Rolling twice with resolve.
Will: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (10) + 3 = 13
Will: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (9) + 3 = 12
Ogon does his best to resist, but he is so tired.
Will Save: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (20) + 9 = 29
Orik shrugs at the music as literally everyone else falls asleep. ”Nice tunes, kiddo.” He growls. ”You gonna stop me if I kill that quickling?” and he points where the jerk fey went too.
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (3) + 8 = 11
Orik is still wary of Garen.
Orik nods at the kid, not taking his eyes off the untrustworthy fey.
Let me know if I can’t do this.
Orik moves to where the quickling fell, and takes two rounds to find the prone form of the invisible creature, then enlarge himself and crush it with his large greatsword.
greatsword coup de grace damage, divine favor: 6d6 + 8 + 4 ⇒ (5, 5, 4, 5, 5, 1) + 8 + 4 = 37
If it doesn’t die from HP damage, it has to make a.m DC 47 Fort save or die.
The invisible quickling expires with a sickening crunch, slowly revealing itself as a gory wreck after Orik's devastating blow. Its, or rather her, blood looks a thinnish blue that wends and winds slightly even after death, as if seeking a way back to the First World.
Garen removes the pipes from his lips and sinks to his furry knees, weeping. "She said...she said this was all for me...but then she said she'd kill me if I didn't--if I didn't--" The rest of whatever he would have said is lost in sobbing.
The rest of you wake up soon after the satyrsong ends, to find Orik standing above the ruins of the female quickling.
"WITCHCRAFT!" Ogon bellows, leaping up and making enough noise to wake the dead, let alone the rest of group sleeping nearby.
Eventually he calms down and glares at the satyr. "Your mother is very worried about you. Witch!"
Orik eyes the kid suspiciously still, then wipes the gore off of his blade onto a bale of hay, and then puts it away. He heads over to Garen after making sure everyone is awake and safe. ”Alright, well you don’t look like one of these confounded ice fey, but do you mind if we take your pipes? I can give them back at the house once we straighten everything out. You hurt at all?” His voice becomes softer as he speaks, trying to still sound intimidating but clearly feeling for the young guy. He checks to see if Garen is hurt.
Heal: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (11) + 8 = 19
Dez awakens mere feet away from Garen and quickly figures out what occurred from the visual evidence. He shoots Orik an admiring glance and stands and looks Garen in the eyes: "I'm glad it worked out the way it did. Always remember that the history that runs through your blood and dictates your form does not determine your destiny." With that, Dez points at his horns, his tail, his hooves, at Yrja, at Ogon, and at Orik, and he sheathes his rapier.
Chiquq rises to her feet, dusting off bits of hay, nodding at Dez' speech. "Let us get you back to your mother. If that's what you want."
Garen looks at you all, almost pleadingly, still sniffling. He gives no sign of being concerned about his pipes; clearly his mind is elsewhere. He curls his hands in privation. "Is my mother--is she--"
Finding herself on the floor, Yrja rises, looking around in confusion and alarm. Once the situation becomes clear, she descends from the catwalk and rejoins the group.
"Your mother is alive, there were two other fey but they are no longer a threat. They did kill a man. I am sorry."
Garen looks around at you all, somewhat bewildered at so many strange humanoids in a small town, then shakes his head. "Her husband, Borvald. I had left by the time they met and were betrothed. They have children. Human children." Garen shakes his head bitterly.
"I left, because...of what I am. Ellsprin turned against my mother after I was born, as I grew, it got worse. It seems they have been shunning them even now. When I heard their farm was doing poorly, I found Zzababa--" he indicates the wreck of a quickling on the catwalk--"And her mate, Faernip. I told them how I wanted to come back and help my mother and family. They told me they would help."
He wipes his eyes and looks up fiercely.
"It was all a lie. They were evil fey, and I was too blind to see that. They wanted to kill my whole family. When I tried to stop them, they took me to the barn and tied me up. They thought I would turn against my own mother."
He adjusts his ripped clothing. "I want to see her. I need to help." Then he pauses, pleading again. "How can I help? I brought this upon them, just as I feared. It's why I left. Should I run again?" His brief moment of bravado evaporates and his eyes slide to the left as he considers fleeing into the white wastes.
Chiquq clears her throat as she stands up. "We have many types of humanoid in our group of friends, and we have met more along our way. Our friend Nadya intends to settle here. ...You should as well."
"Your mother loves you. Her only concern was for your safety. She needs you, and you need her as well, it is clear."
”Kiddo, these folks are your family. And family sticks together. Stay here and protect the town. That’s how you can make it up to everyone. Those pipes you have are a powerful defensive weapon. And for Erastil’s sake, don’t listen to any more ice fey.” Orik looks grumpily at Garen, ”for that matter, keep your head down for a while, alright? Nadya is strong but she’s not invulnerable. We don’t want unwanted attention drawn to Ellsprin.”
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With a lump in his throat, Garen nods, and lets himself be led back to the Truskin homestead. The walk across the frozen field seems to take forever.
Maret greets Garen with a mixture of hope and grief in her eyes, the linen-wrapped body of her husband in the background. The mother and son embrace in a series of sobs and apologies, while Orm and Mjoli dolefully and dutifully pass out tea from a still lovely looking samovar.
After some time, Nadya speaks to Garen. "Your mother and I knew these heroes would rescue you. We have decided. You will stay, and we will tell the village that you helped defeat the fey. This is true, is it not?" Garen nods, reluctantly. "You will stay, and I will stay. My cousin is here and my boys will stay here, and we will make Ellsprin a place of strength again."
Garen nods again, and thinks. "I'd like to...build my own place. Near here. Mama, I can guard both families. I promise to keep my head down, as Master Orik says, but, not...hidden. And not away." His eyes blaze with just a bit of young bravery and fey fire. "I will show to you, and them, that I can be good for Ellsprin, Mama."
*** *** ***
A few hours later, the songs for Borvald have been sung and his body has been anointed with animal fats and sweet oils. You trundle down to the shores of Glacier Lake, perhaps a mile away from Ellsprin. Nadya has sent off smoke signals to Lyubava and her husband Zhdan, and they join you at the shore, their sledge filled with flash frozen fish and a brace of geese and even one giant curlew, a strange bird of the North. Lyubava is tall and blonde and smells faintly of flowers, even if her gloves have some frozen blood on them. Zhdan, who normally looks full of mirth under his dark beard, nods to Lyubava and Nadya and walks a ways away to a small grove of trees at the shore, recovering an old birch bark canoe.
Borvald is laid in the canoe and Lyubava and Zhdan take some time to hack a path for the boat out into the ice--not far, as the lake is quite frozen, but far enough.
Maret and Nadya nod at Ogon. "So that he may rest in the warmth of fire."
Feel free to add your part to the ceremony and/or say something as Garen and Maret reconcile.
Yrja gives Garen an encouraging smile. "It is good that you do not wish to live hiding away from people. I did that for most of my life. Making a place here will not be easy, but I believe it will be worth it. The people will see the truth of your heart."
*** *** ***
As Maret, Nadya and the others prepare to put the dead man's body to rest, she watches curiously. She has never seen such a funeral ceremony before, and she has many questions that she wants to ask.
Dezső is pleased with Garen's reception and all that is said, but has little to add. He does take Nadya aside and describe all that occurred in the barn, adding "It really was clear to me that Garen was coerced by the fey and, ironically, he was the fey's downfall. The boy has real power to protect Ellsprin in those pipes, and I really think he will be loyal to all of you if treated with kindness."
Like Yrja, Dezső quietly observes the funeral, soaking up all the details, but adds little other than his respectful presence.
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Orik nods at Garen, "aye, lad, we're a motley bunch aren't we, and we did right by Ellsprin. If people look at you funny, you do like us and prove that you don't deserve it. If they keep doing it, you prove it again. And well, if they do it a third time, you knock 'em down, bloody their noses, and then help them up again, and show that you're on their side. Meaning - you deserve respect too, no matter how you look."
He pulls Nadya aside later, "please keep an eye out for the kid. These folks seem nice but... nice can sometimes nice can end at folks that look like you in hard towns like this, at the edges of the world. You all need to stick together to get though this damnable, endles winter."
At the funeral
Orik assists in the funerary rights, as best as he can, helping to bless Borvald's journey to his final reward. He acts in deference to local traditions and does not insert any commentary regarding Erastil, not knowing much about Borvald's preferences. His manner is rough, as a largely self-taught priest, though his movements are filled with reverence and compassion.
At every stage he will silently assist in the most arduous and physically taxing behaviors necessary in the wake, always trying to heal the burden of others, and driving himself to almost a state of exhaustion.
Wearily, at the end of the process, he stands with the others, eyes shining.
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Saving space for when Ogon does his burny stuff--
As the burning canoe is pushed out into the lake, Nadya, Maret, and Lyubava intone verses, while Zhdan beats on a frame drum. Their breath intertwines in the still, frosty air.
Garen has been standing back, petting Aitut and Momo, but he comes forward and brings out his pipes to accompany the women's chanting. It is a wild sound, a fey sound, but it blends in with their words, adding to it. If fey are to live in Irrisen, then so be it.
Chant For The Dead
Translated from Skald
note: this chant is highly forbidden in Irrisen.
Once, we were Ulfen,
Now, we are of Irrisen,
Once, we were Ulfen,
But the fire remains.
Once, we were Linnormnjar,
Now, we are Ulfhethnar,
Once, we were Linnormnjar,
But our path remains.
Once we were united,
Now we are divided,
Once we were united,
Go and join them now.
Go to the feasting hall,
Go to the warrior's hall,
Go to the warming hall,
Where you will be received.
Go and be blessed now,
Spirit of Ulfen-flame,
Go and be blessed now,
And we shall remain.
They chant until the flames die down and then turn as one back to the homestead, Zhdan and Garen providing a slow march tune to return to Maret's front door.
Once back in the Truskin homestead, which is bursting to the seams with people, the mood lightens somewhat. Lyubava and Zhdan, who previously had not really interacted with the heroes from the southern lands, introduce themselves, Lyubava with a dazzling smile and Zhdan with a merry laugh and rosy cheeks above his beard. They set to cooking the curlew and salting fish right away, and tromp around all over the place, cutting up vegetables for an enormous olla podrida of stew.
Zhdan speaks up. "Ellsprin trusts us. Maret, you are family now. It is terrible we should draw close in this way, but I must make up for not speaking up when the people shunned you. I will walk around the square tomorrow, with Garen, and we'll tell how he stopped the fey."
Garen looks embarrassed, but then remembers something. "Mama. The fey. They have hundreds of gold sovereigns and jewels in the barn. They kept it in a strongbox. ...I was thinking we should keep it."
Maret's eyes get teary as she thinks of the price she has paid for this treasure, then nods firmly with a stiff upper lip. She looks at the heroes with some shame immediately after. "But I should give it to you, for saving us," she says. She goes to her bedroom and returns with a lovely furred hat, a sort of hunter's hat, with flaps that can fold over the ears. Magic pulses from the hat, Yrja notices. "And this. It was my father's. It's an Ushanka of the Northlands. It protects against cold, and loud sounds. Please, take it, and the money, for your troubles."
Do you take the treasure or leave it with the Truskins?
Ogon contributes what he can, pushing the canoe into the water and setting the blaze with a single thrust of fiery sword.
"We need no treasure." He says gruffly at the offer, and indeed he's seemed completely uninterested in wealth so far. "Keep and grow your family.
"Perhaps it would make sense for us to take some portion and to leave some portion behind? We do have some substantial challenges ahead of us, and not all of us can conjure up a furnace from within."
The hat may be the most valuable of all, if sold. It's a flavorful item, but probably not worth forgoing the 2,250 gp in sale value.
Orik, for now? Seems appropriate, given his role in the barn and participation in the ceremony (and absence of horns or flames).
Probably good. I’m inclined to give up the treasure too, though rationally I wonder what a few folks in a small town can do with potentially thousands of gold. Might even make them into a target of thieves when we aren’t here. Metagaming, I think we’re also behind on WBL, but maybe we could make that up with random encounters while we travel?
Orik accepts the hat gratefully. ”If you can make use of the money - keep it. Spend it on building Ellsprin up, though. It might do well to have some fortifications, a temple, some stone buildings in case of attack, things like that. Whatever you do, don’t spend it all on yourselves - not because you don’t deserve it, but because you’ll draw you-know-who’s attention, and we have to keep Nadya and her kids safe. Can you be careful with it?” Orik knows how tempting riches can be.
I have totally not been tracking WBL, to be honest. And nothing in the module suggests that you should give up this treasure, but it seems ridiculous to me as a GM that you wouldn't give it to them. We can certainly discuss if anyone's feeling short on wealth, though.
Maret nods, starting to realize what Orik is saying. Despite all she has been through, you can tell the woman is tough. "Ellsprin may mistrust us if we spend too freely, but there are ways around that," she says, thoughtfully.
Maret shivers at some of Orik's words, making the sign of the evil eye. "No, temples, please."
Irrisen really only has temples to Lamashtu, Zon-Kuthon, Baba Yaga, Kostchtchie, some demons and devils (Sifkesh, for instance), and evil members of the Eldest, or gruesome altars that could be for any depraved deity.
Yrja waves away both the treasure and the hat. "I think you should keep the gold and do as Orik suggests - improve the town. As for the hat, the cold doesn't really bother me, so I think someone else can make better use of it than I." She looks more closely at it. "But the embroidery on it is lovely, will you show me how you do that here? It is a technique that I haven't seen before."
Orik listens quietly as the Song for the Dead is sung, tears appearing near his eyes as he stands stoically, watching the proceedings.
Back to now!
Orik grunts, "a rotten thing. Well, for what it's worth, I'll bless you. I'm a cleric of Erastil, and I don't much care what these witches say about that."
We should do a rundown on gear sooner or later, possibly when/if we get to Whitethrone.
Maret looks embarrassed at Yrja's question. "It's from Trezira," she says. "I wish I knew. It has been in the family for years."
Maret nods at Orik, still appearing a little fearful. The eye of Baba Yaga, peasants feel, is always upon the citizens of Irrisen, and perhaps they are right.
Later in the evening, Lyubava and Zhdan leave, with Orn and Mjoli tagging along with them. Orn and Mjoli embrace each of you in turn, tacking Yrja and tapping on Ogon's armor and pealing with laughter, and trying to catch Dez' tail with little success and a sharp word from their mother. Chiquq lets them climb up on Aitut, to their sheer amazement, and Garen leaves them awestruck at Orik when he says that the half-orc cleric saved everyone else from evil fey. [to which, Ogon can be heard muttering "...craft..."]
Nadya gives them enormous hugs and a hail of kisses before turning back to the Truskins and the heroes. She lets out a relieved sigh. "My boys are safe," she says, her eyes glittering, then draws herself up to her relatively short height. "Now. Lyu told me there are inspections in effect at the bridge. We may need to get a license once in town. On the outskirts are the Fishcamps, and there we can meet my uncle-in-law, Ringeirr. He can help us. Whitethrone is...difficult to move through. Many spies, watchers, Jadwiga, winter wolves. And Fishcamps is a lawless place. We'll have to be ready for anything."
She gives a smile and arches a brow. "Be ready to talk and also swing a sword."
"I am ready." Ogon confirms. "Trouble will regret it if they come for us."
Orik blushes a bit, appearing embarrassed, and hugs each of their new friends, and then waves at them as they depart.
When they approach the bridge, Orik nods, "got a sword, I'll talk if I can but sometimes - people don't like what I have to say. May Erastil bless us all, and see us through the troubles." He hides his holy symbol and tries to make himself look inconspicuous.
Yes hugs the boys fiercely and lets them pet her bat. "Take care of each other until your mama is back. We will take care of her, so don't worry."
To Nadya, she whispers. "Thank you so much for your help. We wouldn't have survived here without you, Nadya."
She wraps herself in her first and does her best to hide any bits that would give her race away at a glance. No point in inviting trouble. "I cannot swing a sword, and I'm not good at sweet-talking people, but I will do my best."
Dezső says his farwells as well. Stiffly, but not coldly. He extends his hands and wishes luck to all, including the children -- but with them he playfully tags them with his sneaky tail while they shake.
While you all feel ready, the night is a cold one and the Fishcamps are still perhaps a full day away. You spend the night nose to tail in the now cozy Truskin dwelling and in the morning say farewell to Maret, Garen, and the Petskova children. Nadya leaves the dogs and sleds and hunting and trading supplies behind for Lyu and Zhdan to look after and use. From here on out, it is by foot and snowshoe.
The road is clearer here, and you can see more evidence of travelers, and crows, and fey. A squad of soldiers passes you, led by a foul-faced sergeant--Nadya sees them in the distance and quickly hisses for everyone to get off the path and bow their heads, which is highly effective. A merchant driving a sleigh with retractable wheels gives your group a curious stare, his shaggy winterized ponies stamping in the snow. And you can see the miasma that is emitted from any city in Avistan from a distance: smoke, the slight hints of cooking fires--even in this hellish wintry place, people need to cook their food.
After a few hours, you come to a crossing of one of the many rivers that feed into Glacier Lake. The water is cold, but not swift below you. The span is a miracle of reinforced ice. Nadya explains that a Jadwiga will be about to expand or contract the ice bridge as needed, and indeed, on the far shore, you can spot a richly decorated woman calmly observing the bridge. Currently, the bridge is narrow--should a battalion need to cross, or frost giants, or a caravan of sweets for Jadwiga royalty, it would expand through the powers of this winter witch. This marks the entrance into the boundary of the city's domain, although the Fishcamps are still some hours away, outside the 'proper' city walls.
A signpost carved beautifully out of ice stands at the bridge entrance. It states the following in Taldan, Skald, and Hallit:
Foreign merchants headed to Whitethrone
Require licenses to do business in the city.
Know that you may be stopped for inspection without cause.
Those seeking licenses should apply at the city gates.
At the other end of the bridge, you can see three hulking, large humanoids. Their arms are crossed over bulging biceps. They tower twice as tall as a human, their skin a rippling, scaled blue-green.
Orik mutters to himself and the others, "maybe we'll blend right in, right? Lead the way Nadya, I think we're all out of our element." The new ushanka sits snug on his head, and Orik looks the part of a surly outdoorsman.
Orik follows Nadya, and follows her lead.
Ogon glowers at the trolls, bad, but at least they aren't wolves...
We doing anything to hide Ogon, he's not exactly inconspicuous...?
You step onto the bridge, which has definitely been constructed, or narrowed, to be somewhat unnerving and single-file. There's enough room for two humanoids to walk side by side, but just barely, and it's a good twenty feet to the slow moving, assuredly freezing river. To the left of you, the Jadwiga pretends not to notice you, reading from a scroll and occasionally checking a mirror. The ice of the bridge is criss-crossed with cuts to keep you from slipping, but the fact that the winter witch could undoubtedly make the surface smooth as glass with a wave of her hand is unsettling indeed.
The three giant like humanoids stand up taller when you get close, glowering. You can see they have gills.
One speaks in rough Taldan.
"You papers, please." it grunts, doing its best to look officious.
Nadya places her hands on her hips. "One moment, good sirs." She turns around slightly to face the heroes and speaks quietly. "This is an illegal toll. They aren't supposed to be here. But they are large boys."
What do you do?
Responding quietly: "The Jadwiga is tolerating their conduct, and if we resist we will bring attention to ourselves. How much do you think they want?"
Can we identify the creatures?
”On the other hand, standing our ground might be expected. We look like a bunch of monsters - maybe it’s expected? And we don’t have a lot of money - we won’t get very far if we give in to every goon.”
Dez aids Orik:
knowledge nature with free inspiration: 1d20 + 8 + 1d6 ⇒ (7) + 8 + (3) = 18
Yrja looks uncertain. "What if the law changed, and they are supposed to be here? Or they work for someone powerful? We won't get very far if we start a fight with everyone we don't like."
She gives the winter witch a covert glance, watching for her reaction.
Kn Local, but Dez got it.
Dez identifies the creatures as freshwater merrows: cousins to land ogres, these are aquatic gilled giants. Big, dumb, and also dumb. They like to eat people and animals.
"You show PAPERS!" one shouts impatiently. The other two shift impatiently.
Nadya whispers to Dez. "Bluster them."