The Saga of the Bjornings

Siege of Lanbay

It’s an 10 day voyage to the landing sight.

Langbay itself is a population of about 7000. There are some 8 major settlements in its immediate vicinity, and outside of those more hamlets, villages and such that it controls. Outside of those, technically it claims the land but patrols are few and far between. We know they lost a lot of quality men during the invasion of our lands.
It lies on the coast in a valley, surrounded by mountainous lands. A ring of rough hills lies lies tween the mts and Langbay, w/in which are the towns.
The city has an outer AND inner wall.
The kingdom is called Camden, the capital is on the peninsula south of Langbay, at its tip.

Bjorn wants to send about half of our force east and half west of the city, hitting major settlement to each side of Langbay nearest the coast and if necessary work our way up to the northern most 2, in order to pin the city in; leaving a couple or so to the pin down the harbor from any escapes.
Once we secure the towns, by attack or them fleeing for Langbay, the dwarves will get to work from the secured zone of the town to Langbay’s immediate north.

We sail by our initial raid that started off the campaign, it is basically abandoned. Hugging the coast.

Finnric “Do we want to stay so near the coast now, do you care if we get spotted.”
Bjorn an uncaring “No” shaking his head.

After, we hear a distant horn blowing; mercantile vessels flee at our approach, making a wide berth and making for open sea behind us. 1 of Sven’s, 1 of Kolfrosta’s and 1 allied Jarl ship are to blockade the city. W/ our 3 ships are Sven’s other, the last of Kolfrosta’s, and the 2 remaining of the allied Jarl.
Wulfgar will take his 6 west plus we send 1 of Kolfrosta’s w/ him.
We land south of the village, east of the hills, to attack from the opposite side of the city. Lance and Black J say thanks for the ride and are leaving for home. More than likely, augments here are 2nd class citizens and will not fight you if you do not fight them. There are a couple of hamlets that are nothing but augments, actually. They say to the NE of the city, at edge of the hills, is one of them that will likely be cool with us. He gives us his mark to give them as a show of friendship with Lance. They will also stop there on the way out to tell them we may be coming.
The acoustics of the area are amazing, we can hear sounds from the village as we start over land. They are already screaming for their lives. By the time we get there, its all but empty. We make our way to the 2nd village up and stop.

The town was hastily left. Much is to be had, especially from the church. The heaviest, and so best, of the gold was often left behind. We load as much onto the many mules, wagons and carts and such still remaining, and take it with us from town to town as it grows.

Very fine Tower Shield (30)
Water Clock!
High Quality Great Axe
10 exceptional alch. fire (burn twice as long)
Potion prot. arrows
mst silver spiked chain (505)
lvl 3 mst longsword
"" dagger
lvl 1 mst battle axe
platinum Return holy symbol w/ jewels (300)
Gems and Jewels totalling 3158
31 pp
315 gp
2110 sp

Copper is up the the taking from who finds it and what they can carry.

The next town has had more time, only maybe 800 pop., still flying Bluto’s flag. There is still a presence in town.
The gate is shut, tips of spears carried by men can be seen on the crenelations. 10 or 12’ high wall; we estimate 50 to 100 men remain from high ground vantage points.
There is a smaller gate at the far side of the town.
Bjorn sends an offer first: throw down all weapons, surrender, give up the town, we will not kill all of you. If we have to attack this town, no one will be allowed to live.
“If we open the gates and let you in, what do you mean when you say "not all of us won’t be killed’? "
Bjorn “Whoever was foolish enough to order this resistance, the rest will live.”
They discuss, we think there is an argument going on inside about what to do.
A short time later, guards come to the wall and say they will hand over the commander if we let the soldiery walk.
Bjorn accepts so long as they leave unarmed.
They are apprehensive about leaving unarmed.
We say if they throw the commander out the door bound, we will step back a distance and let them flee either to Langbay, where you may die anyway, or away from the area.
They will go to Lanbgay. We understand duty.
Bjorn warns them of Bluto, that they risk death by showing up w/o their commander. We try to tell them not to make for Langbay.
They discuss, deciding to go NE away from the conflict. But, they are worried about their many women and kids who are at Langbay or will be.
Bjorn insists this is a very personal mission, we are not here to rape and murder commoners and general mayhem. This is not our typical wanton destruction.
They accept fully. We get not only the knight commander, but also 6 of his household guard, and they soldiery leave.
Finnric rips his armor and clothes apart to check for cult evidence, and he does have the teardrop amulet. His men do not. They seem to know nothing.
Bjorn has Koku quickly and mercifully behead the house guard in front of the knight.
Bjorn “Bring forth the shield maidens to question.”
Sigrid and Kolfrosta, skilled in intimidate, come forward to start the torture/interrogation. He has been beaten up by the soldiers already.
What he tells us:
115 man garrison at next town. It’s the jewel in Bluto’s crown. The lord in charge likely won’t leave, he’ll fight us. If anyone evacuated it would be the women and children. Otherwise he’ll draft the citizenry.
In Langbay, Bluto has remaing after invation, 25 hvy (w/ breastplate), 75 lt cavalry. Also another 100 quality infantry (chain and kite sh). About 100 archers, all shortbows. 300 grunt infantry. A lot of conscripts in the city also for certain. But, these are all his 2nd string men, basically. His best were taken and mostly lost at the invastion.
By this time has has many cuts via Sigrid and a broken ankle via Kolfrosta’s hammer.
Bjorn “Can we expect the king to send troops anytime soon?”
“Bluto is a peer of the realm, so the king is oathbound” Even if Bluto can get no men out of town, Bluto’s mage has a direct way to communicate w/ the king’s arcanist."
Hopefully the king will figure Bluto can hold out for a while, and wait to gather a larger force, longer than Bluto will really have thanks to our dwarves.
Last question is all he knows about Bjorn’s brother: far as he knows, nothing has happened to him. He’s in Bluto’s tower in Langbay.
Finnric “Can I blood eagle him now?”
Bjorn says since he talked, a lot, he’ll get his head crushed in quickly by Kolfrosta. Finnric’s disappointed. Blood Eagle is not to be done lightly, but this blood cult is a horse of a very different color. They are savagely evil.
Bjorn “She might miss the first time, a bit.”
She does, it takes 2 swings to do the trick.

We find a Return monk robe, but inside out it is a blood cult robe. The knight ID’s him by name and description (older gentleman about 60 yrs).

Again, we leave a looting crew back while the army marches to the next town.
fine hvy steel shield (150)
lvl 1 mst chain shirt
monk’s outfit Return (inside its the blood cult robe mentioned above)
Nobles outfit (75)
bag of 3 thunderstones
spiked gauntlet
arcane scroll: flare
spear (boar spear, big leaf head blade): Finnric claims this with authority
1000 in gems/jewels
40pp
530gp
2110sp

The day is starting to wind down. We keep on.

Village 3, biggest thus far. Pop maybe 1200.
Another walled town. Hanging from the stone walls are augment women and children, and the old!! Torches are lit along the walls. There are many more than 50 goons actively yelling curses at us.
Walls are bigger and better than the last, about 15’ high.
Sigrid “All the more loot that may remain.”
We surround the town deliberately. There is a main entrance on each side of the town. 2 masses at the side of each gate.
Bjorn sets the dwarves constructing 2 battering rams. They say they can make siege engines faster than mortal man.
We attack both doors at once, archers providing covering fire at the walls above the gates.
Bjorn leads the front door w/ Kolfrosta, Harald, Ingvarr, SIgrid, Ragnar, Toru.
Finnric the rear w/ his 5 Ulfhednar.
Finnric “Every spear along these walls is mine!”
We get only a few injuries from bowfire on both sides. About 10 minutes of battering for the door and portcullis to go down. Sigrid is primed, barely able to contain herself, pacing with anticipation at her first action, and first kill.
In the rear, Finnric leads the Ulfhednar in a wedge (Koku to his left; Modar/Brokkr next; Ylva/Thorhamma next), archers firing behind them; the rest flood in behind and flank outwards after the entrance is cleared enough.
At the front a more mass wave attack let by Bjorn.
Bjorn has ordered no quarter. Everyone w/in the walls dies.

First, attacks through murder holes do little to us. Waiting for Finnric is a line of soldiers with a leader; 4 cavalry and a line of infantry meet Bjorn.
Sigrid starts her career off with a critical 17, unhorsing the rider but the horse goes with him in a startle and pins the rider! As he clears himself and stand, she beheads him with a crit!
Finnric collects 2 spears from the first line, both d6 shortspears.
Troops have been filing past the Ulfhednar in force, the line falls in a bloodily in a couple rounds, Thorhamma finishing off the last man. They flood in with the men, killing, ravishing, and looting. Finnric orders Koku to guard the exit “None leave alive”; The front is held better by the front guard with 2 commanders and the few cavalry but it falls eventually, Ragnar dropping the final commander.
Ragnar starts hitting on Sigrid “Sexy Legs”.
Sigrid gets the head of her first kill. Bjorn says he should fire Ingvar, Ragnar and Harald for their poor showing.
Turns out about 400 people are still here, crowded into the area of the central walled tower. Including the Lord hiding amongst them. He does not seem to be a blood cultist.
Toru “Are we still killing everyone?”
Bjorn “I’ve got a better use for them.” We pack them into buildings that are easily closed up and barred/secured. They will be for later “to show Langbay what happens to those who resist.”
Finnric “Just like Bluto did to Rymskyld.”

We loot in full:
10 sunrods
2 tindertwigs
spyglass
2 waterclocks
Hvy Crossbow of quality materials (400)
Alchemical solutions: keen edge; neutralize poison
scroll: blood gate
1200 in gems/jewels
45pp
680sp
1010gp
Also, 3 mobile siege engines; trebuchet and 2 catapults.

Next town up is burned out. Wooden palisade battered, piles of burned bodies in the square. No corpses that have not been burned.
To the NE is the augment town, couple hundred. There is trouble there, cavalry riding through the town attacking as we look on via spyglass.
Last town, just north of Langbay, has been completely abandoned. Wulfgar meets us on the way there.
It’s late by now. We start getting ready for the siege tomorrow, the dwarves begin scouting for their dig sight. A unit of 20 Allied Jarl men will guard and assist them.
We have kept them out of sight from the locals so as not to warn Bluto of the presence of trixey dwarves.

Finnric hears of his sisters action, and congratulates her.

We settle our camps on the ourskirts of the city, defensive positions, etc.

Morning

Get look into town w/ spyglass. No gates from our direction.

Lance, Black J, and a group of augments show up early. Say Bluto has cavalry that has been riding around hitting the augment places. The burned out town we entered yesterday had openly said they were going to deal w/ us because they had a good relationship with the augments. So, Bluto turned on the town. These augments, Lance et al saved from the small village we saw being attacked. He is here w/ his 20 men as well. They are looking for blood and join.

About 40 lightly armed men approach under flag of truce. Head man demands to speak to the leaders. He meets w/ Bjorn and Wulfgar. Says he leads an irregular militia in the area, they wander the region. As of now, Bluto is actually on the outs with them. He has moved to true evil actions. He and his band are looking to overthrow him. With the same enemy, perhaps we can work together for now. He introduces himself as the Sgt.Major Thomas Darkhelm.
He has 50 men.
The 2 rams the dwarves built have also been brought up.

We dig in, piked trenches around the town; forage for supplies and siege ammunition. The augments and rangers know how to work the siege engines, so they are stationed there.
The Ulfhednar sleep most of the days, and are up all night doing Odinic rituals and being on night watch.
The 3 shadow and the greenborn and the infravision augments are used as outer scouts as well.

Next Day

We bring up the captives from the previous town, older men, about 50 of them. Sarge asks us not to do whatever we are planning, but Bjorn rejects him.

The Lord is beheaded, after another rebuff of Bjorn’s request to surender. His body is piked across from the main gate on the west side, his head launched over the gate.
The older men are lined up, each with a soldier with them. The Ulfhednar are among them.
Bjorn says this is what happens then, and tells them to cry for help of their friends and family. About half do so. He then orders all killed. None die quickly. They are also piked, lining them up to either side of the lord.
A few token catapult shots at us fall short.
Still nothing from the roving cavalry.

Next Day

A ram is placed at a gate on east and west; tower at other gate to east, plus north gate. Last tower with other siege equipment.
Bjorn leads a force on west side w/ ram; another force just north of him covers the other gate on that side with the ram. To east is Sven’s men, Ingvarr leading a group of Bjorn’s men, and Wulgar’s Jarlsleifia force.
Wulfgar is to north gate; Finnborg’s neighbor with the siege engines.
Ragnar is with a force of Bjorn’s at the siege engines as well.

Our old women captives are brought forth. Bjorn lines them up, and tells them to beg for rescue to their overlord like he told the old men. This is the first they have seen of what happened to the old men. They are uncontrollably distraught.
Bjorn makes sure to point out that this is the town that did NOT surrender, that the town that did peacefully all got to run away.
Some useless arrow shots are fired at us to no effect. The women are killed and added to the line.

Night:
The cavalry is spotted by Koku and a shadow augment, coming up from the east behind our men. All 100 of them! They tell Ingvarr it will be here in about 10 minutes.
We start waking up more than just the 20 night guards, who get ready to be attacked. 40 men we keep watching the city side in reserve, just in case. 100 men ready to engage the cavalry along with the shadow augment and Koku.
The cavalry keep their distance, riding around, up and back. They are just trying to harass us, not attack.
The shadow augment leaves, reporting to Lance who reports to Bjorn. Bjorn sends word to Sarge to send rangers out to look for the cavalry’s camp first light, assuming that since they were up all night, they must be resting much of the day.

Next Day

Before daybreak the cavalry vanish into the dark in the direction they came. Sarge sends rangers out to look for them. Likely, they shouldn’t be difficult to track. The winged augment is sent along to speedily report back the position.
Finnric volunteers to lead his Ulfhednar and followers on the raid, wanting Finnbogi and his berserks to join him.
He goes to personally ask Finnbogi who says he certainly will so long as Wulfgar ok’s it. Finnnbogi rushes to ask Wulfgar who agrees.
We prepare to go at a moment’s notice.

Bjorn gathers the rest of the adult males form the captured town. Sarge asks for quarter again for these men.
He tells them we really want to hear it from them.
“Being men, you might want to act like men for the first time in your lives. But, I have a way to fix that. If you scream like the little girls you are though…”
They are dragged out to see the line of staked bodies.
“If you’re willing to surrender the city now…” another chance to surrender. The men at the SW corner tower are obviously shaken, trying to leave their post. The men on the walls are forcing them not to.
Bjorn tells the men to scream for you lives. Most of them refuse. The men standing behind each all have a knife at the ready. All are immediately hamstringed while standing. They fall.
Bjorn “You can still save your lives, open the gates!”
The conscripts along the west wall are all beginning to call for the gates to be open.
The soldiers are keeping them in line though.
Starting with the first in line, he is knifed in the privates.
Toru “When you begin to beg and wail like women, this will stop.”
All the conscripts on that wall are freaking out. Their morale is finished. Men inside the city are switched in for mostof them. Those routing are rounded up by professional troops and whisked away.
The line of men soon starts to wail and beg for the city to give.
No response from Bluto.
BJorn “Apparently your lord does not care about you. SInce Lord Bluto has no regard for the life of his men, neither shall I.”
They are each killed by the man behind them, as each man wishes. They are added to the like of staked bodies.

in the afternoon the flyer reports the camp has been found, about 5 miles NE. About a third are awake right now. He leads Finnric and Finnbogi, they move out fast.
Bjorn gives a directive, he wants all of their heads. On their way out, Black and Lance’s 3 shadow augments and the greenborn meet Finnric and insist to join him as well.

From the enemy’s Beacon Hill over the last few days, we have seen much of what we will face inside the city. The soldiery we see at the keep are well armed and armored. Likely more than we were told. Perhaps 1000 conscripts throughout the defenses; 200 conscript archers on the walls; 80 or so light cavalry in the 2 plazas; 300 infantry.; 80 to 100 heavy infantra. Probably a couple hundred in the castle including 40 hvy cavalry and a group of knights. They have a catapult there.
We assume Bluto and his Malenko are in the castle. A strange winged man is seen once on the grounds, as well as the winged demon looking thing that saved Bluto from our clutches. What appears to be a wyvern penned up on the castle grounds. Also, a handful of giants!!! A fire, a hill, a frost, and a mountain. This gets Finnric interestes. A troll and an Ogre are also seen.

vs The Cavalry

The campsite is triangle shaped, a group of cavalry at each point. Each has 2/3 sleeping and 1/3 awake! Only about 33 awake!! No patrol in the daytime apparently, few men on watch out away from each point.
Finnric and Ulfhednar and followers take one tip, the berserks another, the rangers the third. At their point, the outlying 3 guards are engaged by the augments here but the augments fail miserably so an alarm goes up via horn. All sides immediately attack.
The berserks and Finnric’s men flood into the camp.
Finnbogi hits the outlying 3 guards.
Finnric’s followers make for the tents of the just waking, while the Ulfhednar take out the men who were already up; Ylva and Modar jumping the outlying 3 guards.
The rangers form 2 lines at the edge of the camp on their side, opposite each other. They are to pepper their tip with bowfire during the assault, hit everything awake or running out of a tent.
The augments have to finish off the guards they didn’t ambush.
Once the men are in the tents, the men awake being eliminated fairly quickly, the rangers and augments find that in the tents are women and kids dressed as cavalry! The berserks barely take notice and do not stop.
The rangers/augments take all captive at this point. Finnric does the same on his side and actively has to stop Finnbogi from continuing past his part of the camp; for the rangers/augments say they are willing to forcibly stop the berserks otherwise.
The 11 awake on each tip were actually soldiers. Only those in the tents were women and children. The berserks did lay waste to most on their attack point.
Black J is beside himself, not what he was expecting.
He gets a wounded enemy and begins roughly asking where the other cavalry are. The man will not comply.
Ylva arrives and begins biting fingers off of the man while Finnric holds him down demanding the information. 3 fingers in he says these are peasants from a nearby village told they were being brought here for security. Lies. A ruse to lure the best of the Vikings here so as not to be there for an attack at the main force. He knows not where the attack will be, on what force. They will attack on foot since all their horses are here to pull off the ruse.
The winged augment is sent back to report the ruse.
The captive says the leader of the cav is one of Bluto’s inner circle (so likely a cultist!). His spear is an artifact from the time of the Masters, he calls it Blood Drinker, a foul weapon indeed.
We mount up on their horses and ride fast as we can, hoping to make it back to at least help if the attack has already started. The rangers are left to watch over the captives. Finnric figures they will attack either Wulfgar’s position, Ingvarr’s, or both. SInce the former has lost his berserks and the latter were up much of the night being harassed. Luckily, we’re on that side.

Dwarves
Dwarves, about halfway to the finish, break into an ancient catacomb and face some skeletons and weak such undead. They clear it out with no problem. They find a tunnel leading up and out of the catacombs, likely toward the temple are but they have been caved in.
They do run into a tougher creature down there as well; and some loot including ancient armor and weapons.
A dwarf Ethelbert was interred here as a guardian. He will need to be taken care of before they can continue. He wears a great helm, massive shield on his back, maul, and plate armor covering his whole body.

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

View
Thrand at the Druid Henge

Nearing the ridge, come across recent battle site. Lots of dead archers having been run down. We hear orders being yelled over the hill. Looking over, see hamlet with a small lake adjacent. In the town are beat up 120 or so soldiers, and about 100 huddling villagers, crudely fortifying the place. Off in the distance, another force of about 100 on the opposite side as us led by a man in plate armor.
In a niche to our right are about 20 other men in a small nook in within a hill. They are backing into it like they had just been fighting the force on the opposite side. To the far left and right wings are 2 other groups as well.
It seems MacDougal and his cavalry we were following met up w/ infantry and are surrounding this hamlet, after having engaged the force and beaten it. The small group in the hill nook looks trapped. They may be berserks.
The split attacking forces are all about 1/4 mile from the hamlet.
Everyone buy us seems wounded, on both sides.
There are dead visible in multiple directions, including where we approach from. We do come across some wounded but alive.
One explains that the eldest son of MacDougal’s rival to his north was kidnapped so he mounted an attack on MacDougal’s lands. Pushing further in they followed the trail and hit a stalemate here. Last action happened a couple hours ago, retreating to the hamlet.
The surrounding force of Dougal all fly the red teardrop symbol.

We line up on the ridge, which gives us some tree cover: Thrand and 18 of his men; Gunnar plus his archers and 5 of Thrand’s men; Hakon and 10; Ulf and 10; Brand in reserve w/ 10.

Thrand and Hakon go to the town to tell them we are hear to oppose their enemy, have our own kidnap victim to rescue as well. We are not entering the trap of a town they are in, but our position just behind the hamlet opposite the lake covers that entire side of town. They need only defend the other 2 essentially.
North leader is here in person. He is large, looks much like us. He has a tone of defiant despair at first, thinking we are here to crush him as well. We tell him we are here to kill all with the blood drop sign.
This particular hamlet is closer to neutral, though in Dougal’s lands. Likely, Dougal the Bloodthirst will slaughter the entire town if he has the chance.
We tell him our plan is to remain on the hill and attack from there when time may come.
He says the leader in the plate is Donall, Dougal’s brother. Dougal was present for the battle but has since left. He has 3 other Lt’s here as well.
Back to the hill we go.

Soon, the enemy begins to move in. Donall’s men have a few captives from the battle crucified that they wheel in front of them. Insults in the native tongue are yelled back and forth. Donall finishes off the captives with a dagger. One in particular angers North leader. March continues.

((((Pic))))

Allie puts a unit on either side of the lake, next to the hills.
The enemy moves in and the attack begins.

((pic))

Ending the first round, Thrand hits the unit next to him just after Gunnar’s archer unit unleashes upon it. This enemy unit is wiped out!
Our ally breaks 2 units next, 1 on either side!
The ally unit to the right of the lake breaks soon enough, and the bad guy starts coming to the hamlet. As they do, their forces start to make for us as well when the numbers get to be too much. The citizens of the town scatter. The north leader ends up beaten back to our hill and the enemy gets to us.
Donell and 3 Lt’s close in, our leaders go to meet them. As they approach, Gunnar hurls at them first, straight at Donell miss and hit.
Hakon and Ulf team up on one Lt.
Thrand and North king on Donell, the king’s champ on the 1st Lt; on the last is Brand backed up by Gunnar.
Ulf and Hakon have a difficult time at first, Brand and Gunnar hit hard to start.
The Champ and Lt. crit each other on the 2nd round.
Hakon and Ulf take their man down first.
The ally champ gets taken down by the 1st Lt.
Then Gunnar takes down Brand’s opponent.
The Champ moves to Hakon and Ulf and engages.
Donell crits Thrand as Finn McCool, ldr of the berserks who had been trapped, arrives from no where and assists Ulf and Hakon.
Brand joins Thrand and takes Donell down. Gunnar throws at the 1st Lt. 10 DOWN.
Only Gunnar’s last hit killed. The other 3 are alive and taken captive.
The blood drop army routes once the leaders are out of the fight. The northern thane thanks us for the assist. His men are badly beaten down and tired. Few if any can come to shrine to help. Dougal, however, must only be there w/ a small cadre of men and villains. They have a ritual going on involving multiple blood sacrifices. The ground is cursed to all but blood cult members! He and Finn McCool will join us. His Champ is unfortunately dead.
No dead among our men, though a bunch wounded. We can get there in a couple hours. All those to be bled are either noble or otherwise special quality.

North leader and Finn will go with us. It should be MacDougal, a few of his personal guard, 4 other men of his, his wizard, plus the actual priests of the cult itself. They warn us not to let any inexperienced of our men into the stones themselves. They will become frightened.

Donell, even under torture, does not know where the priests and sacrifices will be kept before the ritual. But MacDougal and his men are camped in the circle.

We begin to march. We should arrive at least a few hours prior to ritual time.
Gunnar scouts ahead while the rest of us stay about half an hour away. The woods end about 30’ from the outer circle of stones, forming an open field.
The stones are 3 circles. The inner circle is about 15 to 20’ wide, with a higher ground within topped by a stone altar with hand and foot braces. The entire yard w/in the circles is a redish green thick bladed grass up to a foot and a half long. Each stone on the outer ring has the engraving of the red drop added recently. On the middle circle each is carved w/ a picture of a winged being, but primitive and crude. The innermost 6 stones have a strange symbol fo an eye inside a circle w/ 4 wavy lines coming from the bottom.
MacDougal’s men are camped adjacent to it, opposite our direction of arrival. Tyey are not on guard very attentively, only a couple take a walk around the stones every several minutes at best and lazily at that.
The grass in the clearing about halfway out from the outer circle is different, more trampled. From 5’ to 10’ wide, up to 15’ from the outer circle. Gunnar immediately is highly concerned about a giant serpent. He then searches for a path where the procession may come from. He finds nothing.
He returns and reports, then goes back to watch for major changes until we move up just after full dark sets in.
We come in from 3 directions in 3 groups, spaces out so as to let any procession bypass us easily in the dark Thrand where we came in, to his left Hakon/Ulf, to his right Gunnar, the North King/Finn.
Only our 2nd level and above may enter the circle. The others will, once combat begins, surround the perimeter to help halt any escape.
The druid from Cairn Dor is here as well. He says the symbols are likely warding glyphs of some sort, as we pass successive circles there is another curse to thwart us.

Tonight is the night of the blood moon, a harvest moon. The moon, once the sky is fully dark and bifrost illuminates, the moon takes on a crimson color. Will be that way, the druid says, until midnight or so. 2 and a half hours maybe.
Dougal et al start to move around, guarding the inner mound. Chanting begins some minutes later in an unknown language from seemingly all directions.
A Blood Gate open next to Dougal, red grass swaying as if to its own rhythm. Out of it stgeps 2 robed priests and Dougal’s wizard dressed in the robes of a high priest, different and more elaborate than the other 2. At the mounds base the dirt caves in under Dougal and his henchman. Small stone slabs underneath are opening, from which walks a procession of priests. They walk to spaces tween the stones of the middle circle. The prisoners are brought forth with them, spirits crushed by the enchantment of the stones. The elf is put on the altar immediately. The 2 dwarves are taken atop the mound next to the altar.
The wizard starts chanting horrible syllables. First 10 minutes go by, decorating and painting the elf maiden with ritual pigments; cut off the head of a hen and douse her in the blood. The druid w/ us says he has seen this on a much smaller scale before, laymembers. This is some sort of summoning ritual he thinks; if the same pattern is followed, the cultists should begin to lose some of their perception and touch with reality soon. It will be horrifying but worth the surprise factor.
Thrand says “you tell us when to go”.
Chant gets louder and louder to a tantric frenzy; the priests on the boy, Gudrun, the other maiden, and the priest, respectively, begin painting up their respective prisoners the same way. The 3 priests on the mound mount the alter and begin having their way with the elf maiden, daggers in hand, letting blood here and there. Those w/ the other captives begin to disrobe. Another blood door opens on the altar to Thrand’s side. It wavers and slathers. All in the circle sway to the sounds.
Our druid says GO!! We move in, grouping up as to leap the 5’ wide parts of the paths. We make it to the edge, undetected. 1 man w/ Gunnar and 1 w/ Thrand fall short of jumping the outer path. As they hit the grass they fall right in, and we hear splashing. We don’t hear any screaming. They are probably lost.

Fort svs for all in 1st tier. Minus 2 con. penalty. Several men fail. In middle circle is reflex to be slowed by the high grass by 10’ base and minus 2 dex. Several are hit by that as well.
We strike from ambush all around the ceremony, Thrand’s men dropping 1 outer cultist. Gunnar hits the head priest on the altar square in the back after having eyed him up this entire time 20.
Some of them come out of their haze, including all who were attacked. Most still don’t however. The head wizard priests howls in a mix of pain and ecstasy. MacDougal comes around and begins calling loudly to get his group focused. Reality fades in and out, visually. It seems as if we are surrounded by a dome of blood, the moonlight shimmers above us as if through water.
Loud sloshing from behind us, and out of the pit rises an 8’ tall humanoid, blood weeping from its body under the tattered rags of clothes it wears. It approaches at the right end of Thrand’s original position. It goes after one of Thrand’s followers.
Other skeletal humanoids, tendrils writhing from its mid sections and flowing blood, also climb out of the muck. This comes from behind Gunnar’s entry spot attacking one of the men.
Behind Hakon’s, a swirling mass of blood and goo crawls, using blood tendrils which grab and pull for locomotion.
All come at us from behind.
One of the priests hit by Thrand’s men turns, and he has suckered tentacles where his mouth should be but otherwise human. Each ends in a lamprey like mouth and a straw like tube within them..
The battle wages. A couple more cultist go down and Thrand reaches his sister, hitting the inner most circle of guards at the base of the mound.
Finn attacks the blood skeleton behind him. Somerled goes for his son, next to Gudrun. One priest on the outside, between Gunnar and Thrand’s entry, is a caster battling 2 of our men.
Hakon kills an inner guard! 2 of Thrand’s followers engage the blood wight.
2 of Hakon’s, incl. a 4th level man, kill a outer cultist and the lvl 4 gets to the captive maiden. The other turns to the blood skeleton thing behind us, teaming up on him w/ another man, just to Gunnar’s right. Hakon’s men drop 2 others on the outer as well in front of the blood ooze and they move in closer, one to the captive priest. Another steps into the inner stones. Minus 2 wis/frightened, so he retreats finishing a double move toward past the left end of Thrand’s men. Once he ends outside the stones, the effect ends.
Another steps in and fails as well, retreats. One of his lvl3 engages an inner circle guard. 2 others turn to see the blood ooze, incl. the other lvl 3.
Gunnar throws at the wizard again
Thrand’s man fights back. The 2 priests are cutting the elf maiden, her blood shoots as globules into the open portal. One points toward Thrand’s side, firing a cone of force. Several of the men there feel the desire to run for the blood portal!! Nooo!!
One of Thrand’s men runs an inner circle guard, same as attacked by lvl3 Hakon man.
2 of Thrand’s 3 men running for the blood portal stop themselves short, one rushes right into it and disappears.
The blood ooze reaches Hakon’s rear 2 men who face it and hits lvl3 man then begins to engulf him.
Brand misses lamprey mouth.

Dougal now moves and fights Somerled; his champion moves away from the mound to engage Ulf. AoO from 2 men hit once 4; Ulf’s misses. The champ misses him.
Grand Wizard casts, but fails in its creation!
Outer adept fails to cast again. Thrands lead follower kills the adept. His other 2 continue to fight the Blood Wight, as does Hakon’s man vs the ooze.
Hakon’s man who was hit by the cone stops himself from entering the portal. His lvl4 gets the captive maiden to safety just outside the stones.
Hakon enters the inner circle and the altar, defeating the fear symbols, stabbing the still fornicating priest 19.
Gunnar hits the wizard again 17 DEAD!!
Everyone of the cult is awake and aware now. One of the inner guard goes to double team Thrand but misses, as does the other.
One of Thrand’s men is taken down by the inner guard he was teaming up on; one of Hakon’s men is taken down by an inner guard DEAD.
The casting priest on the altar tries something on Thrand but he makes the WIll Save.
The other goes for a touch spell but misses.
One of Thrand’s men who who avoided diving into the portal gets upon the mound and helps Ulf. The one who did appears out of the portal, taking 2 steps as his body is but mass of bloodiness and collapses dead.
The 2 men w/ Brand take the Lamprey Mouth down DEAD!
Hakon’s man in the blood ooze is disolved DEAD. Our men are valiantly battling the bloody bones and staying alive!
Brand engages the inner guard with Hakon’s lvl3 and one of Thrand’s.

Something is trying to make its way out of the portal, for we see bloody tendrils sticking out.
Bowfire from the woods at the bloody bones, hitting 2 of them.
The druid fails to dispel the blood wight.

MacDougal’s champ misses Ulf; MacDougal continues on Somerled.
Thrand takes down his inner guard and turns to the other on him, aided by 2 of Gunnar’s men. Finn takes down his blood bones. Thrand’s lvl 3 helps vs blood wraith, now 4 men total on him; Hakon drops his priest!!
Hakon now has 2 scared men outside the circle, the fear over. But they are leery of re entering.
Gunner now turns his attention to his right at the champ vs Ulf.
The casting priest on the mound moves to one of the dwarves to cast something on him, but it fails. One of Thrand’s men joins vs blood wraith, another joins vs ooze. His man on the mound begins to use himself and the dead pries in his robes as a barrier/damn/towel to begin sopping up and blocking the blood moving into the blood gate. The wraith takes one of Thrand’ s followers down.
The ooze attacks the other of the original 2. Brand kills the inner guard he’s teaming up on.
Arrows from the woods kill one of the blood bones. Our guys at the woods edge can not see where these arrows are coming from.
Our druid does a counter on the blood portal. All the blood flying toward the gate through the air falls to the ground. One tentacle grabs the priest’s body that Thrand’s man is using, a couple others grab him!!

PIC

The 2 Gunnar men helping Thrand bring that inner guard down!
The men bring down one of the blood bones, leaving 1 remaining. 2 others of Gunnar bring down an inner guard as well!! 2 others withdraw from the circles.
Finn moves and helps Somerled vs MacDougal.
It’s still a struggle vs Blood Wraith.
Hakon pulls Thrand’s man free of the grapple.
Gunnar misses the Champion.
The priest at the dwarf draws a dagger and stabs the dwarf. The blood spills fast and begins to lift into the air to go for the gate.
The blood wraith attacks our druid!!
Thrand’s 2 men who were w/ Brand: 1 rushes the last inner guard to help Hakon’s man, the other rushes the Blood Wraith.
The ooze hits Hakon’s man on him. Blood Bones takes a man down.
Brand rushes to the mound, hitting the casting priest.

A few elves come running out of the forest from 2 directions. 2 gang up with our several on the blood wight. The other comes behind Hakon’s entry side.
The druid backs away from the blood wight and tries to delay the blood again.
Arrows drop the last blood bones.
Somerled is wavering.
Thrand steps over, kills the casting priest and his cleave drops Dougal!!!
2 other men join vs the last inner guard.
A couple of our men step out of the circle. Somerled gets his son out of the circle.
Hakon moves and hits the last inner guard in the rear DEAD!
The blob is destroyed!!!
Blood Wight drops the newest of Thrnad’s men.
Thrand and Brand pull 2 of the priests’ bodies out of the mound circle.
Elven arrows maul the Champ.
The druid, with the bodies out, shuts down the portal!! The elves cut deep into the blood wight.
One of Thrand’s men finishes it off.
FIGHT OVER!!

So, we lost the 2 in the ditch, cut down, 1 to the ooze, 1 through the portal.

Thrand promises reward for the man who kept his sister safe.

The elves say they came to rescue their princess. They take and tend to her immediately. They thank us profusely for our valiant efforts.

The druid helps us get into the secret trapdoors to the loot vault.
Mst. Great Axe lvl 3
High Quality Climber’s Kit (80)
6pp
99gp
420 sp
1100 cp
lots of cheap gems totalling 213

Somerled says we are welcome in the north, so long as we do not come to take over and occuly, etc. Especially to help him in military endeavors.
Finn McCool explains the McCool clan is descended from a great warrior who came here some decades back named Finn. His son was Cool.
This Finn was here only a short while, planted his oats, and went on his way. Finn was a half brother to Knut. This is 3 generations back, Finnric’s father’s great uncle. So this guy is distantly related to Finnric!
The elves share some of their fine elven whiskey. The leader says the cult ambushed one of their foraging parties, in which the princess was part of. They escaped via blood portal so could not be tracked. The Cairn Dor told them that a band of vikings were hunting down the cult so they trailed us to find this place.
There are about a dozen archers and half dozen warriors.
After pleasantries, they leave late into the night.
They do tell of an ancient elven realm far to the east now gone. Some elves still live there in small pockets. If we ever find ourselves that way, “be sure to tell them, if you get the chance instead of them just killing you outright, I King ??? Lornhood sent you.” Then he turns “Elric, boys, lets go!!”

The return priest is a local Bishop! The maiden is from a destroyed village. Dougal wiped it out.
The 2 dwarves: some dwarves live in these southern mts, and they like the elves were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The druid says he will be purging the shrine and cleansing the entire area.

We drop the maiden off at Cairn Dor to be sent home. We send her with a message for her father to come w/ Somerled for a visit as soon as they can, to talk trade and friendship.
We ransom the Bishop to the main church there for 1500 gp and 20 potions of cure serious wounds.
Bjorn’s sister is a runecaster.
Somerled leads his men and son off for home.

Bjorn will later say “I’m glad my lawyer is betrothed to my sister, and went to rescue her. It’s not likely Finnric would have set up such meetings.”

One dwarf has a magic horn (hes has Use Magic Device and is a professional hornman). His name is Grimhorn; the other with a peg leg and wielding an axe is Ungrun One Eye. They are heading back to their clan, but will remember us and tell of our heroism.

Thrand gives a fine speech to the men, a speech of thanks for aiding in the rescue of Gudrun, and praising their prowess; ending with “You are all invited to the wedding!”

We head straight south in case Bjorn sends a message ship to inform us things are over there and to meet elsewhere. It will be a 5 day voyage.

On the way, Gudrun has a vision from her Second Sight:
Looking at the weaving of our lives, all of your threads converge in a giant knot in the near future. We will connect to the men in the south at Lanbay.
She also explains: the 3 crones (past, present, future) weave all lives. If you see your thread you know when you will die. There is another deity, similar to them, that keeps the hourglass. Each person has one which starts the day you are born. The sand is the portion of your life that you are guaranteed to live. From the point that your sand expires, your protection is over. If you ever see that, you know how long you have to be reckless.

View
Papa Tosten at

It takes the day and into the evening to travel to the stronghold. The attack is a night attack. A few homesteads nearby are empty. No sign of struggle or attack though.
Base of a hill is a heavy forest; good to cover our approach especially at night. Wooden defensive walls. Some torches are set up around the perimeter.
We scout the perimeter looking for a second entrance of any sort, and a spot in the defenses easily sneaked past. Clouds have rolled in as dark came. Lightning and Thunder on the horizon. No star or moonlight!!
There is a sally port in the wall of the double tower atop the hill.
Tosten notices a waste tunnel into the towers.
Dulk recommends sending a couple troops to see if the opening inside is large enough to enter through. Vorn and HIglaf are choses, given a bonus in pay for such dirty work.
20 minutes pass, they do not return.
Tosten insists no one goes in after them. Could be rot grubs or carrion crawlers.

Tosten sends Dulk, 3 of Sven’s men, and his sons to climb over a good spot of the lower wall around the grounds to clear a spot for more men coming over. They sneak in to the rear of one side, close to the hill. Dulk lashes a rope easily to the top of the wall after a guard walks by on his routine and we start to climb.
Hala, Haki and Dulk at the top. Haki grapples the guard as he comes by in a silencing hold, and Dulk cuts his throat. We drop more ropes, for a total of 6 now for men to climb up.
Others follow. Once the third group is up, and the first 2 groups made for other guard positions, a bright flash of lightning goes off. 60’ to our right are 3 long houses. 5 others across the yard at the far wall. About 15 guards in total manning the wall. About 1 per 60’. Another half dozen walk the walls at the forts.
Couple at the gate and the mott bridge tower. From the tower, a fire arrow is shot into the air. We’ve been spotted.
Our second force outside charges for the gate. Dulk rushes down the wall toward the main gate with 3 men. 4 soldiers are in the way. The twins descend a ladder nearby into the courtyard with the other 6 men.
Dulk flattens the first with an overrun, his 3 men cut him down. Dulk continues, cutting the other 3 down in line as they catch up. They rush for the gatehouse.
The wind has kicked up some. Rain is coming, we can smell it. Archers fire from the tower onto the twins et al. Thor is with us!!!! Their many shots hit only twice on 2 of the men. The tower leading to the drawbridge going into the mott, the drawbridge drops and a squad of men rush out for them. From the warrior households, men are dressing for battle.
The twins stop halfway to the gatehouse with 2 of their men and turn on the 6 warriors on their heels. The 2 wounded and the other 2 continue to the gate, getting there before anyone else and open the inner door. They meet 4 men, 2 w/ spears and 2 w/ maces.
In 2 rounds, only one remains.
Tosten and the main force are at the gate now about the same time as Dulk.
We let the main force inside!!
Meanwhile, the twins and their 2 are finishing off the squad of obvious veterans.
The drawbridge to the mott is about 2/3 up. We hear pounding from the other side. They must be spiking the doors.
The conscripts are starting to form up on the side with 5 buildings, a few of men in mail whacking them with rods to get them in line. Morale is not exceptionally high here. On the side we came over, the 3 houses, come wretches. Prisoner warriors, essentially. No armor, sharpened crude instruments, all tied together with ropes from body to body connected to a leader.
About 60 wretches, 40 conscripts.
On the right tower stands a man in robes, waving his hands which are glowing. On the other, a group of archers on that tower as well.
We get the front open and our men poor inside. Tosten orders a small force to hold off the wretches, as they are slow moving anyway. The rest hit the conscripts w/ Tosten, Kyy and Osmo. The twins, Dulk and their 9 men race for the tower and bridge to the hill towers.
After the initial hit on the conscripts, 2 leaders are killed by Tosten and Osmo, their men begin to break, part only kept in line by fear, some running to hide in the longhouses. One group are hardened and want to kill.
Tosten charges the leader who is trying to force his men to stay, knocking him prone. They begin to break and run back to the barracks. Osmo helps Kyy on his leader (the one leading those whose morale is steady), both hitting. We let the runners get away to concentrate on the others. Our men turn fully on those staying. Tosten sends about half to turn toward the wretches approaching and is hit by a bolt of energy from the tower 9!
The conscripts are wiped out instantly. Tosten slays his leader; the last is finished off the next round by Kyy/Osmo.
On the wretch side, 12 go down quickly making it very difficult for them to move tied to dead men. Their leaders, 6, each hold a leash handle as they war chant. Our second group of men arrives from the other side. 2 of the bands of wretches begin trying to pull their leaders away. They let them run and join the fight. Another group is shaky, their leader now trying to keep them in check. The other 3 continue chanting, their blades emitting an odd glow. Our men gang up on the stranded 2, cutting one down. A wretch on each line of the 3 chanting leaders drops to the ground suddenly. One of them hits one of our men 10, blade obviously magic as it cuts through his armor.
All the men vs the conscripts now rush to follow the twins.
More wretches try to pull free, knocking over one of the ldrs. Tosten, Kyy, Osmo arrive at the fight; another loses hold of his leash. Tosten overruns the leader still holding his line and his wretches flee; Osmo attacks the knocked over, Kyy he who just lost his leash. The other first ldr engaged is killed.
There are effectively no more wretches engaging us. Only the ldrs. Tosten orders all but 3 of our men to make for the gate to the towers. Osmo is struck now by a bolt of lightning 8. A few rounds later we finish them off.
We make for the inner tower.

The Tostensons arrive first, followed by Dulk et al.
They twins start climbing up the chains to drop the bridge that covers the double doors, all which are raised about 5’ above the ground where we are (hence the draw bridge). They reach the top easily. Arrows from both towers pepper them getting 3 hits total. They make their way inside the tower and find it empty. They release the bridge. 2 wooden doors in the ceiling open and poor boiling oil which they mostly deftly avoid, each dropped by an enemy who shut the portals. Our men go up the drawbridge, Dulk starts chopping at the door.
The twins can hear them readying more oil. They head up to them and see them filling the dumping vats. They kill both men.
The first group who peeled off from the conscript fight arrives. Dulk has chopped clean through the door and we are entering. A straight path leads to the 2 towers. The twins drop through the murder holes and join the rest.
One of our men “Should we wait for the rest of our force?”
Hala “F that, straight ahead men!”
It’s a charge. We realize we are rushing through oil laden ground!! We turn to retreat. Flaming arrows are shot downward. 7 of our men burn to death.
A drizzle of rain begins to fall. We hold off, and the rest of the force arrives as we wait for the fire to burn itself out.

With our 42 fully able men we charge again, its full on raining. Thor!! The wizard is on the right tower. Tosten w/ Kyy and Osmo goes there. His sons and Dulk to the left. 21 men w/ each side. Haki breaks down the door at the end of his charge!! Tosten does the same!!!! Both natural 20’s!!!!

In Tosten’s tower:
A carrion crawler comes out of the crap hole attacking randomly. One of our men is paralyzed by its attack and grabs him. Hits by Osmo and Tosten and a crit by Kyy kill it before it can make off w/ our warrior. 2 men are left w/ the paralyzed.
Upward.
On top floor, the wizard’s chamber is very disturbing. Recent dead chained to the wall still, young virgins likely. Country folk by their tattered garb. 1 person still alive! Young girl, 14 or 15.
On roof, the archers are drenched and are no match for us. They surrender, the wizard has disappeared. They say he killed a prisoner’s throat (body lies there) which opened up a doorway of blood which he fled through.

In the twin’s tower:
A nasty swarm of grubs crawl out of the crap hole. A few guys grab nearby brooms and clean them back down out of our way as the rest continue.
Upward.
Lots of blood cult stuff in Dougal’s room on the top floor. Gruesome rooms, terrible implements of torture and sadism. A skeleton w/ some flesh on it lies in the room as well. Archers on top surrender.

The 2 top chambers are attached via a bridge.

We gather everyone in the courtyard. The slaves and commoners are free to go. Some are from nordic stock. Dougal raises their villages and generally kills all but those he wants to sacrifice or use otherwise. Younger boys made slave wretches. The chants suck the lives out of a wretch to increase the leaders power. They say Dougal took his men north to meet other allied warleaders who just won a major victory up north. They have the ruler surrounded in a local village, going for the killing blow.

The young girl’s people came here from an island north of Jarlsleifia about 40 years ago. The wizard and Dougal were fond of sacrificing young girls and torturing them. There was another girl here not long ago who they did not touch, but they were prepping her for something.
Sounds like Gudrun.
She was sent out the day before he rode north. Where, no one knows.

Tosten rests his force into late morning then fully loots the place, getting underway at night. He will be back in Cairn Dor by the next day awaiting us.

View
Thrand at Cairn Dor

It’s expert sailing all the way, cutting the journey down by a day from the average so 5 day trip.

Arriving early morning, very foggy, moderate breeze. We see the fires of town illuminating through the fog. Probably, local fisherman are already out here somewhere or waiting for the fog to go.

A couple ships we do pass near to divert their course widely around us.

We dock expertly. The other men there look a bit nervous. The harbormaster Glybb meets us. He knows much of our tongue so we can communicate. We give him our cover story, he says to strap our weapons so they are not easily drawn and walk about in groups no larger than 5. Otherwise, suspicions will be raised.
Brand stays with the ship.

Tosten, with his sons, Hakon and Ulf are one group.
Thrand, Gunnar, Kyy, Osmo, Dulk in another group.

Glybb explains some about the town:
It’s a good seaside town. about 1500 people. Several drinking establishments, markets, stores.
2 primary religions: druish (faith is to prop up human kind, but despise everything Masters, stole the world from the powers that were; love humans but hate everything else); Church of the Return (despise the druids for everything they are, and vice versa; believe the Masters will return some day; look somewhat neutral to favorably to the northmen, for non believers at least).
Ruler of the town lives on a hill just outside of town, Moat and Bailey style. Minimal presence of force in the town, but a small patrol of citizen militia. Most own a bow.

So, we will look as if we are doing our business for a few hours first talking with the merchants both from here and abroad; then from meal time on into evening we visit the establishments and ask about the rumors in the south and east of a blood cult, kidnapped son of a norse Jarl, druids in the area etc.

Notice a trend among the native merchants, a particular section of markets tend toward natural wares and such (druish friendly), and another section with a lot of holy icons of silver and worked materials. Gunnar noticed that 1 or 2 of the latter tuck in and hide their best charms. Kyy thinks that 1 of them had a ruby on a charm being tucked away. Thrand asks him if he thinks it may be a blood amulet but he can’t be sure of that.
Thrand “That one might be worth following.”

Later, Gunnar follows the ruby guy to one of the churches. Only the priests and the people who actually work there should be present this time of the evening.
He looks around first, before entering through a side man door, taking a final obvious look as he closes it behind him.
Gunnar closes in and listens at the door. They are definitely speaking Celestine: he hears the merchant comment to possibly a priest “think the savages may have noticed….” something about this guy; “good that you let me know” from the other after incomprehensible few sentences.
He goes quickly to find Thrand and tell him.
Thrand immediately gathers Tosten and his sons to go with him and Gunnar to the church.

Our information gathering:
What happened in the northman land has caused a good number of lords to lose standing, just don’t have the retainers anymore, so many died.
They have heard nothing of hostages brought over,but a merchant who came from north of here told that MacDougal did have a visitor of a mystic kind. A flying beast of some sort they say flew into his fort. Not odd, cause he dallies with arcanists it is known.
A Returnist says we don’t want to talk to the druids. They themselves are a very disliked people, a number of kidnappings in town recently, especially foreigners and some of the most devout of the Return followers. 8 this month. Word on the street is it’s the druids.
Could be the church has been usurped, unbenownst to the common worshipper.

There are 3 different Return churches here. 1 for the wealthy, 1 for the foreign, the other for the lower class locals. Gunnar was at the lower class local one.

Lots of folks keep an eye on us, like we’ll just up and raid the place or something.
We find out exactly where MacDougal’s home base is: a fort at the top of the highland just SW of Gleneddin.

Church:
We try to take an inconspicuous route and seem to get there w/o much attention. A soup line has gathered at the rear of the church. A young lady serves out of a large ceramic pot and sends each on their way.
1 beggar w/ an empty bowl hobbles over to us “Hope you don’t mean no harm to the good church fold pagans” and invites us into see the generous splendor of the masters. His name is Lewellyn and shakes all of our hands. He’s all hallelujah, hail the masters.
He knocks “the masters were, are , and one day will return” the woman returns “blessings of the masters be on you” and slops out a bowlfull for him.
“My lady, I bring pagans who wish to convert!” She seems very interested, feeling all should be saved through the grace of the masters. She says everything is closed up for the night, but we can stay in the beggar sleeping room or return tomorrow. She explains a lot of dogma. She’s trying to convert us.
She says the upper class and this one are the same sect, the foreigner church is slightly different. “We believe it is necessary for all the Masters to return, that one believes only certain of them will return. We tolerate each other.” They all hate the druids. From there she tirades on them. There is a hidden grove somewhere nearby where they perform their ‘unholy rituals’. There is a reward for locating their grove and the coven. She says the priest is not here tonight. The other door (which Gunnar listened at) leads to his quarters.

We depart, but leave Gunnar to stay and watch w/ Dulk and Osmo.
We move our drinking and info operation nearby, and get rooms there.

Overnight:

On second shift, Dulk sees a young man (maybe mid 20’s) enters the main doors. See him through windows cleaning and such. About an hour later, he exits the front door. When he does he disappears from view quickly as if pulled or ran. Dulk kicks Gunnar awake “somethings going on” and starts making his way around the building. He sees, at the front, 2 men who have ko’d the man. One stands with a club and dagger, the other has the man slung over his shoulder. They rush into the alleyways. Dulk follows.
Gunnar follows Dulk after telling Osmo to keep an eye here.
Gunnar catches up to Dulk quickly.
They take a convoluted route through back ways to the edge of town, and head outside into the woods. The weapon wielder starts keeping a watch. Gunnar keeps following, and Dulk runs to get Thrand. Gunnar says he’ll leave markings.

Gunnar tails them some length into the woods to a grove and dump the body. The trees are very thick, grown in a circle. The branches intertwine as if holding hands. The moon is high and bright. 6 others enter the circle, speaking the local tongue and form a ring around the kid and occasionally softly singing. They hold hands and sway. The man carrying him binds him to the pile of tangle that is the altar.
One man steps to the center, and the circle closes. The armed man stands guard.
Something is poured upon the unconscious man by the one who carried him. The head puts his hands up, calls out something, pulls out flint and tinder and strikes it over the tangle and the man. The ko’d man wakes up here and starts to protest as he lights up. He’s engulfed, screaming. The 5 making the circle are still chanting.

Gunnar calls out something in his language “Hello over there” just to see if they understand.
They respond with shock. One responds in broken nordic “who goes there?”
Gunnar asks them why they are burning a man alive. He says the man is evil.
Gunnar steps out, and one of the men slits the throat of the smoldering man and drains his blood into a bowl.
The man speaking to Gunnar steps toward him “what concern is it of yours what they do to these people? I have a feeling you would do not much nicer as you are the most notorious pillagers in the world.”
Gunnar tries to stall. Mentions the people going missing, happened to see the kidnapping here and followed.
“Northman, it’s none of your business. Forget you saw anything and turn around, go.”
Once the bowl is full, the man holds still with it.
Gunnar comes out with it “We’re looking for blood cultists. You’re either part of them, or fighting them. And depending on your answer will determine if you make it out of here alive or not.”
Then, from the woods “He’s got friends, run!!!” They scatter in all directions.

The others hear the warning yell. Thrand heads for the warning watchman, he sends the Tostensons after the nearest rusting of a runner going by us. Thrand takes Kyy, and sends everyone else for Gunnar.
Gunnar hits the leader with a thrown axe, hitting him in the hip. He is limped badly. Gunnar runs after the man who was nearest to him, chasing him into the woods, yelling that the head priest is limping away.

Thrand and Kyy come across the watchman immediately, climbing a tree to hide. It didn’t work. Thrand has Kyy begin to cut the tree down, as he is a master tree cutter. Within a minute the tree comes down and Thrand clobbers the guy.
The Tostensons lose the runner.

Dulk, Osmo and Tosten catch the high priest.
The speaker is skilled at slipping away, but Gunnar is keen enough to follow. Gunnar gives one warning to surrender and he won’t hurt him, otherwise he will be axed.
He continues “Brothers of the wood, help!!”
Then a growl, like a bear.
Gunnar goes for his leg, too but misses. One of the smaller trees is shoved aside by a big bear!!
Gunnar gets his axe and runs for the circle, warning all of the bear. The high priest is there. Thrand arrives with the man from the tree.
The bear is coming.
Thrand “Let’s get these guys out of here.”
Runes on the bowl look normal. We take it. We go back to our ship with them and bind them there.

Next Day

We find a Tharangian trader named Boers who speaks both our language and the local tongue. And his kind are generally kind to us.
He seems friendly to us, and is NOT a Returnist but a Norrisite. We bring him over to the ship. He agrees to translate for us.
The tree climber says he’s been there for all 8 sacrifices. The runes are in druidic. Head Priest says they are mystic runes, does not spell anything.
Seems to be a red herring, and these druids really are murderous.
We let the watchman, a lay person, go free with a warning threat. The head we turn over to Boers telling him to do what you will, but leave us out of any story you tell.
We flip him a few coins, tell him where in the woods we found him so he can create a story around that.
He turns the druid into the authorities.

Soon after, Thrand and Gunnar go to the church to meet the head priest. Doors are wide open, we walk right in. The Master meets us, realizing who we are, having been told of us by the girl. He has heard of the druid caught. He’s to be burned in the town square tonight!! He says the Grand Master is to be respected for his position, but the true believers take the stance ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all’. There’s a reason he is the preacher to the upper crust. Local ruler = same thing. Arrogant, haughty.
He talks to us about the conversion, offering initiation.
We take our leave.
Thrand shows him the blood teardrop, asks him if he knows anything about it.
He says they have popped up before. He takes one of his own out of a box that was “dropped outside the church”. A lay follower found it this morning; probably dropped by kidnappers.
We ask to speak in private.
He says other than him, Bretha (the soup girl, been here 6 years; just turned 19) the Grand Master, cleaning boy now dead all have access to his quarters. And his assistant in training Brynn Apowen as well. He has a cot in the same room. He’s been here 6 months, his dad Owen, a smith from a hamlet nearby, offered his services to us. The family has always been here.
He says no one should have been here last night. He was with the grand master at a meeting last night.
We leave.
Hakon catches up, says a bard is in one of the taverns with news. MacDougal is not in his castle right now. Something is going on that he is called away for, took a bunch of retainers and headed north; more than a traveling guard but not a large army like force. Raid? Counter a raid?
Now could be the time to strike at the fortress!!

Thrand’s plan is to go to the suspect merchant close to end of business day, and show him one of our blood drop amulets to ‘sell’. HE asks where it came from, Thrand says ‘from the south’. He is very shocked that we have it, and interested in now we came across it. Thrand says it shouldn’t matter. Disappointed that we won’t sell, guarantees to at least match any offer we get.
The town is setting up for the burning of the druid.
Gunnar follows him after he closes, directly back to the church and into the same side door. Dulk with him, who goes into the church to see if the Master is there or not. Only a couple followers are cleaning up. Bretha is handing out soup.
Dulk “Where’s master Clive?” They haven’t seen him, he left to do errands not too long ago.
The voices are hushed through the door at Gunnar. Gunnar knocks and runs into a hiding position. No one answers.
Dulk “Who’s talking in his room then, if he left?”
“That’s very strange. Let’s check.” Dulk says he’s friends of Thrand. Bretha knows nothing either. Dulk sits down and puts his feet up. Bretha gives him a bowl of soup.
He may stay the night in the beggar’s room. Couple other common folk present in the main room as well. Bretha is about to start serving soup out the side entrance.
Gunnar keeps watch on the priest’s side entrance, inconspicuous, nearby.

The others are at the burning, Brand still in charge of the ship. After midnight, a group of us will meet Gunnar and Dulk.
Clive is not at the burning. Neither is Boers. Druid says he was framed.
Random merchant insults the druid about to burn, calling him a liar. He’s obviously a Returnist.
They light the tinder.
Osmo, Ulf and Hakon notice about a dozen people slip away in quick succession, though in different directions.
Thrand “whoever you saw, follow them.” They each saw a few go, so they take different directions, choosing 1 each. Kyy backs up Osmo, Hala w/ Ulf, Haki w/ Hakon.

Ulf and Hala: Once to the edge of the crowd, he speeds up and gets more careful, surely intentionally trying to be secretive. Ulf keeps him in sight though, as he ducks in and out of dark passways. Ulf actually out maneuvers him. He had spotted our guys but is now trapped.
Ulf “Hey, hou there.” He seems to not understand, and raises his walking stick w/ a steel cap on the top. He braces for a fight, saying something indistinguishable.
They approach him non threateningly, no weapons drawn “Take it easy, calm down” slow and loud. He calms the man, who lowers the cudgel. Ulf tries to draw him near, to follow.
He leads the man to the church at which Gunnar and Dulk are, figuring Bretha can translate. They get to the church w/o incident. They come to 15-20 folks waiting in a crowd for soup. They go to the front and enter, meeting Dulk who introduces them to the man whom spoke to him earlier, asking him to translate for a coin:
The man’s name is Gwylv; a local; not a Returnist; follows old druid ways but still one of us; not an actual druid priest; they were told to keep an eye on us, see if we did anything suspicious, by a druid; they think we belong to some kind of blood cult; says the ritual in the woods was a cleansing ritual to make his blood unusable for the blood cults ritual. Dulk’s man is getting angry at this druid lover, seeing as one of his own was burned to death in the woods. He insists we get him out of here. We get Gwylv out of here, making for Thrand.

Kyy and Osmo: almost catch up to him before he is even out of the crowd, he gets a little bogged down so we hang back until he’s free then we follow. He finally gets out and enters a building soon after, a tiny 1 door residence, no windows. We are right behind him, he’s cornered. Seems he has no idea he is being followed. We go right up to the door, listening in. Osmo hears 4 distinct voices inside, the local language. They keep repeating the name of the burning druid, as well as the ‘northmen’ (us). We hang back, preparing to follow them. No one comes out, talking stops. They listen to the door, hearing nothing at all. Door is open, they enter. The room is empty of people. The building is one room. We start searching. They quickly find an opening under the grate in the fireplace!! Removing, there are rings attached to a wall leading down. Kyy climbs down w/ a covered candle in hand. Not far down, the passage goes 2 ways. One toward the center of town, another to the edge of town. He sees slight flicker of light, long off, toward center. Tells Osmo to get back to Thrand while he follows the light.
Comes to a gathering of 7 people in a central chamber. The base of the stake on which the druid was being burned sticks down into the room partway. They look to be the rest of the coven from the woods, talking. All are lightly armed; 1 has a bow.

Hakon and Haki: they are on him like white on rice, tailing him into a dark alley way. Seems to have no idea he is being followed, so they follow. He then enters a local shop via a cellar door, down a short step way. Hakon tells Haki to check out the front to see what kind of establishment it is. He returns: it’s an Inn. Hakon go to the front and open the door; only a few patrons inside and 1 bartender. Hakon goes for a bluff to get his attention away so they can get into the back, but the bartender does not fall for it. Hakon plays it like a joke. He understands our language quite well. Hakon asks if he has a private room in the back, for a private meeting, trying to get him to give something up.
Him “I might” putting out his hand for coin.
Hakon gives him a sp. He tells of an extra room upstairs, more of an overflow room. Hakon asks him for one for the road, “since I just gave you a silver”. The bartender complies.
He returns to the back and Haki. They listen at the door. They hear nothing and enter into a storage room so they close the door behind them. There is a torch lit on the far side, luckily, a door near it. They search through the basement. They find a hidden trap door in the floor!! No sound comes from it. It opens! A tunnel extends away into the darkness. They go back outside. Hakon sends Haki back to the square to tell Thrand what we’ve found. Hakon hands outside, drinking his ale casually, where he can see as much of the scene as possible.

All meet at the square, Thrand finds that Boers went off to meet the gem merchant and Clive. The man assumes at the church. This was just before the burning.
They wait as druid burns. The others show back up and inform.
Hala and Kyy are sent back to the church to wath. Haki returns to Hakon and they begin to follow the tunnel, we figure they are behind us. The rest enter via Kyy’s entrance to catch up to Kyy. The Inn seems more on the outskirts.
Hakon and Hala get to the central meeting, seeing 9 men not 7. They are looking from another direction. They wait.
Thrand et al catch up to Kyy, with Gwylv. Kyy says they are preparing for something, sharpening weapons, getting riled up et al.
We step in, showing “Gwylv” “Habla Norse?”
One steps forward, the one Gunnar spoke to in the woods. They think we are blood cultists, saw us flashing the blood drop gem around. We explain that it was a trick to lead us to the cult.
The man they killed in the woods wore one of the gems; one of the staffers at the church is secretly a druid and saw the man enter a secret cult chamber; a blood cult in the church. Says Clive and the Grand Master Druz began decrying the druids for the kidnappings, meanwhile it was the cult; they found out the blood drop crystals so started looking out for them. If you kill a cultist, their blood can still be used by the Bloodmancer to do terrible things; so the druids capture them, drain the body of blood which they purify, and burn the body.
Of the church staff, they know one for sure is and one for sure is not a blood cultist: the jewel merchant is; Bretha is the mole. They have suspicions about the ass. priest;
Introduces us to the new head of the druid order (was not present in the woods).
They have 10 vials of purified cultist blood, which is toxic to summoned blood creatures of the cult, including undead. They had been planning on assassinating us tonight!!
“Sorry.”
He thinks the head master does not associate much w/ common folk, he’s just a jerk but does not seem to be involved. They think it’ s Clive.
Thrand tells them why we are here in their lands.
Druids do not like MacDougal. He’s not a Returnist either, pretty sure he was a blood cultist. He’s no friend of the druids regardless, he purged a large coven to the north and desecrated their shrine; also known to associate w/ fowl remnants of the Masters, arcanist scum who go go by the collective name ‘Malenko’, who all pretend to have some aspect of an old master of that name in their being.
They feel Gudrun was brought as a sacrifice, so probably off in some hidden compound. They may be reusing the old druid site for their own, as it is a place of great power.
They agree to show us the sight once the issue in town is taken care of.
He feels, if they went through that kind of effort to kidnap Gudrun, and using such a place of power as the old druid shrine, means this is more than a normal sacrifice. Something is going on here about that sacrifice and kidnapping.
Thrand “Let’s get to the church. Enough talk.”

We get Brand from the ship.
Kyy and 3 druids cover the rear of the building, in case of secret exit.
3 druids and Osmo enter through Bretha’s door, but she is missing though the soup is prepared. They give the soup to the hobos and tell them to beat it.
Papa Tosten covers the priest door w/ Gunnar. The rest enter the main doors. They search everyone for blood drop amulets, but find none.
No one in the main room has blood amulets, they are told to hide in the pews. Head Druid, translater druid, and another guard the front door.
In the back, where Bretha should be, Osmo finds the cook who says Bretha never came in today. He turns out to be a cultist. Osmo breaks all his fingers and his ankles.
In another rear room, Hakon and Ulf find hanging bodies of missing, hunks of meat taken off. They have been feeding the kidnaped to the homeless outside.
Side and front doors are closed and barred shut.
Thrand orders the Tostensons to take the door to the priest quarters down.
They burst it open into the office. Lots written in Celestine, some of us can understand it. Thrand starts to read it while the others search his personal rooms. Brian’s room has only a humble cot and a small bookshelf.
From what Thrand reads, they blood cult was using rites that have similarities in Returnist rites to fool the populace, basically everyone was really performing blood cult rites.
The pillow in Brian’s room was flipped upside down, a blood spot on the underside. All in his room is Returnist.
Thrand finds Bretha on a list of those Clive was planning to eliminate, and high on it.
In the large supply room in Clive’s area is a hidden opening into a cult supply room, and stairway going down. We hear faint chantin.
Brand get Gunnar and Tosten.
Tosten tells Osmo to hang the cook from one of the hooks, but not so he dies quickly, or at all. Osmo does.
Head druid and translater come downstairs w/ us. We call the druids from the rear up. Kyy joins us. 2 druids are stationed at each of the 3 entrances, but for front which has 3.

Clive stands high up on a dais, behind an altar upon which lies a nude Bretha bleeding from her head. He wear crimson cassock and robes. His staff is a long, topped by a red gem, tear drop, fist sized. It glows and pulsates as if something is inside of it. 3 others stand with him. 1 in a red hooded robe, a hefty warrior w/ warhammer, and another priest in front assisting the sermon ritual also w/ hammer. To our right is another warrior in the corner. To left an right of center are pews. 6 other blood cultists stand to the sides of the pews, 3 each.
Cultists are spread among the pews.

PICTURE

To right and below blond hammer man is the jewel merchant. To right and below Red Robe is Boers!! (missing from Pic).
2 others are walking up the middle, pulling Brian forcibly with them toward the alter, who is in protest. Many druid items are lying about, as if they were planning a massive frame job.
Thrand and Tosten lead, followed by the Tosentons; Gunnar/Brand; the 2 druids; Kyy/Osmo; Dulk; Ulf/Hakon.
They are loud enough, they do not know we are coming. We get a surprise round, making our moves into the room. Tosten and Thrand go straight forward; Tostensons step around corners to the sides; Gunner moves behind Thrand; Brand just into room, druids just in front of him. The others are lined in hallway.
Red Robe incants, a swirling morass of blood forms around his arm like a shield, on the other a whip of blood.
Thrand beheads both men dragging Brian, freeing him. He runs straight forward past the bald priest, still flat footed, and leaps atop the dais, climbing atop Bretha!!
Gunnar steps up past Thrand and hurls at up at Clive 23.
Brand “Boers!! You’re a dead man” moves behind Thrand and wounds a common cultist.
Ankh warrior moves to Haki “for the glory of the Angel!” and hits 12.
Clive buries the dagger into Brian’s back wounding him. The blood is sucked up the blood groove into the dagger. Hala kills 2 cultists; Haki vs Ankh misses.
Triplets move in and Kyy kills one next to Brand. Dulk moves beside Hala, Osmo just past him.
The flank guards on each side move into the fray:
Osmo is hit 8
Kyy is missed
Gunnar Is attacked twice but missed
Thrand is missed
The last stands with Bald Hammer.
The common cultists draw daggers, joining the general fray surrounding all they can.
There is a mass around us as we hack away. The Translator druid pulls a shillelagh and attacks. Head druid pulls a vial of the blood, throwing it at Tosten!! It shatters on the ground and the blood becomes blood worms going after Tosten. Translator is shocked!!
Ulf charges to the door, followed by Hakon, Ulf killing a commoner at the entrance.
Blonde Hammer moves down next to the other, who bumbles the sermon what with all the action.
Hakon charges in and hits the Head Druid from behind.
Red Robes chants, and 5 dad stand, the flesh ripping off of them, lifted up by only blood and muscle. Blood Zombies.
Thrand slays 3 commoners; Brian begins cutting Bretha free with a letter opener.
Gunnar tumbles to his right, jumps atop the table directly in front of Red Robes and hits 19. Clive hammers the dagger into Brian again.
Boers moves to Gunnar miss.
Osmo misses the traitor head priest; Haki hits Ankh 15; Dulk kills a common cultist; Kyy kills common cultist; Hala kills commoner but misses zombie.
Attacks continue, Translator Druid attacks his Head Priest, who takes out a vial and hurls at Osmo (getting hit with a couple AoO) but it misses, shattering next to Brand.
Bald hammer attacks Gunnar , Bald Hammer still waiting for space to attack the surrounded Thrand.
Ulf has a zombie in the hall w/ him which he battles. Papa Tosten kills his Guard, cleaves commoner miss.
Hakon flanking hits the Traitor Druid 12 DEAD.
Red Robe points a finger at Gunnar, firing a bolt of blood which misses Gunnar.
The zombies attack Ulf, Druid, Hala, Thrand.
Bretha rolls off the altar, falling to the floor below with a thud. Brian stabs at Clive.
Thrand kills 2 commoners and crits a warrior.
Gunnar throws (1 of 6 AoO hitting 12 from Bald hammer) at

PICTYURE

Red Robe 25 DEAD. 2nd axe throw at Bald Hammer 28 crit. The zombies in front of Dulk falls dead, and the by Kyy and Brand do the same.
Ankh misses Hala, Boers misses, Clive kicks Brian to knock him off, and he falls down to the floor. Haki hits Ankh 12; Dulk hits Z at Hala 7 DEAD. Hala moves and attacks.
Osmo wounds a commoner.
Kyy is missed twice, as is Haki. Thrand is missed by 2 warriors; Gunnar is missed several times but hit once by a commoner 4.
Translator druid helps Ulf in hallway vs Z. Ulf hits it as well; Tosten finishes warrior Thrand
wounded. Bald hammer misses Gunnar, Blonde Hammer moves to and misses Thrand.
Hakon finishes the commoner Osmo wounded.
Brand move up and kills a commoner at Gunnar’s table.
The jeweler runs to Brian, drawing a jeweled dagger to finish off Brian but misses!! Thrand misses Blonde Hammer. Gunnar throws at Jeweler (5 AoO hit once 6) 33 DEAD/at Bald Hammer 7.
Haki is hit 10 by Ankh KO’d!!!
Clive draws another dagger, cuts his hand open, and squeezes it onto the altar while chanting. The blood rises up as a tentacle.
Boers misses Gunnarl; Hala charges Ankh to avenge his brother screaming loudly DEAD; Kyy drops a commoner and cleaves down the commoner.
Osmo and Dulk move to help Kyy vs Guard and take him down.
Warrior on Thrand hits 4. Gunnar is missed 3 times; Ulf and Druid attack zombie DEAD; Papa Tosten moves to Thrand and hits the Guard 10, cleaves Bald Hammer miss.
Bald Hammer misses Gunnar; Blonde Hammer hits Thrand 14.
Hakon mives up to Thrand and attacks Blonde Hammer miss.
Thrand hits Blonde Hammer 23. Brand kills a commoner at the table of Gunnar; Gunnar leaps off the table, over Bald Hammer and Boers, coming down next to the dead Red Robes. He throes at Clive but misses.
A look of horror comes over Clive as the tentacle was poorly summoned and attacks him but misses. He tries to get control over it. Boers turns, charges but misses Gunnar.
Druid gives first aid to Haki.
Dulk, runs to table, jumps atop it but misses Bald Hammer.
Kyy charges and hits Blonde Hammer 3. Osmo and Hala run around the tables making for Gunnar and Boers.
Last commoner misses Brand, Guard misses Dulk; Tosten steps to flank Blonde Hammer and kills Guard and commoner.
Dulk is hit by Bald Hammer 7, Thrand by Blonde Hammer 9. Ulf moves forward, Hakon steps to flank Blonde Hammer w/ Kyy but misses.
Thand hits 20/8 Blonde Hammer DEAD.
Brand misses Bald Hammer; Gunnar throws at Clive 26.
Brian is KO’d from fall. Both are motionless.
Boers misses Gunnar; Tentacle now slithers out after Gunnar, still connected to alter. It misses.
Kyy hits Bald Hammer 6 DOWN. Hala charges up the dais, past Boers, for Clive. Boers’ AoO hits.
Osmo hits Boers 5.
Dulk leaps across and crits tentacle 22 into a splash of blood. The stump pulls into the hole on the alter which closes.
Tosten climbs the dais. Ulf looks around for wounded enemies who are not dead and slays them all.
Gunnar pulls his new big axe(Boers’ AoO hits Gunnar 5), his throw hits Clive 21.
Brand charges and hits Boers 8 DEAD!!
Thrand starts checking on Brian and Bretha. He first aids Bretha.
Clive fails a casting check at the blood on the altar. A doorway of blood opens behind him, he leaps off the chair and runs into it. He comes out the other side as nothing but blood which splashes to a puddle, followed immediately by his bloodless body which collapses to the ground.
Thrand first aids Brian next. Both are alive.

When Bretha and Brian come to, they wish to burn down the church. That was Thrand’s plan anyway. He also wants nothing to do with any of the treasury down here, which we will gladly take.

Blood Cult loot:
We burn their robes and such.
half plate
breast plate
mst chain
mst darkwood lt shield
high quality noble’s outfit 135
very fine quality gautlets 10
3 sunrods
potion cat’s grace
potion healing 1d8+5
Arcanist scrolls: control undead; blood drain
Feather Token: whip
plus gems, jewelry, coinage.

A crowd has formed outside the church. Brian explains everything to them, pacifying them.

Next Day

Translator druid visits, says he will indeed show us the way to the old shrine.
The church is burned to the ground. He says their dagger of blood drain, used on him, will be destroyed.
The lord MacGregor comes down late in the business, wondering what is going on. He has no idea what’s going on.
Brian explains, as well as MacDougal being a cultist.
In his own arrogant way, Mac hails us as heroes as does the Head Return Priest, thanks us and all that. To show his appreciation, he will send a contingent of 20 of his long bowmen to help us.

We decide to send a force to sack his citadel while he is gone, and a group group to head him off at the druid’s shrine.
Sven’s 40 men, plus half (30) of the allied Jarl’s men will attack citadel led by Tosten, his sons, and the triplets.
The other 30 of allied Jarl and Thrand’s 23 men follow Thrand, Brand, Gunnar and his archers, Hakon and Ulf to the druid grove.
The force to his citadel sails up the coast so as to march due west. They will destroy and slaughter anyone they come across so that Tosten’s attack is a complete surprise to those remaining at his stronghold. With him having taken a good 100 men, the force left should not be that much really.

The shrine of the druids is just north west of Gleneddin at the tip of the highland range. We march.

View
Away, to Jarlsleifia

Calm weather east as we pass Laakoping, then SW into open sea.
Reach shores of Jarlsleifia without incident and pull into the harbor at Vinkarl. Knowing our banner and us already the great us happily.
Nimnilhaven, the seat of the kingdom, is inland atop a hill. A days walk from here. Wulfgar is going with his own little group. We get horses.
All 4 PC’s, Harold, Ragnar, Haarkon, the Bastard, Tosten, and Brand will go for us
Wulfgar’s group is also 10, including Iring and a few other guys we recognize. Wulfgar has his own horses.

We pass 2 villages as we close in on the capital. As we pass the 3rd, some locals are talking. An old man ponders if ‘these heroes from the north are here to slay the beast’.
Another “No one can slay the beast, it’s a horrible thing!”
The first “I think I recognize those 2, that’s got to be Bjorn and Wulfgar.”
Finnric “What beast do you speak old man?”
A great flying beast, takes stock and sometimes people.
Finnric “A dragon?”
“Some sort. It’s been here only a couple weeks. We hear the tormented shrieks of the animals. The people are taken into the sky. What with Jarlsleif leaving for parts unknown and taking all the heroes with him it’s free reign for the beast.”
Sounds like just our line of work. Only the berserks left behind were brave enough to face it, but they got distracted and sacked a village instead.
We continue on.

We arrived at Vinkarl early morning, so by midday we are at Nimnilhaven.
On the outskirts of Nimnilhaven, we can see the huge meadhall on the hill in the middle surrounded by mott-n-bailey. A walled trail leads to the town also surrouned by a quality palisade with wooden towers.
We pass a homestead in some disrepair as if it had been damaged or even sacked. For a 2 story house it is 10’ tall. Tending what’s left of the fields is what at first we think is a boy but is actually a very short old man. He salutes with his hoe.
“Some of you look like them what came and tore up my farm! Don’t make me hoe you (looking mainly at Finnric).”
Bjorn “You look like a child, but old.”
“I was born this way, my pappy and mammy was born this way.”
Bjorn “Your farm was ransacked?”
“:It was. Bunch of fur cloaked barbarians kicked me in the gut, took my crops, burned what they couldn’t take. Even knocked out a wall.” His name is Gymm. Calls out and introduces us to his wife Helga.
It was Jarlsleif’s berserks. They bully the locals often.
Thrand “Do you receive any recompense for this?”
They do every so often, but not enough to cover the full value.
He doesn’t have much but he offers a meal. They have plenty of honey, the berserks leave them alone. He has wonderful jam and mead.
We accept.He has not bread for the jam, but we do.
Bjorn “Wulfgar, break out some bread.”
He is forced to in order to save face.
We eat with the couple.
There are 20 berserks, led by a relatively vile man named Bjarki. A giant of a man almost 7’ tall and all muscle. Wields a huge hammer. Last he heard they were not at the meadhall, but gallivanting around. They return every couple days.
He asks us our business.
Bjorn asks him about the monster. Gymm says its a small dragon. In the far south they call it a Wyvern. Regardless of the name, its a giant reptile with wings that causes damage. That’s all that matters. A lot of surrounding villages are hit nightly. It eats a lot; typically comes from and goes to the west.
We explain we are going to ask Hymling for aid in our voyage, he says he’s sure that many of the prince’s valiant men will want to help you. Though most of the heroes are with Jarlsleif. He wishes us good luck.
Helga says when we get to the court, we will find their only son, Thordhama, has gone to the meadhall to learn to be a warrior. He’s not very tall or strong. One or 2 of the men have shown him how to swing a sword but not many look at him as much of anything. He hangs around there a lot and helps the wenches take care of the other warriors.
The berserks are vicious to him, beat him with rock/bone/fist etc.
“Be so kind as to not beat him with big things.”
Thrand “We will not beat him with anything.”
We take our leave.
Riding through the town, it looks untouched by the dragon. All the town watch us with great interest.

At the base of the hill, the guard question us. Bjorn hails them and introduces himself, informs they we are here to see Hymling.
We look on the up and up to him, no riff raff among us, so we are allowed to pass.
Bjorn wants to pay him to hold Wulfgar up, who has lagged behind a bit, but does not think it wise for he or Thrand to peform the act. Finnric volunteers gladly and gives him the guard coin.
He says they are feasting tonight, the berserks are to return, hopefully with news of the dragon; introduce yourself to the Herald.

Behind us “Who goes there?”
“I am Wulfgar.”
“WHo are the other one?”
He hassles Wulfgar a lot.

The herald lets us inside, Hymling is not here yet. Jarlsleif is, of course, away campaigning far SE. He has been there for some
Wulfgar arrives some 20 minutes after us, minus 4 men whom the guard refused passage to.
Bjorn “Having troubles Wulfgar? Didn’t like the look of your lot?”
Finnric “That’s the kine of low lifes who follow him.”
The feasting will begin when Hymling arrives.
We take our seats to Hymling’s right. Finnric requests to be across from Iring.
Form his side around are Bjorn, Thrand, Finnric, Haarkon, Ragnar, Harald, Brand, Gunnar, Tosten, Hakon.
Across from Bjorn is Wulfgar, Thrand is Iring, Finnric is Finnbogi.

5 other local nobles sit on Wulfgars side.

Hymling arrives.
At the head is Hymling, to his left his sister Kolfrosta FIne Hair; to his right his cousin Hjalprek Arrow Odd.
Thrand “How is Baylik?”
He’s out on patrol. They did away with his name, he has chosen a real man’s name: Brynjalf.
He says its good to have old family and friends here. We feast. Many beautiful ladies bring out the food. The wine bearer is Thordhama.
Thrand tells Thordhama we met his family, we were very impressed. He acknowledges thanks.
Hymling has already heard why we are here. We go over what we heard of the truce meeting, and how Bluto drew steel at it. Terribly shameful act.
Hymling has some men he is willing to part with. However, with the lack of good captains and heroes there is no one to appropriately lead them. He wants a rep. from each group to convince him to put his troops under their command.
Wulfgar declares Iring.
Bjorn declares Finnric.

Iring speaks first and tells nothing but crap of Wulfgar’s intuitiveness, bravery, truth blah blah blah. Huge yarn about the Piper adventure.
Hymling is stroking his bears, looking impressed.
Finnric gives the real story, stressing the taking of the towns behind our back by Wulfgar’s men; Bjorn and Finnric’s defeat of Ulag while Wulfgar was stuck fighting the same man almost the entire fight, the race back to town in the valley we won; battle of Rymskyld; finally we defeated the Piper’s entire force and rescued the dwarves with Wulfgar utterly absent.
Hymling is especially impressedy by our dwarf, and Haarkon backs up our story so far as he was present.
Finnric wins hands down.

Of the 200 men he can send, 150 will go under Bjorn. 50 will go under Wulfgar so as not to totally insult him. We also get a choice of 1 of his 2 captains. Either the cousin with the bow or sister with the hammer.
Bjorn w/o missing a beat “Your sister.”
The bowman cousin will lead those going with Wulfgar.
After introductions more personally with each to their leaders, he says he hopes the berserks are back soon.
They know it comes from the west, but nothing more. If the dragon has been slain these men are promised to you. If not, I can not afford to lose them. The dragon tends not to attack well protected places.
He wishes he could put a leash on the berserks, after Bjorn brings up the subject. He says each is as good as 5 of his regular men. 20 hang out here, they have kin in the region.
We hear a pained yelp from outside. The door bursts open and in walk the 20 berserks looking like they were just in a scrap. They are a raucous bunch from the get go.
Bjarki leads the way, stopping and looking around at all us visitors.
Hymling “Bjarki, tell me you bring good news….”
Bjarki claims total victory.
Thrand whispers to Bjorn “The beast isn’t the victory they are talking about.”
Hymling “Show me the beasts head.”
Each pulls up a human head. They could not find the dragon, so sacked a village instead.
Hymlac is exasperated.
They are about to mess with the halfling.
Finnric “Stop now! (to the halfling) Come sit with me.”
Bjarki “Look at that, he’s wearing a dog.”
They whisper and chuckle.
Bjarki walks up to Finnric “Bark, bark haha.”:
Finnric is about to tear his neck out with his teeth but Thrand restrains him.
Bjorn plays diplomatic, telling there is trouble if Hymlac does not stop these insults to his guests.
These moments, Finnric spends building Fury tokens. The berserks make more jokes to themsleves, taking seats at the end of the table.
Thrand to Bjarki “Why do you insult guests in your lord’s house.”
Bjorn begins to walk down the table. Tells Thrand stay back and observe unless weapons are drawn or you are attacked.
Bjorn says he’s sure Wulfgar would agree, who looks toward Finnbogi.
Finnbogi stands and in the nicest way a berserk can he asks them not to speak ill of the Ulfhedinn kin, cause you wouldn’t want to make me mad. You wouldn’t like me mad."
Bjarki looks at Bjorn and says to Hymling “Why is there a whelp in my seat? Last I knew, my seat was at your right. Now you invite a boy?”
Another to Thornhamma “Hey, hamma, mead?”
Finnric grabs what he was taking and chugs it. A bone full of mutton already devoured is hurled toward Thornhamma. It misses and hits Finnric
Another “You hit the pupply!!! Hahaha!!”
Hymlac “Oh bloody hell.”
Finnric leaps atop the table, running on all 4’s for the culprit. Finnbogi, on the man’s side, begins to charge him.
Finnric rushes a headbutt into the man 17 knocking him to the floor. Finnbogi reaches him and drops a mighty elbow on him.
Servant girls rush away.
Bjorn gets to Hakon being the voice of reason “Stay until you are needed” and readying an attack if he is attacked. He wild cards Improved Unarmed Strike base 1.
The man is thrashed badly. The berserk next in line, Bjarki’s second, moves on Finnbogi. Bjarki reaches to his hip, pulls the head off of his belt and thows it at Finnric 6.
The berserk next to Hakon gets up and goes to hit him, BJorn slugs him 8, the punk misses. Next 2 in line there go after Bjorn. Bjorn AoO hits 8. Both miss Bjorn.
One on Finnric’s side jumps onto the table at him and hits 9.
Hakon jump stunts off the table and behind his attacker punching 6.
Bjorn "Everybody stay calm, we’ve got this under control. Bjorn punches his 6/7. Finnric leaps off table behing Bjarki 9.
Finnbogi slugs the other standing at him with 2 good hits.
The berserk at the end of the table begins to chant. All the other begin to follow suit.
2 new ones come to aid Bjarki. The one on the table attacks one of the locals with a meat prong and kills him through the eye!
The others on both sides begin to move in en masse but for the 2 at the end of the table.
Several around Finnric draw daggers suddenly and hit him 3 times!!!
The 3 around Bjorn draw their real weapons. Tosten is attacked as now, Hakon by multiple.
They begin attacking another local. 2 more jump on the table.
Hymling is horrified.
The locals join in, and we do as well now. Haarkon tells Thorhamma to grab Finnric’s axe and take it to him under the table.
Brand jumps on the table after Tosten hurls the berserk there out of the way and brings Hakon’s spear to him, drawing his sword on the way.
Gunner gets atop the table as well, runs halfway to the other end and hurls at the chanter 26!
The fighting becomes general.
Iring begins a song himself, giving all of Wulfgar’s men a bonus, and we have to make will saves or take a minus one. Only gunnar fails “You bastard! It never happened like that!!”
Wulfgar’s men join but for Wulfgar, who acts like he’s being super protective of Wulfgar.
When Gunnar kills the chanter who missed him with a stone, a red glow comes from that side of the table. Finnric is overcome by the pelt by the first dagger to strike him.
Once Finnric gets his axe, he drops Bjarki and another berserk in one round. He leans over him “Bjark! Bjark!” mimicking his soprano dog bark at Finnric ealier.
Soon after, the berserks start to bleed through various orifices and poors in their body.
Harold performs a great feat of strength, tilting the third table from the head toppling 2 of the berserks and a Wulfgar man.
Finnric sends Thorhamma rushing for his spear.
He sees from, the runecaster at the end of the table, that the red glow is from an amulet he is wearing in the shape of a red teardrop.
The last berserk, vs Tosten and Brand, foams at the mouth while bleedind and collapses.
By now, several of Hymlac/Wulfgar men are down, as is Hakon KO’d.
Thorhamma says the amulet is causing something. Bjarki’s body disolves into a puddle of goo. Rising out of it is an amorphous humanoid almost 8’ tall blood creature!! All the blood of the other berserks are running toward it!!
It forms next to Gunnar and Finnric.
Hymling is horrified.
Bjorn leaps upon the table and flanks with Finnric, who drops his axe in favor of Odin Spear. Finnbogi joins us as well, fighting next to Finnric.
Gunnar tumbles away from the creature and it’s AoO misses. Gunnar’s throw hits 12. Brand gets Hakon away from the fight as Thrand moves onto the table 20 w/ cold iron sword. Tosten first aids Hakon. Thrand’s cut is not refilling with blood.
Kolfrost moves forward and hurls her warhammer but she misses, almost hitting the cover provided by Gunnar and Bjorn. Finnbogi hits as well.
An arm goes after Thrand miss, and Bjorn miss. 2 others appear out of hits back attacking Finnric 2 con. dam. and Finnbogi as well as their skin starts bleeding. A mock mouth opens and closes mechanically, the whole creature emits an unearthly incantation but not understandable to us.
Bjorn sheaths his sword and quickdraws the broken blade 5, and one of the runes flares as it runs through it taking a trail of blood with it which evaporated instantly in the air. Thrand hits 18 as well.
Gunnar suddenly throws at Bjorn but misses twice; Finnric leaps upon the table making for Thrand 17/miss ; and Finnbogi does the same vs Bjorn miss.
Kolfrosta hurls a throwing hammer at Finnbogi but fails to trip him up. Wulfgar jumps on the table and begins to charge to the fight. Iring changes his tale to help everyone (he’s very frightened, wanting only to get out of here alive).
It hits Bjorn and Thrand again 10 and 6 slam damage respectively. The blood tendrils attack each not, missing Thrand and fumbling vs Bjorn.
Wulfgar become charmed now that he is in range!! All of Hymlac and Wulfgar’s men flee toward the rear of the meadhall.
Tosten rushes atop the table to make a tackling attack but fails to touch him.
Thrand maneuvers Finnric off the table with a thud, but atop Thorhamma who was about to try to trip Finnric. Thrand then hits the bloodwraith 11. Bjorn does the same to Finnbogi but misses the bloodwraith.
Kolfrosta draws a warhammer and slugs Wulfgar from behind, knocking him off the table. As Bjorn and Finnbogi try to climb off they get shield bashed back down, landing on Thorhammer again as he is getting up.
Combat vs bloodwraith continues, and Tosten grapples Gunnar.
Finnric and Finnbogi get back on the table, and Thorhammer fails to trip Finnric above. Wulfgar gets back on the table and engages Kolfrosta.
It releases a blood curdling wale like a death knell. Dread courses through Thrand and Tosten’s veins for a minus 4 to all d20 checks, and Bjorn a minus 2.
Bjorn and Thrand bring it down at this point!! The charms end. It bursts apart with a splash of blood covering Finnbogi, Finnric, Thrand, Bjorn and Thorhamma.
Hymlac and all his men stare at us in utter amazement. The Princes is greatly impressed at our prowess.
Finnric profusely apologizes to Thrand over and over again for days after. Thrand assures him its all part of the job.
We take Bjarki’s amulet to put with the others we have. It feels like it has a warm pulsing hearbeat inside. Finnric runs each berserk with a spear to help ensure their travel to Valhalla. Even as enemies, berserks are still chosen of Odin and so worthy opponents in the eyes of Spear Mad.
The feast is ruined by the blood.
Hymlac “You are truly heroes! Magificent!”
He says he regrets that he still needs the wyvern taken care of. He will send his promised men to meet with our fleet if we vow to kill the dragon. We do.

We tell Himlac to have men gather a large flock of livestock for us to use as bait.
Also, whoever knows the terrain where we can set up the flock and hide close enough by for a surprise assault. He tells us of a glade with a patch of woods about 200 or so feet away. A guide will show us.

Next Day

As we are preparing, Halvgrimr actually physically transforms into a walking stick and a wide brimmed conical hat forms utop Finnric’s head! Just like Odin!
We get the flock to the designated spot. We cripple one and cut it open to get blood in the air. Finnric and Bjorn will be disguised as herders, Finnric using the Odin Spear like a walking stick. Fitlaf,
Thrand, Hakon, Brand, Haarkon, Ragnar, Gunnar, Thorhamma, Harold and Tosten will rush from the woods when the time is right.

Night comes, and Bifrost iluminates the night. The moon is low in the sky over the hills nearby shining bright, about 10% larger looking than average.
Another hour goes by. In the distance we see a gigantic sillouette in the sky. We soon realize it is coming fast. The eyes glow in the moonlight as it closes in. It is all but silent. Large, scales a lustrous purple. It swoops for the sheep like lightning but upon realizing humans are here, it wants us. Finnric flips the Halvgrimr and readies vs the dive bomb. IT comes at Bjorn like a rush of death for a flyby attack. Finnric hits 11, Bjorn 15.
It bites Bjorn but fails an attempt to grab him.
Our men start to rush out. He turns and dives again, Finnric hits 14, Bjorn misses, it bites Bjorn again and grabs him. After rising 30’ he drops Bjorn to the ground.
It makes it’s turn above us. The rest us arrive and stagger themselves out, not sure who it will come down upon. Gunnar is w/in range of its attack on anyone.
It swooms to Finnric who has it set and hits 20. It crits Finnric and lands in front of him. The rest of us charge, surrounding it. It’s AoO is a tail at Thrand 11, who fumbles in return as the rest attack. Thorhamma hurls his throwing axe.
We almost kill it. As if flies straight up to get away, surrounded, our AoO don’t finish it off. It is bleeding profusely. We follow it easily as it limps about 10 miles west, losing altitude near the end disappearing at a large hill.
A hole, perhaps an old tomb whose boulder that once blocked it was pulled away, has a trail of thick blood leading inside.
We enter, go about 30’ and find it lying dead 2 to 3 feet from a natural water spring filling a pool. A mound of treasure as well and carcasses of its food it has been taking.
Finnric “Finish it off Bjorn.”
“I’m taking its head.” He beheads it.
Finnric cuts it’s heart out.

The body that was buried here is ancient.

Treasure:
Royal outfit 377gp of exceptional quality
Curved blade in a nice sheath. Writing on it is in an unknown script (elven curveblade, fine quality 97gp)
Saddle, military, superior quality 99gp
shovel, collapsable (2gp)
Whip
Shattered crystal vial, but the gathered crystal is worth 30gp
Parchment, decaying, worth nothing. But, Bjorn’s sword glows when he gets next to it (must be detecting magic)
set of earrings 117gp
clear quartz crystal 45gp
earrings 23gp
bracelet 31gp
agate 9gp
zircon 49gp
tiger eye 5gp
azurite 4gp
blue quartz 2gp
5pp
80gp
350sp
900cp

Looks like the beast was dragging itself to the water. Bjorn walks up and takes a big drink. He is immediately healed. All wounded take a drink. Bjorn warns to not take a second. It may not be good. We empty our waterskins and fill them up, just in case it works away from the fountain.
On the way out, Thrand notices one last thing. A small roll of paper lies in some rocks, he picks it up. It is something wrapped in thin paper of 5 different colors. The broken blade glows like daylight! An artifact of the masters. The wrap is open, missing one of 14 small round candies. Hmmm. We will need to seek a wiseman.
The town with our men is only a couple miles NW at this point, says Thorhamma. We trek overnight to get there to surprise our men.
The runes are the same script as that on the curved blade. We have hears of an item all live savers. They gave great endurance, healed, made the user super heroic, etc….

Next Day

Hymling and Wulfgar arrive early with Hymling’s men.
We are met up with our guys and rest up/celebrate.
The Ulfhedinn perform a group ritual for Thorhamma. He is Berserker 3. His name must now be changed, Thorhamma is the wimp he once was. He wants a new name for his new personae.
They poor Koku’s mead into a brazzier and perform a ritual song and dance around it. Then Koku, Finnric, Ylva, and Modar cut their arms with the Odin Spear and spill their blood into the mead. It is mixed and fed in gulps to Thordhama. We continue to drink until drunk, the wyvern heart roasting all the time. A raw piece is saved for Thordhama to eat as a second part of his initiation with the blood mead.
Blood of the entirety of Finnric’s pack is then spilled into the mead in the same fashion, including Thordhama, and we all drink as the first official group initiation ceremony of all becoming Bjorn’s Ulfhednar pack now that our number is a strong 6.

Next Day.

Early morning
Info:
MacDougal is one of 2 most popular rulers of his area. He is known for clearing out the northmen in his lands. He is trying to become king of the realm. He has alliances with some bowmen lands nearby. Allied w/ Bluto.
The other is known for kicking out northman occupiers as well, but not as merciless. Centered around Dunling, Aelfinn, Corrach and Aeri, he is named Gaelfrost. He is half norse himself (father) himself.

Come up with a plan for the dwarves to tunnel from outside of Langbay inside, secretly, using a ‘siege’ as cover for their operation. All the dwarves now go to Langbay.

Thrand will take a ship to Cairn Dor under cover of an exploratory ship for traders, to try to get information. The rest of the fleet w/ him will land a safe distance north of it and await orders. Gortin joins this part of the fleet.

Wulfgar has a pow wow with Bjorn. “When it comes to the actual sack of Langbay, we need agreements” division of plunder, who gets what. All loot will be consolidated after the attack and divided according to manpower. It will based more according to # of ships than manpower. With Bjorn’s personal force of less ships counting the same because its his show, he and Thrand’s siege plans, etc. Our show that he arrived to cut in on.

We set sail.

View
Tordekting return, triumph and loss

So, Lance knows some specifics about this thane of Bluto’s in the north. He is called Connaught MacDougal. His land is on the borders of Cymria and Gallia. Particularly area is around the towns of Cairndor, Kinkellar, Gleneddin.
We feel, being taken to Lanbay, Hjarldan is likely safe from wretched sacrifice. It’s Gudrid we are most concerned with in terms of that, for this blood cult certainly means death. Still, we know now what torture or such may befall Hjarldan otherwise.

In Tordekting, our former ship has been refitted to a better warship. Harder hull, ram at the fore. Not a river ship though.
Bjorn opens the folding boat. The hold is empty unfortunately.

Augments are getting supplies then heading for the valley where they feel they will be most at home, but Lance and Black J want to catch a ride with us over the sea to home.
All the dwarves made it out alive and will be our men, we say we shall get them east one day.

Up north, Swen had put down Hrolf’s rebellion, a hard fought victory. The day was saved when Prince Wulfgar surprised Hrolf from the rear. All in the ‘good name’ of Finnborg. This maddens us. Hrolf and loyal men did escape. Wulfgar seems to be pulling the same thing on Swen he pulled on us: making himself look like a good honorable ally now, before a backstab we’re sure will come.

Thrand recommends a change in treatment for some of the professional soldiers: that only Bluto’s men and those of his allies are put to the sword, after their treatment of Rymskyld. Any paid mercs, however, should be ransomed back home or to their merc orders. “We don’t want people otherwise neutral toward us to act based on our treatment of their own, and our family and friends fighting oversees to suffer repercussions for our actions.”

In 3 more days, virtually all of our mantrolls will be men again. They were highly intimidating to the Normans in the fight. They also confused the battle, as the Normans had them on their side so were killed many times thinking it was an alley.
Some younger men of the right mind may join us as warriors in our travels. The rest head home to the valley.

Ingvarr says by spring of next year, a recruiter will show up from the guard looking for men. He will have to go back with the recruiter and he hopes we go with him.
We begin to use our new fame to gather men to our side.
Bjorn brings in 50 x1st; 5 x2nd, 3 x3rd level warriors.
Gunnar 5 x1st level bowmen.
Thrand brings in 20 x1st, 2 x2nd, and 1 x3rd
Finnric attracts a different sort. They are stronger, wear no armor, but much tougher. 35 x1st, 3 x2nd, 1 x3rd.
We must get to work immediately outfitting an attack on Bluto and allies. Thrand is beside himself for vengeance over the capturing of his bride to be.
In the coming days and weeks, we hear of Iring’s tales of Wulfgar’s triumph, fully sanctioned and approved by Finngorg. Finnric dreams of the day he will split that snake Iring’s tongue in 2.

Wulfgar and his elite entourage came hauling ass here wanting to join us on the raid, a land that Bluto’s men passed through is a supporter of Finnbogi so he uses that ‘invasion’ as an excuse to go. He has two ships of 140 men including the last of his berserkers (w/ Finnbogi), Iring
Several ships of allied Jarls and from Sven as well!
Gortin the Rowmaster joins us, and begins assigning men to their oar placement.

We plan to stop to ask Jarlsleif in Jarlsleifia for assistance as well.
Sven 120 men on 3 ships
2 neighboring Jarls of Gustav 210 men on 4 ships.
Neighbor who is Finnborg’s ally sends 70 on 2 ships.

To Langbay:
Bjorn and Finnric and the Ulfhedinn
Toru, Ingvarr and Ragnar
Dwarves: Alfreg, Fjalar and Galar, Egin and Raggid, Sturn
Lance and Black J are riding with this group until they want let off.

To MacDougal:
Thrand and Gunnar
Tostensons and Tosten
Ulf and Hakon
Kyy, Osmo and Dulk
Dwarves: Haakon, Uhtto and Otto, Ottr, Fliggol

Thrand’s brother, Brand Thorirsson (lvl 2 Myrimdon), will join us as well.
Finnric’s sister SIgrid, new to be a shield maiden, will accompany Finnric and Bjorn (dedicate 1). This will be her first action.

The day we are to leave, one more man arrives. The son of a Jarl some distance away, he traveled much to arrive, from the next fjord over in the land of Geattenborg. His name is Harold Tryggvarsson; eldest son of the Jarl there. Geats are generally neutral friendly toward our lands.
“I asked permission from my father to join your expedition to gather fame and glory for my family. We heard news of what happened here.”
Bjorn accepts. He shall join Bjorn’s group to Langbay.

Wulfgar and the Finnborg ally to Langbay.
To the north is 1 of Sven’s boats and 1 boat from the local Jarl.
The rest to Lanbay.

View
The Second Battle of Rymskyld

Next day, Gustav and army arrive. He embraces Bjorn.
Gustav says the prisoners were taken a different way, so obviously can’t give chase. He wants quick victory here so that Bjorn can go for the rescue. His scouts say Bluto has more men than us, including some enemy Jarls in this area that have sided with him. Bluto is almost 2:1 against us.
Gustav calls a council together a couple days later. An enemy emissary shows up. Gustav sends Bjorn, Thrand, and “take 6 more of your closest men”. Make no concessions that do not need to be made.
Bjorn chooses Ragnar, Finnric, Gunnar, Prince Haarkon, Thrand, Toston, and Hakon
A delegation of 8 awaits us outside of the camps at a neutral sight. The head man is a tall and majestic looking fellow, quality scale mail and a kite shield, hand and a half sword on his back.
5 of the others look like normal types we’d expect. One of them, all we see is his eyes inside his armor. The last wears a cape, extra bulky at the back.
Finnric whispers “Hunchback?”
Bjorn “Wings.”
It’s night time.
The leader unstraps his sword and plants it into the ground as a show of no betrayal. “My name is Sir &#W^T^W*W*W( Baron of Norcross.”
His name is gibberish to us, far too many words and titles in his vernacular. He introduces his faithful Lt. as Je Noir, aka Black Jay.
They come representing their own faction the invaders.
“To whom do I have the pleasure of speaking?”
“Bjorn Gustavson.”
Finnric “He is called ’the Hammer.”
“This is my lawspeaker Thrand Silkbeard. We are here to speak on behalf of my father.”
It was requested he come here by Lord Bluto sand Piti, a nickname only recently earned.
“My Lord Bluto has seen that he is more than double your strength, plus he possesses magic and……other things, that give him an advantage. The previous battle was simply to draw out your father more fully. Because of the whole affair with Lord Bluto’s son and his brainwashing by Jarlsleif, Bluto has seen that since his son will not be returning home your brother and sister are going back to the isle where they will be tortured, horribly savaged in every form that Bluto can possibly find to entertain himself, and executed unless Gustav disbands his army and surrenders himself and you.”
Bjorn “Let me think about that for a moment. I have a counter offer. The counter offer is you give me my brother and sister back, and we will let you leave our land peacefully. Otherwise I can’t guarante the safety of any of the men standing before men.”
“So that is a no. Now that the official business is done….” he has a counter offer. He says how what Bluto has done to Rimskyld goes against everything the court of Trolhelm stands for. When word gets back to the king what he has done, the does not think Bluto will have a place there. This man says he did not sign up for such a thing, only honorable battle and war. Even this is not the ways of war. His offer: he and his company (200 augments) are willing to assist us in the fight vs Bluto if you guarentee them safe passage out of our lands once it is over.
Bjorn “That is definately acceptable. Out of curiosity, where do you plan to go?”
Their fleet is stuck up north, the pass blocked by some “pesky whelp” from up there. They were thinking of getting ship from these lands to just go home.
8 nobles are w/ Bluto, all flying the crimson teardrop.
Bjorn “How do you get your troops away from Bluto without drawing his ire?”
His GB skirmishers, which we unfortunately killed many of, can leave easily. The heavy company will be in the middle of the line as they are Bluto’s best men.
Thrand sees he wears a Peldan amulet. He says they were given out to the inner circle of Master Peldan. The ones we have are more primitive and simple. They were from Northland followers of his, rather than mainland followers. They do little but for a high value in the marketplace for their history. Anyone wearing such amulets are Indifferent at worst, if the would normally be above that they are one higher still, as well as a plus 4 bonus to any interaction check with them. Followers of Imbrun have the exact opposite reaction.
The one Norcross has is an amulet of protection as well, ours are not, only symbolic. He thinks we are even cooler when he knows of ours.

Next, we talk tactics for the coming battle. We will tell our forces NOT to attack his group. His group turns to face one side, ours will swing through the gap and envelope the other side. If there is a unit behind him, he will have to split half to each side and our spearhead will hit the rear force. We will give him a signal via banner which way to attack once we see Bluto’s forces.

Finnric tells the Greenborn to get him some extra wild game. He selects a hill nearby that will be a good vantage point, where upon he sets up a circle of spears, those of Graka’s spear horde. Inside, over night, they roast game, drink and ready for Odin mead brewed by Koku, and chant/pray to Odin. Inviting him to this spot to observe the battle for BJorn’s glory! The blood drained from the animals is kept to force feed Kyy tomorrow.
Finnric vows to not kill a single enemy during the next day with anything other than his teeth, his bare hands, or a spear
At night, Bjorn rides to speak to his father at the site of his forces.
Bluto has about 3500 men, Gustav 2200, and our 300 some. Many more of Bluto’s men are conscripts. He has some cavalry. Gustav has less.
Gustav is on the north to south ridge.
Gustav wants to ride his cavalry around the wing to flank, and shows where he wants his berserks to come from. Bjorn says do not commit the cavalry, but keep them in reserve with a small foot force.
BJorn lines the forces along the ridge from the flats in the south, to the north.. Berserkers on the right flank.
On the left, Bjorn wants the most trusted Hersir with the best troops as that will be the easiest to flank. Their job is simply to hold the flank at all cost, do not advance.
The right flank will be the hammer. The center putting on pressure. When Lance turns to their right to attack as the centers meet, Gustav will call for the cavalry to ride through the center and sweep to our right and fight toward our berserks.
The ambush in the vision was going to be Lance. That is now off the table.
Our group will move to the west to the river and follow it down over the night unseen by Bluto. At the right moment, we will sprint on our left flank to bolster and wrap around their force.

Next Day

The forces are marshaling. Bluto to the south and west at the bridge; Gustav’s force to the south and west at the bridge of the first battle.
Bluto left to right:
Infantry in normal hvy armor like scale/ring. Good soldiers.
Cavalry half chain barding, hauberk, kite shields, spears, axe or sword or mace.
Lance and his Augments
Footmen Knights in partial plate, lt shields; various weapons.
Infantry conscripts but led by professionals better equipped than the other flank.
Archers in the rear.
The other side of their bridge is guarded by a force as well.
Their HQ camp has Bluto, his wizard, and a handful of villainous swine. All bear the red teardrop.
A good portion of the foot knights and leadership have the teardrop on their shields. Bjorn’s force, once around our left we will hopefully be able to attack his command center.
We signal Lance to attack the cavalry next to him to throw them into disarray and eliminate any charge on us. Our cavalry will hit the archers through the gap; our center infantry in the gap will envelope opposite Lance. Ragnar will be left in charge of our mantroll and dwarf force (but for Brokkr who will be with Finnric), Toru with him, while we take a strike team to Bluto.
Our greenborn will be with our force providing cover and harassing fire.

Their lines begin to march forward in unison. Our men advance down the ridge slowly, the left holding high ground position leaving a small gap. Our reserves in the rear are their to plug that hole if need be.
Quickly, our berserk right charges their infantry.
As the troops march, their archers fire upon our center. A small group is on each flank attacking their. The attacks only enrage the berserks, having little impact on their loose formation. Our center is hit harder than we had hoped, our left defends themselves much better.
In the morning light, a storm is seen rolling in from the east. As the berserks are about to hit, an ominous chant echoes across the valley in a language we have never heard before. Finnric feels it is mystical and arcane, and evil. Streaks of green hued lightning streaks across the sky. All along the line of crucified townsfolk at the river to our south and the pile of murdered, the bodies begin to pull themeselves off of the crosses and the writhing morass of corpses shamble to unlife. They begin to march on the berserks who do not notice them.
The lines close, and Lance halts his men. He yells something in an unknown language and his line wheels to the left into the cavalry, who in their own tongue yell to begin to charge. The footknights wheel into the augments!!
Our center charges to assist Lance; our right has their cavalry outflanked though it has to absorb the charge; and our mantrolls/dwarves and us hit the gap left by the knights not advancing. Our left flank is alone in essentially a straight up battle.
We have now slammed into their knights’ flank.
Bluto’s left is bolstered by the knowledge that the undead are on their side. It’s a bloodbath all around.
On our left holds firm.
Or cavalry charges for their archers through the gap limiting their shots on us. At the sight of the cavalry through the line, the archers route. Osmo, Hala take the brunt of it.
Bjorn lead us mounted and rides with the cavalry, yelling for Thrand to take lead. He wants the wizard and his head.
Ingvar blows his horn as we hit the knights, it is no normal horn. The weak willed of the enemy are shaken and bolsters us.
The dwarves and Rags are at the center of our mantroll front line. Toru is with the Greenborn. Our PC’s and men stay at the left edge so that we can split off if possible.
Our cavalry catches their archers easily and begins to cut them to pieces.

7 of our men: Finnric, Gunnar, Thrand, Dulk, Kyy, Koku Hala and Ulf are ganged together with a group of knights sweep into them. The leader wields a 2 handed axe. All wear crimson teardrops.
Finnric hurls Blutnautr 15 and draws Blutnautrson the Elder; Gunnar throws 15. Our groups meet.

(pic)

Finnric kills in the first round. Second round Kyy, Ulf, Gunnar, Hala, Finnric, Koku, Osmo all kill.
Their standard bearer, who planted the flag last around moves on Osmo. Another moves to Hala, the last with the greataxe moves to Kyy.
Kyy is dropped and the axe wielder yells “For the Angel!” His surviving knights follow suit.
Ulf misses the axeman and Gunnar throws at him 16 ; Koku and Osmo double team the standard bearer 21/29 crit. Hala fumbles.
Thrand drops his and cleaves another. Finnric hits 13 and is hit for 17.
Next round:
Ulf crits the axeman 17 and Gunnar throws 15; Hala misses; Finnric in an involuntary kills his and Thrand’s and bite’s Hala’s 10. Koku hits 15 DEAD; Osmo moves to the axeman; Thrand misses Hala’s.
Osmo hits axeman 11, Ulf misses, Gunnar throws 24 DEAD but not before he hits Ulf 13 but misses Osmo. Ulf goes to exactly 0.
Ulf withdraws from the battle.
Hala crits the last knight 28, Thrand hits 2, Finnric twice which all together kills him after he fumbles. Thrand cuts him, during his rebound Finnric runs him through at the shoulder then Hala cuts his abdomen. Finnric then rips his throat out with his fangs.

So,
The battle at the center with their cavalry is a general melee, they did not ruin our line. The archers are destroyed.
The lightning is shooting into the battle. A glow now emanates from the north and a strong wind blows throughout the valley dispersing the clouds and ceasing the lightning. Loud booming laughter follows the wind.
A crowd of elites exits the HQ of the enemy rushing for BJorn.
Our other main men regroup with Thrand. All but Ulf, and Hala who stays in the main fight, charges across the plain for Bjorn. Kyy is still down. He stabalizes at neg. 6.
Bluto has 1 northman, 2 peldanorians, 2 normans, 2 Tharangians and the wizard
Bjorn leaves the cavalry to it and breaks off. A group of zombies approaches along with some enemy infantry.
We are about to arrive to Bjorn’s aid.
From across the bridge, sounds of a bloody battle. His reserves on the other side of the river scatter to the winds and a second group of berserks rushes across and hits the zombies and enemy infantry!!!! It’s Finnbogi and some of Wulfgar’s berserks loyal to Finnbogi!!!!!
Finnbogi himself joins our gang in the battle.

The middle of the battle is a carnal house of death. Many fewer augments than expected remain. Meeting up with us is Lance and Black Jay!!! Lance cursing the mage who somehow knew of our plans.
Bluto calls out “Malenko, protect me!”
“I told you, it’s Ares! Malenko sounds like some silly carny mage.
He carries a large sickle. He casts magic and all 9 glow with an eerie light.
We line up to meet them. Ingvar is with us.
Bjorn dismounts.
On the way to intercept the zombies are a group of our mantrolls and dwarves!!

As we are about to move, Finnric thanks Odin for eliminating the evil storm and recites:
_I am here, Father
You have called me
and I am here.

Where your wind talks to the trees
and carries your ravens ot the mountains
where the last of the Old Ones live.

I am here Father
I take possession of my heritage
and I step into the llne of my Ancestors.

I grasp the spear of my will
and gird myself with the courage of seekers.
I draw the runes of power around me."_

Their camp was set up at ancient standing stones amidst a ruined structure (bookshelves in the pic; the stream is not really there). of some kind. Tentworks (grid blocks in the pic) surround the circle of stones. The bridge is behind and a short distance to our right of the standing stones.
Right now, we see the mage at the altar, Bluto to his left and a Norman noble to his right. The altar glows a crimson red and over the stones is a crimson dome of energy.

IMG_20150403_191254_934.jpg

Bjorn and Thrand, backed by Gunner, through the front door; The Ulfhednar to right corner; Lance, Black J, and Ingvar through the gap to Bjorn’s right backed by Toru; to his left Haakon, Haki and Rags lead Kyy/Osmo/Dulk.
Enemies await us on the other sides. Bjorn and Thrand spot their 2 but not the archer to their right. He fires at Bjorn but misses.

Warriors wait to Lance’s flanks as well but are not surprised.

Finnric is attacked by an axeman 10; and an archer who both miss

At Ragnar, he sees the man to Thrand’s left and attacks him; Haakon spots the men hiding to their left and warns Ulf.

Toru starts to climb the ruined wall.
Kyy attacks to Ragnar’s right and drops him. Osmo and Dulk charges straight ahead between the tents and enter the left one. A Hersir they recognize misses Osmo.

IMG_20150403_192724_392.jpg

The enemy vikings at the walls attack: Finnric is hit by axeman 3 and archer 6; Ingvar is missed by 2 of them; Black J same; Bjorn is shot missed by the same archer again; high ground attacker swings at Bjorn with sword but misses; axeman vs Haakon hits 6; the other 2 there move out and miss Rags and Haki.
Thrand moves to the archer and drops him: Bjorn swings upward and cuts the throat of the high ground enemy and he falls to the ground; Finnric kills both axeman as Finnbogi charges the archer an killw him. Bjorn moves around the right of the central tent; Koku leads Brokkr to the far right tent and sees a Peldanorian; Haakon attacks axeman to his left 5; xbowman in the right tent fires at Dulk 8; a Peldanorian steps out from behind the central tent ahead of Bjorn looking like a noble or low royal by his gold headband, he readies an attack; Bluto “You fools, haha!”; Lance and Black J attack the axeman to their left killing both; Ingvarr hit a man to the right of Lance DEAD and cleaves the other DEAD.
Ares/Malenko gesticulates and casts a fiery bolt at Bjorn striking him 6; Peldanorian in the far right tent attacks Koku; Gunnar moves to BJorn and throws at the Peldanorian ahead 17; Rags misses his; Haki kills the other there, and cleaves Haakon DEAD; Kyy misse Ragnar’s man; Toru gets to the top; Osmo is missed again by the Hersir.
Koku hits the Peldanorian in his tent 19, Brokkr hit him 14; Bjorn attacks the Peldanorian; Finnric sheers open the back ot the tent to his left but its empty, save 3 spears (hvy; reg; mst longspear)!! ; Finnbogi moves to opening of rearmost tent on that side. A Tharangian greets him as he gets there and hits him; Haakon kills last man on his side; xbow hits Dulk 8; Thrand moves to help Bjon on the Peldanorian Prince 19.
Lance and Black J move to the red field at the base of the hill.
Koku is hit again 12/10; Peldanorian vs Bjorn miss/10; Bluto shoots at Lance w/ a light crossbow “This will teach you, you treacherous augment scum” and hits.
Ingvarr moves next to Lance and Black J.
Malenko is still casting: It begins to rain blood, saturating the ground. Under Thrand, the ground begins to bubble and churn releasing worms onto the surface and up Thrand’s legs. They are trying to attach and burrow through his breeches even. Toru helps Gunnar aim to negate the cover from Bjorn and throws at the Peldan prince 17.
Tharangian vs Finnbogi hits twice.
Then a sword cuts through the main tent by Gunnar, a large Tharangian stepping out right beside him.
Ragnar moves forward to Dulk/Osmo, as does Haki who begins to make his way up the hillside.
Osmo is hit twice 6/12. Dulk hits 13 and Osmo 19 to the enemy Hersir; Koku hits 20 and Brokr 13 to their Peldanorian; Finnric rushes out of the tent entrance and throws 27 to help Gunnar; Bjorn crits the prince 33; Thrand steps back and stars to squash worms in his breeches.
Finnbogi hits his Tharangian.
X bow in tent at Dulk 8/6; Haakon runs up the hill with Haki; prince hit Bjorn 10/13; Ingvarr moves up right side of hill and through the field, a feeling inside his body of his blood flowing erratic for a moment for 9 damage; vs Koku miss/crit 17; Lance and Black J do the same.
We all begin to feel the worms upon us!! Fort saves all around. Haki 2, Koku 2, Osmo 5, Thrand 1, Ragnar 5, Ingvarr 4 all fail and take damage. Worms begin to breech their skin and burrow inside.
Malenko casts again, hitting Lance with a bolt of energy bolt “filthy traitor”.
Gunnar steps back and throws at the Tharangian 15.
Bluto’s Lt. moves around the cauldron vs Black J; Finnbogi is taken down, but the Tharangian is severely wounded; Gunnar’s Tharangian hurls an axe at Toru then steps 5’ and hits Gunnar with his sword 8. Ragnar and Haki concentrate on cutting worms out of themselves.
Kyy moves up to the base of the hill; Osmo is missed in the tent; Toru misses helping Gunner; Dulk hits xbow 6; Osmo steps out of tent and cuts the worms out of himself. Thrand does the same; Finnric rushes the prince, biting 12 and tripping him DEAD.
Bjorn rushes up the hill!! Brokkr misses but Koku hits 16. He feels the worms entering into his arterial system for 5 con. damage.
x bow man shoots Dulk, whose AoO hits 8, hits 9. Last Peldanian hits Koku 7/fumble!; Black J hits Lt.; Bluto moves up and attacks Ingvarr 10/14; Lance steps up to Bluto and hits; Haakon hits the field and blood begins to leak from his poors 2 con. damage.!! He attacks the Lt. 13; Ingvarr steps back and clears himself of worms.
Ares concentrates on those of us at the top, but for Ingvarr behind a stone. Haakon’s blood rushes to his brain for minus 2 all d20 rolls and 3 intel. damage ; Bjorn’s SR from the broken blade he wears negates it as it did the field; Lance and Black J both fail also.
Gunnar steps back again and throws 16; The Tharangian who took Finnbogi down moves to and misses Brokkr; the Lt. attacks BJorn miss. Tharangian keeps chasing Gunnar 13/miss.
Haakon clears himself of worms; Ragnar steps into tent with Dulk and crits the Hersir 24 DEAD.
Kyy moves into the tent and misses the xbowman; Dulk clears worms; TOru misses again; Osmo moves back in and hits archer 8; Brokkr hits Pendanorian 13; Koku starts cutting worms out deeply taking 8 damage. Thrand charges Gunnar’s 28 DEAD; Bjorn attacks the Lt. hits once.
IMG_20150403_214408_118.jpg
Finnric moves up the hill and through the field successfully.
X bowman draws as short sword and misses Kyy.
On the hill, Bluto runs Lance through twice who drops to the ground! Haakon misses the Lt.; Black J crits Bluto; Ingvarr moves down the hill to Finnbogi; Malenko gestures, the red field begins to crumble and disappears. Out of the sky 2 screeching red winged horrors swoop into view, like demons wielding axes. One grabs Bluto and the other Malenko and fly away. The 2 laugh as the Lt. curses them leaving him “Bluto! You bastard! You can’t leave me here!”
The last Tharangian attacks Brokkr hitting twice for 25 total. The Lt. attacks Bjorn 11.
Our last 4 fail against the worms: Bjorn 6, Finnric, Brokkr 4, Kyy 4
Ragnar moves in to help surround the xbow man 7; Haki enters the circle.
Osmo hits xbow 13; Kyy steps back and clears self of worms; Dulk hits him DEAD.
Toru hits the Tharangian on Brokkr 10 DEAD
Thrand administers first aid on Gunnar.
BJorn hits Lt. 22 taking him to 0hp then hits again 17.
Thrand “Loot the place!!”
Bjorn to Finnric “I claim the spears”.
Finnric looks at him “Only you could get away with saying that”. Bjorn laughs as Finnric rushes to the tent with the spears.
The prince was Allistair, youngest son of the Great King of Peldanor.
In the pot: child part soup. This teardrop cult needs destroyed.

throwing axe is d8 or also melee as a well. No neg to either.
Lots of weapons and shields.
One suit of half plate.
3 breastplates
3 chain mail
The pay chest is here!!! Gold and silver!!!
A man in the small tent to the left rear, tied up and beaten severely. He is the wild man of the woods from whom Finnric got the wolf pelt!! He is named Modar, he had succumbed totally to the cloak immediately and was devolving into a wildman of the woods. This town was the closest to where he hailed from. Once the power of the pelt had dissipated he came back here for refuge. He is middle aged, former ulfhednarr of a jarl and jarldom which no longer exist.
In the small tent on the other side, the Tharangian’s who took Finnbogi down, was attempting to break in his newest conquest but as of yet unsuccessful. His body has several bite marks a couple having taken chunks out. Crouching down defensively is a woman, young, a pile of furs underneat her, totally nude. It is Ilva, the wild man’s only child. She has the Ulfhednarr gift as well.
They are the only 2 spared from the town. For what, they do not know.
The undead, w/o Malenko here, collapse.
Fight over, and most of us are in bad shape.

Finnric and the Ulfhedinn rush for their hillock, where they find the food eaten and mead drank!! They hail Odin over and over and over again.

Our side took heavy losses but are victorious.
The berserkers are down more than 50% but performed greatly.
Gustav in the center was chaos. The augments took about 80% losses. Lance is not happy at all about that once he is awake.

We reorganize and meet afterward. Our side has a number of prisoners. Gustav proclaims ll northmen working with Bluto are to be executed. The professional soldiers will probably be killed a well. A number of conscripts, mostly peasants, he does not hold any grudge against.
Bjorn recommends they be moved to help populate the valley we just came from, even if as slaves to the farmers and landowners up there.

From interrogation, we learn that Bjorn’s younger brother is on his way to Langbay. His sister toward the land north of Bluto’s, to a man there who has had a relationship with Bluto for years.

We march back home. Modar Wolf Heart and Ylva Biting Teeth formally join the Ulfhedinn of Bjorn at Finnric’s offer. The pack is now 5.

View
Skirmish at Split Top Pass
A skirmish vs Enemy Greenborn Augments

Next Day

We march for the area of the town, 350 orcs in tow, and the dwarves. The 20 greenborn rangers follow.
It takes about a day to get to open ground then we move fast, passing the river bridge where the first battle happened. The town is nearby.
We leave the majority of our force hidden w/in striking distance. The greenborns will recon the opposing ambush force as it splits from the main body so that we can choose just where to strike. They scout the battlefield based on Bjorn’s vision so that we know exactly how this is going to go down.
Thrand recommends sending Ragnar to meet with Gustav to inform him, as no one knows of him. Thrand will join him to get him there.

Day?

The town Bluto went to has been razed to the ground. Everyone has been put to the sword. A pile of bodies, hundreds, was burned. Those not killed in the raid were savaged horribly and impaled.
Bluto’s camp is ready for combat. None of the prisoners they have are with them.
They know the exact spot where the ambushing augments will be waiting to spring their trap. Just not when they will arrive.
Our greenborns get into a skirmish with opposing greenborns. When ours report back, they inform us that the enemies are on their way to attack us.
We have all the PC’s, friends, dwarves.
There is a red teardrop painted on the shields of 3 men in Bluto’s leadership circle. They are attired as Normans.
They yell they have only a matter of rounds. Finnric is singing a mighty warsong.
They open w/ a volley to our lookouts and into our greenborn.
Our GB rush into the valley amongst the treens
We react slowly, only the dwf thief who drop sone, Tostunson’s and Gunnar going before they strike again.
Arrows now volley into the Ulfhednar, who spot the 5 of them immediately.
The greenborn bows are longer than any we have seen. They drop 2 of ours in the thin entrance to the left in the pic. Also more volleys into our lookouts.
More flood into the wide entrance at the far end, entering melee w/ our GB.
Bjorn orders our 3 home friends down the hill to attack assist the GB, as do some of the dwarves.
Our ulfnednar charge, Finnric hurling Hungnir. They kill 2.
Toru “Bjorn, behind you!”
(pic)
The Tostonsons make for split top hill to help. Dw. thief kills another. Gunnar turns and attacks “Bjorn get between us!” and kills 2.
They move in against the ulfhednar, archer battle through the narrow pass, battle continues on Split Top HIll. We lose 1 greenborn there. Haakon takes out 2 w/ AoO. We lose 3 GB at the main entrance. Bjorn and his men on the hill are engaged.
Kyy and Osmo each kill 1. Dulk engages from the front of their GB line but misses. The dwarves there kill 1.
Finnric pulls the Waraxe and kills 2; Koku kills 2; Brokkr misses.
The Prince, Eggin, Raggid and Alfreg charge fore the Ulfhednar.
Bjorn kills 2.
The GB of ours in combat do nothing.
Gunnar steps back and kills; Tostunsos charge out the narrow pass “Out of the way!” and engage the archers there.
The 2 GB left vs Ulfhednar flee. Finnric and Koku have their eyes on them, Brokkr loses them in the green. Against the Tostonsons they try to back off and hide but 3 are still visible. All on Split Top withdraw into the woods down the hill. We are still able to spot about half a dozen of them.
An attempt is made to bullrush Fliggol down the hill but the AoO kills.
The GB at the main entrance withdraw to hide as well but do not hide well in their rush.
Toru is hit 7; Bjorn 29 on 3 hits.
Finnric and Koku follow and kill the 2 who fled them as the dw. archer wounds Koku’s.
Bjorn kills 2 on him.
Toru kill his.
Kyy, Osmo and Dulk give chase at their front, for crit DEAD/miss/kill. Fjalar follow but misses.
All else hold position.
Our GB stop to take care of their fallen.
The Tostosons chase the half dozen visible to the left of the narrow. They catch up to 2 of them, killing both.
Gunnar throws at the last on their hill, who is facing Bjorn, miss/DEAD.
The enemy continue to flee and hide, and all blend away.

Kyy is congratulated for his prowess after being truly out of commission on the trip down. He finds he has for fresh killed animal blood.
About half the enemy down are not actually dead.

Our GB tell of the slaughter at Rimskyld: women and children implaled and such all around town after being savaged; men skinned and flayed.
A banner in a pile of the dead was black with a crimson blood drop in the middle.
Thrand later says Bluto is up to something terrible.
We gather out orcs. Thrand and Rags arrive the next afternoon, Ingvar and Toston.
Ingvar tells Bjorn about a war vs the Nomads down in the Empire, that technically he is still under contract and was sent to gather more men. Bjorn’s brothers are doing phenomenal. Eldest is a Cpt. in the Guard. Soon he may the the Swordbearer or the Exchecker. Gustav have gathered many Hersirs and men, even some neighboring Jarls have sent assistance. He marches with upwards of 1000 men. “It will be a glorious slaughter.”

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The Vanishings

With Erik dead and Ragnar gone, its down to Bjorn and Wulfgar. They will each keep what loot each found to split amonst themselves.

Back home in Tordekting:
Finnric to Iring: watch your words fork tongue, you’ll be lucky to never see me again.
Iring: Watch your back!
Finnric: One day, I’ll cut that tongue out and make you eat it. Or better yet, I’ll cut it out, spit it in 2 and sew it back in.

Chain shirt is mst, as is 1 of the shields and a short spear. Finnric keeps the spear, and also uses the shield for now. The chain hauberk is given to Dulk.
Hanging out at the hall few weeks later. A woman enters one night late in the evening, interrupting. From nearby village in Gustav lands, beseeches Gustav! Someone has taken all the village children. Asks for brave men to get them back. Village of Bergin, inland up a small stream. You could get close by water. In the middle of forest.
Ingmar is her name.

Gustav sends us alone with her for details.
Finnric “Give us details, woman.”:

An old crone came to town some time ago. The elders saw this as an ill omen. They gave her just enough hospitality and sent her on her way asap. Next day, handful of dead ravens fell from the sky.
Finnric “Odin’s birds, not good.”
Sacrificed the night after to appease. All seemed fine until a few days later. Crops started to fail, withering where they grew. All was misery. A man visited town, saying he could save us. Would cost them 3 of their women, young and of breeding age, specific chosen women.
Thrand “Did he pick them by name, or simply chose on the spot.”
Chose on the spot.
Crops began to recover.
Man returned for more to their surprise.
Elders offered him 1 more, he demanded 3 more and became angry. Elders declined and he left. Never saw him again, but next day all the kids were gone upon waking. No one saw or heard a thing.
This man was poofy, not a strapping warrior, nor a skald; foppish but of our lands. Wore a cowl and a mask. Called himself The Piper. Did carry a musical pipe.
Thrand “How long ago did that happen?”
5 days ago. Sent a messenger day after, search parties as well. Messenger sent here to great hall but found his body in woods not far off. Sent a group of 3, who obviously never made it. In the dead of night she took the fastest horse and did not stop.
Thrand “Brave woman. Do we go Bjorn?”
“Of course we go.”
Finnric “Tomorrow morning?”
“Yes.”
Thrand “Did search parties return safely?”
“Yes, finding nothing.”
We start asking our men who will join us.
The 3 freemen, our 3 pals, the twins, and Toru.
We will ride to the town.

Next Morning

Deep into second day, sun is down and moon is up, we are getting close to village. We hear howling, canine.
Finnric "Those aren’t wolves.
Bjorn forms us into 2 lines front to back w/ Toru just ahead. Left: Thrand, Hakon, Kyy, Hala, Koku, Gunnar.
Right: Bjorn, Ulf, Osmo, Haki, Dulk, Finnric.
Howling coming our way, our front right.
Finnric “They may be cunning, drawing our attention for another attack behind.”
Bjorn keeps us in place, at a slow trot. Says dismount to fight.

In the rear, Dulk takes the horses, in the middle Osmo does, in the front Ulf
Out of the woods burst 5 jet black furred, red glowing eyed wolf like creatures.
One goes for Toru, Thrand, Haki, Ky, and Hala each.
Kyy saw them coming and is ready but misses. Thrand ready as well hits 6. Toru fires as it charges hits 4.
Toru’s horse is struck, Thrand is hit and tripped down the wolf atop him! Hakon is missed, Kyy is hit. Hala is missed.
General battle begins, Bjorn helping Thrand, Haki is brother, Gunnar begins throwing at Hala’s. Finric moves by Bjorn and starts singing.
Somber chant begins from the woods, and a huge man wearing a wolf pelt, shield and broadsword, chanting, comes out from behind the wolves. He’s inspiring the wolves. Also in some form of a bloodlust, glazed look in his eyes. Charges in and swings at Kyy who is right in front of Finnric but fumbles in his wildness.
Toru’s horse freaks out, and it starts to bolt. Wolf’s AoO 8. Koku kills Hala’s. Thrand tumbles out from under the wolf and next to Bjorn.
Toru’s is now on Thrand, Bjorn is attacked by Thrand’s original. Hakon continues to miss. Born misses. Gunnar moves and hurls an axe at Kyy’s wolf and misses. Finnric rushes and grapples the wolf master.
Hala now attacks Kyy’s wolf.
Toru contols his mount again but must circle back. Haki misses Kyy’s as Kyy withdraws, Koku moves in and hits it 12. Dulk moves in from horses, relieved by Kyy, and misses Hakon’s. Thrand fighting Toru’s.
Toru’s retreats, Bjorn is hit 6. Wolf Koku hits retreats. No wolf hits us.
Finnric tries to take off the pelt but fails. Bjorn misses. Gunner hits Haki’s wolf 12.
Wolfmaster fails a vicious bite. Hala moves to help Haki and Doru but misses.
Haki moves to help Bjorn and misses. Koku and Dulk hit theirs for 17 and 11 DEAD. Toru rides back. Thrand kills Bjorn’s.
Finnric rips the hide off of his head then lets go screaming “I have it, I have it!!!”
Born holds everyone, yelling at the old crazy man to flee or pay for it. He runs off screaming “I don’t want to be thrashed!”
Finnric tries the pelt on. It feels great, he loves it. His new pet. He names it
.Ulf “You know, you could have killed your own wolf.”
Finnric “I would never do that. Something was wrong with these wolves.”
Thrand “Or they were from Hel.”
Ulf “It’s just a fur.”
Finnric “Don’t say that again. I”LL KILL YOU ULF!"

We camp for night and enter village the next afternoon. It is utterly quiet, no one in sight. Bjorn blows his horn to announce our presence. WIndows and doors creek open, a couple people show themselves.
Bjorn tells them why we are here. Now, almost everyone has disappeared over the nights since Ingmar left. 23 left. The guards were taken first.
FInnric “Sounds like sorcery to me.”
Old man we talk to says he saw the Piper going to top of nearby mountain. Difficult territory that way is.
We discuss going there to find the Piper, laying in ambush at night for the kidnapped. There is a town nearby, across the next valley. No one has left the town has returned, and none have come here from there either.
Thrand says we could send half of us into the woods as a ruse, then circle back and sneak into the town at night to back up the ambushers faking sleep.
Bjorn thinks it is all magic, not anyone sneaking into town. Tells the 23 left to bar themselves in one group in the hall while we go into the hills after the Piper.
They agree to do so.
Thrand at the last minute revisits the idea of sending someone fast to investigate the other town nearby. He recommends Gunnar make a run for it, and Bjorn agrees.
Thrand “Do you want anyone to go with you?”
Gunnar “They’ll just slow me down.”

We will leave this day, so that none of us vanish overnight. On his way, he passes the spoken of withering crops. Once over the hill in the next valley, he looks down upon the village. Looks fine. Farmland lush and fertile. People all around like nothing is wrong. Once Gunnar’s in view, folks get spooked at the sight of him.
He seeks out the town leader. He is shown the way and halted outside the building by a large Huskarl. Gunnar intros himself, asking of any strange visitors and odd goings on recently.
The huskarl replies with a stern and abrupt “No”.
Gunnar thanks him and feels he’s totally full of it, just being blunt to get him out of town.
Gunnar mentions the troubles of Bergin briefly as being his reason for being here, particularly the mysterious man and the aftermath of not paying. Asks if they are handing out their women to the same man.
Huskarl says no, but a voice from inside interrupts. Older man steps out calling self Owen, the Hersir of the village w/ authority of Gustav. Says they did have a strange woman arrive, old crone, and elders recognized her from legends as being a cursed runecaster cursed to not die. She always brings trouble with her. They hurled stones at her and she fled. She did say she was here to do them a favor, but they assumed trickery. Next day a blight on their crops began, so they offered sacrifice to the gods. Day after, a man came to town, the piper. He asked for a specific tribute but the Hersir will not say what it was. Was ordered not to speak of what the tribute was nor speak to anyone about it.
Bjorn says the son of Gustav is about to enter the mountains in search of the piper but they still refuse to speak of details. He came and they paid 5 times. No blight has returned and crops have flourished. Told us the 5th time would be the last.
Gunnar thanks him for explained all he can. The elder says other local villages have met with the crone and piper. All have done the same thing to the crone, and have met with the same piper and had same consequences. The crone, legend says, lives in a cave somewhere in the mts.
Gunnar runs out of town to catch up with the rest of us. Passes a couple of freshly dug mounds of dirt, size of graves recently filled. A small farmstead is in sight, but he continues on.
He catches up the us low on the mt. and explains what he was told.
We will wait until morning to begin the real climb.
Bjorn wants to send a few guys to investigate the homestead in the morning. We camp for the night.
During early night, smell nearby campfire smoke and see lights in distance, something is going on at Bergin.
Bjorn says let’s go check it out post haste.
Dulk and Osmo see that a lot of booted feat made their way to and from the village, very obvious once you see it. Bergin is in flames, about half a dozen dead lay about.
Central hall was busted into for sure before set alight. We find only 1 man lying in street not dead though dying, large wound in his gut.
He says it was low trolls, kobalds. “A horde of them came and broke in the door to the hall. We fought them even as they took people away but to no avail. They even took their own dead even.” He saw a larger one as well, the leader. Horrible lizard in the shape of a man, 8’ all and muscles. As he breathes his last, he says it looked like they left in the direction of the old abandoned tower in the mts. They were chanting their Jarl’s name: Gash Golegson. Bjorn gets a chill up his spine, as Goleg was a dragon that legend says his ancestor killed. Ingmar is one of the taken.
Toru comes into his own tracking, even at night finds the trail of the horde. Some way into the wild it begins to branch off into groups. We camp until first light.

Next Day

Toru follows them to the mt, where far above we can make out the tower. The trail up is treacherous. Thrand is instantly suspicious of the small trolls making it up w/ captives. “There must be another way up.”
We search and find 2 caves, one smells of trolls and one does not.
Bjorn “That one must be the crone’s cave” thinking she’s being used in some way by the piper for his own ends.
After some thought, Bjorn has Thrand lead the party into the troll’s cave while Bjorn takes Finnric into the crone’s cave to talk to her.

In the troll’s cave, we literally walk on kobald feces. Many dead animal remains. The cavern goes steadily upward. Several hundred feat in they hear the sounds of what must be the little kobalds, a whole bunch of them swiftly coming their way.

At crone’s, the temp right at the mouth of the cave drops at least 20 degrees, unnaturally. Nothing living around entrance or inside including plants, mosses, insects……..
Very, very extra dark. Real bad feeling about the cave.
Bjorn calls in “Old Crone?!” A ghostly feint moan is the only answer. No echo.
“I am Bjorn Gustavson! I demand your presence.” Moaning a bit louder.
Finnric “Maybe she’s in distress while she’s not doing her duty.”
The moan “come in”. We enter torches in hand but glow half as much as they should. It is lived in, and does not look otherwise like it should be a dead place. Looks like her home was cursed against her will.
Finnric “Crone, show yourself.”
No answer, even moan is silent. We continue.
Cave ends about 60’ in at a small hut built inside of it. A chain holding an emblem of a raven and a fertility earth symbol are over the door. Finnric knows them as a symbol of Odin and Frigga respectively. Bjorn opens the door. Inside, a nicely decorated and furnished home but old and blighted; shrine to Frigga; old woman sitting in the chair frozen in stasis. We enter and no matter what she does not move. Finnric pokes her, and she is still normal to the touch but chilly. No breath noticeable.
Finnric “Sorcery.”
Bjorn “Yes.”
We search the place thoroughly. The Frigga shrine is defaced. We will leave her be, at least knowing she is not in her rightful state or a part of this menace.
As we get to the door of the hovel the temp drops again abruptly to about 30. We are on guard vs evil supernatural. Outside door, a black shade in the form of a human stands in front of it emanated cold and palpable hate, eyes glowing red. Bjorn closes the door again.
Bjorn “What was that?”
Finnric “Hatred.”
Finnric suggests using the holy symbols to keep it at bay, but Bjorn says they may be protecting the hut and her. Finnric does have a symbol for Odin, Bjorn says lets try to get by it with that. The blackness raises its arms to touch us. Finnric raises thy symbol and for a moment in shrinks backward.
Bjorn “RUN!!” Finnric shuts the door behind us. We beat it outside into daylight and safety. It stops as though it hits a wall at the point of the sunlight and shrinks back into the dark. Wonder how long this has been going on? Maybe this is why people hate her, has not really been her all these years.

Back in troll cave:
In a larger room is where we hear the noise. Thrand positions everyone in a round. About half a minute later, as they reach the entrance, Toru and Gunnar each drops one with bow and thrown axe.
Berginkeep1_1_.jpg
They hit us and our readied attacks begin. We can see them pulling their dead out from behind their line. 6 dropped initially: 1 by Haki, 2 Koku, 2 the Bastard, 1 Kyy.
Their remaining melee do nothing, next 2 ranks throw javelins and only Haki is struck lightly.
Next round 5 down: Koku 2, Haki 1, Hakon 1, Ulf 1.
The warleader in the rear points meanly at Thrand and runs with the 3 closest to him. The last 8 charge. AoO by Hakon and Ulf each kill.
After next round, only 1 remains. It lets out a blood curdling scream and crits the Bastard hard.
Toru kills the last one.
We clean and pile the bodies in one corner, Bjorn and Finnric arrive.
Thrand notices engravings on walls all around chamber. He orders walls cleaned. Its an Old Futhark. It tell of this being the dungeon under the tower of Vannamoinen (means ‘the little dreamer’) the Piper; Thrand knows he was a loyal First to the Masters. Finnric’s arcana knowledge recalls that he was a powerful magician, specializing in casting with the pipe which could also put folks into a lucid dream state even long term trance as if dead “Like the Crone”. He could do so to masses as well.

We continue on deeper. Hundreds more feet inward and up and we come to old but sturdy wooden double door. Finnric and Bjorn are ready for action and Thrand and Toru open a door each. They creak loudly. Well crafted into the doors are 2 smaller and more modern doors, we see as one becomes ajar as we open the doors.
Enter into a pillared foyer and we can see tower gate on one side. One door leads deeper into complex.
Opening the door, Finnric is ready and enters. Hallway leads in and turns right. One door visible. Finnric goes to corner to check w/ Koku and Toru the Fat. They watch as Bjorn checks the door. Thrand keeps watch at rear into foyer.
Around turn at end stairs go up.
Bjorn opens door, lots of relatively fresh bones scattered about. Some likely human. Otherwise empty feeding room. Closes door.
Bjorn leaves Hakon, Ulf, and Koku at foyer as rear watch. We close and block the door into dungeon with rubble. Also secure door to outside if they can.
The rest go upstairs, Finnric and Bjorn leading, Thrand in rear, others in between.
Spears, accompanied by yipping kobalds, start stabbing through holes in the inside wall and ceiling.
We get shields up, but for shieldless twins, and rush through the gauntlet.
Finnric is struck for 0 but it really suddenly pisses him off. Starts to growl like a dog and freak. At top of stairs we see it goes up another floor, open because roof is gone. Door at top. Bjorn tells Finnric who really wants to bust door in, to wait. He does and stokes. Bjorn continues around hallway finding another door. He orders entry into both simultaneously. Toru, the twins and Dulk with him, Gunnar, Kyy and Osmo with Finnric. Thrand watching rear.
Finnric bursts his door open in one shot as does Bjorn and Toru to theirs.
Bjorn goes into a 15′ × 15 ‘room full of bound and injured prisoners including Ingmar.
Finnric, wielding Fitlaf, opens into an L room wrapping around Bjorn’s. It was formerly 2 or 3 rooms opened into one at some point. Inside are the Kobald spearmen, lots of them. They are ready and swarm Finnric. 10 jump on him trying to wrest him to the ground and 7 successfully grapple him.
Gunnar throws in and kills a kobald.
Hala continues past prisoner room and watches further hallway.
The other kobalds begin piling upon Finnric, who kills 1 with AoO. Toru helps prisoners. Finnric fails to escape grapple. In hall some of ceiling blocks begin to be pulled out of place, showing the light from outside to the laughing of kobalds. Kyy and Osmo blindly leap into Finnric’s fray. Haki begins saving prisoners. Bjorn rounds next corner, leading to a veranda and moves toward it. Thrand kills one from doorway. Dulk readies to move into Finnric’s room next round.
Gunnar throws into room and kills one. Hala follows Bjorn.
Swarm begins to break off of Finnric, now 5 on each.
5 hits on Finnric does no damage.
Toru and Haki continue saving prisoners.
Finnric tears the throats out of 2 of them with his bare teeth.
Ceiling now totally removed from hall across Finnric’s entrance. Kobalds drop from above filling hallway. Scores more still on roof.
Massive melee begins, Thrand killing 2. Axeman all miss.
Bjorn goes through door and sees the lizard man, carrying a wonderful sword.
Bjorn “It is time to finish what my ancestor started” as he enters balcony “Gash Gulegson! You are not equal to your father.”
Gunnar does not like this forced melee but he must attack and kills. Gunnar yells down stairs for the freemen!
Hala enters at Bjorn’s side and hits 10.
Osmo is hit for 0 damage. The 5 on Finnric go for bites but only scratch. Kyy is unhit.
Rescuing still going on in room.
Finnric chokes one out.
Swarming in halls on Gunnar but he resists; as does Thrand; Dulk kills w/ AoO and he resists.
8 branch off into the prisoner room to kill w/o remorse.
The warleader encounters Thrand but misses.
Lizard Man misses Bjorn, the sword is rune engraved.
Only Dulk kills out of the axemen. Thrand misses warleader of kobalds.
Haki jumps to doorway and kills 2.
Bjorn misses the giant lizard man.
Hala hits the Lizard Man again 9.
Gunnar kills 1; Osmo is hit and critted. Finnric is unharmed; 5 on Kyy crit once only.
Finnric misses the grapple check.
Toru fires into hall and kills 1. All prisoners now untied.
Gunnar resists mass grappling; Thrand is missed by 3 and leader misses; Dulk resists grappling and his AoO kills. Haki is attacked and hit twice by melee, Toru hit once by javelins 4.
Bjorn hit by Gash 10!!
Each axemen kills 1; Haki missed; Thrand hits chief 5; Bjorn crits Gash 28 DEAD!!!
Hala runs back to help at prisoner room; Gunnar kills 1.
Osmo is missed by both; Finnric is crit bit 5; Kyy crit and hit. Finnric’s grapple fails.
Haki is missed, Hala is hit 0; Toru hit by 1 javelin for 0.
Battle wages on and on.
Bjorn is gathering his spoils.
The ones in the room flee, only a few left, through a small hole in the back of the room.
They appear in the foyer rushing past the 3 freemen who finish the 4 kobalds off.
Finnric with some effort exits the blind rage.
More kobalds rush for exit downstairs, few start climbing for roof.
Thrand kills the warleader.
At last they flee, the last 17. A few drop from AoO.
They flee past the freemen.
Total 12 escape out of some 90 lesser trolls.

Search tower. Total of 22 grateful peasants rescued.
On roof we procure the kobald’s spoils.

Osmo can tell the metal the Lizard Man’s sword was made out of is special, extra durable. Says it is known to also effect certain monsters and cursed beings who are resistant to normal weapons.
Neclace has a rune of deflection.
Thrand looks through scrolls Bjorn found with him. A lot of story of the Piper. Tells of Master’s war. After Masters gone, Piper decided to take power for himself and fill vacuum. Had to get rid of a few other powerful individuals. Passed a curse on to 3 other Firsts of the time.
One was cursed to have her physical form trapped (the Old Crone).
Another was made completely sterile, until as a sign of his death (Father of Thorbard and Tyrbrand).
Third, transformed into another creature, a hideous troll (hmm?)
This was the Piper’s tower back then. He then moved out after time of Masters. Only person who knows his layer is the Crone.

Thrand “Maybe your new sword will hurt the shadow creature.”
Bjorn “That was my thought as well.”
Thrand “Let’s send our men to escort the rescued back home, while we 4 try to save the crone.”
Bjorn agrees.

Back to the cave, Bjorn wielding the adamantine sword, we 4 move inward torches lit. All is the same as we left it. Holy symbols still hang at the door.
Bjorn attempts to call the Shade out.
Finnric starts to clean up the Frigga shrine as best as he can. Thrand stands at the door awaiting a drop in temp.
Finnric gets it in great shape in a few minutes.
Gunnar has been searching. In her apron pocket. he finds a small scroll with a couple runes. He shows it to Thrand. He says it was something she was writing, explains that her duty was to protect this area and keep it full of life as a priestess to Frigga. All was well and Vanamoynen came, began pestering the area. She would go to the towns to ask for aid and vice versa. Vanamoynen cursed her, had taken residence in a hidden valley deeper in the mts., subverting some of the Chosen/Holy/Blessed Ones into his loyal servants. Finishes with “I know he is coming for me”. Valley is further north of here somewhere.
Thrand goes back to the door. Immediately he feels the freeze.
He wonders if the shade IS the crone and it wants back to its body. But holy symbols are Odin and Frigga so he changes his mind.
Bjorn does not think its her either. But perhaps she put herself in the stasis, knowing the creature would be trapping her.
Thrand "You go out the window. We’ll keep it busy momentarily until you can surprise it from around the corner.

Thrand opens the door so that he is behind it. It attemts to move in but the symbols, pointed across the entryway now, still halts it. Finnric’s throw misses, and Gunnar’s passes directly through it.
Thrand leaps in front of it and strikes, a slight show of effect from its body. Bjorn hits its flank with Stankyr. Bjorn now sees it as an evil northman warrior. He cuts well with Stankyr! He sees it wielding a hand and a half sword while the rest still see only the wispy shade.
Finnric starts to sing a warsong. Thrand misses and steps aside. Gunnar’s throw does a small bit of damage. Bjorn takes a powerful swing but misses. It strikes Bjorn twice in return. It does little damage as if there is no real blade, and loses 1 constitution.
Finnric throws true but it goes right through it, Gunnar misses, Thrand hits but it does nothing. Bjorn swings mightily and true this time for 16. It puffs into unexistence, while Bjorn sees himself behead it. The smokey clowd lands on teh ground as a slick oil and begins to wind its way toward the entrance.
Bjorn orders for a torch, which Thrand sticks into it. The stuff puts it out. Finnric grabs the holy symbols and the Frigga shrine and surrounds it. It is trapped, and we hear a ghastly wail. Bjorn’s sword does nothing.
Finnric “Now what?”
Born “How do you kill an undead, goo?”
Thrand “I have no idea.”
Bjorn “How about you wolfy (to Finnric)? Wait, check on the crone.”
She is in the same state. Bjorn picks her up and carries her outside the cave.
Bjorn wants to get a container to get it inside of, then drop the holy symbols into it. He sends Gunnar back up to the keep for such a container, like a bucket or something. We use the holy symbols to corral it into the bucket. We put the Frigga shrine atop, and drop the other symbols into it. It wails in agony but it is not destroying it. We make for town, Bjorn with the crone and Finnric carrying the bucket. Halfway there, we expose it to the direct sunlight. Immediately it smolders and boils, smokes and dissipates into the air.

Now in town. Bjorn tells the town they need to move to the next town who offered up their people, or you may return south with us and set up there. The current elder wonders if the other missing are dead. Where are they?
They will stay here while we travel to find the valley. The old crone stays, Bjorn warning them she better be safe upon our return.
Thrand shows the town leader, the elder, the scroll and asks about the valley.
He says that legend has it that, back in the day sof the masters, there were forbidden places of theirs. Follow the ridge the tower was on to a valley. Over the next ridge is the valley it must speak of. It is just outside of Gustav lands, in the Trollland. No one owns it.
We will leave tomorrow. For now, we go to investigate the village Gunnar scouted and the dig sights. All our men join us.

We go right into town, Bjorn making for the man in charge. As we approach village, we hear cries of lamentation!! Mush sadness and crying in front of several homes, praying to gods for mercy. Bjorn says ignore them.
At the hall, Bjorn opens the door roughly and walks right in.
Thrand “Here here, Bjorn son of Gustav, your Jarl, has arrived!”
It’s much the same in here. 3 dead warriors are layed out. The Hersir is not here. His eldest son is however, currently wearing his father’s fur cloak.
Upon seeing Gunnar, he raises his hand to shake it in anger until he hears the announcement of who Bjorn is.
“You brought this upon us.”
Bjorn “What is all this wailing about?”
Last night, because of his father’s assistance to your man there, the Piper’s vengeance has arrived. He has nullified the agreement. 10 of our people went missing. Noise was heard, several men investigated and were discovered outside of town killed most horribly. Olaf was given the blood eagle (the cpt who Gunnar met at the door to the hall). The other 2 had their hearts simply cut out.
Bjorn chastises them for making a deal with such an evil being in the first place.
He ridiculously claims how swimmingly things were going.
Thrand “Really, giving your women up like cowards was ‘swimmingly’?”
Thrand “Today, we brought 20 plus of their people back.”:
Bjorn “They have their town back.”
Him “That’s impossible.”
Bjorn says though he does not deserve it, he is part of Gustav’s lands so we will stay tonight. Most of the village has come in to observe the funeral. They will also leave much tribute for the Piper in hopes of appeasing.
They begin the funeral pyres, we leave to check out the dirt mounds. Tostonson’s dig up 1, Finnric and Koku the other.
A few feet in we strike flesh. Many days old dead bodies. 2 relatively young men.
Bjorn knocks, and an old woman answers “who is it?”
She sees us, Bjorn introduces himself and asks of 2 young men in her family died recently. She say no, and claims to know nothing of the bodies. Her oldest son is one of the 3 dead, her youngest is in the village.
Thrand leans over to Bjorn and whispers “She’s lying”.
BJorn calls her on her lies, threatening her as her lord and protector to burn you homestead to the ground.
Hakon “That escalated quickly.”
Thrand “I feel we are going to have to search your home.”
Bjorn “Old crone, clear the way.”
Bjorn, Gunnar and Thrand search the place, Dulk specifically keeps next to her. Toru stays outside to keep and eye out, Finnric stands in the doorway.
The only thing strange is that there is 2 sets of armor stashed away, and the dead one has his full gear. Likely, the youngest is wearing his. This makes 1 or2 extra.
Bjorn asks her about them gruffly.
She breaks down:
They were messengers from Bergen, who had come to ask help from the town. The Hersir refused. On their way back, the Hersir sent men out to kill them. For doing the deed, her sons got to take their spoils.
We load the bodies on a cart she has and take them back to town, riding straight to the pyre and tribute pile. Bjorn calls the son, the new Hersir, out into the street.
Bjorn calls for a straight answer, “and if you lie to me it’s your life”. Shows him the cart "Did you have any knowledge of your father ordering these men killed.
“I’ve never seen these men in my life.

Thrand “He’s lying.”
He says he did SEE them, but the protested their killing but of course I could not stand against my father.
That sounds like the truth to Thrand.
Bjorn declares this an unacceptable act.
Thrand wants the other murderers declared, but Bjorn puts that off in case we need those men soon.
Bjorn demands they get their own pyres and their equipment burns with them, and we will take their tribute and give it to Bergen for your cowardice and compensation for the death of 2 brave men.
“You’ll doom us all!”
Bjorn “Once this situation is taken care of” and there is no threat, “you will tell us which men were involved in the murder of those 2 men and punishment will be given.” For right now we want every sword arm available.
We load carts with the booty for Bergen, and declare to the town that we will stay as protectors overnight, we will have patrols in streets all night long and see what happens. We bring all the remaining Bergenites to this town. Everyone from outside of town will be in town tonight even if that means many sleep on the mead hall floor.

The Bergenites crowd into the meadhall mostly in the upper lofts, as does the new Hersir and guard. He has 11 warriors and 1 berserker, 12 other warriors in town.
We go with 4 shifts of about 2 hrs each. 1 pc on each, 2 of our men accompanying with 3 of the Guard and 3 town warriors. Gunnar will have and extra of our men.
1) Thrand: Hakon and Ulf
2) Bjorn: Toru and Kyy
3) Finnric: Koku and Osmu
4) Gunnar: the Twins and Dulk

On Bjorn’s watch, the sound of a pipe. Bjorn, the town warrior with Toru, Toru, and the town warrior with Kyy all pass out on their feet.
Kyy leaps back, wary of everyone.
Finnric is urinating. He stops and goes to wake up Doku. Out of corner of eye, something strange: berserker is gone from the feet of the Hersir and a Guard.
Finnric “Everybody up!!” and begins a countersong. No one asleep outside wakes up with their second chances.
Koku starts kicking people await.
Kyy’s partner acts just as wary.
Toru’s remaining warrior is frantically trying to get him up.
In the hall, Haki doesn’t even stop snorring from Finnric’s kick on his way to the front door. Out of the Guard 5 stay asleep; Eadmund the Hersir wakes up.
Finnric opens the door and sings loudly from the square. Osmu and Dulk make for the loft to check on the Bergenites. Men start to move the sleepers to one corner of the Hall.
Eadmundhall1-1.jpg

Kyy and his man hear combat from Toru’s direction.
Inside, as we start moving people. The Guard who were asleep are all faking or charmed!! Koku and Ulf get knifed, 2 attack the twins, 1 attacks our axemen and one shoots at them. The Hersir has a spear ready to hurtle at Thrand.
4 warriors with jet black skin and hair literally walk right by Finnric and into the door!
Ulf is hit, as is Osmo by the archer, and the twins as well. Eadmund’s spear throw misses.
Hala is hit by a shadow augment and falls as Haki the Tired wakes up from his arms as he is hit.
Kyy and Guard were about to run for the noise when a shadow augment appears, eyes first, and the Guard turns on him. They both miss.
We counterattack.
Gunner throws at a shadow augment and kills. Finnric steps into the gap, and crit 25 DEAD and wounds another.
Osmo continues up to the loft, sees 9 shadowmen grabbing sleeping folk to kidnap; the berserker is there like he is looking for someone in particular;and the missing Guard, taking the old crone. Dulk attacks the Guard with the sword for 5. Ulf and Hakon hit and fumble respectively.
Kyy misses the shadowman.
Thrand jump stunts from the table and crits 24 on Hersir!!
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Koku power attacks 16.

Kyy hears a man from the other fight go down!
Finnric recognizes them as Augments from lore!!! They were made to be assassins, thieves and spies.
Finnric hit by shadow for 3; Haki for 4; Coup de Grace on Hala provokes AoO from Finnric who kills him, the cleave kills the one he wounded previously. Haki is missed; the man on Hakon stands and misses, the man on Koku stands and misses; the man on Ulf stands and misses.
Eadmund attacks Thrand and hits 7; Melee on Dulk hits 11; the archer hits his own man giving cover to Dulk for 9.
Osmu upstairs “Who’s first, one at at time!”
The shadows pull out pouches and throw it at their feat creating a smoke cloud.
Our turn:

Hakon recovering his fumble.
Haki hits Guard flanking him with shadowman a good blow; Hala wakes up but the world is spinning a bit, he attacks the same Guard and misses. Gunner threads the needle to that shadowman on the twins for 18 DEAD; Ulf misses.
Kyy hits shadow 9, Dulk kills his melee Guard and moves to the archer; Koku hits 10 DEAD and steps to Ulf; Finnric charges Hako’s 13;
Kyy is hit for a few by Guard but Augment misses; A spear flies from the dark, barely nicking the shadowman on the cheak, Kyy sees the warrior that was with Toru coming to help, had been dragging Toru. He has the shortsword of the Guard he was with.
Osmu just hears the crazy berserk getting angry.
Guard on twins crits Haki who drops; the archer steps away from Dulk and fires but misses; Hakons stands up and misses Hakon; Guard on Ulf misses; Eadmund misses;
Osmo hears the Guard carrying the Crone yell for someone to help at the window, then hears his voice cut out and the sound of possible death of the Guard.
The berserk charges suddenly through the smoke to Osmo, who’s readied attack fumbles, but the berserk misses as well, catching his sword on the beam above.
At the front door, 2 of the Guards come in. One drags Bjorn the other has his sword to Bjorn’s neck. They order all to stop or Bjorn gets it.
Gunnar runs to the fallen twin and fails first aid.
Ulf hits his Guard 8; Finnric hurls Fitlaf at the man holding Bjorn and crits 36 DEAD pinning him into the wall alongside Gunner’s 2 kills, them moves to overtop Bjorn drawing waraxe; Hakon finishes his Guard; Kyy hits the shadowman 3; Thrand fumbles; Dulk hits archer 6; Dulk recovers his fumble.
Smoke upstairs is dissipating, the Guard has a dagger rammed through eye socket, he grips it gurgling. Berserk misses Osmo; archers steps back and hits Dulk; Hersir misses Thrand.
The piping has stopped
Bowman who came in with Bjorn drops it and pulls sword, hitting Finnric 7; Guard misses Hala; Toru is still passed out; Guard misses Kyy, shadowman misses the warrior.
Off in distance one call of the flute, a different one. The shadowman on Kyy flees and escapes.
Gunnar fails first aid again. Hala misses, Ulf attacks Eadmund with Thrand and hits 5; Hakon helps Hala and hits the Guard 5; Thrand hits 6; Finnric hits his Guard 13 and bits 8 DEAD; Osmo and Dulk both miss, Osmo tumbling over edge to make way for Koku who moves in and hits 5; Kyy misses but the warrior hits Guard 9; Haki makes Death’s Door save.
Guard outside hits Kyy 11 KO’d; Guard misses Hala; archer makes his last available move against the wall but misses; Eadmund hits Thrand; Guard with knife in head bleeds out and dies; Koku is missed.
Koku hits berserker 19 DEAD. Hakon hits Guard for 4; warrior outside crits Guard 14 DEAD; Hala hits Guard 11 DEAD; Gunnar makes first aid and saves Haki’s life; Dulk hits archer 10 DEAD; Thrand hits Eadmund 10 KO’d.
Finnric checks Bjorn, making sure he’s still alive.
The warrior outside comes in, telling us of Kyy and Toru. He had also crit killed the shadowman who had come for Toru.

9 Bergenites were taken, plus the Old Crone.
Bjorn tells the Village Hero, Hrethel, that he is in charge now. We are leaving immediately. Kyy and Haki being KO’d must stay, and Hala is left to guard.
Not much of a trail for Toru to find, Bjorn aids. Finally, they pick up a faint trail, they are very good at what they do. Beeline northward, mounted. Into the day, we realize they are not stopping much so neither do we. It takes a solid full day to reach the top of the ridge at the valley.
At the top of the ridge we see:
to the northeast nestled against the edge of the mt is a great citadel, huge and old. A wall blocks the valley leading to it from mt to mt, about a mile behind that lies the castle. Closer to us is a town in the woods, large tower in the middle of 5 to 6 stories.
On the other end of the valley to our south is another town on the borders of Gustav’s land. It is the furthest of the group that includes Bergen.
Ground rougher on the way down, but Toru stays on it. They definitely went to the village in the woods.
Thrand wonders if there is a hidden path from above and behind the citadel we could use to get in. Could be a thing for Gunnar to scout out later.
After discussion, Bjorn decides we will visit the Gustav land border village. The leader is named Danehalla, the village is Brekkholm. He invites us in and is very friendly. He was also visited same as other 2 towns, but he was likely the first. It has been some months now since they gave all of their series of hostages, know nothing of shadow augments.
There was a Troll who plagued them in the beginning but disappeared afterward, but recently has returned. His range is to the north and east. His name is Ulag, he has a band of green lesser trolls. He actually came to the meadhall on occasion and bullied everyone around before leaving, which stopped after the agreement with the Piperuntil recently. His return made them thing Vanamoynen would be returning for a new set of hostages. They like to hit smaller, weak looking travellers not large groups. Ulag may be with them or may not. He comes to town with lesser trolls, always arriving after much drink has been had.
If he is going to, he has not shown up for the first round yet.
A merchant of Jarl Hrolf of the north, same as that at the Thing running for King, trades tween woodland village and here.
Danehalla offers any help he can give us, he foresees another, unnanounced, round of hostage demands and feels this will continue to be a cycle. Wants it to stop. Offers his 20 huskarls if we should need them!
Also, a warband of northmen passed by to the west recently, moving straight north rather than into the valley. Could they be from Hrolf? From Finnborg coming to assist? If there is a path into the citadel from outside the valley are they using it? There were about 20 of them.
Some scouts had tried going to the tower town and never returned. A second group got within a certain distance before the shadow augments threatened them out if sight and scared them off.
He feeds us and puts us up for the night. In morning we plan to visit woodland town.
We ponder what could be going on:
Are they using the taken women to breed the augments? The children to raise as brainwashed fighters?

Next Day

First thing in the morning a ruckus outside, the crone has appeared as previously. Bjorn and Finnric approach the cloaked figure. Looking underneath her cowl it looks very similar to her, but we don’ t believe it. Finnric gives her a good front kick but upon contact the dissipated into nothingness…..an illusion.
Hrolf’s merchant arrives after breakfast for another round of trading. Danehalla says he only comes to town to trade, does not live here. He has several other merchants in tow who work alongside him. He works out all the deals. There are 6 carts and 6 merchants and 6 guards in all. Each hauls a different type of goods. Lots of raw materials and pick up a lot of food/arms/tools….. Like there is a issue with craft where they are coming from, but not mining and materials.
The smiths of the north are known to be the highest quality smithies.
They set up in the main square of town.
Bjorn and Thrand approach the merchant, while the rest of us take up strategic positions around the square trying to be inconspicuous.
His guard attempts to stop us. The merchant’s name is Vorn.
Bjorn asks him about the town with the tower.
Vorn says they appreciate their privacy, it is called Uppvalla. Years ago it was not called something forgotten now. A council is in charge, of 5, who meet in secret and always wear their robes and cover their faces when doing gov’t business. Even they do not know who each other are.
Bjorn asks about the number of women in the town, and Vorn says it is low and can’t go into much more than that. He is an honorary brother to them.
Thrand asks how that came about:
Random happenstance, right place at right time. Did favor for an individual which earned him a rep as honest dealer. Over the years became close to the village.
Bjorn “Do you know about the wandering old crone and the Piper, and the blights that follow them?”
Yes.
“Do those things happen at Uppvalla?
“You could say that the lack of females is tied in with them. So yes, they do suffer it.” He claims to have no idea where the women and kids are going, and probably wouldn’t say if he knew out of his own safety.
Thrand “Does anyone live in the citadel at the end of the valley?”
“Yes. That place is absolute evil. It was formerly the home to one of the Masters, after their disappearance it became a breeding ground for all sorts of evil. It is avoided.” All different kinds of trolls populate it. Something unknown within has kept the current occupants from branching out.
Thrand whispers to Bjorn whether he wants to ask about the shadow augments; Bjorn does.
Vorn puts his hand onto his guard “I don’t think these gentlemen mean me any harm. Just stay here and protect the wagon” then leads us to more private spot. Says there are people up here who would love to have his head.
He says outside of his caravan, most do not know that Uppvalla are all chosen, the ones the masters gifted with special power. About 80% are augmented. Small minority of regular humans, a few extended families whose village it was originally. Over years augments used it to gather. Not all augments are shadow. Most of populace are good upstanding people, but there are few bad apples and the rest know it but now which of them are partaking in the local troubles.
All this is why they are so secretive.
Thrand “Where do we find this Piper, or where can we start looking?”
Bjorn "If we were to travel with you back to Uppvalla, would they accept us in the town because we came with you and could you get us a meeting with the council or someone who could get it for us?
He says very difficult. It would damage the trust he has fostered. Best he could do is ask if a meeting would be possible without us going. A group of the shadow augments, and some forest augments, are the wardens around the town. Taking us with him, they would demand we turn around. If we would be patient, he will inquire about our requests for us and give us news ASAP.
Bjorn agrees. “In the meantime…”
Thrand “The troll?”
Bjorn “Let’s go to the citadel and see what is there.”
Vorn says there are recognizable markers of the town’s perimeter.
We figure we can go up valley, then cut onto hills around the warden’s zone, then back into valley.
The troll is out of Ulag’s territory.
Vorn will return by this time next week he assumes, with word.

We split up after lunch, going into Ulag’s territory in 2 different teams. Bjorn leads, north, Finnric, Osmo, Dulk, and Toru. Thrand leads, more easterly, Gunnar, Koku, Hakon and Ulf.
We will go a days travel out, camp, and ride back the next day, trying to draw out an attack.
Both groups later notice small trolls following stealthily, with a couple man sized trolls accompanying them. A dozen or so each, just eyeballing us.
Night comes and we make camp. Each guard shift notices some light noise nearby, trolls moving nearby.
Koku volunteers to make like he’s leaving us for his own direction to try to draw them out but Thrand plays it more carefully and declines.

Next Morning

North group:
Clearing couple miles off in a large sloping ravine, band of what looks to be humans camped there breaking camp.
We make for the other warband. Still dogged by trolls.
East:
Break camp, still dogged by trolls as we make for Brekhalla.
North:
Gets rougher terrain, spotting distance is very limited.
Undebrush very thick.
Toru “It’s a greenpit, look out!” as Bjorn almost steps onto a weak spot. A greenpit is where the undergrowth gets so thick they cover dropoffs. We are all on a large one.
Toru notices most trees are breaking through above the level of the first branches at least 150’ behind and 300 feet ahead.
Toru says to fall in behind him and he’ll try to leave us through, or get into a good tree and chop our way downward.
Dulk, Finnric and Osmu start chopping our way down. It proves time consuming but not difficult and we get to the bottom. It was a few feet thick and an easy climb down a 30’ drop.
Underneath is almost like a cave it is so dark.
Finnric broke through the bottom so is in the lead climbing, followed by Dulk, Bjorn, Osmo, and Toru.
Once Finnric and Dulk are on the ground, Osmo hears a rustling just above. In the backlight of the hole he sees brief movement in the shadow and a big spider swings for a grab. It’s huge! The attack hits Osmo KO’d plus 2str damage!
Osmo escapes the grapple and in a panic leaps. Finnric hurtls Himlac upward but misses. Toru pulls his sword and readies as it swing past and briefly out of site. It then swing attacks again immediately, at Bjorn. It crits him 9 but he resists the poison. Dulk pulls his bow but it grapples Bjorn.
Bjorn breaks the grapple, and Dulk’s readied shot hits 4. On a sturdy branch Bjorn draws his weapon and shield.
Toru climb stunts down and hits 5. Finnric fast climbs to Bjorn with Hungnir. It swings away and back, this time at Finnric but it misses. Finnric strikes 6. Dulk’s shot misses. Bjorn strikes and KILLS. It’s momentum carries it out, but when it comes back into view it is hanging dead before dropping.
Finnric gathers Himlac from branches before we climb down. We light torches, the air is dank and still. After Osmo wakes up, in bad shape for the day, we continue on.
To the east we can see the light of day. Or, we can continue north in darkness but the way we want to go and hack our way out after about 300 feet uphill. Before we get there, we hear gruff speach behind us and see a band of small trolls coming down the tree we hacked down, about 15 to 20 of them by the glow of their darkvision eyes.
Finnric wants to stand and fight, Bjorn says rush to the end. We hustle and they are running to catch up. Avout 60’ from vine wall they are a run away.
Bjorn yells for Dulk and Osmo to get to work on hacking through the vines with their axes. Toru readies his bow just behind Bjorn and Finnric who are ready to receive the charge.
As they are rushing, we can see some of them begin to be startled by something to their flanks. We notice a light rumbling like a lot of movement.
Toru “Something is rushing them from the sides?”
A handful of the troll eyes stop and begin firing bows to the west, returned by growling squeeks. The goblins sound like they are panicking a bit. Bjorn grabs a torch and begins making his way to the troll. They ignore him, all facing the other enemy with bows or melee weapons. A mass of grey fur leaps into view and tears a troll apart. It’s eyes are wild. The trolls fire frantically, as more screaming comes form the dark. Dozens of eyes w/ darkvision appear. Bjorn turns to rush back to the others.
Toru to axemen “Hack faster!”
We can hear a maddening gibbering from the fray.
Behind Bjorn as he gets into the range of our torches, the trolls are hit by a mob, and it soon catches up to Bjorn. Finnric has begun to orate a lay of death.
Bjorn turns and faces them. He kills the first 2. Toru kills one with his bow. Finnric kills 4 w/ cleave and AoO. Both axemen kill one.
They begin to bunch into our spaces, the axemen and Toru each killing 1.
Axemen each kill , Finnric kills 2, Bjorn keeps backing toward us and kills 2.
They follow our moves by entering our spaces, Bjorn’s AoO misses again, Dulk’s AoO kill as does Toru, Finnric’s kills 1 but Osmo misses.
The trolls are being torn to shreds.
They begin to attempt to gang grapple us. Toru is grappled, as is Bjorn.
Finnric wild flurries and hurls Himlac and kills one on Bjorn, and kills 2 on him with is waraxe. Both axemen kill 1. Bjorn fights free of the grapple and move next to Toru. Finnric’s bite kills another as he failed his wolf pelt save and is now blindly raging. Toru fails to escape his grapple.
They bunch in our spaces again: Osmo misses the AoO, Dulk kills, Finnric kills 2 continuing his Lashing Strike challenge, Bjorn kills 2.
Their attacks that do hit are doing minimal damage.
Toru is being ganged and overwhelmed in the grapple. He is struck multiple times.
Finnric’s attack/cleave/bite kills 3, Bjorn kills 2 on Toru. Dulk misses and Osmo kills, Toru chokes one out.
Now only 3 trolls alive.
They swarm us again, both axemen AoO kill, Finnric 2 with Lashing Strike, Bjorn AoO misses.
1 troll goes down.
Toru is outgrappled by the gang but only takes a couple.
Toru chokes out another; axemen each kill 1; Finnric kills 2 as bite misses; Bjorn kills 2.
AoO: each axeman kills 1, Bjorn misses, Finnric kills 2 with lashing strike.
Last 2 trolls die, the obvious warlearder wildly and actually valiantly.
Dulk kills, Osmo misses, Finnric kills 3, Bjorn kills 2, Toru chokes out another.
AoO as they gang our spaces to grapple: Osmo kills, Dulk misses, Bjorn kills 1 as does Finnric..
They continue their attack, few left now and their mass attack ability is over. Still, they do little to no damage.
Only 1 left on each of us now, but for Bjorn who has 2. Finnric and Osmo kill, Dulk misses, Toru fails his choke out.
They both miss and we finish off the last 2.
As we finish cutting our way out again we hear more gibberish in the distant dark but we reach the sunlight.
Osmo gets out first to a circle of bowmen….the viking warband. “What are you doing in the pit?”
They look like they have had at least a small battle recently as we all climb out. They help us out!
The captain approaches us, good ringmail and helm. Taking off his helmet, it is Wulfgar! “Imagine me saving you from the pit.”
Looking into the pit there is a swarming horde of gibberlings keeping to the dark below.
HE asks us if we have found the missing women and kids yet. Bjorn says we have found some of them and will get the rest soon.
Dulk “How do you know about them?”
He says he’s here to slay a troll that has been plaguing some of his villages.
Finnric “We’re here to do the same.”
They fought a sizable band of man sized trolls recently. He has figured out a pattern to Ulag’s movements.
“We were on our way to a border village where the trolls may hit tonight or tomorrow. Hit the meadhall as in the others.”
Bjorn “If you’re in town he won’t show up.”
“That’s why we left no survivors, so he receives no news of us. We’ll stash our armor and weapons away so we look harmless, start a celebration to lure them in… When Ulag and his trolls come to crash the party, kill them all, take the glory and go home.”
Bjorn “I think you’re underestimating his cunning.”
Wulfgar “How do you figure that?”
In all this time he has been operating here, it has never once walked into a situation where there was any chance at all of it being attacked. “That tells me that he either has inside info from the towns or he has been smart enough to figure it out for himself. I don’t normally put much stock in the latter, but something is going on.”
Wulfgar asks for Bjorn’s suggestion.
Bjorn “Once I’ve taken care of my other business, I will find this troll’s layer and kill him there. I was simply trying to lure out some of his troops to find out where his layer is” unfortunately the gibberlings ruined that.
Bjorn tells Wulfgar he should take his bigger group to the citadel, take it on to show us how great you are.
He appreciated the opportunity but he was called up here to kill a troll names Ulag. Wulfgar is confident he will take care of things, that he is going to Brekholm in a few days.
When he mentions how they cooked the trolls they killed, as in the burned the bodies, we accuse him of giving a proper funeral to them and he is Wulfgar Troll Friend.
We part company. We make for Brekholm by the east way around the greenpit. Wulfgar goes west around it for Brekholm.
They make a bet on which entire group will get to Brekholm first, the bet is Bjorn’s blade vs Wulfgar’s cold steel longsword. Wulfgar’s is named Kaldrstal. We take 2 different directions.
It’s a 6 mile trip, we beat them by 2 hours and are met by Thrand. The town, specifically the meadhall, was ransacked last night by Ulag and a band of his trolls. Men were killed and Danehalla’s son Ragnar was kidnapped. He wants us to try to track the invaders and rescue him. Thrand leads us to Danehalla.
Bjorn “Of course we shall.”
Kyy and the Tostinson twins are here, they arrived not long ago.
We leave immediately after a fast snack and drink. Toru will lead the tracking.
Danehalla “Things are going downhill fast. This was more brazen than anything before, I feel tribute will be requested again very soon.”
On our way BJorn and Thrand talk about some stuff. The ravens were likely an omen, as that village predominately worshipped Odin. There was as strong Freya presence in the last village.
Danehalla is strong with Tyr and Heimdal. Protection and battle and justice, hence troll raiders and interlopers.
Wulfgar arrives just as we are preparing to leave. As a man of his word, he gives us his blade. He says he will stay behind and help clean up.

Toru, helped by Bjorn, Koku and a local huntsman, tracks like the old timer he is, following the trail easily. Into the woods is an ancient city, or what is left of it, sprawling widely with building tech beyond us.
Ulag separated from the group of lesser mansized trolls at the outskirts of the ruins going eastward about 60’ and the tracks virtually vanish. Bjorn says leave it, we’re here for Ragnar first.
It is almost dark by now. No visible campfires in the ruins. We follow the trolls to a set of steps going down. Huntsman say a lot of these foundations and have glorified basements, typically small. Not equipped for large bodies of troops. It may be close quarters so we won’t take everyone down. The twins will join us, everyone else stays up here for now. Toru and the huntsman take highground close by as lookouts.
The steps are narrow, so Bjorn leads, followed by Thrand, Gustav, Finnric, and the twins. It comes into a 30’ square room, one doorway out, and a recently blood stained torture wrack.
Bjorn opens the door, and we are greeted by stale air and dark. Bjorn steps through into a hall going both ways. As Bjorn takes a look around the corner to his right, he hears 3 bowstrings release from different directions.
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The one to his left, rear as he is looking around corner, hits 5.
Thrand “bowfire” from just inside the doorway.
They call out ALARM!
Finnric charges out and down the 10’ wide hallway ahead, It ends on both sides but there is a door to the right. 2 trolls stand in front of it, and one attacks Finn from around the corner but fumbles.
Gunnar covers Bjorn’s rear and throws at the archer who struck Bjorn and hurls 10. The twins get just around the corner toward the other 2 trolls and hold.
The 2 at Finnric step out, the remaining hits 11w/ battle axe.
Gunnar’s charges him, drawing a longsword and crits Gunnar 18. Around the corner, both shoot at Hala misses.
Bjorn passes Tostunsons and stops at first archer at top of 10’ wide hall, sees the end ahead but 1 door there. 2 trolls stand at the end. Bjorn hits 18.
Thrand switches with Gunnar and crits 12 DEAD. Hala charges to end of hallway but misses. Haki passes Bjorn, helps Bjorn hitting 13. Finnric axe and bite kills but bite cleave misses.
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The 2 trolls ahead of Bjorn charge him and Haki. Hala hears a door open from around the corner and 3 orcs begin to come down the hall. Haki, Bjorn, and Finnric are missed. Hala’s archer draws sword and hits 9.
Bjorn hits 13. Finnric’s bite crits 13 and axe 13 DEAD. Twins both miss. Thrand rushes around the far corner to another 10’ wide hall with a door near the far end, continues to the next corner and sees the 3 newest trolls from behind. Gunnar rounds the corner toward Bjorn and aims at the far corner past all 3 allies. Judging for a moment, he throws! And hits 9!
Bjorn is hit 4, Haki for 8, Hala for 10. First of new 3 in like misses Hala from around corner.
Bjorn hits 17 DEAD, cleave misses Haki’s; Haki hits it 11 DEAD; Hala hits 13 DEAD and they both move down hall; Thrand strikes the rear 10. Finnric kicks in the door to an empty room with another door which he rushes to; Gunnar turns and catches up to Finnric.
Last troll in line turns and misses Thrand, Hala is hit 9.
Bjorn moves to door and busts it open to a room with chest and large pot, as well as 1 mantroll dressed as a shaman. Hala hits at the corner 10; Haki moves past Bjorn just into the room; Finnric busts through door into a room with a table and 2 trolls in front of it. Finnric moves to troll on right; Gunnar steps to doorway and throws at left 8; Thrand misses.
Finnric is hit 9 and missed; Hala is missed; Thrand is hit 0. The shaman throws a handful of stones at Haki from a bah on his waste after a quick chant, glowing on the way and hitting 8. Bjorn moves through door to shaman and hits 15 DEAD. Finnric misses w/ axe and bite; Thrand hits 10 DEAD and moves to middle of the 3; Hala hits at corner 15 DEAD and cleaves around corner to last of 3 for 11; Gunnar throws to same troll 15 DEAD; Haki turns and goes back to interection.
Finnric and Hala are both missed. Bjorn inspects pot, a bitter smelling alcoholic brew. He opens the chest and his hit with a needle trap 3 (fails fort save: nauseating him) he throws up next to the pot then he takes a drink of the stuff; Finnric crits 28 DEAD. Thrand hits 3 DEAD.
Thrand sends Haki to check on Finnric and Gunnar who search, Gunnar finds a sliding part in the wall into an adjacent room. Thrand goes to check on Bjorn and leaves Hala to watch the hall and door.
Finnric stokes and opens it. A loud angry scream comes from an large troll berserker wielding a great warclub. A portcullus leads to another room, the cell with Ragnar in it. The berserker hits Finnric 8; Gunnar throws but hits Haki in front of him “I told you to duck” for 4. Haki “OW, Gunnar! Great Odin’s Raven!” The berserk hits 1; Finnric hits 11 and bites 5; he steps so Haki can move in and attack, hitting 12; Gunnar throws past Haki but hits this time for 12; the berserk rages further but misses Finnric who crits 48! DEAD! His cleave misses Haki. Gunnar looks for and finds the cell key on the berserk. We free Ragnar.
Thrand checks on Bjorn, who has become instantly drunk but it heals 5hp. In a few rounds the sicknes ceases.
Thrand looks in the chest: gold bricks; 4 steins with flip lids. They are filled with the same healing mead. The steins lock shut.

Bjorn and Thrand meet Hala and open the door to more rooms that are empty. Down the othe 10’ wide hall Thrand passed is a pantry with another chest. By now all of us are together.
Only 1 room of all contains trolls, 3 of them ready to fight. Thrand stands in the doorway, they all step forward and attack him. The 2 bodyguards miss, and the leader crits. Thrand takes a 5’ step but misses; Hala moves in past them, 2 AoO both miss, and he misses a bodyguard; Bjorn steps into doorway and hits leader 19.
All 3 them attack Bjorn, 2 hits for 7/8. Thrand hits Bodyguard 7; hala hits other BG 12; Bjorn misses leader; They all attack Bjorn again miss/leader 12/miss; Thrand misses; Hala crits his BG 23 DEAD and cleaves leader 10 DEAD. Bjorn hits last BG 17 DEAD.
We search. Thrand opens chest, finding Ragnar’s equipment and 2 more flagons of the healing mead.
Pantry had troll food.
A crudely drawn map on the leader shows what looks to be a valley, bunch of towns marked, a writing system on it in runes but another language. About 8 towns marked. This is definitely this valley. One symbol by each town. The Uppvalla is circled, the citadel has a trail running back and forth from it to here to another way in from the rear as Thrand thought all along.
Another settlement of some kind to north of citadel, and something else east of here as well, perhaps caves. Lastly, a picture of an axe north of the valley with 3 lines going through it, one toward the citadel, one to Uppvalla, another circling around the valley.
Gunner feels the runes next to the towns are a system telling the cycle of hitting the towns. We feel this is an invasion chart.
We head out, profuse thanks from Ragnar. He says if this is an invasion your going to need quite a force to defend, maybe even informing Finnborg.

We empty our waterskins of water and fill with the mead. 26 total doses out of it all, and that empties it. PC’s, Hakon, Toru and Dulk each get 2, everyone else gets 1 in the skins. Plus the 6 steins.
We camp here for the night. Uneventful.

Next Day

Half way back met by Wulfgar and half of his men.
Wulfgar “It was a horrible night” the troll came “out of nowhere, as if on the wind. He came from the ceiling” and crushed huskarlar as they slept before battle began. He struck down more warriors. Wulfgar dueled him, striking Ulag fiercley which dissolved the blade 2/3 down. Ulag finally fled into the darkness but they followed until the trail went cold, direction of ENE.
A new man is with him “I have news for you Bjorn”, it’s Iring. Finnric flashes him a curse, as he does in return.
“I’m here on official business. Word from Jarlsliefia, the deal went slightly south some time ago. When Bluto came to make the trade, he brought his own hostage to swing negociations:. Ragnar, Eric’s 2nd who disappeared in the raid.
Finally. Bluto felt the price was too high. It came to blows and Ragnar was slain, no gold was delivered, the boy is still hostage and Bluto escaped. He will not pay a ransom. Bluto pushed for an immediate meeting for the exchange, that’s why it happened w/o us.
Last heard, Bluto had charted a fleet setting sail for our lands and he’s out for Bjorn’s head in particular.
Wulfgar sent 2 of his fastest riders to Valaborg, telling Finnborg that it is getting crazy up here; that the area needs either purged or saved; told Finnborg to get up here with a large force.
Wulfgar says he is scouring the area for the lair of Ulag.

By the direction, he may be hiding in the area on the map that looks like caves. We tell Wulfgar nothing. Maybe disappears by some magic, perhaps a gift from the Piper.
Bjorn agrees to help, saying we should stay in 2 separate groups. We need a signal to call for the other should one find Ulag’s lair, maybe a simple hornblow pattern.

We still have a few days or so before Vorn will return.
We all get back to Danehalla. Ragnar tells Danehalla he’s off to kill Ulag, joining us for the hunt.
It’s a night in the meadhall for most, but Finnric, Koku and Finnbodi slaughter a deer in the night, and drink mead mixed blood by Koku/eat raw meat/howl at the moon under the stars all night; and cleaning Finnric’s spears.

In the midst of the night, over the howling at the moon, a blood curdling scream. We awake to a huge Troll, and 5 dead men directly around him. All, Wulfgar’s men. The 5th screamed after his 1st arm was ripped off. We start to wake up and gather our senses/weapons. The Troll moves and attacks a local huskarl near Ulf and Hakon. It picks him up and bashes him against the ground like a sack of dirt, killing him instantly.
The first scream alerted the ulfhednar, Finnric turning toward the town with bloody raw meat hanging from his mouth. They grab weapons and run.
Ulag goes for Hakon the Bastard next, picking him up and squeezing his head 13. A Huskar yells ’It’s Treg Ulagson!!!" The son of Ulag, not Ulag.
Most of us stand and grab a weapon. Bjorn stands, quickly grabs his sword and rushes Treg. Haki does the same.
Gunnar stands and throws an axe Even when with a wench, Gunnar always keeps a belt on with a single axe, and he fumbles. Haki hits 12; BJorn misses. Hakon attempts to escape but fails.
All but the dead now stand. Nearby, and getting closer, is the warsong of Finnric!
Many of the huskarls closest surround the Hersir, looking to escape with their lord through the kitchen perhaps. The others of Danehalla are very afraid and keep their distance from the Troll. Iring begins a rousing battle song and backs to the wall, but its negative to the Gustav line and we get no benefit. Wulfgar charges after a quickdraw as well, hitting.
The monster’s skin is like iron, and his wounds seem to be closing on their own accord.
Thrand yells for someone to open the front door, and one of Wulfgar’s men right near it does so.
Treg tosses Hakon aside and begins attacking the 6 targets around him. The first is a man of Wulfgar, grabbed for 25 by the hair and swings him, snapping his neck. The body rips off the scalp and is hurtled.
Now Thrand joins, but misses badly. He feels an odd feeling of dread that he is able to suppress. Hmm. Hala joins as well (reach AoO misses) but misses, as does Wulfgar’s younger brother Borg. Haki misses, Borg hits, Wulfgar misses, Ulf hits 6. A Wulfgar man misses as well. Bjorn misses. Gunnar’s throw hits after a move to w/in 30’ for 14. Thrand misses.
The Ulfhedinn arrive! Finnric “It’s Treg! Blunt force, extreme heat and cold will harm him!”
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Treg goes for Thrand, but Thrand defends successfully.
Thrand “Get him into the hearth!”
Finnric et al move to the flank away from the hearth.
Bjorn “attack and back away. You 3 (to Wulfgar, Ulf and Wulfgar man) be ready to trip!!”
Thrand hits 8 and backs; Hala hits 12, Haki misses, Gunnar misses, Bjorn hits 10.
All back off but for Bjorn, Haki, Wulfgar, Wulfgar man, and Ulf. Ulf hits 9, drops to his knees w/spear raised overhead. Wulfgar and his man each grab an end of the spear to support it as a tripping device.

Treg attacks Haki but misses!

Thrand “Rush it!”

Bjorn, Haki, the 3 berserks, We bullrush the Troll right into the hearth of fire!! Its AoO hits 18.
The reaction is almost like he ignites.
Finnric grabs his spear, Himlac, and moves around to the other side.
In a few rounds, Treg climbs out the other side blistered and burning still. Finnric stabs with Himlac for 18. Thrand starts running for the Troll with the cold iron blade from Wulfgar.
Treg makes a beeline for the door, passing Thrand who crits him 20 taking off an arm at the bicep. Finnric’s AoO hits 13. 2 Wulfgar men get AoO as well.
Finnric cries for chase, and Koku and Finnbogi follow. Behind them are Bjorn, Wulfgar, and the Tostunsons, followed by Borg.
Finnbogi’s Berserk speed allows him to pull ahead. Drawing his sword, he goes for a low swing and crits, severing a leg at the thigh!!!
Treg’s moaning is beginning to fade. Finnric catches up an spears repeatedly him in the gut with Himlac! HIs death knell is a terrible screech. Finnric cuts his heart out and the 3 Ulfhedin eat it then and there!!

In the distance, a loud distraught bellow from his dad.
Eyes appear in the dark watching the proceedings, then scatter into the dark.

Back to the hall we go. Wulfgar’s men take care of their dead, as do the locals with their one dead.
Thrand “Bad luck for your men Wulfgar.”
Finnric “It’s because you have Iring with you.”
Only a couple hours to sunlight, we try to catch some sleep.

Next Morning

Pyres are ready for the dead.
We include Wulfgar in our excursion as they are out for vengeance now for their dead, feeling that , by previous locals’ xp, we may have only killed a third of Ulag’s force at the most while rescueing Ragnar.
The locals say Treg was actually bigger than his father, thankfully for us.
Wulfgar brings his brother, Iring, Finnbogi and 5 Men.
Koku is slightly sick from the eating of the heart. They all have regeneration 5 for the next day!!!
On the way to the caves, we come upon an ancient ruin, small structure with a large rock jutting from the round with a hole going down. Narrow stairs descend.
Finnric “Looks big enough for Trolls to move in and out of.” This is in the area of the caves. Thrand “Should we check it out now?”
Bjorn “Yes. It is in the direction Treg was fleeing.”

Steps are wide enough for 2 abreast. 3 of Wulfgar’s 5, Kyy and Osmo, the twins, Toru and Koku are left above to watch our rear, Borg in charge. The rest of us venture down into a large room with 1 door out.
It leads to a short hall into a rectangular room. Its dark, so torches are necessary. Finnric opens the door. Bowfire greets him, one to the chest and one to the eye. 10 lesser green trolls are waiting for us.
Finnric fails a bullrush, Finnbogi charges in to Finnric’s right and attacks Killing one. Gunnar moves to the door and throws past Finnric to the rush blocker and hits DEAD. Wulfgar joins to Finnric’s left and hits. 3 rear archers fire at Finnbogi, the front 3 at Finnric and hit once 5.
Finnric hits 17 and cleaves 10 DEAD and DEAD, killing his and Wulfgar’s “Sing of that, Iring!” Gunnar moves into room and throws tween Finnric and Finnbogi at an archer crit 15 DEAD; Bogi fumbles; Wulfgar advances to an archer crit but minimum damage.
Finnric “I killed 2, you couldn’t kill an archer! Hahaha! Gunnar even killed an archer!!”
Ragnar rushes past FInnric ending in front of him, hitting 8.
Bjorn calmly surveys the handywork of his loyal men. He moves into room to the 1 door.
The troll archers now, the front 3 draw swords and all hit: Wulfgar takes max dam; Ragnar s small hit; Finnbogi as well.
BJorn “FInnric, with me.”
Rear archers fire past their men: 1 hits orc in front of Wulfgar DEAD; other miss.
Bjorn “NO, FInnric, move into the opening in front of Wulfgar” He opens the door to a room with a table and 1 door out. It is empty but was recently dined in by these trolls we fight now, likely. He moves into the room.
Ragnar attacks his wounded men DEAD and misses the cleave to Finnbogi’s. Bogi recovers his fumble; Finnric steps amidst the last 3; Finnric kills 2. Gunnar gathers axes and follows Bjorn.
Last troll attacks Bogi and hits. Bogi cuts him down.
We follow Bjorn now, Finnric next into the room. We gather before Bjorn opens the door.
Bjorn opens the door, hit by an Ogre’s club 20! 1 door out, large fireplace as well.
BJorn retorts 20! Gunnar leaps atop the table, throws past Bjorn 8 DEAD!
Finnric opens next door into a wide hall going both ways. 1 door visible. To left is a dead end, 1 door along the hall, to right it cuts back around the corner. Finnric looks around corner with bogi. It ends ahead about 40’,’ 1 door at the end to right.
BJorn wants to take the nearer door first. Finnric opens, Bjorn and bogi flanking. Ragnar, Wulfgar, Gunnar behind. Finnric opens the door, 2 spears miss him, stabbings by mantrolls. 1 door out. He moves in, 1 hits him 2. He kills and hits 10. It misses, Finnric misses, it hits, Finnric hits 10 DEAD. It lets out a blood curdling death knell.
Finnric to Bjorn “Through the door?”
Bjorn “Yes.”
Finnric opens the door into 1 large room in an L shape. 2 shelfs, a table, a portcullis around corner of L shape. On the far side of the table is a human with a kite shield, and 3 human warriors between us and him (2 axemen and a spearman), a 4 piece musical group on the near side of the table, Ulag is a giant humanoid troll standing at the end of the nearside of the table; several other mantrolls; an archer and shieldman in front of him. The humans wear Bluto’s standard!!
The door we passed opens up, 3 screaming mantrolls rush out followed by an Ogre. Bjorn stationed Ulf and Hakon guarding the hall, Thrand behind them with Dulk and Wulfgar’s 2. men.

vs_Ulag.jpg

Ulag begins bellowing at us over the death of his monstrous son.
The front 2 mantrolls stop short of Ulf/Hakon to throw axes. They each get AoO on both: Ulf hit his 8, misses other; Hakon hits his 3, and other 7 DEAD.
Ulag readies to attack with is multiple sickle like bladed spear (he has a bandolier with 2 glass vials on it. Wulfgar moves in on the 1st Bluto man and crits! Bjorn moves next to Wulfgar and hits orc near shelf DEAD, cleave misses orc in front of him.
Dulk draws his bow and hits 7.
Ulf steps up and attacks axe orc 9 DEAD; Bogi attacks mantroll in front of shelf across from door and hits 9; Ragnar attacks same DEAD; Finnric rushes around and just past Born, hitting green orc 12 w/ Fitlaf; Hakon steps forward and stops. Thrand builds tokens.
Iring moves just inside door and begins to inspire us in Ulag’s room.
The 3 Bluto men in front attack Bjorn and Wulfgar. Their cpt. behind Ulag, stays in place.
Gunnar moves in front of Ragnar, throws at orc in front of Bjorn 10.
The Ogre hurls a boulder at Hakon the Bastard 12.
Flail wielding mantroll in hall misses Hakon; green mantroll champ hits Finnric 14; band begins playing; old human next to drummer sings, we hear strange words intoned w/in his chant, a bolt of energy discharges from him striking at Gunnar 5; the archer fires at Bjorn misses; spear mantroll in front of other shelf throws at BJorn but misses; black orc next to archer throws an axe at Bjorn misses and hits mantroll in the way 6 DEAD.
Ulag steps, attacks over the mantrolls but misses Wulfgar and fumbles!! Wulfgar kills Bluto axemen in front of him; Dulk hits Ogre 3 w/ bow; Bjorn steps up to the Bluto normans at in front of Ulag, hits 13; Ulf misses mantroll in hall; Bogi and Rags get ready behind BJorn and Wulfgar; Finnric hits green champ DEAD, crits spear mantroll DEAD; Hakon hits mantroll in hall 4; Bluto normans attack Wulfgar for miss and Bjorn for fumble; Gunnar throws at the sorcerer 14; Ogre steps back and march of ruins forward! Hakon and Ulf plaster themselves against the wall. His charge hits Thrand 17.
The sorcerer blasts Gunnar again 9; orc axeman misses his throw at Finnric; archer misses; mantroll in hall hits Hakon 8.
Wulfgar’s 2 men attack Ogre doing little.
Ulag recovers his fumble; Wulfgar hits Bluto man; Dulk hits Ogre 11; Bjorn hits his norman 10 DEAD, cleaves symbol player 11; Ragnar charges into the opening in front of Bjorn, and hits Ulag and his swort disintegrates. Finnbogi charges sorcerer; in hall, Ulf hits mantroll 5; Finnric hits axe thrower 12; Hakon hits mantroll 8; Thrand hits Ogre DEAD; Inring still singing; Bluto man hits Wulfgar, the cpt moves in and hits Ragnar.
Gunnar throws at sorcerer 11 DEAD. His shield bearer begs for his life. Mantroll now on Finnric misses, archer misses, some of band stops playing.
Wulfgar’s men move to the battle, making it to doorway at Iring. Ulag misses Bjorn badly.
Wulfgar misses Bluto man; Ragnar grabs dead Bluto man’s spear and stabs Ulag for minimum damage. The point melts away; Finnbogi kills drummer; Ulf opens door at end of doorway into the armory. Hakon follows. Finnric kills axe thrower, cleaves shieldbearer 9;
Wulfgar is missed by Bluto man; Gunnar throws at archer 8.
Archer hits Finnbogi, as does his shieldman; symbol player hits Ragnar.
Ulag hits Bjorn 21; Wulfgar hits Bluto norman DEAD; Thrand sends Dulk down to watch Hakon and Ulf.
Bjorn steps in between Wulfgar and Ulag (blocking Wulfgar out). Bjorn tells his adamantine blade of how trusty it has been, and if it should fall it will be avenged. He swings, full on power attack, hitting thanks to Iring’s song for 20! Bjorn’s swing returns with a half gone blade, but the wound remains and does not heal itself!
Bjorn yells for Ragnar to get back, and he does. Finnbogi kills archer. Finnric hits the cpt 10. Thrand moves to the WUlfgar men. Cpt misses Finnric; Gunnar throws at archer’s shieldman 16 DEAD. Last 2 of band rush for the corner to hide.
Ulag hits Bjorn 16. Wulfgar steps next to Bjorn and hits Ulag 10, blade melts away.
Bjorn draws his warhammer and pounds Ulag 13. Finnbogi starts to dispatch last 2 bandmembers.
Bjorn misses Ulag.
Finnric hits Cpt 14, still fighting w/ Fitlaf. Cpt hits Finnric; Gunnar throws at Cpt but misses.
Ulag misses Bjorn; Wulfgar draws a mace and misses. Finnbogi finishes band. Finnric kills Cpt.
Gunnar grabs an axe from the mantroll axeman but misses Ulag.
Ulag drinks a flask, all AoO miss.
Wulfgar misses; Bjorn misses; Finnric jump stunts and shield bashes Ulag in the skull taking him to neg. 10. Bjorn finishes him off with a hammer to the skull.

from armory:
2 handed sword mst.
1 potion of healing (cure light)
1 spear from mantroll finnric killled
Ulag’s large spear,has Raven symbol of Odin on the blade. On other side, mult legged horse Sleipnir.
Behind portcullis is the treasurey. 1500 gp of value. Normans have good armor as well.

We question a norman before he dies, as they are wearing Bluto’s colors. Tells of the ‘deal for his son going south, as we know. Hrolf, the ldr from the north who lost the election has made some deal with Bluto, these men were sent here were to aid and assist these bandits simply to help them cause trouble for Gustav’s land.
‘Bluto was on his way to raid in our lands, and hopefully take a good hostage for leverage on his son. On his way over he had been approach by Hrolf from the north and made the deal. They don’t know if he has raided successfully or not.
‘Gustav, Swen and allies will rue the day! They are in trouble!’
Thrand asks if they know if Ulag was working with the Piper, or if they knew of the shadows.
They say he was working directly with the Piper. Thrand shows him the map of invasion routes we found. He says it must be the invasion plan for Hrolf. He wants to take out Swen, but firstly helping Bluto take care of Gustav!! Bluto could care less about the north or Swen. Buto’s pissed about his son taken. Wants Gustav or a brother to kidnap in order to trade. So, Hrolf saw an opportunity for some temporary aid. Piper has his own objectives, but there is some connection since we are here under Ulag, and he was working for the Piper.
This Norman cpt of Bluto is Smythe, and he will live. We take him hostage.

Back to Brekholm. Danehalla has a small feast for us. He gets his best tanner to work on Ulag’s face. During it, Danehalla and his son Ragnar have a powow. Danehalla approaches us late: says how rarely anyone from these types of areas go far from home, if they’re lucky a Thing. Danehalla, however, served with Gustav and others years ago. Ragnar is a little older than us, but has done nothing away from this locale. He requests Ragnar joins the Bjornings!!! And show him the world
To Bjorn “Is this acceptable?”
Bjorn ‘“Of course it is.”
Danehalla also wants him to go because there are few noble families in this area not blood related, so he needs fresh blood in the lines. So, Ragnar Yellowbeard joins us officially.
Finnric jibes Iring about Danehalla having his son join the Bjorning’s men, not Wulfgar’s. Iring attempts to retort, but Finnric “Speak not, soon to be forked tongue. I care not what you say” and walks away careless of the pitiful reply.
Wulfgar will stay here to defend the town from any more bandits/raids and such.

Next Day

Early, Vorn has arrived with his wagon train.
Comes to see us at the hall.
Vorn:
Our request to meet the council has been accepted, but it is a place of peace. No weapons, nor any guards will be present; We are to leave with him this evening, arrive there tomorrow, meeting next day at noontime.
We ask Danehalla to take temp custody of our prisoner, he agrees to. Bjorn says we will take all of our men.

Uneventful day, and we leave with Vorn. Reiterates that he’s the town’s liaison with outside world, he did put in a good word for us; outsiders not normally permitted. He says the valley has a lot to offer, and he is slowly trying to convince them to open up but the process is touch and go.

Next Day

As we get closer to town, we do not see but can sense our being watched by the greenborn and shadowborn.
In conversation with Thrand and Bjorn, Vorn explained that the whole town is augments. Lots of different kinds. 2 like augments will have the same augment as a kid, Augment and human have small chance; 2 different augments have 50/50 shot at either talent.

Arrive at tower town.
This is larger than the others we have been to, a descent town of a solid 1000 population or so. That’s a lot of augments! Wooden palisade surrounds it, some armed guards. Seems most of armor and weapons old and passed down, kept up well but old. Must have few who know how to work new material. We are dumbfounded at the different looking people.
Thrand asks Vorn if the shadow augments who attacked us at the meadhall previously were rogues or what? He says much as he hates to say it, they were from the town. Their families were grieved for the ones who died. If they went off to work for the Piper, it was their choice. No one knows.
Bjorn gathers up Finnric, Thrand and Gunnar “I notice, there is a serious lack of females”.
Thrand “I assumed so.”
Bjorn “Most that they do have are older, even out of breeding age. Maybe 70/30 or 80/20 split amongst the women.” Fits with the town being the kidnap culprits.
Local smith is more of a nail and horseshoe maker, functionality not war. Good textile crafts though. Supernatural feel to the town; glowing lamps hanging throughout town; vines seem to dance and move; animals as if they have a greater intelligence about them; even the occassional small or mantroll walking in regular human clothes. Tower is council’s building.
He says we need to find room and board, not real inns here, then agrees to put us up in his common room. Then asks what we wish to do for the next few hours before night.
Thrand “Where is a good place to get food and drink? That’s a good place to start.”
He shows us favorite tavern of his. We mingle.
Very simple laws here. Like do not disturb the peace, don’t violate another’s existence.
One man asks us what we’re doing here afterall, Bjorn says it to deal with the Piper. He says none of his business ‘as we keep to ourselves here’. He knows some of their people joined some riffraff and got themselves killed. He mentions that they wanted to remove the curse.
Thrand says the problem isn’t from your town, but it is in your valley, and its touching the outside world which makes it your problem. “Maybe you should bring that up to your council.” He says they don’t petition the council.
Thrand argues with him over his council being a farce, they are duping the whole town over generations as no one ever sees their faces. Even when elected. His normal reply “But, they’re the council!”
Finnric “What curse?”
“Many years ago the town turned their back on their faith in the masters or any deity. Once that happened, dismantled the shrines and temple. Soon after the birthrate for females dropped fast. Many who were born were stillborn. We’ve been trying to find a solution since. So far, no sage or loremaster or alchemy has helped.”
Bjorn “Have you considered taking up religion again?”
They know not of how to worship anymore, have to gods now. Plus, the council has forbidden it and declared there are not gods and the masters forsook us.
Gunnar “You do not know who the council is?”
They never see there faces.
Thrand “How do you know you can trust them?”
“They have not failed us yet.”
Bjorn “When’s the next election?”
“Soon as one of them retires or dies.” So its for life, potentially. 5 primary councilors, 15 all in all.
At Vorn’s place, we tell him about the details of the council we learned and our suspicious nature concerning it.
Bjorn “I’ll tell you who’s probably on the council”: the Piper, at least one man from Hrolf, perhaps a First from long ago who has been on the council all along. Thrand agrees, especially with the first 2.
Vorn agrees it does not look good. But, he got his expert negotiating skills growing up a beggar and thief; picket pockets and fenced. As he grew up, he took opportunities to move upward. Also sold information “I know how to spy”. Has seen people seeking to be part of council approach the electoral building, and knows they are from this town.
Bjorn “Yes, for the minor positions.”
Vorn “Hmm, come to think of it, none of the major 5 have changed in the years I have been here.”
Thrand “That’s what we are saying. People don’t keep such secrets for good intentions.”
Bjorn “It will lead to this town following, like midless sheep they are, the bad guys like Hrolf when the council tells them to. The whole council has agendas outside of this valley.”
Finnric “Not to mention the map of invasion we found!”
Vorn “The augments were always commanded. They have an easy time being led.”
Thrand “They could also be easily fooled that the outside world is a threat, or someone or land in particular, and used against us when in fact we did nothing wrong.”
Gunnar “We have to expose the council to the town. If they are what we think they are. From elsewhere.”

Next Day

Vorn says they will see, in the council chambers, the son of the Jarl, his lawgiver, his Skald, and Danehalla’s son. The others get to stay downstairs.
At the tower, the guards are wearing armor like we have never seen. Plate breasts, greaves, and underneath chain, wielding pikes.
The 4 choses go upstairs to a 30′ × 30′ room. 5 chairs in the middle on a raised central platform, and others around that. All wear long black robes, cloth even covers faces under their hoods.
At our entry, top man says “Greetings honored guests. Please, take your spot at the center of the chamber so that we may converse.” We do so “We’ve been informed you are Bjorn Gustavson, son of the Jarl. And you must be the one they call Ragnar son of Danehalla, the kind neighbor who takes our materials and trades us goods. I see a wild man with the cloak of the wolf. We are told you are the once they call Finnric.”
Bjorn “He is an excellent storyteller.”
“And the mouthpiece for the group, Thrand Silkbeard. Your reputations precede you.”
Says they are not sad to hear of Ulag’s passing, he was given refuge as a citizen here but was too rough for their likes.
BJorn asks of this town being harassed by the Piper “but you have no women to offer.”
Thrand “So what does he get from you? Why harass you?”
Starts in about the curse; he extolls other tribute. We promise to keep secret, to keep alive he brings us womenfolk. In trade he demands the service of some of our more skilled young men. Not an arrangement we like, we try to keep the people from knowing the dirty truth of having to work with someone of such a nefarious nature just to survive."
“How is he a threat to such a talented population?”
“He’s very powerful.”
Bjorn ‘I understand you’re peaceful, not open to confrontation; Piper has own allies and powers. But, where do you keep the women because we saw none? Making a deal to kidnap women from surrounding towns seems to me to be the acts of an evil group. If you needed help, talk to the surrounding towns."
‘Many years ago, we did have interaction with the outside, not around here. Many more unscrupulous towns sought to harm and enslave many. We left there generation back and came here. We found safety and security here. We don’t keep the women, they are kept somewhere by the Piper and brought here to breed with our men. The women are pacified via enchantment of the Piper so it is not violent.
They have heard the Piper used to directly serve the master who lived in the citadel.
Thrand “How long were you hoping this could work” sooner or later the outside would come to put a stop to this. He responds what has happened with a small group of heroes arriving is just what they were hoping for. “So you’re willing to help in whatever way you can?”
“Oh, yes.”
We will have to barter leniency from the surrounding towns toward their taking of women.
Bjorn still does not like their government system, and the head council man says things can be bartered after we deal with Piper. They will offer all they know:

  • Piper is, of course, Vanamoynen. He is of descent power, but the flute is the real power. * Flute is an artifact and evil, has corrupting effect. Vanamoynen was even a descent fellow long ago himself before. It has changed him over the times, but protects him as well.
  • He has developed immunities to most forms of attack. Prior to our first elections, it was he who removed the First who were once in charge and tore down the religious institutions.
  • Has kept us as his tools, and it was he who put the curse upon us.
  • 2 things known to hurt him: Magic brought on by his old flame. Thrand “The witch”. Yes, She was the priestess of the shrine and the first he overthrew. Second, a warrior who he hated so much that he destroyed all records of him; the name is lost; we do know he had an enchanted blade; it or part was last heard of in a temple under guard; it is handle and a foot or 2 of blade. But its enough. The temple is in the forest somewhere north of the citadel. Hero that used it fled long ago when he realized he could not be defeated, but was cursed by Vanamoynen as he left; we have not heard from him since; did find a group of people carrying his blade and know he did die and given a great sea burial. Vanamoynen slew the carriers and put the blade where it now rests. They would assume the witch is in the citadel.
    We will make for the blade first, perhaps he hid the witch there too, though unlikely.
    He says he has a team that knows a way into the citadel, and the location of the temple. He puts them at our disposal.
    He stands, points at a lower councilman “Would the jade councilor (wears a ring of jade) fetch the specialists.”
    A horn blow summons them to the room. A group of shadow wardens enter. The Cpt approaches us "This group patrols the region to the NW. One of the greenborn scouts had found the temple and informed us. We then scouted it. It is very heavily guarded. Not only by greenskins, but also only accessible when the sun is setting. From the point when the bottom of the sun touches the horizon, to when the top disappears. You can exit any time from within. The only other issue, likely the greatest hurdle, is you have to be alive to get there….AND THROWS A DAGGER AT BJORN!!! It hits the the unsuspecting and unarmored (like the rest of us) Bjorn 7, he succeeds at a fortitude save.
    The 5 councilors all draw back their hoods. 1 of them is a shadow augment; another is a horrible but unknown creature of mottled skin and translucent with a light slime, pale purple skin, 4 gloved fingers, 2 sunken eye orbitals w/ jet black spheres within, black wrap around face; speaker does not disrobe; other 2 are 2 more augments.
    Ragnar falls to the ground at the sight of the slime thing, grabbing his head screaming; shadow draws weapons; other 2 stand in hand fighting stances; leader reaches into his robe and pulls out a flute! Starts playing the flute. Our 3 minds resist!
    Finnric stokes a a move and readies a countersong. Bjorn grabs the dagger that hit him and charges the slimy thing, leaping over his table stone, power attack skill challenge crits 24! Vorn follows, turns with eyes glazed over “I’m a loyal thrall master” and swing a fist at Bjorn but misses.
    The 20 man shadow team moves to attack us. A few knock Ragnar out and saps him, starts to bind him. We get hit, Thrand wounded the most. Thrand then blows the alarm horn.
    The regular council panic, and start running around for cover or escape.
    Slimer steps back and does something to Bjorn who falls to the ground screaming and eardrums bleeding. Piper tries to flute Finnric and Thrand but Finnric countersongs. The other 3 are staying put for now.
    Vorn starts to try to tie Bjorn up with shreds of his clothing. Finnric punches and bites one on him KO’d.
    3 shadow team on Thrand, one hits for 8, Finnric is hit 3 times 7/7/8. A few drop the bar on the front door.
    Thrand crits 12. Other priests continue to run around. Bjorn yells for them to open the door! The shadow team there threatens them.
    Slimy mental blasts Finnric and Thrand down. Last we remember hearing is the death knells of a several people and a door being battered.

We come to in a small worked stone room, with a single door with a small barred window. A mantroll guards. We are all wearing only our clothes. Finnric realizes his wolf cloak is gone, and he absolutely freaks. He rushes the door, grabs the grate with both hands, braces his feat on the door and begins to shake it violently until he falls off. He then repeatedly tries to bash the door down with a charging bash. After stoking 2 rounds, his first hit cracks it. The mantroll says to stop or we’ll be sorry in a not so concerned voice, and readies the spear. The second hit shatters the door apart.
Bjorn runs past to the shocked and alarmed mantroll, and grapples trapping his arms. Finnric wrests the spear from his hands. Ragnar stands eyes wide at what just happened. Thrand scans the hall, goes left and right at both. Thrand goes left and Ragnar right and watch the intersections. The mantroll tries to escape but fails. Bjorn goes for the pin but it barely resists. FInnric stabs anyway, hitting the mantroll 10 spilling intestines on the floor DEAD.
Thrand “Bjorn, take the shield.” He already doing so.
Bjorn “Thrand, don the mail.”
It also had a dagger, which Bjorn hands to Ragnar.
We take the closest door, Finnric sniffing the air for his wolf. Thrand hears trolls on tuihe other side “Eat up lads, we’ve got a big day tomorrow. Once we appropriately sacrifice the humanfolk, and Graka is appeased, his vengeance fulfilled, then we gather the clans and smite the barbarians to the south. Those rapacious humans which kicked us off our lands.”
BJorn would rather get more equipped before dealing with trolls. We back track to the other hallway, putting the dead guard in the prison and put the door back up best we can so that at least at a glance from the hall its presentable. Left and right is a door, we take the right. Thrand hears nothing. Hall also turns again. We open the door first, to a small troll standing at a weapons rack, a large closet on the north wall. Finnric charges and hits 12 DEAD. He smells the wolf and runs for the closet, tearing off the door. Our gear, save what we left outside the meeting, is in here.
The rack has a bunch of spear and javelins, several shorts words and longswords; couple battleaxes, couple bows and arroes. Thrand and Bjorn take longswords and finds a mail shirt, Thrand also a couple javelins. Finnric takes a battleaxe and another spear. Ragnar takes a longsword and bow with all arrows. Finnric wants to return for the rest of the spears.
Around the corner, is a long hall. We hear sounds of walking at the end. We go back to the other door.
The hall turns into a 5’ niche. It houses a tripod that is empty. Runic writing which Thrand reads “This is the resting place of the Talisman of Lore!” What the masters gave one of the first great kings of the north to give him wisdom to rule.\
Thrand hears a fire crackling beyond the door, and someone in a grisly voice humming a tune.
Bjorn “A troll cook. Let’s see what’s for dinner. I’ll open the door and Finnric will step in.”
7 1/2 feet tall, at least a few hundred pounds, bulbous belly and big beefy arms, ill shapen legs, wearing little leather and furs exposing and scratching his dangley bits. He pokes some cooking food on a spit, a pot collecting the juices.
Finnric throws Bodvarnir, newest spear, for crit 31 DEAD. From through the fire, which leads into another room which shares the raging fire, a voice in trollspeak calling the cooks name. Finnric goes to the troll to retrieve his spear. Bjorn says it seem unawares, so we just leave back to the eating trolls to kill them.
Thrand opens the door, Finnric and Bjorn rush in after 2 rounds of stoking. Finnric wielding Bodvarnir. Around a table sit a 5 mantrolls, and at the far side a large troll. They are all sitting and eating. 1 door on the far wall.
Finnric rushes in and leaps on the far side of the table, Bjorn steps in right next to the big troll and grabs its large longsword. Ragnar shoos the closest mantroll 5.
Bjorn then draws the Trolls sword, but his swing misses. The Ogre attacks with his huge fork and knife, fumbling the knife and hits with fork 7.
Ragnar’s next shot finishes off the mantroll, Finnric kills the far 2 with cleave.Thrand watches the rear.
Last 2 mantrolls get their sword and spear, respectively from the floor. The swordsman draws his sword, the spearman attacks and hits 8.
A repetative metallic tinking sound comes from behind the far door then a loud scream, then more tinking. Torture!
Bjorn misses, shearing off the top of his chair. The Ogre recovers his fumble and hits with fork 10.
Finnric targets the spearman, leaping over and behind him 26 DEAD. Cleaves the other but fumbles, can’t pull it out of the cadaver.Rags shoots that mantroll, the last, for 1.
The last one misses Finnrick w/ longsord.
Bjorn hits the Troll 8. Thrand moves around the table to the far door. Finnric lets go of Bodvarnear and bits the mantrolls head clean off 25 DEAD.
Ragnar steps and takes a clear shot at the Troll 4.
Bjorn hits 11.
It hits Bjorn with the knife 9.
Thrand opens the door into a hallway, revealing 3 mantrolls heading into the fight. More tinking beyond another door. Thrand closes the door behind Finnric, who hits the first 13 DEAD. Ragnar fires at the Troll again 4. Bjorn hits 8,
Mantrolls on Finnric hit once 7. The wulfcloak takes Finnric over for a free blindrage. Ogre hits Bjorn with fork 7, crits 20 knife. Thrand hits Ogre 6 DEAD.
Finnric misses. They miss him. He hits 16 DEAD an cleave 17 DEAD.
Finnric calls the all clear and opens the door. In the room is a wrack. A half orc/half ogre troll, and 2 mantrolls. 1 working the machine the other right in front of us running a razor along the bottoms of his feet. On the wrack is a very short humanoid, maybe 5’ tall, a dwarf!!. Finnric stabs the mantroll w/ the razor just inside the door 10.
Finnric stunts off the wrack and hits 13 DEAD. Bjorn moves in for the Orog hits 13.
Orog stops using the wrack, draws a mace, and misses Bjorn. Thrand moves past FInnric and hits the last mantroll 13. Ragnar cuts the dwarf’s feet free of the leather straps.
The last one hits Thrand w/ mace 9. Finnric jumps upon the foot of the wrack, throws Bodvarnir at the mantroll 9 DEAD.
Orog hits Bjorn 13.
Thrand starts untying the dwarf’s arms. Ragnar finishes his feet.
Bjorn misses the Orog "Finnric, bite his head off! Finnric leaps at it and bites 8.
Thrand works continues unbinding.
Orog misses Bjorn. Bjorn hits 11 DEAD.
Dwarf “By Ilmarinen (a brother pantheon to ours; first of all iron workers, a dwarf god), thank you. I was almost near the end of me, I think I gained 3 inches.” Introduces himself as Fliggol.
We get him his boots in the corner, he is able to walk still. Was captured from his mines in a tunnel skirmish. If you go north, then west into the next valley you are in his home. We tell him to grab a weapon, shield if you can, and fight your way out with us. While we rest Thrand sums up to him what got us to this point.
He says we are in the lair of Graka, a vile warlord, been angry for day snow since he found out his dad and older brother was slain. The dad was the great troll Ulag. Treg, who attacked the meadhall, is Graka’s brother. Says Graka not only great warrior, but uses the arcane arts to an extent. Also currently wearing the Talisman of Lore. Known to cleave through normal weapons with ease.
We rest here.
Fliggol tell us we are in Graka’s underground lair, in the valley north of the one we were in before. His home is under attack from Graka’s troops and he’d love if we could help. We tell him what we are doing. He knows where the temple of the broken blade is located; and he also knows the back way into the citadel, which is his home. Temple is only a couple miles away.
Last he knows, his people were down to dozens. They were holding off in their inner sanctum.
In time of the Masters, 3 firsts split control of this land:

  1. Piper has his pipe
  2. Old Crone witch trained in arcane arts by the Master of this region
  3. Warrior whose sword we seek

He knows all kidnapped women kept captive in citadel. Those not given to augments for breeding are given to the mantrolls to create half breeds. All children kidnapped have disappeared. The dwarves know they are there, but never see them.
Says there is something about the pipe that can change a man. All men captured taken into one of his chambers, her plays the pipe, and they come out as some sort of hideous troll thing. Ulag and his sons were all humans changed by the Piper. Flute is EVIL, not meant to be used by man or monster. Best thing to do is destroy it.
Fliggol is a Thor man, wields a maul.

Completing the complex, we march down a final hallway. We can hear the trolls from the other side of the door. Bjorn opens the door, Finnric charges straight in w/ Bodvarnir. THis is the room that is the other side of the cooking fire. At this side of the fire is a mantroll that looks too human,wearing a Talisman (must be Graka). Another is straight ahead of the door feeding a giant boar, and looks very boorish. 5 others surround a central table. All these trolls look very different. They are unaware of us. The food is getting low, and they’re getting upset the now dead cook has not replenished.
Finnric leaps off the arm of the nearest chair, over the 3 mantrolls on that side, and hits the boar feeder 17 tripping him as well. Bjorn rounds the corner and stops next to Graka afront the fire. Thrand moves in and jumps atop the near end of the table. Ragnar moves to the end of the table, and Fliggol steps just inside the door hitting the first mantroll.

pic

Thrand hits middle mantroll on left 15, Ragnar hits, Bjorn hits Graka 5, Fliggol hits again.
Far mantroll misses Finnric from behind; far 2 on left flip table on its side but Thrand deftly jumps and lands in front of them.; Fliggol hit by a morningstar; other next to Finnric hits him 4. Orc in left middle tries to hit Thrand from over table but misses.
Boartroll gets up and leaps atop the boar, boar gores Finnric 12; Graka flees up the stairs, Bjorn’s AoO hits 10. Graka gets out of sight.
Finnric hits boartroll 22, he cleaves the boar 19 and bites 5.
Bjorn steps and hits Thrand’s 15 DEAD, and cleaves Ragnar’s misses; Ragnar hits mantroll on left end 7; Thrand hits same 4; Fliggol hits DEAD and steps to middle right mantroll.
Boar moves for the door, Finnric’s AoO misses, Fliggol’s crits but it makes it out ; 2 mantrolls on Finnric miss; other turns and hits Fliggol; both on left miss Thrand.
Finnric charges after boar, 1 out of 3 AoO hit 8. He reaches it around the corner at the next turn.
BJorn steps into dead middle mantroll’s space and hits front mantroll 6; cleaves last on that side 11; Ragnar moves around Fliggol and misses 2 weapon mantroll; Thrand shieldbashes table over. 2 weapon mantroll escapes but greataxe is clipped and tripped. Fliggol is knocked aside. Fliggol stands.
Double axe misses/ crits Ragnar 28 KO’d; pointing mantroll misses Thrand; last on left misses Bjorn. Tripped mantroll gets table off of pinned foot and stands.
We hear commotion upstairs and Graka barking orders. Bjorn starts yelling for Finnric to return.
Boar back kicks Finnric 7 and lets out a horrible scream.
Finnric jumps on boar’s back, thrusting his spear into rear of skull into brainpan 19 DEAD.
Bjorn misses; he yells for Fliggol to take on last 2 orcs on right, blocking Ragnar an hits 2 weapon mantroll crit DEAD; Bjorn orders Thrand to heal up Ragnar “I’ll hold off these 2 trolls!”, but he fails first check.
Fliggol is missed by greataxe, both others miss Bjorn.
Finnric returns as it quiets upstairs.
Thrand succeeds at first aid and drags Ragnar into corner; Bjorn hits 13 to last from left DEAD and cleaves pointing mantroll 13; Fliggol hits greataxe mantroll.
Both mantrolls miss.
Finnric goes up steps until he can see into the room through a open door, sees about 30 mantrolls. Half with spears, half with trolls. He reports to Bjorn.
Bjorn hits pointer mantroll 13 DEAD; Fliggol fumbles; Thrand charges, hits 12 DEAD.

Finnric stokes as Bjorn orders the others to the steps behind him. We are to attack. The room is full of mantrolls, a small clearing at the top of the steps. Graka stands at the rear. The room at the back opens to the outside.
The archers greet Finnric with a hail of arrows. He is hit 5 times 4/4/6/7/4 and 1 crit 9. He takes 10 in total.
Finnric leaps 15’ into the ranks, Inspire doom and courage active, killing 2. BJorn reaches top and kills 2, Thrand does 10;
Archers fire again, Thrand wounds slightly with AoO, Bjorn drops one. Finnric’s AoO crit kills.
Bjorn is hit 6/6/5. Thrand hit for 5/4. Finnric hit by 2 spearmen 9/1.
Graka points his hand at Finnric and begins to encant in an unknown tongue. Finnric feels the icy grip of fear almost take hold but shrugs it off.
Bjorn kills 2; Finnric kills 2 and bites another 5 right in front of Graka; Fliggol kills too.
Bjorn AoO kills an archer as they fire; Thrand missed by 3, Fliggol hit once, last hit Bjorn 5.
5 spearmen surround Finnric. 3/0/6.
3 mantrolls charge Bjorn, hitting once 9; Graka wiggles his fingers at Bjorn, he feels a sudden urge to kill Thrand but shrugs it off;
Thrand kills one and badly wounds w/ cleave, Bjorn kills 3; Finnrick kills 2 and bites same again 5; Fliggol kills an archer.
4 archers left: as they fire, Fliggol AoO kills, Thrand kills the one he just wounded, last 2 miss Thrand and Bjorn.
5 more surround Finnric: 2 hits 9/7. Graka points and chants at Finnric, ignoring a chill to the bones.
Thrand wounds a spearman on Finnric’s bite finishes off his bite victim and kills 2 others. Bjorn charges Graka, getting missed by AoO on the way, and crits 23. Fliggol crits archer DEAD.
Thrand is missed by 1 spearman and hit by archer 1. Finnric missed by 2 spearman, as is Bjorn. Graka draws a sword and attacks Bjorn hitting 6.
Thrand kills 2. Fliggol charges across room at last archer and wounds it.
Finnric kills both last spearmen, bite misses Graka. Bjorn hits Graka 12.
AoO on archer by Fliggol kills last archer. Graka hits Bjorn 10 and 3 to sword.
Bjorn crits Graka 27! Graka is woozy, but BJorn is wavering. To Finnric “Finish him!”
Finnric hits Graka 17 DEAD, holds him up in the air and Bjorn beheads him!
As Finnric begins gathering his spears, he drops KO’d. Thrand expected this, and is ready to bind his wounds.
After a rest he gets up, as does Ragnar and we get moving.
We do not find our weapons.
Finnric “If anyone is wielding the Odin Spear when I find it, I bite them to death.”
Fliggol wants us to get moving. We could run back to augment town and hopefully get our equipment and men before going to the temple.
During the rest, Finnric carves up the great boar into its limbs, head, and 2 rib sections. We take it w/ us.
We make for Upvalla. With Graka’s head. Bjorn now wears the Talisman of Lore.

On the way, we see clear signs that trolls are on the move, going east to west.

Next Day

Bjorn says we move on late to arrive before midnight. We travel down main road.
Couple miles from Upvalla we see it in the distance, and Bjorn and Finnric hear noise. Something big follows or stalks us. Bjorn says hurl missiles in general direction until it says stop or we hit or it flees or attacks.
We ready to loose when a deep growley voice “Put down your arms, all of your treasure, and that meat.”
Finnric “I earned this meat, I do not take it lightly.”
“I give you to the count of 3 to put down your arms, your treasure, and the meat.”
Finnric’s “3!” spear Bovarnir hits and Ragnar with a bow crits! Both do 11. A loud growl and follows and a huge werebear with a giant axe.
Thrand “Hey, are you Ollie.”
“You will all bow before Ollie Bearfood!”
Thrand “This is Bjorn Gustavson.”
He forcefully pushes Thrand away and begins smelling Bjorn with loud snorts.
Finnric “You’re the stuff of legend/”
He says this is impossible “You smell nothing of Gustav.”
Thrand “It is he.”
The wounds didn’t even hurt him.
He invites us up to his abode in the hills. We ablige.
He starts a fire and turns back into a human.
He lives as a bandit essentially, stealing from those who deserve it. He thought we were men who had been causing trouble around here, stuff he doesn’t approve of. We assume Hrolf lackeys.
Thrand “Let Finnric regal you with our tale.”
He gives us his own mead brew, boar is cooking, and Finnric begins at the beginning.
He thinks the boy Bjorn captured probably doesn’t want to go home anyway from Jarlesleif. Probably more like the boy didn’t want to go and that’s what really caused the problem. The kink there probably has him doing real viking stuff.
Trolls recently moving around, due south, over rough ground not through valleys.
Says if we succeed in getting the hilt, return to see him “I may have something for you” and a story to relay. If you try to take on the Piper before returning, you will have big problems.
Very important: The Piper does not have the witch with him. He hid her at the temple with the broken blade.
Yes!! We were hoping to get so lucky!!
But, he says there is a strange old man in long gray cloak and wide brimmed hat wandering the woods. Ollie has a smell he’s never smelled, strange feeling. Keep our eye out for him. Generally seen around in vicinity of Upvalla.
Thrand “How do we wake the witch up?”
He has a method for that for us "If there is one thing that foils the Piper’s magic, it’s knowing his true name. They are very powerful things. He put the curse on the old crone forcing her to wander as a spiritual being rather than a physical being. She was always turned away from shelter by the locals. If you find her true name, it will allow you to wake her up. To merge her with her spirit again, first show her compassion and mercy. If we meet her spirit again, be good to her.
Say her true name and it will merge the 2.

We sleep here the night.
His mead and cooking skills have some great effect. This night we heal double.

Next Day

Ollie says to the north the men of Hrolf are mustering with strangers from the west (Bluto men!!) as well as mantrolls coming from the south to join up with them. Some of the force have been seen closer to here, but only small groups.

We depart for Upvalla. Ollie will not join us. It is as in a state of lockdown, guards around the perimeter. Visible not shadow or forest augments.
Bjorn leads us to the front gate and hails the guard. He sends for the cpt. We know of no captain up to now.
Gate opens and a small group of armed men meet us. The obvious head man is overly pretty, physically too symmetric and ideal (some kind of charismatic augment). Leads 6 others.
Much blood was spilled the day we were taken. Small melee in main chamber, then we heard screams of the council. Terrible screams more like sheep being slaughtered. When the door was battered in w/ help of our men, they saw only bodies of the council strewn about. The 5 heads stood amidst the carnage. The 5 ordered all out, but since we were missing and the rest of the council were dead, they demanded answers. Their answers were in blood: one of the 5 w/ unholy power ko’d a swath of the warriors (tentacled one). Head councilor, the Piper, sending more out of the fight. They surged on, killed the 2 augment councilors.
The town as a whole was rushing into the tower. The flutist continued, and a period of chaos and confusion ensued. Most know not what really happened as many memories have been blanked. In the end, the remaining council were gone as were our men.
This man stepped up to organize things for now, but that won’t last w/ no council to guide them.
Thrand “I guess we should take charge.”
Bjorn congratulates him on his fine job the last 3 days, but he concedes to our leadership. All or almost all shadow augments are gone. They must have been with the piper. The greenwardens however are still here.
Bjorn says we must set them up, but they should govern themselves. Thrand suggests continuing our quest for sword and rescue our men first; we can get Danehalla up here to begin administrative duties for Upvalla in the interim.
Also, that Bjorn should gather the town and give a good speech just to set everyones mind at ease that all will be well, we are here to help. That will come tonight.
Bjorn’s speech does the trick, they have greater hope tonight.
We spend the night.
All of our real equipment is here!!!
We get a master tanner to work on Ulag’s face.

Next Day

Mid morning we head out. Danehalla has not yet arrived. Thrand leaves detailed instructions.
On way, Thrand , Finnric, Fliggol all hear something, the sound of a scuffle and weapons clanging nearby.
We investigate quickly. At a clearing, a lone axeman stands there w/ 2 dead shadow augments around him. It’s Gunnar!! He calls “Show youselves, I’ll take you all!”
We hear 2 arrows loosed from the treeline but they miss.
Gunnar throws back at where one shot originated but misses.
Bjorn sends Thrand to flank left, Finnric right. Bjorn will go up the middle. Ragnar will hang back in reserve w/ Fliggol.
Bjorn does not wait, making for Gunnar to draw some fire.
An arrow at each, both miss. Gunnar returns fire, but misses again. He still can’t see them.
Thrand hears rustling as he sneaks up, the archer is changing locations, it heard him.
Finnric sees no one on his side. He waits, spots nothing. He is hit by a backstab 7. There is a shadow augment w/ longsword, surprised he did not kill his prey.
Thrand makes too much noise, but hears the other clearly. He’s in a branch in a tree. Thrand gathers a stone and hurls it at the shadow augment but misses.
Finnric crits w/ Odin spear 29 DEAD “One down!!”
Thrand hit by arrow 3.
Thrand “I have him in a tree, get over here!!” The rest rush for his position.
Thrand keeps his eye on him, it moves around some in the tree but Thrand keeps his eyes on trained well.
It attempts a daring leap from the tree, but lands hard on the ground. Thrand charges and hits 11, Gunnar’s throw hits 9 DOWN but not dead. Bjorn arrives and grabs him fiercely. Threatening with his blade, the thing groans to be given quarter.
It says they came from the citadel, where they have been since their cover was blown in Upvalla, were only chasing Gunnar; Piper is at citadel, as well as the other councilors; they are fighting the dwarves of the citadel for full control; the rest of our men are at the citadel.
Gunnar escaped on the way to the citadel. The first man he killed had his equipment.
We fill Gunnar in on what happened.
Bjorn “Thanks for the information you cowardly cur” tells Finnric to slay the dog. He does.

We continue to the temple.

We arrive at the spot the same day we left and wait for the right time of night for the door to reveal itself. In a few hours, the temple door comes into being on our world. What looked like ruins before, once the final sliver of the setting sun hits the spot, the temple comes back into a ghostly existence. Through the translucent door. Inside there are many trolls like phantoms themselves. They do not see us from the other side. Fliggol has says this will last until midnight.
We do have to use the door. Once the door is open, they will see us.
THrand “Fliggol would you mind opening the door.”
“Not at all.” Through an arch is a 10 × 10 foyer to the double doors. Each wall inside has another double door in its middle. 2 mantrolls will be in the first large room.
BJorn and Finnric lead the way. Finnric hurls Bloody Bodvarnir 13. Bjorn rushes the other 22 DEAD. Bjorn steps and hits the other 18. Finnric charges 15 DEAD. The others move into the room.
Bjorn to Fliggol “Do you know where the sword is?”
“Best place would be the armory, but the man in charge here likely has it himself.”
So no, he doesn’t know.
Finnric “Stop talking!” And boots the left door in at Bjorn’s behest. Short hall w/ one door, but a large ogre at the door. He’s ready for us.
He charges w/ a huge axe and hits Finnric 12 w/ a massive bellow. We form up in the room ready for the fight to come to us.
Bjorn steps forward w/ Finnric. Finnric hits 12 in a blind rage; Bjorn hits 18.
The ogre misses Bjorn.
Finnric misses w/ Odin spear and bite, Bjorn misses. The ogre misses.
Finnric hits 15; Bjorn hits 19 DEAD.
No attack yet, Finnric opens hall door and the others back in behind us.
Horrible sound of ground caving in below Finnric but he eludes it. Below is a spike filled pit w/ several skeletons within. A number of bodies of men are in the room, dead, ancient style clothes. Some w/ armor and weapons.
Bjorn “Seems to me like not a good room to go into. No visible way out. Always possibility they could be undead.”
We go back into the main room, Bjorn and Finnric taking the door across from the entrance. The others watching the righthand door. It leads to a long hall, also turning right and left at the door. At its end are 2 men, one in plate armor with a sword in hand and another sheathed, the other in robes making hand motions. Between us and them are 5 mantrolls coming at us w/ swords.
Soon as we open the door Finnric sets his spear.
The first enters Bjorn’s square for a bullrush. Finnric AoO hits 14, Bjorn’s hits 16. Touch attack misses. Second one charges Finnric’s set Odin spear and is hit 21; it attacks with one of 2 weapons and hits 6. Next w/ polearm attacks Finnric from rear 9.
Gunnar hurls past us at Bjorn’s man 15 DEAD. Bjorn takes his open spot and misses Finnric’s.
Robe’s incantation finishes, flash of light from plate warrior’s sword. It glows, ball of energy appears in front of him but explodes about 5’ away from him. Polearm steps back, last one in back rank takes his spot and 3 attack Bjorn. A disarm fails; 2 clubs mantroll attacks Finnric and his once 8. Finnric hits him 14. Gunnar hurls at sword wielder who tool polarm’s place 9. Bjorn hits same 14.
Wizard casts, pointing at Bjorn, who now feels slowed down and stiff.
Finnric hits 2 clubs mantroll 20 DEAD and takes his space and bites 6 same that Bjorn and Gunnar just hit.
Mantoll at Bjorn misses, other misses Finnric, Polearm crits Bjorn 19.
Gunnar helps Bjorn hitting 10; Bjorn hits him 16
Plate warrior moves about halfway toward us. Wizard begins incanting again, and a loud gust of wind goes by us with a strange voice and indecipherable words within it. We feel a cold chill like death.
Finnric’s bite hits 11, spear misses.
Mantroll crits Bjorn 12, Finnric is hit 0; Polearm misses.
Gunnar throws at Bjorn’s 8; From the left doorway comes a black shadow followed by warriors wearing old armor and weapons into the central room!
Thrand and Fliggol yell simultaneously “It’s the draggur!” Undead guardians of ancient places.
Bjorn hits his mantroll 15 DEAD cleave misses Finnric’s.
Bjorn to plate “Come! Kill me I’m here!”
Wizars casts again, the 3 dead in this hall stand as undead. Finnric hit once 8, Bjorn 7.
Will save now or -2 to attacks and checks for fear of undead. Finnric, Thrand, Gunnar, Fliggol fail the save.
Finnric hits undead near him 15 DEAD, cleaves mantroll on him DEAD,7 to an undead on Bjorn. Polearm crits Bjorn 13.
Gunnar hits lead undead 12 and retreats to right door. Thrand takes his spot and readies attack.
2 undead on Bjorn miss/3. Shadow creature comes for Thrand who attacks 6 but can not tell if he did any damage; it hits Thrand who loses 2 strength. Next fleshy undead leaping charges Ragnar, tackling him to the ground. Draggur move into the room.
Ragnar wrestles himself free and stands; Bjorn hits undead 19 DEAD, cleave misses last. Fliggol misses the leaping undead.
Ragnar is then dropped, Thrand kills the shadow creature, Gunnar finishes off the grappler.
Bjorn is taken down.
Finnric continues but in the negative.
Plate warrior pulls the broken magic blade!! Fliggol gives first aid to Rags and Bjorn consecutively.
Thrand finishes off the plate warrior and Finnric the wizard before he drops KO’d.

The plate warrior is a human looking in his late 20’s. Ages ultrafast upon death, dissolving. The armor rusts to dust. All that is left is the magic broken sword we seek! Bjorn gets it.
Once the wizard bleeds out, same thing happens to him.
As we rest, a loud rumbling occurs, the place shakes, the mythic temple is collapsing.
WE flee in time, illuminated door disappears among cries of those still inside.
No crone.

Next Day

Arrive at citadel.
We use the back door. Fliggol says a troll of some sort guards it, beastial sort. See lots of mantroll warbands and dozens of trolls in the courtyard from above. Leading them is are shadow augments.
A rope at a hole descends some 200’ into the cave which leads to the dwarf’s final redoubt. Finnric can smell the troll already. He tells a Tharangian tale of a brave karl from a duchey there who went into a cave and was accosted by a troll, huge, with stringy hair and limbs. It overpowered him and imprisoned him, but the she troll fell in love. He rebuked its advances but uses it to his advantage, tricking it into releasing him. He escaped then, finds an enchanted sword and slew her. It reverted to a beautiful human maiden. He was then known as a hero, but told no one of her true nature until his dying day. His name was Mannhelig.
Just after we start down tunnel, the big Troll attacks from above! Dropping among us. It nose is long and hooked, the skin green and wart full, hair long and stringy. It traps Thrand beneath it. We attack back, Thrand grabbing its foot and hindering its attacks. The Odin Spear’s bane effect activates against it.
It ends up snatching up Fliggol and scurrying deftly up a hole in the ceiling. Finnric wants its heart badly. He climbs in chase and skillfully and fast. Bjorn tries to follow but falls behind, as is Ragnar. At the top, it hurls Fliggol down to the cave floor with a thud. Ragnar falls while climbing, but Bjorn remains on the move. It grabs Finnric as he is climing into the upper chamber, pulls him up and rends him.
Finnric and Bjorn slay the Troll and Fliggol insists we burn it. Finnric cuts out, seers, and eats the heart.
It grants him regeneration 5 and darkvision 90’.
In its lair is coinage, a ring and a helm. Fliggol is in bad shape as it rended him when it reached the chamber above.
Almost 200’ climb down into a large open octagonal chamber. All but 1 doorway barricaded on this side. Smoking embers flutter from cooking food at a central hearth. Lots of relatively emaciated dwarves, 11 in total, whom Fliggol introduces us to.
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

There were 27 dwarves when Fliggol left. The troll would climb down every so often and eat one of us.
The closed doors are under siege by trolls on the other sides. They see the sword hilt: this is the clan that made it. They can fix it. When working together they get a +20 craft check.

“Long ago, we took blood of a dragon and forged it into steel; pounded it so long it glowed with energy. Went east, cooled in elf fountain. Presented it to a hero who did great deeds.”
Still need to find the other part and travel to elf fountain. Must go into a crescent valley, through Tharangia, along forgotten old road and into ruins.
The forge here is defiled, the’ll have to go to Ilmarinen’s other clan to do it. “Clan of the Falling Rock” far to the east, close to the elf fountain.

They say all the door can lead to the Piper. He has a bunch of prisoners through southern most door. The women and kids of the villages.
Through northernmost, the old crone and our men, they think.
Most direct to Piper is to the east.

They have little idea of an accurate number of enemy. Total in the hundreds for sure, they feel.
Piper has a commander who wears the ‘Star of the West’. A magic talisman that inspires men of the west. It has a twin, the ‘Star of the East’, lost during Master War.
Piper discovered an artifact the dwarves thought they were rid of long ago. ‘Sword of Golan’, aka a Doom Guard. So dangerous it was buried in a hidden vault.
“If he has found it, we’re doomed.” one of them says.
We split our forces. Finnric, with Ragnar, Gunnar and Brokkr will go after the kidnapped villagers.
Bjorn, with Thrand, Uhtto and Ottr will rescue the Crone.

First, Finnric’s side:

We tell the dwarves to say they’re willing to negotiate terms, and that we’ll send in our best negotiator.
They insist on only surrender, to the king replies they accept.
The thumping stops of their attempts to break through ceases. We hear them gathering and speaking in glee of eating the dwarves.
Finnric is furied up, and when they open the door he rushes through out for blood. He slays the first 2, then the small mantrolls use their swarm fighting. Ragsnar slams the door behind Finnric leaving him alone in the long 10’ wide hall. His wolfen blind rage activates.
When only 2 small mantrolls remain, the leader of the 5 mantrolls in the rear turns his head and bellows “Norree!” The floor quakes.
Finnric finsishes the smalls and kills a mantroll. 2 longspearmen are behind the other front man. SPEARS!!
He goes for them next, killing one and biting another.
They attack and Norree shows up. W/ his darkvision, Finnric sees the Frost Giant at the end of the hallway!!
He kills all the orcs but the leader. It tries a tumble stunt but gets AoO for 21. It hicks Finnric 11. Frosty grabs a boulder and hurls it at Finnric.
Finnric yells for the Odin Spear, ignores the Mantroll ldr, steps foreward and hurtles the greataxe at Frosty 19. The other 3 rush into the door. Ragnar charges the unsuspecting Mantroll ldr. but misses; Gunnar hits. Brokkr charges too but tumbles tween Rags and the Mantroll and crits him DEAD.
Frosty steps to FInnric, misses!!
Finnric picks up the longspear at his feet and stabs the giant with it 25. Gunnar hurtles the Odin Spear at the Giant, hitting 15.
Brokkur moves to face Frosty, gets hit with AoO, and hits it.
It misses Brokkur!!
Finnric tears the Odin Spear from it, (inflict -2 att. penalty stunt) and stabs 29.
Gunnar throws 2 axes, hitting 18/15; Brokkr crits!!
It swings at Finnric 28.
Finnric misses. Gunnar hits 20/19 DEAD. Bjorn gets the large great axe, Finnric claims the longspears of course naming them ice blooded (that which he stabbed the Frost Giant with) and ???
Finnric cuts off 3 of its big locks of blue bears, giving each of the 3 who fought it a lock (himself, Gunnar, Brokkr). And a 4th for Bjorn. Finnric “Our glory is his glory.” Take it head too, to prove to all back home what we killed. And its helm and chain shirt.
We carry on forward to a huge chamber blocked by a portcullis. Inside are easily a hundred or more women and even more children. Many of the women are in various stages of pregnancy.
Finnric and Brokker, both stoked, bring it open. While they are holding it up, people start flooding out. Gunnar and Rags brace the sides with Finnric’s spears and he freaks, still holding the gate the whole time so they don’t have to bare the entire weight.
He tells them to pull the spears out before he lets go.
We take the rescuees back to the dwarf controlled area.
They did have a small portable battering ram, which we take.

Bjorn’s side:

No siege going on here. But, we open the door and there are a bunch of goblins, handful of mantroll archers behind, and orc commander and a big bearded human of Germanic stock. They begin about 15’ ahead of us. Same type hall as Finnric’s side. The goblins are more or less milling about, as were the commander and human. Orcs were at a bit more attention.
Bjorn orders to charge as Ottr the archer fires over us into their more rear ranks. Archer kills a mantroll to begin.
The thief goblin helps with his xbow.
With only 2 gobs left on Bjorn, the human charges Thrand. Bjorn’s AoO hits big, he misses Thrand, who crits him 20.
The mantroll ldr approaches Bjorn but waits for the gobs to finish. Bjorn kills them both.
All 4 mantrolls pepper Ottr at the doorway, but do only 1 total.
Ottr returns fire, killing 1.
Mantroll ldr engages Bjorn and disarms him!! Then misses with a regular attack. Human attacks Thrand 10/miss.
Bjorn quickdraws his large mace but misses; Thrand hits 10. Otto misses the human. The mantroll archers flee!
Ottr damages one.
Thrand is hit 11 then the human fumbles. Bjorn is missed.
Thrand hits 8, Bjorn misses, Thief misses human.
Thrand is missed twice, Mantroll ldr tries to feint but fails, still hits 15.
Thrand hits 7; Bjorn hits 24. Thief hits the human for little.
The mantroll gives Bjorn and evil eye, intimidating Bjorn! But he misses. Thrand is missed.
Thrand hits 10 DOWN.
Bjorn hits 10.
Ottr hits the mantroll for a wound. Mantroll vs Bjorn miss/miss.
Bjorn hits him 10 DOWN.

We turn the other direction from the mantrolls and reach a collection of prison rooms. In the first, about half dozen men. Next, same thing, with blotches of discoloration on their skin; next room men growing tusks.
So, each has folk in various forms of mantroll transformation. In the 6th, a larger chamber, in the corner, is the old crone still in stasis.
Doors are locked. We do have the thief though, and we set him to work on her door which he opens no problem. Thrand stays at the area entrance with Ottr.
When Bjorn steps inside, a large troll lands in front of him and the thief from above. Same type that was climbing the walls before whose heart Finnric ate.

Bjorn goes for an intimidate himself "I kill your kind, and my Ulfhednar eats your kind for breakfast.
It knows of its brethrens downfall, and is shaken!!
Bjorn drops his shield as he moves backward 20’ to draw it out, quick draws the broken magic blade as an offhand light weapon, and readies to wildcard 2 wpn. ft. should it give chase. Uhtto follows but turns so as to be in position to flank if it gives chase.
It does to, swinging its claw at Bjorn 12.
Bjorn crits 32/misses w/ broken blade; Uhtto flanks 24.
Thrand exclaims in surprise. Bjorn “Just watch the hallway.”
Troll truly lays into Bjorn including a rend 45.
Bjorn hits 20/ 10 with broken blade DEAD.
Thrand starts to dismember the troll to carry the pieces back to the central dwarf room with the bonfire. Bjorn goes to get the crone. The thief keeps hacking at the troll to stop its regeneration.
Bjorn talks to the mutants. They do not know how much further they will transform. He lts them out and they carry the troll not even cut up. The thief slitting its throat repeatedly on the way back.

Back at central dwarf room we cut the troll up and burn the parts; Finnric and Koku cuts the heart out.
Couple of the women of the mutants there know how to cook, and will smoke and cure the heart for the Ulfhedinn.
We need to find the crone’s spirit, and her true name.
One of the dwarves, Brokkr the oldest of the dwarves, was a young lad when the Piper/Corne/Swordsman were all in charge of the area. He knows the truename: “Alfhild”.
Meaning Elf Hilt.
We stay the rest of the day, and night, with the dwarves.
From the rope tunnel, they see a light above at the top.
Finnric “Who’s there?”
Voice of an old woman calls down “You have something of mine.”
“Who are you?”
SHe’s the old crone.
Finnric “We have your body, come down.”
A glowing orb floats down and comes into the apparition of her.
Finnric “Follow me.” Leads her to the hearth room, wakes Bjorn up.
She says we own the body so she must ask us for it back.
Finnric says no freeman or woman is owned by anyone.
Bjorn “Alfhind you may inhabit your body.” She turns back into an orb, does into the chest of the body, and her gray palor becomes pale but alive in color, aged in years, and returns to life.
Bjorn says she must help us eliminate the Piper.
For helping her return, she can tell us the Piper’s name: “Vanderin”. Originally a first not of the north but of the continent. A borderland tween Tharangia and Peldinor. Played both sides as a fine trickster.
She does know where the rest of the sword is at. It’s in a far off land, only the runecaster fated to read the bones for you can help you with that. You will know her at a later time.
Finnric has stored some troll blood from each troll. He wants to know if he can enchant Bjorn’s shield’s face to regenerate alway. Also if we cut up the smoked heart can she enchant the pieces to enhance us? She says she will work on that overnight.
She says its not too late for many of the mantrolls here who were not naturally born but mutated humans. It is however is in the starts for Bjorn to be the second in his line to be a troll lord, just not under these trolls.
She says the rest of our men are held with the Piper, and he plans bad things to be done with them.
She says the have found the Doomguard, though in a weakened state. Defeating the Piper and taking his flute will lift the curse in the area.
On the outside there has been misery and woe, a dark turn events which she can not explain to us now. Nefarious forces are abound from your homeland to the town of the augments. Things have gone down all around these last couple of days.
With the Piper is his unnatural friend (tentacles), the head shadow augment, doomguard. No more trolls if you ignore what remains here.
She will keep the camp safe so we can all sleep well. She can help us with our health as well in the meantime. The remaining passages are blocked by more of the trolls. You can get to him w/o that through a hidden passage. But there is a guardian. You may not have to fight it though, more of a noncombat challenge. The entrance is in the area the dwarves still occupy.

Next Day

She has enchanted the Ulag face shield. It will regenerate, as will the shield if it is ever broken and held together.

Everyone, every dwarf, is going with us. Including the crone. She opens the secret door by drawing an Isa rune in coal at the particular place on the wall; then Fehu, then Thurisaz.
Finnric “Rich, ice and giant.”
Bjorn “What does a wealthy frost giant have to do with this?”
Crone: this place was the layer and eventual tomb of an old frost giant king who was killed by a First of The Master Imbrunir.
Into the dug out unworked tunnel we go, 15’ wide and regularly so. Soon go to crude stairs going down about 3 floors, the dwerro say, and into another corridor that then forks left and right. Bjorn heard just barely an eerie howl of wind from the left. From the right, it has a gooey feel all around, a coat of some substance that feels slick and slimy but w/o coming off onto your hand.
BJorn calls left, and 10’ down it starts getting cold unnaturally quick and the moaning gets louder, changing from a wind sound into an actual moaning voice.
Ottr “Should we really continue this direction?”
Bjorn “We move on.”
By 200’ or so down it feel like a veritable winter. Opens into a 30’ by 30’ room housing a skeleton built into the wall. Within his ribcage is a double door. The giant was huge. It wears a stone necklace with an amulet adorned with 6 runes in a circle: Perth, Ehwaz, Laguz, Dagaz, Ansuz, Nauthiz = Luck, Horse, Water, Day, God, Need. In the middle is the Valknut: 3 triangles that form into one that are often representations of mountains connected to the gods. So Thrand and Finnric explain.
Thrand asks the crone about all of this connected to the Doomguard. She knows Imbrunir and another Master were at war long before the Master War happened. They were either brothers or close kin and hated one another. Killed each others head men and built shrines to celebrate. The Frost Giant was a vassal of Imbrunir’s enemy. The Doomguard was uncontrollable so he buried it down here. He would only bring out the Doomguard on a Last Days scenario. The safeguard will then stop it. She thinks it has less to do with the meanings of the runes than the runes themselves. What they actually say has more to do with the Frost Giant himself.
Finnric pronounces the name the runes, as letters, spell out: Peldan. He says their feud was a constant armsrace. Imbrunir created more conventional, practical cool things like the blue augments and doomguard. Peldan was more schizo, very weird creations like cold cavemen augments, and more unusual monsters and beasts like many Trolls, especially the more freakish ones. The counterbalance may be something like what Peldan would have made. But he was very chaotic and made things that were wild in natur

Bjorn “Looks like he was on his knees.”
Moaning sounds like it comes from his open mouthed skull above.
We enter the room. The door has no handle of any sort. Soon as we come in, its eyes begin to glow. It speaks:
“Beyond this door is the forbidden chamber. Master Umbrinir entombed his greatest fear, also his greatest creation, here. No one can enter, but for those who know my name.”
The crone does not know it.
It continues, essentially saying we have heard his name already.
Thrand suggests the runes and repeats them to Bjorn. Bjorn states it to him and it is correct.
“You know my name and may pass. I will not stop you. However, the creation beyond this doorway (Thrand and BJorn are thinking its the Doomguard) can not be destroyed by conventional means. Fore each blow it grows weaker yet stronger. You must find a way to defeat it w/o destroying it. That is for you to find out. Imbrunir made sure there was a safeguard to defeat it w/o destroying it. Intruders have come from another way, mining there way in. That is all I know.”
Thrand “The most obvious alternative is fire.”
It opens the door w/in its ribs. Its arms reach in and pulls the doors open revealing a tomb crypt room, a hall leading out on the other side of the sarcophagus. Our men are chained all around it and to it. There equipment lies in one corner atop a pile of other goods. In the hall behind stands the Piper, a black armored figure (doomguard), in the middle of the room closest. The tentacled creature and the shadow augment flank the Piper. The are chanting some magic that is causing distress to our men like its sucking their life force into the coffin.
It is bitter cold in here.
Thrand offers to hold off the doomguard until we can find the trick to destroy it.
Bjorn and Gunnar act first, moving into the room as King Haarkon asks the witch if she can to anything against this “unnatural cold”. Gunnar throws past Ulf at tentacles 15.
Haarkon moves to free our men, the Doomguard misses Otto who moved to it. Uhtto moves to the left flank, the dwarves generally move into the room. Finnric moves in and starts a song; Thrand takes the Doomguard, defensive fighting and building tokens. The crone moves into the doorway. Alfreg guards the rear.
The tentacled monster sends out his stunning cone. Fliggol, Gunnar, and Regin fall stunned. Good rolling for us.
Our men are chained by their necks to the sarcophagus and hands tied behind their backs; feet shackled.
Bjorn, wielding the broken sword leaps atop the sarcophagus then jumps at the flat footed Piper yelling his true name “VANDAREN!!!!” performing a leaping charge and power attacking 13.
The Piper starts playing the flute but seems to have started slowly.
Brokkr moves to free our men. Raggid drags Fliggol out of the DG range, as does Fjalar for Egin
Otto, Thrand, Galar, and Sturn keep the Doomguard occupied.
The door on the wall to our bursts open off its hinges and onto the ground and a large translucent cube of goo starts to slide into the room but slowly.
Bjorn sees that around the Piper’s neck is a pendant. Going right to left in a clockwise order is the same as on the Giant’s amulet!
The dwarves yell “Gelatinous Cube” and are very worried. “They’re nigh inkillable!” “They eat everything!”
The shadow augment blends into the low light of torches and suddenly attacks Uhtto but misses! Haarkon cuts Hakon’s hands free.
The DG attacks Sturn, crits 40!!
Crone draws a rune in chalk and hurls it into the room, after moving next to Thrand. It lands next to Rags, Ulf and tentacles. All allies w/in 15’ radius are hit by a rune of luck burst lasting the encounter.
Sturn withdraws to the Crone.
Ragnar moves around to go after the teltacles.
Finnric hits shadow augment 9 and trips him.
Brokkr cuts Koku’s hands free.
Tentacles takes a 5’ step and goes for Ulf’s head with his tentacles, hitting with 3 and grappling.
BJorn turns to Tentacles next to him, stepping to flank with Ragnar.
(PIC)
Uhtto hits Shadow 17!
He hits Tentacles 9. Ottr starts pulling Gunnar across the room away from the Cube.
Piper blows the flute and the Cube moves 20’ toward the Piper’s group. He then shoots something from the Flute at Finnric. However, the broken swords burst with light and negates the magic missile with its SR radius we had no idea about. Bjorn’s AoO misses the Piper.
Shadow stands, quickdraws a dagger and stabs for Finnric, fumbling.
Haarkon cuts Haki free of his ropes.
DG attacks Otto 10.
Uhtto sees that the Shadow Augment has keys!!!
Reggin rushes for our men to start freeing. Crone moves forward and hurls a runestone at BJorn. If falls at his feet giving him a second sight power as long as he is near. He can reroll a d20 roll every round; and plus 1 to all d20 rolls stacking with the luck.
Ragnar hits Tentacles DEAD!! Saving Ulf’s life!!
Finnric hits Shadow 16. Brokkr frees the hands of Osmo.
Bjorn turns toward the Piper, using the second sight to hit 10.
Uhtto misses with short sword; Ottr shoots the Shadow Augment twice.
Piper steps back from Bjorn and tries to hit the DG with a glowing arrow but the sword’s SR negates it.
Shadow hits Finnric 15.
The King Haarkon retreats across the room away from the Cube.
Fjalar joins us with the DG, who misses Galar.
Raggid frees Hala’s hands. Crone steps back 5’ and hurls a stone at the Piper, hitting him in the face for 1 but it acts like a magnet to attacks for Bjorn against him.
Ragnar moves to and attacks the Piper but misses.
Finnric misses the Augment.
Brokkr attacks Augment 19 DEAD!!
Bjorn misses Piper.
Gunnar comes out of being stunned, throwing over the sarcophagus and past Ragnar at the Piper, the rune of attracting attacks assisting though, but he hits 8.
Uhtto unlocks the padlock, the central lock for the whole line of chain!!! At the ready, they all flee the sarcophagus area!!
As they run by it, the Cube is moving too.
Piper moves back from Bjorn and tries to pipe Rags whose AoO hits 4. He aims the Flute at Rags who fails the WIll Save and gets charmed.
The Cube moves to Engulf the Crone, Gunnar and Ottr. Gunnar leaps aside but the Crone and Ottr are engulfed!
Haarkon, now right in front of the Cube, moves away to the entrance.
DG hits Galar 16.
Raggid charges the Piper misses.
Charmed Ragnar misses Bjorn.
Finnric thrusts his spear in, pulls the Crone free and FItlaf free quick enough that it is not destroyed. Ottr is paralyzed within, his leather armor and bow/arrow shafts disintigrating.
Brokkr charges the Piper and hits.
Bjorn attacks Piper, misses.
Gunnar rushes around to our right of the cube and toward Bjorn. He throws at the Piper, crits 23 DEAD!! The Flute rattles to the ground.
The Cube moves toward the DG.
Haarkon yells for Ottr still in the Cube.
Finnric “Koku leap in!!”
He does, makes his save to not be paralyzes, grabs Ottr taking a round or 2 of damage, and Finnric pulls him out by the chain around his neck. Ottr is saves.
Thrand keeps it occupied as the Cube engulfs the DG, imprisoning it within essentially, as it can not kill the DG but it can not escape either.
Our men gather their equipment and rush out. Ragnar comes to his right mind when the Piper dies. Opening the sarcophagus quickly, Bjorn, Finnric and Gunnar see only the dust of an ancient body, In the pile is a red ruby teardrop amulet. Same as that worn by the Piper, Tentacles, and Shadow. We take them all as well as the Peldan amulet.

So, 4 ruby teardrop amulets: shadow augment, Piper, Tentacles, coffin. We have never seen anything like them. That the Crone is clueless also is a surprise to us.
Peldan amulet in our runes.
Flute (will require perform in the instrument to use). It’s artifactness is gone, its previous effects will cease.
Tremor begins as we run out. This lower level at least partially caves in.
Back to the central dwarf room we began in.
Piper seems like he may have not been truly alive, eyes very light blue almost colorless.
Shadow Augment leader had 5 doses of str damage poison. DC 20 fort. 1d6/1d6.
Piper’s Mask: inside is an engraved marking of Loki, says Thrand and Finnric.
Tentacle has a holy symbol, same that Thrand saw at the church of return in Langbay hanging on the wall. He wasn’t wearing or presenting it, just had it on his possession.

The orcs that are here say they feel like they are changing, and are all in their previous human state of mind. There are about 600! All locals who were taken. Most are older men or young teenagers.
They will remain here for now while we go quickly to Ollie’s first. The dwarves say they want to join us. They will stay here as well while we are at Ollie’s. Brokkr will come with Finnric and Koku.
Finnric “Toru, you look like you have lost 10 pounds.”
“I’m hungry, they didn’t feed me.”
Thrand “You need to eat.”
Toru “No wild boar is there?”
Finnric “No.”

We leave. Sun down, moon rising, we are almost there. We see Bifrost in the sky. We hear the cawing of Ravens.
Finnric “That can’t be a coincidence.” The flock takes off from nearby.
Gunnar and Toru see first, ahead, a silouete in the darkness. Tall, wide bvimmed had with a big point on it.
Finnric “It’s old one eye!” He immediately moves for him quickly. He does indeed have an eye patch on!
He says “Hold. Keep your distance” Finnric does “It’s not wise to come too close to him.”
“I greet the wanderers. Especially one of the Ulfhedinn. You hold a special place. Blessings will be upon you. Know that you are about to enter into a very dangerous and tereacherous part of your adv’s.”
Thrand “Treacherous?”
“Yes. Know that an oath was made years ago. None from the ancestors of Gustav, the sons of the First, Tyrbrand, can shed the blood of the line of Knut” (meaning Wulfgar and that family in combat; Finnric is actually from Wulfgar’s bloodline so he should be no kinslayer for his part, for Finnbogi is a first cousin to Finnborg). “Which means the task at hand is not to defeat by force of arms your rivals, but by force of reputation. Know that your rivals do not follow these same rules. But, if you all ever wish to see Valhalla you will have to keep your honor in tact. However, you have one with you who you must give to me so that I can take her to where she belongs. Her time here is done.”
“Ulfhedinn, bring the Crone to me, so that she may take her rightful place in my halls.”
Finnric takes the Crone to meet him. He says “You have been a devoted and dedicated priestess to Frigga for many years, have suffered many a great evil, now is the time to cast off the earthly shackles and come with me.”
She accepts whole heartedly. He raises his hand, there is a clasp of thunder and bolt of lightning as a shadow rises from her body, which falls lifelessly to the ground. It seems to mount a horse and ride off.
Odin “You have something of mine.”
Finnric “Yes” and reaches out the Odin Spear.
“I won’t take it just yet. There is a fell beast, truly despicable being, who needs to me smote. Actually, 3 total, but this one in particular that my Spear will aid in slaying. A giant named Snurre, KIng of the Fire Giants. Also, a Hill Giant Chief Nosnra and a Frost Giant Jarl Grugnur. Once they are slain, you shall build an altar and leave the spear there. I will retrieve it. Finally, there is to be a great and terrible battle you (us) will take part in. It wil be against Frammlings (he means Bluto’s invaders). When you do, when fighting, fight with valor and honor. When you don’t have to fight, deal with honor and deal with honesty. Do not deceive when you don’t have to and things will go your way.” With that, he bids us farewell “I will always be watching you”. Finnric thanks him for the temporarily use of his spear, for his blessings of battle fury and poetry. It’s all from him.
He vanishes into the dark, we hear a horse and what sound like 8 legs ride him off and away.
Finnric and Koku are spazzing the rest of the way to Ollie’s. Finnric mentally writes a poem about the encounter.

We arrive at Ollie’s cottage. The main 4 and Rags knock, the others stay outside. Ollie lets us in.
Tells us a story: Decades ago, items were passed down the generations. All left w/in a cave. When certain men reached a chosen age, they were to retrieve an item. When Sven and I did so, Sven drew forth a great waraxe which he still possesses. I drew forth a sword. There were still 2 items remaining. 2 more heirs still have something to gain from the cave. I built my hut purposefully near the cave. Both Bjorn and Finnric are to go into the cave. Go around the hill behind my cottage and enter. Walk up to the niche that calls to you and retrieve the item that is there. Once you do, come back to me and I will explain what they are. Understand, its not so easy as grabbing it. There is a challenge to be met there. The gods did not want this to be a free for all, but to be earned. So get them and return. Go now.

We 2 leave for the cave. 100’ deep. At the end there is a 30’ square chamber, many niches. All empty but for 2. Each of us have a feeling which guides us to a particular niche. Finnric sees one of the grossest things ever. A desicated heart upon a ceramic plate. Looks very old. Bjorn has a small box, a few couple inches or so to a side.
We reach and grab our items.
The box has no top or bottem, seems one solid piece of perfect wood, perhaps darkwood.
A furious roar comes from the cave entrance. In a local language but more bestial and very base, comes a fierce raging battle cry.
A hideous, huge green humanoid monster charges us. Some sort of terrible berserking troll. Finnric immediately can see it is a berserk for sure. Bjorn knows this particular troll was defeated by the originator of Bjorn’s bloodline and was put here until 2 particular heroes of the family would arrive.
It hits before we can react, charging unto us and clawing Finnric 21. Finnric flies into a blind fury from his worg c loak and attacks with his Odin spear 20, Bjorn fumbles his sword to the ground.
It hits and rends Finric.
We side step to flank. Bjorn quick draws his great axe and htis; Finnric hits as well and bites.
It misses the bite for Finnric, goes for Bjorn with its claws miss/crit 15.
Finnric hits 19/bite crit 11; Bjorn hits 13.
He goes all out on Bjorn, one claw hit.
Finnric hits 19/bite miss; Bjorn his 24 DEAD. Finnric successfully ends his fury.
It poors blood everywhere. The box on the ground now, begins to change into a model boat about 6" long. It’s the magic boat we were told of.
The heart begins to beat. Hmm.

We return to Ollie.
He explains that the heart is food. It is a permanent thing. Eat it whenever you wish, if you want the gift.
Finnric warily “Why would I not want it?”
The founder of the clan was fond of killing monsters. Such as Ogg. This is the heart of Gurg, the king of trolls! When it’s eaten it will give you great strength and fortitude, but it does not do much for you’re strength of will. The effects are always within you, but it swings wildly in a way. If you piece it out over time (5 pieces), the small effect of each becomes permanent until you eventually use the entire thing.\

Game effect: +5 str and con, -10 Will saves.

He confirms the other is the folding boat. It is the box in its normal form.
Box to small boat is bat; small boat or vessel to box is lada; to make it a vessel from small boat is you need the name of the ship which is Njordstjarnan.
The boat has a magical hold underneath, a great space. No one has ever reached the limit. You can carry much inside.

To Bjorn “Us family have to stick together” he brings out a bowl “cut your wrist, across”.
He empties the blood into a bowl “this is my brazier of sight. Now that you have bonded with it, peer inside and you will see events that you need to know now.”
Bjorn sees a battle, Normans under Bluto vs Northmen. Several hundred per side. Bluto has lost and is in full retreat; but with several captives. The Northmen are in no shape to chase despite victory. Gustav leads. A third force in the hills has not joined the fight.
The vision fades.
Ollie says this either has happened or shall soon. "Either way you should make it there soon.
Ollie will be able to keep an eye on us via the brazier. He gives us a mystical chant if he needs his aid, one single time, and he will be able to reach us through the brazier. If we ever meet our demise it will let him know.
He tells Bjorn that he could smell something about him the first time they met. He is gifted with the shapeshifting. One of your birthdays within the next few years it will show itself. What sort he does not know.
We stay the night. Leave bright and early.
He feeds us well and there is much drink for all of us and our men.
Kyy is willing to try Finnric’s ulfheddin transformation idea. Bjorn ok’s it.
Koku and Finnric roast the heart of the troll from the cave, very lightly, on the outside. They force feed him the entire thing in an hour or so.
He is painfully and brutally sick all night long and still suffering by morning.
Ollie says he is leaving this place, as his home. He will still be wandering around though.

Next Day

Ollie has disappeared. We pick up everyone at the citadel and make for Upvalla; they are ready to go as we ordered them to be. It takes all day and evening to get to Upvalla.
The greenborn augments meet us in the wild, 20 of them.
When we return to Upvalla, they say Danehalla never arrived. Wulfgar put one of his own men in charge here as Hersir.
Danehalla was murdered by shadowborn via poison, along with many of his main men. They have since disappeared. That was the catalyst for Wulfgar to take leadership, voted in. A force from Finnborg arrived to help garrison. Finnborg has warbands occupying both towns and some other small ones, and has claimed the valley.
Village Hero’s town has escaped attention.
He claims his way to support his ‘friend’ of the north Sven he had to claim the valley.
Hrolf is already skirmishing with Swein, beginning a Civil War; Bluto has invaded in the South attacking many settlements on the coast line. His main body heading in the direction of Tordekting.

About a quarter of our orcs have reverted to human form, the most recently turned.
60 of Finnborg’s men occupy the town. Hostile action could start a blood feud, making us look like the aggressors.
The greenborn lead us into town at the head of our orc army. The Finnborg guard beat it into town. Wulfgar’s man soon meets us, we tell him basically thanks for hanging here to watch over the town while we were gone, but we have already won this territory for Gustav. So you can go now. That included Brekkholm and the other towns as well.
They question that we kept it safe by being missing for a while.
Thrand “It’s the same now as how we left it, but for you being here. It was safe. Unless you’re saying it needed to be kept safe from you? Is this an act of aggression? Is that what you are saying? The townsfolk will surely vouch for our saving them, I think that proves our claim here.”
He says they are here for Finnborg, who as king can do what he wants. Thrand says he has no such rights. He is as beholden to the Thing and the courts as anyone.
Bjorn says all that is not true as well. He does not see Finnborg here, nor any of his lawyers.
“Unless you’re declaring war on my father. Is that what you are doing?”
He says he is not about to simply give up the new jewel in Finnborg’s crown, but he is also not stupid. Offers for he and Bjorn to have a strength match of some sort to settle the matter. Drinking match, wrestling, etc. Winner occupies the town until the court decides. All he can speak for is Upvalla.
As the challenged, Bjorn may choose.

It’s best of 3.

First is a log toss. The challenger almost slips. Bjorn’s throw is not the mightiest but he wins easily.
Then, over the shoulder boulder toss. He almost drops it on his own head, Bjorn’s launches a tremendous distance!!!
Thrand “You have been beaten.”
He accepts the verdict and will meet back up with Wulfgar at a village on the border.
So….he’s not in Brekkholm. He’s going back home actually.

Next Day

We make for Brekkholm. As we approach the gate, and a warning arrow is fired as the gate is shut.
Wall guard “Go home, you are not welcome here.”
Bjorn continues walking straight to the gate calling out who he is “and you will open your gate to me or there will be serious consequences to be paid.”
The man declines, claiming the town to be in possession of Finnborg and refuses negotiation.
Bjorn continues to walk forward, daring him to shoot him.
He says he has no intention of causing bodily harm unless we cross the threshold into the town.
Bjorn “I have news for your Hersir. Bring him to the wall so I may speak to him personally.”
He calls for Allax, a huge vicious looking blonde, heavily scarred Northman with long braids.
“What do you want, Bjorn?”
Bjorn “I am here to tell you I appreciate you holding this town for my father in his absence while I rid this valley of evil, but now I am back let my people know that they are free of the terror of the Piper, no thanks to Wulfgar. If you choose not to, I will take that as a declaration of war against my father.”
“F off! We held a meeting, the town voted.”
“Let me speak to them, I must let my lawspeaker know the particulars.”
They say they will permit the lawspeaker.
Thrand brings Gunnar as his assistant.

A dozen town elders are there. Thrand does recognize them. They explain that after the assassinations, Wulfgar and Iring took charge the next day and kept order. The next day they held a meeting and gave us the option of joining with Finnborg or waiting for Bjorn to return. Given the time of troubles, Danehalla and Ragnar weren’t exactly inspirational, Wulfgar and his Hersir he left had the fortitude to inspire us.
He says they did legally elect him.
Thrand says he may go. The others stay to the same story w/o him there. We get the feeling that several are simply spineless cowards. A few more seem kind of shifty; few seem not happy with the deal but thought something needed done.
Thrand and Gunnar exit.

They report to Bjorn.
After discussion, Bjorn wants to either show the town that Rags is back and hope they will try to put him in charge, or kill the new leaders.
Thrand things they won’t do the first since the lead elder put down Danehalla and Ragnar. Thrand thinks and realizes they never voted to officially and willfully join Finnborg’s territory, the town was forcibly made to decide to elect Wulfgar or wait for us and decide immediately. With us not around they decided the choice that would give them safety to any bad guys now. However, claiming them for Finnborg’s territory was forced upon them by virtue of the forced vote leading to Wulfgar. That could be good leverage. A technicality.

We knock to come in again. The doors open, and the electors come out with Allak and his entourage.
Thrand gives his speech. They speak amongst themselves for a good hour. They say whatever deal we made with Danehalla died with him, and the town has chosen its side.
“We bid you good day.”
Thrand “This will be in the official court, trust me.”
We warn them that Upvalla is officially ours, and not to try to take it. This valley is officlally disputed. He says ‘no harm no foul, wish no ill will toward you’.

We make for Village Hero.

Next Day

Village Hero’s town is fine, as is the initial town. Most of that town’s men were killed, and we have their women and kids. Bjorn suggets many of the men, especially single men, with us settle there. The rest to Village Hero or their own home town.
Village Hero, Manning Tyrben (Powerful and Valiant Bear of Tyr) has taken care of business fully. We officially charter both towns into Gustav territory.
He says that yesterday, one of the skalds from Gustav’s land arrived, telling of an encounter with Bluto. Good and ill news:
Defeated Bluto even with smaller force at bridge; but Gustav lost 22 warriors and Bluto 70.
However, Bluto himself with some of his more knavish followers managed to capture Gustav’s other son and Bjorn’s sister! Thrand’s betrothed!! Plus a handful of noble children.
Gustav returned to muster more men, but Bluto is marching for a smaller town setting up for a second encounter.
Bluto has his own house retainers, his home warriors, and a contingent of warriors who look like men but are different. Not trolls mind you. He said some were of unnatural hues, or had strange appendages like wings.
Augments!!
Their leader, a man easily 6’tall, hair the color of straw, a fine close trimmed beard and eyes blue as the ice. His weapon was a horrible two handed sword.
We tell him all that went down in the valley. He offers to go with us to fight but Bjorn says no, stay here and keep this place secure.

They will likely arrive before us. None of the other 3/4 have changed back yet. We group them by how long they have been mantrolls. Judging by the recent changes, at least 100 will be orcs for a while. Many of the others should start changing within a few days.
It will take us less than a day and a half to reach the area. About 100 won’t make it.

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The Voyage to Langbay

25 men per ship

Erik’s Ship:

Tostun, father to the twins Haki and Hala, comes as well..
Toru the fat: he vomits a lot the first day after overeating, but then calms down under rations. He will surely make up for it after the victory.
Osmo
Dulk
Kyy
Gortin the rowmaster
9 other men
Bjorn, Finnric, Thrand, Gunnar
The 3 freemen (the almost testifiers); Koku, Ulf, Hakon the Bastard (the ‘ldr’ of the 3).

Ragnar’s Ship, Erik’s Second:

Wulfgar, Borg, Iring Forked Tongue (dubbed so by Finnric today, a lot), Finnbogi, plus goons.

Erik tells that Bluto has the rare armor, plate mail, and a famous broad sword. Bluto is a very middle aged man, son is a skilled warrior.
About 2/3 of Bluto’s retinue is in the keep. It will take them time to mobilize and make it to the village.
There is a rowmaster on each ship to keep pace. Ours is a huge muscle bound freak named Gortin. He shows us our placements, introduces us to the other men on our ship.

About a 10 day trip.
Day 1 is nice and clear, we hit the prevailing winds and make good time.
Day 2 to 6 cooler in more open see, but fair and clear. Wind changes the first day on us a bit, so a lot of rowing to maintain. Finnric and Bjorn own the day with power sailing. Second day we catch better wind, hoisting sails for double speed. Bjorn, Thrand and Finnric lead the day in sailing skill to catch the most. Now going through the Greenland Strait south of the Green Isle.
We sight a ship on the horizon ahead to the east. The ships close together. More northmen who call for friendly meeting. We run alongside and lash together, mix and mingle. It is a Jarlsleifian ship, led by a Jarl of Jarlsleif himself. We have met him, but not seen him since we were wee lads. We give him news of the Thing results. In Jarlsleifia the king is having troubles lately. In the central hills there have been tales of trolls and monsters, nuisance so far but has gotten worse with larger trolls. May be calling for aid.
Bjorn “Has there been any giants seen?” No. None known in the lands.
A king in Thorangia, a lesster warlord, trying to unify all the warlords. Could be bad years from now. Very fractured though. It’ll be hard for him.
They just raided the coast west of where we are going. He invites us to stop on our way by a coastal town in his land for a meadhall visit.
No word from the few mercs on Bjorn’s exiled brothers.
We continue on.

Third day of the stretch, light wind. Gunnar performs very well finally. Regular time made.
Fourth day of stretch, we are slowed down by a poor captaining from Erik and weak work by all. Light wind.
Fifth day of stretch, day 6 overall, proper wind. We perform well and make up the time lost the day before.
7th day: new weather sytstem; a day of gales and rain and hot temperatures. We are north of Haargan. We hunker down at the edge of the small bay to the town’s east. Half a day lost.
8th day: moderate temps, clear, lt prevailing wind. Very fine by us today, and we keep the ship going so as to gain the half day we lost from the gales.
We are now at the island chain. Lots of merchant ships. Island dotted with villages as ship stops.
Our ships split, Ragnar straight across while we turn south then head across, so as to pass Lambay and come at it from 2 sides.
9th day: Severe winds today, from the west at our backs. Our strongback work makes up for shortcomings from Erik, so we arrive early by a day over Ragnar thanks to that and the great winds. We hide out in a small bay for sighting of Ragnar
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Bluto’s estate holdings outside of Langbay is what we are raiding, his village, not Langbay proper. We scout it out, Gunnar in the scouting party. It’s along a creek cut lower than surrounding land, 20’ wide shallow gully at the bridge; his manor keep is surrounded by a wooden palisade around; the village has a bridge across the creek which we are on the opposite side of. No wall to speak of.
It does sport a 30’ tower that can spot over the whole village, 20′ × 25′. Always a couple bowmen atop. It’s on the far side of the village. Keep is further off that direction.
The bridge over the creek raise up and down on a winch system and a rope on each side.

Plan:
Covering fire for Bjorn, Finnric and Gunnar to charge and make a running jump across the gully and cut the ropes, dropping the bridge for the rest of the force. 2 guards operate the bridge.
Erik wants to start the raid at first light the day after both ships are present.

The Morning

Wulfgar and Ragnar will be crossing the creek with his men further away and attacking from the north, the tower side, in 2 separate groups. Ragnar will slow progress of the first waves from the keep. After the frontal assault at the bridge enters, Eric will move in with his group, crossing the creek bed and entering at the corner of the town to the left of the main entrance.

Finnric begins gnawing on his shield rim. The cover fire from our bowmen begins: Toru, Kyy, Osmo, Dulk, and Tostun.
All 3 jumpers make it across, the bowfire enough to keep the guards from raising the bridge or firing back. The initial strike is a success: Bjorn kills 1 guard, Gunnar cuts 1 rope, Finnric wounds the other guard with a throw of Fitlaf. Pandemonium begins in the town quickly.
Gunnar finishes the other of the 2, then we head to the center. Gunner reaches town square first with Bjorn, Finnric, grabbing Fitlaf on his way, only a moment behind. Our force has charged across the field during the quick fight at the bridge, Thrand in the front. Bjorn yells back for the bowmen, when in the square, to fire upon the tower. The main 3 will make for the tower and finish it off asap. The others will fight or loot, pillage and plunder as required by circumstance.
3 guards are in the square.
Finnric kills 1 with a cast of Fitlaf.
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Bjorn engages the other 2. Gunnar eyes up the tower, throwing a axe to help Bjorn.
Erik is now crossing the gully at the corner of the village left of the bridge.
The tower fires mostly on Erik’s men, but a few on us, accidentally killing a peasant as the surrounding pandemonium continues.
The head of the main force is across the bridge led by Thrand and the 5 archers and charging for us.
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We hear the noise of rallying peasants from the left and forward right.
Finnric charges down a street to the forward right, a crowd of 14 rabble meets him Thrand makes it to the center helping Bjorn, bringing down 1 of the 2. Our first archers fire on tower from the square.
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Finnric slays 2 initially. They swarm him to no effect. The 2nd group of rabble, led by a large militia man, has hit the square from our left on Bjorn and Thrand. Gunnar has been taking aim at the hornblower on the tower. From 60+ feet he kills him with 1 throw.
Bjorn steps up, dropping the 2nd warrior, cleaving a peasant dead. 2 from the tower fire, hitting Thrand for 0 and one of our archers to no effect.
Thrand moves forward on Bjorn’s side to block his flank. The archers fully move into the square and fire upon tower. The Tostuns support Thrand. One tower archer drops from our fire.
We can hear a large melee going on outside of town with Wulfgar and perhaps Ragnar.
Finnric kills 2 more, including the headman of the rabble. They do little in return.
Thrand is missed twice. The big lead militia man engages Bjorn.

Sound of horses outside of village.

Gunnar targets another archer on the tower, hits 10, falls off tower alive and KO’d. Bjorn intimidates the large leader and crits 23. Blood covered is he.
Archers from the tower hit a rabble on accident; 3 horsemen come fleeing into Finnric’s area, from Wulfgar likely, behind the rabble.
Our archers fire upon tower, a few of our others start to loot. The twins go for a woman slave each, and the other treasure. Thrand continues to attack, takes 2 down w/ cleave. Ulf and Koku move next to him through the gap to engage the next rank of rabble. They each kill.
Finnric kills 1 rabble, they part to let the new horsemen through. 1 rabble hits Finnric to no effect.
Our archers take down 3 more on the tower.
Couple of Erik’s and Wulfgar’s gang are pillaging on the outskirts.
Last rabble to the left flees. Big militia man misses Bjorn.
Gunnar starts gathering axes, moving toward the tower. Bjorn kills the big man and moves for tower. Thrand moves to assist Finnric
Commander on tower now has only himself and a severely wounded archer. Commander now hits Bjorn 9. Obviously highly skilled.
Finnric is hit by first horseman, a second gets closer. The third goes the other direction and runs into Bjorn, Gunnar behind him.
Toru and Tostun take the archer commander down. More looting begins.
Finnric drops one horseman and cleaves down a peasant, who had almost crited Finnric twice with a knife during the fight.
The rabble remaining at Finnric flee.
Gunnar throws at and hits the horseman afront Bjorn; Bjorn drops him.
Last left on tower cowers. Horseman facing Thrand flees.
Battle over in town. We loot wholesale. Wulfgar and Erik’s start to mingle into village from tough fighting.
Tostuns get a female and an early teen boy as slaves.

Thrand loots a small Church of the Return. Runs into a priest who he manhandles. The dog fights back with touch spells. Thrand strikes for 10 after a miss. Toru walks in and misses. Fight continues, he won’t give up. Goes for a knife shot but its futile, Toru is firing wildly then Thrand finishes him off. Lights the place aflame after taking the good stuff.
Finnric into the smithy shop!!! 3 regular and 1 heavy spear which he grabs!! Plus chain shirt and shields and a helm. Lights the place. He runs through town laughing maniacally over his spear haul.
Bjorn enters a merchant’s house. Sees lots of gold and silverware, tapestries, artwork. He takes gold and silver.
Gunner enters a warehouse of trade good. Lots of pelts, drinkage. He stocks up what he can.

Still no sign of Ragnar. Wulfgar is missing a few men, as is Erik.
Infantry led by man in plate and a standard bearer approach from keep. Maybe 20.
We start to light more of the village as a delaying action.
Bjorn lights the tower as we start to make for the boats. A young, short man in ill fitting combat gear charges out of a nearby building with a “have at you!”
Bjorn “I don’t want to kill you, boy.” He KO’s the lad and takes him prisoner.
They do not arrive in time to stop us and help the people still in town.

Gortin and some men follow behind us. Gortin has a body, its Erik!!!!
Ragar’s entire force is missing.
Wulfgar meets up with the rest of us on the way out. He drafts some of the men from out ship since he’s missing half his ship with Ragnar MIA.
Thrand looks at them carefully out of suspicion, seeing nothing of what he knows Ragnar had. But even with his natural bias against Wulfar, he does not sense he’s lying but we figure he’s hiding something.

Back to our own ships. Handful of cavalry follow us but they don’t stop us.

To sea we go, Bluto still alive and in charge of his land and burnt out village.

Erik is not dead, but mortally wounded. Suffered grievous arrow wound into neck and out his back.
He can wheeze some words.
Thrand “To Valhalla you go, Erik.” The commander archer, he says, is the one who hit him right as they got into town. He fought even bleeding out! He says he hopes someone got that guy….we did.
He passes his ship onto us on his deathbead.
To ensure his trip to Valhalla, Finnric offers to kill him with a spear, in Odin’s way. Erik is appreciative and agrees. That is his glorious end. May the Valkyries fly him to Valhalla.

On way home we stop at Jarlsleifia and party. They give Erik his due Viking funeral. We promise to return to help them should the situation with the trolls get bad and he can get word to us. We stay a few days.
The kid Bjorn took is a son of Bluto!!!!! Named Baylik. We will take him home with us and put him up at Gustav’s, but Vinkarl will begin mediations with Bluto for ransom. They will be the planned ground for the trade.

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