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.