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.