Dezső readily accepts the handshake. "Our trudging has been done with pride, but we don't all possess the magic (gesturing to her clean boots) to do it elegantly."
Ringgeir comes back to check on the drowsy heroes. "Your animals are safe and no one has seen Queen's Guards in some time," he says quietly. "Mortin is happily doing his art."
He looks at Dez and Kseniya a bit shamefacedly. "You were right to restrain me. I was not mindful of my friend's past." He draws closer. "Mortin was not always a forger. I mean, he was, but he was also a...smuggler. And a confidence man on the side. You wouldn't know it now, but he was a bit of a bravo, with money, drink, and...ahem, the like. We had many a hair-raising adventure today, usually winding up in the cups somewhere, bruised and laughing." He sighs.
"Mortin was taken by the Iron Guard* when he ran a fix in Ironside. They tortured him for days, then set him for execution. His sentence was commuted because they had an influx of Linnormian prisoners. I paid a hefty fee to get his name erased from the dockets and transfer him to a less guarded donjon, where he escaped. But he's a shadow of the man he was before they locked him away in an icy hole." Ringgeir's face is a mixture of anger and grief.
"I don't know everything you are all up to, just what Nadya told me. Elvanna has done wrong here, done something to pervert the order of The Mother--not that I love Her, but I understand it, even as I fight it--and for that, I will throw my lot with you as far as I can."
* - a name for the military troops who reside in the Ironside district of Whitethrone and serve as its guard while not on duty outside of the city.
Orik nods, "ahh, agreed then, sure. That sounds good, Kseniya." He turns to Ringgeir, "Mortin... give him a break, right?"
He thinks to himself, "might as well... I can bind you to some of my power, if you are willing."
Assuming Kseniya agrees.
He gathers Kseniya up with the others, repeating his ceremony where he draws power, he closes his eyes, and translucent squash leaves appear, enveloping everyone in their leafy tendrils. Kseniya is included, for the first time, his chanting slightly odd. The vines connect each of them, with Orik in the center.
His eyes open, green and luminous, and he nods at her. "Erastil's blessing is now on you, and now you know our true name... we call ourselves... THE PUMPKIN BUNCH!" He smirks triumphantly.
Kseniya flattens her mouth and narrows her eyes at Orik. ”I am not calling myself a pumpkin.”
She steps out of the room for a moment. ”If you must call me something...” She pauses talking for dramatic effect, though the others outside hear the sounds of shuffling cloth. ”You may call me by the name I wrestle under...”
She bursts out of the doorway with a flash of golden sparkles. She has shed down to a sparkling golden and black leotard and matching mask, one not unlike what you might see on an Arcadian luchadora. Dressed down as she is, it becomes clear just precisely how toned she is and a surprisingly varied array of scars dot her body, including puncture wounds in the shape of a large wolf’s bite on her shoulder.
She poses, flexing both of her arms.
”I am...the Golden Girl!”
She holds the pose for a few moments to let it sink in, then suddenly shifts back to her usual demeanor. ”’Golden Girl and the Pumpkin Bunch’ flows off the tongue well, do you not agree? Or would you prefer ‘The Pumpkin Bunch, Now Featuring Golden Girl?’ I suppose we could go ‘Pumpkin Bunch + Golden Girl’ if parity is more your concern.”
Yrja watches the exchange between Orik and Kseniya keenly, breathing out in relief as the renegade jadwiga agrees to join the rest of them in their mission.
"I am... I suppose I can call myself a witch, I was raised and trained by one. But I am not like the winter witches. I like helping people."
As Kseniya reveals her glittery outfit, the tiefling gasps and claps her hands. "So pretty!"
Dezső too is relieved to have Kseniya become a genuine member of the group, and he's amazed by Kseniya's transformation, but he listens to the playful exchanges with an bit of melancholy, fingering his worn dark grey long coat. "I don't much feel like a pumpkin, whatever that would feel like. And I find it hard to imagine being so comfortable drawing so much attention to myself as you Kseniya. But I value the talents you all bring for the difficult road ahead, and I treasure your acceptance, which I know is something Yrja understands as well...", his words drift off as he glances in the other tiefling's direction, marveling at how far they'd come.
Orik is obviously impressed by Kseniya.
He slaps his friend on the shoulder, looking up at Kseniya ”hah, no need to use the name, buddy. Kseniya, I was just being silly anyway. We don’t always feel pumpkin-like... I’m really the only one who likes pumpkins, gourds, and squash. But yer outfit is great! And I love how it sounds.”
He looks at Kseniya with a level gaze, ”Now, I can snap my fingers and you can grow like a well-nourished gourd, at least for a bit. The real bonds we share are of fraternity, courage, and honor. Those transcend whatever nonsense pops into my brain.”
He turns back to Dez, ”the golden girl here is a pretty compelling hero. Let’s trust her to get us safely out of this city in her own way - it’s worked so far.” He points at his head ”be it through brains,” and flexes a bit, ”or her brawn. If we fail, at least we did our best.”
Tell Orik when you want enlarge person and he will do it on his turn as a swift action.
I love that ability/archetype and I'm glad I can actually use it. I did all of Tears at Bitter Manor with a character with that same build and he had the misfortune of being in a group full of dex-based people >_< he did get a nice moment in which he saved someone from being swallowed whole by making them large, though!
How lovely it is to be amongst people who appreciate her! Kseniya's smile broadens. "Thank you for your kind words, new friends. Though, while I am quite fine with courage and honor, I will have to substitute 'sorority' for 'fraternity' for obvious reasons." She returns to the other room to dress herself again. "I shall of course not be running around in only my stage costume, especially in this cold, but one never knows when a bit of show-womanship will be called for." She steps back out into the party's company dressed as before, her hands working at adjusting her ringlets. "Now that all that is settled..." She flutters her hands back and forth as she clears off the snow and any dirt or such off everyone's boots and coats. "A bit of sprucing up never hurt anyone, yes? Yes, indeed. Just do not come to expect it! I am no one's bootblack."
|1 person marked this as a favorite.|
Eventually conversation dies down and you all take your evening's rest, the quiet scratching of Mortin's quill lulling you to sleep.
As you perform your morning ablutions and stretches, spells and the like, there is a knock on the door, which puts Mortin at a renewed fright, but Ringgeir takes a peek through a shuttered window and laughs.
He opens the door to find two rather red-eyed and possibly still tipsy Winter Wolves in human form...or one, rather: It's Greta and Ogon, looking a bit worn down, but bearing a load of steaming biscuits and tea. "We've been on a tour," she says as brightly as one can after a night of drinking and wandering, "And today is my day off. We're to escort you to the border of The Howlings."
"And then to bed," says Ogon, yawning hugely.
"Oh, but not to sleep," says Greta, causing Ogon's mouth to snap shut and his eyes to widen.
Sense Motive: 1d20 - 2 ⇒ (10) - 2 = 8
The notoriously unobservant Kseniya completely misses the seemingly obvious innuendo. "Why not? You certainly both look like you could use some. Might as well get your rest now on your day off."
"Ogon, so good to see you! And nice to see you again as well, Greta. We're ready when you are." The situation is so odd, and Dez is just playing along.
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (13) + 10 = 23
Dezső understands perfectly well Greta's innuendo -- the tell tale physical manifestations of her interest have been unceasing since she and Ogon met -- but it is not relevant to the task before them so he pays it no mind.
After you munch on a few biscuits and drink from the samovar of tea, Greta and Ogon lead you from Mortin's house.
The winding streets of the Howlings give way to an intersection of broad thoroughfares that lead to other districts of Whitethrone, where the buildings continue to improve in the quality of their construction and the exquisite detailing of
their woodwork. In the distance, the sounds of more active neighborhoods can be heard, but Whitethrone is generally somber and muted.
A white signpost of carved stone stands before you, with carven signs pointing in various directions.
"We hope you have enjoyed your stay in The Howlings, stilyagi Morgannon and party," says Greta formally. She clicks her heels, as much as one can in the snow.
Ogon grunts. "Burn something for me."
The signpost, written in Skald and Giant, points the way toward “Two Hills” to the northeast, “Merchants’ Quarter and the Floes” to the southeast, and “Porcelain Street and Frosthall” to the south.
"We're to the Floes, Mistress?" says Ringgeir, looking the part of a servant fully.
"If we don't make a fuss they may not even look at them." Ringgeir says, barely moving his lips.
A moment later, the two mirror men materialize from the shadows of a nearby building.
Please state the name of dvoryane and guests. It's impossible to tell which mirror man's telepathy breaches your minds as if your brain were suddenly dipped in ice water.
"Dvyoryane" = nobility or person of note, including of course, jadwiga (and ice trolls, winter wolves, etc
Earlier, to Ogon: "Be well, and I'll do some burning on your behalf," displaying the tip of a flask of alchemist's fire.
At the checkpoint, very quietly: "I think he means you, Kseniya."
"Kseniyatalya Tatyanovna Hildenlieder Morgannan." She flashes her papers. She gives the others names as they are listed on their papers. Which I assume we have at this point? Correct me if otherwise "Is everything alright, dear officer of the law?"
Yes, you have your papers, and names are listed on their papers. Ringgeir also has his own papers, listed as a serf.
The mirror men take their time scanning the papers, noting each of the 'stilyagi guests' in turn. Their faceless mirrors appear to lock on Dez and Yrja for a while, then to the papers, then back to the tieflings. The two mirror men then turn to each other and lock motionlessly--you can almost hear the 'click' of their pose--in an eyeless communion.
Finally, after what seems like an eternity of breath-holding, they return the papers to Kseniya.
Please remind your guests that public dancing is forbidden in Whitethrone.. Their voice--voices?--are as cheerless and icy as ever.
They step aside, just a little, to allow you to pass through.
You're free to go about your business. Move along. :D
Dez bites his tongue but there's not much risk of him breaking out any dance moves, least of all in public! Maybe Nadya could convince him to participate in some folk dancing, but that would take some real encouragement...
Kseniya graciously takes her papers back. She gently places a hand on the Mirror Man's shoulder to guide the mirror so she can check her hair. She makes sure to throw in a playful wink to whichever jadwiga is on the other side. "Of course, no dancing." Satisfied with her hair, she pulls back and waves goodbye with a dainty wiggle of her fingers. "See myself around." She blows a kiss to her reflection.
Where to now?
Yrja makes heroic efforts not to fidget or duck behind one of her companions as the mirror men scrutinize her and Dez. She feels awfully out of place here, and dreads another fight with these eerie servants of the Throne.
As they are allowed to pass without issue, she whispers to their newest ally. "What was that about dancing? Why were they staring at me and Dez?"
Kseniya shrugs the question off. "Oh, they simply do not want anyone dancing in public. Maybe they thought the two of you looked particularly footloose. Heavens know why."
Earlier, with Ogon
Orik pats Ogon on the shoulder, maybe for the last time, and nods, ”will do. Stay safe and keep the fire alive, Ogon.”
At the Checkpoint
Orik looks confused, ”so I don’t look like I’m fun and fancy free? These mirror guys are weird.” He glances at the pair, ”do tiefling dance in these parts?”
He moves on with Sasha, trying to figure out the alien mind of the mirror men.
"I have no idea. They have always been walking vanities as far as I am concerned. Mother never let us keep mirrors that large around our home because of how commonly people spy through them in this country, so I have just always made do as I could." She sighs as she remembers many antagonistic engagements with her mother over the issue. "I have always wanted a full-length mirror, but I can hardly argue with her reasoning."
|4 people marked this as a favorite.|
"To the Floes, then," says Ringgeir, adopting a slightly faster paced walk than their cautious scurrying in the Howlings. The towers of Whitethrone grow and surround you; some pale white, some ebon, and some an eerie blue, the color of overturned icebergs. The streets are neatly cobbled and free of snow here. Winter wolves trot by and ice trolls lumber past. All manner of cold fey flit about--pixies, especially, but also grigs and once, horrifyingly, a skeletal and glittering Cold Rider surrounded by servants, cruelly sweeping them aside when they fail to address his steed's needs properly. There are also gnomes and dwarves and regular Ulfen Irriseni, often with the slender neck rings and bracelets to indicate that they are slaves, although they are not usually bruised. And of course, regally, the pale, haughty Jadwiga, often with retinue, pausing to look at this shop and that. A few nod knowingly or with a smirk to Kseniya.
There are stores with porcelain dolls, stores with steaming exotic samovars of tea, reindeer hocks left to drip, pale crystalline mushrooms and other oddities, fey caps and boots--all numbers of items to peer at and buy, but Ringgeir leads you inexorably onward. You pass over dozens of small fairy bridges where steaming hot springs water flows into the lake, melting some of it to expose placid dark water, into a district continuing to be divided by bridges and walkways. This area seems even wealthier than where you passed through, and the Jadwiga are more formal and comprise a greater percentage of the humanoids and creatures you pass by. This is The Floes, a smattering of tiny islands and bridges used by the most wealthy.
The area is almost warm, and steamy. A palace dominates the immediate urban area, carved to look like blooms of flowers that dissolve into blue green water. Steam rises from various floral points that protrude from the palace, and rolling low buildings behind it look glittering and appear to have greenery in them. From the palace's central plaza, numerous walkways radiate outward, leading to other piers and islands dotted with mansions with their own private docks.
"The Water Palace," says Ringgeir, and walks toward it. At the hub of the plaza, though, he heads east, towards another bathhouse looking building.
The Water Palace is both a place of government and its own, very exclusive bathhouse, powered by hot springs and coerced air elementals.
After a knowing nod to the doorkeeper at the communal bathhouse, you walk down a series of stairs, and then along corridors for a long while. Doors marked with entrances to various bath houses, not just the one you entered, indicate that this is quite the passageway. After that passageway, Ringgeir takes you through another, far more cramped stairwell, to a corridor lit with artificial, magical light tuned to various colors. Unusual plants line the corridor, some tropical, some with intoxicating scents, some bearing unusual fruits or having shimmering bracts. The plants are in boxes or stands and look like they will be transferred and planted elsewhere. This area is much more rough-hewn, with various doors that must lead to some greenhouse.
After this botanical excursion, you come to a dead end filled with soil bags and a wall of thorny wild cucumbers, hanging down on vines. Ringgeir taps at the plant and it draws aside to reveal a door.
He opens it without ceremony and you enter a small, s-shaped hall that leads to an open space that was clearly once a small private bath chamber, now repurposed. Various archways lead to smaller rooms on the side. In the middle is an octagonal pool, now drained. Circles have been cut into the stone steps and roses have been planted, forming arching bowers, and in the middle of the pool, on cobblestones that seem to ooze blood, blooms a triumphant red rose. The scent of tea and warmth from the hot springs, and the perfume of roses, tickles your nose.
A tall, fit blonde woman stands by the pool, speaking to an attendant. She is armored lightly and looks as if she could do well in a fight. She turns to see you all, revealing bright blue eyes and a questioning smile. "Ringeirr Malenkov. I see you've brought guests. You were not followed." It's not quite a question.
Ringeirr takes her hand and kisses it avuncularly, then turns to face the heroes. "My friends, this is Solveig Ayrdahl, the guardian of the Shrine of the Everbloom, a place built long ago by the Heralds of Summer's Return. Solveig, these folks rescued me from certain death in the Fishcamps, and they have been tasked with a quest by The Mother herself. Friends, if you could explain yourselves to Solveig, I think she can help you."
Kseniya kisses Solveig's hand noticeably less avuncularly. She then steps back and folds one arm over her chest while she twirls one of her ringlets with the other. She tilts her head down and to the side. "I am a late joiner to the group, so I think I will just sit back and admire you for the time being, Ms. Ayrdahl, while the other tell the story. I do hope I will not distract you from the story too much, though." She smiles, her tongue licking the back of her teeth. "Oh, and I am Kseniya. The pleasure is mine. Though I am happy to share."
|1 person marked this as a favorite.|
Dezső makes a short bow to Solveig and introduces himself and the group, channeling and intense seriousness, focus, and purpose. "My name is Dezső. We have entrusted our lives in Ringeirr's hands and now we put ourselves in yours by sharing these confidences. Seeing that this is a shrine to the Everbloom certainly gives me more confidence in doing so.
(gesturing as he names folks) Yrja and I come from the South -- far to the south, from Taldor, although I hail from Ustalav originally. We were joined by Orik once we came to the North, and Kseniya is of course local, but has shown herself trustworthy through her actions. In Taldor, Yrja and I found ourselves investigating unusual summer snows and encountered evil fey and an ice troll who seemed to have arrived through a magical portal. Then one of Baba Yaga's black riders emerged from the portal and bound us -- before perishing -- to a mission to come to Whitestone, find the Dancing Hut, and use it to reach Baba Yaga herself -- to end Elvanna's illegitimate extended reign and apparently her plot to spread a new ice age across the face of the world. As absurd as that may sound, that truly is what has brought us here. We place ourselves in extraordinary peril speaking so plainly, but if we cannot trust the Heralds of Summer's Return in the divine presence of the Everbloom, our quest is doomed by any measure. I hope you can help."
Diplomacy with inspiration: 1d20 + 10 + 1d6 ⇒ (19) + 10 + (6) = 35
Orik nods at Dez’s extended explanation. ”for my part, I just found these folks after accidentally helping one of the riders. I’m a cleric Old Deadeye, dedicated to making things a little safer for all folks. Especially those who have nowhere else to turn. From Ustalav as well. They’re all decent types, and for my part, I don’t have much quarrel with Milani - sometimes who’s in charge has to be taken down a peg by necessity, especially if they hurt the most vulnerable.”
He pauses, ”not sure if we can fix Irresin properly, but it’s a damn sight worse with Elvanna than the Crone in charge.”
As they walk through the Floes, Yrja almost twists her head off her shoulders by constantly craning her neck this way and that, turning to take in a new wondrous sight, and then the next, and the next. She had to give it to these jadwiga, they could create some truly spectacular cities! And the palace, so beautiful and majestic! She pays special attention to the attire of those passing by, taking inspiration from it for when she will again be able to practice her craft and honor the Everbloom.
Walking into the sanctuary has her gasping in stunned wonderment as she slowly paces the room taking in the sights and the smells. As Dez mentions her, she curtseys to Solveig. "Such an honor to be in your presence, guardian. I am a follower of the Everbloom as well, although not a cleric like Orik. I learned witchcraft since I was a child, and I hope to put my skills in Her service, and yours."
Solveig smirks a little at Kseniya's somewhat overly friendly greeting. She nods to Dez. "Bound by an oath to the Mother herself, via Her Darkest Midnight. I sensed something, but I surely was not expecting that."
"A priest of Erastil and indeed, anyone who supports healthy communities, is welcome here," she says to Orik. "You are all so far from home. And welcome, Yrja; may the Everbloom bless you with the Light of Hope, and the blessings to give you strength in the coming struggle, wherever it may be."
She leads you over to a smaller room; her office, by the looks of it, with enough chairs for you all, in front of a simple elliptical table with pen and ink and scroll. Guerilla-looking Milanites occasionally appear at the door with messages in scrolls, but you remain relatively undisturbed while you speak, and she keeps the door open, presumably as a mark of the trust the followers of Milani have regarding the openness of justice. An attendant brings you water and tea--sweetened with rose hips, of course.
"To overthrow Elvanna is something I had only dreamed of," she begins, still looking ever the warrior even when sitting behind her makeshift desk, "But I see that Milani herself smiles upon you, and the First World besides. Elvanna did not realize the power of the Dancing Hut, when she brought it to Whitethrone. As a note of defiance to her Mother, she placed it on full display in Market Square, locked and shackled. However, overnight, a thick forest grew, teeming with strange creatures. The Winter Guard has been placed under the command of her great-great-grandaughter, Nazhena Vasiliovna, whom you may know."
Ringeirr hisses at the name. "That icy harlot killed my great-niece."
Solveig shakes her head. "I am so sorry. She's killed many. She's commanding the Winter Guard, with a company of a hundred and fifty, to chop at the forest, but they can only halt the spread of the trees into the Merchant Quarter. Everything else grows back during the night. When they try to cut at night, Guardsmen...disappear."
Ringeirr cuts in again. "That means there's a small army around the Hut, and going when they aren't around means a mysterious death. How can we approach it, Solveig?"
The Milanite nods. "I have anticipated that. The Winter Guard is of Elvanna, but we have made an unlikely ally in the remnants of the Iron Guard--yes, I know, Ringeirr, they beat poor Mortin. They are not our friends, nor are we theirs. But they are of Baba Yaga. They have been purged, several times, and forced underground, their power broken. They don't trust us, but they want to reclaim the city for their Mistress. They have the numbers yet to retake the city, or at least fight the Winter Guard, but there's a large obstacle in their way--in our way. The legion commander of the Winter Guard is a white dragon, by the name of Logrivich."
She looks at the heroes. "What I ask is no easy task. You may rest here, heal, get supplies, and plan in secret. But if you slay that dragon, I can provide the distraction to pull away the entirety of the Winter Guard from Market Square."
Kseniya mirror's Solveig's smirk with her own. She has gotten by her whole life on an audacity that would have gotten a commoner killed, and she has no intention of stopping any time soon, and this bold turn towards revolutionary activities has only encouraged her drive to damn the consequences. As she listens to Solveig's account, she even begins to imagine herself taking on the entire Winter Guard at once, or--even better--wrestling a white dragon into submission and she seriously considers how well she would do. That such a display might impress Ms. Ayrdahl made the idea all the more tempting. Thankfully for the rest of the group, she is at least old enough to have learned some ability to tell the difference between ideas she likes and ideas that are actually good. Emphasis on "some."
Yay 7 wisdom!
Kseniya folds her arms and stands tall. "This dragon sounds like quite a monstrous person, and I should be delighted to pound his head into the ground. I imagine it shan't be much trouble. What white dragon could stand up to a gold, after all."
Does Kseniya know anything about Nazhena as a fellow jadwiga in the city?
You just know she was raised in the royal palace of Whitethrone--'true' royalty, a step above other jadwiga, and after something or other she got sent off to rule over some small village near the Mammoth Lords--Wallsey or something. And there was rumors of a Taldan as her lover; how gauche.
"A- a dragon?!" squeaks Yrja, drawing her shoulders together and sinking into the chair as if trying to become one with it. The prospect more than daunted her - it terrified her. It was one thing to fight trolls and winter witches, but a dragon?
Knowledge arcana white dragons: 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (18) + 13 = 31
Orik boggled slightly. ”Well, okay. A dragon. So, what can we do to prepare ourselves?” Orik shakes his head, ”isn’t too big, right?” he asked, hopefully.
knowledge (arcana): 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (12) + 5 = 17
"White dragons. Pay attention, girl," comes the crusty voice to Mahb to your ears. "White, like their name. They're bedecked with horns, with a thin membrane between them. Like all true dragons, they fly and breathe a dangerous weapon--in this case, cold. It has to replenish its breath, mind, but don't get caught by it--it's certain death save for the most fortified warrior. White dragons can climb ice like a spider, and burrow as well, and can shape ice and snow to their liking. Here are their immunities, girl: cold. Sleep. and--" You can't recall the last one.
Mahb's voice comes buzzing back. "--and use fire. They'll fear that."
Dez listens carefully and turns even more sober with Solveig’s request and then thoughts spill out of him: ”A white dragon? It is much you ask of us. Too bad Ogon is no longer with us. As Orik asked, do you know how old it is? Does anyone in our group have the ability to offer protection from the frosty death of its breath? And how much fire can we bring forth to help us? Any chance you can make your fists aflame, Kseniya?”
Solveig nods at Orik and Dez. "Logrivich is young. He is about the size of a humanoid. His breath weapon is fearsome, though, and you would do well to look for ways to defend yourself from that. Whatever magic or alchemical items you may wish to find, Whitethrone will have."
She pauses, passing a hand over you. "I can sense the geas moving within you, Dezső, and you, Yrja. It is bleeding over into your companions somewhat. That is a powerful blessing and command the Black Rider has placed over you, but I think it can be...reasoned with."
She brings up a rose from the garden bowers, which parts from its climbing stem with no resistance, and prays silently in front of you. After a moment, she raises her head and smiles.
"This quest, to find the Mother Crone, you will be pulled towards it again soon enough, but I have asked the powers that be to understand--you cannot get the Dancing Hut without this key step. I think you'll find yourselves more empowered as the day goes on, and you will have time to purchase the supplies you need."
Indeed, you can all feel some of Milani's, or Baba Yaga's, or your own innate powers, suffusing through you as Solveig finishes speaking. She returns the rose to the bower, where it rejoins to the living plant as if nothing had happened.
Time to level up! Level 6! For death and glory!
Kseniya admires Solveig's trick with the rose. "What a delightful touch of magic. Though I am not surprised that one beautiful flower holds power over another." Kseniya stretches her arms above her head to both limber up from so much standing about and to show off to the Milanite. "Nazhena...ah yes, scandal about the Taldan lover, sent off to rule over some farflung town with all the Mammoth Lords. Might have that order backwards. She has come far from a step below royalty to taking arms against The Progenitor."
I will get working on leveling! This will be her first dragon disciple level. I live in San Francisco so I'm going to be stuck in my apartment for the next indeterminate amount of time starting at midnight tonight, so I'll have plenty of time!
Yrja shivers as she remembers Mahb's lessons about dragons. "His breath, yes, icy cold and deadly. He flies, and climbs, and burrows, so we most be mobile as well and have weapons and spells that can reach him. Cold will not affect him, nor magical slumber, and... there was something else. But he will fear fire, yes."
Solveig nods at Yrja's long list of strengths and one weakness for the dragon. "You may stay here at the Shrine in the rooms we have provided, and your papers should grant you easy enough access to the Market District to purchase any supplies you need. The greenhouses here can provide you much in the way of food." She has her assistants in the Everbloom show you to your rooms, which are small, but individual, and cozy and neat.
Once your items are stored, Solveig has two more items of information for you. She stands at the table, again looking far more warrior than cleric. "Logrivich's tower is known as The Clock Tower. There's a rumor of a clockwork creature inside, although that could be a rumor. There are certainly trolls, as we see them coming and going. And...there's a person who has been imprisoned in the Tower."
She blushes slightly. "Her name is Bella. We were to be betrothed. If I could impart upon you the request to rescue her, I would be forever grateful."
Kseniya metaphorically pats herself on the back for choosing to flirt with a woman of similar predilections. That said, far be it from her to flirt with a taken woman.
Kseniya ceases her flirtatious, coy demeanor, letting herself return to her usual ease. She holds up a proud fist, her other hand on her hip. "Say no more! I was already excited for the chance at a glorious brawl, but an adventure to fight for love? To bring betrothed back together? Why, I would happily fight to the other side of the world for that! Falayna would never forgive me!"
Orik chuckles heartily, ”at least some of us are good at fighting in towers.” He points at Dez and Yrja. ”I happened to get captured near one, so at least I might’ve learned my lesson, right?”
He stretches himself on his belly, in response to Yrja, ”need some time to prep, then I’m ready to go fight a dragon when everyone else is.”
"Is it dragon first or Bella first? And if there are trolls, fire would help. What else?"
Dez tries to remember what he knows about trolls. For example, are they vulnerable to fire or just not regenerate fire damage?
Knowledge nature with free inspiration: 1d20 + 9 + 1d6 ⇒ (11) + 9 + (2) = 22
"I can make some alchemist fire to bring along, at least to burn the corpses after we skewer them. Or can you provide that for us, Solveig?"
Dez recalls it's both for these trolls.
Solveig crosses her arms. "Dragons tend to be last, since they hole up in their nests at the end of some awful labyrinth. I don't have alchemist's fire to spare, but it's easily available for purchase."
She paces, thinking. "If I were you, I'd certainly invest in healing potions and anything else to block Logrivich's breath weapon. Anything to prevent him from seeing you, or flying, I'd look for that as well. Dragons can see in darkness as good as a tiefling, but very few things can see through smoke. Older dragons, I think, can see through snowstorms, but not Logrivich, is my guess."
She walks back into her office and presents a small satchel. "I have three light curative potions and two fireworks. Set off one firework when you've killed Logrivich--fire it from the top of the clock tower--and we'll use that as the signal for the Iron Guard and my Heralds to attack. Save the other one in case it misfires, Milani forbid."
She sighs. "I wish I had more to offer. Dragons sleep and do not wish to be disturbed, so if you take more than a day, you may be able to hole up in the tower. ...otherwise, that's all the informations I have."
Her face grows steely again. "I know you can do this. Milani guides us. Go prepare."
I forgot to actually roll a knowledge (arcana) check before!
Knowledge (arcana): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (14) + 8 = 22
Kseniya's primary knowledge of white dragons is that they like cold, dislike fire, and are generally considered the stupidest of all true dragons. Granted, that still leaves them far more intelligent than most and definitely smarter than her own average half-elf intelligence, but Kseniya has never been one to let such trifling details get in her way. Her feelings on the matter of the traditional true dragons could be summarized as follows:
Gold > all other dragons > white
"White dragons in particular are last in...just about everything, to be honest. I trust we can handle it. Especially if we have a way to take to the air if it does."
You spend some time resting and recuperating, and flexing some new powers while in the Shrine of the Everbloom, but the geas laid upon Yrja and Dez begins to tug at them in an increasingly insistent manner. It's clear you need to move towards Logrivich and beyond.
Suitably papered up and disguised as stilyagi, you explore the markets for your purchases to discreetly build up your dragon-killing inventory.
After you have finalized your purchases and stowed your gear upon your persons and faithful four-legged companions, you have one final breaking of your fast on a predictably icy morning. The Shrine smells of roses and faintly, of sweat and weapon oil, but you all feel a slight chill and the scent of hoarfrost.
A dragon awaits you.
Nevertheless, you have all prepared for this. One last time, Ringeirr leads you unerringly through the streets of Whitethrone; out of the island district you have grown accustomed to, under fearsome gigantic towers of ice and pale marble, some streaked with malachite and obsidian, towards the North Gate...unnervingly close to the Queen's Castle, although Ringeirr circuits that bit of Whitethrone as best he is able. Leading out to the North Gate you notice the path is magically etched ice that does not chip or cause you to slip. Underneath the pale blue ice you can see bits of white, round shapes. It dawns on you all what they are: an occipital bone here, a maxillary there, and often, an entire cranium. The Queens of Whitethrone are not a kindly sort. The road out of the North Gate is known as the Bone Road, and it is paved with the skulls of those who dared to displease them.
As you exit the North Gate you notice several trolls and a cold fey...adding something...to the road, off to one side. Making repairs, if you will. You prefer not to think who supplied the paving.
There are many layers to the walls of Whitethrone, but just before the outer walls of Whitethrone looms a clock tower. It must be hundreds of feet tall, and bulky and thick like a rook on a chessboard--an ideal lair for a growing dragon's bulk. You can see that at the top, one of the four clock faces has been blasted open, forming an icicle-dripping maw that resembles a giant drooling mouth. This is Logrivich's aerie, where he can get an eagle-eye view of the city. No dragon is in sight in its icy opening.
The clock tower makes clucking and turning sounds even before you get close to the base. The tower gears may have been damaged when Logrivich performed his "renovations". Most of the windows are nailed shut or frozen with glots of ice. Dragons like their sleep. As do trolls.
Ringeirr nods to you all solemnly. "We'll look for the fireworks display," he says. "I have every confidence in you."
Kseniya taps herself with her mage armor wand, then twirls it as she sheathes it on her belt. She flashes her grin. "That makes two of us."
Orik leaves Sasha, carrying relatively few things, with Ringeirr Unless he can take her!. "I'll pick you up soon, big gal." He pats her on the nose and kisses her big horn.
Orik has a pair of heavy white steel gauntlets on, his boots are thick, made of a heavy white wool from some insulated beast, and he now wears a fine scarab necklace. His ushanka has the earflaps open, and he's decked out to the nines with weapons and a heavy sack of gear. He no longer appears to be bothered by the cold, in the slightest. "Figured I'd deck myself with accessories for surviving here."
He grins at Ringeirr, "may goodly forces protect you and your own."
He steps up, adjacent to Yrja, to protect her, now that there are two competent melee characters, he could use his favored weapon, a longbow with a powerful pull, made of a dark hardwood and softwood of indeterminate origin. He fingers the bowstring idly as he waits to depart, and picks his teeth.