posted Feb 6, 2021, 10:35 AM by Stephen Pliska-Matyshak

Propyltina 17th, Year Two of the Reign of High King Ran

The trio follows Liufr and Sabine back to their camp for a rest. However, Hjotr is found with his throat slit when checked on during the rest. A bloody piece of sharpened flint lies next to him. The other two captives are well enough to travel once they are awakened.
Rael Octavius looks around.
Rael Octavius: Did he kill himself?
Liufr: Unlikely.
Liufr looks at Sabine.
Fennimore: He was hogtied pretty securely.
Fennimore: If he could get free enough to kill himself, he could have gotten free to attack us.
Sabine just shrugs her shoulders.
Sabine: He got what he deserved if you ask me.
Fennimore looks for clues to who killed Hjotr.
Rael Octavius is pretty certain Sabine did it.
Perri Elastime looks around for who killed Hjotr.
Fennimore finds blood in one of the abandoned tents, smeared on some furs as though someone wiped it from their hands.
Rael Octavius glares at Sabine.
Fennimore: It looks as though someone wiped the blood from their hands over here.
Perri Elastime goes to see what Fenn has found.
Fennimore: Look at the furs in this tent.
Rael Octavius searches the ground throughout the camp, circling around and away from the tent where the blood was found.
Perri Elastime looks at the furs.
Perri Elastime: Sabine, did you kill Hotjr?
Sabine remains stonefaced.
Rael Octavius finds several tracks, but none of them track to anybody unbound in the camp.
Rael Octavius: I have found some tracks that do not match any of ours.
Perri Elastime: Do you think someone came into camp and killed him?
Fennimore: Sabine, are there others out there, your tribe or your enemies? If they snuck in and killed Hjotr, they may come for someone else next.
Rael Octavius: Only one of us has been on watch at a time. We could have missed them.
Perri Elastime looks around for magic traces.
Perri Elastime sees that the only magic is what is in the chest and carried by the trio.
Fennimore: While Perri performs her ritual, Fenn helps Rael search for tracks at the camp's edge.
Perri Elastime: I don't see any magical traces around.
Sabine: Hjotr has many enemies. There are many of us out on the plains.
Rael Octavius: All of these tracks could be from Hjotr's followers. It is hard to tell how old any of them are.
Liufr: We should probably get packed up and head to the chieftain's camp.
Fennimore: I agree with Liufr.
Perri Elastime: Well, I don't feel very safe sticking around here.
Sabine: And leave Hjotr's body for the vultures, seriously.
Fennimore sadly shakes his head at Sabine.
Perri Elastime: Does he not have a family that will want the body?
Rael Octavius: You do not seem to be one of his followers.
Sabine: His family would like nothing more than to hear that he is dead.
Fennimore: We should at least give him a proper burial.
Sabine: Let Colborn and Ingimarr dig then. They are loyal to Hjotr.
Perri Elastime: I would hate for him to become some sort of undead to terrorize folk again.
Rael Octavius observes the other barbarians.
Fennimore: Colborn and Ingimarr, if I free your hands, will you bury Hjotr, so we can all return to your chieftain?
Colborn nods.
Ingimarr nods.
Fennimore unties the captive barbarians.
Sabine: We should not leave these tents for others to take. There are harnesses to draw this gear with the horses.
Perri Elastime: Don't try any funny stuff.
Fennimore: Can you and Liufr break camp?
Liufr: Sure.
Sabine nods.
Fennimore: If Colborn and Ingimarr can travel on foot with the rest of us, we use all three horses to carry the gear.
Colborn and Ingimarr find spades and begin to dig.
Perri Elastime watches for trouble.
Liufr and Sabine break camp and get the horses loaded.
It takes another hour, but Hjotr is buried, and the camp is packed up and ready to move.
Liufr: There is not a good way to place the chest on the horses.
Rael Octavius: We are not ones to be lugging around a chest either.
Perri Elastime: I can make a platform for the chest.
Fennimore: I don't want to leave it behind. It's far more valuable than your tents.
Perri Elastime casts floating disk.
Sabine: Maybe for you if the chest is empty. Coins are not worth anything out here.
Perri Elastime: Help me place it on the platform.
The barbarians look uncomfortable as the magical disk forms.
Fennimore: If you get it to the city, the contents of that chest could buy you tents, weapons, and food for months.
Perri Elastime: We will have to take a break every so often for me to remake the disk.
Sabine: It will be a long day if you have to do that too often.
Perri Elastime: Yes, it will, but I'm pretty tough and can handle it. Can you?
Fennimore smirks.
Sabine smiles.
Perri Elastime: Well, spells are a wasting. Let's go.
The journey takes most of a day, and they are now very near to mountains, having trekked far into the foothills of The Dragon's Tail.
Perri Elastime: So when is elevenses.
Liufr: We probably do not want to enter the camp with that magic. Have Colborn and Ingimarr carry it the rest of the way.
Perri Elastime: Okay.
The vegetation seems to be doing better here as the air seems saturated with humidity. However, the glacial threat that Sabine mentioned is apparent as there are long tails of ice and snow encroaching into the immediate vicinity of the mountains.
Perri Elastime: We should investigate the ice.
Fennimore: Do you ever get giants coming down out of the mountains?
Rael Octavius: Let us meet the chieftain first.
Perri Elastime: Yes, first thing first.
Liufr: There have been a few giants.
Liufr leads the group into a stand of tents on the hillside.
The chieftain sits on a tree stump in front of a large tent, sharpening a greatsword as other barbarians work among other tents preparing food, crafting equipment, and curing hides.
Liufr defers to Sabine even though he is the group's guide.
Bjorg: Ah, Sabine, my sister. Where is our treacherous brother?
Fennimore gapes.
Sabine: Hjotr is dead. These adventurers had defeated him and his followers and chose to take him captive to return him to you for justice. He met an appropriate fate elsewhere so as not to pollute our camp.
Perri Elastime raises her eyebrows.
Sabine (turning to the trio): My apologies for shooting during the ambush. I had to make Hjotr believe I was with him.
Fennimore: Hjotr was your brother?
Sabine frowns.
Sabine: Unfortunately.
Bjorg: My tribe and I are in your debt, adventures. Anything you need that we can provide is yours.
Perri Elastime: Sometimes you can't pick family.
Bjorg (gesturing to the two remaining captives): And these? Justice was not meted out upon them?
Sabine: The elves and the halfling insisted on leveraging their strength to carry Hjotr's hoard back here and have them face your wrath.
Bjorg: Then they forfeit their freedom to our guests' continued servitude.
Colborn and Ingimarr bow their heads.
Sabine sneers at the captives.
Perri Elastime (whispering): What does that mean?
Fennimore -> Perri Elastime: I think he is offering them to us as slaves.
Bjorg: Well. Introductions then. I am Bjorg, chieftain of the Wyrmrearers.
Perri Elastime -> Fennimore: I don't want a slave.
Fennimore -> Perri Elastime: Me either.
Rael Octavius (whispering): Slaves?
Perri Elastime -> Rael Octavius: I hope not.
Perri Elastime: I am Perri Elastime.
Rael Octavius: I am Rael Octavius, acting ambassador of Random to the Barbarian Plains. My companions are High King Ran's Bladesinger and our...um...scout.
Fennimore (to Bjorg): I am Fennimore, but my friends call me Fenn.
Bjorg: An ambassador? Like Snorri Geir?
Rael Octavius: Yes, you know Ambassador Geir?
Bjorg: We have met...on the battlefield long ago.
Fennimore: You both live to tell the tale.
Rael Octavius: As allies?
Bjorg: Not initially, but a giant interfered, and we joined forces.
Fennimore: Sounds intriguing.
Perri Elastime: We are here to investigate the changing climate of the plains.
Bjorg: Oh. It has been a slower demise up here in the hills than down on the plains.
Fennimore: We want to travel higher into the mountains to see what is trapping the rain and snow on the mountain peaks. Perhaps another giant is toying with the weather.
Perri Elastime: But the snow and ice appear to build in the nearby mountains.
Bjorg: The cause of the dangerous winter is likely Fruustuan.
Perri Elastime: Or ice imps or any number of other things.
Fennimore: Fruustuan?
Fennimore: What's a Fruustuan?
Rael Octavius: That is a draconic name.
Bjorg: Yes. An ancient white wyrm.
Bjorg: Her spawn are beginning to plague us even here in the hills.
Perri Elastime: Little dragons?
Bjorg: Bigger than horses, but smaller than mammoths.
Fennimore: Sounds more than big enough to freeze the toes of a halfling.
Bjorg: Come and take supper with me, and we can discuss more of your mission.
Perri Elastime: Oh, good. I am famished.
Fennimore: I am honored by your hospitality.
Sabine: I will see to stowing these tents and then I will join you.
Sabine (to the trio): If I may borrow your servants, please?
Perri Elastime: Yes, of course.
Fennimore nods uncomfortably.
Rael Octavius: Have them serve however needed.
Rael Octavius frowns and looks at Perri and Fennimore.
Sabine nods and motions for Colborn and Ingimarr to follow her.
Bjorg: Come, come. We have plenty up here in the hills. Join me in my tent.
Bjorg enters the big tent.
Fennimore follows Bjorg into his tent.
Rael Octavius enters the tent behind Fennimore.
Perri Elastime follows Fenn and Rael.
Fennimore looks around.
The tent is round and about twenty feet across, with a fire pit in the middle vented through a hole in the top. The walls are lined with furs, weapons, and trophies of both battles and the hunt. Pallets occupy the south side of the tent away from the entrance, and a large table occupies the north between the entrance and the firepit.
Perri Elastime looks around.
At one end of the table rests a makeshift throne of sorts and the long sides of the table have log benches. The foot of the table has a barrel resting on a stand.
Bjorg takes his seat on the throne.
Fennimore climbs onto a bench.
Bjorg (arms spread): Take a seat; rest.
Perri Elastime: Thank you.
Rael Octavius rounds the table and sits on the bench with his back to the fire.
Perri Elastime sits next to Fenn.
Perri Elastime: Where is your family?
Bjorg (sadly): Sabine and I are the only ones left.
Perri Elastime: Hjotr was your son?
Bjorg: Brother. We are all siblings.
Fennimore: But, there were others? Siblings, a wife, children?
Perri Elastime: We tried to talk to him, but he would not listen.
Bjorg: All the others have been lost due to the cataclysm and its results, directly or indirectly.
Fennimore: I am sorry for your losses and that Hjotr has added to that sorrow.
Bjorg: Thank you.
Perri Elastime: I thought there would be many children among the people here.
Perri Elastime: I am sorry. A peoples future is its children.
Bjorg: It is challenging for children to survive. There are a few, but they are safeguarded, so you did not see them when you arrived.
Fennimore: You are wise to keep them safe, but we mean you no harm.
Bjorg: I understand, but others like my brother would see you three and attack regardless.
Perri Elastime: What danger do we pose?
Bjorg: Many blame the elves for our current plight, but I knew Theirastra, Enialis, and Beleshtash.
Fennimore: We are here at Ambassador Geir's behest to investigate the source of the drought and what can be done to aid you and the other tribes.
Fennimore: Liufr mentioned their names. What can you tell us of them?
Bjorg: They are the elves that fought the battle that precipitated the cataclysm. Theirastra and Enialis were lovers, but Enialis was obsessed with destroying the ancient elven king Ksirb Emitae, and it corrupted him. Theirastra tried to save him, but he was truly lost. She enlisted Beleshtash to ensure that they all were removed from the world. It did not go so well.
Fennimore: Do you think the cataclysm and the dragons are related to each other?
Rael Octavius: They were supposed to pass on?
Bjorg: Dragons are opportunists.
Bjorg: All of their regalia were supposed to destroy themselves and the three elves in the process. However, it is believed that one piece was thrown from the battle and lost. This caused their magic to shatter.
Fennimore ponders this news for a moment.
Fennimore: If this lost piece of regalia were found and destroyed, might it break the drought?
Perri Elastime: So there is some powerful magic somewhere.
Bjorg: Hjotr claimed he had found where this artifact had fallen.
Perri Elastime: But we cannot ask him now.
Fennimore: And now he lies dead and buried in the plains below your foothills. I don't suppose anyone could coax the secret from his corpse.
Perri Elastime: But we cannot ask him now.
Bjorg: I sent Sabine to recover this information.
Perri Elastime: Perhaps she learned something before we found her.
Bjorg: His surviving followers may know its location. One reason they were not immediately killed.
Sabine enters the tent.
Perri Elastime: Sabine said he had many followers.
Sabine: I was unable to convince him to tell me.
Fennimore: Sabine, we were just thinking of you.
Sabine: Ingimarr is one of his oldest followers. He may have been with him when the discovery was made.
Fennimore: Perhaps you can fetch him for us to ask him.
Sabine whistles.
Ingimarr and Colborn enter the tent.
Fennimore frowns.
Bjorg looks at the two barbarians scornfully.
Bjorg (to those at the table): Their only means of redemption is to die in glorious battle in defense of their masters. They know this.
The two brighten ever so slightly.
Sabine smiles.
Perri Elastime looks concerned.
Fennimore: Let there be no battle of blades here tonight. Let us speak first.
Fennimore (looking at Ingimarr and Colborn): Sabine tells us you knew her brother well.
Perri Elastime -> Rael Octavius: He is good at this.
Ingimarr: Yes, my master.
Rael Octavius looks a bit taken aback.
Perri Elastime watches Ingimarr and Colborn.
Fennimore: Are you aware he sought an elvish treasure, greater than the chest of gold and jewels we brought for your chieftain?
Ingimarr: I am, my master.
Fennimore: Your chieftain has offered you a path to redemption. Would you take it freely?
Ingimarr and Colborn (in unison): With all my heart, my master.
Fennimore: The path to what Hjotr sought is likely to be dangerous, and if you can lead us on, it offers you that redemption.
Perri Elastime: Do you know why Hjotr sought this treasure?
Ingimarr: I know this area, but not the exact location. Hjotr fled from the area to the northeast of here after seeing a shining golden orb.
Rael Octavius: I did mention that High King Ran witnessed this battle.
Rael Octavius: All of the combatants wielded regalia. A crown, a scepter, and an orb of immense power.
Fennimore: Ingimarr, could you get us near to where Hjotr saw the orb?
Ingimarr: I can, my master.
Rael Octavius: If it is a golden orb, that would most likely be the Orb of Good.
Ingimarr: It is west of Realm's Wound, somewhere south of the tributary that drains into the great river.
Perri Elastime: Does Hjotr have other followers that will continue his goals?
Ingimarr: Colborn and I are all that are left. We took heavy losses trying to gain the treasure you recovered.
Perri Elastime: He didn't need to fight us.
Colborn: He was lost.
Fennimore: Chieftain Bjorg, I think we have learned something of import here. I would like to discuss our plans with my friends tonight. Before that, we will toast your hospitality and the redemption of Colborn and Ingimarr.
Bjorg: Very good!
Rael Octavius: You may wait outside, Ingimarr and Colborn.
Ingimarr and Colborn bow and exit the tent.
Perri Elastime: Well, that was enlightening.