SKT - Follow The Cleric

Wild Goose Chase
Scenario 14

Flashback to 21 Kythorn: Envar

Envar has gone into the mines to free the slaves and keep them from being killed during the changeover of authority. He has determined mostly that killing the slave masters will be sufficient for the moment.

Envar heads for the ore depository first, the easiest way into the mines. A salamander stands guard over three shield dwarf slaves. He strikes the salamander with the moonblade, is wrapped up, and then promptly dispatches the thing with another flurry of blows.

Envar moves further into the mines and encounters more guards (fire newts). One goes down in one attack, the other takes off running. Envars shoots him in the back before he gets to the Ogre waiting down the hall. The ogre, who understands what arrows are, squishes two slaves and then moves to block the entrance further into the mines while Envar pounds arrows into him. Envar draws the moonblade and goes for the Ogre, dispatching him with a final, single blow.

There are three remaining prisoners in this room, two humans and a dwarf. The two the ogre squished are a dwarf and an elf; Envar attempts to cast Spare the Dying on them but they are very very dead. He asks the other prisoners to hide the bodies so no one catches on before he finishes dispatching all remaining guards. There is another fire salamander down the hall, 200-some feet away and slightly down some stairs.

Envar retrieves his bow and moves down the hall, firing arrows as he goes to soften up the creature. It attempts to throw a spear at him and yells for his hobgoblin companion. The hobgoblin is terrible at shooting and misses. Envar is transfixed by the salamander’s spear again as it closes range and begins constricting.

Once again, Envar uses the grapple as an opportunity to just kill it better, then turns and takes the hobgoblin out. Slaves come out of the woodwork (mineshafts) to see what has happened. One of them is a rock goome with broken glasses (Envar casts mending, the rock gnome is !!!). They converse about who sent Envar and he repeats his requests to move the bodies and hide them so he can continue dispatching the guards.

The rock gnome (old Weery) tells him about the three other work groups on this level and offers to guide Envar around. She also offers a mechanical mouse as a distraction if necessary.

Further down the right tunnels is a female hobgoblin wielding a whip over another work group. Envar readies his shield and charges at her with the moonblade ready. He does damage, but the whip wraps around Envar’s neck. Another hobgoblin steps out with a longsword and attacks; when Envar doesn’t go down, the female drops the whip and dives into the group of slaves. She takes a hostage but Envar casts magic missile and takes her down before she can even monologue. The second hobgoblin goes wide eyed and attempts to take Envar down, but is unsuccessful and cut down in turn.

Eventually, after finishing off the last of the guards, Envar comes back up to the chaos of what the rest of the party left behind when they absconded with Fulmerous. He decides to go back down into the mines for a rest before attempting to sort that out.

Eventually Sarissa sends down Promise the tiefling down to Envar. She fills him in what happened, as far as she knows, and where is his party he asks? Promise has not seen them. Envar goes to speak to Sarissa.

She can teleport or scry him wherever but it will be a few days until things have settled down. Envar is happy to wait since he wishes to make sure the slaves are freed and taken care of anyway.

23 Kythorn 1487
Oak, Ferrindale, Korotir, Atarah
(Korotir’s Player is absent this scenario)

Yartar: the Eel tavern. The night was spent in reconnaissance, fight club, and finding information on the Kraken Society. A League of Suckers. Etc etc. Atarah was last left off with a dead man. She drops him and demands to know what Ferrin did, “Normally people don’t die in my arms unless I’ve hit them with my sword.”

Atarah props the guy up against the nearest wall and Oak helpfully puts an empty skull-and-crossbones bottle next to him.

A couple mangy feral dogs slink out of the shadows and threaten the group, Atarah growls back and draws her sword, “I do not have time for this. Get!” (18 Intimidation) and they slink back off. Everyone is tired and starting hallucinating Ilwar whispering.

Oak hunts down a relatively nice place, with carousing nobles, for the group to stay in. (The Golden Timbers Inn). It was a long night. (The party is distracted talking ooc about the “Seemingly Harmless Inn” and rogue turn-down services).

Oak starts interrogating Ferrin about the Kraken Society in yes or no answers to avoid being blood-from-eyes-syndrome. Atarah joins in. Atarah’s too dumb to put it together (involving magic circles). Ferrin says we need to go to the Golden Goose for the next step anyways. Oak is much smarter, and figures it out, but it’s not helpful at the moment.

Nap time!

Switch over to Tranled, sleeping after following Fulmerous’ burrowing through the ground in a fuming lavatube.

Dreamscape: A stone-walled cottage, redolent with the the aroma of freshbaked bread. Tranled pokes his head out and calls a suspicious Atarah (who thought it was a nightmare or Ilwar messing with her) inside and they have a conversation about how Tranled thinks he’s made a mistake and hasn’t fully embraced his oath. Atarah sympathizes, she too didn’t know what her Oath meant until recently. He has a friend who can help him get back, Atarah ribs him a bit but leaves off when Tran is less than usually ok with it. She does it because she missed having a brother around. They talk, Tranled will come and meet them as soon as he can.

After letting go of speaking with Atarah, Summerheart draws him gently into another dream, a hilltop with an oak tree, mountains and thunderstorms in the distance. “Welcome back, Tranled.”

Tranled admits he’s made mistakes, spoke in anger, made decisions in anger.

Summerheart speaks of forgiveness, of always offering forgiveness. Theirs is not a contract; but a relationship, he pulled Tran away from his previous master not to lock him in but to give him a choice. Tran can always walk away. Oaths are hard, they are a struggle. But that is the point of them.

Tran wants to go back to Atarah, he feels he makes better decisions with her around. Summerheart insists that he has strength within himself, but he will arrange for Tran to get there, pick up Envar too. Go to Mirabar, discreetly ask for the stable hand Jasper discreetly and say Summerheart sends him to Yartar. “Do it discreetly, but don’t be timid. You can manage both.”

When Tran wakes up, he is still in the lava tube. Fulmerous is still asleep. Tran dimension-doors back to the surface and starts getting the party back together.

24 Kythorn 1487
Envar and Tranled in Mirabar.

Tranled finds Jaspar and hits it off telling adventurer stories (in poem form). Jaspar offers to make them temporary Harper deputies to get them through the magical teleporter network, since they have an interest in seeing the giant problems solved. Tran wants a badge, is given one (silver harp on a blue field).

Jaspar also fills them in on the other giant problems—stone and frost giants, fleets and tearing down stone structures.

Tran attempts to redeem his loyalty points from the Zhentarim and transfer them to Harper points. Jaspar doesn’t understand his terminology. Envar asks about stabling the vultures, or possibly sending the vultures back to the Grove via teleportation.

It only took a year and a half, but Tranled finally convinces Envar to play a round of Gwent while they wait for Jaspar and the vultures.

And now everyone is in the same town again.

Tranled immediately goes for ice cream and drags Envar with him, orders two pistachio ice cream.

Oak is looking for a specific magic item, in the shop next to the Silverymoon Consulate, the shopkeeper is an elven woman with brown hair, gray eyes, and a scar. Oak wants something for anti-scrying or divination. (nat 20). She finds an Amulet of Protection, brings it back to the counter along with a a lot of other things she didn’t remember picking up. The Amulet is 450g. Oak does not have coin but she has a Gold Orb from the Altar of Mystra in Waterdeep.

The woman’s eyes light up. Gives Oak 80g in addition to every single item she put on the counter in trade. (The other party members oOC: what the heck was that Orb?!)

The pile of things Oak ends up with includes:
Potion of Superior Healing with a fancy top and a handle
*Wand of Magic Missiles
Enchanted Armband of Shielding (+1 AC)
Pipes of the Sewers (control and summon rats and giant rats)
Ring of Resistance (resistance to necrotic damage)
Ring of Animal Influence (3 charges regen-able, Animal Friendship, Fear or Speak with Animals)

After this, the crew head to their appointment at the Grand Dame. Tran is dressed up in high-rollers outfit. Oak is invisible, everyone else is dressed relatively nicely and arms and armor are hidden away in bags of holding. (Korotir can flashback to wherever he likes)

Thirty other rich patrons are heading inside, being greeted by Captain Storn. An exotic woman is next to him, Pao Ming, also greeting patrons.

The Captain recognizes Ferrin, greets them enthusiastically. Asks if they are going to be performing tonight? Ferrin could be. Storm asks Pao to see to the entertainment schedule if there is possibly a space.

Everyone except Tranled passes their deception checks (gogo Gadget Racism, poor tiefling brother).

Oak sneaks on board easily and starts checking entrances, exits, etc. She heads upstairs to snoop and listen. There is a dimly lit stage where musicians are setting up, but otherwise there is nothing but hired hands setting up. There are several exits, one of which is blocked by a red curtain. Oak waits for someone to go through it before following behind. It leads to a hallway with several rooms branching off and another red curtain at the far end, leading to the bridge.

The bridge has a spiral staircase leading down to the casino floor, where Captain Storn has just come up. The Captain is giving orders to unmoor and get underway. This room is fairly bare, only some maps tacked up on the wall. Oak backtracks, searching for an office. Two of the other rooms along the hallway are full of hammocks, the other is an office. Ta-da!

The office door is locked but there is fine carpeting on the other side. Oak listens but hears nothing from beyond. She camps out and waits.

Ferrindale is mingling, looking for anyone they knew from a year ago. There’s one person left among the crew; Mara. White-haired, amber-eyed, round faced, dressed in performer’s fake luxury. Mara was inspired by Ferrin and is a musician now, shows Ferrin her setup and dishes the gossip.

“Lord Dryland likes to be friends with certain people, but he’s set aside a private dance hall and that’s where I [Mara] play. It’ll be a little while before he starts inviting people up.” They do performer talk and invites Ferrin to play with them.

Tranled does some high-stakes carousing, aiming to lose a thousand gold as quickly as possible. He’s got a strategy to get to the highest stakes table. And then requests and gets 2k from the group fund to gamble that one more properly. He is eventually introduced to Lord Dryland (kind of a pirate looking guy in a nice outfit).

“I make it a point to know all the wealthy and influential people in Yartar and I’ve not met you yet.”

Tranled makes up a story about being a tobacco merchant from Goldenfields on holiday, looking for More Risks. Lord Dryland invites him to his table, they go upstairs past the dance hall to the office where Oak is waiting. She ducks inside as soon as there is space and finds a place to hide. There’s a fish tank with coral and an octopus. The office is a testament to bad taste in clashing violet colors.

Tranled distracts himself from drinking the offered wine by asking about the “trained” octopus. Tranled asks about “You asked me here on business? Who else shall we play with? Surely not the octopus?”

“Hmm. Well. You said Summerheart, did you? Tell me, what do you know of giants?”


Tangled Tentacle
Scenario 14

The night of 21 Kythorn > 22 Kythorn 1487

(missing Tranled and Envar and Oak’s players ;_;)

The lava dragon settles, the rest of us take wary watch. Korotir is finding weak spots in case we have to kill it and making terrible small talk with Ferrindale. Tranled has been drugged into snoring sleep.

Ferrindale and Korotir discuss how one kills things. Ferrindale doesn’t use a shield. Korotir is nonplussed. Ferrindale insists they need all their hands for their instruments, and bad jokes. “How many bad jokes does it take to kill an ancient blue dragon?”

Atarah catches Korotir up on what happened in Waterdeep (including Zone of Truth shenanigans).

Oak talks about how the giants use us as tools and aren’t we doing the same to the dragon? Yes, but what other choice do we have?

Discussing how to get the dragon to Imyrith because he can’t fly, won’t be polymorphed, and doesn’t fit through the tree-stride portals. Nor can we conch-teleport to the Maelstrom with him, since all the fuss we went through to steal him from the Giants in the first place. We’ll have to walk him all the way to wherever Imyrith .

Oak asks about what else Sarissa asked us to do; find her father. The only lead is this wood coin with a gold duck on it. Ferrindale recognizes it as from a casino they used to work at and tips out a whole bag of them.

“Where did you get those from?” It is explained. The casino is in Yartar.
Atarah remembers her dad had a contact in Yartar—old Kolbaz. Now the party is split onto what to do— go to Yartar? Sneak the dragon there? Or just go to Imyrith?

Oak pipes up—it will take her a few days to even heal Fulmeris, and a while to fix the skeleton deformities. She’ll find other druids on the way to help, and start walking towards Imyrith. That will give us time to investigate in the casino to find King Hekaton. Atarah frets about how to get there; the vultures are back in the Grove and Envar has the conch (we have the cat mounts, but still—walking is not as fast or straight as flying).

Korotir takes the first watch. The dragon digs itself deeper into its lava pit. Tranled wakes up and starts calling for Korotir and Atarah. Korotir gives him water and tells him to shut up, people are sleeping. Tranled decides to go on a walk; needs to think, but is feeling slightly calmer.

Korotir trades with Tran for the next watch and beds down with QujMeh. Atarah was going to take second watch.

Ferrindale wakes first in the morning (they are totally an elf and don’t need sleep. totally) and spots a letter folded on Tran’s sleeping bag. It’s addressed to Atarah but Ferrindale reads it.

“Atarah, I have some things I need to take care of on my own. Don’t try to follow me. I’ll be back once my heart knows peace. With all my heart, Tranled”

Ferrindale wakes up Atarah (who comes up with sword in hand) with a yell. Atarah notes he has left his sleeping back (but did take food supplies)

Atarah asks QujMeh to track him, because dude needs his sleeping bag in this cold. The trail goes up to the lava pool where Fulmeris slept, and then out again to a lava tube in the middle of the woods. The tube dead ends fairly quickly.

Atarah gets suspicious and starts trying to sense for fiends and infernals. Finds nothing.

Ferrindale looks too, finds a message in cooled lava (nat 20): Tiefling, I can give you the vengeance you seek.

Atarah is annoyed. Korotir is resigned. But at least it isn’t Lorcan. Oak says she’ll go with the rest of them to Yartar and can open a tree portal. Atarah spends some time praying to Dad Summerheart first, asks him to watch over Tran (because done a stupid and potentially breaking his oath). Gets some worry but mostly bemusement, will definitely watch over him. This is what parenting is.

Ferrindale gives Oak a description of Yartar to be able to scry for a large enough tree to stride through. Park with a dessert shop (instant desire for ice cream), lots of hanging baskets with pansies—

We dive through the tree portal.

It is warmer here, and so there’s a lot more smells. Fish, old fish, horse dung, sourdough. The ice cream store is still there. It’s pricey but totally worth it, run by a mage college dropout with ray of frost. Five silver a cup, we splurge. Peanut butter flavor apparently is popular with half-orcs? Atarah buys mint for Oak and gets neapolitan for herself. Korotir gets a lavender flavored slushie.

Marko doesn’t work for the ice cream shop any more, he got a better offer. Sad. Atarah tries to wheedle the info out of the shopkeeper as to where he is, Korotir claims he’ll fight the entire town and whoever defeats him can get 10k gold, or if their name is Marko they can have 20k.

The shopkeeper tells Atarah maybe she’ll do better without the war getup. “Look, just because I have a fuck-off big sword—”

Korotir claims he’ll find him. Ferrindale says he’s a halfling and probably doesn’t want to fight a hulking half-orc in full plate. Atarah accuses Korotir of just wanting to fight, which he admits. “We can do an exhibition match if you want to hit something, bro.” This sounds like a great idea to Korotir.

The ice cream vendor (Mrs. Robbins) tells Ferrindale that Marko took a job on the docks and that was the last she saw of him. So the party heads that way.

Atarah pulls a guard aside on the way and asks for directions—the casino we’re looking for is a ship, called the Grand Dame and has a duck flag. There is insulting banter.

Ferrindale gives the grand tour of the dry docks while looking for Marko, tells about tavern experiences at the “Dry Magpie” and “Duckfeathers,” asks about Marko on the way.

Some random dock worker catcalls Oak, because Tabaxi are rare, and Atarah scruffs them and threatens a broken nose the next time that worker catcalls anyone.

Eventually, someone grabs Ferrin and offers to tell about Marko, for a price. Atarah, who noticed Ferrin get taken, looms: “Oh really, how much?”
Dude will not work with Atarah — the beacon— tells Ferrin if they want to do business to come back with 500g and without the beacon. “16 Charisma huh?” “It’s not SNEAKY charisma! I am not meant for sneaky!”

Korotir did not notice the dodge, gets accosted by another half-orc who says I heard you want to fight? Talks about the Eel Tavern, they have fights there, but the rules are no armor, no weapons because we’re not fighting your purse.

The group reluctantly agrees maybe Korotir and Atarah should take off their armor. We go grab beds at the Eel tavern hostel, Korotir rents a chest for his gear with a confused tavernkeeper who doesn’t understand being tipped.

The half-orc who talked to Korotir is named Mog. Fights are till knockout. The tavernkeeper recognizes Ferrin, invites them to play during the fights because business is always better. “Mr. Orbrider”

Atarah dumps her armor in her bag of holding and attempts to dye her hair again. So since Korotir apparently has an appointment, and Ferrin’s gonna play, Atarah will sit and drink and try to gather some gossip about whoever was hired to kidnap a giant. Atarah makes sure to sit close enough to the ring Korotir can benefit from her paladin aura.

Ferrin’s playing brings in a huge crowd and eventually pulls in 20g worth of small tips. The fights begin, they are ranked.

Orbrider gets Korotir’s name wrong (“Lockbreaker” not “Giantbane”) but the fight begins, first up: The Demolisher. Korotir wins without much effort.

Next: “The Terror of the North” — human, older. Not as strong as Korotir, does have some fighter levels but not as many. He takes the first round but then Korotir pounds him into the dirt.

Next: “The undefeated Mog!” Evenly matched, Korotir takes a good hit but badly injures Mog’s leg, and Korotir takes advantage. He goes down once, but Mog is a halforc and comes back up. Korotir outlasts him.

Atarah is spending silver like water, buying the defeated fighters and anyone around her drinks and encouraging them to talk about previous fights and unusual contracts in the last x months (when Hekaton was kidnapped). After the fight she kicks on Aura of Vitality and heals all the fighters.

(the older fighter is named Yurgen Kaneko, Atarah discovers, which makes her player choke because that’s the Bull of the North in Exalted) Yurgen is from Fireshear, is thinking of heading back to deal with the frost giants there to keep his family safe.

There was a big throwdown with Frost Giants four months ago but they were chased off.

There was talk that the Lords Alliance were the ones who took out a Storm Giant who visited Waterdeep, assassinated her. Not what Atarah is looking for. Atarah invites him to join the crew mustering at Grove Keep for taking out the Frost Giant Jarl.

Yurgen finally recognizes Korotir, talks about the Ulgin. Asks if he’s considered conquering other Orc tribes? Korotir has considered it but wants to know why? Seems to Yurgen they’re weak, could use Korotir’s leadership.

Yurgen wants to take out the Frost Giant plague; Atarah says they have a solution but they need more information. Yurgen will help any way he can; they explain the kidnapping and the coin.

The Grand Dame is a ritzy place. Yurgen doesn’t go there.

Atarah smacks herself in the head. They’re going at this backward. She knows who hired the people, so she should be looking for who Imyrith hired, not contracts on giants. Yurgen doesn’t recognize the name and is sorry he can’t be more helpful.

Atarah takes another tack: has anyone come unexpectedly into a lot of money recently? YES. (nat 20) Yurgen tells about a ship that comes in recently with no cargo but flush with cash, who hired a bunch of locals hush hush. That crew took off and hasn’t been heard from but the old crew is still here spending cash like water.

Ferrindale notices the hat man from earlier loitering. They go over to talk, and promises to tell Korotir if pummeling needs to occur. Ferrindale makes the deal with him for the info and calls Atarah over for cash. Atarah drops a handful of platinum as a down payment, says the rest on delivery. He tells them to leave first because he doesn’t want to be seen with them and go to the door from earlier.

Atarah gets the location of the where the old crew hangs out from Yurgen, and physical descriptions. They leave the Eel Tavern. Korotir gets his armor and QujMeh (who has acquired a frisbee new toy stolen from scared college students).

The door from earlier—the hat guy is concerned that our Siege Engine (Korotir) will break down the building. It is threatened that if they mess with our friend, yes, that will happen.

There’s a magic circle inside for privacy. They step inside, along with Ferrin, activate it, and tell Ferrin everything about Marko. The ship Marko went on was owned by the Kraken Society — tentacle obsession. The only other times this has been mentioned; just saying the name guys shoot blood out of their eyes and ears and die horrifically. The Kraken Society is a cult to a dark god. Marko is wrapped up with them. They show up, hire a bunch of dockhands, tell them they’ll be “guards” and ship them out. They went downstream, their boat is equipped for ocean travel.

Word is, members of the Kraken Society are trying to worm their way into the authorities of Yartar, and Mr Dryland (Casino Owner) is helping them; and rumor is he or his creepy mage have mind control powers using to corrupt the aristocracy and take over Yartar.

Guy asks: What are you going to tell your friends? You can’t tell them the truth. Avoid proper nouns.

Also he wants his payment. Korotir wants the hat. But he’s kidding. It takes a moment for that to be realized.

Ferrindale: “So I’ve been told that your heads are going to explode if I tell you anything I was just told, but I’m pretty sure there’s a way around that so as soon as I figure that out I’ll tell you.”

Korotir: “Wait, our heads are going to explode?”

Ferrindale: “Oh I probably shouldn’t have told you that.”

Atarha ignores this, “…Let’s move on and find drunk crew to beat information out of, ok. Ok.”

Ferrindale helps find the old crew with a nat 19, has an octopus tattoo. Atarah and Korotir start smelling something on fire. The drunk sees Korotir in armor and starts trying to flee. Atarah goes to grab him (19 vs 2) and pulls him in.

He slurs No no no… very drunk.

Atarah casts Lesser Restoration, the guy snaps sober and says “You shouldn’t have done that,” and starts bleeding from the eyes and nose. Dies in seconds.

Korotir tries to knock on doors and find a place we can talk to this guy, gets no answers.

Atarah tries “Remove Curse” and then “Revivify” — it doesn’t help, he dies again in blood and agony.

End Scenario

Epilogue - Into the Jaws of Fire

The enormous red dragon sat surrounded by his accumulated treasures surveying a semi circle of Crystal balls. “Fulmerous you fool, you deserve every ounce of suffering you receive but you are an unworthy custodian of such ancient power. It has been millennia since the last time I saw one wield the Fire of Earth.” He peered through the orb and saw a possessed mouse being carried through a tunnel carved in a tree. He shook his head “You are such an embarrassment” the ancient wyrm rolled lazily onto his side and fished out a carpenter’s roll made of woven mithral. His claw slid delicately over each sample until it settled on a small red scale labeled ‘Fulmerous’. He flicked the scale across a second crystal ball, tsking to himself all the while. “Those Yak devils finally figured out the recipe. Shame they don’t have the strength to defend it.” He watched the other dragon settle down into his lava bath and then with the effortless patience that comes from millennia of observation waited for nightfall when the stars were visible.

Satisfied with the answer, he began giving commands, expecting them to be followed unquestioningly. “Pack the circus tent into the airship. I want it folded into one quarter and run a drawstring around the edge.” The dragon smiled to himself, he had picked up the tent because it matched his color scheme: red with orange stripes. Color coordination was important to a dragon. Circuses had stopped using that color scheme since he picked out the first one. Something about dragon raids being bad for business. Moments perhaps hours later he spread his magnificent wings outside his estate and dove down the mountainside into his valley to build up speed. He did a circle to let his clumsy caddy catch up to him. “Your magnificence!” shouted the captain, his voice cracking while leaning out the side of the airship. “Where are we headed?!” He couldn’t hold back a toothy smile. “Ironslag! Ice Spire Mountains” he barked then filled the sky with fire over his town. That should get them in the right mindset.

The Yakfolk were waiting and wary when the balloon supported airship finally puffed down to their cliffside. As the dragon cultists disembarked Yikari, the new Yakfolk chief, continued the charade he’d seen played out so many times before. “Greetings weary travelers. Have you come to save us from the horrible Fire Giants? We can offer you great bounty in return.”

“Oh we already have all the bounty we could want” Captain Hue strode confidently into the middle of the village. “Come on out! I have a message for all of you, not just your chief!” The yakfolk warriors warily drew their weapons. The cultists drew swords and circled up as their captain continued. Though the yakfolk had already taken losses from invaders they still clearly outnumbered, and outmassed the cultists who were completely surrounded. A few more heads poked out of tents, then went to retrieve weapons and join the circle.

Facing down an entire village of goliath Yak demons, Captain Hue was completely unflappable. “You may now serve a new master. You will be taken to a new home where you will be safe. This is your last chance to come peaceably.” Yikari scoffed and began to respond but was cut off by a wave of hushed epithets from everyone facing the cliffside. Unable to fight the urge, he craned his head around to see where the shadow was coming from. Completely incongruous without sound was a massive red dragon claw clinging to the edge of the cliff face. A colossal slitted eye with a scar cutting through the red scales was focused with piercing intensity on his congregation and in that moment of descending shadow Yikari realized that his whole village was packed into a small circle. The last thing he saw was Captain Hue running past him towards the dragon and diving under the tent as the shadow enfolded his village.

The ancient dragon hummed to himself as he cinched up the tent and flipped it over into a giant carrying bag with two dozen Yakfolk inside. When he flipped the bag, their cries of surprise and pain brought a warm feeling to his heart, so he gave the bag a good one-two shake. He sized up the bag then size up the puny airship balloon. “I suppose I’ll have to carry this all the way back, won’t I?” he said with mock sincerity. Captain Hue made a flourishing bow “None can compare with your strength, oh ancient one!”

“Yes, yes, well I suppose I’ll need to get you something bigger now. That wasn’t too incompetent.” He heard a small ripping sound from the tent and without another word burst into the air. The dragon held up the bag and shouted “We’re a thousand feet above the forest floor. You can certainly cut your way out of the tent. You may even be brave enough to fall to your death. But are you brave enough to make that decision for everyone?” The cutting sound stopped. There was a chain net back in his lair of course. But he liked it best when people were prisoners by choice.

Into the Jaws of Fire
Scenario 13 Season 2

June 30 2018 -Scenario 13

20 Kythorn 1487

Summer Solstice, at the Grove base. The party and the storm giants were having a celebration.

Tranled has been super upset about Gaul being taken by Iymrith at the Eye of the All Father, and Atarah has dragged him into the newly built temple in their base to calm down and talk with Dad.

Oak helpfully brings downer-spiked tea to help calm Tran, and the party spends the remainder of the night attempting to plan how to take down Imyrith while keeping Tran in check.

Atarah reminds him of the contents of his oath, Tran claims it was washed away in blood. “That’s Vengeance, and that’s a different Order. If our Oaths only applied while it was convienent, we wouldn’t be much of a paladin. Hard times prove our devotion.”

Pyrrhus arrives on the first rays of dawn, greeting Oak as a long lost friend, exchanging hugs and tea. A warrior’s grip with Korotir, a handshake and greetings with Ferrendale, a hug for Atarah (who goes quiet and fangirly, just so happy to be in her father’s presence)…

For Tranled, he puts his hands on Tran’s shoulders, radiating the earth-deep calm and zen peace. “Do not let your emotions control you. Have them, embrace them, acknowledge them, but be their master. Keep your calm, and then you will be an example for others.”

He leads Tran into meditation, and listens to Oak tell stories of the intervening years, tells her about how he ascended.

Korotir, never quite comfortable in Summerheart’s radiating calm, leaves. Sarissa talks to him about exchanging a feast. They set up a giant-sized table with a small-folk sized table set up on it at one end. Pyrrhus shifts to his full Solar-deva size in order to pay Sarissa his respects.

Ferrindale serenades us on their ukelele, Tranled gives a lyrical poem (to which Charlotte the awakened chili plant takes a shine). Feeling inspired, Tranled afterwards reaches for his black book of love-poetry to Natalia, only to discover it missing (since Oak pickpocketed it the night before and slipped it into Envar’s gear).

Sarissa, once everyone has eaten and drunk their fill and settled down, gives a speech about the waning glory days of the giants and proposed an alliance between all of the small folk and giants, mutually beneficial relationships.

Sarissa’s only constraint is that giant casualties must be curtailed. There are too few of them left.

Sarissa has new intelligence on Duke Xalto. He has captured and enslaved a red dragon to make enough heat to melt adamant for his purposes. Rumors that many of Xalto’s followers are looking to replace him because they do not like what he’s doing with dragons.

They’ll follow the Duchess though.

Pyrrhus approves of this plan, and wishes the dragons would make a similar alliance because the loss of any thinking being is a tragedy. The giants grumble about this.

Atarah spends the rest of the day with her dad. Korotir goes hunting. Tran practices peace. Ferrindale entertains. Before they leave, Atarah asks the Snail to look into the coin. (4 persuasion)

The Snail says their balances are done and we’d have to scratch his back. Atarah asks if he wants anything from Ironslag. He wants the blueprints of the Rods Vonindod and as many as we can get.

Atarah heckles him over the price, that’s a lot for no guarantee of information. Snail claims, it’s a King’s Ransom, and hangs up on her. Atarah grumbles.

The next day (21 Kythorn) the party teleports north via the Maelstrom to set up a base camp 2 hours south of Ironslag. Moog and her hill giants have been armed and armored as an escort and fall-back plan. It is a show of force but they do not want to start an actual fight with the Fire Giants.

The plan is to humiliate and de-throne Xalto by having Korotir (warding bonded with Envar) fight him. Envar can heal himself, and so can Atarah and Oak.

The party ends up in the forest east of Ironslag, at the base of the Ice Spires. Korotir leads us around a manticore’s nest and to Ironslag.

There is an iron door set into the base of the mountain, even bigger than a giant. There are the sounds of an angry, gurgling upset dragon on the other side.

The party discusses strategy. Cinderhilde (Duke Xalto’s daughter) and Sarissa agree that her mom (Brimscarda) would negotiate with them, and be a better ruler with fire giants under storm giants.

Tran and Cinderhild have a pissy argument over the door, Oak gets bored and casts Pass Wall in order to go inside, completely bypassing the door.

Atarah is confused as to why we aren’t just hucking a rock at the door to knock. Cinderhild uses the passphrase, “By Surtur’s Flame I command these doors to open.”

Fire giants and a dragon are shouting on the other side. Sarissa waits on the Wyrmskull throne, maximum impressiveness.

Xalto comes pounding around the corner. The party can see the dragon from their place in front of the doors; it has an iron muzzle and is weeping magma from sores on its body, chained down and resting in a pool of molten iron. It is pissed and anguished.

Cinderhild screams for her mom.

Korotir tells Tran to tell Xalto (via thaumaturgy) that Korotir wants to fight him for ownership of the dragon. Sarissa asks Ferrindale if she’d rather take this on. Insult Xalto and piss him off so he’ll fight Korotir. Ferrindale: “Oh I thought you wanted me to be charismatic! I can be insulting!”

(Dissonant Whispers, natural 20)

“You must be delusional, or have a death wish. You want to fight me?” growls Xalto.

Korotir coaching Ferrindale: “You ever heard of Morridan’s Bridge? How many Fire Giants have died on it lately?”

“Everyone’s heard of the bridge. My cousin died there. Which of you killed Thordick?”

“I did.” Korotir says.

“You want to fight?”

“No, I want to see you die.”

Sarissa speaks up. “Not so fast. I am here on behalf of Hekaton’s court. You all owe your fealty to us. Duke Xalto has gone rogue. I propose honorable combat. Kneel to us, and—”

“You’ll remove this monstrosity?” says another fire giant, referring to the dragon.

“We will.”

“Then I accept!”

“You can’t,” Xalto. “It is my dream, my vision, I will raise the colossus!”

And without much more preamble the fight begins. The group quickly wishes Korotir good luck with various non-obvious spells — haste, shield of faith, heroism, warding bond, several bardic inspirations— all of it.

The fight begins; Korotir goes first. Xalto tries to step on Korotir, but Korotir hits him with the gavel and hunters’ marks him. Korotir breaks his foot and Xalto ends up down on one knee, frightened. Korotir climbs the giant, inflicting more damage as he goes.

Quj’Me is trying to get to Korotir, to help fight the giant, but Atarah is hanging on with an arm in the cat’s harness and refusing to be moved with the Orb of the Stein Rune. This cat is very confused and angry.

Xalto nat20s but NO portent: rolls a 2.

Xalto hits Korotir’s GiantBreaker shield, setting off its thunder effect right next to his own head. Xalto bleeds molten blood, burning
Korotir slightly (halved on warding bond)

Korotir gets all the nat 20s. new campaign record for 111 dmg in one hit. Korotir is bashing Xalto’s face in with his shield, through the skin, exposing the bone.

Xalto falls on his back, flailing, trying to grab Korotir and rip him off, but Korotir is too quick while hasted (second portent used) and stays in place.

Korotir breaks into Xalto’s skull and starts breaking things. Xalto is done. Fourteen seconds all told.

Ferrindale attempts to calm down Korotir’s victorious blood rage.

Atarah gets Tran to thaumaturgy her so she can shout, says “This is why you make friends with the small folk, not enemies!”
Brimscarda says “We will all be happy to have this dragon monstrosity removed from our midst.”

Sarissa glides the Wyrmskull throne closer. “Duke Xalto’s death was brought on by his own madness. These brave adventurers and many more have already sworn their fealty to me. We are building a newer, stronger empire. You can either join us, or face not just one but an entire army of people like Korotir. Show them some respect.”

There are fifteen Fire Giants here, who now take a knee and bow to the party.

“I will now accept your oaths of fealty,” Sarissa says. Brimscarda is not emoting at all, but calls to Cinder.

Tran tries detect thoughts on Brimscarda and ends up taking psychic damage; it has not been a good couple months for her.
Envar speaks to Sarissa and then goes off to rescue the Fire Giant’s slaves. (he took a whole 2 pts of damage for the entire fight)

During this fight, Oak has snuck in to go speak with the chained dragon.

“Hello, what’s your name?”

“Free me, quickly!”

“How long have you been here?”

“Lost track of time. Free me!”

“I will be happy to free you, where do you want to go?”

“I don’t… to the skies! are the skies still blue?”

“They are.” The dragon has been injured greatly. Whatever color it once was, it is now black. Its wings are broken and lay flat. “I will free you but I think it will cause more pain. I can get you out. Do you remember your name?”

Iymrith betrayed them, wants to kill Iymrith. Will they help the party? No they only want to kill Iymrith. It starts flailing about, throwing drops of molten iron. Oak will get someone to break open the chain.

Oak uses the mom voice but the dragon doesn’t calm.

Oak comes back and explains the dragon’s situation to the party. Atarah and Korotir immediately grab Tranled before he can go rushing off to do something stupid.

Korotir gets a fire giant to get him the blueprints and rods of vonindod, as well as other loot. There’s hellhounds. What should we do with them. Also there’s this armor thing with a ruby in its eyes.

Tran and Ferrindale fight over forging the blueprints.

Oak and Atarah go back to talk with the dragon and possibly polymorph it.

Korotir and Imperator Uthor speak about killing the dragon instead of releasing it; more pragmatic. Korotir doesn’t believe the rest of the party will go for it but will kill it if it threatens his party.

Atarah inspects all the chaining around the dragon, seeing how its held down. She speaks with him, offering common cause against Iymrith, working with the party, or death at the hands of the giants. He wants to be free. His accord is given. “Tell the small cat my name is Fulmeris.”

Between Atarah and Oak, they get him healed a bit and out of his chains. He stands up and spews lava, Atarah and Oak scramble for cover.

The other giants, not expecting him to stand up, pull weapons. Atarah yells for them to not touch him or they’ll end up like Xalto, they all ignore her. She pops wings and keeps yelling. Oak polymorphs the dragon into a mouse and ditches for the door.

Even after the dragon is gone, the crazy giants keep going for the place where it was, swinging weapons. Atarah pops her wings and ditches the melee.

Tranled, thanks to Pyrrhus and also being a bard, now has access to Calm Emotions and casts it at the melee. “Storm Giants! Fire Giants! Calm yourselves before your Queen!”

Sarissa is in the background watching but says and does nothing. The giants think the dragon is invisible, Sarissa calls for the doors to be closed and not to let the dragon escape.

Oak ditches out through the Pass Wall. Atarah follows.

Tran tries to “help” by telling them to look for footprints, a Fire Giant thinks he is mocking them and says the Dragon has been driven mad by Yak Folk dark alchemy and is dangerous. He is flung away from the giant.

Korotir and Tranled follow slower, going through the Pass Wall after them. The mouse starts trying to chew off its own limbs to break the polymorph; Atarah keeps it in shape by pouring a hitpoint at a time into it. Oak casts Travel through Plants and they flee to the lands beneath the Eye of the All-Father.

The mouse explodes into a dragon, frothing at the mouth with lava, about to turn on them, but Oak casts Charm Monster and calms Felmuris enough to reason with him. He agrees, settles into a pool of lava he’s horked up, and settles in. Atarah and Korotir look at each other—“Hunting? Hunting.”

Tranled and Oak will stand watch and make camp.

Battles and Barbarians
Scenario 20 & 21

The duel between Atarah and Wormblood is over far quicker than either anticipated, and it is Atarah who is left unconscious and bleeding. Tranled only sees the Utgarde drag her limp armored body out into the snow of the causeway and manages to send Natalia a Message: “I think they’ve killed Atarah—” before he is interrupted and the casting ends.

Back with the Ulgen, Natalia asks Nic to distract Korotir for a moment and asks Envar into the woods with her. She tells him of the sending, and the two need a plan. It’s been a little under a day since Atarah and Tranled went on ahead.

Korotir speaks to his general; asks him to wait a bit. Goerubar advises not sending in the best of them until they have seen the terrain and can judge. The party flies ahead on the vultures while Goerubar and the rest of the Horde follow on the direwolves.

Circling over the causeway leading to the Temple, they spot something left in the snow, shining from reflected sunlight. They can tell it is Atarah as they land; a golden haze that had been standing over her dissipates as the group approaches. Natalia finds a pulse – she is still alive! Envar casts magic on her gambeson to start warming her up; she has lain in the snow so long her armor is frozen solid. It is probably the only thing that has kept her alive. Natalia starts healing her.

Someone was watching from the Temple; Wormblood emerges and starts boasting about how he snapped Atarah’s spine – just in time for a newly healed Atarah to hear and struggle to her feet, armor groaning, spitting mad. Wormblood is taken aback, as are the warriors accompanying him. She was dead! They flee back inside. Envar cautions her from moving too much and Atarah reluctantly agrees, very tired.

They fly away, heading back to the Horde and Atarah explains everything she saw and heard while with the Utgarde, telling them Tranled is still there. Natalia spots the barbarians’ noncombatants on their trail, and the group lands where they will meet the road.

Atarah finds Grimhilde and introduces her to the group, explaining what happened. Korotir threatens but Atarah informs him they are under her protection and he gives them a piece of his fur mantle with writing on it for passage past the rest of the Ulgen. Atarah asks Grimhild what her vision was? The shaman saw the Temple crumbling, her loved ones crushed beneath it.

The Utgarde go on their way, and the party settles in for a strategy discussion. Korotir will lead the Ulgen in the shieldwall with Atarah (who is missing her sword and borrows an axe and shield from the orcs). They’ll protect Envar, Natalia, and the archers who will pick off the Utgarde manning the Giant-sized bow. A small strike force of a druid and nine warriors will find and enter the Spider caves, coming in through the back to cause chaos, if they can, and keep the Utgarde from escaping.

They plan to attack in the middle of the night, after a short rest.

Approaching the temple, the party and the Horde finds the outer doors open. They are suspicious, but not so much as to stop the plan. As some of the army enters, huge stone blocks begin dropping, blocking the entrance. The party and a little over a score of warriors make it inside, but Harshnag and the greater force is left outside.

Korotir and Atarah start chivvying the warriors into a shield wall – just in time, as archers on the ledges begin to bombard them. The turtle formation keeps most unharmed, and what few are injured in the exchange are patched up quickly by Natalia. Nic has gone ahead, faster than everyone, and practically dances through the rain of arrows, untouched.

Atarah screams at Wormblood that she’s not dead yet! My god is still better! And causes a stir throughout the enemy. Nic gets a launch up onto the ledge by Korotir and Atarah’s combined shield-boost. Envar is killing the bow-crew right and left, every arrow finding its mark. Titan uncaps the bottle of darkness and tosses it into the middle of the room, effectively obscuring both armies, while hollering about “Not going to be outdone by that damned monk!”

The Horde, undercover, begins climbing the right ledge to attack the Utgarde. Korotir gains the top while Atarah remains below, boosting orcs and keeping an eye on Natalia. Envar remains below with a few archers and a personal shield wall, raining death.

And then the blue wyrmlings enter the fight. They breathe lightning over the Horde, lighting the darkness briefly, but any who fall stand again by the power of Eldath radiating from Natalia. Envar drops one of the wyrmlings, the others vanish into the cloud and the rafters. Nik spots Tranled – bound and gagged but otherwise unharmed – gesturing to the back hallway. Nik and Titan find their way into chambers on either side of the downed gate with levers to raise the blocks and start to work on them.

Atarah gains the ledge and spots Wormblood wielding her sword (“That doesn’t belong to you! Give it back!”), orders the Ulgen in to a wedge formation to force the Utgarde off the ledge. Korotir has turned invisible and gone around a pillar into a back hallway, intending to kill Wormblood from behind. Between him and Atarah they succeed. Korotir holds up the late chieftain’s severed head and roars, intimidating the remaining Utgarde.

The barbarians from the other ledge have made their way around to the Ulgen and force them back, down off the ledge and back into the turtle shield wall. Atarah clears a space with her reclaimed sword, protecting Natalia, and the bottle of darkness is reclaimed and tossed into the bag of holding to dissipate the darkness – it is no longer helping. The Ulgen are forced back against the gate by the remaining massed barbarians -

Until Nik and Titan finally succeed in lifting the gate. The greater force of Ulgen and Harshnag stream in, and the remnants of the Utgarde are decisively crushed. There are no fatalities, despite many close calls and lightning attacks by the wyrmlings, thanks to Eldath God of War! Natalia is facepalming. The Utgarde do not surrender and are wiped to a man.

Hammer 16 1487
Atarah regains the ledge and frees Tranled. The last few wyrmlings vanish into the snow outside, but Envar has downed one and plans to craft from its hide. Natalia’s vanguard are making a show of the healed-over arrows and wounds stuck in from the battlefield healing and won’t let her remove them.

Amongst the debris of battle, Korotir finds a white elven longsword – a Moonblade. He wants to try it out. It’s a lost piece of Elvish history, and Envar wants to restore it (“It belongs in a museum!” (not really)). The two nearly get into a fight over it, but Korotir relents and gives it to the elven fighter.

The group takes a short rest while the Ulgen investigate the temple. They manage to trigger a trap, a rolling boulder down one hallway and an animated construct with the sisyphean task of resetting it. No one is killed but several orcs are injured. Envar finds the trigger with Detect Magic and Natalia dispels it, rendering the hall safe again.

The biggest room contains six statues for each type of Giant and one massive one in the center of the Allfather. A glowing portal on the East wall is framed by giant runes. No one feels up to attempting to cross it today.

They find a cold storage room with the nearly intact carcass of an immense whale – Imraith’s provisions to the Utgarde. While Natalia rests, the rest of the party investigate the other side of the Spider Caves to retrieve their missing strike force. A fight with the Broodmother ensues, but it is an anti-climax of a fight after the battle they have just had. The broodmother is defeated and their strikeforce, and an Utgarde female, are rescued from being dinner.

Everyone settles in for a well-deserved celebration!

Atarah Aftermath

Missions and Mercy
19.5 an Atarah & Tranled adventure

Hammer 6, 1487
They were all crammed into one of the yurts, the whole group sharing too little space, but at least it was warm. Atarah was not the only one awake. Tranled noticed, and asks what has upset her. Atarah explains it was just a nightmare; she’s had them since she was a kid. But her new brother pushes and she confesses this one felt different, and shares what she saw. She has to make the attempt to go and speak with the Utgarde, to either get them to leave or… something.

Tranled will go with her. They’re Ohana, now. There is some discussion on whether or not they should share with the others, and Atarah is concerned they’ll make a big deal out of it. They can go on by themselves, they’re only going to talk, right? (This can’t possibly go wrong). So how to get away… It will take almost two weeks to get to the temple from the Ulgen’s camp. While they are still a week out, a day or two after Atarah’s confession, Tranled goes to speak with Harshnag to ask about the temple.

The Temple of the All-Father is the last site remaining unspoiled from the time of the Ostoreans; an ancient empire of Giants. It only remains so because of the cold and the remote location, still a secret to all but certain giants. Tranled asks about the barbarians Harshnag saw. Were there families with them?
Harshnag didn’t exactly stick around while being filled full of arrows to find out, but it wouldn’t be unusual for them. The Utgarde tribes don’t really differentiate between civilian or combatant – there’s only warriors and those too old or too young to fight.

Tranled acquires directions and a map to the Temple (copied into his book) after assuring the frost giant he will not be selling the information. He returns to Atarah and they discuss when the best time to leave would be. A day’s headstart ought to be enough, since Atarah’s sabertooth mount is faster than the Horde (but not the Giant Vultures).

Hammer 14, 1487
When the Horde reaches the fork in the trail as Harshnag said, they settle down to camp. In the morning, Korotir gathers the warriors on their direwolf mounts to go on the attack. Atarah pleads for a little time and it is grudgingly given (next scenario: “Wait we let the two impulsive ones go off by themselves?”); she and Tranled ride off ahead on Rivka.

The approach to the Temple of the All Father was a bridge with deep chasms on either side, ending in a domed half-circle of pillars, nearly twice as tall as Harshnag. Tranled calls out and after a few minutes a small group of humans exit the Temple: a man wearing a ram’s skull helmet, an older woman bedecked with amulets, and three flanking warriors.

“I am Wormblood of the Utgarde! Be you spirits or mortals?”

Atarah gives her introduction – she is Paladin, daughter of Summerheart.

“Are you a threat or do you come to trade?”

“Neither. We are no threat to you unless you threaten us. We come to give you warning of danger to your families. An army approaches intent on your destruction.” Atarah has cast Light on her holy symbol and makes with the glowy.

“You may enter our stronghold to discuss this further.”

The lame lookout, who fetched Wormblood to begin with, blocks their way in and tries to say something but is too quiet. Atarah tried to get him to speak up, to no avail, and shoulders past to follow Chieftain Wormblood and his attendants inside. Tranled lags to try again with the lookout, but only succeeds in getting small talk from him.

The foyer of the Temple has an encampment on twenty foot high ledges to either side of a main hallway. Rope ladders and bridges cross the gap and drape down. A giant-sized red door blocks the far entrance, deeper into the Temple. Once they enter, a small blue dragonling wings down to drape across Wormblood’s shoulders.

Once they are settled for discussion, Atarah explains her purpose. Wormblood recognizes the name of the Ulgen and is derisive of their battle prowess. He leaves, calling for the front doors to be shut and the shaman to make sure his “guests” cannot use magic (but Tranled checks and still can). Atarah tries to be more forceful but Wormblood continues to be dismissive and disparaging. He enters the rest of the temple through the red door, leaving them alone.

The shaman woman, Grimhilde, addresses them in Common. She speaks it far better than Wormblood did, and thanks them for coming. She knows the Ulgen’s leader would not like it (she’s not wrong).

Atarah asks Grimhilde if she puts any stock in visions. The shaman looks surprised, and invites them up onto the ledge and the Women’s Fire to speak of visions. Settled there, Atarah tells her the dream, the vision she had and asks them please to leave – don’t see your families slaughtered as I saw mine. Grimhilde has had a similar vision but she does not give them details.

Grimhilde tells them it cannot be done – they can’t leave. Their patron and mistress, the great blue dragon Imraith whose children even now reside with them, brought them to this place an bade them stay. She even brings them food to survive the winter in such a place. A fight is inevitable, all agree. She does tell them of a second entrance to the Temple, through tunnels too small for giants but claimed by frost spiders.

Tranled asks Grimhilde to cast an augury for him, and he’ll cast one for her. It is agreed.

Tranled casts first: Is it better for the noncombatants to stay or to go with Atarah through the spider caves and away? He pulls the runes Algiz (guardian), Othala (Survival), Fehu (Luck), Wunjo (Catharsis) – the Augury is for the noncombatants to go with Atarah.

Grimhilde casts next: How will it go for Tranled if he stays with the Utgarde and Wormblood…? She is about to draw when Wormblood returns and begins barking battle orders, interrupting her.

The Utgarde get out giant-sized bows and arrows and arrange them on the ledges, pointing them at the front entrance. The rope bridges and ladders are dismantled and made ready to put away, the encampment begun to be packed up and shoved back from the ledges.

Atarah and Tranled ask Grimhilde once more to at least get the noncombatants to leave. She nods, and goes to speak with Wormblood. She informs him she has had a message from their ancestors; that Holmstane (Wormblood’s great-great-grandfather) has told her having the children, nursing mothers, and elderly underfoot will only hinder them in the coming battle. She asks that he give them a few warriors and let them go through the spider caves until the battle is over. Wormblood is skeptical but Tranled helps persuade him.

Wormblood agrees, and tries to send Tranled with the women as well – since Atarah in her armor and sword is clearly a warrior. Tranled attempts to persuade him he is more useful with the fighters, using magic to impress him. Wormblood is dismissive magic – it’s cheating, not worthy.

“Atarah, make with the glowy!”

Atarah, not loathe to show off divine power, casts Shield of Faith on herself with the glowy. Wormblood scoffs and spits at her. Neither of them are worthy warriors. Atarah maybe gets pissed off and challenges him to a fight for insulting her and her Dad.

Grimhilde is resigned to both Atarah and Tranled staying, takes a few warriors and a message from Tranled for the Ulgen if they should encounter them, and departs with the noncombatants. She leaves her apprentice with Wormblood.

Wormblood has Tranled bound to keep him from working magic, and prepares to duel Atarah to see whose Gods are stronger. Atarah is perfectly happy to oblige him and kick his ass.

The Circle Grows

It was another nightmare. Atarah was used to nightmares; frequent disturbers of sleep with various half-formed scenes of tragedy and horror, only emotion and flashes of imagery remaining.

The faces, sometimes, felt familiar, or like she should know them, the villages, the dangers involved. Like they were something she could fix, but there was never enough to go on.

Sometimes the dreams lingered, but far more likely they burned off in the morning sun and physical exertion of adventuring.

This one… this one felt different. Realer, crisper, every face and environment picked out in detail.

She stood shoulder to shoulder with her brother – brothers, both, Aelius to one side, grim and dark, and Ravik, grown to manhood on the other. She held a round shield in one hand and a battleaxe in the other, dressed in heavy furs and leathers against the mountain winter.

Behind her, she knew, was her family… and Natalia’s family, and other families – people she couldn’t name but knew she loved fiercely, in the strange logic of dreams.

There was an army bearing down on them. Hulking grey-green brutes with too much muscle to be real, fire like blood in their eyes, in armor just as mismatched as their bodies. At their vanguard was a pair in full plate, determination in their gaze behind the mask-like faceplates of their helms. The female of the pair blazed in sunlight, harsh and glaring, so hot she could feel it from where she stood with her brothers beneath the sheltering stone entrance of the Temple.

“Wipe them out,” came the voices of the pair in unison, a double discordance of judgment passed with no room for mercy or negotiation.

“Brace!” yelled the shield wall, but there was no time.

The armored female gestured and light, brightly sharp like ice knives, flicked over them. Atarah was struck in place, the strange sensation of movement sapped from her limbs – a vivid memory of the spider demon’s venom coursing through her – and paralyzed, she could not avoid the strike as the horde crashed through their lines. Steel bit into her side and she fell, cold.

“Stop-” Atarah gasped out with the last of the breath in her lungs. The horde overran the shieldwall as her brothers fell in the same stiff agony beside her, their eyes already glazed over, unseeing. Better for them, because Atarah was still watching when the horde reached Mama.

She was still watching when her sisters were ripped from Mama’s protection and flung against the stone walls to fall broken to the floor. She was still watching, helpless and growing colder by the heartbeat as the fire in her veins drained from her, when Mama and the other families further into the hall were cut down and left in heaps.

Atarah growled and tried to shake off the paralysis, her fingers inching forward towards the haft of her axe. An armored boot stepped onto the axe, pinning it in place, and Atarah looked up at the armored female. A sword descended – her sword, Arbiter, wreathed in angry red flame -

Atarah woke gasping, freezing cold, in the pitch black of the yurt she shared with Natalia. She hugged the fur blanket to her, casting a cantrip on the copper pendant around her neck until it shone with a gentle pearly dawn light.

“Papa?” she whispered.

Summerheart glittered, barely visible, an outline of gold and ember, sitting at the edge of her pallet. He said nothing, just patted her knee and vanished. Dawn, true dawn, was breaking outside, the light seeping in from the smoke hole at the top of the structure and cracks around the door. Atarah rummaged for her gear.

The Temple wasn’t far off now. After days, moving slowly to keep pace with Korotir’s people, they were finally within striking distance of the place. While Atarah had become no more convinced of the wisdom of the plan she had in mind, the certainty that it was what she must do had only grown. She glanced down at the length of pale fabric knotted around her waist for the purpose, and squared her shoulders.

Atarah summoned Rivka with a word, swinging up onto the great cat’s saddle and turning her head towards the Temple. She paused by the vanguard formed by Korotir and the rest of the party.

“There’s… there’s something I have to do. Wait a little while. If you don’t hear from me by sunset… then, then attack. But give me a chance, first. Tranled. Brother, will you come with me?” She held a hand out to the tiefling, ready to help him mount behind her if he’d go.

Then, she turned Rivka’s head, loping off into the cold gray day.

Evening the odds

The wind howled around Titan, whipping the canvas of the yurts with icy vindictiveness. This was a terrible place for a goat, let alone a whole village. Titan hated the outdoors in general, travelling was nothing but a catalogue of hardship and rain of ravenous beasts and runny shits. Only complete loons like Envar liked the wild and it made Titan weary to put on his hard face all the time. To not let the others, know how much it rankled him to be so useless and weak on the road, dependant on them for food, warmth, shelter and everything in between. Everyone knew he was not one for complaints. Titan the stoic they ought to have called him. There was even a moment, after he got his hand unfrozen, that he’d seen the distant, sparking peaks of the Spine of the World mountains and found them almost…beautiful. Now he was up close he knew better of course. This was a cruel, stark place. It offered only death.

And now it was set to take Korotir. It had been a fool notion to come here in the first place, a worse one to stay. Titan had thought Korotir to be just about the most terrible opponent imaginable in combat. When he fought, he seemed to flip between steely martial discipline and raw elemental fury, it was hard to know which was the more terrifying. This…thing Korotir was supposed to fight though, next to that he looked small and weak. Worse, he had to fight it in the open, on his own, without trickery and in front of hundreds. Madness.

Then there was the smug corpse- thing that passed for the priest around here. After the challenge was issued they’d all retired to a yurt for a vigorous, and completely pointless, debate about what to do. The problem was apparently the rules. To interfere in an orcish duel was dishonour, at best a failure to recruit the tribe’s warriors, at worse a grizzly end at the hands of the enraged mob they were surrounded by. It was ridiculous. The other side was so obviously cheating, the priest so obviously pumping her champion completely full of horrible devil magic, yet they were supposed to wait idlily by? Just watch as Korotir was torn to shreds in a battle he had no hope of winning? Korotir himself seemed to think so, every solution they had proposed had been met with a flat refusal and a resigned shrug. Titan knew the half-orc well enough to see that they’d have no sense out of him. He was well past clever stratagems and cunning ploys. Even as the debate raged, Korotir was deep in his battle-trance, he’d weighed his impossible opponent and seen his own death, was determined to meet it head on, was maybe even a little excited about it.

So it was up to the rest of them. But as mouths flapped the likes of Natalia, Atarah and Tranled proposed a lot of pretty little solutions that involved subtle magics or the winning of hearts and minds. Everyone agreed that Korotir could win a fair fight, agreed the priest was the problem, but when Titan had very helpfully suggested that he simply kill he priest he’d been dismissively shouted down with a chorus of mewling about the importance of not being seen to interfere and the rules. It made Titan seethe with anger, of course he wouldn’t be seen! When had anyone ever seen a blow coming from Titan Quickhand? Never! ‘The silent death’ they called him. Well, maybe they didn’t quite yet, but they would! As for the rules, Titan knew a thing or two about evening up the odds against a bigger opponent, and it had nothing at all to do with rules.

Perhaps they hadn’t yet learned to fully trust their technician, but they would! Titan picked his way between the tents, stepping gingerly around the filth that surrounded them. Maybe he’d been around Natalia too long. Become all soft and precious about a bit of grime. There were his new boots to consider though and this wasn’t the honest, useful refuse of the city but the long rotted carcasses of forest beasts, their gnashed bones poking all about. Titan spat. Out the corner of his vision there was movement. A little orc girl, naked as the day, elbows deep in offal that was long, long past its questionable best. Their eyes met. Titan’s nose started to wrinkle but then she realised how thin she was, she must have been ravenous. He thought back to his youth on the backstreets of Waterdeep, pilfering and begging for scraps. He’d been there. There was a moment of silent agreement, the transcendent language of mischief. Two souls seen a little too much and decided it would be better if they hadn’t. He tiptoed away.

He came to the end of the village. Just the end of a plateau really, with the sharp sides of the mountain soaring vertiginously overhead. There was an excited roar back from the centre of the village, the champions had emerged from their tents, and the crowd was humming with the anticipation of violence. Not much time. Titan took a deep breath and ran, jumped towards the mountain working his legs furiously. His last step sprang off the frozen ground, then, miraculously, his next propelled him upwards off of empty air. Up, up he went, every footfall taking him higher, just as if he were running up a hill of solid earth. Well, maybe not solid earth exactly, more like a sand dune but such distinctions were for other times. These boots were the greatest thing that he had ever owned, easily worth every privation of his adventuring career and more. If only Smyth and all the others from the others from the orphanage could see him now! Titan laughed and cackled at the sheer joy of it before remembering again the urgency of his mission.

He sprinted a path parallel to the mountain, past a jagged, jutting spur of rock that gave good cover from any wandering eyes that might happen to look upwards. Fat chance of that, a duel to the death between two colossal warriors for the fate of the tribe was the perfect distraction, and the bloodthirsty orcs would be the perfect audience. If Korotir’s lust for violence was anything to go by, they were as likely to forget to watch as they were to forget to breathe. Still, Titan was nothing if not a consummate professional, no-one could accuse him of being prone to overconfidence! He weaved from cover to cover, an otherwise torturous and impossible climb reduced to the work of a moment. Anyone who did look up would quickly dismiss the movement as a bird, a fox or some other meaningless animal.

He was high now, high enough to enact his plan. The Titan solution. Ahead was a tiny bluff scattered with a pile of boulders from some long-forgotten rockslide. He scampered over to it and risked a look at the combatants far below. The fight had started. At this distance it was like watching a pair of stick figures knock lumps out of each other but even from here Titan thought he could see that Korotir was on the defensive from that curse-amped monster Erogash and his enormous axe. The quickfire staccato rumbling of Korotir’s thunder-shield confirmed the suspicion that he was under serious assault. Titan grimaced, ground his teeth in anger and started rifling through the rock pile.

Titan considered the first he pulled out, hardly more than a stone, not devastating enough. A huge boulder was next to it, it would crush a house, much less a puny wizard- priest thing, but even one so mighty as he wouldn’t be able to aim it and a missed attack would be worse than no attack at all. Titan buried himself in the pile, furiously considering and throwing aside dozens of potential missiles while the thunder continued to ring out down below, every repetition of it electrifying Titan with further fury.

Then he saw it, the perfect rock. It was about the size of his torse, round on top, but sharp down below, narrowing to a cunning point like a cut diamond. Desperately he grabbed for it, set his feet, strained for all he was worth to pry it out from between the two huge rocks where it was pinned. All at once he came and titan had to dive away at the last moment to avoid crushing himself. That would not be a fitting end for one of his remarkable fame and remarkable-er talents. Not fitting at all.

Titan cackled as he felt its weight. He had to use his legs to lift the thing! It was going to crush that fool flat!

Now came the tricky bit. He wasn’t exactly sure how much weight these wondrous boots of his would bear. He waddled to the lip of the bluff, felt the icy wind below up from far, far below. He didn’t relish this bit, but Korotir might be in trouble and time was of the essence. Titan gulped, closed his eyes and stepped into the empty air…

He began to drop, not so fast as a freefall, but losing altitude at an alarming rate all the same. Titan began to pump his legs furiously like he was treading water. it arrested his fall but it was hard work and his heart began to hammer as he whooped in lumgfulls of freezing air.

It was hard to see much past the rock but the situation sounded like it’d hardly improved. The savage growls of the combatants echoed from below, the clash of weapons, the roar of the crowd baying for violence. Titan reckoned he could make out arcane babble of Tranled from within the hubbub, the strong resolute prayers of Atarah and Natalia. The snapping of metal rang out. Korotir would have been in dire straits indeed if they were intervening. Titan breathed a curse, this would even the odds.

He was right above that hateful priest now. An inch right, two inches forward. Everything had to be perfect. It would have been an impossible shot except for the fact that the smug, obvious fool was standing stock still, feet planted arrogantly like victory was certain. He was just about to loose when he remembered to rotate the sharp end downwards.
‘Special delivery’ cackled Titan as he dropped the huge rock.

The improvised missile dropped away. The world slowed. The axe whirred. The flail span. One second, two, three. Titan’s breath was caught fast in his throat.

Then it connected. The rock had hit the priest flush on the head, a perfect bullseye. It was a catastrophic blow. It crushed her flat, exploded her body, dark ichorhous blood and crimson black gore blossoming out instantly in every direction like the blooming of some great glorious flower.

‘Yes! That’s what you get! That’s what you get when you cross Ttian, when you cross Korotir! Ahahahahha!’ Titan danced and cackled in the air before he realised that perhaps he ought to make himself scarce. He didn’t look back down but instead just threw himself sideways as fast as he was able towards a patch of deep snow he’d seen twenty feet below. He carrened through the air, the sides of the mountain and its sharp, terrible rocks flying up to meet him and threatening a terrible impaling end if he’d miscalculated.

Then the pillowy snow was all around him. He’d made a crater in it five feet deep. Titan hated snow, but just then it felt like a hug. Had anyone seen him? Of course not, he was Titan the mighty and they were just a gaggle of ridiculous lunks.

He cackled in his hole.

And the Sky Was Witness
Scenario 19

20 Nightal 1486

After a while waiting in the Temple of Lathander, Pyrrhus sends a projection back, telling Atarah he’ll be gone awhile and not to look for him until sunset. Nik and Titan play cards while they wait, and Titan attempts to cheat but Nik is too perceptive. Envar and Korotir go looking for a particular magical item for sale for Envar. Natalia does loops of the shops nearby, the flashy touristy ones with overpriced pretty things.

The sun sets, there’s no Pyrrhus. Atarah starts pacing; Titan attempts to reassure her by talking about How Many Issues Tranled has that they’ll have to work through – it’ll take months! Atarah is not reassured. Natalia distracts Titan with tales of a shop that sells very ornate daggers. Titan is all over that; the shop owner flatters him into buying a fancy knife with a very complicated history. It’s definitely (not) magical.

The party (except for Atarah, who refuses to leave the Temple) eventually wanders back to their Inn and buys a round for the patrons there, catching up on what they’ve done. Titan shows off his knife; Korotir is concerned about its “powers”, Envar is disbelieving, and Natalia is reassuring. They filter back into the Temple afterwards, several hours after sunset.

Pyrrhus returns with a changed Tranled in tow. The tiefling has been physically changed after his time in the Celestial planes, going from dark haired and apple-red skin to nearly the same coloring as Pyrrhus and Atarah – blonde hair and more olive skin. Titan is disappointed he can’t call Tranled pinky anymore. Atarah greets her new big brother with a hug. There is some discussion over a Solstice meal of the repercussions of Tranled’s abandoning of his ex-patron, and the other warlocks which Lorcan holds who may come after him to set an example (though he is already an example – that one can leave). There are twelve of them now, they are called the Troil<sp?>.

After the meal, Pyrrhus asks if they will come with him, north, out of the city. They have somewhere to be. Atarah is confused that he can leave, but Pyrrhus explains now with a warlock connection he has a little more leeway on the Material Plane (Atarah-meta contemplates multiclassing). Everyone gathers their gear and has the vultures follow them, and they head out of the city on foot – it is snowing too hard to be useful flying. They meet Harshnag outside of Neverwinter – he’d adventured with Pyrrhus before, while Pyrrhus was mortal, and greets him with a fist bump that doesn’t even stagger the demigod.

“North. Is this about the Eye of the All Father?”

Pyrrhus agrees that it is. Harshnag explains the plot the Ordening to the party. There is a temple sacred to Annam – the god who created the Giants, north in the Spine of the World. He is called the All-Father, and he broke the Ordening for reasons no one knows. After it was broken, the Queen of the Storm Giants, went missing. She was known as a friend to the smallfolk and often went to Waterdeep to visit. The King went missing, looking for her, but after he had gone, the queen was found dead on the shore, presumably by smallfolk. So thus, all the lesser giants are competing for the crown.

The Temple in the spine of the world has an artifact in it, the Eye of the All-Father, which can supposedly answer any question truthfully – or six of them anyways. Harshnag wanted to ask it where the King is and how to defeat the evil giants trying to take over, but when he went in he was confronted by a small army of barbarians who had taken residence inside the Temple and attacked. He came back south to look for allies to help him get in and defeat whoever was living in the Temple. It’ll take at least a week to get there… though Harshnag says that’s at his admittedly Giant pace. Probably much longer for the smallfolk.

Pyrrhus draws Atarah aside. He tells her she could ask about Aelius, but there’s more pressing concerns. Pyrrhus knows his son – her brother – is alive, at least.

Korotir says he could have access to an army to help fight whatever’s in the Temple. But… If we go to his home, it may open up something they can’t put a lid on again after.

They have been walking all this time, into the long night. Pyrrhus puts his Dad Face on and asks the party if they know why most adventurers stop adventuring?

“Uh… because they die?”

“Yes. As adventurers, you have access to magics most people never do; that to bring one back from the dead. But it requires a ritual that others who know you well must bring an offering too. It requires friends. The soul cannot return without the lifeline that investing in others brings – resurrection rituals never work for strangers. Don’t take my example as the usual. I died, and there was no one to bring me back. My body was never recovered, and my friends were gone themselves or too far away.

Don’t take death lightly. Korotir, you said when we met you would die for Atarah. But I am telling all of you – dying is easy. Living is harder. Live for each other. It’s a much better legacy." Pyrrhus is beginning to fade out, it is close to dawn. He beckons Atarah away from the group a little ways. The landscape fades away into the warehouse in Waterdeep where Atarah was held by bounty hunters. This time, it is the bounty hunters in chains and bloody, and archers drawn at them. Atarah drew her sword without

“At that academy you went to, Atarah – they taught you to wield your sword before they taught you to wield your heart. Love is what is behind your blade, Atarah. Not anger, not justice, not anything else. Every time you draw – love should be what you hold in your mind.”

“But I don’t love torturers and murderers, Papa. I can’t.”

“You can. Because they are made by the gods just as much as you or I. If you do not love them, who will? Who will show them there is more they can aspire to than brutality and hate? You, Atarah. Paladins are the light, the example, in thought, word, and deed. You must know what you are fighting for. You fight for the people, not your own glory. Here are those that hurt you. Fight for them! Defend them!”

“No! Why should I!? No, let them die. They deserve it. Papa!”

“Why should you? Because I have. I defended those who savaged me, with sorrow ended those who would not lay down arms, forgave those who repented. As you claim to uphold my name, my legacy, then so will you! You must learn to love all, Atarah.”

“Papa — !” But the dreamscape fades and Pyrrhus is gone with it into the dawn. Atarah takes a long time to rejoin the party, sulky and subdued.

Tranled gives Titan his Black Book and his badge of rank in the Zhentarim; he won’t be needing them anymore.

21 Nightal 1486

In the morning, before settling down to camp, Titan realizes he can’t feel his hand with the magic Ring he acquired previously on it anymore and frost is forming over the rest of him. The gold symbol of Asmodeus is stuck inside his frozen hand. He’s being more grumpy than usual. He asks Natalia to come away from the party, into the woods, to look at his hand, but makes her promise Not To Tell Envar, Nik, and Tranled about it. Natalia promises on the basis of Cleric-Patient confidentiality and attempts several spells, none of which resolve the problem but do help slightly defrost his hand.

Natalia asks where he got the Ring and gets Harshnag to come help. “He’s been wearing. The Ring. Of Everfrost… that’s a frost giant artifact.” It might be cursed.

Natalia notices there’s a line of snow storms leading from Neverwinter to their current location, and hears Pyrrhus remark, “Once you’re in the Spine of the World, they won’t be able to track Titan anymore,” but the demigod is gone before any questions can be asked.

Titan decides to leave it in its frozen state until Natalia can figure out how to fix it, or failing that, ask at the Eye of the All-Father. They continue traveling for several days. Tranled finds a letter in his gear addressed to Atarah in Pyrrhus’ handwriting; it is unsealed but he gives it to her unread. (ooc – “Pack your bags, we’re going on a guilt trip.”)

The letter reads, "A good person draws a circle around themselves and care for those within. Their mate, their children. Other people draw a larger circle and bring within their brothers and sisters. But some have a great destiny. They must draw around themselves a circle that includes many, many more. Paladins must have the largest circles – they must care for all thinking creatures. Even those the gods made with no desire but evil in their hearts – those are not to be hated, but pitied.” Atarah tucks it into her armor, over her heart.

25 Nightal 1486

Titan, eventually, frustrated and impatient, tries to hit his hand against things – turns trees and rocks into blocks of ice and covers their pack mule in frost with maniacal laughter. The rest of the party is now reluctantly informed of Titan’s problem. Tranled can finally explain the curse that’s been following Titan since Nightstone. He had bought a scroll to protect his sister’s house – to curse anyone who broke in and stole from it with a thousand years of the Fires of the Nine Hells and a thousand years of the Ice of the Spine of the World.

Titan broke in after the attack on Nightstone and stole the symbol of Asmodeus. It was an expensive curse, and since it was a scroll, Tranled can’t lift it himself. Natalia can, however, now that she knows what it is. The party gets diverted wondering if it’d be easier to just cut Titan’s hand off, get the ring and the symbol away, then heal it back on, but Natalia uses her Mom Voice and overrides everyone, setting up to cast Remove Curse.

As she begins, the wind and the storm kicks up, coating the area in thick sleet and ice and reducing visibility to nothing but whiteness and snow. “You’re mine now,” says a voice, and the demonic visage of Tranled’s former patron appears in the storm, looming over Titan and Natalia.

Tranled recognizes the spell that Lorcan, the fiend lord, is casting – to stop the removal of the curse – and interrupts it violently. “I am not part of your collection any longer!”

Lorcan howls and disappears, and the curse is broken. Titan’s hand is freed from the ice, and Natalia pries his fingers from the Asmodeus symbol and slips off the Ring of Everfrost. Atarah gives Titan a leather cord to string the ring on instead. The symbol of Asmodeus is flung out into the snow, abandoned.

26 Nightal 1486

The party is getting closer to Korotir’s homeland. He recognizes the landscape. A party of orcs dressed in hunting gear appears out of the falling snow and approaches. Korotir steps forward to speak with them – in Orcish, which none of the rest of the party speaks. He asks why they are so far south? They reply there is no food at home, they had to come this far south to hunt and are having little luck. They ask if he is coming home to take his place as leader. Korotir is.

There is news at home, which is relayed as the hunting party guides them back to the village. An old acquaintance has been agitating to be ruler, instead – Erugash. He has no confidence in Korotir’s leadership – this is not news to Korotir; Erugash has always been this way. The hunting party wonders if Korotir’s friends know better than to interfere in a duel?

There is a lesson on Orcish etiquette. Duels are one versus one, weapons allowed, no interference. Otherwise, you fight with your fists, and it’s always to the death. This is how the tribe stays strong.

They get to the village – it is a large cluster of circular framed yurts around a huge central bonfire, clustered against the base of a mountain. Orcs, half-orcs, and others are engaged in various tasks; preserving kills, tanning hides, leatherworking, etc., but they all cluster around when the party enters the village. Korotir is instantly recognized and acclaimed. Harshnag wisely stays outside the camp, content to be on his own.

The leader of the hunting party, a female Orc who guided them back, grabs Atarah by the pauldron and calls out in common, “I challenge Korotir’s mate for —” but she didn’t even get to finish her sentence before Atarah has slammed a gauntleted fist into her nose. Korotir cheers – yeah, show ‘em how it’s done!

The pair square up for a duel, the orc tries clawing at Atarah and draws the first blood, but Atarah is quick to respond with her flaming sword unsheathed. The orc’s magic slides off Atarah and the two exchange blows until finally Atarah hauls back for the final strike, both of them bloody and scorched and swaying on their feet. She hesitates, remembering Papa’s scolding – and strikes with the flat of the blade, knocking out the other orc. She picks up the unconscious female and glares at the rest of the crowd – “Anyone else want to go?” Several take long steps back. Atarah tosses the orc at Korotir’s feet, who promptly caves her skull in with his flail.

An extravagantly over-muscled orc – unnaturally so – with eyes dripping red fire, accompanied by a female albino tiefling approaches. This is Erugash, and he starts in on a speech – he challenges Korotir for leadership of the tribe! He and the tribe have an arrangement – there will be no other duels and no killing until Korotir agrees to fight Erugash. Rants on about how Korotir is a coward who had abandoned the tribe, how the tribe’s true purpose was to serve Orcus and on and on. Korotir is unimpressed, calls Erugash an idiot and he will fight him at sundown, before the druids.

Atarah senses the tiefling is undead, and they stand on defiled ground. The tiefling also carries the symbols of a Left Hand priest – the same as the Hunt Lords from Noanar’s Hold. She tells the tiefling, “Summerheart is coming for you.” Natalia can sense the arcane link between Erugash and the tiefling, whose name is Sizzica. Sizzica is empowering Erugash far beyond what a normal orc could bear and it certainly would not be a fair fight with her in attendance.

The party retires to a yurt set aside for Korotir and discusses their options, while the Druids ready Korotir for the fight with warpaint and rituals. They can’t (or won’t) break the rules the tribe has set, so they can’t kill the tiefling before the fight begins, but neither can they let her stay for it.

While Korotir prepares and the party plans, Sizzica and Erugash have been going around the camp, riling up people against Korotir. The party is frustrated there is no way they can take her out while abiding by the rules Korotir’s people have, and so the duel is set.

As always, challenges for leadership fight before the witnesses of the Druids and the bonfire in the center of the camp. Sizzica is on the other side of the bonfire from the rest of the party, up against the mountain side. While the duel begins, Titan stealthily climbs the face of the mountain with his flying boots, picks up a big rock, and aims, unseen…

Atarah cast Sanctuary on Korotir just before he entered the ‘ring’, drawing the Summerheart emblem on his armor with warpaint and using that as the focus. Erugash also had the protection of Sanctuary from Sizzica, so their first turns are spent glaring at each other; Erugash laughing at Korotir’s “cowardice” – until Korotir smashes him with his shield and knocks him down.

The two hammer at each other, both landing blows, but while Korotir appears progressively more injured, Erugash doesn’t appear to have been hit at all. Erugash goes into a frenzied rage and starts raining blows down on Korotir, and being struck by the thunder magic of Korotir’s shield with each hit. Natalia notices Sizzica cast a healing spell on herself and realizes – the two are connected far more than she had originally thought. She surreptitiously casts Dispel Magic on Erugash – a ring on his finger snaps with a flash and he visibly deflates, losing the fire in his eyes and most of the unnatural muscle mass.

Sizzica has only a moment to be startled at sudden loss before Titan’s rock drops out of the sky and reduces her to a bloody smear on the snowy ground. Erugash begins to look worried. Korotir hammers him back, into the roaring bonfire, and it is clear that Erugash is starting to feel desperate.

< parts of fight missed? – edit them in or ping Sam & I will >

Finally Korotir drops his shield and flail, picks up Erugash and holds him bodily in the fire while the other orc screams and writhes. He drops the smoking corpse onto his shield and shoves it out at the crowd. “This is what comes of following Orcus! He is a god of death and destruction and that is all he will bring you! Ulgen – it is time to move! I will lead you to a new fight, to new hunting grounds.”

The camp and the party cheers. Time for business. The tribe explains they’ve grown – which is good – but because Korotir was not there to lead them to battle, they stayed out of the War of the Silver Marches which decimated the other orc tribes in the north. Because they’ve stayed, they’ve hunted out the area and there’s not enough food to last the winter. Korotir will lead them to the Temple of the All-Father. Envar goes out hunting and manages to bring back something, and in the morning, Atarah and Natalia between them cast magics enough to feed and water the tribe for the day.

27 Nightal 1486

The tribe prepares to pack up and travel north, to the Temple of the All-Father, and a fight with the Utgarde Barbarians holed up there.

Heart of Summer, Crown of Winter
Scenario 18

18 Nightal 1486

As the King arrives, Taal (the groveling drow mage) vanishes. Natalia notices but is too late casting Silence – does not stop Taal’s spell. She calls out to the rest. The remaining drow warriors raise crossbows or otherwise attack whoever is nearest.

The king shouts “’Ware!” and throws his hammer, hitting both the drow running for Tranled and ‘accidentally’ hitting Tranled as well. The dwarves with the King down one drow, Natalia’s spiritual weapon menaces the rest.

Tranled gets back to his feet, yelling in Dwarvish and then Common to Stop! “Drow – you will die here this day if you do not lay down arms!” “Dwarves – Stop! Save these men so they can tell you how they got in!”

Envar drops another drow with an arrow and Tranled facepalms. Tranled shoves a drow into Korotir, who knocks the man down and holds him with a shield to the chest.

Natalia’s spirit guardians flare and swipe at something near the door; Natalia dispels magic to reveal Taal the mage making a run for it. Envar takes a shot at the fleeing Taal and Nik races to catch up, but once down the corridors, Taal vanishes in a cloud of smoke. Nik fails to find where he’s gone, and neither can Envar.

The King wishes to slay the remaining drow outright, but Korotir refuses. “This one’s mine now.”

“Then you are responsible for him. You may keep your prisoner.” Natalia explains they’d like to question the drow with truth-telling magics, but a dwarven cleric who has accompanied the King explains that Drow are all tortured their entire lives; they do not even know themselves and thus anything that leaves their mouths cannot be trusted. All the same…

Tranled notices Atarah, still paralyzed and covered in spider gore, and feeds her a potion of poison-resist. She gets up, stiffly, thanks Tranled with a gory shoulder-check (“Eugh. Prestidigitation!”), and stomps over to the rest of the group with the dead priestess.

The party asks how the fight at the gates has gone?

Meanwhile! —

Titan is back! Riding with Harshnag, the friendly frost giant. The two approach Gauntlgrym, knowing that is where the party had intended to end up, and spot three fire giants and assorted drow forces sieging the gates.

“They’re definitely here, this is what it looks like wherever they go,” Titan quips.

The Destruction Orb explodes, knocking many of the Fire Giants down and outright killing half the drow, but Titan and Harshnag took cover. Harshnag lobs Titan at one of the Fire Giants and heads over to take out the other three. Titan blinds the Giant he landed on, eventually killing it, dramatically. With great flair. Which no one sees.

The remaining drow flee, and Titan bangs on the gates. They want in, and they’ve, you know, saved the city so. The guards are skeptical but Titan persists. “So, I was hoping for a triumphant return with a very large giant friend. Do me a solid.”

Titan and Harshnag are escorted inside, where they meet up with the rest of the party. There is banter.

“I just killed a Fire Giant. By myself! It was amazing. Atarah you look awful, what have you been doing?”

“I killed a spider demon.”

Titan is rendered momentarily speechless. He recovers quickly and explains that Harshnag wants their help Saving The World! The party… mostly… agrees? But first Atarah is not doing anything until after the solstice (and a bath), and Nik wants the party to come investigate where the drow mage disappeared. They don’t find anything new, unfortunately, just a blank piece of corridor.

Tranled declares he has a present for Natalia, but firsts demonstrates magical consent by asking if he can touch her to cast guidance. She agrees, and he then produces an auto-crossbow for her. Natalia is… politely thankful.

The party manages their prisoners and takes a short rest to get cleaned up. Atarah goes in search of the cleric from earlier to ask if there’s a sun-aspected holy place anywhere nearby. The cleric doesn’t know, but she gets a vision of a Temple of Lathander and the knowledge that it is in Neverwinter from Summerheart.

Atarah goes with Korotir and Envar to the prisoner’s cell – she casts Zone of Truth and stands by while they torture information out of the drow. (Another dark side point is added to her tally.)

The drow knows little, and would much rather die, but he does tell them what he knows under the influence of Zone of Truth. They came to acquire the Fire Titan in the Forge for the Fire Giant Duke Zalto, who wishes to reforge all the Vonindod into an artifact that can destroy the dragons. The drow got in through a secret passageway where Taal disappeared; touch the elbow of the statue nearby and a door will open that leads into the Underdark. That’s all he knows, and Korotir puts him out of his misery.

The party investigates the information and discovers it to be truthful, finding the secret passageway. They will tell the King about it but will not say it came from the Drow, to keep it from being biased against.

19 Nightal 1486

The day before the Solstice. Atarah is restless and wants to leave but they have an Audience with the King first. They tell him about the secret passageway, he thanks them for their assistance yesterday and presents Natalia with a flat wood chest. Back in their lodgings, later, Natalia opens the chest to discover three steins made of black stone and mithril filigree with the names “Nik” “Atarah” and “Natalia” engraved on them and filled with gold coins. Korotir is annoyed, grabs Titan, and heads out to Voldrick’s residence, telling the rogue about the boots of flying they acquired with Voldrick. Titan is all for stealing them. Korotir kicks down the door, “Voldrick, we’re here for the boots. They’re ours—” but Voldrick is not there. They ransack the room anyways and find the boots. Titan immediately dons them.

Atarah is even more restless and packs up everyone’s gear while Natalia goes shopping with Tranled… she wants to trade in the staff recovered from the priestess for something less… evil looking. The jeweler contact gives them a paltry offer, and Tranled says they’ll take it elsewhere.

Atarah hustles everyone out of Gauntlgrym; they make it to Neverwinter by sunset. Tranled takes everyone out for something called “pizza” while Atarah searches for the temple. Titan regales everyone with tales of what he’s been up to while away, and Nik sells him on Death Dog Venom. Atarah returns triumphant, Titan interrogates Envar: “Firstly, when did you learn magic?!”

The party decides to go on a pub crawl! Tranled makes back all the money he spent on pizza and drinks via shrewd gambling (and probably betting on the inevitable fights or arm-wrestling or other physical displays of prowess Atarah and Korotir get into). Natalia is the designated healer – doesn’t drink.

20 Nightal 1486

Atarah is up before dawn (if she ever slept at all), along with Envar. The rest of the party, except for Natalia, is recovering from various levels of hangover – Kushme is being used as a pillow, Nik is hanging from the rafters, Tranled needs a sauna – but Atarah liberally lays-on-hands to get everyone back on their feet and chivvy them out to the Temple (if they wanted to come).

The Temple of Lathander in Neverwinter is a domed building on the southwest shore of the Blacklake. The walls are pale stone, the roof red tiles. The inside is filled with sunlight, no matter the weather outside; it streams through skylights and stained glass windows, pools in rippled patterns across the floor, is echoed in mosaics and polished brass fittings until the inside is glowing with warm golden light. At the far end is the altar with the symbol of Lathander set in stained glass above it – a rising sun over rolling hills – lit by a profusion of beeswax candles.

A scattered handful of Priests and acolytes tend the altar, intoning the services of the Dawn Rites, chanting and intoning prayers in the Celestial language.

As the sun fully crests the horizon, there is a nearly-visible ripple the vibrates the Temple; not quite sound, not quite physical, but something still easily sensed. It is the cleansing magical tide of sunrise. As it passes, there’s a new light source, off to one side in an antechamber to the temple’s Great Hall – a flare of zenith-bright sun.

Atarah had been waiting for it. The second it appears, she is off and running, dodging around worshippers and furniture. She drops her pack and armor to the ground and flings herself at a tall blond man, yelling, “Papa!”

The man catches her and swings her around as if she weighed no more than a child, then wraps her in a tight hug. They both have white blonde hair, and where Atarah’s eyes are pale ice, his are the deep blue of a cloudless sky.  He is clearly her father, in build and height and face. But the soul behind those eyes is far more tempered than Atarah, and bears the calmer wisdom of years and pain.

Peace and calm radiates from him; a different sort of peace from that in the Shadowtop Cathedral. Where there it was a quiet, still sort of feeling, the man’s spirit is different: active and engaging, inviting – the peace of the hearth rather than the sanctum. He does not glow so much as the space around him always seems brightly lit, and  when he turns to greet the rest of the party with a broad smile, they feel as though they are coming home. As though they were children again, one without fears or worries, because here is their guardian.

He greets each of the party by their full, proper names before Atarah has a chance to introduce anyone – and whatever one’s feelings are on their name, in his voice it carries respect and affection – something to be worn without shame. “Welcome, greetings! I’m glad to meet all of you. I am Pyrrhus Auraest, called Summerheart.”

Nik doesn’t respond to his full name, and Titan is confused by Summerheart calling him “Alton” but responds when Pyrrhus asks for tales of their adventures. He’s heard some from Atarah, of course, but he’d like to hear it from them. Atarah is giddily smiling and standing as close as she can to her Papa, rendered sunnily silent.

Pyrrhus listens attentively during Titan’s full story, theatrics and all. No one usually lets him get all the way through. Pyrrhus asks for a demonstration of some of Titan’s moves – since he’s clearly, by his stories, very skilled. Titan blusters a bit, but Pyrrhus summons armor and stands at the end of the hall, beckoning. “Come on. Show me.”

Titan manages to ping an axe off Pyrrhus’s armor with an acrobatic display, which impresses both Pyrrhus and the rest of the party. Titan is congratulated, and Korotir and Tranled eagerly line up to be next.

Tranled feels a presence looming over him and a fiendish voice whispering to him. “Get out. Stop fraternizing with… these.” He starts feeling really nauseous and heads out to find a privy – in the middle of his hand-to-hand spar with Titan, Pyrrhus pauses, turns to Tranled and commands, “No.”

The whispering and the presence vanishes.

Korotir and Pyrrhus square up to spar; Atarah offers her dad her sword – his sword – but he declines. “No, the Arbiter blade is yours now. I’ve got my own.” He draws blades of fire and light from his palms. Korotir wants one too but they don’t work that way. They spar – Korotir barely hits, once, but it’s enough to shove Pyrrhus back and nearly knock him down. Pyrrhus recovers and returns the favor, knocking Korotir down after making the Temple ring from the force of the blow on the Giantbreaker shield.

After the spar, Pyrrhus notices Tranled returned from the privy. “If they ever give you a hard time again, I can help you. Just ask.”

“How do I contact you?” “Through Atarah is the easiest, right now. Stick with her.”

Pyrrhus has information to give them. He explains about the Left Hand:"
The Left Hand is a group, almost a cult of Orcus. They deal heavily in blood magic and necromancy. They’re very focused on ‘legacy’. Which usually means either cheating death, or making sure that other people’s legacy is wiped out. They like to go after noble houses, corrupting them and using their wealth to fund more blackmail. That’s what happened to the Margasters. I believe you met Othovir, who was fleeing that whole situation. That poor family…

They’re taking a particular interest in this group since most of you are a noble bloodline in one way or another. Korotir is de facto leader of a growing tribe of Ulgen. Natalia and Atarah you know. Tranled is the Bael Turath and will decide their future, for good or for ill. And Titan… well, Titan’s giftings are a very well-kept secret. That’s why the Left Hand isn’t after him.

Your bloodlines are the reason for the bounty on you and my family. My family’s existence is an insult to them. And, assuming they haven’t changed their tactics, that’s what is happening to the Cuvelier family…"

Tranled is concerned about his heritage, but Pyrrhus reassures him. “Your bloodline does not define you. It is your own choices that define your future, none other.”

Tranled has already made choices. He explains a bit about his Fiend Lord patron, and the party asks lots of questions. Pyrrhus reassures Tranled that he is on holy ground: Lorcan cannot see or hear or interfere with anything that happens here.

Tranled breaks down sobbing. He never wanted the Pact. Especially doesn’t want the fire magic – fire is what killed his parents and he hates using it. He doesn’t want his Patron. Pyrrhus says his Patron doesn’t define him.

Atarah yanks off her holy symbol and asks her Papa to bless it; to give it the same kind of effect as holy ground does so Tranled doesn’t have to deal with his patron’s interference any more. Pyrrhus smiles – “Exactly what I was thinking,” and blesses the amulet. Atarah immediately hands it to Tranled. It’ll block the Fiend Lord’s senses as long as he wears it.

There is more discussion on the Left Hand. Pyrrhus addresses Natalia, reassuring her.
“Natalia, it’s normal for you to be worried. We will keep your mother safe. You are right where you need to be, with the people you need to have around you. The Left Hand are not martially powerful. They’re a sickness, so what you need is medicine, not the sword. They tend to operate over long time scales, this has likely been going on for years, and it may take years more for their plan to come to fruition. It’s fortunate you have been away, because your presence could have forced them to take action. I know this is hard for you to hear. But you need to wait until you know who their agent is. Then you’ll be able to strike swiftly and unexpectedly.”

He tells them when they do know who the agent is, to go to Yartar and find his old friend Kolbaz, tell him Pyrrhus is calling in a favor. Kolbaz is a Harper with a teleportation ritual – he can get them inside Waterdeep to strike quickly and before the Left Hand knows they are there.

Towards the end of the discussion, Tranled asks Pyrrhus if he can be Tranled’s patron, instead. Atarah is excited for a new brother!

Pyrrhus smiles and offers a hand to the tiefling. “Tranled. Will you be one of my children?”

Tranled’s eyes widen, glancing between Pyrrhus and Atarah. “Yes!”

“Then, come with me. Excuse us, please.” Pyrrhus bows to the group and leads Tranled towards the altar. A portal opens in the giant mosaic of Lathander’s holy symbol, and Pyrrhus draws Tranled through it, into another plane.


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