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Thorvald side story...
The needs of the many out way your desires for sleep as you quietly climb out of bed before first light and make ready to leave. Climbing up onto your horse you ride out for Greyson's Landing and the garrison waiting for you. You easily manage the fastest and safest route and find yourself riding towards the town's outskirts before nightfall.
That all ends somewhere within your third month, on a night with a full and heavy moon that hangs eerily low in the sky.
The next few days are a blur as reinforcements arrive and the townsfolk praise you for saving them. Released from your deputies here you return to the fortress. When you arrive no one else has returned from their own duties but you do hear rumours of daring raids by Isham and praise for Rutilux saving a flank during a heated battle.
Several days ride later you find Toopil back at his forge and show him your ruined blade, "I see lad. The steel tells me what happened. This blade was made with borrowed strength, your uncle was a great warrior but his strength alone is not enough for what you face now. Come, I will show you how to remake your blade into a true Wintersbane. I will teach you the secrets of Kodiak steel."
Anastasiya side story conclusion (including slight amendment)
The fireball comes easily and as soon as it makes contact the ice shatters and the water disappears. Anastasiya climbs to her feet and stares accusingly at Anabella who stares back, a mixture of confusion and sadness on her face, amidst the cinders of Ana's last spell.
Anastasiya wakes some time later but not in Anabella's grove but on the outskirts of an unfamiliar forest wrapped in a heavy knitted blanket. Looking about frantically for Anabella or signs of danger she finds neither. Nearby, her belongings have been neatly stowed beneath the bows of the tree she woke up under.
Fear not, you will never have to see me again for as long as that is your desire
After riding for several days you eventually come upon a town and from there are guided back to the fortress where you are greeted by a very worried looking Julianda. She ushers you inside and to a cozy fire.
It is my sad duty to report the unfortunately loss of the majority of the plot development department to an entirely unexpected inferno that spontaneously erupted some time earlier today. Our thoughts go out to their families during this difficult time. Extra thoughts go out to the family of our intern Jimmy who was sadly delivering coffee to the department at the time... And my coffee which had yet to be delivered. My poor poor coffee.
Please share with me a moment of silence for my lost coffee... And the staff I'll have to replace.
Anastasiya side story...
The next morning after the groups 'farewell for now' feast and a rather unsuccessful attempt to convince your horse to stop trying to run away you're called up by Bron. Several of the others have already left the camp and despite. Rutilux's promise to help with your training his duties have prevented him from doing it so far.
On the roof of the tower Bron waits, looking out over the edge towards the east, scanning the horizon. Three Ulfen, two men and a woman, stand nearby fidgeting and sharpening arrows. When the door closes Bron turns to you, "Lass, things aren't going nicely here. Despite our best efforts we're losing most major engagements. As you know the ulfen people are distrustful of the arcane which leaves us at a disadvantage since Irrissen has no shortage of spell slingers and they're not afraid to use them in battle. Now that's where you and these people come in. They're a family of hunters that have come forth and volunteered their skills. Oleg, Anya and Robar Forester will ride with you through the lines. I want you to concentrate on finding their spellcasters and pointing them out."
The 'Foresters' accompany you as you ride back and forth along the line. Several times battle breaks out nearby and you struggle to keep hold of your horse while trying scan the enemy lines. Several times throughout the first week you spot signs of spells being cast but aren't able to catch sight of the caster.
You ride out of the fort that night, though a gate that Julainda made sure would let you pass, and out into the dark. Alone because you know that if Bron or the others heard about this they'd either convince you to stay or they'd all try and ride out with you. Although you miss Thorvald and wish he was beside you, you know in your heart that this is something you must do alone.
The cold waters leech out your strength and energy as you find yourself slowly floating down to the bottom, panic gives way to regret as you think about never seeing Thorvald or your friends again as the world goes black...
Jediah side story...
Less than an hour later you are back in the saddle and heading for Coryss tower, farther south along the border. Behind you ride thirty of Savol's veteran clansmen, the men and women Bron assigned to you to help retake the tower, all stern, vigilant and bloodied in countless skirmishes and battles already.
By dusk on your third day in the saddle you can finally the tower before you. Standing tall and dark atop jagged outcropping lying over one of the few unfrozen rivers a stark sentinel dominating the lands all around it.
The last four remaining ulfen warriors stand surrounded, bleeding from scores of wounds. Their resolve and their stamina exhausted they ready themselves for their final moments, ready to die in battle when a strange sound erupts from the other side of the courtyard. The sound of stone and rubble moving and wood cracking and groaning shakes the area as the collapses stable erupts out wards, a dark fist piercing the wood and tearing it away. A figure climbs out of the debris and stands defiantly, a stone glaive held up point straight at the hobgoblins heart encased in a green hand with dark green stone shards jutting out from it. Raising his head Jediah looks out at the now quivering mass of hobgoblins. Before them stands not quite a half Orc but something more akin to an elemental. Jediah's exposed skin has taken on an almost rock like appearance and in several places sharp outcroppings or protuberances have formed like his forearms and hands and his cheeks. All signs of his previous wounds have vanished as he calmly walks towards his foe. All the other hobgoblins backing away visibly nervous.
There have been no further signs of Irrissen forces nearby since that day and eventually reinforcements arrive to relieve Jediah and his remaining men allowing them to return to camp after a gruelling six months of constant warfare.
(Bron)"Nay lads, Coryss tower is leagues to the south, well beyond the current battle lines. I'd rather send a full centas there but we'll have to hope that quality makes up for quantity." his finger follows the line of the river before stopping at a region with several dots and names, "The river it's guarding leads right into the heart of the south lands. Isham you'll be taking control of this area," pointing to an area close to your current location, "Savol was trying to save the captain of second company when this all happened so he's probably in the vicinity. I expect you to take advantage of any trouble he causes and if you see him tell him to get his blasted arse back here."
After Ana, Thorvald and Zethyris return
(Bron)"There you are, we're just finishing up. Thorvald, see this town? It's called Greyson landing. I want you to head over there and take charge of its defences. There's plenty of people there and no way to evacuate them mid winter so instead we install a garrison, kinda like defending against raiders but on a wee bit bigger scale. And Ana, I've got a tough task for you... If you are able." he pauses and looks right at her instead of the map, "The biggest trouble we've had so far are the enemy spell slingers. I want you to move through the battle locating them and pointing them out. A trio of hunters, two brothers and a sister, recently joined us so I want you to accompany them. I'm hoping that those witches will be too worried about being shot up that we'll buy us some breathing room for our men."
"Go on, most of you can get some sleep, the real work starts tomorrow."
Bron looks between the old man and Zethyris,
(Bron)"Aye, your healing arts would be a deal of help. Thank you. Rutilux, I doubt you need worry for your cousin, ha, young Eustace all but guaranteed that any man interested had to go through you." he moves to collect some of the scattered notes and maps before he sighs, "There's far too much to do and not enough to do it. Thankfully, now yur back." he turns back and smooths a large map out on the table. "For the time being we need your strength distributed throughout the army. To start, Julian, Binar has need of someone crafty like you so I want you to meet up with him. Rutilux there's a wide plain to the north that's perfect for horseplay, I want you to make up a squad from the soldiers that are decent in the saddle and patrol this area," running his thick finger across a wide open section of the map, "We should be able to manage twenty heavy mounts so plan around that. Jediah. South, here, is a tower we recently lost that I want you to take back. I have thirty veterans already making preparations to leave and I want you to lead them." his finger stabs down on a dark blot marked Coryss right beside a large river, "This tower guards one of the few rivers in this area that don't freeze in the winter. Without it our supply line spreads thin and Irrissen can use the river to bypass our army and strike the interior." he then points to a nearby town marked Greyson landing, "Zethyris, I want you to take charge of reinforcing the town and defending it. Your experience in cities in the south should help you there..."
Its a good day. I have internet again and my LGS finally managed to get me a copy of the Irrissen book.
Edit:I don't have a problem with leadership.... But you would be responsible for dealing with your cohort and numpties.
So many posts... If I missed a question please re-ask
(Julianda)"That is troubling indeed. I'll have to discuss some of that with Ana when she returns. Thankfully though, scrying is something that can be dealt with. Mages have long had the ability to not only prevent people from scrying upon themselves but they even have spells able to detect when someone is attempting to Scry on them. The details are beyond my purview but I will see what I can dig up on the matter."
(Bron)"Aye, it happened two days ago. He was fighting near the border and then the battle shifted. One of our units collapsed while a portion of theirs broke and fled. In the confusion he got cut off and we lost sight of him. I doubt the enemy has anyone committed nearby that would prove to be any danger to Savol but I wish he wasn't quite so eager to take the fight to them. Yur kin are fine, Eustace is running messages for me right now and Noeva, well..., she's fine too aside from becoming a tad too popular."
(Julianda)"What do you mean controlled? When exactly did this happen? Explain to me everything that was going on and what you saw, what you heard. Leave no detail out. If Ana is in danger of something possessing her then we have to figure out who or what is doing it and how."
(Bron)"Blast it all, what else can go wrong. Savol is running amok behind enemy lines with his honour guard, Nayl's playing cat and mouse with a pack of winter wolves and you lot come back fighting each other. You humans are crazy no wonder my ancestors locked themselves away inside the mountains." turning away to calm himself, "Julianda, please deal wit this quickly and quiet as yo can."
It all happens so fast that Bron, Julianda and the soldier are caught completely off guard by Julian suddenly tackling Anastasiya away from one of the desks before she has a chance to get more than a cursory glance at it. The force of Julian and Ana's bodies causes the table to shift and scatters the the various chips and markings strewn about its surface.
Depending on Julian, Thorvald and Ana's reactions initiative may be inevitable
Julian Will save: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (15) + 3 = 18
Resting in your own tents in exactly what you all needed to recover from several long days in the saddle and out in the elements. As the fatigue wears away you find yourselves fresh for the next leg of your trip, the journey to the border.
Three days into your trip you start seeing signs of the fighting, broken ground from skirmishes, fresh burial mounds and both weary and worn out soldiers working on patrols.
A few hours later you can see a small, dark form flying towards you that slowly resolves itself into the form of Herald. Landing clumsily on Rutilux's outstretched arm it's breast is matted with bloody feathers. It's not seriously hurt but appears to be quite tired and hungry. Examining the blood reveals an already healing gash, most likely a close call with an arrow. Clutched in its claw is a small piece of parchment.
Head north east. We've had to relocate our camp to Easton, a small fort close to the border, to deal with their own movements. I hope you're ready for trouble.
It takes another day and a half to get to Easton. On the way you were waylaid by some Irrissen scouts that underestimated all of you and paid the ultimate price for their arrogance.
The fort of Easton is little more than an old fortified stone tower with a palisade half collapsed but reinforced with wood. All around it can be seen dozens of units of soldiers milling about looking ready to march. Inside there are many more soldiers, all wounded, lying in rows moaning and crying out as the armies healers and alchemists move down the rows changing bandages and dispensing medicine. The worst are being tended by two priests who look ready to collapse themselves.
Inside the tower you can see men and women sleeping or eating, all worn but not one shows signs of defeat. Even though the war seems to be taking its toll there seems to be no effect on their northern pride. At the topmost level Bron has set up his command tent. Maps and local charts cover several tables and the old dwarf leans on one as a young ulfen many of you recognize from Nayl's outriders stands at his side pointing to several areas and talking quietly. Julianda sits In a rocking chair asleep with a thick bandage around her head and a cast over her left arm.
When the man finishes his report he turns to leave and sees all of you entering. He barks out a whoop and raises his sword arm high in salute to you. "Welcome Thanes, it is good to see you."
The lock opens with a satisfying click and you slip inside. The rooms paint and flooring are peeling but you can see signs of recent habitation. No one is home right now but they could be coming back soon.
Moving across to the windows you can see into most of the windows across the street. It takes some time to scan through the different windows but you manage to locate the window you're pretty certain is to his room. No one is home and you can't see details very well but the apartment is a mess. Possibly ransacked.
Your quick scan of the data reveals little but at least you know that its real info. Heading back to get everyone else to help out May be your best bet. If you can track down that warehouse you'll have a good lead on them even if they're not there.
"He gave no orders regarding you to me but if I may chance an opinion, I think he'd rather you join him at the front so that he can better plan his actions." he pauses, "But battle is no place for the young. Why not leave your charges here under our guard and make better speed to meet Savol?"
Jennis and Stenly don't know a lot about her mothers cousin. All they know is that she's a warrior that travels with a chieftains son who claims to have slain a dragon. The last she heard she was living in Varrissia but that was a few years back.
The wolf tracks and markings in the morning appear normal. You can tell that the pack was probably between seven and ten large and their tracks are normal sized rather than dire.
"I am sorry lord but aside from the towns elders there are only warriors, what little divine support that Lord Savol has marched with him. If you look to your kin they went with Bron. He felt they would be safer nearby rather than left back here." turning to answer Thorvald, "Scouts and villagers near the border reported large amounts of troop movements from Irrissen so lord Savol dispatched everyone that wasn't already assigned to defending the nearby towns to march for the border and prepare for their attack." he pauses not quite sure what you mean before realization dawns on his face, "Yes lord Savol defeated a two headed Linnorm some time back, I believe you missed most of the celebrations. I thought you already knew."
Although you may never know what truly causes it, the girls pulse slows and the cold sweat stops. A few minutes later she wakes up groggily but looks around terrified before breaking down crying again. Burying herself in Ana's lap murmuring things like, "Don't make me remember. Don't make me go through that again." again and again as Ana, Rose and Stenly try to comfort her.
It takes most of the morning before she calms down enough to be able to respond to your questions but she unconsciously, or purposefully, avoids contact with Thorvald as everyone makes plans and arrangements to leave the farm. It's finally decided that they will travel with you to Tweyd and then from there head on south or to Trollheim.
The trip back to camp is rather peaceful, only broken by a few instances at night. Several times you are kept up by the sounds of wolf packs nearby coming as far as the edges of the firelight and following you during the day. Despite that everyone makes it back to Tweyd in good health.
Your return is quite lacklustre as the majority of the town appears to be abandoned. With most of the army gone all of the towns expansions lay empty, their windows shuttered and bolted.
The ranking soldier present, Rendal, stands ready to greet you in the empty clearing that held Savol, Julianda and his other commanders tents.
"Greetings and well met my Thanes. I am sure you can tell but the army is already on the move. Lord Savol has already deployed his forces to the border and is making final preparations to attack. Please rest and take some time to recuperate. Though me and my men will not see the front at this time you surely will and for that you'll need all the energy that you can muster."
The villagers and a small detachment of soldiers remain in Tweyd and your tents are still set up and waiting for you.
Rabbit and Sheep
slotting the chip...:
There are various files present including hundreds of still images from surveillance cameras in several parts of the city. The most recent time stamp shows Domino and Gar entering an old building. There are also many data files and logs present as well.
a quick data search check will let you skim through all of the info much faster
You magic act avoids prying eyes as you enact it and quickly and easily you walk right past the gang bangers. Up a flight of stairs and you're staring at two doors, locked with heavy deadbolts. As soon as you get through either one you'll be inside the apartments with direct views of your targets room in the other building.
(Jennis)"Thank you for your offer but you have already done so much more than we could ever repay you already, I couldn't possibly take your money."
Try not to feel bad. You've just given a chance for great role plying to ensue
(Minerva and Sheep)
It doesn't take long to return to the homestead. When you arrive and start unloading the door opens and Montulo can be seen at the door bathing the area in light. Inside you can smell something delicious, or at least appetizing considering how long it's been since you've all had any real meal, and hear dishes clinking.
Skallagbiorn, after the fact, when you take the time to consider what happened you are almost certain that you all just did battle with some form of apparition or ghost and a powerful one at that.
The sleigh, despite its rather abrupt halt seems intact but banged up a bit and capable of being pulled but is in no way magic. The sleigh is large enough for five people, with two seated in the front and three tucked in together on the floor of the rear, if it wasn't semi full of items scattered on the ground.
the sleigh and nearby ground:
Amongst the junk and broken wood scattered on the ground you find:
Two masterwork trappers kits
Eleven bottles of cheap wine
Two long spears
A collection of animal pelts already cured an rolled up (value 150gp)
A box of jewellery including precious gems, gold and silver (350gp)
A heavy shield made of supple green hide (magic aura)
A bag of coins:
Pulling open the bag does reveal the girl. She is tied up and gagged and her night clothes are in disarray but the worst par is the large welt on her face and forehead. She's unconscious and even with magic healing won't wake up for at least a few minutes, maybe an hour or more.
After righting the sleigh someone's foot bumps something in the snow. Kneeling down you reach into the snow and pull out a slim one handed axe with good balance and a sharp edge to the dull iron head. The handle looks made of ash and a loop of the same leather as the shield hangs from the end of it. There is a distinct magic aura coming from it.
Zethyris rushes farther away from the man as Anastasiya fires two more blasts of force at the man. As soon as the bolts connect with him his body begins to fade and disperse into puffs and wisps of smoke picked up by the wind. Despite his destruction you still here an echo of his voice, "Damn you all for ruining my latest wedding day. I'll remember this and I'll come back for you. I'll have my revenge! You'll all pay for this!"
Zethyris moves away from the man and takes the heavy sack from Thorvald as he moves to carry it away from the fight. Ana continues to bury bolts of force into the mans body as she internally battles with her decision to stay and fight. Skallagbiorn, through his pain, manages to call upon his gods power again to knit wounds together. Rutilux swings his flail through the man again sending more smoke billowing but rebounding off of nothing. Thorvald having taken the sack away to partial or relative safety and being released of it by Zethyris he moves back into melee with the man in hopes of turning the tide of this battle. The man continues his almost frantic attack on Skallagbiorn as his axe opens a long gash across his abdomen inside his armour (10 damage) but his great sword manages to deflect a second swing aimed for his knee. Isham's axe swings down and should bury itself in the mans collar bone but passes right through. Jediah tries to fell the man with a right hook to his jaw but his metal encased fist sails through unhindered. Julian takes careful aim and fires an arrow through the mans throat which buries itself in the sleigh behind him.
attack Skallagbiorn: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (7) + 8 = 15damage: 1d6 + 1 + 1d6 ⇒ (6) + 1 + (3) = 10
attack Rutilux: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (2) + 3 = 5damage: 1d6 + 1 + 1d6 ⇒ (4) + 1 + (6) = 11
Julian attack: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (16) + 11 = 27damage: 1d8 + 3 ⇒ (2) + 3 = 5