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.
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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!