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BEYOND THE ICEWALL (A Dragonlance Reign of Winter Story)


Campaign Journals


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This is the Reign of Winter adaptation that I played the last year. For those who know the original plot you will see that there are major changes into it.

We brought the story to our highly modified Dragonlance setting, and made a big mashup of things taking Irrisen beyond the Ice Wall. In our version of things, Winter Witches haven't changed the weather of a zone, they just rule over a frozen land.

We have also brought a lot of old retired and semiretired characters from other campaign into the game as secondary characters, who ended dramatically altering the course of the events. Even if the story starts mostly as written, changes start being evident in Mother, Maiden Crone and continue happening until the complete overwrite of The Revenge of the Witch Queen.

I was a player here, and I will be telling the story with the voice of my character, Kileanna. As it is my main alias too, to avoid the post from being confusing, I will use this one as my real voice, and Kileanna's alias for everything that is told in her voice.

Dalindra was the GM, and he will participate by sharing his GMing experience and some behind the scenes stuff that I might not know.

Even though it was a chaotic game, with players getting in and out due to crazy schedules and other issues, it was also the best gaming experience I had. It was my comeback to RPing after having lived a complicated situation, which makes this game somewhat special for me. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed playing it!

Of course, all feedback is welcome! I would love to hear anything that you have to say!


Elves in Dragonlance: Elves are divided into three different sub-races. The Silvanesti are reclusive and noble elves. The Qualinesti are the average elves from most settings. And Kagonesti are the wilder elves, who reject their cousins' civilized ways. They are pretty superstitious and spiritual, and often have tattoos depicting important events in their lives or the gods that they worship.

The Knights of Solamnia: they are an ancient and respected knightly order, mostly formed by humans of Solamnic heritage (they have started to accept half elves with Solamnic parents and humans from other heritage). They are lawful good at heart, but they are actually divided into factions and are somewhat paralized by political dissension. They don't accept any spellcasters who doesn't receive their spells from one of the gods they worship and they often fear and despise arcane magic. They have started allowing some wizards of Solamnic heritage to join their auxiliary corps, though.

The Endless Winter:A few decades ago, an almost godly white dragon took over the land of Southern Ergoth, home of the kagonesti elves, and turned it into a frozen wasteland. On a previous game, some heroes defeated the dragon and freed Ergoth from and Endless Winter. The land is still recovering from the damage, and seeing the first summer on decades. But the game is called Reign of Winter. Oh, damn.

Dramatis personae (in order of appearance):
Kileanna, a changeling vanilla witch who believes to be a kagonesti elf. Her patron is Time and she has a female snowy owl called Nina as a familiar. Her starting hexes were Evil Eye and Cackle.

Cat, a kagonesti vanilla slayer. She's an agile two weapon fighter who uses kukris as weapons, and also our scout and rogue-like character. She's an orphan who found Kileanna as a baby and raised her as her younger sister.

Indi, tempest druid worshipper of Zeboim, the goddess of the sea and storms. His mother is a Cleric called Jade who appeared on other campaigns. He doesn't want anybody to know that his full name is Indigo.

Talda'syn kagonesti ancient lorekeeper Oracle (he might claim to be a shaman, but that's his social position, not his class). His backstory is pretty interesting but I leave it to Dalindra to tell it when he think's it's the time (or maybe I will tell it later).

And with all the presentations made, let's begin with the story. Have in made that Kileanna is not a native common speaker. Her main language is elven so don't be too hard on her ;-D


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CHAPTER 1

My name is Kileanna, a good name for a kagonesti elf, I guess. It was the name my older sister, Cat, gave me when she found me as a baby, and the name I still bear. Wild elves change their names when they reach maturity, but I feel too attached to the name my sister gave me. Literally speaking, I still haven't reached maturity anyway, but neither am I really a kagonesti elf, so I guess that gives me the freedom to do whatever I want with my name... or my life.

It's not that my so called people would care a lot about it anyway. They let me know I was different, as long as I can remember. I have red hair, not red as autumn leaves but red as blood. It marks my future with war and spilled blood. A white streak reflects the disgust of the spirits of nature and different colored eyes mark me as a bad omen, a portent of bad luck. Kagonesti elves are superstitious folks, but how could I blame them for fearing me, when I knew that there was some kind of magic inside me, something I couldn't explain or understand? How could they not fear my magic if I too was as afraid of it as much as seduced by its whispers?

Of course, my sister didn't want to hear anything about curses or portents. It was one of those things she'd rather not speak about, like us not being sisters by blood or my magic coming from somewhere else than from beneficial spirits of nature. For her life was simple: I was her sister, she loved me, there was nothing wrong about me and that was all. If we weren't allowed to stay at one settlement because of me (she'd never admit it was because of me, but it was) we'd travel to the next one, and then on to the next one after that. If we needed food, she'd hunt for food. If she found no food, she'd steal some for us. If it was too cold, we'd keep traveling until we found a warmer place... as you can guess we never stopped moving for too long. We had to survive, and that was all that mattered.

I envy her simple way of viewing life. When I was worried about finding a place in the world, she was about making it to the next day. I needed to find myself, she had enough with finding a warm place to stay. She accepted me, but she never really understood me.

Now I realize how selfish I was then. While she worked hard to have all my necessities satisfied, and to give me a better life, I only cared for myself. I was still a child then, and children are selfish. She cared for me, so I could care for anything I wanted to.

Our world was small: it was only us two until I met Nina. She appeared one night, just before we were going to sleep. Yet she was there the next night, and the next night again. She just stayed there, perched in the nearest tree, staring at me with her yellow eyes all night. Even in my sleep, I could feel her glare.

It was when Nina appeared that I started remembering the nightmares. I had being having them since a few years ago, every single night, until I no longer remember how it was like having a normal night's sleep. I was afraid of sleeping. I didn't want to sleep alone, as if something terrible was going to pop out of my dreams and take me. But when I woke up, I could never remember what I had been dreaming. Until Nina came into my life. Then my nightmares became painfully clear:

I walked in a forest. My forest. There was no snow and a gentle breeze blew. It was warm and I was naked. A young attractive man walked towards me. Sometimes he was an elf, sometimes he was human and sometimes something entirely different. He smiled at me. I kissed him and started tearing his clothes off with my bare hands. I wanted him so much. Our bodies entwined. I had never felt better. And then I started ripping his chest open like I had done with his clothes. He cried and started panicking, but I overpowered him. I tore his flesh with teeth and claws. I tasted the blood and enjoyed it. I was terrified, but I couldn't stop. Then I realized I was dreaming and tried to wake up, but I couldn't. So I was forced to see everything, be a part of it, enjoy it.

I always felt like a dirty and evil person next day. I wanted to tell my sister about the nightmares, but I was afraid that she would think of me as some kind of monster. I couldn't assure her I wasn't. Because the nightmares felt so... appealing...

I never thought that Nina had anything to do with my nightmares. She just gave me the power to see them more clearly. Owls represent wisdom. But I really think that she had a lot to do with the other dreams. I dreamt about the past and the future, about people I forgot and people I hadn't still met. I saw a tree whose branches extended so high that I couldn't see where they ended and roots so deep that could reach the other side of the world. I saw a river that flowed eternally with no beginning or ending. It was the only calm sleep that I could get at night and I embraced it. I called it Eternity, because it was the Past, Present and Future. It was Everything. But it didn't have a name, and we mortals need to name everything.

I tried to explain Eternity to Cat, but she understood nothing. She realized that the innate magic powers that I had since early childhood were growing, but she saw it as a blessing from the spirits of nature. Maybe I had been enlightened by the gods. I didn't understand my magic, but I knew it was inside me. Eternity just whispered me the sercrets that taught me how to take advantage of it. How can one explain that to someone who knows nothing about magic, and is more willing to make up her own explanation than to listen? Sometimes Cat's simplicity bothered me. In the end, I just let her believe whatever she wanted to, as trying to reason with her was like speaking to a rock.

I felt guilty for not being able to be happy with my life, being just the two of us, as Cat was. I needed to find a place to call home, and to find someone who could really understand me. I felt like that existed somewhere and it was calling me in my dreams. I just couldn't settle with what I already had, because I had nothing but my sister. And that wasn't enough for me.

That's how my sister and I decided, after so many years wandering, to return to the place where she had found me as a baby. I had the feeling that the answers to all my questions weren't far away from there.


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CHAPTER 2
What seemed like an easy task wasn't. For those who don't know, hiring a passage on a ship when you're an elf is an odyssey in itself. Mariners are as superstitious as kagonesti and they think that having elves on board makes their goddess angry. So, even if this time we had enough steel to pay for our passages, nobody wanted us traveling with them.

So there we were at the port, with Cat about to pull up a fight with a merchant ship's captain and me pondering if Charming him would solve the problem or cause a bigger one. We had to hear the old "Zeboim doesn't want elves on her sea" excuse for the third time in a row. Cat was losing her patience. Suddenly a young well dressed human approached us. I hadn't noticed him before despite him being a remarkable human. He was tall and well built, with raven hair and beautiful eyes as blue as the night sky.

-Who are you to tell what Zeboim wants or doesn't want on her sea?- asked the young human with a smile.

The captain went pale.

-I want three passages to Ergoth. One for myself and two for the ladies.

I was too shocked to say a thing. Cat reacted defensively. Too many people had tried to take advantage of us all our life.

-We don't need your help! Who are you and what do you want from us?
-My name is Indi. I want to help because this man is not being fair with you. That's all.
-OK. But we don't need your help. My sister and I can take care of ourselves.
-Maybe we could use some help in securing a passage on that ship.- I intervened.- We can pay for it.

I pulled out my small bag of money.

-Hey! Where have you got all that steel?- Cat seemed surprised. I shrugged.
-I saved. I didn't feel there was anything I needed to spend it on.
-Whoa! My sister is rich!
Indi's bag of coins was like ten times heavier than mine, and he didn't make any attempt to conceal it. My sister was already giving it a hungry stare. I knew her enough to know what she was thinking: "should we just grab all this money and run?". The captain's eyes didn't look much different from my sister's. He was probably considering charging her a double price for our passages.
-I can allow them on board as long as you take responsability for any trouble they might cause.
Cat was about to complain, but I gave her one of my piercing stares, telling her silently to keep her mouth shut. We got what we wanted. We'd better not lose it because of her big mouth.
What happened next was surprising. Indi and the captain shared some quick words that I couldn't hear. Then we were allowed on board. For free. As long as Indi took care of us. The captain didn't seem happy.
-How did you make him change his mind?- I asked him when we were left alone.- He didn't even charge you for the passages!
-Sometimes showing your true colors makes things easier.- he toyed with a pendant depicting a spiked tortoise shell. I hadn't noticed it before, probably because I wasn't looking at his neck. It was some kind of holy symbol.- I don't usually wear it but sometimes it helps.
-What god is that?- I asked. Religion wasn't my thing.
-Zeboim. I think your people calls her Rann. Do you have a problem with me worshipping her?

He asked it in a polite tone. Rann was a goddess of darkness and the elves despised the gods of darkness.
-Not really.- I answered. Elves didn't like me either.- Just don't tell my sister about it. As you might have noticed, she has a strong opinion on quite a few matters.
Zeboim was the godess of the sea and the storm. I found amusing that he had probably threatened to call the wrath of her goddess on the ship if the captain didn't allow us on board. I didn't know what Cat would think of that, but I found Indi fascinating.


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Talda'syn's player was.. problematic to say the least. He left us really soon and never came back.

I'll explain Talda'syn's backstory when we reach that part. After all, he was not interested in creating a background for his character and I had to made it for him, so I know it quite well.


Maybe Talda'syn's player was problematic, but I think that the character added an interesting point to the story, and it made a good function to the story. After his great... intervention... we all knew that the thing was serious. It set a new mood to the story. I have been writing that part today (not publishing it yet, though, you'll have to wait until chapter #10) and remembering how everything happened. It was a good scene.

But let's go with chapter #3 now. Talda'syn won't be around until chapter #4.


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CHAPTER 3

The trip to Ergoth took us just a couple of days. Fortunately, the ship didn't sink. In fact, it was a placid and uneventful trip. It seemed like Zeboim wanted to laugh at the superstitious mariners, who didn't want to take us on their ship.

During that time we got to know Indi much better. He was the son of the highest representative of the Church of Zeboim on Kalaman. He had run away from home just to see the world, as he fekt it was about time to do so. From the way he talked about her, it seemed like his own mother had encouraged him to do it. Cat was a bit wary about him being a follower of a goddess of evil, but in the end she reasoned that it didn't matter. He was human, and humans were known for worshipping gods that elves never would.

Indi wanted to see the snow. That was his only motivation to travel to Ergoth. With the death of the dragon who had changed the weather, turning Ergoth into a frozen wasteland, the ice and snow was melting, meaning that we could return home. But Indi might have waited too long to travel to Ergoth, as snow there was most likely gone.

-We were told that there is no more snow in Ergoth.- I said.
-There is!- my sister was quick at correcting me. -There has to be some snow on the mountains! But they are very dangerous, you'll need a guide.

So that it was. Cat still wanted his money. Even for an open minded elf like her, it was unusual not to care at all about him being a worshipper of Darkness.

But Indi had been nice. He had helped us. I didn't really think he would need a guide and I didn't want to lie to him just for a few coins. But, you know, big sisters know better. So I kept my mouth shut.
I was also curious about Indi's goddess, so I asked him to tell me about her. I knew next to nothing about the gods, and nothing at all about the gods of Darkness. We talked for a long time. Then I invited him to my room. I think he probably misinterpreted me. Can I really say it was a misinterpretation? I liked him and I cannot say I hadn't imagined myself doing to him some things I had only done in my dreams. And in the end it happened. How it happened is blurry to me. I remember telling him that I was afraid. He said it was normal. I told him I didn't want to hurt him. He laughed at me so hard that he made all my worries seem irrelevant.

The next thing I can clearly recall was Cat, entering the room. Apparently we had been a bit... noisy. The first thing my overprotective sister thought was that Indi somehow was forcing me. She would have slashed Indi's throat if I didn't calm her down and told her that everything was fine. Even when everything was very clear, it still took her some time to believe what she was seeing.

-You realize he is human, right?.
-Of course. He is hairy.- I was laughing out loud. Indi was pale, Cat was confused and I couldn't stop laughing.
-And you don't care.

I cared. I liked that he wasn't an elf.

-At all.
-OK, then.

That was Cat's philosophy: if my sister thinks it's OK, it's OK.

After that she just left. Later that night she'd ask me enough questions to make me feel a bit awkward. I talked to Indi after that, to calm him down and to make sure that he didn't expect us to be engaged or something like that. Humans are strange. When kagonesti elves choose a partner they do for their whole lives, but nothhing keeps them from having some different mates before that happens. Humans... are strange. Specially noble humans. But we'll get to discuss that later.


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CHAPTER 4

Linsel was a small village in the Northwest of Southern Ergoth, not too far from Castle Eastwatch. The whole region was occupied by humans of Solamnic origins and protected by the Knights of Solamnia. If you asked them, they had been living there since times immemorial, but elves considered them mere guests, who had arrived just half a millenium ago. Time is such a relative measure.
Kagonesti elves would have thought the village was oppressive and unnatural, but I found it charming. It was near the coast and surrounded by woods. The trees were experiencing their first summer in decades and their branches were heavy with fruit. The Dragon Overlord was dead and the endless winter was over.

-Look, Cat! It's summer!- I cheered.

Cat was as excited as me, but Indi looked disappointed. He wanted snow. What I really wanted was to have some fruit, but I didn't grab any. Humans tended to think they could own the trees and got angry when we took "their" fruit.

We were still walking around the town, and amusing ourselves with the sight of a winter-free Ergoth, when a man approached us.

-Have you just got here?- he asked, and then he added without waiting for an answer:- Is any of you a healer?
-Sort of.- answered Indi.- Why?
-We have just found a seriously injured man. I don't think he can make it without some help from the gods.
-My sister is a powerful shaman. She can help.
-Sure but...- what should I say? "That's not what I am"? If I wasn't, what was I, then?- Take us to him.

The man led us to a cottage not too far from there. He knocked on the door, and it opened.
-I found help. They are priests.
-We've already found someone.- said the human inside the cottage.- He is being attended.

A head came out from the door and looked at us.

-Ah, you came with him. Come in.

I didn't know what he meant but I did as I was told. If there was a wounded person in there I wanted to help. That I also was curious was irrelevant. The cottage had just one room, and just one bed. Over it laid an aged man with blackened wounds all over his body. I had lived too many years of constant winter not to be able to recognize severe frostbite. But it was someone else who caught my attention. Kneeling next to the bed was an elf. A kagonesti elf. My heart stopped beating for a second. We were in human territory. What was he doing here? I forced my legs not to start moving backwards. The elf turned to face us. He was surprised too.

-I didn't expect to find more kagonesti here. My name is Talda'syn.

We introduced ourselves. The humans were surprised that Talda'syn and us hadn't met before. You know, if you are an elf you automatically know all the elves on Krynn.

Talda'syn told us that he had healed the worst wounds the man had, but he couldn't do anything about the frostbite. He asked us if we could help, but neither Indi nor me had magic powerful enough to help him. We could only try to warm him up and hope that it was enough. If it wasn't we might have to amputate the damaged limbs before they started to rot. I had seen it before and it wasn't pretty.

After some time the human regained consciousness. We were all anxious to question him about: how had he suffered severe frostbite during the summer? Were the minions of the White Overlord still hiding somewhere near? Despite our curiosity we were willing to let him rest some more before questioning him, but it was him who adressed us desperately.

-They took her.- he mumbled.- I couldn't protect her.
-They took who?- asked Indi.
-Lady Argentea. They attacked us, killed everybody and then took her with them.

The man, called Yuln, was still a bit confused, but after some questions we learned what had happened. He was a Knight of Solamnia and personal protector of Lady Argentea Malassene, a noble woman of Solamnic heritage. They were heading Southwest through the woods, so Lady Argentea could meet her suitor. He was the Commander of Castle Eastwatch, the main settlement of the Knights of Solamnia in Southern Ergoth, and she was expecting to join him there. Then they had been attacked. The attackers were just bandits at first; but then tiny flying creatures, that Yuln recognized as fey, had joined the fight. They had fought them, but they were quickly overwhelmed. After slaying everybody on the caravan except Lady Argentea and Yuln, the bandits took her, while the fey covered their retreat with their tiny frost arrows. Yuln had tried to follow them but he was unable, so he returned to the village to try to get some help. As a good Solamnic man he was willing to go after the kidnappers again and get himself killed. We valued his life more than he apparently did, and wouldn't let him do it.

-My sister and I are traveling in that direction anyway. We can look for her.- I answered. Cat looked at me like "are you really sure you want to get involved in this?"'. She loved adventures, but only if I wasn't involved. She had to keep her younger sister safe.

-I have to investigate what's happening.- added Talda'syn.- I've come here because I've heard rumours of strange weather in the woods. If I find your Lady, I'll do my best to help her.

Indi shrugged.

-I'm going there too, so, why not?

He didn't mention that his motivation was seeing snow for the first time. With lives at risk he probably thought that saying that would make him seen frivolous.
So this is how we started a trip that would take us to the most unexpected places. Cat and I were returning home, but we were taking the long way around.


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Talda'syn was the apprentice of the Kagonesti Lorekeeper, the elf responsible from keeping the lore and memory of the race. Kagonesti elves don't have written language, so the Lorekeeper role is a very important one.

When Sylvyana enslaved the kagonesti elves and turned them into ravenous cannibals, Talda'syn was one of the affected; he did very nasty things while corrupted, killing and feasting on his master the worst one. When they were purified, Talda'syn couldn't cope with what he did and he flew, trying to find redemption. He didn't understand the role he had to play as Lorekeeper, either, so this was going to be a self-discovery travel for him.

When I created this background for the character, I thought it would fit well with the other characters. You see, Kileanna was sort of a pariah among kagonesti. Cat was also a pariah by association and although she had not been corrupted by Sylvyana she had been fooled to help one of her followers. And Indi... well, he was the only not-kagonesti in the party and also a Neutral follower of an Evil goddess. And the elves are very strict with that things.

All in all, they were a party of pariahs trying to find themselves while saving the world. It should have worked, right?

But Talda'syn's player was only interested in antagonizing the other players (players, not characters). Ugh.

He also believed his character was inmortal because "he is one of the protagonists and they will always win". When I told him that in my stories you have to earn the victory and that characters could in fact die he didn't believe me. Sadly he learned it the hard way. Even though I always try to help my players, Reign of Winter is the story with the highest PC death score I've ever GMed.


Anyway, I think the addition of this player was somewhat beneficial for the story. He helped me to define my character's disgust for her own race that would guide her into some decisions later in the game. I actually enjoyed him being somewhat aggressive to Kileanna, it depicted well how she was seen by her people.
And he also allowed the other players to realize that this story was serious and complicated. And that you were going to be coherent no matter what happened.

And yeah, the story was lethal. I counted today 10 deaths, counting relevant characters, not only party members. Two characters died twice. And all deaths made the story more intense and deep!

Damn! I loved this campaign!


I don't know... Talda'syn wasn't that bad. He wasn't worse than the other kagonesti. I think he was somehow trying to help me. It's just that I have gotten sick of too many people trying to help by telling me how wrong being myself is, you know.

And you sadistic spirit of the derailment! Don't talk about us dying like we did it for your amusement!


Hey there! I don't know if someone is reading, but in affirmative case, I have a question for you:
I have 13 chapters written so far. Would you prefer me publishing on a daily basis until I am done with them, or would I better wait a few days between chapters so they aren't so overwhelming?


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Post at your own pace. Don't wear yourself out.


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Thanks for sharing your opinion, John!
CHAPTER 5

We didn't want to delay our departure more than necessary, so we just bought a couple of items at the market and continued our trip. We purchased some alchemist fire, if we were going to fight creatures that were born of the cold we would need it, and Indi bought a healing wand. I had never seen one of those that close, and I was impressed. I thought he had to be very, very rich to be able to afford it. Ah, that younger version of myself!

We had been told that the location of the attack would be easy to find. We just had to follow the road that led to Castle Eastwatch for no more than a couple of hours by feet. The weather was nice. Indi thought it was too cold for a summer day, but he was a foreigner. People from the North are always feeling cold. Cat and Talda'syn were getting along well. Talda'syn was not as talkative as Cat was, so my sister did almost all the speaking. He told her that he was a shaman and he was on a personal quest. What kind of quest? He didn't look like he was ready to tell nor my sister wanting to ask. She had other ideas in her mind for him.

-My sister is a Shaman too!- "Here we go again" I thought- She can speak with spirits. Nina is her spirit guide. It seems that you have many things in common.

I gave her the evil eye (metaphorically). She wanted so badly for me to fit in. If it was for her, I would fall in love with Talda'syn, he would realize how fantastic and incredible I was and he would make me forget about past embarrasing events involving a ship travel and a human. But that wasn't going to happen. I had given up on the kagonesti elves. I would never be one of them.

Talda'syn turned back to face me, as he suddenly had taken some interest in me. An interest that I'd rather avoid.

He asked me questions that I couldn't answer. I didn't know where my magic came from, nor I was completely sure that "shaman" was the right word to describe me. I have to admit that the conversation was going better than expected. He was confused by my explanations, but he wanted to help me to understand my magic better. He wasn't as bad as I had expected.

Until my... peculiarities... were brought to account. He believed that I carried marks that made me anathema to the spirits of nature. In a former life I had done something terrible and they had branded me with disparate eyes, and blood colored hair, so everyone would realize what I had done. Now that I think of it, I know that I reacted disproportionately. So he was saying that I deserved to be mistreated and ostracized because I had done something that I didn't even remember having done? He thought I should repent for crimes commited on a past life, but I had done nothing wrong!

-What if I don't want to be redeemed? I am sick of all of you thinking that I have to be ashamed of being myself.
-That's not what...
-I don't need redemption for something I didn't do.
Talda'syn realized that I couldn't be reasoned with at that moment, so he didn't try to continue the discussion. In retrospective, I think he was just trying to help and that I chose to misinterpret him. I didn't want to like him.
-You have to understand her,- said Cat- she's still a child.

I had to fight the urge to cry out loud "I am not a child!". That would probably have been a very childish thing to say.

Meanwhile, Indi didn't have a clue of what was going on. He didn't speak a single word of elven.


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Posting another one today because I was told the former was too short

CHAPTER 6
When we got to the site of the attack we were on a good mood again. We were asking Indi about life in Kalaman and he was unsuccessfully trying to explain to the three of us what was wrong with bathing naked on the port. That he also thought that it was a stupid law didn't help us to understand it better.

Definitely, the weather was starting to get colder. A chilly wind blowed and we could see some dark clouds in the woods. We spotted the caravan from a distance, on a segment of the road where the surrounding vegetation was thicker. A good place for an ambush. As we came close, Indi noticed that the ground was covered by a thin layer of snow. He would probably had been more excited if there weren't dead people everywhere. Even the horses had been slain. It was a massacre. Next to the woods there was a single man standing, facing back to us. We cautiously approached him, until we were close enough to realize that he was frozen solid. He had some body parts missing, as if someone had ripped them off. I had never seen anything as terrible as that.

-These won't move, will they?- I asked, pointing to the corpses. I had heard stories.
-If they do, we'll kill them again.- answered my always pragmatic sister.
We readied our weapons, just in case we needed them.
-Wouldn't you rather use a bow?- asked Talda'syn when he realized I was holding a sling.
-I never learned. Cat tried to teach me, but I didn't try to learn.
-And I ended giving up. We were too busy surviving. Hey, this sword is good!

Cat was examining the frozen corpse while we were talking. She was holding a sword made of good steel and crafted with Solamnic motives.

-Does anybody want it?
-It's the sword of a knight. Maybe we should return it to the Solamnic Lady.- "If she is still alive" I added to myself.

Talda'syn and I examined closely the bodies. All of them had cuts and stabs, but they also had small punctures surrounded by cold burns. I had never seen anything like that.

We got to the wrecked carriage first, which was ocompletely empty. We found some dresses inside a chest. I thought they were the most beautiful dresses I had ever seen. Cat didn't like them because she found them too human. Indi said something about them being some kind of uniforms for a handmaiden, but I couldn't tell the difference. They still were beautiful and I insisted on keeping at least one of them.

The other carriage was locked and Cat heard someone inside. I didn't hear anything but she said it sounded like someone weeping. We tried to be cautious, so Talda'syn and I climbed to the top of the other carriage. Cat unlocked the door and opened it from one side, while Indi backed her up from the other side and Talda'syn and I readied our ranged weapons.Two figures limped out of the carriage. They wore tattered clothes, very similar to the ones we had found iinside the chest. Two young women, covered in blood and with terrible wounds that exposed their flesh, stared at us with blank eyes.

-They are not alive! They are not alive!- cried Talda'syn, alarmed.

My sister stepped up, looked to the dead woman up and down for a second and, with a quick wrist movement, slashed her throat. She didn't even try to dodge. I was surprised by her cold-blooded reaction: she didn't look different from when she was hunting for food. The dead maiden didn't seem to notice the hit. With an expressionless face, she raised a hand and tried to hit Cat. She dogded with the agility of the animal after which she had named herself, and attacked again, delivering another blow that would have killed a living creature. Meanwhile, I kept missing all my hits, and both Talda'syn's arrows and Indi's quarterstaff were next to useless. Being already dead, they were difficult to kill.

Indi dropped his staff and tried his luck with a dagger, while the undead focused on attacking Cat. My sister took two consecutive blows and I started fearing for her life.

-Step back!- I cried at her.

It might be a waste of resources but I had to save her. I threw a flask of alchemist fire to the creature... and missed my hit by a kilometer. Being undead, my magic was useless against her. I felt powerless. Talda'syn imitated me, throwing another flask of alchemist's fire to the one that was still unharmed, trusting Cat to deliver a lethal blow to the other. But she didn't: Indi stroke first. Cat just stepped forward and dealt a specially lethal strike to the one who was still on her feet. We had made it. Well, the others had made it, as I had done nothing but missing all my attacks.

Indi provided some healing to Cat and, with the threat over, she went on examining the place more closely. There were anything that could be anybsort of clue, but my sister found a jewelry box inside the carriage.

-Look, Kileanna, we are rich! This must be worth at least a thousand steel pieces!

Again, I had to burst her bubble.

-This has already an owner.
-Oh, yes, Lady Whateverthename.- she was disappointed.- I hope she isn't, but she's probably dead.
-They took her for a reason. They wanted her alive.
-You're right. These are good news!

Indi looked at the corpses of the young women that had been animated just a few minutes ago.

-Good news, indeed.-he had a grim look on his face.- We should better keep moving.


An illustration I made for Chapter 2.
Kileanna and Cat meet Indi. Kileanna is pleased to meet him, but Cat doesn't trust strangers.

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