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?”
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.”
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.
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.
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!!
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.
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?
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?”
“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.
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.
Break camp, still dogged by trolls as we make for Brekhalla.
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.
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.
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.
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!”
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.
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?”
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.
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.
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.
Early, Vorn has arrived with his wagon train.
Comes to see us at the hall.
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.
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.”
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?”
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:
- Piper has his pipe
- Old Crone witch trained in arcane arts by the Master of this region
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?”
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.”
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.