Hellfrost: Splinters of Nordmark (Inactive)

Game Master Kagehiro

Wartorn Nordmark seems to be on the verge of recovering, though the bickering of resentful Jarls and a King determined to maintain his throne threaten to plunge the region back into chaos.

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"Cast your gaze wide. Cast your gaze far. He who watches only the road does not see what waits in ambush beside. He who focuses solely on his own thread will never see the grand tapestry as it is woven around him. But tread carefully! Sometimes it is better not to know what lurks out of sight. Always remember: The Norns hate competition. And rare is the thread that can weave its own tapestry."


Two years of brutal conflict as rival claimants fought for the throne, followed by six months of civil war as the king sought to claim his inheritance, have left Nordmark a scarred land. Cyning Geirmund has sat on Nordmark's throne for two years, yet the people still suffer. Vast swathes of agriculture land lie fallow, the farmers driven from their homes and yet to return. Iron mines, which once supplied much of Nordmark's wealth, remain empty. The blackened timbers of razed villages and steads jut from the overgrown landscape like the nails of a colossal giant. Yet amid all this destruction the shoots of a new spring are blossoming. Construction work has started on new settlements, merchant caravans are returning to the roads, and order has returned to a land wracked by chaos.

The eyes of the inhabitants betray mixed emotions of hope and resentment. Hope because the fighting has stopped, at least on the battlefield, and things are slowly beginning to improve. Goods are returning to the markets, the roads are becoming safer, at least in the central and northern regions, and the power of the jarls has been weakened.

Yet this same king who now brings stability is directly responsible for much of the hardship. He made no attempt to return in peace, unleashing his armies as soon as he had crossed the border. In the eyes of many, his enemies' scorched earth policies were a direct result of the king's heavy-handed approach. No one forgets that while the general population begged for food, the nobility dined in style and demanded the taxes be paid on time and in full.
               H E L L F R O S T:  SPLINTERS   of   NORDMARK

Perhaps the tales were wrong. Perhaps hands were afforded enough scields(*) that their mouths might flow forth with honey. Two years of supposed peace, and it seems the whole of Nordmark still lies under a pall of desolation. Merchants, skalds, and wayfarers boasted and bragged of the opportunities to be had. They boasted of rampant trade and fortunes to be made, yet all around stand only empty husks and examples of what was lost to war. They promised seas of orchards and verdant fields, yet forgot to mention there remain none to farm them. They promised freedom from the self-important nobles of the other Marklands, yet Geirmund's eyes and hand are evident everywhere with the thunder of his army's march. Empty promises, one and all. And yet, like a seedling ascending slowly skyward, a thin swell of hope remains beneath a bloody, burnt, and broken veneer. Nordmark's pulse yet knocks for one who listens hard enough.

Perhaps the tales were wrong. Or perhaps they were appraisals of a time yet to be realized—a plea for someone to stoke the fire of renewal and change.


I'm opening up the Gameplay Thread because it makes tracking post updates and the like vastly easier. The above is mostly just to set a little bit of tone for where your adventures will be taking place (at least, initially). While the game hasn't officially started yet, everyone can score this thread with a post from their character's profile: doing so lets me know that your character is finalized and you are ready to begin officially.

* scields are the closest thing to a uniform unit of currency Rassilon has. They are coins (Gold, silver, copper).

Wounds: 0 | Pace: 6" | Parry: 6 (8) | Toughness: 7 (10) | Concentration: -3 | Bennies: 3

Dot. Will make a post when I get home from work, where one of my patients has decided to test my will, nerve, and endurance today.

Male Human (Saxa) Wounds: 0 | Pace: 6 | Parry: 5 (6) | Toughness: 5 (8) | Charisma: +2 | Bennies: 3

Skoldir is ready to roll.

Female Human (Finnar) Wounds: 0 | Fatigue: -1 | Pace: 5 | Parry: 4 (5 w/staff) | Toughness: 10 (Icy Skin)(11 w/armor) | Concentration: 1 | Bennies: 3 | Hrimwisard, Beast Master

Ol' Bo'Asha is ready. Bring it on, arsefaces!

Wounds: 0 | Pace: 6" | Parry: 6 (8) | Toughness: 7 (10) | Concentration: -3 | Bennies: 3

Stormreaver laid out his bedroll as he made his camp out in the middle of the barren field. If that's what you could call this lifeless patch of earth. The damage the humans had done to this land was horrendous, and caused the taiga elf's skin to crawl. Winterfang sniffed the sparse grass nearby, circling and looking for a place to lie down himself.

"What people could do this to their own lands? Such disregard for the balance of life. Such ignorance to the natural order of things. Those responsible should be slain to the last man. That is not my duty, unfortunately...but should the opportunity present itself..."

He smiled to himself at the prospect of getting revenge on the fools responsible for this pointless destruction. He then looked to his left, and knelt down to the earth. He held his palm out to the ground, and muttered a prayer.

"Allmother, please provide for your humble servant this night. Grant me peace in this land of blasphemers, the wisdom to remain focused on my task, and the strength to see it through to it's completion."

As he concluded his prayer, a small bush grows quickly up from the ground, with ripe berries quickly filling it's branches. Darting out from the bush with a confused look on it's face, a small rabbit attempts to find cover, but is unable to in this barren land.

Winterfang's head jerks in direction of the small animal. Before the creature can make an escape, however, Stormreaver has drawn his bow and let loose an arrow, slaying the creature. Winterfang shakes with anticipation as his master retrieves the rabbit and recovers his arrow.

Not allowing the animal to suffer, Stormreaver quickly slices it's throat with his dagger, then cleans the blade. He then cleans the arrowhead and shaft as best he can before returning the arrow to his quiver.

"Thank you, Bountiful One, for the feast you have provided your humble servants."

Stormreaver then tosses the rabbit to the mastiff, who sniffs at the dead animal before tearing into it's flesh. The taiga elf himself sits on his bedroll near the bush of berries, wipes the sweat from his brow, and eats his fill. Despite the fact that it was the Fall season, this lands unbearable heat got the better of the cold nature of the taiga elf, and he couldn't help but wonder as he ate on the berries why he was tasked with this, and not a human or hearth elf of the Order.

My understanding of Eostre Animalmother's sins is that it is okay to hunt an animal as long as it is to be used as food, and not for sport. And I am also not eating it myself, but feeding it to a creature that subsists almost entirely on meat it would either have to kill or scavenge in the wild. So I believe this is all okay. If not, I have totally misunderstood Eostre. At any rate, I am officially ready to rock. Should anyone else stumble upon my little camp out in the middle of nowhere...well...we could like...talk...and stuff...

That is, if your character would even have a reason for being out in the middle of nowhere.

Hold off on officially posting/playing for now, for those who are literate (glare Brandon)

Wounds: 0 | Pace: 6" | Parry: 6 (8) | Toughness: 7 (10) | Concentration: -3 | Bennies: 3

At work when I read the first post. I refuse to acknowledge fault on my part. Hahaha. Just take that post as one giant "I'm ready!", as well as another example of posting formatting.

You can go ahead and slate Skoldir Amlethsunu as Hauld (Baron). Being so far from home won't afford too much weight to such a title (and your steward is running things back at home, as you say) but as things progress you can expect title and name to appreciate in value.

Hunanglir and Alfdan's dependable counsel are far behind. Skoldir's path seems to carry him ever farther: a leaf on a frozen wind whose bluster offers no reprieve. When first he set out into the heart of Royalmark, his purpose was clear, even if the way was not. At the approach of Werremonan, the unseasoned Hauld of Hunanglir made his way to Moot Hill to attend the moot formally in his capacity as one of Royalmark's nobility. However, those holding power in Royalmark are notoriously stubborn. Even among those calling Hereford home, staunch defenders against incursions from The Withered Lands, Skoldir Amlethsunu found no sympathies. It would seem the undead were too thorough in their attack. Not even the reputation of Skoldir's family survived the carnage.

Attention was turned without. Royalmark would not heed Skoldir's call, but the Marklands and beyond played host to heroes and hero-hopefuls beyond counting. Even so far south, tales of Seithrby's rise were on every tongue. From allover the Marklands, glory seekers congregated in droves to strike northward through the Icebarriers and to conquest in the Winterlands. Skoldir found himself skeptical of the news being funneled from that northern land, but having little in the way of choice, the Hauld joined in the northward thrust.

Lies. Always they lied. Always the tales exaggerate and boast, luring men to falsehoods that bear dire consequences. Even the journey into the Freelands bore the weight of disaster. Minions of the priestess Nagoll waylaid Skoldir and his men as they crossed the border towards Nara. She mocked him. Their intention was little beyond harassment: a reminder that the debt would be paid. What men he had lost in his foolhardy siege of Snaehvitr had returned to offer their master their swords and axes once more. Though Skoldir's huscarls managed to weather the attack, it was not without cost; many men fell.

Adversity weighed at Skoldir's advance like fetters. Aslov's gates barred to all outsiders, they were forced to make for Hellfrost Pass in the thick of winter only to be rebuffed by Hearth Knights at the very base of Hellfrost Keep. By the time they made Crase, he had lost most of his men to the cold. It took many months and the devotion of several Sisters of Mercy to nurse Skoldir and his huscarls back to health. But the young Hauld made use of his time spent in the large mining town.

Nordmark lay to the east, and proved to be the sole recipient of the vast majority of Crase's iron exports. Loyalties were in a state of flux where Thunor's faith thundered strongest. Though the worst of the civil wars lay two years behind, the bickering jarls and thegns were still as eager for the throne as the day the violence began. Some still openly opposed Geirmund's claim. While Skoldir obviously had no claim on the throne himself, the potential for making powerful friends was a temptation he could not refuse. Fully mended, he and the half dozen surviving men sworn to protect him struck east into Nordmark across the Crystalflow, unintentionally finding themselves numbered among a growing caravan train; many sharing the road sought the safety of numbers against the bandits and orcs infamous for prevailing on the trade routes.

Calamity is tireless. The fears of banditry were proven well founded. Scant days beyond the protection of Crase, and even fewer days beyond the borders of Nordmark, a great host of "bandits" descended upon the caravan train without warning or terms. Mounted on horseback with high quality gear, they displayed an impressive capacity for battle tactics and formations. Skoldir might have respected their aptitude for fighting were he and his men not among those they were targeting. The huscarls of Hunanglir fought admirably, securing the life of their lord and answering with three deaths for each they incurred, but they were hopelessly overwhelmed. An elf from the great taigas of the north seemed to appear from out of nowhere and proved his worth tenfold in defense of the caravan, strange though his presence seemed. Raining a hail of arrows as only an elf could upon the attacking force, Stormreaver afforded enough pressure for what few defenders the caravan still boasted to retaliate and expel the raiders.

A great storm rolled in to wash away the blood of the fallen where it mingled with soil already bloated with sanguine. Whispers went up about the camp that Thunor favored them with the storm, sending lightning to harry their enemies back from wherever they came. Others still insisted that it was Eira, weeping for those who had fallen needlessly to such senseless slaughter. Stormreaver saw only the predations that still held the land in a vice: more tormented souls fed to the ground to twist an already fragile balance.

Dead and fallen tended to, many among the caravan continued on the poor excuse of a trail they had chosen. All around them the ruins of villages and farmlands rise up to tell a tale of the war's cost. It is nearly nightfall when the first welcome sight of the day comes into view. An immense trading post strafes the trail atop a small hill. Surprisingly, it seems to be of Anari origins, and recent. The palisade surrounding the inn—an actual inn*—is thick and well constructed, with sturdy and simple stone towers rising like implacable sentinels at the two gates into the complex. The inn itself is a glamorous affair by Saxa standards: two stories and large enough to make a meadhall jealous. In short order, the caravan's plight is made known to the well armed guards on watch, and the whole of the train—what little remains—is ushered inside the palisade.

                    † Nordmark: Kendric's Trading Post (Nightfall) †
                                Inn Interior: warm; brightly lit.
The common room of the inn is currently home to few beyond what the caravan brought here. Given the recent travails of the caravan as a whole, the innkeeper, a rotund and balding Anari fellow with a thick, black mustache and a rambling manner of speech, has elected to forego the usual imposed fee of those wishing to make use of his trading post. He introduces himself as Kendric ap-Bor, further solidifying the presumption of Anari influence. While bread and water are provided in small quantities freely, more substantial offerings can be acquired at a fair price.

Skoldir's sole remaining huscarl, a grizzled old bear of a man with a well proven sword arm, secures the best table in the room he can find and takes up a watchful position at his lord's side. Despite his age, Stennwulf the Vanguard is as steadfast a huscarl as one could ever wish. He served Amleth dutifully and became a bit of a confidant to the previous Hauld, which is why he instructed Stennwulf to secure the wellbeing of his son when the undead first invaded. It is a command the old warrior has not taken lightly, and a duty he has yet to fail in.

Stormreaver finds the room far less comfortable than the rest. Where others huddle around the fires, the taiga elf finds a corner near a large window—the only corner in the room to suffer from a draft, much to the elf's relief. The rest of their fellow caravan-goers mingle about the common room in state of being firmly between relieved and mournful. They eagerly and thankfully offer the gift of bread and water made to them by Kendric the innkeeper, while others with purses that can bear the burden help themselves to the massive vat of stew bubbling upon the fires of the eastern fireplace. Those who have seen such carnage before begin ordering horns of ale with a practiced hand. They know well that sorrows are best drowned.

The storm outside does not abate. In fact, it seems to be kicking up in intensity, great torrents of rain pouring down onto the streets and pattering against the windows and walls while immense displays of lightning dance about the roiling storm clouds like children at play. Those of a local bent keep their eyes peeled for storm dragons, wishing desperately for a hopeful omen. A great peal of thunder reverberates through the inn, and the front door swings open forcefully. The wind howls mad, and the flames within the room flicker wildly. An old, bent crone huddles into the inn with a deliberate scowl and appraising eye.


Awright, awright, awright! That kicks things off formally. Skoldir, Stormreaver, and Bo'asha are all present currently as far as PCs are concerned. I'll be shooting Marshall a PM here shortly regarding some things (Check the mail icon next to your profile name). Any latecomers will be deposited into the scene as their characters are created and approved. Beyond that, the floor is yours gentlemen (and gentlecrones).

On Stennwulf the Vanguard: I'll PM you his stats, Neal. In the interest of not having combats bogged down by an Extra-parade, I took a few liberties with the men who tried to accompany you this far (aka killed them offscreen). Rather than giving you a contingent of goons, I'm giving you one competent warrior to accompany your nobleness. You still have men sworn to you back home, for what that's worth. I want to take Extras a little slowly though, until I see how they play out in combat (combats tend to take a little bit to resolve on PbP, sadly).

* Inns are not your standard medieval fantasy fare in Hellfrost typically, especially in The Marklands. They are usually longhouses with a large common room and a central hearth (or multiple hearths). What we have here, however, is an Anari inn: complete with barkeep and tables and even private rooms! There is still a bit of Saxa infusion, however; in addition to a pair of large fireplaces flanking the common rooms on both floors, there are hearths that run most of the length of the ground floor. There is a stables outside across from the inn and a large store (currently not open, given the late hour).

Female Human (Finnar) Wounds: 0 | Fatigue: -1 | Pace: 5 | Parry: 4 (5 w/staff) | Toughness: 10 (Icy Skin)(11 w/armor) | Concentration: 1 | Bennies: 3 | Hrimwisard, Beast Master

The old crone huddles in the doorway, the light from the interior of the room bathing her in sudden brightness. Her grip tightens on her rowan walking staff as she brings her left hand up to shield her eyes. It has been a long day and she was barely awake for it.

Gods be damned! How did I walk this far without realizing it? This must be that B&B of Kendric's, that egg-shaped pillow-biter. And here you are, Ol' Baba, with nothing to show for it but your skirts soaked through and a throbbing ache in your knees. BAH!

The old woman shuffles to the rocking chair just inside the door and tries her hardest to seem more like she is sitting down and less like she is collapsing. The chair is worn, it probably sits out on the porch usually when the weather is nice. Now using her stick gently, she settles into an easy rock, surveying the room, and expectantly sniffing the air for signs of tea brewing.

A frost elf? This far south? Curious...

I assume that my familiar follows me everywhere, even when I'm in a daze. So I will assume Vosk has settled in a nearby tree or in the eaves of the inn outside.

Wounds: 0 | Pace: 6" | Parry: 6 (8) | Toughness: 7 (10) | Concentration: -3 | Bennies: 3

Stormreaver sat near the drafty portion of the window like the humans huddled round the fire. It's slight breeze was not enough to win the battle against the flames of the hearth. He had already removed his helm and cloak, and the sweat clearly running down his sky colored brow like small streams. If it weren't for the storm, he would have bivouacked outside with the wagons, beasts of burden, and Winterfang, but instead he was forced to face this unbearable heat.

He had been fortunate enough to avoid the bandits that patrolled this land, but when he saw them launch an attack against a poorly guarded caravan, he knew he had to step in. In his mind, it was likely that people willing to prey on the weak could easily have been responsible for much of the destruction to the wildlife and wilderness of this human kingdom.

After coming to their aid and driving off their assailants, he had been allowed, welcomed even, to join their caravan and accompany them to this post. He hadn't had opportunity to speak with many of their number, it seemed that despite their appreciation of his aid, most of the humans were not comfortable around one of his kind. He looked about the room at his recent traveling companions, most of them merchants or tradesmen. One, however, stood out from the rest.

He sat at a table to himself, aside from the huscarl accompanying him. It was apparent he was of high birth, but there were so many human nations and rankings within each that it was hard to tell just how important this man was.

The taiga elf is relieved when the door opens and a gust of the storm raging outside manages to slip in and cool the room, if only slightly. As an elderly human woman made her way inside, unattended, and had a seat near the door, Stormreaver could not help but be intrigued. He had never seen a human of her apparent age, they simply did not survive in the wilds without help. And he had heard tales of many elderly humans walking willingly into the storm, so as to not take up food and supplies that could be used by the younger generations of their clans. That this woman survived, and alone, gave the Reaper pause.

"There must be something more to her than meets the eye."

Wee bit of a retcon here, but...

Persuasion (Stormreaver): 1d4 ⇒ 2
> Wild Die (Holy S#!+): 4d6 ⇒ (6, 6, 6, 4) = 22


Following the confrontation on the road, and owing to several dead bandits, Stormreaver is able to calm and round up FIVE riding horses with liberal applications of beast friend. These horses all come equipped with standard saddles. And just to reiterate, they are riding horses, not war horses.

By the way, Brandon, as a Reaper of Eostre you gain that signature power for free (beast friend).

Signature Power wrote:
Every deity has a signature power. The cleric automatically gains and can use this spell when he takes the Arcane Background (Miracles) Edge, regardless of its normal Rank requirements.

Dead Bandits Haul:

Keep in mind there's an entire caravan laying claim to things as well. What isn't claimed by the PCs (or Stennwulf) will be picked over by other unnamed NPCs. So, in summary: feel free to supplement your own gear lists with what's below, but there is not going to be a haul of gear you can sell off.
  • 10d8 ⇒ (4, 3, 4, 3, 3, 2, 6, 3, 3, 2) = 33 arrows
  • 1d4 ⇒ 4 bows
  • 1d4 ⇒ 1 short swords
  • 1d4 ⇒ 3 battle axes
  • 1d4 ⇒ 2 throwing axes
  • 5 riding horses (300gs each; Stormreaver has claim to these—feel free to discuss in character any bargains or offerings related to the horses).

  • Wounds: 0 | Pace: 6" | Parry: 6 (8) | Toughness: 7 (10) | Concentration: -3 | Bennies: 3

    Stormreaver would claim the arrows, but would share with anyone else who would like some. As for the horses, he will keep one, but would keep the others until he knew that their potential owners would treat the animals with respect. He knows these horses have already been tamed and likely not survive if released, but doesn't want to see them mistreated.

    Male Human (Saxa) Wounds: 0 | Pace: 6 | Parry: 5 (6) | Toughness: 5 (8) | Charisma: +2 | Bennies: 3

    Yet another setback.

    Skoldir leaned back against the wall of the inn (some god-cursed Anari creation, he gathered, a pale mimicry of a proper Saxa hall - but it provided safety from the rain, and after the day just passed, Skoldir was prepared to accept comfort in whatever form it took) and examined his surroundings. A sort of lethargic joy seemed to possess most of the patrons, likely a result of having survived a near-brush with death only to find themselves confined in close quarters while the storm raged outside. They will find pleasure however they can tonight, taking a tight grip on that which we all so nearly lost.

    He counted out a handful of coins and passed them to Stennwulf. The big man, unbent by the age so evident in his features, was the lone survivor of his huscarls. Unsurprising, given how much else the man had been through in his life. Truly, the man is blessed by Tiw. If I should lose him . . .

    "Take these," Skoldir instructed his servant, "and purchase meals for the caravan’s survivors. Be certain they know who is responsible. Then take whatever is left and try to relax. You’ve earned it, and I’m sure there is even greater hardship to come. Relax while you can."

    The huscarl’s reluctance was plain - decades protecting those of Skoldir’s line made it difficult for him to consider being lax in his duty - but, at Skoldir’s insistence, the man did as he was told. After watching him settle into conversation with the innkeeper, Skoldir turned his attention elsewhere.

    The elf was . . . well, strange. Skoldir had heard about the taiga elves, of course. His education had been thorough. But he had never seen one of their kind and had always expected, despite the stories to the contrary, that they would be more or less the same as their Hearthland brethren. Instead, to his surprise, the elf’s skin was, in fact, blue and his hair white, as though living in the harsh environs of the far north had altered their bodies to resemble their surroundings.

    After a moment’s study, Skoldir realized that the elf sat as far as possible from the inn’s fires, choosing instead to occupy what must have been a drafty seat by one of the windows. Perhaps he’s communing with the storm, Skoldir thought with a quiet chuckle. He found it hard to imagine what it must be like to be comforted by ice and biting wind. Which makes it all the more curious that he’s so far south.

    Still, frivolous investigations into peculiar strangers would have to wait. He had much to do, beginning with replacing his lost men. He would have to find new followers from somewhere, capable men who would fight for something other than money (as his own funds were running low).

    Then he remembered how the elf had fought against the supposed bandits and decided that he might be able to satisfy his curiosity while also working toward his greater goals. He stood and went to the innkeeper and purchased a mug of ale, which he then carried to the elf. He stopped a respectful distance away and gave a small bow.

    "Friend elf," Skoldir said, "I had hoped I might be able to offer you this" - he brandished the mug - "as a small token of my thanks for your assistance against those bandits today. Without your help, we would all have surely perished. I had also hoped, if I may be honest, to talk about what you intend to do with those horses you coaxed into following you."


    Mark, I’m taking a guess at the price of buying meals for everybody. I figured about 20 survivors at 5 silver for a cheap meal comes out to 10 gold, plus another gold or two for Stennwulf’s drinks and the one I bought for Brandon. If that’s way off the mark, let me know. I’m also just sort of assuming that “cheap fare” is a step above the bread and water they were already getting.

    I’m also not certain how to handle Stennwulf. Is it cool if I “speak” for him, or should I leave that to you (Mark)? I sort of side-stepped the issue here, but I figured I ought to know in the future.

    And, for the record, my end game here is to get Brandon on my side and convince him to distribute the horses amongst the needy survivors. Long term: I’m hoping my largesse will win me some friends amongst these new arrivals, who will then go on to spread word of my awesomeness.

    Wounds: 0 | Pace: 6" | Parry: 6 (8) | Toughness: 7 (10) | Concentration: -3 | Bennies: 3

    Stormreaver took the offered drink with a nod of deference to the man. "I have no definitive plans for the creatures. I had thought briefly of returning them to the Allmother's embrace and releasing them to the wilds, but then I came to the conclusion that they were tamed beasts, and would likely not survive long in the wilds. I also do not intend to let them be abused as I have seen so many men," he casts a glance at the man, before adding, "of all races, mind you, treat the creatures of this world as things to be lorded over, rather than coexisted with."

    He takes a drink from the mug. While not hot, the drink was warmer than he'd like, given the temperature of the room he was already struggling with. "Forgive me, I have failed to introduce myself. I am Stormreaver, Reaper of the Animalmother. And as for the bandits, I am glad I could be of service. To see one prey upon creatures of it's own race told me all I needed to know of their nature, as well as their outlook on this world. If they would treat their own kind with such callousness, then Eostre only knows how they'd treat other creatures of this world."

    He extends his arm, offering the man a seat at his table.

    I'll speak for him in general, although you can take small things for a given in the interest of not having to stutter posts all the time. For example (and in the case of the above) he doesn't need input from me to go buy meals and drinks. Whenever you or another actively engage him in dialogue, I'll chime in with his part. I leave his combat performance to you, however.

    Despite acquiescing to Skoldir's request, Stennwulf does not relinquish his vigil on the common room. He maintains conversation with Kendric, but imbibes his drink at a snail's pace. His eyes remain locked on Stormreaver as Skoldir makes his approach, and his words with the innkeeper come to an abrupt halt. Bo'asha earns no notice from the burly old huscarl as she seeks respite from her unwilling journey so far south. The innkeeper is a different matter.

    His dialogue with Skoldir's bodyguard at an abrupt end, the Anari does not press further. Instead, the pudgy man gathers up a bit of bread and cup of water before waddling his way over to the old crone by the entrance.

    "You seem a bit roadworn, amma. Have a bite and a drink, if it pleases you. If you'd like a bit of stew as well, just give the word—first bowl's on the house. Wife would flay me as sure as I stand before you if I didn't at least offer, you see? She's a right surly boar when my manners fall short. Why, she near took my head clean off with a wooden spoon once. Told her she should put her cookware to use against the orcs in the mountains. Couldn't do no worse than the Cyning's men, yeah? Woman's got an arm that'd put an ogre to shame, and a tongue twice as bad." Unfortunately for Bo'asha, it seems like the man's tale is only building up steam. You're not even certain he's still speaking to you, or even at you. His visage borders on wistful and his eyes settle firmly on a support beam above.

    Male Human (Saxa) Wounds: 0 | Pace: 6 | Parry: 5 (6) | Toughness: 5 (8) | Charisma: +2 | Bennies: 3

    Well, he’s civil at least, Skoldir thought as he settled into the proffered seat.

    My thanks for your courtesy,” he replied, suppressing a shiver. He found himself having to speak up over the rattling of the rain on the nearby window. “I am Hauld Skoldir Amlethsunu of Royalmark, and I am pleased to make your acquaintance. I must say, after seeing your skill in battle, I had feared you might be some sort of brute, the kind of simple-minded killer one comes across with unfortunate frequency in our lands. But instead I find a man - or an elf, I should say - of noble bearing and espousing an admirable personal philosophy. You must tell me, is your demeanor a result of your elven upbringing or the teachings of the clergy of Eostre? I confess, I never followed the goddess’ teachings very closely, myself. We venerated her at home, of course, but my duties always steered me toward Tiw and Hothar.”

    Skoldir paused while a particularly strong gust of wind howled outside. “But maybe that’s too personal a question. It doesn’t feel a night for ruminating on the gods, anyway. Let me ask instead: what urgent matter could drive a taiga elf from the cold embrace of the north into the relative warmth of the south?

    Wounds: 0 | Pace: 6" | Parry: 6 (8) | Toughness: 7 (10) | Concentration: -3 | Bennies: 3

    Stormreaver offered a nod of respect as the Saxa introduces himself, realizing he was indeed correct, this man was one of the human "noble" families.

    He smirks at being referred to as a brute. Well, there is a first for everything.

    "My demeanor, I would say, is a direct result of that which I surrounded myself with in my upbringing. Moreso, I would have to admit, influenced by the Animalmother's teachings than those of my kin. I seek a peaceful coexistence with all living things, and strive to maintain the balance as best I can."

    He pauses before continuing, but as this Skoldir claimed to be of other lands, he figured speaking plainly couldn't hurt. "As to my task, I have been charged by my superiors within the Order to help restore that balance to these war-scarred lands...and defend them from any that would seek to do it more harm."

    He takes another drink of the ale, wishing that it was cooler than it was. "And if it isn't overreaching my own station, what brings a Hould out of his own lands and in the company of a merchant caravan, with such a small entourage?" Stormreaver casts a glance in the direction of Skoldir's bodyguard.

    Male Human (Saxa) Wounds: 0 | Pace: 6 | Parry: 5 (6) | Toughness: 5 (8) | Charisma: +2 | Bennies: 3

    Skoldir followed the elf’s gaze, seeing Stennwulf in conversation with a strange old woman. “My huscarl, Stennwulf.” He lowered his gaze, remembering those who had been lost. He mourned not so much the wasted lives as the wasted resources: counting the meager handful left guarding Hunanglir, he had barely any fighting men left. Soldiers and allies: he needed both and this elf fit the bill nicely, assuming his religious vows didn’t preclude other loyalties.

    But how, he thought, do I bring him over to my side?

    My family has suffered some misfortunes recently.” He shifted in his seat as rage warred with sorrow; he could only hope that he successfully hid both. “My men have been lost to various calamities, most recently the very attack that brought you and I together today. But to answer the main point of your question, I am traveling abroad in an effort to exact vengeance on those responsible for killing my family.

    Another pause. Skoldir realized that he had not spoken of this since . . . I’ve never spoken of this. Still, my situation verges on the desperate, and if this doesn’t earn his trust, I’m not sure what would.

    You know of the Withered Lands, I’m sure. My family’s lands lie not far from that blighted place. Not so long ago, a force of Hela’s servants marched forth. What their purpose was, I’ve never learned. Perhaps they wanted nothing more than to sow misery amongst the living. If so, they succeeded

    I’m starting to regret not getting an ale of my own.

    Our lands . . .” He stopped again, suppressing a grim smile of satisfaction. Ah. Inspiration. After clearing his throat, he continued, “Our lands were razed. Trees uprooted, crops burned, the earth itself tainted, perhaps beyond recovery. I could never have imagined what it would be like to walk through a desecrated forest absent any animal sounds, but I know now. My family killed, our villages burned. I may have a title, but I have very little left of what my father once ruled.

    And that is why I am here. If I am to rebuild, I need allies. I need wealth. I must gain fame. Fame will bring followers. Followers will bring wealth. Wealth will bring an army. And with an army behind me I will march into the Withered Lands and purge the abominations therein from this world.

    Female Human (Finnar) Wounds: 0 | Fatigue: -1 | Pace: 5 | Parry: 4 (5 w/staff) | Toughness: 10 (Icy Skin)(11 w/armor) | Concentration: 1 | Bennies: 3 | Hrimwisard, Beast Master

    "Enough of your prattling. The storm chased us in here, not a one breached your threshold for your less than charming supplications to a wife you hardly deserve," snapped Bo'Asha as the innkeep set down the cup of water and the hunk of bread. Reaching inside her sleeves to find her coin purse, she flips a few silver upon the table. "Do be a good boy and bring amma a fine stein o' yer bitterest and some oniony soup. And what does a body have to do to get some fine pipeweed around here?"

    Bo'Asha turns her attention about from Kendric. Well now, the queer elf has attracted more than my attention. Some dandy lord by the look of his garb. He's got a nervous look about him, like he's asking a fair maiden to dance when he know's she'll say 'no.'

    I assume they are not speaking loud enough for me to hear them.

    Wounds: 0 | Pace: 6" | Parry: 6 (8) | Toughness: 7 (10) | Concentration: -3 | Bennies: 3

    Stormreaver listened intently as the human spoke. For the first time since he had entered the sauna he now sat in, he had forgotten his own discomfort.

    The Withered Lands? If things are as bad as he claims, then perhaps I should inform the Reapers and perhaps we could do something to help stem the tide. I will have to send a message, when the opportunity presents itself. But for now, I have my orders, and must see this task through.

    When the Saxa finishes his tale and boast, Stormreaver sits quietly for a moment before adding. "Well then, for as long as we share the same path, consider me an ally. It would seem we both share in a desire to return things to the natural order."

    An idea suddenly came to the taiga elf. He speaks again, the excitement evident in his voice, "Perhaps we can come to an arrangement. I know little of the customs of your people. Perhaps, if you could lend me aid in my endeavors here in restoring the balance and punishing those who would continue to do it harm, when we have finished, I could see about perhaps joining you in your quest to put down the abominations of your land and help to restore your forests, fields, and crops?"

    He takes a drink of the ale, suddenly not caring about the temperature of the beverage. "It would seem you are in need of men, a task that will take some time. Helping to put an end to the turmoil of this land and nurturing it back to prosperity would do much for your influence, I would wager. Perhaps even convince some of the local peoples to return the favor. I seek no glory or fame in my task, seeing the fields and forests teeming with life would be enough for me and my Order. Another task that would take some time, but once set in motion would fix itself, given that those who dwell here can refrain from hindering it's advance."

    He notices the old crone taking an interest in their conversation, but is not concerned. It was doubtful her aged human senses could even comprehend what they were discussing at this distance, over the din of the room. He returns his attentions to the nobleman across from him. "What do you think? A trade of services? You aid me in the restoration of this land, then I aid you in the restoration of yours?"

    "Wha-?" Kendric's attention returns to Bo'asha once more. It seems he forgot that he was speaking to her in the first place. "Oh! Right away, amma. I'm afraid the selection's suffered a bit what with the state of affairs as of late, but I still..." His response continues well out of earshot, even as the man makes his way to the cellar door and begins the descent into the bowels of the inn. It provides a respite from the oaf's grating long windedness, and allows the elderly Finnar an opportunity to return her attention to the strange pair conversing privately in a secluded corner of the common room.

    Notice (Bo'asha): 1d6 ⇒ 5
    Wild Die: 1d6 ⇒ 4

    Notice (Skoldir): 1d4 ⇒ 3
    Wild Die: 1d6 ⇒ 4

    Notice (Stormreaver): 1d6 ⇒ 4
    Wild Die: 1d6 ⇒ 2

    Were the storm not raging so loudly without, Bo'asha could likely drop eaves more successfully. As it stands, she can only piece together tidbits of conversation before a sudden gale, assail of sideways rain, or peal of thunder interrupts completely. A recurring topic seems to be the state of lands—which lands, only they could say—and some sort of business proposition. What is apparent is that the two are not familiar with one another. The formality with which they conduct themselves speaks to the propriety often attributed to new acquaintances.

    Something that does stand out to all present is that the crone is not alone in her listening in. A scrawny, middle-aged Saxa with a mop of thin black hair affords Stormreaver and Skoldir a great deal of attention. He wears a suit of worn and heavily nicked leathers and a pair of notched handaxes hang idle from a metal ring fastened via leather strap directly onto his trouser's left hip. While he is not openly gawking at the pair, he seems not to be taking any great pain to hide his listening in. A great scar crawls from the left corner of his mouth all the way up to his left temple—a memorable mark that makes it easy to recollect that the man did not number among the beleaguered caravan that delivered Stormreaver and Skoldir here. His arrival precedes their own.

    Female Human (Finnar) Wounds: 0 | Fatigue: -1 | Pace: 5 | Parry: 4 (5 w/staff) | Toughness: 10 (Icy Skin)(11 w/armor) | Concentration: 1 | Bennies: 3 | Hrimwisard, Beast Master

    The elf seems a stranger to more than me, then. Queerer and queerer. Bo'Asha spies around the room and takes in for truly the first time, how many people are in the inn. Years as a recluse have left her wary of crowds and though she had never visited this inn before it seems strange that such a large party would be here, even with the rain.

    When that oaf returns I should pump him for information. Damnable curiosity, getting the better of you again, you old bag. Hah! Surely the bloody fits brought you here for some damned reason beyond the comprehension of my old thinkbox. Curse you, Tiw! And the Norns! And the whole lot of you! I hope you're enjoying batting about this poor old woman. Surely there are answers to your sodding riddles here or else you wouldn't keep pulling these old bones here. Feh!

    Assuming nothing major occurs before Kendric reappears, I will ask about the large party, presumably he admits most of them came in from a caravan put off the road by the storm a few moments before I arrived (no need to RP through that if he obliges me that info) and then I will ask:

    Satisfy old amma's curiosity and tell me who the dandy lad and his frigid elkin friend are? They seem an important lot...?

    ...and after hearing his response, whatever it is...

    And this man indicating the scarred Saxan, he has a frightful countenance. Should this old maid clutch her coin purse a bit tighter around that bloke?

    If you require a persuasion roll for any of this, here ya go, lol:

    Persuasion: 1d4 - 4 ⇒ (1) - 4 = -31d6 - 4 ⇒ (3) - 4 = -1

    What can I say, she's a frosty old b*~~+. So let's assume she's more pumping for gossip and hoping he's a gossip, less that's shes trying to sweet talk him.

    Male Human (Saxa) Wounds: 0 | Pace: 6 | Parry: 5 (6) | Toughness: 5 (8) | Charisma: +2 | Bennies: 3

    Just what I’d hoped, and cheaply enough bought. I may be a stranger to Nordmark, but I should prove a serviceable enough guide.

    Agreed, friend elf.” Skoldir extended his hand and, so doing, caught a glimpse of a scarred man watching the exchange. He wasn’t in the caravan. Is this mere curiosity at the presence of the elf, or something more? He nodded in the direction of the scarred stranger. “And tell me, Stormreaver, is that man known to you? His interest seems more than casual.

    Wounds: 0 | Pace: 6" | Parry: 6 (8) | Toughness: 7 (10) | Concentration: -3 | Bennies: 3

    Excellent. I had expected to have a more difficult time recruiting allies to my cause. This man must really be desperate.

    Stormreaver shakes Skoldir's hand. He had noticed the old crone already, but this new eavesdropper actually gave him pause.

    "Nay. Whoever he is, he does indeed seem to have taken a distinct interest in our conversation. As has the crone by the door. Is it common among humans to intrude on the conversations of others so blatantly?"

    He lets his hand slip down beneath the table and releases the clasp securing his dagger in it's sheath. His sword and bow were propped up behind him, but should things turn ugly, the dagger may prove more practical in these enclosed environs.

    If this nosy human wants trouble, at least I will be prepared.
    Stealth: 1d4 ⇒ 1
    Wild Die: 2d6 ⇒ (6, 1) = 7

    Kendric returns with requests in hand. He presses a drinking horn full of some sort of blonde into the crone's hands. Seeing that she has chosen to occupy a space bereft of tables, he grabs a chair from a nearby table and drags it noisily over to Bo'asha. He then sets a full bowl of bacon, onion, and potato soup upon it. At her questions, his fuzzy brows furrow.

    Kendric responds, "Couldn't say, I'm afraid. They arrived just as the storm was getting riled. I believe they are part of the caravan that rolled in—some trouble with bandits on the road, I gather."

    He follows where the old woman indicates as she voices concerns about the Saxa fellow with an unfavorable scar. "Oh, don't mind him. Looks rougher than he truly is. Name's Frödnar—one of the Jarl's men. Can't speak nothing poor of the man. Seen him put them axes to work against men that meant me ill more than once. I suppose he's an enforcer of sorts."

    Though Kendric's voice is low, Frödnar seems to have picked up on the entirety of the exchange all the same. He raises his own horn of ale in a mock salute to the innkeep and old woman.

    Female Human (Finnar) Wounds: 0 | Fatigue: -1 | Pace: 5 | Parry: 4 (5 w/staff) | Toughness: 10 (Icy Skin)(11 w/armor) | Concentration: 1 | Bennies: 3 | Hrimwisard, Beast Master

    Bo'asha reflexively curls her lip slightly then thinks better of her initial "bark at that tramp to keep his eyes in a firmly-not-Bo'Asha's-direction" plan and raises her mug in return. If only to sip a bit.

    Do I know who the Jarl is? If not, can you do a common knowledge roll for me? I'm on the job and code is really hard to type

    Given that Bo'asha lives in his lands, she's certainly privy to a bit of free knowledge: Jarl Leiknir Lodviksunu is considered one of the least among the nine jarls of Nordmark due to having one of the smallest holdings and little wealth to speak of (as far as jarls go, anyway). While his capacity for ruling is often in question, it is accepted as fact that Leiknir is the most accomplished warrior among the nine jarls.

    Also of particular note: while Jarl Leiknir Lodviksunu was a fierce opponent to Geirmund's claim on the throne, he didn't have much of a hand in the civil war. Orcs and goblins tried to take advantage of the turmoil the fighting brought on, pouring out of the mountains in large number to raid the northern fringes of Nordmark. Jarl Leiknir is pretty much the only reason the northern quarter of the region did not get ravaged by these invaders. He gathered all of his troops and drove the hordes back into the mountains each time they amassed. Simply put, he didn't have a chance to be a player in the civil war. He was too busy keeping everyone safe from orcs, goblins, and worse.

    Male Human (Saxa) Wounds: 0 | Pace: 6 | Parry: 5 (6) | Toughness: 5 (8) | Charisma: +2 | Bennies: 3

    Not common, no, but I suppose we must forgive these provincial types their manners. You, in particular, are perhaps something of an oddity for them. Still, despite the man’s rough appearance, he doesn’t seem to harbor any ill intent.

    Skoldir gave the man a polite nod and made a show of turning away from him. Hopefully he’ll take the hint. If his interest remains, I may have to find out what his intentions are.

    As to other matters,” he said, “I mentioned the horses in your possession when I first spoke to you. Unless I’ve badly misjudged you, I doubt you have any interest in selling them. You said you wanted to make sure that those who ended up in possession of them would take proper care of them, which is admirable but will, I fear, be difficult to accomplish. For we Saxa, a horse is a valuable possession, and it would not be a difficult thing for a man to lie in order to acquire one.

    Skoldir paused for a moment to gather his thoughts. “I cannot, however, overlook the losses suffered by the others in our caravan. The horses would do much for them, not only in service as beasts of burden but also as sources of wealth. They wouldn’t even need to be sold, they could instead be put up as collateral on loans from merchants or priests of Var.” Skoldir paused again, wondering if the elf understood even basic matters of finance. “What I mean is that these horses could do a great deal of good for these people and, as you pointed out yourself, domesticated horses turned loose in the wilds would not fare well.

    My suggestion, therefore, is that you donate the horses to those from the caravan who have suffered worst from the attack. We could go amongst them and speak with them and you could determine if any of them are, perhaps, entirely unsuited owners. As for the rest, if you’re not above a bit of subterfuge, we could simply tell them that the horses have been touched by Eostre and that any who mistreat them will suffer her wrath. In so doing, we would find adequate homes for the horses, alleviate the material suffering of those in our company, and go far in establishing yourself as a kind and just person in a land that might otherwise find you - if I may be blunt - alien and incomprehensible.

    To say nothing, of course, of the benefits to my own reputation.

    So friend elf, what say you to my proposal?

    Wounds: 0 | Pace: 6" | Parry: 6 (8) | Toughness: 7 (10) | Concentration: -3 | Bennies: 3

    As Skoldir makes his request and explanation, it is clear that some of his points do not sit well with the taiga elf. He is visibly displeased with the reference to the horses as mere property, as if they were nothing more than prized slaves to be bartered about on an auction block.

    The living things of this world are not bargaining chips or property to be bartered about as if they were coin! The way this one talks of them, it's like they do not believe that these creatures can feel suffering or pain. Such lack of disrespect...it...AGH!

    Stormreaver holds his tongue however, and calms his emotions. Still, this man has spoken more interest in restoring the balance of the world than any other human I have encountered outside of my Order. Perhaps he can be properly educated on the way of things, despite his barbaric upbringing...only time will tell.

    "You are correct in one thing in your thinking, and that is trusting my assessment. These horses would not survive in the wild now that they have been broken and raised in bondage. They know not how to fend for themselves properly in the wild. It would be an act of cruelty to release them at this point, but only slightly crueler than the fate they have had to live thus far in their existence."

    He looks Skoldir over, as if appraising him, before continuing. "I shall allow you and your man the use of two of the horses, and I shall take care of the needs of one myself. I will allow the other two to be used by members of the caravan under my supervision, with the understanding that any mistreatment bestowed upon them shall be revisited upon the abuser. If I determine someone as worthy to treat the animals properly and with the respect they deserve, I shall relinquish custody of their care to them, but if they are found wanting, I reserve the right to revoke the perpetrator of the privilege of the horses company. If you can make this understood to the people, I can agree to those terms."

    The taiga elf's words are as cold as the lands his people hail from. It is clear that he is more than willing to live up to his end of the arrangement, whichever way it may go.

    Female Human (Finnar) Wounds: 0 | Fatigue: -1 | Pace: 5 | Parry: 4 (5 w/staff) | Toughness: 10 (Icy Skin)(11 w/armor) | Concentration: 1 | Bennies: 3 | Hrimwisard, Beast Master

    "If you're givin' out ponies, ol Baba'd be happy to take one off'a yer hands," croaked out Bo'Asha in the silky lilt of the Taiga Elf native tongue, "all creatures great and small love Grandma." She turned from Kendric and the strange scarred man to toss her voice in the taiga elf's direction and gave him a long measured stare.

    Assuming the elf answers her or even looks in her direction , she'll give him a knowing, grandmotherly smile and nod and gesture for him to join her by the door at some point.

    Frödnar grins widely at a remark not meant for him. It is an ugly thing, marred by the scar that crawls from his mouth further up his face. One might be forgiven for mistaking the expression for a grim smirk. Throwing his legs over the wooden bench with a practiced grace not suited to his unfavorable countenance, he rises from his seat with drinking horn in hand. Uninvited and undeterred, he rather unceremoniously drags a table and several chairs over to the crone's chosen roost.

    His muted grin not abating, he says, "Baba's got the right of it: I'm the greatest creature of all, and my adoration is beyond reproach. Of course, my adoration is only exceeded by my curiosity." Frödnar places his drink on the table before stepping back to include Skoldir and Stormreaver in his address.

    "Room for plenty here, friends. I'd be a tad remiss in my duties if I didn't share a dinner with a High Winterlander alfin and a visiting dignitary all the way from Royalmark. I'm sure the tale that delivered you to this place is interesting, and it would be terribly callous to force Baba here to strain her ears overmuch on the telling." His "grin" lessens noticeably as he softly slides two chairs back to accommodate the pair in the drafty corner. "I would like very much to know how you came by a near half dozen of Thegn Edwin's horses, at the very least. I insist."

    Wounds: 0 | Pace: 6" | Parry: 6 (8) | Toughness: 7 (10) | Concentration: -3 | Bennies: 3

    Stormreaver eyes this new human suspiciously, before reclasping his dagger in place and standing. He looked longingly to the crack in the window frame he was abandoning, but he could not afford to be rude to a servant of the ruler of these lands. He takes what is left of his drink and moves over to the table, collecting his bow, helm, and blade before departing. He hoped Lord Skoldir would accompany him.

    "I know not who this Thegn Edwin is. As you say I am a stranger to these lands. How the horses came into my possession, well, men riding them attacked this caravan, and I saw that these people were in need of assistance. I joined in the fighting on the side of those being assaulted, and helped repel the perpetrators. Following the battle, Eostre saw fit to help me calm the poor slave-beasts, so that I could see that they would at least be given better lives than what they had endured to date."

    He glances over at the old lady momentarily, "I believe one of your age would be better suited to riding in a wagon, rather than horseback," and then then resumes his speech to the scarred man. "At any rate, I believe that you humans would consider them spoils of battle. I see it as a liberation of an enslaved soul."

    Even though he had only moved away from the draft a moment ago, it was easy to see the taiga elf was already beginning to grow uncomfortable. A bead of sweat already was carving a new trail down his brow, and he squirmed in his seat due to the new level of discomfort being generated beneath his sacred armor.

    "My...my apologies. I have failed to introduce myself. My name is Stormreaver, Reaper of the Animalmother," he introduces himself as he removes his bracers and gloves, using one of the latter to wipe his brow.

    Female Human (Finnar) Wounds: 0 | Fatigue: -1 | Pace: 5 | Parry: 4 (5 w/staff) | Toughness: 10 (Icy Skin)(11 w/armor) | Concentration: 1 | Bennies: 3 | Hrimwisard, Beast Master

    It occurs to me that I might need to cast spells at some point in this room. What is the temperature where Bo'Asha sits by the door? Enough to incur any penalties to her Hrimwitchery?

    "My, someone fancies himself a charmer, eh? Hmm? Very well, great beast, let out with it. Is this elf some kind of nefarious bandit? Should I be shaking in my stockings, eh?"Bo'Asha draws her shawl closer about her, feigning a hollow courage that is certainly not hollow.

    As the elf approaches and makes his introduction, his prattling in the tree-hugging speak of the firmly zealous draws a barely contained eye-roll. Gods, please let this one be an obstacle or at least of no consequence so I might snuff him out. This kind of bleeding heart crap from the overly religious is like to cause me an aneurysm.

    Pointedly, Bo'Asha does not introduce herself when he gives his name. Names are a powerful thing, old girl. Best let this one's dangle in the air a bit. All the same she allowed Frödnar to drag his table over, and she doesn't protest the elf's approach. When he ends his speech, she declares "So the brigand elf rescued the horses from the brigands who attacked him. Hmmm, seems I am in a den of thieves, What will become of me?" this last dripping with sarcasm.

    Male Human (Saxa) Wounds: 0 | Pace: 6 | Parry: 5 (6) | Toughness: 5 (8) | Charisma: +2 | Bennies: 3

    Skoldir hung back a moment, trying to discern what he could about the old woman and the scarred man. He had listened to little of the old woman’s talk, dismissing her out of hand as the sort of half-senile elder, lacking both family and wealth, who so often became the doting and doted on charge of an entire Saxa settlement. Watching her now, he saw more intelligence than he had expected, and her last words sounded more the razor edged sort of wisdom sometimes wielded by hermits and eccentrics than the meaningless driveling of one slowly sliding into dementia. Perhaps I should heed what advice she might care to part with, but I can’t imagine she wields any real power or respect here. Still, best not to offend. I wouldn’t want the people here turning against me for disparaging their beloved wise woman.

    As to the man, he had little to add to his initial impression, except for one thing.

    Following Stormreaver, Skoldir approached the scarred man and gave a brief bow. “As you seem to have overheard - ” And, despite his best efforts, he could not keep a reproaching tone out of his voice. “ - I am Hauld Skoldir Amlethsunu of Royalmark. And you, who feels it is within his duty to dine with me, who might you be?

    With any luck, he’s a man of some importance. If I can begin establishing myself amongst those in power this quickly, then all the better.

    Frödnar nods at the introduction, answering it in kind with an inclination of his own head. "Lendmann Frödnar the Serpent, at your service. I'm pleased to meet each of you. I suppose it would be decent of me to let frankness mince with my words going forward, lest we preamble our way through polite discourse until the Hearth graces the eastern peaks."

    Lendmann. Though a particularly low rung as far as nobility goes, it is nevertheless an honor one has hard time associating to the sinewy cutthroat that sits before you. Where his facade fails him, however, his speech does carry a tone that implies social savvy. "I spake no falsehoods, however: those horses are branded one and all by men of Thegn Edwin. Fortunately for the lot of you, Edwin is a particularly dim-witted traitor, speaking officially. Speaking without the weight of my station, however, he's too dim-witted to recognize potential allies."

    Frödnar chuckles a bit, and looks for a moment like he might clap Stormreaver on the back. He thinks better of it. "Horses serve as spoils as good as anything else. So long as he wants to send fools across the border masquerading as bandits, they'll be treated no differently. Though you seem to attach far too high a value to a beast of burden's opinion, 'tis none of my business what you do with your things. I might mention that horses aren't easy to come by these days, and they would prove a fierce boon to what few farmers remain that are willing to till and sow."

    His eyes dart to Bo'asha before settling on Skoldir once more. "What of you? The infamous witch of Craesborg and a wayward Hauld from Royalmark. I'm not sure which is stranger."

    Stennwulf rises from his chair to return to Skoldir's side. He glowers down at the audacious Lendmann, hand resting eagerly upon the heavily worn grip of his sword. As always, if trouble appeared, the old huscarl would be ready.

    Female Human (Finnar) Wounds: 0 | Fatigue: -1 | Pace: 5 | Parry: 4 (5 w/staff) | Toughness: 10 (Icy Skin)(11 w/armor) | Concentration: 1 | Bennies: 3 | Hrimwisard, Beast Master

    Now this one's got fire and sand, you betcha. You might've found your entertainment for the evening, old gramma. Look how he rankles the dandy's pet dog!

    "There's few men who call me a witch to my own face, boy. Fewer men still who live to do it again," says the hag, though there is a smile in her voice. "To me its strangest that a man with wit sharp enough to slit his own face open would have trouble with such a buffoon as you describe. So either you are playing us falsely, or you're not as clever as you seem, or you're afraid of this Thegn. So what is it: lies, stupidity, or cowardice?"

    "I'm afraid the answer is far less interesting," Frödnar manages around a genuine laugh. "Equal parts duty and payment stay my hand. Until Jarl Leiknir gives the word—which won't happen until Cyning Geirmund gives the word—no one's going to lay a finger on the man. If it were up to me—" He pauses, and shoots Bo'asha a look that oozes with appraisal.

    "Clever old girl. You're drawing dangerously close to coaxing too much out of me. But that's not how the game is played, is it? I'll hear of your own dispositions before I render my own secrets, gracious host that I am."

    Wounds: 0 | Pace: 6" | Parry: 6 (8) | Toughness: 7 (10) | Concentration: -3 | Bennies: 3

    Stormreaver remains silent under the oppressing heat of the room away from any draft. Well, this one does not share in Lord Skoldir's sensibilities. At least Skoldir's can respect another persons views, outwardly if nothing else.

    Female Human (Finnar) Wounds: 0 | Fatigue: -1 | Pace: 5 | Parry: 4 (5 w/staff) | Toughness: 10 (Icy Skin)(11 w/armor) | Concentration: 1 | Bennies: 3 | Hrimwisard, Beast Master

    "So a combination of Greed and Cowardice and, the worst of all sins, Bureaucracy, hmm? I guess I misjudged you; thought by your monstrous appearance you were more the kind to slice off men's heads and ask their corpses' permission. But whatever your excuse, I'm sure you sit comfortably on those big mitts of yours."

    Taunt: 1d6 ⇒ 1
    Wild Die: 1d6 ⇒ 1

    Just previewed my dice rolls....oh shit...

    If this critical failure is set to derail your whole plot campaign, I'll spend a benny to save your time rewriting. Either way, shit is going down!

    Male Human (Saxa) Wounds: 0 | Pace: 6 | Parry: 5 (6) | Toughness: 5 (8) | Charisma: +2 | Bennies: 3

    Though eager to ingratiate himself with the jarl’s man, Skoldir held his tongue, waiting for an opportunity to speak while the old woman and Frodnar bantered. Still, even listening, there was much to learn: this Thegn Edwin was clearly a lout at best, and a strike against him gained the appreciation of the nobles. It’s always good to know who it’s safe to move against, and clearly no one here cares what becomes of Edwin. But why does Frodnar’s lord stay his hand? Any ruler reduced to such petty acts of banditry cannot be a true threat. Perhaps -

    Lost in thought, Skoldir nearly missed the last exchange. Hearing the old woman’s words, he went still, knowing that such words from the mouth of anyone able-bodied could only be answered with steel. While a duel was clearly out of the question, Skoldir knew it was not outside the realm of possibility for a prideful Saxa nobleman to cut an insolent peasant down on the spot. Seeing how Frodnar handled this slight could provide yet more useful information. Besides, Skoldir was still unsure of how the old woman was viewed by the locals, so while his instinct was to intervene on the behalf of an elder, he decided to wait a bit longer before opening his mouth. Best to be prepared before committing to anything, after all.

    I know I haven’t posted in a few days and I wanted to contribute something a little more substantial, but I think it’s best if I hold off on doing anything significant until we see how Marshall’s snake-eyes Taunt roll plays out.

    Wounds: 0 | Pace: 6" | Parry: 6 (8) | Toughness: 7 (10) | Concentration: -3 | Bennies: 3

    What I'm doing as well, basically.

    Female Human (Finnar) Wounds: 0 | Fatigue: -1 | Pace: 5 | Parry: 4 (5 w/staff) | Toughness: 10 (Icy Skin)(11 w/armor) | Concentration: 1 | Bennies: 3 | Hrimwisard, Beast Master

    Really wishing I'd taken "Danger Sense" or "Hard to Kill" over "Beast Master" now. But dammit, I wanted an owl familiar.

    Female Human (Finnar) Wounds: 0 | Fatigue: -1 | Pace: 5 | Parry: 4 (5 w/staff) | Toughness: 10 (Icy Skin)(11 w/armor) | Concentration: 1 | Bennies: 3 | Hrimwisard, Beast Master

    I'm really afraid I'm about to get "Truntor'd"

    Male Human (Saxa) Wounds: 0 | Pace: 6 | Parry: 5 (6) | Toughness: 5 (8) | Charisma: +2 | Bennies: 3

    If Frodnar eats your brain, then this campaign is gonna take an unexpected turn.

    I mentioned his proboscis, right?

    Wait, though. I'm not the GM, but if I were... A success means he'd be likely to see you as the best target. Raises would increase that effect, making it harder to resist hitting you. But in this case it's a critical failure. I would handle it by making her punctuate her taunt with a loud and embarrassing emptying of her bowels into her pants as everyone holds their breath, waiting to see his reaction. This would result in the room erupting into a combination of disgust and laughter. Bo'asha would lose face in the eyes of everyone in the room. She would have to do some work to get people to take her seriously. So, the taunt fails and she suffers ill consequences.

    Female Human (Finnar) Wounds: 0 | Fatigue: -1 | Pace: 5 | Parry: 4 (5 w/staff) | Toughness: 10 (Icy Skin)(11 w/armor) | Concentration: 1 | Bennies: 3 | Hrimwisard, Beast Master

    I'm on pins and needles here! I rolled double snake eyes five days ago! What will happen to me?!

    Reclining in his seat somewhat, Frödnar maintains a level gaze with Bo'asha. Several moments of silence pass as the Saxa regards the elderly hrimwisard with eyes cold as the Hellfrost. Skoldir's impression is likely not incorrect: were the crone a young warrior bandying such words, his twin axes would likely be buried to the haft in her face.

    "Consider yourself lucky I am no such monster, old woman. Perhaps senility's clutches are more prevalent than I had originally thought. One might have more care against whom that barb of a tongue is waggled towards. He might find himself without reason to continue feigning ignorance with the persistent disciples of the Norns that frequent this place. He might find himself remembering precisely where the the old rìm völva roosts with no motivation to conceal such facts." The tension in his words and demeanor ease as he voices the words. Any fascination he assigned Bo'asha seems to dissolve entirely, however. His attention returns to the hauld from Royalmark and the northern elf.

    "It is my hope that those presently sharing my company are not as blind to potential allies as the Thegn across the border. The jarls of Nordmark are beholden to their cyning. My lord Leiknir is no exception." Frödnar's eyes glimmer with cunning as he continues speaking. "Jarl Leiknir and those of his court are forbidden from seeking reprisal against those who harry us from the Freelands."

    * Auld Saxa for winter witch

    Female Human (Finnar) Wounds: 0 | Fatigue: -1 | Pace: 5 | Parry: 4 (5 w/staff) | Toughness: 10 (Icy Skin)(11 w/armor) | Concentration: 1 | Bennies: 3 | Hrimwisard, Beast Master

    so I'm to take it that he knows I'm a witch and where I live and perhaps even more , and might out me to some kind of religious zealots who hate witches? Fair enough. Well played, sir.

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