Hem “Magic is tiring. I have to parse it out wisely” so can’t do a full job. The surgeons will help, too.
Hem says to Ing “Close your eyes. What do you see?”
Ing “I see the death of my enemies.” He warns Ing to be careful, see the true path “young one”; Celesia has blessed Ing with truth.
Hem “With Celestia, and the powers of the Masters, we walk through the valley of darkness, the one true path, there is no place the darkness can enter us” and on about his true path’s greatness and security, and its wonder; “retire when your purpose is achieved, this is your one true path”.
“Will you accept a baptism, the blood of the Masters? Become one with greatness?”
Ingvarr declines.
“No matter. Friends must not fight regardless of differences when the thief is at the door.”
Lastly, as Ingvarr is leaving, Hem offers a gift. Marius is sent, fetching an oak box. 3 jewels, one for each PC; ioun stones! Incandescent blue sphere, pink rhomboid, pink and green sphere. They are perfect, and stack with arcane ioun stones. Rags takes the cha to stack with the one he has. Kyy gets the wis boost, Ingvarr the cha boost.

Scene: Ragnar

1:20pm
2 shieldman cover a barbarian with ladder; behind is a spear nomad and 100’ off a man in a crimson robe covered head to toe but for eye holes, casting a spell. A blood cult like caster?!?!
Caster misses Rag with an arcane bolt.
The ladder reaches the wall and hits the wall.
Rags demoralizes the group with the ladder, then brow beats the lead climber into hesitating “Oh you? You’re the one I’ve been lookin’ for! I’ve been waiting for you!”. The spearman passes him and climbs. Rags engages him
The arcanist then fails to manifest his spell.
Rags cuts the spearman down. Another energy bolt misses Ragnar.
The swordsman climber starts backing off, one of the ladder bearers with him. The other covers the downed spearman and they all retreat.
Another bolt misses Rags.

Scene: Ragnar

3:00pm
2 shield bearers, ladder swordsman, spearman, shaman w/ skull rattle to their rear.
The shaman casts, Rags freezes in place, his cursing ceasing mid sentence. Kyy sees this nearby and rushes to the scene as the ladder is put up and the swordsman climbs! Spearman behind him.
Kyy arrives as the swordsman reaches the top. The spear stabs him from behind the swordsman as he swings at the lead climber, hacking his chest with force to send him over the edge, a crunching thud as his leg fractures at the bottom.
Kyy then crits the spearman who is braced on the ladder top across the throat, blood gushing out as he gurgles unable to breath or speak.
He quickly drops the spear and leaps down in a panic, hitting hard but uninjured. His shieldman mates grab the 2 of them and run away! The shaman follows.

Sun is about to set now.
We are told to man the gate, for 20 men with large shields on one arm and another arm on a battering ram. Next to them are nomads with spears and shield, sword side arms, to rush in if they breech. Covering them are 10 nomad archers at their rear.
Rag “We have this handled. It’s unorthodox.”
Ingvarr “You’re going to open the gate.”
Rag “Exactly. As they are about to hit, we open it. They rush in, we close the gate.”
Kyy “Trap them.”

The garrison xbows fire at the archers to set up the ruse, like we actually care about this.
The rush the gate, the gate opens a little less than the perfect time. They don’t rush the ram in, but they do all charge inside! We lie in wait on the flanks and spring our ambush. The gates close behind them.
They have a commander, a shaman, an arcanist, and a bard. The bard is already inspiring courage in the enemy.
The gates shut behind them as further units were moving in, they turn and run back to camp.
In honor of Finnrik’s hatred of Iring, Kyy goes for their bard to stop his inspiration. The dog tumbles around Kyy as he engages but misses! Kyy turns and cuts into him. He continues the acrobatic maneuvers and bluffs, but he’s no match for Kyy. At the end he drops to his knees, begging for mercy. Kyy kicks him down and turns into the fray.
Rags goes for the commander, who drops his shield, going 2 wpn ft. They rush each other and he misses. He’s fast, a harrier. Rags misses in return! But then soon enough cuts him badly, grabs him by his head, finishes him off.
Ingvarr goes for the shaman, who gets a spell off at his approach and Ingvarr freezes! The shaman then walks to him and touches him, inflicting wounds 11. Ingvarr then comes out of it just in time to dodge his spear thrust. After as short back and forth, Ingvarr disembowels his foe DEAD!
Ress attack the arcanist, who is a capable foe, lots of misses for a few rounds in a row until Ress crits him! Then fumbles, then brings the caster down.

All 4 are finished off halfway through the mass fight, then join into the fray.
With about 5 men left in each squad, they surrender.
Ragnar accepts. Rags wants to cut their left thumbs off. Kyy pushes for weapon hand thumb.
10 healthy captives, and 10 wounded captives, plus the bard. Out of a total of 44.

Ragnar orders a gathering of the dead, and the beheading of the 3 dead officers. Using the catapult in the fort, we fire the heads into the enemy camp.

The Cpt. gives us rest time now for an hour or 2.

Dusk turns into night and the glow of the castle is brilliant, as if its daylight around the castle perimeter.

Ress comes, wearing new armor and looking rested "Be careful, they get serious at night.

8:30pm:
nomads bring up 2 crude catapults in the distance; and several tower shields closer to the fort, their bearers directing the fire.
The catapults fire a rain of jagged rocks. After a couple minutes, they find their range into the fort’s grounds and walls but we get shields up to cover ourselves.
Then, a shaman adds an effect to the next 2 loads that come in. THey glow, and as they come in each rock grows into a larger rock, wounding several of the fort’s troops. Ragnar takes a shot 20.
The bless another set, then the fort crossbowmen fire volleys eliminating the forward spotters.
Everyone in the fort is under cover now but for those on the wall and the attack stops.

Ress has sent a couple men out. The Lt and a handful of men snuck out via the secret passage and communicated with the Bishop and Justricars. Corrin says the Justicars are well on their way en route, no problems. Looks like some time tomorrow they’ll arrive!!
As tomorrow is a holiday, their magics are better on our side than usual. Should be able to communicate better tomorrow, even inside the magic shield of the fort.

We secure the living prisoners. The dead we hang down the outside of the walls, as a deterrent to attack in those spots.

11:10pm
4 burley nomads, well covered, push forward a siege tower. 2 of the strong nomads are waiting to use it to get onto the wall when the ramp drops. Right to Ragnar and Kyy.

Notes:

Hemikon: Justicar in charge at Arndulant
Bishop Corrin: Justicar, sending us the mental messages
Cpt. Ress: female capt of 35 man garrison
Lt. Ethliel: tall and slim half elf soldier of Arndulant

Cav: 1 unit, of 19

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Kolfrosta: Guard Duty to Antochi

Kolfrosta Mission

We are greeted at the caravan by Tzimiskes, a rough and gruff Sgt type. Several other groups of soldiers are here waiting as well, also joining this very important caravan.
This is a relative of the Tzimiskes who made the last leg of our journey to the capitol with us. He tells us 3 to hang outside the big tent, shortly the Lt. in command of the trip will call us in for a briefing.
Couple other groups on our level arrive while we wait.
The force is about 80 strong.
The Lt. calls “Enter.”
Lt. Ennistros is tall and young, finely dressed. Wearing quality mail. Rare blonde hair for a celestine (may have some northman ancestry), still tan of complextion though.
“We’ll be marching east to resupply a border fort named Antochi. You will address me as Lt at all times or your pay will be docked.” He’s the 4th son of one of the noble houses, so military was one of few options for him.
The only person he doesn’t talk down to is the one other greek Atticus Viranetos, the 6th son of Lox, and commanding 20 medium infantry, 2nd in command of caravan. We are more like somewhat civilized barbarians.
“It’s a dangerous road.” Bandits, raiders, horsemounted interlopers all around he says. This convoy carries beside pay for Antochi is important military gear. He does not expound on that detail. “This assignment will be carried out with military discipline” and he will not allow us to muck that up.
“Since you are all new to duty” and he has never seen our abilities, we are the rear guard. The sgt takes us to our assigned position as the caravan is readying. A cavarly man there is introduced to us by the sgt as Cpl Bekkos, in charge of the rear force.
Hjalprek whispers “He’s a greek, of course he’s in charge of the rear.”
Zing!
The sgt keeps belittling us, explaining he’s made this run 15 times in the last year and never attacked unlike other runs. The enemy never attacks the rear so our biggest problem will be to “not slip and fall in the mud”. HA!
“Any questions?”
He says do our job, he has to be hard on us cause the Lt looks down on all the foreign mercs. He’ll be all over us if we screw up and would prefer we were never needed. When the Lt is not around we can call him by his given name. We’ll call him Zim.
Cpl Bekkos, once we speak with him and the sgt is gone, is even more relaxed than the Sgt. We’ll be friends until the sgt or lt are nearby, then follow procedures strictly. He just wants hard work when eyes are on us. When not, “whatever”. He likes the grunts to do as much of the work as possible. His main goal is to survive his enlistment so he can go back to the family business of raising horses.
“What do you wish to know?”
Kolfrosta “How often is this trip made?” Avg once a month for this particular type of shipments. But a run is made more often overall than that along this route.
Osmo “How many days is it?” 2 week trip out there and same back.
Osmo “How long do we rest at the fort?” Appx 3 days is the expectation.
Hjalprek “How often is a caravan raided on its way out there?” Ours, never. 4 others in last 6 months have been hit. The guards are what change out. The 20 wagons here have not been hit. This one usually has the pay and supplies.
Frosta “What’s the mysterious military gear?” He knows, but its classified.
Osmo “Do these 20 always have the same drivers and such then?” Yes.
He breaks down the caravan:
The main unit is a cav squadron led by the Lt, and includes he and the Sgt. Their former commander was killed in action elsewhere. Took heavy losses out on border about a year ago, building back up since then. Lt has been in command a month or so. He’s concerned with soldiery going soft while numbers were bolstered, so he’s tough on them.
The road is paved, using inns and taverns for overnight stops. 1 stopover in a small town as well called Orlanis. The military road stops at the forest to a wide trail. A work gang is there working on clearing it more for us.
The cav unit is only short 1 squad, 5/6 are fully manned.
50 cav, our 2 units, a group of horse archers, lt inf mercs from an island country, and a Thorangian inf. group.
Rear wagons are the troop equipment cars.
2 covered wagons are the classified ones, directly guarded by 20 Virinetos’ men. We are not go to near them if it can be helped.

The caravan moves out like a military column.
Rest of the cav not with the secret cargo ride the flanks.
We are in the absolute rear. Total bout 150 guards. Aside from the horse archers, we have the only missile unit in the group.

The ride starts out very boring. We are limited to 2 alcoholic beverages a night, not counting local wine. Drunkenness and trouble are strictly prohibited. The limited is monitored.
Osmo “Good thing the twins aren’t here. There would have been a tavern brawl at that first village.”

5 days into the journey, the caravan moves very quickly for such a trip. We pass by other patrols, no bandit activity. The inn stays are welcome. The Lt. has enforced a curfew.
Sun is dropping, almost time to stop and we are about to come to the edge of the forest. We hear the working songs of the trail crew ahead as we close in.
Zim rides back to us and talks with the cpl. We are to stay at the work camp tonight. The Lt. will go ahead to see the man in charge of it.
Cpl asks if we want to be on horse duty or making camp duty?
Frosta calls tent duty.

Large clearing has been opened up entering the forest already, around the road. We finish camp set up. We get a whif of the food for the wood gang, its not good.
The Lt comes back to us with another man, a guard for the work gang. He needs jurors for a deserter trial.
He points to us 3 and 6 other random men.
We are taken to the site and meet the magistrate. The accused will be tried under military law. He wanted jurors outside of their direct peers and locals. Frontier justice can be brutal and swift, so he wanted no prejudiced opinions.
“There are 3 possible outcomes: innocent; guilty with extenuating circumstances = flogging; full guilty = hanging. Majority is all that is required, and each of the 3 accused may get their own sentence.”
Gregorus Homonopolous
Hyrtakenos
Balki Bartokemos
The trial is set up, accused are brought in under guard. 2 witnesses are called.

  • 1 low ranking proniar, knight col. Vargos (knight who came for a crusade vs Gozerians originally, years have taken toll on his physical ability but he is very xp): he says they went into work and did not return. Search dogs, after 2 days, found them. Gregorous has tried to desert 3 other times in his life. 1st time, he convinced all that it was a mistake. 2nd was punished with assignment to work gangs. 3rd was before Vargos took command, and got flogged. His record houses a number of infractions.Hyrtacanos was convicted of aggrivated burglary so was sentenced to work gangs; no infractions though suspect in some thefts but no evidence; 5 years of 10 year sentence served: Balki is young, assigned here cause of unfit for military duty, simpleton, has had some minor fights but no worse
  • Cp; Rombon of Thorangian: led party who found them; they tried to conceal the trail to throw off the dogs; found them in a camp, having cut brush to cover the entrance; 2 knives in their possessions not given to the work crews; none resisted; told story of a goblin warband but no such evidence was found.

Defendents speak:
Gregorus: they say they were cutting wood and goblins came by, they tried to hide, were spotted, so they ran. Balki used his axe to help them get away; they were evading the goblins that’s why it looked like they hid their trail; they were hoping they would be found by the guards. They figure the gobs hid their tracks and took their dead. The knives they got off dead goblins, and are indeed not normal to gang issue equipment.
Balki is visibly uncomfortable through all of this. Osmo and Hjalprek notice Hyrtakenos subtely shoots him nasty look.
Hyrtakenos: has nothing to add “Just like Gregorus said”.
Balki, looking confused and wrapped in fog. The magistrate make the seriousness of the situation clear. Balki looks at the other 2, they shake their head, and he has nothing to add, looking scared and always looking to the other 2.
Hyrtakenos finally caves, yelling it was all Gregorius idea!" who rushes and starts choking him!! They separate them.
Hyr: Balki is all right. We needed his strength, we told him we were on a secret mission. Balki begins to weep heavily. Gregorus said there was gold involved if they got away.

We are asked to deliberate.
One of the Thorangians thinks they should all hang.
We all vote for hanging Gregorus. As do others, though1 says flog cause so many other instances were unofficial. 1 other says he should be sent home, the whole idea of a work gang in inhumane! He says they should all be deemed innocent.
1 guy says let both other than Greg go, they were duped.
In the end, Gregorus is being hung.
Frosta says flog Hyrt, as does Osmo. Hjalprek says innocent for him; Osmo and Hjalprek all go innocent for Balki. Frosta goes flog for him.
Frosta “He’s an idiot, but being an idiot is not an excuse for doing the wrong thing.” He won’t learn not to do it the next time.
Balki’s is majority innocent.
Hyrt is hung jury, no majority. Diplomacy starts, and Frosta with Osmo’s help turns the tide enough to get Hyrt flogged rather than hung or innocent.

Case closed.
Hyrt is flogged immediately, then Greg is hung at the woodline. He is lifted from the ground, not dropped, so he strangles to death.

Next morning the work gang cpl Rombon, second witness, comes to see us. They had a strange request this morning, Hyrta asked if any of us wanted to take on Balki as an axeman. “He’s about as bright as midnight on a cloudy night, but one of the best axemen they have.”
They have the right henchman here. Osmo is a champion axeman, so he volunteers to take Balki on. Other than his axe, he has no equipment.

The journey continues. The work gang has done well clearing the way. Pleasant trip.
Soon enough though, forest closes in and it gets humid and lots of insects at points. Underbrush gets sparse as we go on, so little light makes it through the canopy.
No large game.
Lt. calls a hault and the sgt comes to us. “All right grunts, you’re on latrine duty” so off we go away from camp.
Frosta is a princess, we dig. Balki takes her place though she comes with us. She brings some of Gunnar’s bowmen as watchmen.

One of the archers turns to Frosta “Look”. Shapes move in the forest, from the ground and behind trees. One comes closer, its an elf! Equipped for combat. They are not happy about the southern woods here being “amputated”. Frosta refers him to the Lt. who is in charge. Olowyn Aelantheril is the leader here talking to us. He continues how this “path of rock” is a ludicrous idea.
Frosta says she tends to agree, the destruction is a bit wanton. Though they need a road. Olowyn has none of it. “You tell your leaders Olowyn of the free band” opposes all this though some of their leaders are “too weak” to stand up to the interlopers. “It shall not happen here” they will stop the stone path if the Empire does not. With that they vanish.
Frosta goes to talk to Lt., leaving Hjalprek in charge, and takes Osmo with her.

We see him in his tent, and Frosta explains the encounter.
He says we will have to fill out a report at Antochi when we get there. Thankfully, no violence happened.

By nightfall of the final day we reach the fort. Its in an artificial clearing on a hill. Finally a respite from the bugs. The gates let us in.
Antochi has few luxuries. No tavern nor entertainment! Warden does not permit it.
Osmo “Good thing we brought some of koku’s mead of our own.”
Osmo writes our reports.

The men are happy to talk with us and exchange news and tales. Not too worried about the ‘sylvan elves’ road band. There are elves who openly oppose that group, after all. The real problem is the goblins, massing in another woodland south of the river. This fort protects the local towns from being cut off by them.

The Lt calls us to his office, the warden was quite satidfied with our report. He reiterates that a couple dozen elves aren’t a big problem. Its good we know they are there, though. The pay and supplies have been delivered. There is a second stop to make to a town not far beyond here, about a days ride away.
Frosta isn’t happy about such orders modified. But the increased activity of the goblins changes things.
Osmo “Why are we going to this town?”
Some of the gear is for them; originally was going to be left here but it would be safer if we took it. The guard here is on high alert, they don’t want to use their rescources.
Special guard is put at the secret cargo wagons.
Tomorrow morning we leave for the town, to arrive into the next day.

Next day we head out. We have our 2 units, 1 of 20 cataphract, 2 of 20 byzantine medium infantry, 1 unit of English 20 lt inf (spear), 1 unit of german med inf, 20 horse archers.
The cataphract are at the front with the commander. Just behind him the german med inf. Next the horse archers. At the center with 2 secret cargo wagons are 2 of the byz inf. Behind them the lt inf; then the final byz inf are in front of us. Atticus is with the secret cargo. The Sgt is with the germans near the front.
Nice cool breeze here now, much nicer than the forest.
Road, woods on both sides right up against the trail soon enough but still not like the deep claustrophobic forest previously
Here, a few hours out, we hear some odd noises from the woods. Osmo, Balki standing with him, spots a short silouette moves through the deep woods beside us. Here though still, the woodline is right up against the road.
Osmo alerts everyone Goblin!!
As the cpl, stationed with us, asks what he saw just as a javelin hits him in the chest! He falls to the ground “damn it!” with a crit. A healer rushes to him.
One of our men in the front yells “ambu…..” and is cut off.
We all dismount to fight.
Goblin arrows surprise all but us and the byz med inf unit with us; with more of their force charging our flanks and front.
We condense our lines, Kolfronsa’s unit half to a side in front of Gunnar’s archers. Our archers return fire half to a side thanks to Osmo’s warning as we are beset by a goblin charge. Osmo orders shield up against they charge upon us. Our archer fire gives heavy losses on Osmo’s side, not quite as effective on Frosta’s side. But, she has Hjalprek as well, who kills 8 alone as well as the leader in that unit!!
Kolfrost engages 2 enemy leaders. killing both then engaging enemies vs her Marauders. Osmo and Balki kill the line on them; Osmo turns to assist the byz med inf adjacent while Balki hits the leader, left alone, vs the adjacent Marauders’ half unit. She and Hjalprk crush it to a man. We are crushing the gobs at our rear!
A goblin archer then engages Hjalprek in a duel.
A few gob units have dropped elsewhere by now, but at this point a unit of the lt inf on our side is taken down! We have lost half the byz inf with us.
The marauders finish the leader Balki charged; the last unit is cut down by maurauders and byz. but for the leader.
A unit of our horse archers goes down. Atticus engages those gobs.
The final english unit chargers archers in the woods, we lose sight of them.
Suddenly, the center wagins are covered in magical darkness!! The sounds of multiple heavy feat come from within. 2 byz inf and 1 gob unit are within. Then sounds of combat.
The final horse archer unit comes under heavy fire from the woods. The bowfire stops from the side charged by the english.
Hjalprek kills the enemy sniper!
Osmo and Balki rush into the darkness.
Osmo “This normally isn’t our job, but Bjorn and Finnrik aren’t here so it’s on us” then once inside “Drive those wagons into the light! Get them out of here!”
Its indeed black as pitch inside.
Frosta calls the marauders from Osmo’s side to her side. The archers consolidate on Hjalprek. She engages the last leader.
Our last horse archers ride into the woods to return fire on their attacking gob archers.
The gobs at our front begin withdrawing defensively, leaving their own wounded. As they do, the troops take down a couple more units.
Atticus finishes a leader and his unit as well.
Lots of screams from inside the darkness, horses even in terror, and creaking wood! Loud thuds on the ground.
Giant?
Then an unusual humming.
Osmo wild cards blind fight and starts moving for the noise that sound like a large foe. They stumble upon something big and engage! In the dark! Osmo is hit with what feels like either a tree or a small hill. It then starts to move away very fast.
Osmo to Balki “Follow it!” It goes to the caravan’s right into the light. Mountain Giant carrying one of the wagons! Its moving very fast, too. The darkness fades away. There is a burnmark in a perfect circle near the other wagon.
Magical Gate?
The spear goblins who were in the dark flee. The byz inf there are beaten up. All the horses within are dead. The english and horse archers who moved vs the archers return, saying the gobs retreated.
Hjalprek and Blacken the Sky hold position during these final moments of the fight.

About 300’ off the trail on both sides are a series of loosely concealed pit traps, spiked, as a defense in case we chased them en masse.

The goblin wounded are purged. Our healers start making their rounds.
The english 20 are down to 15, 4 of them badly wounded.
Horse archers down to 13, 5 of them wounded.
Byz inf down from 40 to 32, 14 of them walking wounded.
Thorangian germans are at 17.
Cataphract 20 down to 16, 4 of them walking wounded.
The cpl. lives, the head healer saved his life!!
Frosta is certain a demon was involved.
The driver to the stolen wagon is found with his head bashed in.

Hjalprek has gatherd a few wounded goblin prisoners from the fallen. Frosta leads the questioning.
The Lt arrives, arm in a sling.
Somehow they enemy knew the secret cargo. The gob numbers, he feels, are swelling in the region. Judging by the 8 different tribal shields here, when there once was one single tribe in this area.
A prisoner says ‘a human came to the council fires couple weeks ago and told of the special caravan’. He knows not who, only the war leaders know. The target was a very powerful secret weapon that would help them take the fort, as far as they were told.
The Lt takes us aside: ‘the other wagon has to get to its destination, and the other supplies; he’d like to think we are expendable but we’ve proven our talents in this battle; needs us to go after the other wagon; recover it if we can, destroy it if we must; under no circumstances let it come under the use of the gobllins; each wagon has equivalent of 300 wagons of celestine fire!! We can take our men if we wish and follow the gobs.
Osmo “What was the purpose of bringing this fire to this hinterland fort?”
“The borders are where the important stuff needs to be”, the restless frontiers. Originally it was regular alchemist fire, but Giovanni improved it. This area was to be a testing ground for it.

We head off, the tracks of a gob force and mt giant not difficult to follow.
It is nightfall by the time we will find the gobs. They are in merriment, drunken partying, after their attack upon the caravan.
80 gobs
Giang
3 commanders
Spellcaster, goblin
wagin right in the middle

Hjalprek “1 fire arrow and they’re all done.”
Osmo “Just what I was thinking.”
If it were only us, we would have to. But with the Thorangian cav half unit and leader, plus half unit of inf, we have the manpower if we can get surprise. Which should’t be difficult considering their state.
We decide in the end to try to save the fire.

The Thorangians attack from the far side from the Giant; we attack from the giant’s side. The henchmen attack the giant immediately, Hjalprek hitting from afar. Blacken the Sky and the Marauders crush a unit each as we 3 hench and Balki kill the drunk mt giant!!
The shaman fires arane energy into the archers, taking a man down.
THe cav and inf each wipe out a unit.

A few groups of gobs flee, leaving only the command who don’t last long, the Thorangian leader killing the shaman. We lose no one.

Our Loot:
mst. broadsword, plus 1 hit and damage
mst chain, fine rings joined well. plus 5 max dex.
15gp stamped with the symbol of Gozer
Note with the gobs: To Blarnotiuk, to deliver wagons to destination or he nor the letter writer get paid. Mention of raising the gold to 1000 each. Not to mess with what’s inside.
From, B.

We get the wagon back to the caravan.

The Lt is so happy about this, the usual stoic and by the book commander offers us 2 options of immediate reward.
1) 500gp per hench and 100gp per soldier (real gold)
2) 2 crates of the fire, each with 10 vials. It is x2 str alch. fire

We choose the fire. One time opportunity, we figure.

The Lt. is concerned of this greater plan behind this. It will need looked into.

We make it to the town and spend 2 days there helping to pass out the goods.

Being on the frontier, we hear there were semi regular goblinoid raids in the past. Though they’d always move on, the fort is here to bolster the area and make it more peaceful. But its tough going.

Now, back to Antochi for a brief stay. Here we pick up some return merchandise to take with us. We BS with the garrison a lot. Gobs they say are the more recent issue. Prior, was the nomads. Has been months since the gobs took their place.
One morning, the fort Warden calls an early meeting. He addresses all that patrols have detected large numbers of gobs, may be closing in upon us!! No one is allowed to leave, too dangerous!!
We, not having duty stations in the garrison, will be given jobs.

The Lt. calls us and his leaders. He says we fall under the fort command, this being their jurisidiction.
Kolfrosta “How many goblins are we talking about?” Numbers of the enemy are difficult to gauge, but they had 50 banners among them. Each usually represents a tribe’s warband, from 50 to 200 gobs. And from all directions.
Osmo “Sounds like this place needs exstra fortified asap.”
They are only maybe 6 to 8 hours away.
Osmo “Oh. If there is anything that I can do in such a short time, say the word.”

Riders have been sent to the town we just came from, and another nearby with a garrison. Should reach them in 18 to 20 hours w/o sleep, and switching horses. So reinforcements could be here in 3 days if the riders even get through. . We have sufficient supplies now for a month or more, since our arrival.
Local rangers and frontiersman are out skirmishing and scouting to keep us informed.
We have a catapult of our own, stationarey, crates of the fire around it. And large ballista on the stone tower made to fire antipersonnel multiple spears.

Frosta offers the suggestion to set the fire to explode, evacuate, let them inside, and blow the place. They’re not very interested in that plan.

One corner of the fort is old stonework, expanded with wood outward from there.
The gobs are equipped for a siege and direct assault. The scouts have seen 4 siege towers and 3 light catapults. Those 3 are crude work though.
Osmo wants men who can work in wood, he will inspect the walls and refortify where they can in the time we have. He takes Balki to lug wood.

From the best vantage point of the walls over the forest outside, the men on the wall begin seeing the forms of gobs. Tower horn blows in warning. Not long after, their war whoops and rattling begins. Conscripts get nervous.

Hopefully, the rangers are slowing down and/or destroying their engines.

The goblins charge without delay once enough are massed. Goblin archers send fire arrows at the fort. Small fires are easily put out, walls are too massive to ignite to significant effect.

The charging gobs come w/in bow range and the fort begins to volley. 3 oxen move through their ranks dragging large wooden x’s, upon them are the 3 messengers!! One is dead, on only roughed up, 3rd bloody and wounded.
They are burning the feet and smacking with a barbed lash, and such things, the healthiest.

Hjalprek takes aim at the poor soul and puts him out of his misery. They turn then to the prisoner bleeding out to finish him off.
A priest of the return church then sends 3 bolts from his fingers, converging on the last surviving messenger DEAD.
Hjalprek “We have a magic user? Would have been nice to know that.” Turns out he’s primarily a healer but has some combat magic.

We are stationed on the stone tower, with the ballista. Our catapult begins firing at goblin, laced with Celestine Fire, exploding in a goblin fire to great effect.
The garrison has sand ready for anti fire, boiling oil, etc.
Half a unit of our archers and inf on each side. To the right is Frosta, to the left is Hjalprek, Osmo and Balki.

The goblin charge begins from almost 400’ out. Our archers loose volley after volley as they do. Once they are close, goblin arcers, in no semblance of order, fire at us. We see their ladders coming up.
Goblins by the dozen are killed on their way up. Slowly behind them a siege tower is being brought forward right to the main tower portion with our ballista.
At the wooden palisade gate away from us, a ram is closing in.
Their ladders are raised, with hook grapples at the end to grip the wall. As they come up, we try to catch them as they are coming in; if not we make to push them off.

At the center with the ballista, ladders latch and goblins poor up. Total fail on the defenese. Osmo and Frosta who start cleaning house with axe and hammer.
The siege tower also reaches the center now. 2 ladders are hooked at the right archers, but their oil clears them both.
Gobs are coming in a wave to the ballista, whose crew is of little aid to Osmo and Frosta. They, however, are fighting like heroes.
We hear the ram begin to bash at the main gate.
Now goblins gets up and into our inf on Frosta’s side.
The left have yet to allow a ladder to latch!

Hjalprek rushes to across our back to the right flank archers, where 2 ladders are hooked and gobs are coming up. As he gets there, and arrow obviously targeted at him just misses.
Our Lt. is guarding the left side of the tower from ourr perspective; he takes an arrow and cries out “snipers!” His left arm is crippled for the battle. The man who helped him is killed by an arrow through the back of his head.

Enemy are engaging our whole right now. The ballista crew are all down. A sniper then hits Osmo in his shield arm. There are 6 sniper firing at us.
Frosta “You feel like taking the tower?”
Osmo “Always!”
He rushes forward up the ramp as it hits!!! As they come at him, he cuts the scum down!
Our healer is taken down by a sniper!

Hjalprek spots for snipers, seeing 3 of them with his scan. He starts taking shots.
The conscripts on the side wall to our right are starting to break.

A horn blows in the distance. Goblins begin retreating, scaling back down the ladder and leaving with their siege tower.
The tower door is raising on Osmo. He just is able to leap a few feet back onto the wall.

Casualites around the fort is decent. Not too many dead, but plenty wounded. 3 of the 5 ballista crew are dead. 1 of our archers is dead, we have plenty wounded on the right.

Night:
We see the Lt, arm in a sling. Garrison commander thinks they won’t risk another frontal assault after how many especially we skyldings slaughtered.

The rangers sneak back to the fort. No rangers are killed, but heavily bruised and battered.

Next Day

We awaken to the Cpl Bekkos, the leaders want us 4 henchmen types (that’s including Balki).
Garrison commander has selected us for a special mission, word must get out for reinforcements: They will send us out a secret passage after dark tonight. The rangers think they may have a relatively safe route throught the line. They want us to go the nearby town called The Crossing, not the one we took the supplies to. Too many gob patrols toward the other.
Do NOT let the gobs find the tunnel.
3 groups of 4 are being sent. Each must act like they are the only one. Each has a particular skill. We are brute force, one is very fast, one is stealthy.
Our 4th level Jarlsleif Marauder will be in command of our troops, Bekkos detatched directly to them.
Osmo “How do we know how to get there?” They’re giving us a map made by the rangers, with our route on it.
When we return, it should be with reinforcements to attack from the outside.
We should run into one of the military work gangs there. The commander in charge will organize the reinforcements.

Through the tunnel we go. We exit first in case of trouble, the other 2 teams behind us. The stealthy go straight up the ravine. Fast to one side, us to the other.
Rangers have spotted a goblin patrol coming this way from the ravine way. The fasts take off now. Stealths can’t go until this patrol is dealt with.

We wait, our archers opening up on them first. A nearby goblin sniper starts shooting at our men. Hjalprek fires on their leader and we charge. He and Osmo take down the leader immediately, then he turns on the sniper.

Up the ravine we go.
Noise ahead. Footfalls. Behind us, we see bunch of gobs going in the direction of the fast crew. Our archers are providing cover fire.

At sunrise, turning we can see the fort in the distance, and the gobs building more siege equipment.
We find a piece of parchment on the ground, crumbs of cheese on it like it was food wrapping. We scan for gobs. Hjalprek and Osmo see, in a tree right next to us, a wooden platform above, small booted legs hanging off to the side.
Sniper sentry eating some rations and tossing his scraps. Another one about 20’ away scanning but not in our direction.
We get real quiet. Hjalprek takes aim at the further sniper. Osmo starts climbing up the tree, trying to be quiet about it.
Frosta starts skulking for the further sniper.
He notices Osmo climbing up and grabs his bow. Stuck in the tree above is a bolt from the ballista. He’s afraid of giving his position away again!
Osmo move up now fast as he can. He wildly misses Osmo as he grabs the sniper’s legs and simply falls back pulling the sniper with him, thudding on the ground below where Balki finishes him before he can recover.
Hjalprek kills the other in the meantime.
Osmo “Take all those nasty arrows Hjalprek.”

We find drag marks going in our direction with a streak of blood.
We follow it to a small clearing. We find a sylvan elf lying beaten next to a tree. He fails to lift a bow toward us, would bleeding. He’s one of the jackasses we met on the way to Antochi.
His small scouting party overheard some orcs talking about attacking the road builders, about 40. A fight broke out and only he survived. He needs to get word back to the road crew so they aren’t slaughtered but he’s too busted up.
We’re going his way.
Osmo “Balki, bring him along.”
Normally they wouldn’t care for the workers, but orcs can do much worse damage.

Near sunset we hear the work gang ahead. Its a single man chopping a massive tree with a greataxe version of a working axe. Others stand by in awe, watching. He’s hacking at an amazing rate. Balki says its one of his buddies from the work gangs.
Balki greets him, and this guy is pretty dumb too but not so much as Balki.
The guy we had flogged greets us, happy to see us but wondering what we are doing here.
The elf gives his report.
He calls for everyone back to camp fast.

The camp is not just workers now. Both sides of road are trenched, small walls at either end. We are taken in past the guards, its Gurk and his orcs!! We are warmly greeted by them all. The knight col. then shows up.
We report to him of the siege.
“It’s almost like fate brought us here so close to the trouble!” He recalls all the workers. Allthe treecutters are mustered to bolster the force.

Finish:

Small band of sylvan elves led by the leader join up as well. The orcs made right for the gobs after they saw the force guarding the work camp.
Our force of almost 500 arrives at the siege.
We hit the 3000 some strong but spread out gobs strategically from the outside, sending them fleeing.

The fort commander says it was only thanks to Osmo’s fortification of the gate, the ram never made it through!!!

These were several affiliated tribes from the north orc and goblinoid kindoms but not directly ruled by the king there, so this won’t cause war to break out.

Some of their pay was in Gozerian coin, however. On a paychart ledger, they have been paid regularly by a mysterious ‘B’ in the Celestine script. The knight Col. says each pay has been at an attack on a village or work gang or some Imperial sight.
“Obviously mercenaries.”

This info will be taken straight to the Emp.

Notes:

Sgt = Tzimiskis
Lt. = Ennistros
Atticus Viranetos, the 6th son of Lox, and commanding 20 medium infantry, 2nd in command of caravan
Cpl Bekkos (wounded)

Balki: dumb brute now attached to ‘cousin’ Osmo and soon ‘cousins’ Dulk and Kyy

View
Ulfhednar in the Marthian Hills

Night of our arrival at the southern edge of the hills, Ritual of the Fenris Brood is performed.

1st 2 days

Morning, the brood, Geri’s Blood Gluttons and Freki’s Ravenous Maw enter the hills in search of the goblins and their travelling paths.

Both groups find a well trod path from the southern edge straight northward. Modar notices they have no shoes, so likely very primitive goblins. He finds spore as the first sign.
From this central point, Modar decides to use that center point to fan out and see if they are using regular paths out that they are covering better the closer they get to the open. They don’t find much more in the way of patterned goblin sign, but the place is riddled with caves. The goblins have no doubt been heading for them as they move through. Likely there is an HQ not far north and go through caves to come out, then return via the north trail; or vice versa. Likely then, they are living in that cave system.
They also during this realize the wildlife is unusually scarce, even berries are well picked over.
Meanwhile, the main body spreads out to watch for goblins exiting the forest while also stopping to speak to locals about when and where the last raids happened, and for any other useful information.
The locals say raids are more survivable if you hide and stay out of their way, and let them loot. Crops and stock are their goal. They rarely take any money though they have at times. The rare time people are taken, they assume it’s to be eaten. They also take the dead back with them. Direction is mostly random but that they seem to keep a good eye on the roads. They have a hard time getting caravan through to and from Burgos.
Likely, we’ve been spotted then.
Raids of towns and standing locations are at night. Road attacks can be day or night.

After another night of Journey of the Wolf.

3rd day

The brood is spread on the edge hexes of the area. T hama, Lukos, Modar, Bogi, Harog, and Ylva wrap around the hills east to west respectively to respond to wolf calls , each with their unit.
Finnrik, Koku and Blagra/Rymek head north, with units, to look for their main camp with, 1 brood wolf.

Near dusk, Ylva’s team sees a man walking to the east tween road and wild, build of a hard working farmer but dressed as a traveller and armed. Looking around as he is walking. After quarter mile or so, he has gotten a bit closer to woodline. Here and there, he looks around as if sniffing. Stopping at one point letting out a piglike signal call and keeps walking.
She keeps watching. He continues on along the egde of the hills.
Has he lost stock?
Ylva sends her sgt and 3 men to tail him.

Same night, T hamma’s and Ylva’s wolves howl around 2am. They move to investigate.

Ylva’s gang head off a group coming through the woods, huge bulbous reflecting eyes. Some 40 pairs, stationary as if hiding.
T hamma misses his quarry. Soon enough, his wolf lets out another signal howl. He closes in this time, on about 40 or so short humanoids coming in his direction.
Both groups are on the hunt for us!
Thorhamma moves around to his hunters rear, them makes just enough sporadic noise to lead his hunters for Lukos who should be closing in. Not long into this, they let out a gutteral howl and start charging through the forest heedlessly and armorless. Thorhamma books it for a couple rounds, then they turn taking cover to ambush the foe. They see the ambush, but we loose spear volley worthy of the valkyrie first. Battle joins and It’s an absolute massacre. The 3rd sgt slays 6 himself, the brood tears bodies asunder. Thorhama does not even have to join into the fray himself.
No casualties.
The Shields of the Allfather were out for blood tonight, and spilled it with great haste!

In the meantime Ylva stays put, her own unit hiding, hoping for Harog’s arrival before they battle begins.
The goblins soon are heard climbing trees and moving through them branch to branch, tree to tree. As they are upon Freki’s Ravenous Maw, the spear throws unleash and the combat joins, Ylva leading the way, her blade and Primal Bite cutting and gnawing the enemy apart.
Her 3rd level sgt rallies the Maw around her, stabbing and thrusting the primitives to ribbons. It’s another blood bath, Freki is well fed tonight.
No casualties.

Harog and Lukos each show up to their respective sights with no fight left to be had.

South, faintly, toward the roads Bogi and Modar et al hear screams and yells of pandamonium from a nearby village. They race with the Blessed of Frigg and Geri’s Blood Gluttons to the fray.
It’s a small settlement of between 100 and 200. A band of 3 types of goblins: 3 groups of regular rounding up the folk into the central square; a group of tall naked goblin looking things, running on all 4’s like a pack of dogs; last is of bugbears! 1 commander obviously is leading the raid, a large goblin, handing out commands. As stragglers try to run, the dog like ones bring them back.
Modar orders the pack to fall back out of sight. We will watch them.
Once all the people are gathered, the livestock are herded into the square. Takes maybe an hour to get everything together and they begin marching them back to the hills into the southern most spur to a cave. When they do, the leader walks to the entrance, says something in a goblinoid tongue but less gutteral than we’re used to, perhaps even a hint of elven. Grabbing a peasant he slits his throat, holding the head back for the blood to drain. He scoops a handful, rubbing it at the entance where it burns off in a magic fire and the entrance turns into a red portal. One group of gobs goes through, then the prisoners with some, and finally the rest of them. The final man is the leader.
When only 1 group of gobs is left, the runners, and the leader, Modar calls for the attack which begins with a mass spearcast. Finnbogi and the Blessed of Frigg take the runners who were next to go through; Modar and Geri’s Blood Gluttons take the rear goblins with the leader.
The Blood Gluttons murder the entire unit as Modar misses the leader. Finnbogi charges while his unit throws, right to the gate itself. After a brief melee they wipe them out, and Bogi engages the commander with Modar and they finish him easily.
The units camp.

All units stay alert, and there are a few more nasty skirmishes against:
Freki’s Ravenous Maw ambushes another unit, but is then terribly fired upon by an unseen unit of bowman that kill 3 of the Ravenous Ones and wounding half of the survivors. Yet victory is achieved quickly once engaged. Then 2 other units attack right after but Ylva’s Primal Howl sends them fleeing into the night in terror.
Huginn and Muninn’s Beloved encounter 4 different units but fight valiantly losing only 1 Beloved with several more wounded.
Bragi’s Favored encounters 1 gob unit, suffering only minor injuries.
Shields of the Allfather encounter 4 units in quick succession, but they are relieved by Bragi’s Favored partway through and suffer many wounded but none serious.

Up north, Finnrik et al find a large cave just before nightfall at the north end of the forest before the rougher land around Marth. At the bottom line of the hex. Its entry area is strewn with animal bones in all directions. They are like locusts. It smells like carnage meat everywhere. Many bones have decaying meat remaining. Lots of flies.

A need to gain sight from a high point suddenly grips Finnrik, he sees maybe 8 or so miles north a strange looking cloud unnaturally low over a valley that should house the city of Marth. It’s birds! Black!! Flocks and flocks of them.
Finnrik “A sign from Odin!”
We set up camp, then explore the cave just enouth to see if they are only using it as a rest stop and periodic camp or, if it goes deep enough, they may be using it as a road to get around unseen. It goes quite far, farther than we can go. It seems part of a highway to likely a primary lair. It does not go NE toward Marth though, it simply winds deeper down into the depths. The bones lessen the deeper it goes but they are no doubt trafficking through here.
There are side rooms where small groups of the gobs rest, but by the trash trail they move in large groups up and down from the deep.

The entrance to the cave turns into a curtain of blood while we are a couple hundred feet from it, heading out. We step aside taking cover, not knowing from which side they will exit the blood portal. Blagra, being a total moron, barely understands the use of stealth and is practically fully visible. Finnrik isn’t much better but at least tried. A handful of goblins exit the gate on Finnrik’s side, carrying stone tipped primitive spears. Not worthy of the Allfather. Following them is just shy of 100 humans, bound and being brought through. Then a 2nd group of gobs then a group of bugbears. Behind the humans is all the livestock. As the 2nd group of gobs show up, they spot Blagra and Finnrik.
Blagra rushes into them unheeding danger, Finnrik and Rymak follow behind. One of them calls out in a strange goblinoid tongue. Then Blagra and Rymek are recognized as Blood Orcs and start showing a sign with their fingers seeming to ask for a possibility for diplomacy. Finnrik tells Rymek to offer them their lives if they surrender and give us the prisoners. But their leader speaks first in a more understandable goblinoid. They recognize the “holy blood orcs”, he says. He’s curious why the bodyguard of the Great Bloody Hand is here. Huh? “His holiness, the great blood drop, the bloody hand.”
Seems this being is their overlord, ruler. Potentially maybe a deity to them.
Finnrik says to tell them we are to take the prisoners from here. The gob leader says we have to talk to the boss.
Grish, the warchief, should be here any minute. A goblin.
They bugs arrive through the portal now. They are holding position, crammed just inside the portal, trying to figure out what’s going on. The leader spears a peasant
Finnrik trying to bluff via Rymek “You’re not supposed to ruin the sacrifices!!” as Rymek slaps him, using his blood orc status to his advantage.
He whelps “Plenty for sacrificing, plenty for eating.”
We wait a moment, but none others exit the portal before the gate closes behind the bewildered enemy.
Outside, Koku was ready for combat. The blood curtain closes, and he sees the bugbears in front of him all turned toward Finnrik. We ask them if they’re part of the cult. They say they are more hungry, willing to eat anything. And under the bloody hand they procure lots of food.
They are not worthy of diplomacy.
Finnrik sees the perfect time to kill them from both ends. He lets out a war cry and the assault from both sided begins. On the other end, Koku sees the deal and hurtles himself into the bugbear, Odin’s Reavers with him.
Finnrik, Rymek and Blagra tear the first group of goblins apart. The 2nd group of goblins rush the 3 Ulfhednar. Being afraid of the blood orcs, they mass them leaving Finnrik aside. The 3 of them then proceed to massacre the 2nd unit of goblins to a man, with minimal damage. Koku and the Reavers take down the shocked bugbears in a couple minutes.
We comb the slaughter for anyone who can be saved, which includes the goblin unit commander, and interrogate him.
The bloody hand is a powerful goblin, his origin uncertain. Arrived a couple months ago, unifying all the tribes. They live in the great underground almost a mile straight down. He unified the tribes from the roaming bands of the blind ones to the ones that can see everything (bulbous eyed gobs). He has a group of 10 blood orc guards just like ours. They eat nothing but meat and drink only blood. He also had 3 henchmen, one is the missing Grish here. They 3 lead the scavenging parties. He calls them his Bloody Fingers.
1 in 3 of animals and people are blood sacrificed immediately; another 1 in 3 are food immediately; the last 1 in 3 are kept as food stores. They have cleared out all the wildlife in these hills that are worth catching for food.
The Bloody Hand has us breeding. Many many children down there, he wants to “fill the earth with our kind” meaning only this tribe, all who don’t join are food. Even other gobs and such.
One of the bloody hand’s fingers sacked Marth to the north last night or this morning. They are likely feasting right now. Primarily a goblin town.
Finnrik “Let’s go!”
Rymek thinks of beating the living to death with rocks. But Finnrik orders them all quickly hanged to death in sacrifice to Odin, also a philosophical execution since we kill the blood cultists in the most bloodless way.
We tell the peasants to stay here and make a camp away from the cave. We move off to Marth and the ravens.

Across the opposite side of the valley tween woodlines, we see an old man walking and calling out for swine, complete gray hair. We come right up on him.
We warn him these hills are dangerous “honorable old man”.
He waves off Koku’s warning. His whole drift of pigs are gone, been looking for them for 4 days, been seeing pit sign all over. He’s from “pretty far away”. Grazing here in good pasture land when they went off wandering. When he started calling, they didn’t come back.
Finnrik proposes they were maybe stolen by trolls.
Bad luck to steal a man’s swine “Be it man or troll” he says. The trail seems to head north toward that unfortunate town. We say he can join us but we move fast, but he insists he moves too slow.
“Where can we send you your pigs to if we find them.” He says tell them to send them down to the valley here, they’re pretty clever. He’ll set up a camp here. We move off for Marth.
“One more thing, take these with ya.” Gives us some seed “little gifts for the crows, don’t ever want to enter the crows territory w/o giving them a treat.”
We rush off.

We come up a ridge looking down on the burnt out town. Lots of dead in the streets, human and goblins. Camped in the square are the enemy. Looks to be probably 5 to 1 odds against us. Primarily the stone spear carrying gobs, but also a unit of hobgoblins and some ugly 4 legged beasts that look part rat, part dog, part goblin.
They have prisoners, some on spits though not being cooked but instead carved up by pieces and eaten alive. A large group of mixed livestock of all sorts in a makeshift pen. Looks like a good portion of the population must have escaped though. We don’t see enough dead plus tortured to be the whole town.
The crows circle around in the sky. Gobs try to catch them sometimes when they land to feast but they fly away each time.
A few moments later, a couple ravens show up where we survey from. Finnrik tosses them a few seeds from a handful. They eat then take off to the flocks. Just as we are about to move down, the ravens start squawking much more than previously. As we close in to the outskirts, they begin a great ruckus on the enemy whose attention is much put onto the harassing ravens from the central party to the outlying guards.
Since we can see where the ravens come down upon where there must be a watchmen, we simply take alternate paths to the square and ignore them, allowing the ravens to keep them occupied.

We close in through the town. Finnrik now notices a large raven leading the murder, big as an eagle, circling over the main enemy square and screeching loudly.
Finnrik and Koku with units attack from the near side to the ridge. Blagra and Rymek flank around to our right and hit the dog rat beasts first.
As we attack. the big raven swoops down and back up repeatedly where the pen and leaders are.
Finnnrik and Koku desroy their initial goblin foes, leading with spear casts on the unsuspecting enemy. At the same time, a huge flock of the ravens descends, covering a few enemy units between our 2 attack points, harrassing them continuously and pecking them to a bloody mess, so many ravens that it keeps them out of the fight.

The shaman begins casting a spell, and the mud underneath the pigs begins to boil!
Koku’s men eliminate their next opposing unit so fast they charge the shaman too! But Koku misses him, almost fumbling!! He orders his unit to hit archers to his left.
A unit of the gobs moves over and joins the leader and shaman vs koku.

Finnrik’s Cleavers hit the dog/rats first with the brood wolf crushing 1 of the 2 groups then turning on the other. 2 units of gobs nearby are obviously petrified at the sight of blood orcs. Rymek disengages with the Cleavers and hurtles himself into them alone! The other unit and a second finally moves to help their pets but too late, they are shaken at the sight of blood orcs too! The Cleavers turn, their skald singing a song of doom to the enemy, as the gobs approach and intimidate the already scared units so bad both bolt into the night. They then joind Rymek and crush them; Rymek is almost taken down in the meantime.

The raven ruckus out in the town is cacaphonous, any enemy watchmen out there must be getting completely swarmed and plucked bloody by raven beaks.
Finnrik joins Koku and quickly cuts the Finger to pieces ending with a massive overhand crit of his waraxe!! as half his unit now frees the penned animals!! The other half hit the hobgobs fighting Koku. They joined by the Reavers having sent the archers packing.
60 pigs poor from the now open pens! 6 of them are noticeably larger, boar like.
This FInger’s battle axe, of note, is a vicious and ominous looking weapon.
A unit of archers across the square flees the scene.
The remaining enemy begins to route all over the battlefield!!!

The shaman, backing from Koku, casts again. Finnrik falls to the ground, holding himself like in pain all over on the inside!

Koku lays into him now and cuts him to ribbons.

The last couple units who get out of the raven murder see the writing on the wall and flee as well, and we finish off a now trapped final hobgoblin unit.
Finnrik bleeds for several rounds but thankfully it stops on his own with the shaman dead.

We then hear screaming from all around the ruins, as if from the death throws of goblinoids. It’s the pigs.

We investigate finding individual stragglers having been torn apart by animals.
We rescue the prisoners, some goblinoids and mostly humans, from the town.
All the livestock not here were slaughtered. The people have no idea where the swine came from. The enemy brought them when they arrived.

Then we come across a group of the gobs in a semi circle defending themself from the herd of pits which surround them. The boars get to the front. They charge the gobs! The boars shift into people, large naked men, who hit the goblin line and crush them barehanded.
After its over, the pigs all shift into people as well. 60 total.
We tell them they can find their swineherd in the valley to the south.
They are boar berserkers, aka svinfilki! Favored berserk types of Freya rather than an Odinic tradition. They used to have equipment but left it behind when off revelling. The gob shaman came across them and cursed them, keeping them in their pig forms, as they revelled too hard to notice.
Koku “We know that feeling.”

They are so far from home cause came from Jarlsleifia. Got tired of the pitched wars so got into some raiding instead, randomly heading this direction. They sailed along a river to the west of here and at some point disembarked for a while onto land (note: same river we sailed down?). That was week or so back. Hence, here now.
So, return to the swineherd they will.

We tell them our mission here, and say if they want to join us to make for the Imperial capitol. They say they’ll consider it, but for now they’ll keep adventuring up here.
Finnrik offers for them to come with us into the caves for payback, but they have to go see Odin first. If they make it to the cave prior to us entering, they will indeed accompany us.
Leader’s name is Svenheltr. He has a female companion named Hildisvini.

Apart from injured, we lost 1 Ulfhedinn kin from Gungnir’r Scourge to Valhalla.
All the dead enemy are taken out of the city limits for the ravens to feed upon as well. The rest of the seed from The Wanderer is thrown upon them as an offering of thanks for their aid.

We rest here tonight. The svinfilki will pass by the rescued from the cave, inform them of our success and that we will return to them tomorrow.

4th day

South:
The units with them burn the dead on pyres early before sunrise, with their spears and shields and full honors.
Modar Wolf Heart moves into the hills for the path to Finnnrik. Rather than take time to gather the army first, he sends the brood wolves attached to his and Bogi’s units forward first, using howl communication with the other wolves to coordinate and draw all units in and north as he moves northward himself.

North:
After burning the fallen Ulfhedinn kin in funeral pyres with their spears and shields and full honors, Finnrik sends Koku and Odin’s Reavers to bring back the rescued villagers from the cave. Safer they stay here and make their way home after we eliminate the goblin threat than try to travel south w/o guard. The brood wolf is to stay there and call out for the rest of our force to the south.
The rest of us help out in town for the morning and afternoon while getting some rest after our late night, knowing the rest of the Ulfhedar won’t arrive at the cave today anyway.
Few goblin prisoners from Marth say the gobs to not reside in Niflheim, migrated out some time ago. After first unifying, they cleared their region of all life and were blocked from going anywhere by the nearby denizens. So only way was up. It is only about an hour of solid travel. Main tunnel leads straight there.
There is a guardian at the entrance to the living area. About 20 minutes down (we weren’t not far from it on our recon earlier). It is the pet of one of the Bloody Hands closes allies who helped him create the union. A witch! Who goes by no other name. A gigantic 3 headed wolf!
Like from which our Imperial Pelts originate.
It was originally a guardian of this particular path to the underdark already, with a keeper/companion. The witch wrested control of it from it’s keeper and corrupted it. Whereas it once kept travellers from going out of the underdark, it now stops people from coming in. She has complete control over it now. The original keeper is a prisoner in the lair.
There is no other way in but past the 3 headed wolf.
Once the caves get more windy and twisty, that’s the area the wolf wanders.
That area converges into one tunnel. The Bloody Hand et al live in once large central chamber. The other tribes are in side pockets.
So, w/o the BH and his witch, they will probably turn upon each other in chaos, being maneaters.

Evening, we move south to the cave to await their arrival. Finnrik wants to make clubs to beat down the wolf so we start gathering wood for clubs. Modar finds a grove of black trees with red leaves, as species similar to darkwood! They are mst if made properly at their base; special ability to bypass 10 from the natural DR of any extraplanar being. There are 10 trees. We cut them all down, enough wood for up to 32 clubs!

Night Ritual of Odin’s Might.

5th day

All are gathered by afternoon. We get to making 10 clubs for now, enough for the Ulfhednar. The kin will wait outside the maze area. We don’t want them to fight such a beast.
We have made clubs for all the Ulhednar to use. Finnrik wants to beat the wolf down but not dead, then hopefully save the former keeper.
Down we go.

We 10 enter the wolf are while the craft teams finish making the clubs. It indeed twists and turns, we lose our bearings once or twice early on but only briefly. Then we hear a few faint noises, we’re pretty sure we’re being stalked from behind.
Modar suggests we get to the 3 way split just ahead at a widening, and hit it from 3 different sided.
Finnrik waits in the center of the widening, Koku and Bogi to right and left, as bait. 3 pillars in the room. Ylva hides behind one to its left, Hamma and Rymek to its right. Modar in the left passage, Blagra in the right, Lukos far side. At a pillar fronting him, hides Harog.
It lets out a frightful echoing howl! It paralyzes Ylva, Blagra and Thorhamma with fear!
Finnrik’s warsong, telling of the Binding of Fenrir, which brings Ylva out of it!
Hamma and Blagra initiate their berserk minds, eliminating their fear!
Finnrik sees 6 glowing eyes moving down the hallway, 2 on each of 3 different heads.
We all activate core furies. A stream of liquid sprays from the dark upon Finnrik. It has a numbing effect to it but he resists it enough for it to not effect him.
Finnrik fakes being hurt.
It moves just into the room and stares at Koku. He looks back, for a quick moment some of Koku’s skin starts turning gray like stone but his rage fights it off.
Koku “Make it fast!”
We can’t take this further, so we are forced to charge. Ylva and Hamma from the sides, Finnrik, Koku and Blagra its front. Bogi moves up next to Ylva. Pillars take up the other possible spaces. Modar runs off into the dark, knowing the path to come at its rear!!
Rymek, Harog and Lukos must wait to get in.
HIs maws are terrible, but so is our fury! Modar joins us from the rear after 1 round of movement, and another round later we club the beast down! KO’d! Almost falling on Bogi as Ylva deftly leaps aside.
We drag it into the middle of the room to leave it here.
We send Ylva and Koku back for our men as we do so, and move on.

In less than an hour we come to a huge cavernous vault, easily 150’ high; 100’ at its widest, and over that by a third or so long.
Several offshoot caves, and alcoves at varying levels on the walls, pathways down into the main area.
One major opening at the far end must be that which goes to the underdark.

Dried blood circles all over the floor of the room = leftover blood gates.

At the far side is a stone chair pedastal carved from a stalagmite close to the underdark tunnel. Upon it is the mansized goblin Bloody Hand. At his right and left are 5 blood orcs each side, all with a hand shaped red warpaint (or blood) upon their faces; In front of them is the last Finger. Next to the Hand at his right is The Witch, her skin completely jet black. Hanging in a cage behind Bloody Hand is a man, dressed in furs, looking a wild man. Must be the spawn keeper. Finally, another goblin next to the Hand on the left, wearing a wolf pelt and carrying a great club.
To the far left next to those blood orcs is a makeshift pen, a small litter of maybe 3 spawn puppies!!
We can hear vague noises from the side caves of the other tribes.
The Witch turns “Just as I have foretold, they come to finish the Hand’s work. Now is the time, kill the nonbelievers!!”
The Blood Orcs in unison yell something in orcish; “Blood for the blood god!” says Rymek.

Finnrik orders his men to form a U in front of the entrance. On the left hugging the wall is Gungnir’s Scourge, then Shields of the Allfather and Bragi’s Favored. From the right wall forward is Geri’s Bood Gluttons, Huginn and Muninn’s Beloved, and Blessed of Frigg. In the middle of them is Freki’s Ravenous Maw for reserve and spear casting over the top, most of the extra spears are left with them. At the end filling the gap is the combined force of Finnrik’s Cleavers and Odin’s Reavers to protect from flanking. Blagra and Rymek lead right and left, respectively.

Finnrik and the rest charge across the room for the Hand. As we charge to them, they form a line of blood orcs in front of the Hand, shamaness, the club wielding goblin. Theshamaness begins a chant: a black orb, ungulating and pulsing, appears behind the Hand. The Finger is at the center of the line, Finnrik coming right at him. On our first move toward them, from underdark cave come 2 yellow eyed, blackish grey cavetrolls to bolster the Hand’s group. 8’ tall, more human looking than green trolls, still great slashing claws.
They are ready for us as we hit them full on. Harog’s, Koku’s and Lukos’ are tripped by their overwhelming charges!

On 2nd full round of combat at the Hand et al, the waves of goblins begin from the caves.
Fast as Sleipnir, 1 troll on either end move around the end and hit Modar and Finnbogi, respectively, on the side. Modar takes a crit.
Lukos and Koku drop theirs!
After the first full round, the underdark entrance behind becomes a swirling morase of yellowish nasty. We assume the witch’s doing.
The Bloody Hand steps behind his Finger fighting Finnrik and points at Finnrik, encanting in an infernal language. A large spectral likehand tries to grab Finnrik but he dodges and the hand vanishes!
Lukos drops Ylva’s, and the 2 threaten the witch, Ylva also next to the BH!
Modar steps back, and Koku steps left to try to keep the orcs off Modar so he can concentrate on the Troll.
Modar crits the troll in return!! Rended in return!
The goblin with the club slinks behind the BH and witch as they casted the previous spells.
Finnrik cuts the last Finger from the BH!! The cleave cuts Harog’s down. He steps to the BH.
A slight glowing pulses around the BH for a second, he looks visibly tougher now.
Killing the Finger’s somehow makes him more powerful.
Bogi is hammered by his troll.
Out of the yellow portal, a huge tentacled head comes!! 3 fingered appendages grasp the sides and it starts to pull itself out.
The goblin clubs the witch from behind!! Blowing his token load for 20! Her touch spell toward Ylva is ruined!!
The trolls still have healing factors.
Lukos runs the witch through DEAD, steps forward and misses the BH.
Koku steps to the troll to help Modar DEAD!! but healing.
The BH makes a sweeping attack against all 3 of Finnrik, Ylva and Lukos in that order.

The battle vs the goblin masses has already begun to our rear.
They are holding brilliantly against overwhelming odds. Only 1 man has dropped thus far.
Here though enough are attacking to wrap around to the front, right where Finnrik positioned the Cleavers and Reavers to guard vs such a threat.
Finnrik cuts the hand down, groaning in agony and bleeding out.
The goblin know there is a stalagmite with the rope attacked to the cage. He grabs keys off the BH and rushes over to cut it down.
Lukos and Ylva look for a way to close the gate! Above the opening is a yellow gem, same yellow as the gate color, embedded in the rock. Dimly illuminated. On the witch, she has a bracelet of the same color, crystalline.
Ylva “I think this bracelet is linked to the gem!” She takes it of him and hands it to Finnrik.
Bogi is still fighting tooth and nail vs the troll.
Harog turns and runs the the huge melee behind us!
All but the last troll are down now, and it lays into Bogi something fierce. He manages to avoid a free grapple (crit card) thankfully and is still up!
The svinfilki rush through the entrance behind the Ulfhedinn kin battle lines!!
They join into the melee.
Finnrik puts the bracelet on “Someone has to get the gem!” Koku runs to the wall by its writhing tentacles, Lukos following to block any tentacle shots with his shield.
Koku speed climbs the up the wall. As it goes to lash at him, Lukos hits it with a spear and it pulls back.
He grabs the gem and wrenches it free!
Modar has been cutting the heart from the troll.

As Harog rushes to the units, he witnesses an absolute massacre of a round. Out of 10 units who rush into the battle, only 1 goblin survives!!

The beast looks about half way out! Large sluglike body visible so far.

Thorhamma misses the troll twice in a row. Bogi crits but gets his blade stuck in the troll momentarily. He draws it back out and crits again! DEAD!!

Koku drops to othe ground and tosses the gem into the gate as Lukos keeps another tentacle off of Koku with a crit spear throw!! One of the monster’s claws lashes into Lukos 19!!
It lets out a terrible screech to loud and reverberating all in the chamber look toward it. The goblins have reached a religious fervor.

The gateway is shimmering.

The cage crashes to the ground, Utzig moves and opens it.
Finnrik UMD’s the bracelit, the gate begins to shut, squeezing the sluggish body of the beast. It starts squirming backward through the portal. We hear its loud screeching “GOZER!!!!!!”

Aha!!

Finnrik grabs the BH and Koku grabs the witch. Utzig and the keeper rush with us. Modar has the troll heart!

The goblins maintain the battle in their fervor. Our heroes rush into the fray.

The expulsion of Gozer is never a peaceful thing. It starts an earthquake as we get out of cavern into the passage. The svinfilki help to cover our escape with great thanks from us.

Out in the maze, the cerberus spawn is licking its wounds, and happy to see its keeper. It follows us to the top and the pleasently greeting sunlight.

Utzig is not a sentient being eater and is an Ulfhedinn!! He wants in on the pack.
The keeper sees we have cloaks made from a spawn like his. He says all are semi intelligent; most are more evil than neutral though. So not offended.
He asks, if we come across any cerberus spawn pups, he’d love for us to bring them back to him so he can raise them to be not evil.
Agreed.
He’s also a trainer of canine related beasts.
Modar and him have much to talk about, he also being skilled in animal training. Modar mentions the hell hound.
He says if Modar stays behind about a week, he can teach him some tricks to help out in such canine training.
Modar agrees to that!! This will give him a plus 4 to handle animal to train such creatures. Any other skill check toward a canine its at plus 2; plus 4 on empathy to canines too!! Basically, teaching Modar the universal ‘language’ of canines.
Geri’s Bood Gluttons will stay with him to keep him company.
He also says eating such a troll heart, if kept, gives up to 3 people a troll’s regeneration for 10 rounds. Being a troll’s, it will never rot!

The cavern behind us collapsed in to a great extent.

Tonight, initiation ceremony for Utzig.

Scroll: with the witch, in a tongue we can not read.

Bracelet: w/in 100’ plus another 25’ for every 5 rolled on UMD check, detect any gozerian ilk (himself, demon of his, etc.) will detect and point out its direction.
BH has a ring, 4 others on his person:
1st connects to other 4.
Other 4 you give to people that become your Fingers. You can telepathically communicate with each of those 4 (range about half mile). Upon their death, you gain a temporary HD.
Not technically a good item, designed to give to toadies to make you tougher. Finnrik does not see it that way, and will give it to Ulfhednar not kin.

Svinfilki: when they met the swineherd after leaving us, The Wanderer told them their destiny does lie in the south. They are to travel south with us to the Empire! Something is coming soon he wants us there for, to watch our backs and keep us safe.
Some good natured ribbing back and forth about that.

Utzig says these were underdark gobs of varying parts. BH was a powerful warlord and nihilist. No real conviction but for himself. The witch came along and got him to gather a horde to collect enough sacrifices to bring the demi god Gozer into the world. He knows no specifics on Gozer but that its a land to the east of the Empire.

We sleep here tonight.

NOTES

Promo Pts: 35

Previous:

Prior to us being here even 6 months:
Bjorn and men are sent north to quash a force of orcs and goblinoids a couple hundred strong, raiders, coming from a warlord of the goblin kingdoms. It’s a quick and easy duty, including returning with some prisoners.
They are taken through the capitol on a parade of humiliation.
1 goblin not captured during the battle, was caught while hunting wolves using only a great club. For first several days he was tied up under guard. He was always the outcast of the raiders, a hireling, because they were brutal for brutality’s sake. Was never one of them in spirit. Has always worked for whomever would pay the bills. Aimlessly looking for purpose. Upon meeting Finnrik, he takes an immediate liking. He was killling wolves as a ritual sacrificial hunt, drinking their blood to infuse into his own, to give him the speed and strength of the predator. He hits it off with the pack. By the time we arrive at the capitol, he has developed a close bond with the Ulfhednar and he has joined the pack!!
Utzig Bonecrusher is his name._

View
Bjornings vs the Slammers

We arrive at our destination town of Adirna; we can tell the area has seen recent action with the quickest of scoutinng surveys. The lord meets us with is 40 men, putting them at our disposal. Town has a wooden palisade that could use some repair.
He says at any given time the raiders never show up with more than 200. Never seen anything larger than 400 so their may be more than that. Only ever attacked Adirna once, that was the 400 sighting.
Mostly its the surrounding area they hit, hampering food and supply distribution and such. They come from multiple points north most of the time, but they always return across the river east. They must lair somewhere that way.
Bjorn “So we will have to cross the border to find them. Or wait for them to strike here and ambush them.”
They are predominantly infantry. The goblins are their fodder, lesser equipment like leather and short spears. They have a shaman who occassionally uses battle magic. Adirna used to have a caster in town, but he was ambushed with a troop contingent on the road and killed. The raiders are particularly brutal to casters and the church.
That means nothing to us, anyway.
This has been happening for 3 months now. Started slow, and intensified as it went. Now its a raid every 3 to 5 days. The garrison was once about 400 men. The ogres and hobgoblins are the main reason for the reduced numbers. The high ranking commanders of the garrison are dead.
They have a military camp just outside of the town. The river border forts have been burned.
A 3 story stone tower lies 24 miles upriver, unused for centuries.
We passed that on the way here.

Bjorn tells him to repair his wall and even reinforce it and keep his troop here to defend the town “I’ll take my men out and we’ll take care of the problem”.
We camp in the military camp here tonight. It has its own wood wall about 10’ high. Tower at each corner; front and read entries; ditch around it, spiked; row of pikes around the ditch’s outer edge also.

The town west of Finnrik’s destination is called Burgos. Raids by the gobins occur approx twice weekly. 2 to 4 day spreads.

Tonight, Finnric stays here. The Ritual of the Journey of the Wolf is performed, enhancing the pack and kin overland speed. Leaving in the morning, by tomorrow night they arrive at the south of the hill range.

Over next couple days here:

Bjorn sends some small squads of the cav to scout for the enemy approach, west led by Stelio along the roat but; east led by Kalestos to as far as the ruined tower. No one crosses the borders!

4 PC cross the border to check things out, mounted: Sigrid, Gunnar, Thrand, and Harald.

We unload our supplies into the camp, making our own home base; pull our ships offriver to the camp; make sure the defenses are strong; Make ourselves a home here.
We ID the locations of the secret military caches via the lord to supply ourselves. Nearest is 18 miles down the SW road. The town gives us the labor and wagons to transport it; with 2 units under Hakon and Ulf.

NOTES

Runes:
1 Headcutter rune is 1 use, vorpal after it activates.

Cpt. First Guard = Andronicus
Pay: 65,000 true gp per year for our entire force, as pay from the Emperor

1 promotion pt to all who went to the partying, aka one less to go up to next level: twins, Sigrid, Hakon, Frosta

Haarkon: the youngest and new king of these Dwerro. His father has been killed. His piece has the gold inlaid axe.
Alfreg: black beard and white horned helm
Ottr: expert archer
Fjalar: wings and hammer; and Galar: no wings and axe
Brokkr: wields a mace, berserker
Sturn: axe in hand, xbow on back, forkbearded
Egin and Raggid: brothers, the old Hornbrin figures
Uhtto (thief) and Otto (warrior, long face): brothers

The 7 new Dwarf names:
Dopey is and executioner: small old piece = Minstin
Doc is a Hunter = Legen
Grumpy is a berserker: Mohawk = Gretten
Happy is a performer/bard man at arms; Horn = Glad
Bashful is armiger =Blyg = blue armor with hammer
Sleepy Weapon Master: He and Haki become fast friends = Sovnig
Sneezy Myrmidon = Prosit = gold armor with axe
Haarkon and his men are distant relations to these guys.

View
First Mission Briefings and Planning
Plus studies into the Malakhaz

Several more days of the norm while our mission is being set up until we are finally called into a briefing with the Emp, his brother Alexandros (and his girlfriend; uppity noble, gorgeous, bitchy temper), Skilios, General Stephanos Domonkos, Stelio.

Emperor begins detailing himself:
lays out a map of the region in which we will operate: the province of Scythia to the west of Magyary; adjacent to the orc/goblinoid kingdoms.
This was once part of the empire.
There is a town surrounded by light forest; river runs along the east border where our main force will operate. Most of the old Imperial roads are mostly to completely unkept in the orc and goblin kingdoms.

The Ulfhednar are to go to quell goblin raids in hills W of the town, in the hill forests south of Moth. Bjorn et al will stop at the town itself. They have been disrupting merchants, hitting homesteads. When they attack, few to no survivors. They are to be exterminated, plain and simple.

Here he lets Skilios continue:
The ulhhedninn are facing uncivilized goblins in the wilds, they are not savage barbarians unlike not like the more pseudo civilized neighbors. Murder and robbery on their minds.
As far as Bjorn: in the border troublemakerrs, an ogre runs the show with ogre guardsmen; they have an elite core of hobgoblins numbering 3 to 4 dozen it seems, orc shock troops, and a lot of goblins. They have been raiding settlements all along the border east of the town along the river. They raid over the river/border into the skythians, then fall back again
Estimate is 400 enemy total there.
The Empire can send perhaps 200 men, of Bjorn’s choosing. He wants all 3 other PC’s to go there.
Apart from that, Stelio is to lead 60 cataphract to go with us in support. The town guard garrison there is 40 medium infantry, plus conscripts.
They are unsure if there is a link tween the 2 missions’ foes.

Bjorn “2 questions. Do I have free reign to do whatever it takes to do this job?”
Limited yes, no international incidents.
B “2nd question: as far as housing and supplying my force, do I have the full cooperation of the garrisoned town or do I have to forage?”
They have military caches in the area we are free to use. The forts have been destroyed in the raids.
We are to not just beat the forces there, but figure out if they are independent, or being sanctioned by locals.

Bjorn says we will go up the river in our ships. Finnrik will make haste cross country to his destination, splitting from the rest at the town.
Thrand “Tell me about Udor?” city to NW of our destination town.
It was a large mining community in its day. Now that its run by goblins, its usually their merchants coming to us so few if any have seen it in recent times.

We get a healing, actual caster, priest attched to us, and 10 surgeons who move around the battlefield, who can save more casualties from death.

Finnrik “What about the city in the forest north of my goal, Morth?”
Then: Once called Morthos; Walled town; once very mercantile on a trade route, pop 7000.
Now: again, unsure.

Best guess overall is 4 to 1, orc/goblinoid to human, in these lands around Skythia

The Emp does not want us to take our mantrolls (orcs and such), he is too worried they’ll turn and join their own kind. Even if we insist they will do no such thing.

Any loot we find is 100% ours to keep. Further 1000gp bonus for the mission.

They then turns to Wulfgar and his close men, sending a portion of his men to put down a minor lord uprising who decided to stop paying taxes a short time ago and declare himself an independant citystate.
The Shadow Aug and Orc Guard will stay in the city.
Stiletto is here, to be sent deep into the see to follow up on some kind of mysterious rumors.
Other forces are given similar missions to ours or Wulgar.

As it breaks up, the Emp takes us aside one more time:
After the dinner debacle, a small faction of nobles left unsatisfied with the night’s goings on. When we return we may be needed again, to quell some rebels.
Bjorn “Worry not, we will take care of that.”

Finnrik, going into unknown numbers of enemies, is taking his entire follower and Ulfhednar force.

Bjorn’s Force

Thrand with Brand
Gunnar with Toru.
Hakon
Ulf
Sigrid, the first to volunteer as usual, and much to her great joy
Harald and his only unit “The Vengeance of Trygvar”
Gunnar: Death from Above
Thrand Units: Right Hand of Tyr; Shields of Tyr
Bjorn Units: Bj’s Finest; Shock and Awe; Home Guard; Bergen Guard; Breckholm Guard

Second Mission:

Ragnar
Kyy
Ingvarr
2 units of Bjorn’s: 1st and 2nd Tordekting

Castle Arndulant on the frontier land, ruled by Bishop Hemikon. He is head of local diocese and the fort’s military commander, a rare combo in a man.
Fort having issues with peoples across border. Lands reclaimed after having lost it. We are being sent there to bolster the fort until things calm down or until a better relief force can be sent.

Third Mission

Osmo
Kolfrosta
Hjalprek

2 units: Gunnar’s Blacken the Sky; 1 of Kolfrosta’s unit

Assigned to guard a supply train to a town near a high action zone. It also has a pay wagon for the garrison, important supplies, and such. The route has been plagued by deserters, bandits, rebels, etc.

Fourth Mission

Dulk
Papa and the twins
Brynjalf
Rolf
3 units: Tordekting Guard; Asker Guard; 1st Asker

We will be sent to another frontier area, town called Ratikili near Gozerian side. Bunch of wanderers and travellers are causing problems there. We are to bolster the merc garrison. Another column is coming from another place to reinforce it that will arrive after us.
Keep it safe until full reinforcements can be sent.

All missions are to leave within a day or so of each other. We got a weeks warning that missions were coming. We have a day or 2 from the meeting before we head out.

The twins have been experiencing a lot of the city women, and pile it on heavy before they go.

Thrand/Gudrun studies into the Empire thus far

Several centuries back, time before Celestia’s rule as Empress but still servant of the Masters; she and her sister started vying for Imbrun’s attention. Luna later came under the influence of Peldan when Imbrun gave Celestia more focus.

Each made into quasi Masters by their respective Master. Celestia later became Empress, and it was named for her. Originally Argonian Empire (think Byzantium to Argonia’s Rome).
In ages unwritten of, there were 2 cultures that had come to this world: Celestines and Malakhaz. Each had 7 pure primarch, divine entities, humans descended by some kind of outsider (angels, and demons/devils respectively). Each also had a society of humans who followed them who came under their names as a cultures
At this time, the Masters were still making the Firsts and augments and such. The Masters allowed them to settle in their own lands, but eventually meshed into the existing cultures. A theory goes that the gods the Masters worshipped may be the gods the celestines and mal’s brought with them.
As the millenia went on, wars were fought tween the Cels and Mals. The Cels were generally stronger and wittled away at their foe until the Mal kingom had been absorbed into the Celestine rule. The 7 primarchs of each side disappear from history.
Fast Forward to time of Celestia, she puts down prophecy of Masters going away and eventual return.
Luna, feeling dejected by the most powerful Master and not getting all she ever wanted, went into deep study for many years. Discovered the Mals bloodline continued in certain groups around the continent. She began grand working of magic, creating the shadow augments using the descendants of the Mal people by infusing them with the plane of shadow slowly over generations. She eventually revealed herself to them, and they became very loyal to her.
She also found that the 7 primarchs also had blood descendants! They had much the same attributes as Firsts. She started changing them into shadow augments as well.
Finally, she gathered enough of a force she challenged the throne the Empire. At this time, Celestia had redesigned the empire after the Cels from ages back.
Luna calls her empire a farce, the Argonian side of the Empire kind of backed her over the Celestine side of the empire to. Luna ran a coup de tate and overtook the capitol of Celestia, setting herself up as Empress. A series of wars continued, culminating in her victory over Celestia’s final army.
The rest of the Masters just watched, waiting to see how this panned out, for the 2 were effectively Masters in raw power.
She ruled for only a couple decades, instituting changes that were often popular, but she was violently authoritarian about their enforcement. By the end, even some of her shad augs saw it was too much how she ran things. Celesia, in the meantime in hiding, was gathering strength again. At the right time, Celestia began the civil war. This time even the Masters intervened. This was like WWI to the WWII Masters War a century before us.
Some masterd even died here in Master vs Master conflict.
Celestia reclaimed the empire. The schism tween Argonia and the new Celestia was more complete now. Still technically one empire, but kinship was lost. Enough of the shad augs and malakhaz people were killed, that she exiled the rest out of the empire in a diaspora. They were banned from their original lands in current Gozeria. They never congregated as a single culture again.
This happend only appx 200 ish years ago.
Now, the reason the Mal people were chosen by Luna was twofold. They had a natural affinity for the darker side being under the 7 Mal primarchs so long, and so more apt to join her side as a persecuted bunch.
The 7 Mal primarchs were all priestly warriors, several with arcane powers also. They all had the surname of Andzus. None know now the etymology of that word in their tongue. They may have been physically killed at some point, but the references are made after the fact and details not given thus far in our studies.
The 7 Cel primarchs each had a single name only. No evidence at all of their fate. Their is a brief mention of one factor may have aided Luna’s overthrow, then Celestia’s take back, is given in one sentenc in each section, referencing another group of people from offworld originating from the same as the Cel and Mal. They are more into an idea of balance rather than angelic or fiendish. This group helped each get it down. No name given, no other reference to them given anywhere thus far.
So to Rolf these Mals are sort of warriors of satan/anti christ, in real world terms. Can’t be trusted.
We learn from Callimachus that the area in a hill land during their journey, from which they brought an army of animated skeletons, was a grouping of Mal people who died out there after their exile.
Black J is likely a descendant of the 7 primarchs!!
AND!!!!!!!: the tomb of the primarch at Duncan’s hills was marked as Kael Andzus’s tomb!! The body was there, so somehow he has gotten into a new body.

The gathering of more detailed info will the the long term work of Thrand and Gudrun during our stay in the Empire.

View
Lukos Raven Called; The Rotted Banquet

Ravens lead the Ulfhednar to Lukos

In the coming days we have been getting acquainted with our new surroundings, friends, and seeing the sights. Thrand and Bjorn have much more to do together on the political end, so the Ulfhednar have mostly been left to their own devices.
They are walking in the city and notice a couple large black birds circling overhead, ravens; they move off, then return and circle us, move away and repeat. Always in the same direction.
We follow, obviously. We soon hear a commotion ahead, an excited crowd. Leading us to plaza. Some local city police have locked a man up into the stocks. A large, strong man. A crowd is gathered hurling the normal fair at him and cursing his being. Chatter of the man not being right in the head, has been crazy for some time now. Arrested for attempted murder. Brothers killed off on campaign, he returned to home to find a plague had killed his family. His land was then unkempt, etc. From there on he claimed evil spirits surrounded him, animals spoke to him. He became a begger, people were not too kind to him.
One day, some youths harrassed him while he was talking to some birds. He pummeled 3 of the 4 nearly to death, the 4th called the militia in. The found him in a couple days, and here he is now. The 3 youths seem to be recovering.
Half a dozen ravens circle the plaza.
Finnrik leads the way, pushing past the crowd to the militia cop leader and questions him. They plan on keeping him here a few days. The fine is nominal, 50 imperial gold. Finnrik pays the fine. The crowd is annoyed their days entertainment is now free to go. This man never expected this kind of treatment from a foreign merc, better than his own people treat him.
His name is Lukos. The day he returned to find his family gone was the day the talking birds first came. They all had one or 2 words to say. DIfferent birds it seemed each time. He thought maybe if he strung the words together they’d form a text but he never figured it out. Once we introduce ourselves, he knows some of the names were said to him. He now sees it all as a sign to him to look for you but he didn’t understand in time.
Luckily, here we are now, regardles.
He recalls to us an old man who served a short time with his unit. No one knows where he came from then disappeared after a battle one day.
Koku “One eye?”
“Yes.”
They had spoken some. The more he tells tales of his life, seems he’s had signs his entire life setting him up for this day. He is now in his early 30’s.
“Because I was only ever a conscript, I only really have some skill in spear and axe.”
Finnrik “That’s all one needs.”
He keeps his hair short and cropped, but a nice thick beard.

The Coming Days

Giovanni has made Bjorn a sort of clamp hand so that he can still skillfully use a shield sans hand. He’s willing to do many other possible gadgets and tinkerings for Thrand’s stump if we wish.

We begin organizing our followers for the assault on the goblinoids et al north soon.

There is no sort of local women willing to please.

Thrand spends a lot of free time in the libraries and with the right people, leaning the language better and studying their law books.

We find out that our religious differences, and differing views on the nature of the Masters on earth, is a bit of a skism tween our kind and the church.
We are impressed that the Emperor quickly puts our names to our faces individually, including our henchmen, often greeting men like Ulf by their first names as a trusted friend.

Anytime we are to join in seabattles on Imperial naval vessles, Gorton is allowed to be in charge of our ships. Finnrik among others doesn’t like the general idea of travelling overseas in anything but longships.

We do lots of palace grounds guard duty. Bjorn’s brothers are rarely more than 100 feet from the Emp. When on duty, we are usually w/in quick call of them.

We get a lot of freedom, we spend a lot of time in the city slumming it; for though the huge palace complex has all we need, it has only the feel of byzantine nobility.

Lukos fast becomes the most blindly loyal to a fault to Finnrik, for saving him from his life’s tragedy.

We hear the empire has a high quality medical core for the battlefield. More wounded survive the battlefield than any other army in the known world.

One day, we come across Dorak Mayarulscu and one of the eastern nomad emissaries talking about war, and we get drawn in. He questions him about his kind, horse warriors, being far superior to footmen. But “there are 2 breeds of men who find foot soldiers to be more useful”. First, the Argonians. He goes on into a couple points about their fighing style then to us “What makes your people at the top of the game?”
Bjorn “Well, I’ll tell you” the multiple reasons. First, we enjoy fighting in terrain where cav is at its weakest. 2nd is strategy; we have our own shield formations vs missiles as the Argonians, while also being larger men. 3rd, the stock of our men is superior. We are almost as tall as the nomad is on his step pony.
The nomad, wearing a wolf cloak, gives us a bit of a dirty look, Bjorn says its meant to be no slight.
Finnrick “You’re half the man we are, but Dorak is half the man you are.”
He shrugs off the footmen as “fodder”. None could stand up to the power and distance of a good steppe bow. “You may swing a great axe but” starts displaying his speed and agility swinging his curved blade. On foot is the “farmer’s way to fight”.
Thrand “You speak like that’s some sort of slight.”
He looks to Finnrik as a kindred wolf spirit, but “you don’t fight with the grace or the mentality of the wolf” you fight in hordes like angry sheep or a stampede of cattle.
Finnrik “You fight in just as large of numbers, but I don’t recall the last time a wolf fired a bow at prey.”
Ragnar “He likes to see the eyes of his foe, like the predator.”
He claims to have killed a thousand footmen in his life; beyond him why the emperor would keep so many around. All the rest of his guard are horsemen.
Bjorn “We realize horsemen do have uses” in open terrain.
The argument continues back and forth; he says how 10000 of his men defeated the Gozerians.
Thrand “It may be fine to raid villages and towns with nothing but horsemen, but for real war you need a combination of forces.”
Bjorn “10000, so that would take 1000 of us to defeat?”
Thrand “Or 1000 of Finnrik’s kind.”
The nomad walks off.

Dorak loves this whole back and forth. He says even his nomads had infantry, they just don’t like to admit it “But you might want to watch your back, you might have just made an enemy of Tamuuk.”
Bjorn “I’ll just have Thorhamma watch my back, they’re about the same height.” Ouch.
END

Some few days later:
The 4 PC’s come across Black J, talking to Rolf. Seems like they are having a slightly heated debate.
Bjorn is worried so leads us that way. The other 3 of us notice now Tamuuk a distance away, speaking so someone who is behind the corner we can’t see.
Every so often Tamuuk takes a quick look around, like he does not want anyone hearing them. After less than a minute he half bows and departs.
Finnrik rushes down to the corner, turns it, with Gunnar to try and see who it was he was speaking to.
Thrand stays with Bjorn going to Black J.
Tamuuk moves quick, he has already entered his culture’s embassy. His animal totem, popular among his people, is a dire wolf skull.
Finnrik spots a few guys in the area who may have seen who this guy was. One didn’t notice who it was, but he saw them meet and it didn’t seem like a planned meeting. Tamuuk was walking by, suddenly stopped when he came across the person. They did speak in Tamuuk’s nomad tongue, he briefly heard. So likely somebody from east. The guy gave Tamuuk a paper as they started talking.
The man was very dark, as if Tamuuk were talking to a shadow. He stood in a dark spot the halls, and was very hidden. He feels it could have been a shadow augment. This annoys one such under Black J who denies it could have been, if so “we would have known”. Their kind can sense one another nearby. This other man’s anti shadow augment feelings becomes evident, which the shad aug does not take kindly to, which we have to defuse.

Meanwhile,
Bjorn greets them heartily. Black J greets in return in his usual dour manner.
J “Just a little personal differences of opinion.”
Rolf “You know, I’m not afraid to tell them” I’d watch out for these guys if I were you, he’s never been able to fully trust “there kind” aka the shadow aug’s. “They’re irredeamable”.
As a general rule, Bjorn feels that’s accurate.
Thrand “But we trust Black J.”
Rolf says one things us northmen types have is blissful ignorance. The Masters didn’t toy with us for whatever reason like they did the southern world, but nor were we educated to those doings on the mainland. Black J’s name is not unkown, all for good. “But the shadow aug’s are like rabid dogs, can’t trust them. It’s in their blood, and we were debating the necessity of their duties among the guard. I only wanted to let him know I’m keeping my eye on them.”
He tells us there are a number of volumes about their history in the Imperial library.
Only reason this came up is so far as Rolf knows, he’s the last of his particular breed of First, the last known descendant of the original 7 Celestials to whom the Empire is named after. The shad aug’s are the descendents of the Malakhaz, Rolf’s peoples’ arch rivals. He says to read the books “before you go trusting his kind.”
Bjorn “I trust each person on their own merits” sighting Hakon the Bastard as an example.
Thrand “And Koku and Ulf were with him.”
Now 2 of them are cohorts.
Rolf takes his leave, he has a meeting with the Explorer Duncan.

Black J, in all good taste, assures us that despite his peoples’ heritage, they were called here. The voices gathered them up and told him to come here. After he went through the blood gate at Langbay, he found himself in the wild. Then he felt a deep spiritual calling to go south. So, he travelled for many days to the coast, finding others of his kind making the same migration, as if they were all feeling that same call. Eventually he had a group of several dozen. As they continued to and south over the continent, they found more and more.
The group fractured into 2. One toward gozeria, the other here.
Once they got here, they knew this was the place.
The entirety of the shad aug’s people were on this migration. They are not here to be the backstabbers.
Bjorn asures him he has a friend in him.
The other 2 join us now and inform.
Black J says something of the neg plane was here in the area minutes ago, he explains what that means.
Thrand “And this didn’t raise an alert for you?”
J “Yes and no.” As an augmented First such as he, he feels a lot of this kind of thing. The feeling slightly concerned him, but he has felt such a presence since he got here, though the strength ebbs and flows.
Bjorn and Thrand feel its that jackass from Gozeria, Ka’el. He may want to pay particular attention to Ka’el, see if you can determine if he’s the source. He says he will try to do so, certainly.
J “Tonight, the Emp is having one of his big functions.” Mainly local nobles and such. He and some of his types were planning on skulking around the palace, crashing some side parties, score up with some of the courtesans and straggling female attendees. More his men than him, actually. The First guard will be on duty, not the Varangians nor aug’s.
Any of us who want to join them tonight are welcome.
The twins, the triplets are all in. So is Toru. Rags, Ingvarr, Harald, Brand, Bjorn, Gorn the Nimble.

Ulfhednar are planning a massive revel tonight, this time the Ulfhedkin included. We plan on havine 2 separate revels to keep more of the city awake tonight than the first time, which was a rousing success by the way.
Thrand and Gudrun will be reading on law and the augments late into the night.

Sigrid is bored, having a bad feeling about tonight with so much going on. She is going to patrol close to the main party in any areas being unuses. Kolfrosta decides to join her.

Parties:

Bjorn and Osmo drink everyone under the table.
Gorn is out of commission for 1d4 days, literal alcohol poisoning. Halfway through the night he’s throwing up all over the place.
Hjalprek (gets his beer goggles on he thinks he’s an ulfhednar), Rags (a domineering bully drunk), and Ingvarr (who particularly tried to keep up with Bjorn and Osmo) get completely sauced. They make idiots of themselves, Rags getting into a couple small scuffles.
The rest of us drink heartily, good and drunk but not overboard.
Bjorn has Dulk the Loyal to get Gorn back to his bed alive.

Women:
Kolfrosta, late, thinks she saw something moving out of the corner of her eye.
We put our light on it fast, heading that direction.
They find nothing, but our suspicions are raised.
Sigrid soon finds some blood on the ground in an inner courtyard. They find no trail away. Perhaps a spill? The grass is newly flattened leading away, so they follow.

Meanwhile, as Dulk is taking Gorn ouside, he passes 2 guards leaning leasurely on a nap.
Dulk nudges both, Gorn projectile vomits. They wake up.
Dulk questions them sleepling.
About this time, Frosta and Sigrid come around the corner following footsteps leading right up to the guards.
Sigrid “They must have gone through this archway.”
Dulk gives the guards a stern look.
Sigrid explains.
They give us attitude as if better than us. They want us to go back to our rooms. Sigrid refuses, she’s on the trail of an interloper!
Frosta gives Dulk a look and nod, and they start scuffling with the guards so Sigrid can pass through unmolested.
Frosta “Don’t get too far ahead!”

She runs through. She thinks, where would such a person go choosing to come through this entrance in particular? This goes to the main hall, right to the party, a couple side parties, and the kitchens/pantries for all the parties. She goes to the latter.

Dulk breaks off soon after, he and Frosta having thumped the guards, leaving Gorn with Frosta, rushing back to Bjorn and informs.
Bjorn “You’re killing my buzz.” He gathers Osmo along with Dulk and head for Frosta. There, Dulk continues taking Gorn back, then he can return and try to find us. J sees us going off, and catches up wondering what’s going on. He joins us as well.
The guards complain to Bjorn about his men jumping them! “When the cpt. hears about this one, it’ll be your ass.”

Sigrid arrives at the kitchen/pantry areas. She comes in through the back way into the kitchen itself first. The door handle is quite cold, though its warm outside.
She enters, knowing she’s on the right path. Oddly, the room is empty. No cook or servant. She hears the main party 2 rooms beyond and waitstaff in the next room working. Passing through she looks for any signs of a scuffle, finding it odd there are no cabinets open at all. No sign of work being done for at least a short time. She hears the least noise from the pantry so that’s her play; and the door is cracked open. Now sword drawn, she peers inside. One of the shelves with the breads has one loaf maggoty. Only way out is a ventilation shaft out. She steps inside. The shaft is shut, but very loose. She shines her lantern in, screws missing. She shines her bullseye lanters straight down it. The edge is slick and wet. She listens quietly, hears nothing. Fast to the prep kitchen. She grabs a steward dragging him protesting to the shaft, asking where it goes. One goes to the party, the other to another hallway.
Sigrid “Take me to the hallway now. Nothing is to be eaten out of this room.”
“We’ve been serving out of this room all night.”
He starts to protest, but he intimidates his pants wet “Stop all food going out.”
He leads her to the hallway. Nothing, grate is secure.
Back into the kitchen fast.

Bjorn browbeas the First guard, who are not happy some heathen barbarians are treating them in such a way. They want to get the cpt and settle this properly.
Bjorn yells at them to find him if they want as he starts following Sigrid’s way. The others of us follow. The talker tells the other to stand guard and leaves for their cpt.
At this point, they hear Sigrid’s intimidating voice to the steward heading down the hallway. They catch up to her as they are walking from the hall grate. Sigrid quickly explains the situation.
Bjorn “Good job, Sigris.” First time ever.
He tells the others to stay here in the hallway, to make sure nothing comes out of the grate or anyone else down the hallway. Then has the steward lead himself and J to the main party and the Emperor.
Bjorn feels his swordhandle getting a bit warm, a glow of magic nearby. Its runes are emanating light. Its getting strong.
He begs Bjorn not to attract any attention than necessary, he’s worried about getting in big trouble for this. In the room “Stride with confidence and noble manners.”
Bjorn “That’s the only way I walk.”
The steward whispers into the Emp’s ear, who glances to Bjorn.

The cpt of the First guard and 6 of his troop come to the 3 left in the hallway. They want us to get against the wall and drop weapons.
Sigrid inisists on explaining.
The cpt sends a couple men to the ball to recover Bjorn.

Bjorn’s brothers are in the room. Toronaga is about 2’ from the Emperor.
The Emp walks casually to Bjorn and in low tones, asks what is going on “This is quite the breech of etiquette, the fops are nervous.”
Bjorn apologizes for the intrusion, but “there have been some strange goings on in your kitchen area” and quickly explains, telling him he put the women on guard personally so they’re being inside looks official. “I feel something untoward is going on here.”
He then notices Halfgar dipping a piece of meat into a cup of jelly, as he does a small wiggle of a grub is seen in the meet briefly. He begins to lift it to his mouth, this is about 10’ away.
Bjorn yells “don’t eat that?”
“What, this is my favorite?”
“Don’t eat the meat, put it down.” A bit of a spectacle on the matter starts happening.
Bjorn “There is something in the food. People need to stop eating now.”
The Emperor calls everyones attention with apologies, making an announcement the food may be tampered with.
The main door opens, the 2 First guard sent by the Cpt enter “There he is!” The make for the Emp. “You northman, come with us please. Emp, our apologies” with a deep bow “this man and his squad of ruffians ahve been causing a ruckus, have assaulted guards and trespassed on the graound, harrased the staff.”
Emp “Are you serious? This is an embarrasement and breach of etiquette in from of manyh nobles and ambassadors. Did you beat up my guards?”
Bjorn “There is a story to this. The short, is yes. But there’s a good reason.”
Emp sends the steward to get as much wine as possible, get everyone drunk enough to forget all this happened.
This is done, the Emp excuses himself with Bjorn, his bros, the 2 First Guard, J, and Toro to the hallway.
J makes a wider circuit through the room, by the consumable table, grabbing something from it.
They run into Sigrid and the others where there is a standoff. As far as Sigrid is concerned, this could be a conspiracy.
The cpt is warning them for the last time to get against the wall.
The Emp is befuddled. J shows him the food plate he grabbed, grubs crawling through the meat and bread.
Osmo “We should show this to the royal scientist.”
Bjorn takes a close look “I hope nobody ate these. Somebody has tainted the food with rot grubs.”
Dulk has arrived now, explaining how he found the guards sleeping on duty.
Sigrid “Sounds like dereliction of duty to me. That’s where I followed the trail to.”
The cpt is astonished at his men being accused of such things and lying. Bjorn back us up with his glib tongue.
The Emp does not see this as a slight to the First G, but he thinks “you’re being sold a bad story by these 2” to the cpt.
He orders the cpt to take the 2 guard and place them under quarters until a decision on them should be made.
“Worst crime isn’t even being derelict and lying, but blaming these Varangians who on their off time were performing their duty.”
He then turns to Bjorn, what should we do:
We need to inspect and burn all tainted food. Possibly send someone into the vent to check inside, and try to figure any exits the perpetrator went to; also who is missing from the cooking staff?
We also need to sample up that residue and get it to those who could know what it is.
He orders the steward to bring Calimachus and an arcanist from the church to check the residue.
Details of guards will comb the palace exits.
The food will be taken care of. He then has to get back to the function for diplomatic repairs before he is seen as weak and a revolt starts somewhere.

We stay to assist. Including Sigrid crawls into the shaft. Callimachus and the arcanist show up and study the residue.
Bjorn’s blade shines brightest at the bloodpool and residue.

The residue is heavily congealed blood of some kind. Callimachus is certain this was a blood portal, both the grass and the shaft. He appeared at the grass spot, and left via the shaft in order to hide the blood’s presence. So he likely was never actually in the shaft.
The shafts are used to both allow air to pass, and go to heating furnaces. Sigrid finds the missing cook’s remains in the heat pits below. No visible wound other than some charring.

Its very late by the time this all finishes. We get back to our barracks to get some rest.

As dawn approaches, the Ulfhednar revelry ends.

About 2 hrs into sleep, something wakes Bjorn just before dawn in the middle of a good dream with Kolfrosta and Sigrid. He scans the room, alert to danger. He sees nothing. He’s not even sure what woke him. He checks himself, he’s fine. Looking around, nothing seems missing or out of place. He puts on a fur robe, rabs his sword, and walks around the room checking things closer. As he reaches for the closet door, he feels a tickle on his back. He pulls his robe off, handful of grubs dropping to the ground. He still feels a few on his back.
He rushes outside his door, grabs a torch from a sconce, and reaches around to burn/brush them off. He bends over to burn them all the way, and hears a loud thunk as a saber catches into the door frame where he just stood.
It’s Tamuuk!! He has grubs crawling out of his skin, and his eyes are a bit sunken. He looks a good couple days dead. Drawing his sword, its glowing like its on fire and counterattacks.
He attacks Bjorn, sword in one hand and unarmed offhand attacks.
It hits Bjorn hard 3 times.
Next door, Thrand and Gudrun are woken by the clashing of blades. Thrand grabs his broadsword and shield, Gudrun opening the door to see what’s going on.
Gudrun throws her room door open, yelling to Thrand to grab his cold iron blade once she sees what Bjorn’s is fighting. Everytime Bjorn hits it, which is ever time, his runes spark. Thrand grabs the blade and shield.
The thing suddenly hastes itself. Its cuttin him up badly. He feels the thing trying to suck life energy, while also releasing the grubs onto Bjorn.
Harald and Rags doors open as well now, wondering what in Hel is going on.
Thrand nails it hard, Gudrun made the right call!
It looks like its barely hanging on at this point. After it counters vs both of us, Bjorn lays it low. It begins to boil and bubble. Pops emit grubs.
Gudrun is at the ready with a few fire sources, burning all she sees. It dissolves into a puddle of rot and grub. It screams horribly as it does so. Gudrun gets a terrible feeling that he will spend all eternity suffering as such.
Then we scorch the leftovers and floor around it.
We do get a necklace and pouch from atop his furs.

Gold necklace, set in middle with teardrop shaped ruby. Blood Cult!!
Pouch: gold coins, 4 heads on one side, gozerian minted = 150gp

Everything in Bjorn’s room will need be burned.

We go to Bjorn’s bros. J and some of his men are there. Finnrik and the Ulfhednar arrive on the aftermath.
On the way to his bros, we come to Black J and a handful of his men, who asks if we’ve seen the shad aug Finnrik and Gunnar spoke to before, he’s missing.
Missing for seeing something.
Bjorn gives the short of what just happened.
They hang with us while we meet Bjorn’s bros. in another Varangian barracks. They gather a handful of men. We suspect it was Ka’el. He’s not surprised.
He makes clear, what we’re about to do could have serious consequences. An armed party into the empassy district to seize and potentially harm an emissary.
Gunnar says we could wait until tonight and assassinate him, “apparently that’s what people do down here.”
But Bjorn is ready to go for him right now. As well as destroy the nomads lands and people. Then the gozerians.

Off we go for Ka’el. We see a few ambassadors, getting started for the day. We draw looks. Dorak sits outside, puffing on a pipe “Hey Bjorn, morning!” then realizing his entourage with surprise.

The main door to the Gozerian embassy is open, no one in sight, very quiet. Halfgar enters first, in official capacity, calling out for Andzus. Silence. No staff even, no guard.
“For the size of the embassy, Andzus kept minimal staffing.”
Thrand “They have left.”
Halfgar orders groups to split up and search. We meet at the stairs to the top floor after finding no one nor nothing of importance.
Door to their is secured. First hit by Bjorn and Finnrik, we hear a chant faintly. We burst the door open, the bar splintering behind our might. One more brings it open. A flood of crimson light greets us, Bjorn’s blade burns gold on its runes. It dims, final movements of foot and came disappearing into a wall via a blood portal.
Up the stairs we go. Just beyond the portal is a landscape, like the local sea area not Gozeria. On the far wall in this room, 3 headless fellows in a bowing position, bowls under their necks. They sacrificed themselves.
Half in and half out is a nude, bound shadow aug half in and half out of the portal, hearth ripped out. Its the missing augment.
We see the dog Ka’el mount onto a horse in the distance.

Tamuuk was a pawn himself.

We report to emperor all that happened. That is the proof he needed. Next years campaign is now completely justifiable.
Riders are sent out to spread word, try to catch Ka’el from leaving Empire wherever he is.
Reports come in here and there, closer and closer to border but he is never captured.

The incident at the party did create some internal issues. Some nobles took that as the sign of his ineffectual rulership. Bjorn would love to personally get the message across of how wrong they are.

The 2 guards are exiled from the capitol lands permanently, taken about 150 miles away and sent packing.

A congratulatory and ceremony of thankfulness is held for us at the merc barracks for our men’s valor. Good notoriety for those of our henchmen directly involved. All involved are given a commendation medal to be worn on our armor, a necklace worth 100gp as a monetary reward.

Sigrid and Gudrun are by us to doing a lot of our textile repairs and making of our clothes while we are here, so lots of shopping for Sigrid. This is to help keep Sigrid busy.
Sigrid also decides to spend time probing the First Guard, starting within a couple days after the rotted banquet, to get a good feel for how they look at us now. Are they properly blaming themselves with honor, like men, or blaming us, like cowards?

View
Sworn into Service
Our introduction to the Celestine Empire

We travel to Coraopolis, on the Imperial Road, and on to Andropolis. From there, we carry on to an intersection where we meet a large camp of skyldings. Its our men!! Not at the capitol. They landed near the port of Coronica. Nordbricht, from there, decided we would not go into the capitol without us. He bet on us coming from this direction and was correct!
Its a joyous reunion. Finnrik tells our tale.
We continue on. Bjorn orders to sail to the Platinum Horn from there and into the capitol, horns blaring announcing our entrance.

At the harbor, we are greeted by Imperial Guard, both Celestine and Skylding. Bjorn’s older brothers, Halfbar and Granwulf, greet us. A happy reunion for us all!!
They say everything is planned well in advance. Our positions/spots are already planned.

First, a parade for our arrival.

Thrand “So, have you seen that scum Wulfgar?”
They say they’ll get to that in a minute.
Behind us is a contingent from the island Langbay is on, then horse archers. We then run into Somerled with a band of his Finnians! He lost a battle back home with a northman colony, so he felt it necessary to beat it for a while. They plan on going back to take what’s there’s.

More mercs behind them, and on we go through the main roads. The people must love this stuff, cause they’re out in droves. Coin bearers lob coins into the crowd.
Bjorn calls forth for our own imperial coin and we start throwing handfulls out.

We arrive at the palace, in itself a small city.
Cpt. of the Saxe mercs is Aelfred of Saxhillshire, of Fenwick.

We are to formally meet the Emporer the next day at a lavish dinner. We are set up where we are to live. Wulfgar and his men have already been here for a couple weeks.
We are to be kept fed and paid well!!!
The previous emporer, Ianos Dalessenos debased the gold and economy, the mercs got tired of getting paid in that coin so overthrew him about a decade back and put his guy in charge.

Current Emporer: Alexios Gabras

We meet a host of others, including Lance.

Night: Halfgar sits down with us the night before, giving us an intro course on all that is Celestine. Everything is well orchestrated and choreographed here. Lots of pomp and regimented activities. Lots of etiquette and protocols in day to day life.
The ulfhednar will get more leeway because of their nature. Don’t take advantage of that! They will be an item of great interest to everyone as they wander about. Quite the exotic novelty. They’ll have to show lots of restraint to locals.
Apparently, our contracts from Gustav were signed for 15 years!!! So was Wulfgar though, by Finnborg.
There was a civil war in the north, Gustav is dead!!! He knew it was hitting the fan and wanted us out, apparently. Needed his bloodline alive and well.
Halvgar says Finnborg purged the lawmakers. 5 of the main lawspeakers were put down, including Thorir!! Major coup de tate. We are essentiall in exile and outlaws back home.
Village Hero is still ok, as are Ollie and Sven, Swen of the north.
Thrand is happy Gudrun came with us, now.
The berserks with the emporer are Wulfgar’s gang. They were exotic, only berserks here, so Alexios took them close for show.
Ragnar is downtrodden, he is even further from taking his home back.
There are 2 Argonians who hang with us: Julius, the Legate, and Pollus the prima pila. Their situation is special. The kingdom of Argonia was long ago where this empire actually started. It then fell to barbarians. This legion here went east and have been living in exile since. Argonian women here, and brought out from old lands, keep the bloodlines somewhat pure. There is some blood from north though. This happened only a few decades ago or so. The original legion are all dead and gone. None here have ever seen their homeland. Stoic, organized, discipline reign supreme. Very Roman Republic, but all soldier, very practical. Their barracks is in same complex as ours.
They say cavalry is the most prized units here. Infantry is secondary, so they feel its nice to see other footman of importance here. The cav often look down on the foot troops.
Sigrid “I’ve never seen men so short as here.”
We set up our barracks. The dwarves are all separate from us under the palace with the other crafters.

The centaurs return to their own units.

The elf cleric sends word to her home of her rescue. Our reward will be here soon! Anar joins the elf guard, where the dedicate and cleric were from.

Kalestios and Stelio rejoin their units, and are made liaisons to our force.

Next Day

Finnrik at waking up a bit before dawn “This music sucks!”
The Argonians are already out there drilling. Lots of bells, droning music, and other city noises. The harbor is opened for shipping. Lots going on already.
About an hour later all of us are up, dressed, and ready to go.
The city is blinding as the sun rises, striking off of the gold of the towers. Selling and trading begins to open, many merchant calls ring out. We go to a great mess hall of hundreds of men for breakfast.

Rolf is still devastated at the loss of his holy avenger. He was offered a place among the kights but turned it down for now.

Afterward, Imperial messenger arrives for us. We will be gathered in the palace this afternoon. They want the entire ulfheddin band, people are excited to see the ‘werewolf barbarians’; PC’s, any women folk we have; we may choose reps of any factions we wish w/in our group like Harold, we may do so. Papa is also invited, he has been here with this emperor when he was just a general. So Ragnar, Gudrun, Kolfrosta and Harold, Gurk join us as well.
Here, the music from nearby stops. Finnrik “Thank Bragi.” It starts almost immediately again. Finnrik “Grrrrr! They just keep repeating the same song!”
Argonian “It’s different.” Finnrik insists its not.

Lunch is small in the Empire. All going to the function are then gathered and make our way toward the palace grounds. This district is surrounded by a wall. Around that the mercs and guard compounds are set up. Outside of that, is the upper class section of the city, then builds out by class from there. Across the straight is another district; then farmland outside. Each section is walled from the others, including the farmlands!

Average pop = half a million.

We are led through the main gated into the palace itself. The First Guard guard the citadel, they are all Firsts! Numbering 1000. The leaders were alive during the Masters time. Highly disciplined, badass as they come, but used with care. They look down on everyone else. More ceremonial now than a wartime force. For one, the emperor has no wish to send such a high percentage of the world’s First to death.
Inside, we pass by some of the 300 Elven Guard. All warriors, but many dabble in arcane arts. This is what our 2 friends and Anar are members of. They line the hall to the throne room. At end of the line are Celebrex and Pradexa (husband and wife cpt’s of the elf guard). They step from the ranks and usher us to follow them in. Servants open the double doors into what must be the most opulent throne room in the world. Lines of pillars run the room’s length. Hundreds of people present in the enormous chamber. At far end are the Emperor and Empress’s thrones. However, there is no empress. Alexios is not married, she died some years back to whom he is still loyal.

Flanking the Emp is another Greek, Alexios’ brother Alexandros. Flanking the Empress’s seat is a jovial large man, Balsamon the Grand Patriarchy of the Covenant of the Return.

Alexios has the berserks here, who stand guard around him often.

We meet Toronaga, a warrior of the far east. His cousin is emperor there. He stands before all at ceremony, none get to the Emperor w/o going through him. Lining the wall to the sides of all this are Bjorn’s bros, royan explorer named Duncan with his hobgoblin hoplite commander Archileus; The Black Proniar, leader of the Black Avengers: Iaios. It’s Black J!!!; and others.

Lots of ambassadors/emissaries.

A herald introduces us. After each of us are named, courteous golf clap from all.

Kalestios and Stelio and are made liaisons to our force.

Alexios stands. Greet us, happy we accepted the contract to come so far from home. He “learned to respect the Varangians decades ago when your fathers were here”. He acknowledges his friends Tosten and Finnbogi. His berserks are here near the throne area. They and Finnbogi give each other the stink eye.
Emp walks down and greets us all, Bjorn first with a hand shake. We all give him a bow at the waste. We are not required to give proscenesis. There’s a gasp from others at first.
Greets Gurk, stating he has never had an orkos in his ranks before.
He has heard much of our defeat of a dragon, saving the oracle at one of the most holy locations.
The pomp and circumstance goes on, then the initiation ceremony, and our ceremonial garb is given to us: each PC and each henchman gets a ceremonial double bladed greataxe; all but the Ulfhednar get ceremonial Guard Armor. Only the Ulfhednar are allowed to go without it at functions. The pack gets new wolfskin cloaks for ceremonial purposes instead.
Ranks are made official.
Bjorn is set up in command of our unit, Thrand his second.
The mantrolls have been made a special Green Skin Guard under Gurk, who is directly under Bjorn’s command.
The dwarves are given special service in armor, crafting, etc, but attached to Bjorn.
Giovanni is given his own workshop and contracts.
This all takes couple hours or so. Balsomon offers us the blessings of his religion. Each of us receive a ceremonial, though battle ready, double sided battle axe. They are always to be worn in ceremonies and such.
Couple people in the crowd shoot us a crooked eye.

Feast set up is finished as all this breaks up then the feast begins!! The meal is very orchestrated. Wulfgar et al are present. Hundreds are present.
We get many thanks for returning our prisoners.
Thrand “It’s a very good thing Toru isn’t here to eat so rudely in all of this pomp.”
The ulfheddin and berserks stare viciously at one another, having been seated at opposite sides of one huge table. We both have the sense, our of loyalty to our respective leaders, to not start any trouble. We win the intimidation contest by far, it’s obvious.
First man to greet our group is a barrel chested man, thick skin, tanned from years on the sea: Nikophoros Andropolos, the head admiral of the navy. Booming voiced. Mentions he heard about a legendary ship we came into ownership of, some say a huge galleon, others a skiff. Bjorn confirms we own such an artifact. Many of the varangians who came with Bjorn’s bros only occasionally serve with the navy, and are rarely sent to sail themselves. He has heard though we are masters of sea travel. He talks maritime stuff with us, inquires about the Ulfhednar’s nature. Bjorn tells him how strong they are, and they are often the first into the worst fights. Nik wants to meet the master seaman Gorton he has heard of as well. Bjorn will set up a meeting with them.
Somerled comes over to Finnrik. He says he and his Finnians are here, he’s glad we are here and can’t wait to get into action with the Ulfhednar.
2 relatives of Bjorn; Jorn Von Holst, and Georg Helmand, come to Bjorn’s table. Both leaders of Tharangian mercs. Hefty clasps at the wrist twixt the 3. Though they approach at the same time, they stay apart from one another. We learn they were once allies in Tharangia. In their wars vs Jarlsleif they were about to take a city back from his forces, Jorn in full command, but right at the seige’s height the city’s commander sent an emissary to Georg’s camp. He made a deal with him, and Georg took the city. The 2 sided together vs Jorn. So, the 2 don’t like each other much now. Both like us, however. Invite us to the drill field for friendly contests, and want to drink together some time as well.
Next, an arrogant looking knight in his dress plate strides through the room, looks over to Bjorn’s table and comes over. It’s Brace and a squad of knights! After Langbay he was in quite the existential crisis; came down to clear his mind in a couple wars for a while. His force is small: himself, his household guard, and volunteer cavalry.
We meet Llewellyn Twydor with a force of longbowmen. They came with Brace but aren’t under his command.
Alfred of Saxhill, from Fenwick. Think Saxon warriors.
Sarge, Lance and Black J introduce us to Wakash, captain of Tsurgus horse archers (old allies of Duncan), and another merc they pal around with named Raynard, captain of the dire dogs. Raynard himself has a gozerian warhound of his own. They take us to main table to meet the rest of the court.
Baras Dalessenos: porcine, balding, greasy, fat ‘gentleman’; has led the elite life to fullest; advisor to emporer; younger bro of deposed former emp, families have made their peace.
Porphyrogenetos Kadornas: Baras’s nephew via his sister; skinny nerd; about 18; carries huge book “manual of war” written by a famous Greek general centuries ago, immediately talks war tactics and strategy; he wants to know how the men who don’t wear armor and howl at the moon. He chews our ears off, yet we are almost positive he’s a moron. Only book smart. Tries to tell us how we could be better at war! Ha!
Old, ancient man (at least 70’s) though still in ceremonial armor; Esperanian perhaps; he creeks as he stands to greet us. Stops our attempt at proper greetings, but he stops us immediately. His name is Lox Viranetos. He is a proniar, for almost 50 of his 70 years. Has 7 sons, all commanders in military. He is the most honored with gifts of all proniars. Hold property throughout the empire; finds our kind to be some of the finest warriors, bravest and toughest at least.
Next to him is Skilios Panargenetos, Lox introduces him. He is the megadux/grand strategacon. He is reason Alexios is in charge; “former was a complete turd” (we see Duncan nodding his agreement off to the side), though he is not proud of having to depose an emperor. Only the 2nd time the city has been taken, other time was from w/in as well.
Thrand thinks we should make friends with Lox, likely has many contacts and friends and influence.
They take us next to the table of the visiting ambassadors.
Dorak Mayarulscu: from Ungarn, province lost to empire almost 3 centuries ago.
Edwin Trollum: younger bro to ‘king’ of the isles, who Bluto was supposed to be a loyal vassal under.
Quintus Archaeos Longinus: ambassador from Argonia; total bullshit artist
Alag and Karak: from orc and goblin nations to north, respectively
Dakang: short, squat, slanted eyes, furry cap; Scythian nomads; related to Tsurgus
Ka’ el Andzus: tall, sinister dark looking man, almost 7’ tall!; black and red robes over mail; face covered in mesh veil; black steel longsword at his hip always; as Sgt is about to introduce him “Silence worm”; From the empire of Gozer; he wishes no interaction unless it has to do with official politics tween Gozer and this ‘vassal state’ or not in so many words he’ll kill us; he does not wish to be in this post at all; he does see Bjorn’s sword, however “You are not by chance descended from the northman who originally owned that blade?” Bjorn responds he is. “Truly a worm among worms. Though he saw his doom coming and accepted it like a real man.” Bjorn makes sure he shows him his shield and boots “I always have more room for new attire”. The man’s eyes grow red and we part ways. Bjorn “Magic is good for women and elves”.
Here, the double doors open, a herald presents her majesty, the emperor’s daughter Cyra Gabra. She’s stunningly pretty. Bjorn immediately wants to score.
The Emp is dumbfounded and a bit exasperated at how late she is, not happy. She shrugs it off. They have a private tiff which all others keep eyes off of. The emp’s brother finally stops it. He brings the princess over to meet Bjorn et al, headstrong; dabbles in books, fancies herself a historian and scholar, also likes magic. We find Duncan’s journey east historian Callimachus is her mentor.
Elven woman beckons princess back to the main table, the other nobles are going to feel insulted if they don’t. This is the handmaiden to the princess and a courtier, Ari for simplicity sake. She says she’ll be sure to see us around.
Sarge tells us to go mingle as we choose from here on out.
Black J is hammered on wine, he’ll be blitzed by night’s end.
We hobnob around with various people. Duncan is full of great stories! After his eastward trip, went over the seas as well. Thrand talks to him a lot.
Rags is sent to talk to Lox: has big soft spot for the empire’s mercs; talk of Ragnar’s lost home town, though not averse to gaining land here; Lox says that opportunity always exists, “entire reason empire’s successful after all”; the foreign mercs are given much if earned; one of his son’s went east with Duncan, one of the cataphract; his wife is dead now, was a First. So all of his sons will see more years than he, though he wants grandsons badly, he does have a few granddaughters from his eldest. His sons love the field life too much, “probably have some bastards around”. He talks of when the Crimson Path ran things in his home, in charge of whole church then, then some “fine little number” shows up with an eclectic group of friends, even an Ettin. They sniffed out the bishops of the Path, the culmination of years of work. Almost single handedly ended the Path’s stranglehold on the Church. “The world was closer to ending than most will ever know. Everyone owes that woman for that.” He obviously has great reverence for this woman. Kaelen!!
He doesn’t think much for Wulfgar and his men, though his brother seems all right. He has talked to Tosten already about what happened to Gustav. The entire Viranetos family was distraught at such news. He knows Wulfgar is here purely for the glory. Lox also knew immediately Wulfgar hates us, our names come up often. Ragnar tells Lox that’s because he’s jealous. We have trumped him at every turn and he seems to be taking credit for things we have done. Lox says Iring is a propaganda master. He wants to organize a meeting session with our principles.
Thrand to Skilios: while Lox is more about the mercs, he’s more about the native army; Skilios grew up with Alexios was actually in charge of failed invasion that got the bro overthrown! They had made their way up to generals; Skilios was the city guard; due to “bureaucratic oversight or insufficient funding” the invasion was dangerously low on arrows, shields and food”! The army fought the bulk of the Gozerian army; Alexios split his force into 3, trying to lure the Gozerians into the center then try to envelope them; being low on arrows and shields, too many men died, too many were malnourished; when the main charge came it was only via Alexios’ quick thinking to send the Varangians he had with him to barrel into the enemy ranks. 500 northmen met their end, but their sacrifice let the army escape; once returned, they discovered the pay wagon to keep them funded had also not been sent. Many mercs started looting the country; Alexios pushed east with what remained (1500 ish out of 8 to 9000); at the capitol he found the emp had affiliated with undesirable philosophical types, leading Alexios to decide to usurp. He camped outside the city, laid siege. They couldn’t stop the shipping to the city though. So, subterfuge was the only choice. Skilios hates what had to be done, as it made him an oathbreaker; an advisor to emp and friend of Skilios convinced him to end it from the inside peaceably; so, his men opened the gates for Alexios; loyalists to Skilios were stationed strategically, w/o a sword even drawn the First Guard were convinced to stand down and Alexios took the throne; captured Ianos. Ianos has many allies, and he found his way to grand cathedral where he begged Balsamon to spare him. Being the kind man he is, he gave Ianos sanctuary; he took the vow of poverty and became a monk; sent off to countryside and abdicated officially to Alexios; now in a monastery of sorts outside the city; 5 years later he was killed in a giants’ raid at the oracle we saved. The giants we defeated!! All those like Duncan, Lox, etc who were there with Ianos all see this as a good thing after the fact. Baras excluded, obviously. Toro was willing to fight and die for Ianos, but Ianos stood him down before abdicating. That was the first year Bjorn’s bros were here, house guard.
Thrand “What of Ianos family?” His brother is Baras, his sister is the mom of the bookworm; had a wife and son, he tells us the story which Mike can’t divulge yet because of Duncan’s campaign.
He knows the emp needs the mercs, but wishes they didn’t; no ill will toward the mercs though.
Bjorn to the Princess and nobles: most are courteous but disinterested, obviously look down at our kind; put up with us cause we are needed; the princess is thrilled however, plus our culture is more acceptable to the practice of magic; here most magic users of any note are ordained clergy; she likes the language and runes, has lots of knowledge of our home region. She presents her hand to be kissed.
Baras suddenly walks up to Bjorn, porky pudgy hand shakes Bjorn’s; thinks its nice Bjorn wants to get to know the upper crust “Don’t trust any of them, nothing but backstabbers”, you got bloodthirsty warriors and bureaucrats; butters Bjorn and the foreigners up, then guides Bjorn away to talk. He offers a cup of wine of his own, not “the swill” they serve here, Bjorn accepts. It is indeed fantastic. As they move away Bjorn barely misses bumping into the Gozerian ambassador, spills a spot of wine on the floor in front of him. He spills his in the avoiding of that. He looks down at it, then back at Bjorn.
“You spilled my drink.”
B “I apologize. Have mine”. He refuses, calling Bjorn a clumsy barbarian and an oaf.
B “You’re right”.
Finnrik sees this, slams his cup on the table, stands and moves for Bjorn. He sees this as Bjorn offers to call a serving girl, he says “here she comes now” referring to Finnrik. He and the ulfhedinn only continue to approach, building fury tokens.
B “No need for insults, I understand you’re a great man where you come from. You feel you have certain rights amongst the courtiers here. But, you do not need to insult my companions. One thing to insult me, but he had nothing to do with this.”
“Never expected to see such manners. I’m very touched. Your weakness and your cowardice show why this empire is about to fall” Then walks away.
Finnrik comes to Bjorn “You want us to kill him?”
Bjorn declines, turns to Baras “Is he always so rude?”
Baras “There are times I think the Gozerians only sent him here to start a war.”
Finnrik and the pack make a full circuit about the entire room now, drawing the attention everyone wants to give to them. Modar, Koku and even Thorhamma pick up a couple women each!
Baras asks if we are here for blood and money, like Wulfgar, or for glory and civilization. He assures Baras it’s the latter, for the tradition of skykdings supporting the emperors. Main reason Alexios took over was that his brother had sent a campaign east; army not wiped out but lost the main battle and land vs Gozerians. The brunt of that force are steppe nomads after the migration into Gozer. Our army was undersupplied and routed. When they returned, Alexios decided his brother was no longer fit for command and overthrew him. Fought defensive war for a couple years before decided to go on the offensive. Due to black magic of the heathens, the army was defeated. He was not able to make war last year, only build forces and train. The heathens have gained land since. This is the year he wants to go for the grand victory again. Lox thinks it’s a fool’s errand. Shouldn’t he be seen as unfit after his defeat, if his brother was after a similar defeat? Hmm. Lox prefers the mercs to defend the borders, not send them to slaughter. That’s good money wasted.
Bjorn thinks there is no chance the emperor will lose another war “Not this year at least”.
There are 7 royal families, over 100 noble houses; plus the civil bureaucracy. Then there’s the elected senate, most of that is name only.
Bjorn finds all this unnecessarily complicated.
He hopes Bjorn is right that the Emp will win this time, and Bjorn’s confidence is warranted.
Bjorn returns to the Princess, Baras eyeballing him the entire time.
The emperor takes us into the back room. He and his brother carry battle swords, not jeweled ceremonial swords. He declared this the year we will teach those “Gozerian reds” what for. Won’t be ready for the spring campaign, too much work to be done. He just put down an uprising before got here, some small lordling unrelated to Ianos, of an upper minor house. Carved himself out a nice little duchy. He and his supporters hung in the cages we saw leading into the city. Some renegade loyalists to Ianos were also suppressed. There is also banditry and small pockets of potential problems if a full force left en masse. Things need stabilized first. We may also play police force in the city at times.
Midsummer is the goal.
North, there are goblins that may be enough of a problem for a real force to eliminate. He feels the berserks are unpredictable. Finnrik “good idea” tells him the tragic tale of Bjarki. He thinks the Ulfhednar can show their worth in such a matter. That force is part of a larger group though. Bjorn and other men may be sent to take care of this while Finnrik deals directly with the goblins. This is an ogre the goblins are under, gigantic. Wears furs, carries a huge hammer. Has a lt. who is a half breed ogre also carrying a large hammer. They go by the name of Hammer and Sledge.
He hands out missions to many captains. He sends Brace and the Hell Riders vs a peasant uprising in one of the provinces led by a rogue proniar that needs put down, for instance.
After this,
Very discourteously the door opens, and a band of 5 total fops enter the room brazenly with flare, armed with lighter blades than we know of. The leader sits, pours himself wine, and finishes it in one drink. The emperor puts hand to forehead “So glad you decided to join us finally, you’d think you were my daughter with the way you so blatantly ignore schedules.”
He replies “Al, listen, I was busy. There was a kraken! A huge squid, you’d have hated it!”
“Please, I’ve repeatedly asked you not to use that term when speaking to me” even Alexios is fine, anything but Al.
Sgt sits next to the man “Jamie, you have no respect for authority.”
The fop suddenly seriously “I told you, it’s James.”

Tonight, Finnrik and the Ulfhednar hold a night long revel, upset at the vile excuse for song we woke up to this morning. The entire area of the city will hear the wolf calls!! A ritual will be cast, summoning a Fenris Brood to howl all night long with our music.

Over the coming days and weeks, Ragnar developes a fine repoir with the augments under Lance, since the valley near him had many of their kind and he was involved solving the troubles there.

Anar spends most of his time with the 7 dwarves, and the elven guard of course.

View
The Hall of the Fire Giant Snurri

We are at Rundan, where we awoke from our Valhalla interlude. Southern area of the Fallen Lands in the principality of Rundanor, west of Albon and the crystal wood (home of elves), on the north shore of the Master’s Sea, east of the isle of the outcast augments.
Kaelen, as said, is staying with us. She has a mole in the Fire Giants and has business in the Empire anyway.

We sail across the sea into a river east of Marak. We take that to Lake Corfu, then south on the river to the Celestial Sea. Then around the penninsula to our destination, the capitol Kelestianoupolis.
To our left we see many goblins, trailing around a mile off shore but keep an eye on us.
On our right, a primitive human kingdom. If we were to land and move, they would likely attack. Otherwise they leave us alone.
Then, on our left, the scythian norselords. Where the fork of the river we are on becomes 1, we pass a city.
To our right now, Magyary. To the left now is the Empire lands itself. Not far up the source of the fork is a large damn blocking the river. Not a good one either. More like massive amount of debris and boulders.

Bjorn says stop here, and gets Giovanni, the dwarves and orcs on top of clearing this damn. Stelio says this was not here before. Should not be here.
Finnrick puts his giant heads on spears on the nearest hill to scare off any of their kin.
After a few hours, Giovanni says it’ll be cleared by tomorrow evening.
We hear the sound of minstrels and wagons and animals.
Stelio’s minstrels start performing.
Once it comes into view, its a fairly large carnival!
Couple of their people come close and hail us in truce.
Stelio, Bonnae, and Rolf all know of them. It’s a famous wandering adventurer and his band led by a man named Burns. The main core is 8, all look like hardened adventurers.
The carnival has about 60 performers.
Bonnae knows Burns having met him a few decades ago, and a man named Arisaan, quite well.
They ask to camp adjacent for protection. Bjorn is amicable.

They are going south to the empire as well!
We eat and talk together, and he has a proposition for us. South, along our way, is Corfu. South of that is a mountain called Polydeus, Mt of the multiple gods. On top of that is the Oracle of the West, twin to that of the East. It is all but forgotten. The East is however still in avid use. The oracle is still there though, but something has been occupying the mountain. A clan of Fire Giants…
Bjorn “Count us in.”
Burns “Ok then.” He explains: They occupy the caverns there. The ruler is King Snurr, or Snurri. His wife Frupy. They are rapacious raiders for hundreds of miles around. The oracle also sits on top of a chamber in Snurri’s layer that leads down into Nifleheim. He’s not asking us to go there, but Snurr is allied with some of the svartalf. One of Burns’ earlier dealings in his career produced a certain treasure that Burns would like. The svartalf are a very chaotic race, in constant flux. This treasure is a person, a young girl by svartalf standards. Most importantly, her treacherous bitch of a mother is currently keeping her from her rightful custody “which is us”. You can kill the mother but bring the daughter back. We will be rewarded, plus we keep all else we find in the form of loot.
This daughter probably won’t come willingly, after being so indoctrinated by her mother this long.
Finnrik says “Snurr is the last head I need” and tells the tale of our great victories vs Giants thus far.
Bonnae says she was already going there, as we know. Now, she’ll tell us why. Brasimol is the name of the wyrm, a fire wyrm. He is one of her arch nemesis from decades ago, being responsible for the death of a friend.
Gunnar is very nervous about this fire wyrm business and is hesitant to go, though he’ll follow Bjorn of course.
The journey to the lair, Burns says, is not exactly a quick thing. He suggests we part ways from our army. There is a town at the mouth of our next river. We will have to go by foot to the giants. From there, we can take our folding boat wouth from their to the sea, or take the dark road, nearing Nifleheim, to where our fleet is sailing.
Bjorn things we’ll just meet our army at the capitol.

Nordbricht will lead our fleet.
Stelio says he can not go, he has to be with our army to get them through the empire.
We arrive at the city on Corfu’s coast uneventfully.
Gudrun throws the bones and runes to see our way ahead.
Bjorn to Rolf ‘Rolf, do you want to join us in slaying giants and drag…."
“F’ing right I do!!"
Bjorn would like to have magic, so Anar is in.
Finnrik is taking his pack.
Thrand and Gunnar, of course.

Gudrun says: the entire Pack must go, all must be present for the Gungnir ritual to Odin.
Brynnhalf must stay. If Ingvarr goes to the giants, he dies. Take on dwarf group or the other entirely. One must stay, for Giovanni will need them. There are many obstacles in the path of the fleet. Fliggol, however, shall take Welm to the mountains. Father Tosten and sons must continue with empire. The cpt of the orcs stays with the orcs. Both princes, Harald and Ragnar, must join Bjorn.
She adds that the magic number is 31.

Bjorn adds Ulf and Hakon as well as the 7 Dwarves.

One left. Sigrid is jumping in her shoes to be chosen, but Bjorn demands both her and Kolfrosta stay with the fleet. Bjorn chooses Hjalprek.
We flesh out the rowing crew with PC followers.

She gives us 12 runes as well: 6 are frost runes, wearing them makes your weapon ‘of frost’ for 5 rounds. 1 is to keen your weapon lasting until you succeed at a crit thanks to the extra. 2 giant bane runes lasting for d6 rounds once used. 2 dragon bane runes or 1d6 rounds, Headcutter rune is 1 use, vorpal after it activates.
Off we go.
Burns stays with the fleet to meet us with the dark elf, along with a druid named Gretchen.
He gives Kaelen a jug off to the side “Make sure she gets a couple ounces of this every day.”

The fleet:
they end up taking down about half a dozen more damns along the way and find out that its been the fire giants doing so.
When we talk to them next they report there were only a few minor skirmishes with horse raiders, but no casualties. Our men whipped them soundly.

Our adventuring force:
At the city, we find a guide who can get us through the forest and the best pass through the mts. A light cavalryman who lived out in a farm, part of the militia with combat xp. Scale shirt, studs skirt, pro with a short bow, couple short spears, saber. Last name Paulos Tziimiskes.
The militia has already been mustered, the next season of war for the empire is coming. Right now, he says, the empire has enemies on all sides. We should have plenty of work once we arrive. He says the giants named their lair Muspelheim. King Snurr Iron Belly is the scourge of this region. The emperor has not the men to face off against giants.
Thrand “Now he does.”
He says there has been calls to heroes. A few have tried, all have failed.

As we make our way south, we come across Fire Giant work, what was once forest communities south of the city.
The closer we get to the mts, the more we notice the amount of smoke pouring from the fire giant lair. There is a volcano there that was dormant until the fire giants arrived. ALways a gray and sooty sky, lots of cinders on the ground. At night, we see the light from the glowing mt’s output here and there.
Once we get to the mt’s area we see the oracle in the distance.
The primary entrance is a large cave opening with a heavy tapestry hanging across it. Paulos is not sure if there is another way in though.

Bonnae searches the area. So do the dwarves. Bonnae says the front door is guarded by a Fire Giant at a balista covering the door, and 2 Ettins behind him. She met up with her mole.
Modar “That was fast.”
There is another entrance. Not guarded itself. It’s where the non giants go in and out, man sized, but leads near the barricks area.
Beyond the guards at the front door is the grand hall, throne room and audience chamber with more giants.
The other hero groups have tried the front door and failed, so they are on alert all the time.

We take the back door, Bonnae taking the point with Volcifar and Minstin. It leads to the main giant sized halls, straight and right. The mole said the barracks is the room to the right. Down there is a large hall and guard post and the arsenal.
She investigates the baracks in bat form. 1 fire giant and 6 ogres. She returns and reports.
Loriel offers to center a magical silence on our attack group going into the barracks. Kaelen will fly i as bat in case there is an alarm there, to disable it.
Bjorn in the silence takes Finnrik, Thrand, Gunnar, Blagra, Thorhamma, Koku, Rolf, Fliggol, and Hjalprek. Bjorn, Finnrik and Thrand will hit the Giant, the other melee’s will each take an ogre, Gunnar and Hjalprek are charged with the last ogre.
In we go.
They are laughing and quite drunk. Making lots of noise already. Good cover for us.
No possible alarm of any kind.
We flood into the room.
Koku brings an ogre down fast.
Hjalprek and Gunnar do the same together.
The fight fully joins.
All the ogres are down next round. As Koku moves in the FG hits him with a slam AoO. Then it draws its blade, after having hurled a spear at Finnrik, and hits Bjorn heavily. The FG goes down, hitting the wall and slouching dead.

Loot:
3 x gem studden jewelry (neclace,bracelet,ring) 300, 400, 800, respectively
THousands of imperial gp, but they are too hard, debased with iron and such. They are just a unit of currency not a true ‘gp’. More like a sp 784 gp worth of empirial coins.

Bjorn “THey better not be paying u sin thi sworthles coinage.”
Kalestios says they don’t, they pay mercs in pure ingots. That makes us happy.
Bjorn “We’ll give it to the orcs.”
Bonnae "In this place she has her mole, working for the giants, a couple of people she’s been keeping an eye on via contacts that she wants to get out; some of the prisoners she knows are here are potential of hers. Also, a couple people of high prestige. ALso, someone that we know is here, not sure how, but apparently uncle Finnbogi. She knows him too, actually.
She says her mole is kinda 2 friends of hers. Snitch and Narc, one of the Ettins.

Bonnae goes further down the hall, spotting 2 FG in and alcove at a gong alarm on the right; to the right is a very long gallery centered by a row of pillars.
In the meantime, Bjorn opens the double doors behind her. Bonnae returns and picks the lock on the doors. Another set of double doors ahead and passages to left and right out of the room. This room is an arsenal.

hundreds of boulders for throwing, clubs, helm, etc. All giant sized.
Plus 8 barrels of oil.
One shield is a small shield for giants, we could use it as a heavy shield. It has crossed arrows on its front. Bjorn’s blade feels its magic.
The other wing has huge swords, 2 ballista with 44 ammo; throwing hammers, maces, etc. Also a human size comp short bow with quiver of 20, the arrows are magic.

We hear sounds like an animal behind the other double doors. We close the double doors behind us before the potential fight. Opening the door reveals a chimera! It springs upon Bjorn and Finnrik in the doorway before we can react and battle is joined. The dragon head breathes fire on Finnrik and Bjorn then they charge. The 3 of them kill it in the 2nd round. Nothing else in the room, its just its pen.

The gong is hanging from a rope on a tripod. We use Loriel’s silence again to stop the gong alarm. Bonnae is in position to cut the gong in case they try to move it.
We send 8 against them, 4 on each. Brokkr, Fliggol, Bjorn, Finnrik, Thrand, Rolf, Koku, and Rags; with the 3 archers and Anar behind. The Ulfhednarr are ready with a volley of spears if necessary. Both go down in the same round.

Bonnae says the Throne Room is down the pillared gallery south, if we wish to go straight for Snurr. Bjorn has us continue straight on instead. Bonnae says south/right is a closed section of this level. Right goes north and meets with the southern section to Snurr and a passage downstairs.
Bjorn turns us right to finish this north sector first. Up here are communal quarters of females, kids and a kennel of fire hounds.
Rolf “Hounds of the Hells!”
Since Bjorn does not mercilessly kill noncombatants we don’t slay them all.
Also can’t trust them not to warn Snurr at first opportunity.
We go to the kennel straight away. It is not locked, leading to an antechamber. To the left we hear puppy like yelping. To the right some adult growling. We smell sulfer and brimstone.
Bjorn splits us into 2 groups, leaving the dwarves here in the first room to guard.
The left group slaughters the hellish puppies. The few yelps alert the males to the south where our other group enters. They start howling. Then a curtain in the rear opens and the FG Keeper enters wielding a massive club and wearing a large wolf skin cloak.
Modar and Ylva drop a male, and Blagra and Thorhamma as well, on the initial intercept.
Then the Keeper engages Bjorn, Thrnad and Finnrik, waiting for him.
Gungnir gets another crit in this fight for the kill. The Ulfhednarr and Harald make short work of the hounds from hell. We are taking their pelts as trophies! And the Keepers giant wolf pelt.

Loot:
3 barrels of beer, ale and mead
Crates of dried meat for the hounds
4 javelins with a lightning bolt shaped tip, man sized
A runted hell hound puppy, very hungry. This is the one to try to raise to the good side

Modar says first thing to do is feed it so it sees you as a friend. Modar gets it out and amiable, soon it is not scared of us. He will train it to be acclimated to Bjorn to be its master.

We reverse out of this area then take the next north. Up here Bonnae says is the path downward, but first is a room for other ambassadors (‘a handful’ the Ettin told her), then furthest is another barracks. Only a heavy curtain blocks the barracks.

Bonnae scouts out the barracks, couple dozen Ogres, but no Giants!
Volcifar checks out the envoys’ room: three foppish humans just hanging out smoking a huge hooka. They are of a nationality that is commonly at odds with the Empire in one form or another. Bjorn sends Dopey, Volcifar and Gninthgil with Loriel.
Bjorn sends Koku, Modar, Fliggol and Brokkr in first, they trip 2 and Brokkr moves into a 3rd’s space and we flood in amongst the shocked ogres.
It’s a bloody mess we make of the ogres. The leader tries to make a dash for it through Bjorn, past Finnrik and Modar, through Brokkr and Grumpy but Sneezy goes for the block and halts the march of ruin! He even crits with the AoO! He was not going to let this happen. We then gang up on him and cut him down, along with the last 2 ogres left at that point.

We rest up, eat some grub and drink some giant mead, its quite good. The ambassadors were easily taken out. He has a rakshasha head. Just one was such, the other 2 were just humans.

They have its scepter though, jeweled:
5000gp on the market. Most importantly, the carved ruby tiger at its head.
Down the cave to below, actually just as slope, to a 4 way intersection. Directly across room has 20 giant sarcophagi upright along the walls and 4 even larger on the floor. Some have the likeness of FG carved as the lids.

Back at the rest room:
The room starts to shake, getting heavier and heavier. Bonnae looks down the hall, seeing 6 FG and 8 gnolls, plus 3 Ettins. All armed and ready. KIng Snurr is not one of them. One of the Ettin’s is Snitch/Narc.
We plan for the Ulfhednar minus FInnrik and Koku to go in vs the gnolls with Clyde, Harald and Kolestios
The magic users and archers will fire in support; the rogue types will be hidden waiting to spring at the right moment. The darf bard will support Finnrik’s inspire doom. Loriel will begin inspire courage after initiating with a Shout spell. She puts Gr. Invis. on Kaelen as well.
They stop short of the entry, yelling that we will be spared if we surrender. Bjorn doesn’t buy it, obviously.
The gnolls come in first, greeted by a spear volley and meet our first line. All but 3 of them are taken down quickly. Maybe too, as Bjorn wanted them to hold the line so that the FG definitely pass them up.
The first 2 FG hurl flaming boulders at Ulf and Rags, then the next 4 move in and the combat starts. The 2 hurlers in the doorway stay put so they get charged. One by Modar, Harald and Clyde. The other is gang tackled by Blagra, Rymak, Ylva and Thorhamma to the ground!
What we though was our weak point actually brings one down first as Hakon scores 2 crits in one round!!
Thrand is hit with a major crit, as is Finnrik.
The FG on the floor is unable to get up!
The doorway hurler standing flees once their is only 1 giant left in the room. The one down in the hall starts attacking those swarming him.
Thrand goes down!!
Everyone in the hall takes down the tackled FG then.
Bonnae sends a hand bolt to the fleeing FG and hits but he still keeps going.
A few rounds later we are victorious. The other 2 Ettins flee after the retreating FG.

Snitch and Narc enter the room and meet us “Well that’s odd. Normally when the gnolls are here, their boss is nearby.”
In the rear, Hjalprek is backstabbed!! 45!! He drops to the ground.
A dwarf comes visible with a warhammer he just clubbed Hjalprek with “Snurr sends his regards” and vanishes.
He was the dwarf who skipped out of the Frost Giant lair who was in disguise/illusion at the big feast battle.
Our dwarves are taken aback, what kind of dwarf works with giants!!
Snitch and Narc say his name is Obmi. Anar has a feeling of deja vu.

Bjorn declares we can rest only tonight. They will sortie us to death if we wait longer.
We all stand in a large meadhall. At its end are the 3 Norns, weaving their tapestry from multiple wheels. Lining the hallway are hourglasses of varying motifs. Some may signify ourselves, for in each dream we each walk up to one, then a great rumbling and all the hourglasses fall and shatter. The Norns then cast us from the meadhall.

Next Day

Straight ahead is the tomb room. The southern hall at a left turn. The northern hall goes down a long flight of steps. Bjorn leads the main force into the tomb. Volcifar finds a tunnel in one corner, twisting and turning, big enough to crawl through but not walk. Thorhamma goes into the tunnel with Brokkr, Grumpy, Dopey and Brokkr. it goes downward, confusingly twisting all the way. W/o dwarves, most anyone else would be lost. At the bottom, they come out into a glowing cave, offshoot of a larger cavern of glowing plants and fire beetles about. The main cavern is massive, large lizards living in there, mouths trailing smoke here or there. They turn back and return and report.
Bjorn takes a walk around the tomb in the meantime, but his blade senses not magic.
The other dwarves search for traps and secret doors in the walls and floor but find nothing. Out we go into the hal.

The Ettins say south around the turn are more Ettin guards, visitors area, quarters and storage. Down steps is a torture room, prison, and smithy.
We go for the Ettin area.
First chamber is the Ettin guard room, then community room and visitors chamber and storage room.
In vs Ettins go the 4 PC’s, Rags, Rolf, Fliggol, Hjalprek, Koku, Doc, Blyg and Sovnig. Its quick work for the Bjornings.
5 FG are now walking down the hallway ahead in a defensive posture, one with a white flag waving.
Hakon the Bastard tells Ulf to inform Bjorn. Hakon approaches the FG’s.
The one with the flag is Wiglaf “I am a follower of Baldo, Chief Lt. and loyal opposition to Snurr. Unfortunately he is also Baldo the Imprisoned as we speak, locked away by Snurr.” They and a few others in the compound are under no obligation to fight us, so long as we don’t slaughter the women and kids. They are not pleased with the crap imperial gold, rather be looting in the north of the continent. Between that and the failed alliance of the giant races and his current partnership with the svartalfs, they are sick and tired of this all.
“Free our imprisoned leader, leave us and women and kids free, and they promise not to fight us. You can also rest here if you would so desire.”
Hakon says that sounds an excellant idea, he’s sure Bjorn will agree. When he arrives, he does. They will not fight the other giants. He says we have Snurr, 5 bodyguard, 6 other regular FG, 4 more Ettins, the fire wyrm, Obmi, couple random monsters, svartalfs, fire lizards and beetles, and um……80 trolls. The trolls mostyly all live together. Snurr loves to toss his enemies into the troll complex.
Bjorn “Do you have any idea where Obmi is?”
“He wanders the halls.”
Thrand “If it would come to us, would you be willing to help fight the trolls, not all at once of course?”
Not much chance, to get to them you have to kill the dragon "There’s a high chance that while you fight the dragon, the trolls show up.
He says Snurr was very angry that some elements of his alliance have turned against him. In the prison with Baldo, a tribe of gnolls are enslaved here looking for payback at the chance to turn on their overlords, handful of Frost Giants that were captured as well (its torture for them just being in this warm enviroment).
Thrand “Prisons next then, Bjorn?”
“I think so.”
He says lastly, the torturer is the royal headsman, his axe is known for shearing head from shoulder. Watch out for him. Snurr is on this level right now, likely in the Temple of the Eye. Go down the steps all the way north to an enormous hall/worship area. Immediately to the right after descending the steps is the prison. The dragon is below on the 3rd floor.
Bonnae “What does he want with the svartalf?”
“Something to do with some grand conquest. But its very very big, in the vain of the Master War. Global. Some of teh prisoners are very influential, their sacrifice is to appease our gods.”
Kaelen “Good thing we stumbled upon this.”

On we go to the prison area.
Bonnae scouts out the prison area first. We can hear the smith pounding away just opposote it. She scouts this as well. Then returns and reports. Finnbogi is being tortured as we speak in the torture room.

Bjorn goes to take out the FG and human guard room with Koku, Rymek, Blagra, Thorhamma and Hjalprek.
Finnrik, Gunnar, Brokkr, the Ettin, Fliggol, Ylva and Modar go to save Finnbogi.
Thrand leads the dwarf armiger, Doc, dwarf Wpn Mst, and Ragnar vs the smith and his trolls.
The others watch the hall and ready to backup as Bonnae and her crew start opening cell doors and freeing prisoners.

The 2 dwarves other then Doc bullrush one of the trolls into the lava stream! Thrand destroys the smith with 2 massive hits and a critical, then the wpn mast finishes him off as he joins in. The final troll is the last remaining which we gang up on and kill, then push into the lava.

The Ettin and Fliggol goes after the torturer, the others go after the executioner with the suspected vorpal axe in a big gang up. They are intently going at Finnbogi and we catch then completely off guard. Finnrik and Modar give great furious strikes, Ylva the same on a crit! Finnrik then finishes him off. Gunnar then turns on the torturer 30!! The Ettin then bashes away with Fliggol DEAD.
We free Finnrik’s uncle Finnbogi Butterbeard!!
He says that Finnbogi and Iring Fork Tongue were having issues, and Wulfgar was taking they snake tongue’s side. They were battling Fire Giants as well and Wulfgar sent the berserks vs a band of giants, saying that if they were truly loyal and worthy of Wulfgar’s service they would be victorious. Finnbogi and his bear clan lost. He is the last alive. Wulfgar just kept moving on as they were defeated.
So, he basically sent them to die on purpose. Iring was certainly as much or more to blame for being behind it. Wulfgar’s youngest brother is young and timidand fair of mind, and Finnbogi worries for him. For he stuck up for Finnbogi.
Wulfgar has done great deeds and earned honors.
“Would you believe that he is a troll lord?” They now serve him loyally.
Sounds familiar.
Finnbogi has also become enamored with one of the woman imprisoned here. A barbarian he shared a cell with.

Lots of elven arms and armor, human equipment, centaur armor. Seems all the prisoners’ equipment is in here!

The rescued, all whom we re equip:

  • Elven female: priest (equivalent 10th level cleric), noble, her late husband was tortured to death (his equip is in the torture chamber), we can have his gear and will send a reward once home; she’s from an elf principality south of the capitol across the isthmus; master of healing arts;
    His Gear =
    20 elven arrows: minus 2 DR and extra 10’ increment, d8, usable in long or short bow; arrow of greater slaying (giant); composite longbow; cloak and boots elvenkind.
    Reward upon her arrival home 10000 gp
  • 8 male elves: her body guard; 7 x warr 8th; last the cpt 8th dedicate
  • human male merchant: once we return to capitol his guild will reward us! Knows not with what or how much.
  • 2 noble centaurs: Bellisarios and Avgoustos; native Celestines; work with cataphracts a lot
  • A gnoll and a Flind: these giants love gnoll slaves and as troll food; Borfromph the gladiator and Rolfgar his manager. Rolfgar dress and wpns are rather foppish. They go by Chuck and Errol.
  • 7 gnolls: too rowdy so locked up to be fed to trolls;’ effectively the berserks of the original clan; wield axes with speartip at center/pickaxe double weapon
  • female: Finnbogi’s girl "Gara; princess of the Nugenacers; kidnapped couple weeks ago, here to be sacrficed which makes her very angry; her father Ozgar and his brother Edgar and her brother Vyngar are looking for her right now. They are far west though; she wields a greatsword;
  • Baldo: willing to help kill Snurr! Concerning trolls and dragons he says “We’ll see what happens after Snurr’s death”. The rest of his people aren’t getting directly involved, just him; he wants the vorpal axe of the executioner.
  • handsome man, muscular w/o being huge: intelligent of speech; “Daro”; aside from being physically perfect, beautifal, smart and wise, he says he’s just a regular dude

Guard room with Bjorn et al:
Bjorn, Koku and Hjalprek attack the 1 FG, while the others hit the humans.
The humans are not local, they have a darker complexion. Wearing scale shirts and brown breeches. Wpns are curved swords. They fight in a flashier style. We deal with the entire group in a few rounds, Bjorn and Koku taking down the giant themselves!

Loot:
Broach set with 6 gems: 5 × 50, 1x 500
Imperial coin = 608 pcs or; 321 ep; 212pp

Behind a pile of boulders reveals a hidden chamber of 7 human female prisoners, local imperial stock. Blagra and Rymak start removing their loin cloths until Bjorn stops them.

Loot:
10000 imperial gold
Ring: gem is a blue star sapphire with diamond lines making like a falling star, magic
Panpipes, magic

At the end of all this, as things are being gathered and we are meeting everyone, from the north to interrupt everything we hear Snurr yelling for his allies to gather. From beyond the prison hall Kaelen spots svartalf approaching.
We position ourselves:
Vs Drow:
Brokkr, the Elf dedicate, Gara and Harald take the front line; Ulf, Hakon, Blagra and Rymak atackign with reach from behind them. Next is Thorhamma, Modar, Ylva, Finnbogi and Clyde. Glad is inspiring, the elves firing from behind him.

Vs Giant et al:
Bjorn, Finnrik, Thrand, Koku; the other 6 dwarves and Fliggol; Hjalprek and Gunnar; and Rolf.

The new females are noncombatants back from the intersection; Anar and Loriel and Centars are with them. Loriel aids the singing of Glad and Finnrik to begin. She has see invis on herself. The Elf priestess has put True Seeing on Kaelen. They watch for Obmi.
Kalestios guards the non fighters as well with Minstin. Doc is in the rear as well to fire where needed.

Ettins lead the way for Snurr, gnolls amongst them; Snurr’s bodyguard behind them.
In front of the drow are howling gnolls. Anar casts an explosion of fire killing them all. The drow approach, the elves volley into them.

We put a bunch of the runes into effect.
Koku/Rolf/Finnrik/Thrand = frost
Giant Bane = Bjorn/Ragnar
Keen = Bjorn
Headhunter = Thrand

The dwarves switch with our lead men to take on the Ettins and gnolls.

The drow attack, leading with darkness and faerie fire but Loriel was prepared for this. Clyde draws his dagger, with Daylight cast upon it! Their archers fire as well. The fighting there begisn in earnest.
The 2 doors open, between their melee rear and the archer drow, and out come the gnoll barbarians and Borfrompf and Rolfgar into their rear, and their archers. 3 dark elf priestesses stand behind the archers, in shock. Theie archers are mincemeat instantly.
A magic web is cast from the ceiing above, by a drider! Blagra, the elf dedicate are entangled.
The drow priests cast, withering away 1 gnoll, another killed via inflict wounds.

Gnolls drop like flies at Bjorn’s side vs the dwarves. The Ettins don’t last much longer.

Gninthgil Lufetaf fires from the dark room, heavily damaging one of the priests as Chuck, Errol and the last living gnoll there fight on. 2 of the priests fight back in melee. The head priest, behind the fight, casts down the hall a pillar of flame onto all 6 elfs, Happy, Finnbogi, Clyde, Ylva and Modar. Ylva, Modar, 5 elves, and Finnbogi are hid full on. All 5 elves are killed!
The drider climbs down and goes for the Elf dedicate, stabbing him with its stinger. He passes out.

On the other side, the gnolls are cleaned out. Only 1 Ettin remains, who is brought down by our ranged attacks. A second FG guard now stands next to the 1st and begin hurling boulders down the hall.

Where the fireball just happened, a stone giant burrows a hole through and one of the FG guards steps through.
Errol and Chuck hear the sound of combat from ahead including “Eat club flaming bastard!” and “Here’s one for you, ice turd!”
The human females we just rescued turn into wererats!! The merchant is standing right with them. As is Mr. Perfect, looking on quite unconcerned.
The howling of more gnolls comes from Snurr’s direction. The new FG tries to grab Loriel and the elf priestess. Loriel stabs him with her longsword, but the elf cleric is hurled over his shoulder landing between Ulfar and Modar, but deftly.
Loriel steps back from the Giant and hits the rats with a soundburst. The elf left and Kalestios engage them with Anar. Perfect steps against the wall, looks over the rats, throws some powder into the air. All 3 of our guys’ weapons are silvered!!

The Centars engage the Giant, flanking with Ylva, Modar and Finnbogi. Dopey gathers execution tokens on it. Doc, Gunnar and Hjalprek turn on him as well.

Ulf and Hakon engage the drider as the fight continues vs the last 2 tough drow. Clyde joins the fight vs the last 2 drow as well.
One of the gnolls, Clyde and Harald kill one of the 2 drow still in the melee!
Chuck and Errol kill their priestess.
Volcifar and Gninthgil spring out of the room onto the head priestess. They see 6 FG beating down on 2 Frost Giants down the hall where the drow came from!
The last gnoll there is brought down by a priestess. The head Priestess steps back and hits each with Hold.
The last drow fighter keeps fighting, killing 1 of our last 2 gnolls.
The drider engages Hakon and Ulf and stings Blagra, who makes the save.
The FG takes down B centaur then nails Modar.

Bjorn orders an immediate charge at the throwing giants. Snurr and Snitch/Narc reach the hurlers first. They stand at the entrance to the temple. The 2 hurlers step apart and the Queen steps into the line between them with her flaming mace.
Snurr stands right behind them, his flaming greatsword already on fire.

Perfect turns to fight, and he is suddenly wearing chain, fur shoulders, wielding a broadsword and steel round shield.
The rats kill the elf, only the dedicate remains of their ranks.

Dopey leaps in, dealing 75 to the FG in the hall DEAD!!! It falls upon the centaur, pinning him.

Rymak brings down the last drow fighter.

Finnbogi steps to the drider for a crit DEAD. Its guts spill onto Blagra. Thorhamma and Harald cut Blagra free.

Chuck backs out of the fight. Errol goes for the secondary priestess.
The head priestess flees.
Ylva and Modar climb over the dead FG and see up the hall at the main fight.
Gunnar, Hjalprek and Doc head that way.

Bjorn, Finnrik and Thrand join the fray. Snitch/Narc are taken down!!

Kaelen spots Obmi skulking into things now, coming out of the stone giant hole invisible, prepping his attack right under her, about 10’ behind Ylva and Modar. She drops down and nails him for 60. Perfect is walking that way as well.
The last priest is killed by Gara and Erroll.
They see the Fire G’s finish off the 2 Frosts. 2 are left.

Erroll yells the Giant warning.
Volcifar and Gnintghil come free and they all rush away from the Giants.
Hakon is up for this challenge. He forms everyone up to hold them off: Blagra, Ulf, Rymak, Brokkr, Harald, Finnbogi, Errol, Happy and Gara. He gets the 3 assassin types into a side room, as before, to hit them in the rear.
Clyde sees Bonnae engages and rushes that way!

The merchant has fled the entire scene but the rats are now finished off.

Doc moves to patch up Snitch and Narc.
Koku moves in with Bjorn; Fliggol and Rolf with Thrand.
Baldo turns on us, the lust for Gungnir too much, and throttles Finnrik for 100!!
Our men behind the line attack him in return.
Modar and Ylva see the turn of Baldo and rush down the hallway.\\\

Finnrik slays the Fire guard, cleaves Baldo DEAD!!!!
Koku crits the wife DEAD!!!!
Thrand crits and along with Rolf’s 2 hits he’s DEAD!!!

40 gnolls are far behind Snurr, cowering together in fear and whining.

Obmi turns in a circle, lobbing his hammer up the hallway, draws his axe and attacks Kaelen in one motion. Her AoO hits, Clyde flanking. Clyde’s AoO brings him down!! Just before the throw that would have killed Hjalprek!! Obmi is at neg. 4 when Kaelen stabalizes him.

Mr. Perfect arives at the rear of the Snurr fight. Snurr gives him a snearing look.
Perfect to Ragnar “Give me your sword, I offer you a swap.”
Ragner “Here.”
Perfect draws out Frostbrand “You are now a loyal follower of Freyr.” He’s here to make sure Gungnir gets out of here.
He then instantly heals Finnrik to full health, gives Snurr a vial hand gesture.

Hjalprek rushes back to back up Hakon’s line.

Snurr backs off into the throne room, around a corner. Bjorn and Finnrik surge ahead with Koku, Thrand and Rolf. Ragnar is just behind them with Koku and Ylva.
Gunnar follows in behind us.
Finnrikr “SNURRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!”
We him 20’ up at the top of a staircase, holding 2 burning boulders in hand.
Mr. Perfect, Freyr, has vanished in a flash of light.
Holding a flaming glaive, he hurls a flaming boulder hitting Thrand.

Finnrik, Bjorn, Rolf and Koku run up the steps, Thrand trailing after getting nailed, with Ragnar. Gunnar starts throwing from the bottom, Ylva and Modar flanking him.
Snurr’s AoO hits Rolf, then he unleashes an attack on all 4 of us and the battle begins. In a couple rounds, Rolf goes down. He then cuts Thrand’s shield hand off!!! Bjorn yells for Modar to pull Rolf out, he does. Ylva moves closer to the gnolls huddling together and unleashes a primal howl to keep them honest.
Bjorn then uses Starvaggi to speed his attacks, and crits with 2 other hits!!
Snurr continues his assault, but fumbles his attack on Bjorn, so hitting only Finnrik and Koku.
Modar unleashes his own primal howl into the gnolls.
Finnrik crits 136 DEAD!!!!! Snurr goes down with a crash!!!
Ylva “Gungnir has drank well today.”

With Hakon in the hallway, Hjalprek’s first shot, with the slaying arrow, kills one of the 2 FG charging us and the other hits Rymak and the battle wages. Rymak is KO’d as we surround him. Thorhamma crits, taking off fingers!! It drops its greatsword because of it. Harald then gives it the death blow!!
Bonnae yells to them if they go forward they can wrap around and potentially get to Snurr’s rear. Thorhamma leads Blagra and Brokkr that way, and after a turn or 2 comes up into the room behind Snurr. He is already on the ground, however.

Finnrik beheads Snurr. After we are done here, he will perform a double ceremony outside: giving Gungnir back to Odin, and initiating Harog the last rageborn Gnoll into the Ulfhednar.

Finnrik and some others sacrifice to Freyr as thanks for his assistance, and to Odin who likely sent him.

The pipes from the prison area turn out to be Pipes of the Sewers, may have been useful vs the wererats.
The Ring is a Ring of Shooting Stars with extra oomph.
The smaller bunch of imperial coin not given to the orcs goes to the 2 dwarf groups. The 10000 wil be split among those rescued from here who need it to get restarted. Especially the women from the empire.
The large small shield is an arrow attracting shield. Attracts all arrows w/in 30’ diameter around wielder. If kneel down behind and hold up as cover = 50% miss chance

We rest up and sleep for the night.

Next Day

Uneventful night, we sleep in a bit late.

Snitch/Narc are awake. They tell us the layout of the bottom, where the trolls/dragon/drow are in relation to one another. They say the drow won’t come out of their area into the main room unless accompanied by giants, its too close to the dragon lair. There are no giants left.

We discuss a sortie vs trolls but framing the drow, but Thrand remembers we are supposed to get that drow kid for Burns at the carnival. Sending rampaging trolls into the dark elf rooms would probably get it killed.
The trolls number about 90, including young. The drow, 60.

We go downstairs to get a look at things. There are lots of drawings and writing on the walls. Brazamol is everpresent for a long long time here, it seems. He’s very very old. Many different factions have come and gone from here. Tales here even show Braz fighting in the dragon wars vs the Masters. Bonnae and the elves say this was centuries prior to the Masters leaving. Like the Masters controlled and were tied into magic of the world, as is Braz. Magic may work differently than usual against him, including items. He’s some sort of magic sponge. But, things like runic magic that have nothing to do with the Masters’ magic will work fine. So, Gudrun’s runes, Starvaggi, Gungnir. Stuff like the flametongue, on the other hand, should not be used. Direct casting on him is probably a general bad idea. He set his lair up here because he dislikes the drow. There is for sure a passage to nifleheim from here to block them. He has only tolerated them now because Snurr was allied with them.
The trolls were thralls to Snurr.

She takes a cave path behind the dragon lair. Anar, Bonnae and Rolf, while looking at all the pics and such, they notice Braz was critically wounded in the Master Wars and it took him over 100 years to heal. Soon before he moved here. This is where he rested that century. Some hero, probably a First, struck him a terrible blow before being smited himself by Braz. The blade that almost killed him was imbedded into his flesh. The blae was not pulled out for a while, and he needed the help of a servant. Braz has kept it ever since. Looks quite plain, but for its jeweled scabbard.

Bonnae bats up and scouts the drow caves. They have a fairly fortified setup, with makeshift barricades and such. She finds Eclavdra. Speaking elfish herself, she listens in.
Most of the drow seem common soldiers. Maybe 10 are real Champion type. Even some multi spellcasters amongst them. There are 2 separate camps of drow, oddly. Eclavdra and her group, then another group led by Nedylene.
Eclavdra is teling them about us having killed the ‘holy one’ (drider). Nedylene calls here a failure for such a travesty going down to mere humans. They talk that we were supposed to take out the blood cult but not hinder their spider cult. So, there has been some manipulation by them agains the blood cult, or at least hopes on their part about what we were concerned about and what we were not.
Grandiose statements are said about this dark elf child, Nedylene comments how dangerous she could be if she found about her true parentage. Prophecies that she could even spell the doom of all they hold near because of her father’s side. She is potentially quite powerful.
She zooms off while they are occupied to find the girl Burns wants. Hanging out with a bunch of drow. She seems to have an honor guard of 3 drow warriors near her all the time. The treat her special, doding on here even.
She flies back out and reports, with a plan. She’ll take a squad in her portable hole, unleash them in the room and kidnap the girl. Inside will be Volcifar, Clyde to grab her, Harald, Thorhamma and Gara.
She flies them back inside fast. The mission is a rousing success, 2 of the guard killed the 3rd staggered.

The drow are fast all abuzz.
We set up so when the drow come out looking for her, they see Gara carrying the child over her shoulder into the troll caves with Harald behind her. Bonnae is already inside. Gara and Harald go into the portable hole and Lady Bonnae flies away and hides.
Our force hides in the tunnels south of the troll entrance cave.
After a few minutes of the sighters reporting and the drow organizing, their rescue force of about 20 comes out and into the troll area. They are expertly stealthy.
Bonnae hears them while they move in, and they are nervous about this. They mention not wanting to wake up Brasimol Magicbane. She returns and reports, leaving the portable hole open on the floor with the prisoner in it guarded by our wounded Snitch/Narc; Rymak/the elf dedicate/Borfromf/the merchant/the 2 surviving centaurs.
We wait a short time then follow them inside in column, 3 abreast. We are moving down when we hear the first shout by a drow “No, they’re awake!!” to our left.
To our right, another drow swears out loud in efish “Ah, %#^$”.
Then thunderous troll roars from all directions ahead.
Bjorn ordrs double time ahead to the center room where no drow were heard. We know there is a rear passage in there to the southern section thanks to Snitch/Narc. We hear combat to both sides. Bonnae cuts north to look in on the fighting. Loriel sends her pseudodragon to the south.
We find 16 trolls, 2 large nest areas on opposite sides of the cave in clan groups. 4 adults and a dozen children.
Bjorn “Kill them all!”
One of the trolls to the left is 2 headed mutant!

Bonnae sees 8 drow warriors in a circle battling trolls around them. 3 or 4 others apart are eating a drow warrior. 27 trolls total.
The pseudodragon sees 10 drow holding off vs 13 cave trolls!
Each group has at least one arcane caster among them. The caster in the south room make a mass rush and overrun the drow line. The chief leaps atop the mage and rends him to death. The drow have crumbled.
In Bonnae’s, another group of trolls pour out of another tunnel and the drow are crunched in. The drow mage unleashes a massive ball of fire centered on himself!!

FInnrik, Koku and Fliggol go left supported by the Doc and Gunnar; Bjorn, Thrand and Rolf to the right nest supported by Anar and Hjalprek. The elf cleric enters for emergencies, Dopey guarding her.
The next group are to keep downed trolls down and burn them to death: Harog, Rolfgar, Kalestios, Dopey.
Koku and Hjalprek score crits on their first attacks. Thrand, Bjorn and Rolf can hardly believe it, assuming at first it was Anar’s shot. Koku’s drops. The 2 headed groll moves in on Fliggol.
Rolfgar moves in to cut and burn when he has an opening. Harog charges the 2 headed troll. Volcifar, Kalestios moves in to help Rolf. Loriel and Happy enter behind them to also cut and burn. Bjorn eviscerates his full size troll, which drops to the ground crippled. He then kills it and cleaves Thrand’s for another crit DEAD. He then targest the last of the 2 full size trolls on his side.
THe large troll fumbles, falling to the ground!!
Finnrik is getting hammered as the other adult attacks Koku.
Bjorn turns as 3 youngs swarm him. Thrand puts the adult down. Kalestios starts burning it.
Koku drops the other adult on his side!!
Harog drops the 2 headed after Gunnar had axed it to shreds.
IT stands up almost immediately and hits Koku.
Finnrik then drops his last 2, as Fliggol drops the last of the small ones on that side. Koku redrops the last big guy. All start getting cut up and burned.
Bjorn finishes off the last 2 on his side on the same round!
Burning all around.

The pseudodragon returns and reports. Bonnae is soon to follow. The fireball hit the trolls hard, the caster was gone altogether. The troops are still there somehow, and backing up down the hall toward us.

We collect ourselves but for the burners.
We hear the cave trolls coming up the main hall from the south. Bjorn chooses to hold the hall vs the cave trolls and let the drow hold the northern troll force. Thrand says we should send a force south to hit the cave trolls from behind. Bjorn send Gunnar, Finnrik and whoever wlese Finnrik wants: MOdar, Ylva, Thorhamma, Grumpy, Brokkr.
Anar backs up Bjorn’s line of himself, Thrand and Finnbogi, with Blagra, Ulf and Hakon with reach weapons behind them.
Bjorn sends Bonnae to tell the drow to hold the trolls or we’ll let the cave trolls by into their rear, too.
The leader says to her no way “they’ve got a mountain troll in there.” She says you can fight them, or them and the vikings and the cave trolls. 5 of the 8 decide they are fleeing anyway, 3 want to hold the line. Bonnae shows them Bjorn’s line, blocking their escape. They have no choice.
Bonnae yells for Loriel to come out, and has her Daylight the area in case the drow try to screw us with Darkness.

Clyde sees the rest of the drow stirring on their side of the cavern. He runs, finding Bonnae, and reports, then returns to his position.

Bonnae carefully peaks into the dragon area; she sees the huge treasure chamber, which he is coiled atop of. Braz himself has visible old scars. He rolls over once, and under his wing are is a large red gemstone embedded into a hole shaped scar.

Loriel, knowing Mountan Trolls are vulnerable to sonic, her specialty, and unleashes a massive sound burst upon it for 82!! Anar at teh same time hits the south trolls with a fireball.
The cave trolls can spider climb, and use that to their advangate, a few youngs on each side coming at us from the walls. The battle joins. They were obviously damaged already, we bring down several of the climbers.
Clyde arrives, saying the drow are on their way!
BJorn orders the rear pole rank to turn and meet them! Hakon, Ulf and Blagra turn.
Finnbogi takes down the first adult cave troll.
Bjorn and Thrand step forward. They bring it down! Then cleaves down 3 adjacent young and engages the last adult.
Finnrik is in sight, but that force is all but gone. They’re in time for the Mountain Troll thankfully.
The Mountain Troll lays waste to the drow, only 2 remain already.
It’s about to get serious.
Bjorn is rended, but Koku hits from behind and brings it down.
Bjorn yells for the Ulfhedinn up the hall "I have business with the drow.
As they pass, Finnbogi joins them.
The Mt. Troll steps aside and melds into the rock! The horde of normal trolls behind charge in.
Bjorn lines himself, Thrand and Ragnar up to meet the drow at the mouth here; Ulf and Hakon are on the flanks to pincer their front rank, Blagra reaching from behind with his Glaive.
Modar uneashes a Primal Howel, sending 8 of them running in abject fear!
The drow come around the corner and are surprised to see Vikings come into view. They stop and try darknes, but our Daylight is still there.
They move up to engage. 40 of them, Eclavdra and Nedylene in the rear. The trolls fill in the gap.
We drop the first 3 drow,and bowfire takes out another one. Their fodder stops in their tracks, and they send up 3 champions.
Bjorn “Just walk away. No one else has to die here. Just walk away.”
Eclavdra and Nedylene are now in sight in the rear.
Their champs keep coming. 3 of them, one on each of Thrand/Bjorn/Ragnar. Ulf and Hakkon are positioned around the corners of the opening to surprise them.
The Mountain Troll comes out of the wall at the Ulfhednar ranks!!! Brokkr, Grumpy, Finnbogi engage it.
Ylva looses a howl, 7 trolls flee!!
A barrel of oil, open top, drops from above those trolls down the hall and a flask of alchemist fire ignites it! Kaelen has opened the portablet hole high up on the wall!
The fight there commences by Finnrik and Koku, as does the duels vs drow champions.
Thrand and Ulf kill one immediately, as do Hakon and Ragnar!! Thrand unleashed a max dedicated blow, the myrmidons both sneak attacked, and Ragnar crit’d!!
The other drow stop and fire hand quarrels at Thrand and Ragnar (who is hit 3 times, 2 are crits).
The drow command flee!! Leaving their troops to delay us.
Grumpy is rended and bit terribly by the mountain troll, landing behind the ranks at the creature, in front of Gunner.
Anar hits the already burning trolls with a fireball as Bonnae dumps another barrel of oil on the fire, many troll are killed outright!
Gunnar hits the mountain troll right in the throat as Finnrik and Koku and Thorhamma drop more trolls.
Ylva joins in vs the mountain troll with Brokkr and Finnbogi.
Bjorn and Blagra drop the last champion, Thrand and Ragnar charge into their mooks with Clyde.
Loriel tells the elf priest to cast a rock to mud or the ilk on it, perhaps it will damage it, then steps forward and hits it with a greater shout.
The almost dead Mountain Troll pleads for mercy and leniency!! “I’ll call off the rest of my trolls if you let me live.”
Blagra joins in vs the drow.
Bjorn agrees to its plea.
He backs into the far cavern with the other trolls.
Once a handful of drow have been slaughtered, the others flee for their lives.

We take a long break; Rolf and the elf priestess use some of their magic healing on us we are so beat up, since we have Brasimol left.
We hear him stirring, the wyrm is definitely awake.
Snitch/Narc, the 2 centaurs, Borfromf are now available thanks to the healing as well as Rymak and the elf dedicate.
Many of us have much reserve gone, though.

We start to discuss plans for Brasimol. He is between Old and Ancient based on Loriel, the elf priestsess, and Loriel’s discussions.

Bonnae, enemies with the wyrm, will make her presence known and draw it out into our fighting zone. Bjorn, Finnrik, Thrnad and Gunnar will take the head. The rest are split left and right of the cave opening into its lair to hit the flanks and rear.
Anar will make quickly into the lair for the magic blade.
After some spell prep, Bonnae easily lures it out. It must hate her as much as she hates him.
It walks right out looking around, seeing the 4 PC’s first.
Brasimol “So Kaelen, I see you have assembled quite a host.”
Hjalprek flees in terror, obviously. Modar yells an insult to him as he does.
Finnrik has the warsong going, aided by Loriel and Happy.
Ragnar and Koku get the dragon bane runes. The 2 frost go to Finnrik and Finnbogi.

First to charge in is Thorhamma!! The AoO miraculously misses, fumbling the bite for next round!!
Bonnae has vanished again, heading under the wyrm for the gemstone weak spot. Hakon, Koku, Snitch/Narc, Ragnar follow him in on th elft; On the right Ylva, Kalestios, Fliggol, and Harold hit the flank.
It then attacks, including a 56 hit to Ulf. It’s hasted!! The attack shreds his mail coat!!
Thrand, Finnrik, and Bjorn charge from the front.
All 6 other dwarves charge, and roll under the dragon hacking at its belly!! Brokkr joins them.
Gara, elf dedicate and Bogi join Ragnar at the rear; Ulf joins the front 3 PC’s
Rolf sinks his holy avengetr in to the hilt, the wyrm screeches in pain. Terrible black steam spews from the wound and Rolf pulls back only a piece of his blade!! He is appalled beyond belief.
We get a few crits this round, by Ragnar, Koku and Thorhamma.
Anar is coming down the hallway from the lair. He asks who is getting it, and Bjorn yells to run it to Rolf.
It lifts and flies, then turns. We scatter out best before the breathweapon is unleashed. It hits Thand, Bjorn, Kalestios and several of the dwarves. Grumpy, Kalestios and Bashful are quite the worse for wear afterward. Bashful drops!!!
Bonnae plunges 2 daggers into the scar tissue around the gem and injects acid, and starts prying it out.
The dragon drops downward, belly flopping onto the elf dedicate, Finngobi, Gara and Fliggol.
Kalestios bows out. Loriel runs for Bashful.
Rymak pulls Fliggol out the front of the dragon. Anar runs for Fliggol and gives first aid, barely saving his life. We rush back in, Bjorn plunges his blade into the scarred spot now just after Bonnae drops from it crit 88, knocking the lose gem completely out!!!
Rolf full attacks with the dragon bane blade.
Ragnar crits the rear!! Then hits 2 more times.

The dragon’s heat almost ruins the frostbrand of Ragnar.
It drops DEAD!!!!

Ragnar “I am Ragnar, Dragonslayer!!!”

We start pulling out the others underneath it.

The fibers of skin that were under the gem begin to close up! The gem must be destroyed!! Rolf runs over with the dragonslaying blade and strikes the gem.
It blows in a small fireball around Rolf as it is destroyed, Brasimol permanently dead. The blade a heam of ruined metal itself.
Brasimol lets out a sudden final wail of death before falling completely limp.
The dwarves immediately set to work on its hide.

The Ulfhednar take the heart of the wyrm.

First aid to Bashful, Elf dedicate, Finnbogi.

The mountain begins to shake soon after. We finish and gather out stuff.
The dwarves hack off the head first, claws and teeth. Then all the hide they can get.
We loot all we can until we know it is too long.

Loot:

3000gp
800pp
jeweled wpn = 1500
12 ivory statues = 3500 total
bloodstone idol, shape of person with outstretched wings: 1900
jeweled scabbard (from now destroyed dragonslayer): 6000
Load of imperial coin for troops and followers

We get upstairs. The upper level has caved in!! We take an underground route, going deep underground. After a day and a half we exit into daylight.

Only the headcutter rune is still not used up (Thrand used it vs dragon but never rolled the 20).

We come out near Delios, and go to Archaea where we run into Burns, surprisingly. He takes the dark elf kid off our hands.
He says he owes us for this one. “Favors from me are a valuable thing.”

Kaelen and her gang take their leave from us in Archaea. Rolfgar and Borfromf go with her.

The Ulfhednar perform the ritual to Odin. Spiking the 3 heads of the giant lords around it.
Harog is initiated with the dragon heart.
Late in the middle of the night the Wanderers arrives!!
The pack bows in reference. The Wanderer takes the spear, leaving his walking stick in its place. Gungnir turns into such in his hand. He thanks us for our impressive work and service. As his reward, he has many gifts and blessing to bestow upon Finnrik and his pack. He says Finnrik is officially Alpha Male of a true pack now. "You will all be as one, and the rest of the pack will now flock to you until the full potential is reached. This is the third part of the ritual for the Wolfshapes. When Finnrik calls for the change, Odin will unleash it.

The marriage to Ylva is done this night to end the revel. The Wanderer gives his full blessing.

His left staff has a place of honor at all rituals. It acts as a pack totem to the Allfather.

View
Into White Plume Mountain

Next Day

(second day of heriosm)

The mountain is small, 800’ above surrounding land, constant plume of white smoke from its cauldera, and sprays hot water as well.
Fortunately, the entrance is not up that high. The Lady leads us several hundred feat up to a hole in the side of the Mt., steps leading down. Lady says every time she got w/in a couple hundred feat or so, that dragon stopped her.
We descend a spiral stairscase down. Air is humid, torches and such give off lots of smoke. Its very damp, floor here covered in 1’ water. Lots of algae and fungus. Very slippery layer of scum all about the place.
Difficult to run, charge, sneak, but tracking vary easy.

We follow the hall to a split 3 other ways NE, N, NW.
Approaching the intersection, a Gynoshpinx stops us at the intersection.
It demands we answer its riddle.
Answer is the moon, we get it easy.
“All right then, off you go.” A previously unsees wall of force is dispelled ahead.
“Beware this is the first of several tests to face while here, and I am the least powerful of all.”
Sigrid “We are warned.”

Bjorn leads us NW. The hall turns west. Lady stops us at the turn, there’s is a pit right in front of us under the water.
We turn around, go outside and cut a tree down long enough to span the 10’ length.
Across we go.
Going down a long hall, there are copper looking metal discs on the walls.
Walking into the room, we start feeling warm and uncomfortable.
Finnrik, w/o armor, walks further than the rest now. He makes it to a room. Stairs go up, and it stinks in here, very bad. Like death but no bodies.
Lady and Uhto join him, and Clyde. Then Gunnar.
Bjorn “Look for a way to shut it off!”
The thieves search. Finnrik watches the steps with Clyde. Liz goes behind a decorative curtain on the wall. There is a hideous growl and ghouls poor into the room as she backs off fast. We can see a room beyond now where they came from. They block our escape to the rest of the group. The stench now sickens all of us but Gunnar.
Anar says he will send a wave of cold down the hall, giving us a chance vs the heat if we want to charge down.
Clyde draws his blade which gleams stunningly, sparkling more like. It cuts the arm off of one of the ghouls as Lady attacks another.
The ghouls attack. Uhto is paralyzed.
Finnrik attacks the ghast on him.
SIgrid comes screaming into the room, plowing into the first ghoul shield first. It is sent flying into the next ghoul, who is plowed into the ghast. All 3 hit the floor.
Bjorn comes next down the hall full speed and into the room. Then hurls all over the ghoul to his right.
Bonnie kills that one; Clyde kills one of the prone.
They stand and attack, but Bjorn and Gunnar finish the last off.

Bonnei finds the lever now, and it turns off the heat plates.

We go up to a platform to a single door into a room. Dry floors up here.
A long hall like room goes west/our right some 90’ to door at the end. Bjorn steps in first and slips, sliding into the wall on the other side but still standing, bracing himself against the wall. There is absolutely no friction in here.
There are 2 pits in the room, each 5’ wide and bisecting the long room wall to wall.

Anar and Finnrik slide over to Bjorn, using a rope to hold with each other. Anar teleports us to the door.
Bonnei grabs the sides of her cloak and transforms into a bat, flying to the door as well.
Anar now sees that the far end wall is illusory, and its rocky pumice! Kaelen disarms a trap and unlocks the door. She then flies over, sets this side of the rope in the pumice securely and glides it back to our men. She then flies back over.
Uhto almost falls into the first pit but makes it across.
Meanwhile Kaelen searches the pumice area but finds nothing, but that the pumice has tiny sparkles in it, a rare metallic mineral deposit, she thinks mythril content!! Uhto will be telling the dwarves about this.

Bjorn and Finnrik with Anar go through the door into a corridor to a T section. There is a door both directions. We wait for the others then. Bjorn takes left ending at the door. Kaelen hears water from the other side of the door and a roaring of lions.
Unlocked.
The room is a large inverted pyramid, levels descending into a central bottom area, the levels alternate water tank and dry. Just below us are giant lobsters, then giant scorpions, then monsterous lion seals, then 3 manticores with their wings clipped at the central bottom. We recall the manticores from previously were clipped just the same.
Each level is blocked by glass on the inner side. There is one door on the bottom with the manticores.

We draw the lobsters away from the entrance, once they are away, Kolfrosta comes in and goes to the other side. She drops into the water slowly. She gets at the top and easily shatters the glass. She is pushed through so strongly that it launches her over the scorpion level and into the lion seal water. The side she broke breaks into a 20’ gap in moments. The lobsters are pulled with the current. 3 are rushed out the break. The other 3 are pulled away from us but come to rest. They start walking back toward us.
We jump down and Finnrik bashes the glass open with his waraxe. The scorpions are drowning.
Finnrik leaps into the water, spear ready, to battle sea lions. Stelio follows with a spear as well.
Uhto, Gunnar, Rolf go after lobsters on the now dry level. Bjorn leaps into the water as well with the sea lions. Sigrid stays with the dry lobsters.
Thrand leaps into the water.

The other lobsters are going after the drowning scorpions!

We all go right over into the sea lion chamber.
The water has spilled about calf deep into the central bottom. 4 sea lions to go around. 2 are on Kolfrosta already. Kaelan has flown over to Kolfrasta and drops into the water, 2 short swords drawn. The other 2 come for the rest of us. We make shorter work of them than the others made of the scorpions.
After she Frosta kill one, Kolfrosta is torn up and KO’d underwater.
Clyde leaps in and pulls out Frosta. Kaelen than kills it.
Kaelen gets out and makes the first aid check.

Thrand, Bjorn, Finnrik, Sigrid, Rolf and Stelio drop over the edge in a lie to the bottom, forming an overlapping shield line to protect themselves from the manticore darts as they start firing.
One dart gets through then we unleash hell.
They attempt to pounce on Bjorn, Finnrik and Rolf. Bjorn and Finnrik expertly evade, but Rolf is pinned underneath his and bites down on him, his armor saving him.
That is the last one left, the other 2 taken down easily now. It lays into Rolf badly, biting, clawing, shooting, and again his armor saves his life!
Sigrid then slays it.

The door here has a lock on it, the hole in the shape of a K. Kaelen picks it and opens the door to a hall which ends in a door. No lock visible so Bjorn opens it. The room is 50’ x30’ and luxurious. Lots of rugs, cushions, tapestries, a 6’ hooka! Sumptuous bed or couch, which Rolf calls a devaun. Whatever.
Organized in piles are lots of coins, 4 jewelry; on a desk is a potion, piece of paper unrolled and tacked down; hanging on a wall is a suit of chain. Sitting at the desk is a rough looking halfling scribing, copying the scroll.
“Rescue! Good god its been so long!”
His name is Himmel, captured a long time ago via losing a bet. Master Keraptis and his hideous gnomes came through his area. He stood against them though knew he could not defeat so many. So he made a bet insteat that he could perform certain feats better than the champion gnome “Oddly enough, I failed”. He has been here for however long ago K disappeared. He should be dead, but there is a permanence of unaging on this room.
Kaelen tells him exactly how many years its been. He has been scribing and scribing and feels like he has finally mastered the art of scribing a magic scroll, though he is not a magic user.
He was a very agile fighter, though no slouch in str either.
He really wants to leave. We are worried he’s going to age immediately, but he’d rather that than be stuck in here any longer.
We take all the loot:
200pp
1000gp
11000sp
all minted in old days of the Masters, kingdoms that do not exits but not ancient.
Potion of healing
Scroll of prot vs evil x2 (one that he just finished, he’s pretty sure it will work)
Chain Mail of Fortification +3 heavy fortification
Hooka: 6’ tall, 10 lbs, crystal not glass, gem studded

He has 2 rings of his own he keeps.
Last time he saw a gnome was, he guesses only, at least 20 years. About 10 ago, some guy shows up. Describing him its Bluto!! He originally promised to help him get out, but DIDN"T. Gave Bluto his most prized possession, but he just took it and locked him in anyway. It was a powerful blade, a longsword called blackrazor. He would love to help us if he lives leaving the room.
He offers us to smoke, but we hold off until after our victory.
Bjorn dons the magic chain. Himmel says it is a legendary suit, made for a First in the south named Arius Flusilla Bacato; it was called Arius’s Castle. It is something that some will know of when they see it.

We leave to find Bluto. He knows where he was staying 10 years ago so takes us there.
Himmel does not age to death instantly. We go to the T section and take the right, leading to a circular creek that he says goes to his room. There is also a secret passage in the hall that Anar missed that leads to it.
Bjorn decides on the secret hallway. Himmel opens it with a K symbol of some sort.
The hall goes 60’ then turns north for 80’ to a door. The room that should hold Bluto and men is on the other side of this door. He puts the K to the door and the door vanishes as the secret door did. At the door is Bjorn and Finnrik, followed by Thrand and Gunnar, Stelio/Rolf, Uhto/Anar, Bonnae/Clyde, Kolfrosta/SIgrid guarding the rear. Sigrid is not happy at all with this situation.
We see the stream running through it, floating in the air magically!
The room is set up with beds, tables, etc. Crimson Path stuff all over the walls, huge pic of the Blood Angel in true form. Like a mini temlpe for them. There is a blood stained altar here also. Kaelen was expecting this.
In here is Bluto lounging in a large chair in the NW corner, blackrazor nearby. Plus 8 (2 in full plate tween us and Bluto; one who look like Gunnar in equip by the central altar; one next to the high priest on the other side of the fireplace from Bluto; one with great axe by the altar; another savage looking with a few spear; MaA holding the chain of Brynnhalf; 1 others at at able eating to the right of our entry) a blood cult high priest, and the ambassador to the Frost Giants near Bluto!!! Bluto is berating somebody when we interrupe, it’s his captured son, hands bound behind his back, collar with chain in a guards hand. “What are they giving you that I could not? I think they brainwashed you boy!” as we enter. They go quick for their weapons.
Also, a couple bodies completely drained of blood but not just recently.

Meanwhile, this morning, our backup group arrives and is greeted by the witch. Takes them to her hut. No big party for them, she wants them to make right for the Mt. She does give them the blessings of the marsh which equals a bless spell. Lasts a week as well.
They make their way to the Mt. She tells them how to get in from what Kaelen told her. They hear the sounds of little feet, and are attacked by a force of gnomes coming from the Mt. entrance.
This is happening as the fight vs Bluto is waging.

Bluto fight:
The priest perks his ears up “Lord, intruders!”
Gunnar moves straight in, jumping atop the first table; Thrand follows the near wall straight, moving for the 2 closest to Bluto. Bjorn does the same but on the other side of Gunnar’s table; Rolf and Stelio move just into the room, Rolf moving to the 2 eating; Uhto gets to the door; Anar moves in with Rolf; Finnrik moves just past the eaters for the spearcarrier; Sigrid runs up to the doorway as well, ready to move in once Bjorn isn’t looking. Bonnae and Clyde stay just behind her, Kolfrost watching the rear.
The axeman at the altar moves to block Bjorn and attacks. Bluto then gives Brynnjalf a kick to the side of the head “We’ll talk about this later boy, once I destroy your friends” while grabbing Blackrazor and a shield, and moves up with his pair of guards who are armigers.
STelio moves to the eater.
Bjorn battles the axemaster.
The man standing with the priest is an executionar.
Gunnar throws at one of the armigers, hitting twice. Their axe hurler at the altar throws as Gunnar.
Sigrid moves in behind Bjorn.
The ogre mage head in Finnrik’s sack is yelling help me suddenly.
Himmel turns into Quesnef, an Ogre Mage!! Right next to Kolfrosta. Apparently, the patriarch of the ones we killed at the Rift. Kolfrosta is not happy with SIgrid right now.
Uhto steps into the room and moves around the corner.,
Kaelen yells to everyone else about the Ogre Mage as Kolfrost attacks it. Kaelen hits it with a handxbow bolt, the poison sapping it of 5 str!
Anar fails to cast, and the altar shimmers with a red hue momentarily.
Thrand “No magic, this will take steel!”
The spearman moves in on Finnrik, Finnrik yelling “These spears are mine!” as the enemy deftly rolling behind him but fails to trip him.
The eater taker stands, grabbing his blade, and defends himself vs Stelio.
The chain holder pulls Brynnhalf over by the chain and holds him tight in a headlock.
The priest begins to chant.
The exectutioner wraps himself in his cloak,and he becomes as if cloaked in shadow, dimming in our vision.
Gunnar is able to spot him moving forward at the head of the eaters table and points him out.
Bjorn yells for Finnik to go the the priest.
Thrand charges straight forward to the armigers and runs him through crit 37!
Rolf attacks the spearman’s rear crit!
Both armigers attack Thrand, both heavy maces.
Finnrik spots the exectioner! He leaps upon the spearman’s table, runs across it an leaps upon the fiend 21!
The ambassador joins in on the attack on Thrand.
The axe master disarms Bjorn’s blade! Then misses.

Bluto hails “Blackrazor, Speed me!” Then moves forward, leaping onto the eaters table next to Bjorn.
Gunnar targest their axe thrower now, and hops off the table out of the axe master’s reach, than throws at his new target but hits only once.
Bjorn picks up his magic blade and hits the axemaster. SIgrid hops up on the table Gunnar just vacated and attacks the axe master from high ground but misses.

Quesnef steps back and sends a cone of cold over Frosta, Bonnae and Clyde. They all make the save for half.
Their axehurler hits Gunnar once.
Clyde, Kaelen and Kolfrosta go after Quesnef, Kaelen getting in flanking position and sneak attacking.
Uhto move back out into the hallway and fires his xbow at Quesnef.
Anar joins Rolf vs the spearman, taking Anar down in one stab! Then turns to Rolf.
Finnrik feels something odd, his blood wanting to ooze out of his pours but holds it back. Its the priest’s spell.
The MaA with Brynnhalf knocks the boy out.
Bluto leaps unnaturally back after hitting Bjorn, landing beside the alter.
Bjorn and Sigrid cut down the axe master. Bjorn then steps forward and misses the executioner.
Gunnar now takes aim at Bluto, who stands between he and the axe hurler, slamming him badly once/miss/hit.
Their axe hurler “You throw at my king, I throw at yours” and hits Bjorn once.
Quesnef is in his death throws already. He speaks an arcane word as he hits Frosta. Bjorn’s armor begins to constrict upon him. However, his blades SR stops it!
Kaelen realizes what Bjorn is wearin is not the Castel, it’s his Folley, an identical but cursed version of the real armor!!
Frosta then hits Quesnef DEAD!
Kaelen begins to set him afire.
Uhto misses the executioner.
Spearmen cuts Rolf down!! Then flips his spear and stabs Stelio in the back, flanking with the eating MaA.
The eater hits Stelio twice and he goes down!!
All the blood has been running through lines in the floor toward the altar, now illuminated.
Priest "You’ve met your end, Ulfhedinn! Whatever he tried to do with the altar’s power fails miserably. He is visibly upset.
The MaA at Brynnhalf charges Bjorn and hits.
The executioner tumbles behind Finnrik, but Finnrik AoO is quicker and Crits DEAD!!
Thrand hits one of the armiger again then misses.
They miss Thrand completely.
Finnrik steps up vs the MaA who just dropped Stelio DEAD as he was about to coup de gras stelio.
The ambassador withdraws from Thrand to Bjorn.
Bluto springs back upon the same table again, and attacks Bjorn hitting once.
Bjorn crits 43/miss. He grabs the poor MaA next to him (who ko’d Brynnhalf), and Bjorn’s attack hits him instead!
Gunnar uses his great throwing axe on the same MaA 26 DEAD, then hits the ambassador twice as well. He’s out of axes now.
Sigrid leaps over the ambassador to flank with Bjorn and hits once.
The axehurler is also out of axes too, he’s picking up a few of Gunnar’s.
Uhto misses the spearman.
The myrmidon spearman moves to Finnrik and attacks but misses!
The priest offers a chant to some god, raising his hands upward. The blood spilled in the battle begins to flow toward and into the myrmidon.
Thrand kills the first armiger, then cleaves and crits the other!
He misses Thrand twice.
FInnrik hits the myrmidan twice and bites him as well.
The ambassador hits Sigrid.

Bluto hits Bjorn 17/miss. Then strides back away, next to Sigrid.
Sigrid misses the ambassador.
Gunnar is grabbing axes.
Bjorn hits the ambassador, but he pulls the armiger in front of him instead who is hit, then hits him again.
Their axe hurler ducks behind the altar, out of sight.
Uhto hits the ambassador with xbow.
The spearman misses Finnrik twice.
The priest casts on Thrand. The dead begin to turn pale, their blood being sucked out and to the altar.
He reaches into a groove on the floor nextr to him, pulls up a handful of blood, and begins drawing a square on the wall.
Thrand hits the ambassador DEAD, them moves toward the priest.
The last armiger hits Bjorn 18/miss.
Finnrik hits myrmidon spearman twice DEAD.

Rolf, not fully ko’d, lays hands on Anar and just in time saves his life.
Brynnhalf stands up and grabs his sword lying next to Bluto’s chair.

Bluto misses Sigrid. Then leaps over to the priest.
Bjorn runs moves around the altar ending up next to Bluto, the armigers AoO missing.
SIgrid crits the armiger.
Gunnar moves toward the priest, standing at the altar’s corner.
Thrand spots the axe hurler having snuck around the altar flat on the floor, through the carnage of bodies just before he stands up and runs to the door where Uhto stands and hits him 10. He sees the ogre mage on fire and Bonnae reaching the door with Clyde.
Uhto draws his axe and hits him.
The priest finishes, and the wall in the square becomes a sheet of blood.
Thrand misses Bluto.
The armiger hits SIgrid twice.

Finnrik rushes forward, locking the priest in a grapple. Bluto springs through the portal telling the priest “I hope they’re forgiving, I’ll be with the wizard” with a smile on his face, right past Finnrik and the priest, who screams in surprise as the portal closes.
Sigrid hits the armiger DEAD!
Bjorn strikes at the priest in the grapple 31 DEAD!! “That’s for making a blood portral!”
Gunnar moves and throws 1 axe at their axe hurler 16.
Being a fanatical blood cultist, he refuses to give up. He steps back and throws his 2 axes at Gunnar 9/miss.
Uhto axes him in the back 10.
He hails the greatness of the blood angel, how it will rule the world and all.
Kaelen “I’ve been hearing that from your kind for 60 years.”
Gunnar hurls one mighty throw at him 36 DOWN.

We watch and make sure he bleeds to death.

Considering Bluto’s remark, he must be in there somewhere if he’s with the wizard. We figure that’s Keraptis. He must still be here.

Loot:
10 blood amulets
mst breastplate
mst hvy steel sh
mst longsword
2 suits full plate
2 hvy steel sh
2 maces
6 suits chain
mst greataxe (plus 1 crit range)
6 light weight throwing axes (plus 10’ range increment)
1d10 spear, aka corseque
3 spears

The scrolls the halfling gave us are actually just the opposite,now that Kaelen looks at them closer. We throw them on the Quesnef pyre. The ring he kept is a ring of mirror images (5 chg).

Outside with B Team:

Walking up the path at a stretch about 60’ wide, but strewn with rocks of varying size. From ahead, the gnomes come into view. Arrows greet us first, falling far short. We hear gnomes whooping while a second volley comes in. They are riding boars.
Koku yells :Yeaaaaa!! Featst of roast boar tonight!!"
Some 20 riders in all.
Brand “There’s even enough for Toru.”
Gnomes “By the symbol, by the staff, by the 3 holy artifacts! Blood for Keraptis!”
Behind them now, we see a phalanx of 40 infantry with spear. All wearing the big K blazoned on their leather breastplates within a circle.
Koku thinks to himself ‘what I wouldn’t give for the whole pack’.
Brand and Papa, on our left, position ahead to use cleave and combat reflexes to best effect. The rest of us ready.
Toru is licking his chops to our rear, behind cover, and assesses boar.
They are going so fast on their hooved feat, they swing while flying past our line, AoO are plentiful.
Toru then sees, to his left and behind him coming out of the woodline an organized square of gnomes wielding only axes reciting an arcane sounding warchant. Koku is drooling at the possibilities when he looks behind him quickly.
The phanlanx ahead is 40 men!
Fliggol turns and charges the rear axemen, killing one and knocking him into the one behind it, knocking him prone. Then cleaves another down. Toru turns and fires 2 shots.
Once any riders are dead, the boars like any mount retreat into the woodline.
We make mince meat of their riders. Fliggol and Toru drop the whole first line of axemen.
A gnome in robes steps out head, conjuring a ball of flame, which he sends straight to the middle of our line exploding in a great conflagration. The boars go down, leaving more for us to eat later!!! The cpt’s dire boar even goes down. Other than Toru and Fliggol, only Brand escapes who just moved forward to meet their phalanx.
The axemen use a group tactic attack, in unison, on Fliggol and Toru doing good damage to each.
The phalanx moves forward slowly in formation, anti missile shiled barrier in use, but not quite reaching Brand.
Then, from behind opposite the axemen entry, a horde of 20 swordsmen charge out of the treeline reaching Ulf.
Koku charges the new swordsmen, joining Ulf and Hakon fighting them. Rags goes back to assist Toru. Gurk moves behind a boulder to Brand’s left to face the phalanx. Fliggol is really laying into the axemen.
Tosten charges straight ahead, going tween Brand and Gurk, hitting the phalanx full on. He overruns the middle of their front rank.
The caster hits Dopey with a magic missile.
Brand and Gurk then follow him in; Koku, Ulf and Hakon cut through the swordsmen like lard. Ulf passes out while cutting down the swordsmen leader as Koku cleaves down about half a dozen before no more are in reach.
Tosten is like a wrecking ball in the phalanx’s midst, slaughtering 8 of them.
Dopey makes a charging tumble to the casters rear and hits him. The caster turns, steps back, and fires another arcane missile on Dopey.
One of the swordsmen puts his blade into the ko’d ulf! The rest of the swordsmen and all the exemen flee the battle. Fliggol takes down one more as they do, Hakon two.
The phalanx follow suit, but several are cut down by Brand and Tosten.
Dopey then masterfully bluffs and slays the caster. Koku and Hakon cut down the one stabbing Ulf. The archers all fled a couple rounds ago.
Toru rushes over and gives Ulf first aid.
We rest, and gather the boars for the feast later. The wizard had a handfull of scrolls with a K symbol at the top. No special equipment nor treasure. Lots of chain shirts and blades of avg quality to melt down later, though.
Into the mountain we go soon as Ulf is awake. We hear noise down a tunnel to the left. We prepare for a fight when Bjorn and company come walking into our light.
Tosten greets Lady Bonnae and Sir Clyde happily! They have adventured together before, and have a brief catch up talk.
.
We are all happy about the boar dinner later tonight.

We now have N or NE as an option. Bjorn says straight north, so N it is. Bonnae takes the point with Clyde, ahead to disarm and unlock.
The 4 pc’s plus Anar and Stelio follow behind. Everyone else stays back at the first gynosphinx intersection to wait for word from us. Tosten goes outside soon after Bjorn et al leave, taking Fliggol, Ulf, Toru and Hakon with thim. They start gutting and preparing the boars for spits.

First is a niche to a pool. At the bottom is a wheel to a valve that Bonnae says probably flushes the water out. She volunteers to but Bjorn sends Finnrik instead, Bjorn joining him. They turn it no problem and indeed the water drains out. A secret door is there, ladder going down.
It goes down 60’. Darkness at the bottom.
Bjorn calls the rest of the group up to here. Bonnae is sent down with Clyde, Dopey, Uhto; Koku and Rags ready to back them up with force if necessary, while Bjorn continues forward.
The ladder leads to a darkness spelled area, past that, into a vast chamber. Big torture chamber! A number of gnomes are tied to desks in the process of reading scrolls. One seated at the far end looks a bit mutilated and acts erratic, perhaps insane. Also has a bunch of scrolls laid out in front of him.
Upon seeing us they say “Greetings, yes, read the scolls, read some” in unison but for the mutilated one.
Bonnae thinks they are all mentally whammied by Keraptis. Via scrolls it looks like. They all have the K symbol.
The lone one yells “Hey, hey you! Help me out! Free me, get me out of here!” Says they are torturing them all “I’m not like the others!”
Bonnae “Probably a spy trying to get in our midst.”
“If you kill me, I’ll help you kill this false Keraptis.”
Bonnae “Who are you?”
Struggling in his ropes “I am called Gnintghil.” A wizard, he says.
Bonnae “Is your last name Lufetaf?” It is. She’s heard the name, and he’s a bit off his rocker from what she’s heard. He says the gnomes here were all part of his tribe, here that were loyal to Keraptis. The new K has been capturing and converting the gnomes arcane skilled from outside he could find, using them to get control of their tribe. He confirms its the scrolls that turn one into a mindless drone. This is the indoctrination center. Each other one here is one already, each from a different tribe. 12 here now total.
Only 1 tribe lives here, the one who lived here already. Most of their warr’s recently left to try to stop interlopers from coming up the mountain.
Koku “What do you think Ragnar?”
He then says he knows K’s weakness. For one, he’s hideous. Like a mutant. Can’t speak for a damn either, chirps and whistles every damn word.
Bonnae “Sounds like a mongrelman to me.” She’ll explains that to the northmen.
K’s weakness is to take away his strength which is a staff, very powerful. It’s usually close to him. The only way to get to him w/o his knowledge: the 3 artifacts make you invisible to K’s scrying. Anyone bearing one is blocked in this way. All 3 together create a zone of non detection about 100’ around.
Last he heard prior to being brought down here, a room to the north is a giant crab lair. It guards the trident Wave. The second is accessible by 2 paths: one dangerous the other secret. Only K knows the secret path. Welm is wielded by K’s chief warlord from decades ago is now a vampire named Katenmir. The way K wants you to go is via a room of lava and gysers, across platform discs suspended by chains.
Lady Bonnae volunteers to search for the secret way to Welm and the vampire.
Ragnar frees Gnintghil. Koku and Dopey slays all the drones in the making, lost causes. The whole while they do nothing but tell us how great reading the scrolls is.
Gninthgil can help guide Kaelen around Kaelen free. Bjorn sends Uhto with them.
Dopey stays with us.

Bjorn has moved forward, but Bonnae gets word to him via Sigrid running forward to deliver the details. She then returns to the rest of the group.
They walk into another room with lots of water, a deep pool within. No giant crab.
We cross it and go up steps to 2 doors. One straight, the other to the right.
A voice emites from a small hole in the wall, female, “stop where you are. Who are you and what do you want?”
Bjorn states we are here to conquer. The voice replies for us to stay where we are. A minute or so later the door in the hall here opens. A man and a women walk into the hall. Snarla and her friend Burkett. They are servants of the real true Keraptis, not this imposter. They have been imbued by their master with certain gifts and talents. They are both Firsts as well. They work here though the K is false, but this scum Bluto has usurped their position to the false K, what they and Katenmire were to the first K. Their offer is for us to defeat false K to make sure the 3 holy artifacts do not remain in his hands. Even the gnomes, descended from true K’s chosen ones, can’t be near these artifacts. Some of the leaders have already had ideas to lay claim to them. Snarla says K is in his lair. Go into the Giant Crab chamber straight ahead. The pool there is heated by hot rock deep below and is fed by an underground stream. Through the doors is a ledge but it is all submerged. A tunnel goes from the door to a bubble room further out onto the ledge. The crab lives there, Welm is there too.
Snarla and Burkett say they will help vs Bluto and the false K, but the crab is all on us.
They say the vampire is loyal to the now K. The imprint powers from teh K scrolls have sway over him, as they are part of the true K’s power.
We move forward and into the tunnel, the crab does indeed await us at the end.
There is treasure here, within which Wave lies. A large band is wrapped around one of the giant crab’s claw arms.
Anar Haste spells Thrand and Bjorn. Thrand charges in, provoking the AoO with his higher defense hoping for a miss.
Bjorn and Finnrik then follow suit.
The AoO hits Thrand anyway and it grabs him in a claw, squeezing. Gunnar hits with a throw and Finnrik with a spear before he moves in.
It lobs Thrand to its side 15’ but he lands fairly well. It then hits Bjorn and Finnrik, grappling Bjorn only and squeezing.
Finnrik now with his waraxe attacks.
We bring it down with a huge dedicated blow crit from Thrand and a hit from Stelio.
Whatever the ring was to it, its worthles copper to us.

Loot:
Wave the Trident
1000gp
20 gems: 2x 1000, 5000, 17 others totalling 3935
gold ring 500gp
stone, with lines of color through it, with gold band around it connected to a chain. Anar says its a Luck Stone. 1 time only, you can use a luck stone in a catastrophic time to change their luck for another roll, but it is destroyed. Anyone in the encounter, not just the owner of the stone.

We meet back with the party. We are resting for the night at this point. Toru already has the boar cut up and cooking.
Bonnae has already found the alternate route. A tube off a secret chamber in teh indoctrination chamber goes right to his lair. Long, narrow and dark. Can’t really be done in armor, unfortunately.
Bonnae and Tosten to a lot of catching up, Tosten much older than last time they met. She is also a First.

Snarla says that all we have left in this complex is K with Bluto and the vamp. K has a group with him as well: couple of Efreeti, gnome champion or 2 are his bodyguard. She knows exactly where Bluto and K are staying as well.

Next Day

Bjorn says we go for the vampire first via the secret passage route.
Toru is having a hard time getting going this morning, ate too much boar too late into the night.

The idea is raised of Anar making 2 trips, blipping 4 people total over the lava, so as to come from 2 directions. With him go Pappy, Bjorn himself, Koku, and Rolf. Lady Bonnae transforms into a bat and hangs on Anar’s belt.

Up tunnel, sans armorm climbs Finnrikr and Thrand (borrowing his brother’s flame tongue). Stelio must come also, to witness. Uhto goes as well, in case the trapdoor at the top needs picked.

Brand “Good luck, brother.”

We don’t really know the distances accurately. So, Sigrid, so she feels involved, follows the lava group to the lava room. When they blip across, she runs back to tell the others to start climbing. The lava group waits about the time it takes Sigrid to get back then continues on.

Kaelen has to pick the lock on the door off the patform. The hall of black stone goes 50’ to a big stone slab of a door, like that into a tomb. This is also locked. She finds a trap first, no ordinary trap, its a magical ward. Bjorn dispels it with his blade!
Bonnae “Impressive blade.”

Uhto gets to the top of the tunnel, which is locked.
“I’m not as good as that human girl, mind you.” He starts to pick, and succeeds. Oil drops down onto us as the hatch opens, slicking the tunnel behind him. “My work here is done” and he slides past us.
It now takes climb checks to get up. All 3 succeed. No light visible ahead.
We proceed slowly, its getting quite cold. Colder than a volcano should be. Full of the negativity Bonnae and Rolf spoke of.
Soon, Finnrik reaches the opening. For an instant, is an instant flash of light. For that instant a man is visible, but the spark hits the oil and it lights. for some damage.
As the flame ignites Finnrik lunges upward as quick as he can, striking with the Odin Spear before the vamp can react again and hits!
Finnrick then begins singing. Thrand does the same and hits also. He is then hit once by the vamp’s hammer.
Stelio lights a torch to give us light and climbs up. Unfortunately, its magical darkness.

Thrand feels multiple hands grasping at him trying to pull him to the ground. He is pulled to the ground, he estimates 4 of them. Definitely female.
Thrand hits one of the creatures, it releases a terrible scream DEAD. 2 less hands upon him now!
The vamp hits Finnrick twice more with a warhammer.
Thrand yells to Stelio to dive right over top of me! In the dark, he slams into one of the things on Thrand, now grappling with it himself.
Thrand successfully resists one, but then fangs bite into his neck! He loses 2 constitution damage!
Stelio cries in alarm at being thrown to the ground. Finnrik improves his song and gains tokens.
Thrand throws the biter off of him, misses the other in the dark.
Finnrik is hit twice again and hard.

Stelio hits his vamp spawn.
A flash of light at the door as we hear the door open.
Thrand “Its magical darkness, Bjorn! Dispel it!!”
Finnrik “Its the main vampire and some spawn!”
Bjorn’s blade fails to dispel it, but Bonnae with a scroll dispels it. She moves by the opposite side of the coffin in the middle of the room from Finnrik and Vamp. The torch has been extinguished. Anar’s light now brightens the room. Now we can see!!
Koku “Finnrik!” rushes into the room, across the coffin , and hits the Vampire master from atop it.
Rolf enters the room now, his blade begins to glow with a blue light. It bursts into flame as he crosses the threshold. He goes for the same one and hits as well DEAD! Bursting with flame. He cleaves Thrand’s grappler who was biting him DEAD!
Tosten attacks the vamp spawn vs Stelio and hits
Finnrik hits Ketenmir twice. Thrand hits the last of the spawn twice.

Ketenmyr raises the hammer, and striked the ground with it. The room quakes as if an earthquake had struck. Tosten and Stelio and Bonnae are stunned.

The last spawn hits Thrand, he takes a neg level.

Thrand cuts her down DEAD! Bjorn moves around the coffin to attack position with Finnrik. Koku hits Ketenmyr twice! Finnrik hits once. Bjorn hits as well. Rolf moves in and hits as well.
The vamp hits Finnrik, grabs Rolf and bites him!
Rolf hits once, Frinnrik once, Bjorn hits once. Thrand misses twice.
Rolf hits him and he poofs into smoke, the hammer hits the ground with a deep thundering thud.
His mist floats through tiny cracks in the floor, not the coffin here.

After about a minute, the stunned come to.

Finnrik and Koku open the sarcophagus lid. An acid trap explodes.
Rolf and Kaelen permanently destroy the wives.
Ketenmyr’s personal loot is in here!

Loot:
Gems and jewels and coins = 9000 gp
Welm

Back down with the rest of the group, the hammer gravitates strongly to Fliggol, so he gets to wield it. Legend says its the spawn of the hammer Ilmarinen/Thor wielded.

Thrand now wants to destroy all vampires in existence.

We rest up for a bit, even using some healing flagons and Anar’s healing capabilities.

To the final confrontation: the 4 PC’s, Fliggol now wielding Welm, Burkett, Bonnae, Rolf, Sigrid, Ragnar, Brand, and Papa.
Stelio is in reserve witnessing, with Gurk, Toru, Ilf, Hakon, Koku, and Anar.
Sir Clyde, Uhto, Dopey and Kolfrosta are staying out of this one.

Snarla leads the way via the indoctrination center to a secret hall which leads to False Keraptis’ private chambers.
Burkett “He’s a very dangerous being.”
Lady Bonnae thinks her lost friend may be the False K, somehow brain screwed if so.

Bonnae goes through the notes of this false K while we are resting. The K imprints on the scrolls are pieces of the real K’s essence. As you read them it adds layers of him into you. At first you don’t realize, then you desire so, then you cease to be yourself.
Once the final completion happens, you are unable to be saved. Prior to that, you can be saved by projecting it onto another. Must do so voluntarily.

Snarla gets us to the door. SInce wave and welm help to hide the area from his scrying, he should not be able to see us coming.
We get to ornate double doors. They are sturdy, but old, there is a gap at the crease that Kaelen peaks through. They are talking amongst themselves, and do not know we are here. In a chair far across the room, straight ahead at a huge book, Bonnae sees a short hunched figure holding a glowing staff shod in iron inscribed with all types of sigils..
We see who we expected in the room. Bluto is about 20’ straight in, a table on his far side. The table K sits at is just past that. Another table is to either side of Bluto and just behind him. A gnome stands at either side of the table ahead of him, an Efreet 10’ from each.
2 other Efreeti are in here as well, left and right of the door
Bonnae recognizes the False K as indeed her mongrelman friend Wolk.
Brynjalf is with us as well. He wants Bluto badly.
K is telling Bluto how Bluto’s blood god has failed him, that he could never have defeated the Master’s since one still remains (speaking of himself). K is asking Bluto to convert his worship to him for the greatest power he could ever dream. K says “I have reached my full potential, the world will tremble in fear!”
Bluto retorts “This is not the way of the deal we made” that they were to mutually help each others goals. The K sent the Malenko to help and “Fat good that did, he turned into a puddle of blood soup”.
“Malenko may have been my brother, but his shattered personalities are all utterly unsane. They are a lost cause and shall never achieve their potential.” Reiterates that Bluto should join him to achieve their goals but together and as one. That they must achieve their 2 lost weapons to regain their full power “We didn’t expect those upsarts to gain them.”
Bluto “My lord, I feel in my blood, my spawn is near.”
At that, we bust the balls into the room.

Bjorn “Bluto, I am here to finish what I began.”
They all gasp in shock!
Thrand and Fliggol cut left and right to Efreet. Sigrin leaps from one tale to the other vs the left gnome, Ragnar and Brand go past Bluto to the other gnome. Tosten rolls over the right tablet to the far Efreet on that side, Finnrik to the one on the left side. Gunnar moves in and starts taking aim at Sigrid’s gnome foe. Burkett stands next to Gunnar at the door. Bjorn and Brynnjalf charge Bluto. Bjorn hits 14, Brynnhalf for max. He has no other door out, no blood sorcerer to make a portal for him this time. It finally ends here.
Rolf moves into the room with Burkett. Stelio now stands behind them to witness.

Kaelen lands transforming onto the book in front of Wolk and grabs him, trying to snap him out of it. The book sends a chill through her entire body.
She yells reminders of escaping Langbay together decades ago, saving children, how Wold led them through the sewers saving them all.
Sigrid crits and hits her gnome. Bluto turns with is blade hastening him. He swings thrice at his son miss/hit/hit but almost minimum damage.
Sucking up damage for our leader, the young one has learned fast.
Nox hits Papa then fumbles!
Bjorn hits Bluto twice!
The other efreet attack, one almost taking FLiggol out with 2 hits including a crit. Rolf moves in to help and misses. Fliggol misses him too.
Ragnar misses the gnome; Poppa T misses Nox, the lead Efreet, twice.
K hits Bonnae with a 17 pt magic missile w/o any action; He then casts something using his staff. Kaelen is kocked away 10’. She lands on her feet.
Brand hits the gnome once.
Kaelen knows the staff as a a staff of the magi.
Burkett moves in and helps Brand with a long polearm.
Finnrik with Skrudtingr hits/misses/bites his efreet.

Kaelen leaps off the kocked over chair and clubs Wolk in the forehead with the sap.
Sigrid hits twice on the gnome.
Bluto kicks Brynnhalf back 5’ then hits Bjorn then misses. Brynnjalf moves back in and resumes his attack.
Thrand hits his efreet twice.
Nox recovers his fumble then hits Papa.
Gunnar throws at the gnome again twice DEAD.
Stelio can’t handle just watching any longer, rolls over the table to assist Papa next round vs Nox.
Bjorn misses Bluto twice, power attacking.
The other 3 efreets counterattack their opponents. Box misses Thrand twice; Cox hits Fliggol DOWN!! Then turns on Rolf and misses.
Finnrik is hit twice. Rolf lays hands on Fliggol using full power bringing him back up.
Brand is hit twice by the gnome. Ragnar and Brand both hit it. Pops misses Nox twice.
Keraptis is a bit woozy for a moment, hits Bonnae with another Mag Mis, then holds his hands up and a shimmer goes around him.
She is still yelling to him to come to his senses. He looks up “Their is no Wolk here, I am only Keraptis. I did well to shed that beastly intellect.”
She sees right into his eyes, and sees the slightest hint of Wolk behind them.
Finnrik hits twice and bites again.
Burkett still helping Thrand.
Kaelen grabs a scoop next to the fire, and dumps hot wood coals right in Keraptis’ face. It bounces off of the field.
Sigrid leaps down behind the other gnome and hits.
Bluto hits Bjorn 16 and hits Brynnhalf too. He crits Bluto! Then fumbles his second attack as it catches on Bluto’s armor on the way out.
Thrand his his efreet twice DEAD. Gunnar now targets Rolf and Fliggol’s Efreet miss.
Bjorn crits Bluto and cuts a small gap in the armor as well (sword’s magic) then hits again. His arm there falls to the floor separated from his body DEAD!!
Thus fell Bluto!!!!
Rolf hits and misses the efreet.
The Efreet remaining have waited to all go together. They 3 raise hands forward, beams come from each going right to Bjorn! Going through Rags/Brand/Finnrik/Rolf to get to him.
Bjorn is hit and effected by only 2.
Fliggol stands and hits the efreet 7.
The gnome misses Sigrid. Ragnar hits it; Stelio hits the efreet then Tosten crits!
Kaelen sees that there seems to be a slight internal struggle in Keraptis/Wolk’s mind. His eyes flare up a few seconds. He looks up at her “Miserable woman, have at you” the shimmer goes away and a stream of flame from his eyes misses her badly as he struggles within. Tapestries burn, a bookshelf lights up. By the fire place, a swirling black hole opens up.
Brand hits the gnome DEAD! Burket moves to help Rolf and Fliggol.
Finnrik hits the efreet twice and bites it.

Kaelen grabs the book and tosses it in the fire.
Thrand now charges to FInnrik, Brynnhalf to help Rolf et al. Gunnar hits the Rolf et al Efreet again DEAD.
Stelio misses then crits Nox.
Bjorn goes to help Tosten et al now but misses.
NIx “Nox, I’m out of here.” They begin turning into small balls of fire.
Poppa attack the ball on their side but misses, Rags runs to Thrand and Finnrik but misses.
Kaelen sees a huge sinister demon coming for the gate, fiery wielding a flaming whip.
SHe sees the mental battle more clearly for a second. One voice is K “MY book, my book!” Then Wolk “Kaelen, my friend!” The K voice “I will not be defeated so easily” and the book iteslf is screaming and howling in the fire!! As the Balor begins to step out of the gateway, Wolk cracks the staff into 2 pieces. It explodes terribly.
All the gateway mess in here, that’s what the efreet were doing as well, trying to gate out, messes everything up.
A ghost of some kind flies out of the body of wolk and into Nox’s fireball and it blips out with a wail. The Balor gate ruptures as he is halfway through, destroyed on the Prime Material.
Burkett leaps through the door toward Snarla who was casting, and both are surrounded by an entropic sphere, protecting them.
We have visions of feasting and fighting in a meadhall with heroes who have been dead for a long time, including Erik.
In the midst of wrestling and brawling, an older man breaks things up “If you’re just visiting, you gotta go.”
Valkyrie guide us out the door and we wake up surrounded by our entire army. Luckily, those of us who stayed back were in range of the effect.

We are far south with the rest of the expedition where they were awaiting us. They say we’ve been gone almost a month. When we were overdue, a group went looking for us. They found the Steading and talked to the orcs there. Found the trail to the Frost GIants, then backtracked to here. Some old woman living in a hut outside of the Mt.gave us all of your bodies which she had been caring for but not waking. They took us all back south, its been 2 days here when we began to stir last night. Sitting outise of the Mt they alse met up with an elf woman named Loriel and a dark shady guy going by name of Volcifar.
Kaelen has no visions of the festivities. Instead, they were interacting with Wolk who tells his tale: coupel years back they had found the Magi Staff. He had been studying it, the first of the imprints were in teh staff and it caught him off guard. Then we found the spellbook, which was also K’s. Every page was a constant barrage of Keraptis minor imprinting. He then felt the desire to study them, unknowingly becoming addicted. By the time we showed up, he was fully imprinted but only just before. Like 98% K. When teh book was burned, it shattered a primary hold on his psyche. Once the Balor came in and slaughtered all, K was going to disintigrate Kaelen. Wolk stopped that, and instead he still blew the place up. But, with the other gates open it warped everything.
Hence, here we all are.
Wolk is legitimately destroyed though. So when Kaelen and Clyde wake up, that’s the end of Wolk. He rests in the afterlife now. But they got one last goodbye at least.

Now, we voyage on after only a few more days rest.
The orcs have already built longships under the guidance of our men and go with us.
We land on the far end of the Sea of the Masters.
Bonnae will stay. She has business with Brazzamal, a monster we might want to destroy as well. SHe has a mole in the Fire Giant layer, that’s where Brazzamal lives.

View
Arrival to Environs of White Plume Mountain

We go to the hut first, about a mile away. A small waterway passes through this area, making it a bit wet and marshy.
The hut is modest. A young and beautiful woman is in the yard doing chores. She greets us friendly with a soft, alluring voice “I am Therja.” She is a hermit seer/witch sort. She knows each of our names already, and will “be a great benefit to us while we visit this area”. She says we have specific things to do, that we must complete before achieving our goal for she knows the evil man in the mt and the reborn Keraptis. She will explain all about that later, for the day stay here. Tonight we drink heavily of mead, wine and ale. It will flow all night long.

We have some of the most savory meats and fantastic mead and wine and ale ever.

At a high point, she passes out drinking horns to the lot of us to keep, filling it up with a brew we are not sure what it even is but its grand.
Bjorn makes several attempts to seduce her and succeeds.
We think we start hallucinating after this magical brew. There come to be many partiers: ferries, satyrs, trolls of varying sorts, etc.

We get only a few hrs sleep, but wake up w/o hangover and feel like a 1000gp.
She is already awake and ready to brief us fully.
We effectively drank a 7 day potion of heroism.

First, Dragotha, once a dragon but now an undead wyrm. A terrible foe. He must be slain because he is a major power source and allie to those living w/in the mountain.
He is basically a skeleton, so blunt force is especially useful. He is a spellcaster. Large DR vs magic. Small vs all but bludgeoning. His presence itself has been known to make ever great heroes flee for their lives. Also, and acid breath weapon, which does have the limitation of being a straight line.
Bjorn “I’m thinking we probably should have brought Gudrun.”
She replies, not too far off, lives her sister. An archrival of Dragotha. She knows of your coming as well. From unseen, she will aid you vs the dead wyrm.
Once he is slain, make for the Mt. itself.

Second, there is another person on the mountain on their own quest. You can’t accomplish your goal unless she is with you, its a certainty. It matters not if you complete your own personal goal of Bluto, the real threat, the real path the nornts have for you, is something else. A greater evil in their than Bluto that even he does not know he is beholden to. Whether this is the Keraptis rumor, she does not know.
Dragotha is half the reason why this other woman has not entered the mountain yet.

Thrand asks about cold iron, and she says that will work just fine.
She says Brynjalf was too headstrong, and did not stay to be enterained. She believes him dead by now.

Stelio, not liking to advertise, let’s it be known he has a magic blade but keep it secret in the Empire.
Rolf says he has capabilities for at least a few holy blows to hit well.
Anar can enhance 2 blades to magic with a pre fight ritual, for a limited time. He will release the effect at the fight. These go to Kolfrost (8 rounds) and Sigrid (5 rounds).

She details the directions to the wyrm’s huge cave at the swamp, it will reek of death in the area. She sends us off. We skip the woman on the mountain and make straight form Dragotha, only a couple miles away at most. A cave jutting from the brakish water, dead bodies bloated for days float around it. Even the insects are devoid from the area.
Cave entrance is huge, we walk in spread out.

The water is knee deep and the soil underneath is a bit mushy. We have to walk carefully. We enter as spread as we can. The cavern narrows slightly after about 40’, but then opens again to an even larger area.
Bjorn, Thrand and Stelio are in the lead as we get to the opening. Finnrik and Kolfrost behing them, Anar and Rolf just behind them. Sigrid brings up the rear.
Lagging farther back are Uhto and Gunnar.
We assume the dragon knows we are here by now, and Finnrik begins a war chant.

There are 4 stone pillars going floor to ceiling, which actually look worked. The bodies lying around here are more decrepid. He must be pickling the ones outside.
Under the water, spanning semmingly much of the room, is piles of treasure. The water gets deeper in here though. The treasure high spots should be capable of being used as land, if loose.
Right at the entrance, a wide stairway the width of the entrance goes deeper into the water.
Bjorn says to back off for a minute. Get your heavy armor off or change to lighter armor. Drowning may be worse than the dragon’s attacks.
Thrand starts taking off his mail, leaving his under leather only. Rolf follows suit, though begrudgingly.
Kolfrosta and Stelio follow suit as well down to leathers. Same with Bjorn.

Thand after a failed run attempt, makes the running jump succesfully to a pile of treasure to our left. Finnrik swims to one on our right. He feels a small dropoff right on his left. Bjorn walks right down the middle, passing the same small pit but to his left.
The ceiling is vaulted in her, outside our torchlight at its center.
Rolf slowly walks to the bottom step and mutters a prayer. Finnrik sets his torch securely in the pile. Stelio begins walking to Finnrik who makes a short hop to another pile right next to it after he helps Stelio up.
Finnric sets another torch on this pile securely. Then he hears a light swooshing behind him. All in the room feel an immediate sense of dread as Dragotha rises to the far right, adjacent to Finnrik.
Sigrid “Brother!!”
Finnrik, Sigrid and Thrand are not shaken in the slightest, Sigrid even begins salivating at the chance of being part of the killing such a foe!!
All others are shaken.
It makes surprise attack upon Finnrik with its bite 19.
Sigrid jumps over to another pile to the right, climbs to it then jumps to and grabs onto one of the pillars, readying to leap upon the wyrm next round.
Bjorn begins slowly wading around the pillar to Dragotha’s right/Finnrik’s left.
Gunnar moves into position at the steps edge and readies to throw a javelin of lightning.
Anar hits it with an eldritch dart. Thrand jumps into the water, though not very far, and almost hits a pit and goes down. Bjorn walked right past this pit as well. What herioc luck to have missed both! Then moves right next to Finrik’s pile, and over another hole skillfully.
It breaths its breath weapon right through FInnrik and Stelio. The damage to Finnrik is absorbed by a protection spell by Therja’s sister!! Then the same to Stelio as well!!
Kolfrost move next to STelio on his pile; Stelio jump next to Finnrik
Rolf goes around the small pit and onto the pile Finnrik and Stelio were on together briefly.
Finnrik misses it twice.
We hear the sounds of a groaning, like from effort, from above Sigrid on the pillar.
Sigrid sees a person atop the pillar, trying to push a statue which crowns it off and onto Dragotha, then leaps atop it but her blow is futile as Anar releases the blade enhancing spell.
Bjorn gets to the fiend and makes one attack.
Gunnar hits it with a lightning bolt and it fails its SR.
Thrand goes underwater and swims to within its boneness.
It grabs Finnrik in one claw, but Finnrik is able to keep his arms free. It then bites him.
Bjorn is enchanted with Greater Heroism by Therja’s sister. This negates the fear as well!
Finnrik fumbles his attack on the wrist.
Rolf calls upon the power of Imbrun, and a flow of positive energy releases in a pulsing wave into Dragotha.
Stelio actually hits it once. Kolfrosta moves now. getting tween the pile STelio and Finnrik are upon and Sigrid’s pillar but misses.
From atop “A little help here, perhaps!”
Sigrid hears a globbering sound and a small furry humanoid comes down from the darkness above onto the statue the woman is pushing. It teeters half a moment, and falls upon Dragotha’s head and neck, crashing into the water below. The splash puts one of the torches out in the piles.
It sinks into the deep hole it is in, which Thrand is near. The water disturbance sends Kolfrosta under and into the deep hole.
Finnrik takes the surpise hit to get out falling out and into the water next to Kolfrosta.
Sigrid is still unable to do any damage.
Anar sends a small ball of fire at it, which fizzles on its SR.
Bjorn misses it twice.
A ray of power appears out of nothing above and in front of it, hammering it for 81!! Therja’s sister!
Thrand comes up underneath, grabs onto its ribcage, and starts hacking. He misses twice.

Our dice are utterly failing us!!

Dragotha attacks. It bites Stelio; it then claws at Thrand inside its ribcage, bringing it to an awkward position.
Stelio misses; Rolf moves in next to Stelio now and hits it with a smite!
Finnrik and Kolfrosta rise from the water, Finnric hits 29!
Sigrid moves up to its neck joint and starts sawing its head off 12 “Bjorn, we’re going to take it!”
Bjorn thinks she’s crazy as a box of badgers.
The woman atop the platform throws a glass vial onto Dragotha’s head and it
Bjorn hits once 18.
From above “Half grim’s blade, I know it anywhere even reforged!”
Anar sends another bolt at it and misses.
Thrand hits 31/miss.
Stelio is not feeling well, and Therja’s sister must know it. He is hit with a displacement spell.
It tries to grab Thrand, but his AoO hit ruins it. It then leaps upward, Finnrik’s, Kolfrosta’s AoO hitting.
It flies upward and hovers above us.
Finnrik starts climbing up SIgrid’s pillar where the mysterious woman is, who climbs down with the furry humanoid thing, its a gibberling!!!
Finnrik “The lemmings of the north!” Yet it wears gear: leather belt and shoulder strap with a longword.
Finnrik “Where are you going, woman?”
“To safety.”
It makes a wide ark to come back around. Rolf lays hands on Stelio.
Sigrid saws for 11, using ride to stay atop it.
It flies forward, looping around and toward us overtop Bjorn and breaths acid upon him.
Sigrid’s magic on her blade ends.
Bjorn is hit with the acid resistance as well now just before it washes completely over him.
Finnrik gets to the top.
Sigrid leaps off into the pit it was standing in, so as not to hit any floor, coming up next to Thrand.
It bites at Finnrik as it goes by, going by us and glancing off the wall in the corner, landing.
A mass Enlarge Person is cast by Therja’s sister, missing only Finnrik of the main combatants.
Its up to about its ribcage in water.
Sigrid “I’m huge!”
Finnrik leaps from his height, landing from his height about 10’ short of it. We all start swimming for it. Sigrid goes under the water with Thrand.
It turns around.
It bites Bjorn, claws Kolfrosta and Finnrik.
Kolfrosta hits it 18!!
Finnrik hits 19 DEAD!!!!

It falls into pieces, random bones splash. A flash of light within it flashes white, turns to red, and shoots off into the treasure horde.

Thrand and Sigrid rise from the water. We praise our victory as the mysterious woman comes over.
Sigrid “Yeah, we cut it down, I rode an undeady wyrm, by Odin!”
We start looting, as does she. She grabs a few things and starts putting them in her bag, claiming they were stolen from her “so they are mine.”

There are thousands of ancient coins about.

What we can get out of here:
Incandescant blue sphere ioun stone
vibrant purple prism ioun
scarlet and blue sphere ioun
pink and green sphere ioun
huge diamond: 2000gp
3’ statue of rampant dragon carved from ruby: 5000gp
800 of the ancient coins worth about 2400gp in total

The woman finally officially approaches us “We are no one of consequence. My name so far as many know me Lady Bonnie, Contessa of Salt Marsh.” Her loyal sidekick is named Clyde “He loves Sir Clyde.” She is here to find a friend of here who came here not long back, fearing the worse for him, may have come across something that brought him trouble. The rest of her company are several weeks travel away, she came by herself on such a personal mission. The dragon has caused her problems getting in, saw us and figured it was her chance. Has a hunch who we are.
To Bjorn “If you aren’t the heir to Halvgrim, you better kiss your rear goodbye.”
Thrand “I believe he officially is.”
Thrand details who we are, and the short of our coming here.
Bluto is part the reason why she is here too. She is a First, has been alive for some time and knew Halvgrim and can relate many tales. She was alive and around him when Halvgrim killed the dragon and got his blade. Served as a merc in Langbay when she was young there.

We return to the witches hut with us.
Bonnie tells many tales of Halvgrim and the siege of Langbay in her time, Bluto’s grandfather, the Masters’ vanishing. She tells us of Sarge and Lance. They sacked Langbay with us!! Ironic!!!
She wants to get into the mountain, her mage was studying abroad and began acting weird last year or 2, obsessive. Sometime last year he took off, she followed his notes and discovered a reference to the mountain. So, here she is.
She will enter with us.
Sigrid "What’s your skill set?
“Yes.”
Sigrid nods “Ok then, good to know.”
We nod around at each other.
She says she is best at being sneaky, in all its incarnations.

Thrand to Therja “Tell your sister thank you.”
She says she’s actually here, now that you’ve proven yourself to not be repacious murderers or crusaders (she looks at Rolf).
The sister entrers from another room, very beautiful as well. Dark raven black hair. She is the middle sister, Thrigga, not the one that helped us.
The eldest gorgeous redhead enters, Thingizzard, who assisted us in the battle.

They say he is still alive, recharging in his phylactery.
Thand shows them the statue and they say, oh yes, that’s it.
Destroy it and destroy him.
They know not how. It is pure ruby and enchanted with arcane and dragon magic, and another layer of quasi necromancy which was used by a fanatical blood cult that once terrorized the land. Most weapons would break, there should be a special way to destroy it.
We must keep it for now.
Perhaps in Plume somehow, we know Bluto was linked to a blood cult.

We celebrate the defeat of Dragotha heartily tonight.
They put some healing on us so that we are perfect by the moring.

Keraptis had an army of fanatical gnomes, kicked out the his homelands; travelled to far reaches, learned many new powers but became even more twisted than he was. Settled in Plume than one day simply vanished. One of the signs that the Masters’ were leaving, in Celestia’s prophecy.
Not sure if they were related or friends, but the Master Malenko had a similar story, disappearing at about the same time. But, at the time they disappeared hated each other with a passion.
K ended up as a lower echelon Masters to Peldan, Malenko to Imbrun; hence opposing loyalties. We know Bluto had a Malenko as his wizard.

They ID the ioun stones for us. Mined by the Masters and they shaped them, naturally magic stones. They go to Thrand (wis), Anar (spell storing), and we leave 1 here for Rags (cha). Gudrun will get the intel one when we get back.
Same big party as before, but no magic drink. Lots of friendly drinking, strength, wrestling contests, etc.
Tomorrow, to the Mt.

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