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Kiltayre: Session 26

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With their scouting done for Lord Tovran the party gathered their things that morning to meet Don’s obligations to the Fey. Sheriff Daeus was to go with them and they were told that Lady Sipran, Varnia not Murelle, would be joining them as well.

They waited at the edge of Vrim for Varnia. A courier had told them that is where the lady would meet them. And she did, albeit a little puffed, but excited.

Through a light snow they crossed the hills to the Lutemakers’ Wood. Hours passed as they chatted about the Fey and what each knew of them. Iron shaped without fire was one thing they all seemed to know but it was Varnia who stated that they were tied to the land through the old trees, but the most potent thing that would upset the Fey was the horn of a Unicorn fashioned into a weapon.

It was nearly dark when the reached the stone circle. Three figures appeared as dusk took hold.

“The worlds met in this time, it is said.”

They beckoned Don forward and he went. Felghanis was quick to follow, as did the rest of them. The goat seemed oblivious and munched at something under the fine snow.

“You have our offering?” Asked the Fey in silver scale armor.

“Yes, I see her now,” said the one in dark mail.

“The price must be paid,” added the figure in clothes that looked like leaves and bark.

“The goat is yours,” Don’ offered the animal.

“We accept her,” said the fey in dark mail, nodding towards Varnia.

“The huntress is appropriate.” She donned in plants confirmed.

“What we offer is the goat. Do you accept the goat as the offering?” Felghanis was getting angry yet he seemed to contain himself well.

“Enough!” yelled the figure in dark mail. “It is the huntress that we take.”

“Come to us,” called the one in leaves and bark, the Seelie.

Varnia was struck by forces of enchantment and began moving towards them. Chaos quickly ensued.

Entangle was cast and Don’ tried to tackle Varnia out of the circle but she had good training and was strong. She shrugged him off and he fell flat on the ground.

The Fey were unaffected by the Entangle and moved freely. The one in silver scale armor seemed to frown and separated from the others.

“Help us cousin, she resists,” Called the Unseelie in dark mail.

“No. The pact is broken. You have contravened it!”

With a snap the circle was empty. Only the party stood about. The Fey were gone.

Confused the left the goat in the circle at Don’s insistence. He wanted to make sure he had done everything to hold up his end of the pact. His power relied on it.

At the top of the hill Kalista glanced back. The sheriff was unhooking his cloak from a snag. The were all clear of the ring.

It was well dark by the time they made it out of the woods. Kalista called into being a Secure Shelter and they took their rest in it. The Daeus and Varnia were ready and willing to ride back in the dark. They both had commitments in Vrim. The sound of their horses’ hooves pounding off left the party’s ears quickly.

Uneasily the settled in the small hut of stone and clay but it was warm and the had good food. Soon they slept soundly.

It was just before dawn when they were awoken with a sharp snapping sensation. Some massive amount of mana was just poured into a spell. It was like a roaring storm of power that stank of time, ice and bitterness coming from the East.

In his mind’s eye Felghanis pin-pointed the location compared to the maps he had been studying a long time. It was the Iron Teeth Mountains.

“Oh no…” he despaired.

“Tell me it’s not,” Kalista was hopeful.

“I think it must be,” Don’ added.

“We failed. The ritual has been cast,” Kalista said, down-trodden but angry, too.

“The tear! It is there. Alabrahni told us it was there.”

“In the crypt of a Frost Titan. What do you think might be in there?” Don’ said cynically.

“What we need to break this curse,” Felghanis spat back.

Don’ conceded that well and nodded.

Aenir woke up, “What’s gong on?”

Of course, thought Kalista, they did not feel a thing. They have no sensitivity to the mana.

Kellor awoke too and the filled the Dwarves in on what had happened.

“It’s decided then.” It was Aenir who spoke. “We head to the mountains for this tear.”

They all nodded sombrely.

“Doesn’t seem to have made the weather any worse, yet.” Don peeked outside to the dim light of pre-dawn and saw it much as it was when they stopped here. “I want to see if the Fey have accepted the offering.”

Before they even reached the circle it was obvious something was wrong in the woods. Old trees that were vigorous just yesterday seemed to be dying.

“What has happened here?” Aenir asked.

“The Fey… they are gone.” Don was bewildered and Kalista’s face echoed his sentiments.

In the circle, with a small heaping of snow gathered about it, the kid lay dead. Its ribs pierced by a heavy dart of black horn.

“This is unicorn horn,” Don said pulling the dart free.

They tracked the area but it was only their own footprints from yesterday that they found.

It was the last rise that the dart probably came from.

“Daeus,” said Kalista. “He was last over the rise.”

“But why? And how did they get a dart made from a unicorn horn?” Felghanis asked, truly puzzled.

“Who knows? But we know that Lord Tovran knew about the gate to Stonecrest.”

Don’ kept the foul dart and they all left. More questions on their minds.

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Kiltayre: Session 24 ideas

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SUMMARY

Five fingers of stone
Five swords of bone
Many yards of silk
Many of strange ilk
Two bears and three deer
Two trees and a titan’s tear

The five fingers of stone: the Hand of Gulresh. Houses a deep earth crystal mine that is worked by Goblins who are being controlled because Scours have all the goblin-females prisoner.

Kentos’ shouldermen guarded their liege’s tomb and a book of Fimbulwinter. Each of the fie shouldermen bore a sword of bone.

Silk draping through the Sipran keep library led to Stonecrest; a place with many of strange ilk.

All three books are in the possession of the Church. The two bears have the three deer.

The Titan’s Tear has been located by Felghanis after questioning Allabrahni. What are the two trees?

NEXT

We’re in the final run, now, and the players need to figure out a course of action. I think they’re a bit lost as to what they can actually achieve regarding the books. With that in mind have some events planned which can help nudge, or have them trip over, a decent course of action.

There’s a real-world time-limit on this game. It has to be wrapped up in about 9 sessions. Given the ground we can cover in one session I think this is entirely possible, but probably not at L13-15 like we discussed at the table.

However, there’s some cool side-plots to resolve first. Some of which may tie into the main plot arc. I’ll keep you all posted.

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Kiltayre: Session 22 review

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As they were raised back to health, Kalista’s spells were spent, and they were all confused.

“It’s paradox, don’t you see,” Captain Villeroy said. “I’ve tried to press information from the librarian but he asks me three questions of which I can only answer one and then says that I wouldn’t understand.”

Villeroy repeated the questions and Felghanis opened his mouth to answer then the exceptions and contradictions came to mind. It was far more difficult than he first thought.

“I’ve heard it said that these are Chrono-loops. If you make them touch the past they can expend their energy to snap the loop shut. It is meant to be terribly destructive.”

They talked at length and it was decided that informing their past-selves was too dangerous. They had to hide. In a small sitting room they packed in and rested. Each of them was sore and weary. The healing was painful and it took time.

“It seems that I am in this loop, too.” Villeroy added. He stood up suddenly. “I think I have a scroll that can help,” he said excitedly and rushed upstairs.

He was gone for some time and the party talked about what they ought to do. What the books meant and what the motivations might be for the Scours and the Church to retrieve them all.

When Villeroy returned they had decided to play it safe. The Scours had defeated them handily and it was only luck that saved them. None of the party remembered what distracted the Scours from finishing each of them.

“This scroll has a spell called Body Outside of Body and with it I have a plan. Unfortunately the scroll is very expensive and I have to pay the guild back, so anything you can do to help would be appreciated.”

“We already did… oh wait. That hasn’t happened for you yet.”

“Did what? Pay me for the scroll.”

“You’ll see… if it works,” Felghanis answered.

Captain Villeroy Moragne gathered his things and just before they left cast the scroll. There he was standing next to himself. Without a word the copy went to the counter and nodded back to the original.

“Let us be off then.”

Traversing the Rift was not anywhere near as intense.

“Can I ask it questions?”

“What, the Rift Weave?”

“Yes. When we went through before I saw a vision of my Uncle scrying me. He seemed force to answer my question.”

“I… I don’t know. I’ve had visions in my experiments, although they were neve strong so I paid them no mind, but I never performed them when a storm was coming.”

Kalista seemed to have a grasp of that and she nodded.

The wind was the same as last time: biting, cold, horridly cold. They built a berm of snow and sheltered in a small depression a few hundred yards from where they exited the rift. Villeroy used a wand on all of them and Endure Elements removed the threat of deadly cold turning it into simply cool discomfort.

Five figures appeared out of the intensifying Rift Weave. They gathered around one of their number. Then they all saw the battle play out again. However, it was right in front of them. The temptation to try and change it was strong but they held their position. None of them knowing what might happen if one of these ‘Chronoloops’ snapped shut or willing to risk it.

The Scours were attacked by the watery form and they pursued it. Fiery rays, that seemed to emanate from above and behind Mellevictus, lanced through the elemental and blew it to steaming fragments. They gathered together then set off at a jog, hustling west.

Once the Scours were out of sight the party returned to Stonecrest. This time Villeroy asked for aid.

“I can move us to after you left the first time getting us past the loops and making it safe again,” he explained.

It was made so. Villeroy rushed of to rediscover his map to the Deep Earth Crystal mine and the party limped back towards the markets. Merchants and storekeepers were shutting up or outright leaving. The storm seemed to be having the city closing up.

“We need to rest.”

“How about the Wainwright Lodge?” Aenir pointed to a sign right near them.

It seemed as good as any. They entered and purchased rooms. Taking some ale and food  they all rested, save Felghanis.

“I have to stop my Uncle,” he seemed on the edge of a rant. “I’m going to the library. Maybe Brannighan, or his parents, can help?”

“At least let Don’ rest.”

“I will stay with Don’,” Kellor volunteered. Yet the doughty dwarf was still burned and sore.

“This has to be safer than the Whaler’s Retreat,” Kalista agreed.

The market square was deserted. There were few people about, however strange, and of those few most seemed to be darting from cover to cover.

On the short walk to the library they noticed a narrow alley just past the markets. On one corner a pillar fashioned like a skeleton marked the entry. Down its narrow cobbled way signs and shingles bearing arcane symbols of necromancy hung in the increasing wind of the coming Rift Weave storm.

It took them quite some time to find Brannighan in the library. He smiled at them.

“Why do I get the feeling that those who refused my help seven times have come back to ask for it again?”

“What do you know of Davinus?” Felghanis asked.

“Davinus,” Brannighan mused. “I think that is the name of an old and faded Ascendant.”

“The Saint is the son and Davinus the father,” Kalista suggested. “Maybe the son seeks the throne of the father?”

“That’s what I’m thinking,” Felghanis answered. Then he expanded, “The Saint uses the winter to force prayers towards him. He has sent priests all over the island, even to our Felk Bay, and they are ready to help the people in winter. Spells for protection from the cold, for making food, and those who refuse to believe will perish.”

Kalista couldn’t process it at that moment. Too much corruption and evil in a body she’d long thought was good and benevolent.

“It is my Uncle, though that worries me. He claims that he will use the Bell of Thullemon to raise and army. Then with it seize the throne of Davinus.”

Brannighan was interested, “Really? He has the Bell?”

“No, but he knows where it is and so do I.”

“You must tell me at once and I will tell my mother. She will be most interested.”

Kalista, Felghanis and Aenir shared glances: a real angel? The powers and dominions were aligning. Maybe the conjunction Jonas spoke of with Kalista was real. None of them voiced it, though. Felghanis spoke more with Brannighan but the half-angel, half-archon, seemed distracted as if carrying on two conversations.

“Mother is waiting for us outside,” Brannighan said gesturing to the library doors.

With little more ado they left. Bright white light shone from the bottom of the stairs and in the gloom of sunset in the angry sky of the Rift Weave storm it was plainly pure and good and peaceful.

“My boy,” she said in a beautiful clear voice that rang with music.

Brannighan blushed and met her affectionate embrace.

“Oh it is so good to see you again. Are these your friends?” She turned her gaze on them.

Each felt the same in differing degrees. All that was good in them she weighed and saw. All that was angry, or traitorous, or flawed felt like it was plainly in her sight. They writhed in their emotions and could barely meet her eyes.

“Yes. She’s quite nice,” Brannighan indicated Kalista.

“Ah, Kalista, is it?” Brannighan’s mother greeted Kalista.

“And Felghanis?” The angel gestured to him. “Aenir?”

They all nodded in reply.

“The Bell of Thullemon, you know where it is, Felghanis?”

“I think so. In the base of the Iron Tower.”

“Then let us go. There is no time to waste.” She furled her wings and gestured for them to lead her in the right direction. “We will collect your other friends and then the Bell will be retrieved and destroyed.”

“Destroyed?” Felghanis almost baulked.

“Of course. You know why, don’t you?”

Felghanis dissembled and the angel was plainly unimpressed.

“No. It’s simple, Brannighan?”

“Nothing good comes of evil,” he responded.

Felghanis could only look at the ground as they walked.

“Mother you really ought to hide your wings. There are people here who would try and take them from you.”

“Oh, very well.” With that she quickly changed shape, in a heartbeat perhaps, she looked like a tall woman and suddenly she pulled a cloak about her. None of them saw where the garment came from.

At the Wainwright Lodge they met with Kellor and Don’, who was feeling a lot better.

“Oh my,” she said sadly. “You are wounded.”

With a touch all of the batterings and punctures that Kellor had withstood from Thiridea’s poleaxe were mended and he bore a bright smile.

“Thank you fair lady,” he managed.

“Oh forgive me. Most of you carry wounds.” And she laid hands on them healing their ailments. “Now we must leave. Join hands with me.”

Kalista almost rushed at the chance and took her right hand. Felghanis summoned courage, or at least looked like he died, and took her left, the rest making up the circle.

“Where are we going?”

“The Iron Tower to destroy the bell.”

“I want to stay, Mother,” Brannighan said.

“Of course my love.”

They were in clouds that seemed to conceal ground, or were ground, they couldn’t tell. A host of winged men and women were far above singing beautiful choral music. It had the sound that it was just one passage that was part of a long tale of defence of innocence and the pursuit of truth.

Brannighan’s mother bowed with a broad smile. “I serve in a different way.” She turned her face upwards towards the light that the host were singing towards.

Crashing waves and a strong bitterly cold wind shook them all. Dark clouds were above and thick forest to their right. In the distance the spike of dark iron rose above the butte of stone. It was the Iron Tower.

“Not as close as I hoped. Let us walk,” she said and retook her natural form. Tall, over seven feet, and fair she walked with slow power and purpose.

They followed her lead and Don’ struggled to keep up. She kept taking his waist and setting him forward. After seven touches Don’s exhaustion was gone. After seven more touches he felt fresh again.

Swinging open on its impeccable hinges the door to the Iron Tower revealed it to be as they left it. Brannighan’s mother glowed with powerful light and they saw well in her illumination.

“You said there were creatures here? Of course, there were undead abominations. Where is the bell?”

She led, insisting to be ahead to protect them, the party downstairs. As they came closer to the pillar containing the crystal where Felghanis saw the bell she bade them to halt. “Wait here and I will deal with the trap.”

It was no threat at all, it seemed. The lightning bolt leapt towards her but she dodged it with ease. She halted before the pillar and looked intently for many heartbeats. Long enough that they began to doubt her ability to do anything. Then she vanished and reappeared cradling the bell in her arms, bearing its great weight.

She triumphantly pronounced, “For his glory!” With a soft flare of light she was gone.

In the silence and almost pitch darkness Kalista spoke first, “Do any of you have any food?”

Before they could answer the angel returned bathing them in her glow.

“My deepest apologies. I should have let you know I was coming back.”

The relief was evident even on Felghanis’ face. Thunder pealed and a metallic shattering rumbled through the rock into their ears.

Felghanis laughed. “I’ve beaten you, Uncle.”

“Now, my friends, I can take you anywhere in Kiltayre. Where will it be?”

“We want to go home,” Aenir ventured suddenly.

“Of course,” she said.

“But we promised to help them to complete their quest,” Kellor said.

Aenir seemed saddened but his resolve returned quickly. “Yes. Yes of course.”

“The Black Tower,” Kalista said. Everyone agreed.

"Brannighan’s mother concentrated for a few heartbeats. “I am sorry. The tower is surrounded by orcs and blakh. I will not take you within sight of the tower for your own safety.”

“Then back to Stonecrest,” Felghanis pushed. “I have research I want to do and more importantly Goran’s body must be buried correctly.”

“Goran’s burial is not our concern,” Donhallan said.

The angel seemed to narrow her eyes slightly but her voice was still peaceful. “To Stonecrest then?”

“Yes.”

They were standing right back in the Wainwright Lodge. If it weren’t for the darker room and less people they may not have even left.

“Thank you my friends. In the morning I will return and until then I would have you think on a reward suitable to further your defence of the people and your revelation of truth.”

The possibilities began to enter their minds but sleep beckoned with more strength. Within the hour they were all asleep in their rooms carrying a peace they had not felt for months upon their hearts.

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Kiltayre: Session 19 review, part two

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Felghanis was hustling along through the snowstorm. The wind would have frozen their lips shut but Kalista’s spell protected them so well it felt like a cool autumn wind. Still, their visibility was cut severely by the heavy fall of wind driven snow, and what sounds they could hear were only from a few yards away. It was like the world had gone grey all about them even the colour of the sound had been washed out and lessened.

“Jonas is in the Sipran Keep. I just know it,” Felghanis said. “If you can Locate Object for a Ursa Bellor heraldry piece we’ll know.”

They debated briefly but Kalista did as Fel’ suggested.

“Odd. There’s one that way. On the other side of that mill, I guess.”

“It could be Thiridea.”

“It could be Jonas. They’re the only two with the Ursa Bellor heraldry who could be anywhere near here. So much for Jonas being in the Sipran Keep.”

Felghanis pushed the pace and the form of the keep loomed above them in the white-grey of the snowstorm. As soon as the young necromancer saw the path leading to the gatehouse he broke into a full run, but the path was treacherously icy and he slipped. It jarred his wrist but he stood up and pressed on. The others took it slower and safer.

The gates were open, it seemed to Fel, but as he closed to a distance where detail was apparent he realised the half a foot of oak was severed as if by a massive chopper; the wood might as well have been nothing more than straws of carrot. Guards lay about in pools of blood, their bodies cleaved open in a pile of still steaming innards, each looking like they were cut down in a single massive blow. When the others arrived at the gate Felghanis was already in the main hall; guards, men, maids and children were in blood-drenched piles.

Somewhere above an inhuman voice laughed, “This door will not stop me.”

“Coward!” Felghanis yelled in challenge, the most real feeling of anger he had sensed in years. He moved past the dead and saw bloody hoof prints led up the stairs. Don, Kalista, and the dwarves caught up to him.

A splintering sound echoed from above. Screams and the smashing of armour reached the party’s ears. Together they raced up the steps in time to see an onyx skinned figure draw its double handed sword from the body of a retainer.

It faced back towards them and laughed. “More to the slaughter. Kill everyone in the keep.” It began to rush forward.

Felghanis uttered the curse of Blindness but it seemed to shrug off the magic. Don’s dogs were invisible, they could smell the infernal stench of the creature, and even though scared the hounds leapt into the battle.

Kalista wavered in her resolve. This… fiend was responsible for all the carnage and now it was bearing down on them. It was so strong, its blade swung almost impossibly fast, and it tore their defences to shreds. Even Kellor’s normally stalwart shield-work was no match for its dusky great-sword.

“Coward?” It laughed mockingly, eyes on Felghanis, and slipped past Don’ to fell the necromancer in a single stroke. “You cannot prevail.” It laughed again, berating them with its amusement at their efforts.

They stabbed at it and the hounds bit its legs trying to pull it down. Too strong, too steady on its feet, shrugging off the dogs’ attempts neither of the hounds managed to upset its balance.

Don’s shield shattered and the female dog used its Dimension Door ability to avoid what would have been a lethal blow to its skull. Felghanis hit the demon with a Ray of Enfeeblement and it visibly sagged. Kalista’s summoned dire ape battered at the fiend with little effect until the demon dispatched the conjured creature with a rapid volley of slashes.

Kellor’s shield was shattered, the dwarf knocked prone, and then in a blink of the eye Don’ was disarmed then felled also.

“I’ve been so stupid,” Kalista admonished as she drew one of the oils of curing they had after bartering with Madam Lim. With a few well-placed lobs and one passed to Aenir Felghanis and Don’ were healed enough to fight back.

But it was not enough. Kellor was trying to fight from the ground, as was Felghanis, and suddenly Fionnghal used his Dimension Door to escape the battle.

Kalista screamed, “We must run!” But she had to heal her friends, or at least try.

Aenir tumbled along the wall and got to the animist mage’s side. “You’re right, girl. Can you stop it chasing us?”

“I might be able to,” Felghanis commenced the summoning of a powerful undead creature from the nether plane.

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Kiltayre: Session 19 review, part one

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Donhallan and Felghanis returned with the posse to the Tovran watch-house. The sergeant was a simple chap but stern. Goran being locked in the cell disturbed the sergeant.

“Breaking a window is not equal to freezing to death in a stone cell.”

The sheriff normally would sit in judgement of such things but some events had his attention to the east of Vrim. Sergeant Parvellen had the means and he sent a page to the Tovran tower to request the Lord, Mikhail Tovran, come down to judge the crime as soon as possible.

While they waited they chatted amiably. Fel’ mostly kept quiet but Don’ seemed to have one some kind of trust with the senior watchman. He was impressed with Fionnghal’s tracking and said as much.

“A great hound. Would you care for another? I have a young bitch, much like that one, that I can barely feed. The poor thing is beginning to starve and I feel terrible. Maybe you could look after the dog?”

Don’ was pleased and a little humbled, “I’d be very thankful.”

“It’s a bit odd, though, that dog. It seems when chasing rabbits last spring that the grass would sometimes seize the conies and the dog relished pouncing on them like a cat.”

Don’ laughed politely but he knew the hound had to be fey-touched in the same way as Fionnghal. He was happy to take it under his wing and went with the sergeant.

Back at the Whalers’ Retreat Kalista was developing an idea. Bolstered with sudden courage she swept out without the dwarves seeing. In the heavy snow she headed over the river and towards the Sipran Keep. As she closed on the narrow path that led to the gatehouse a broad figure was walking towards her; wearing the colours of the Church and the red bear rampant on a black background. It had to be Jonas. The Scour stopped and held out a hand somewhat in her path.

“If you please, miss. Stop a moment.”

Kalista stopped, her heart was racing though, and kept her composure as best she could. This ‘man’ was said to be far more powerful than Thiridea and that ‘woman’ had nearly defeated them all, almost single-handedly.

“Jonas, I presume,” she tried for the upper hand.

“Yes and you must be… Kalista. Is that right?”

She nodded politely.

“I would speak with you. Out of this harsh weather, if you would,” he said, gesturing towards some partially standing buildings. Ever-present reminders of the attack by the Kulvuss and Livruss fleets.

Kalista thought to run but it might provoke Jonas to use force.

Out of the wind and snow it was more comfortable but still cold. Jonas set about making a fire, simply rending the shutters from the frames, and once it was burning he stood back – giving Kalista plenty of space.

They fenced, politely, with words at first. But Jonas was amiable and shared information. The books were for the Church. He had recovered one from the Iron Tower and it was back in the Vatican.

“There is a conjunction coming, of stars, planets and the tidal forces in the ley lines of the whole island. With it comes winters, harsh and long, and these cycles allow the Hrimpursar to return. Without the winters the ritual from the tomes cannot even be attempted. We need to make sure these tomes cannot be used. There’s no safer place in Kiltayre than in the Vatican under the Saint’s protection.”

Kalista was humbled. It made sense but she still had distrust from her time in Dwarf Town. She shared her knowledge of Fenris.

“He summoned a giant in the sea, that’s why we think he serves the Frost Titans,” she finished.

“It does not sound like that to me. Frost Titans do not swim if they can help it and definitely do not live in the ocean. I think he serves another player in this. The elemental lord of water.”

Again, the Scour made sense. Snow was water and it explained how he left no tracks, perhaps in relation to who it was Fenris had made a pact with.

Jonas’ hand fell to his weapon and his eyes looked out into the snow.

“Who goes there?”

Kalista could hear crunching of boots through the icy flakes.

“Jonas?” A voice called back.

“Mellevictus?” Jonas responded recognising the voice.

Kalista put her back against the other opening, opposite to where this Mellevictus was approaching from.

He entered the house wearing the vestments of a scour but on the normal field of the Church’s colours was the heraldry of the Inquisition Exarcanum: witch finders and demon hunters.

Kalista’s heart raced. She felt like a cornered mouse between two Scours. One a werebear, the other an inquisitor, and her alone.

“Goran has been arrested,” Mellevictus said.

“For what?” Jonas seemed to be getting angered.

“Breaking into the inn where… her friends are staying. He sought the book to redeem himself.”

“It matters not. His treachery has ever been a burden. If it weren’t for his cousin the Cardinal of Fergusdale, I’d never have let him in the group.”

“Then we let justice prevail,” Mellevictus said vehemently.

“Aye, but Kalista, what will you let prevail? The risk of the book falling into the hands of the Hrimpursar? You know it will be safer with the Church. Directly under the protection of the living Saint.”

Kalista said, “It would be good, but what of the other book in the Sipran Keep?”

“Lady Murelle would not see me, but she will, in time. The book is not in the keep but in a space between the keep and Stonecrest. A library in a space between space. A kind of pocket dimension. There needs to be a way we can convince Lady Murelle to see us and hand it over for the good of all Kiltayre.”

“We could work together, but separately, aiding the recovery of the last book. That way we can read it before it is taken back to the Vatican.”

“Aye we could,” Jonas said.

Kalista, had she been from a city or wealthy social family would have seen the slightly sad glance at Mellevictus, and then the nod the inquisitor returned, but she was not so savvy.

Mellevictus let the spell be triggered, “You know, Kalista, that the book would really be safer with us. Hand it over and we’ll make sure it can’t be used to bring back the Hrimpursar.”

The still spell was strong and Kalista succumbed instantly, “Yes, of course, Scour.” She took it out and handed it to Mellevictus.

Jonas nodded with a grim smile.

“And there is no need to worry your friends with our meeting. We know that Felghanis, at the least, would not understand at all.”

It was true, Mellevictus was right and clearly trustworthy and Kalista nodded, “Yes. Of course. The Saint will protect the books better than we can.”

“We must send this back to the Vatican, Jonas,” the Inquisitor said, and with that they left Kalista to make her way back to the Inn. She had no idea the Charm Person would last nearly half a day.

Don’ and Felghanis left the Tovran watchtower. Lord Mikhail would arrive after midday and the trial would begin. But until then they may as well get some food and sit somewhere less austere than the watch-house.

The Whalers’ was busy, full almost, with people mainly talking. Kalista was sitting near Aenir and Kellor but the dwarves were regaling a well-dressed man with war-stories. The Felk Bay people sat together and shared a meal. People began to leave and so did the whole group, albeit separated, to the trial.

Lord Mikhail’s guards were about and the public were rowdy, yet not violent. Goran sat manacled, looking at his feet, on a stool between two knights. The trial proceeded and Felghanis was asked what he had lost.

“I have lost a sense of safety in this town, a trust of the lord’s watch, and of the inn keeper Arthur’s property.”

“And what was taken?” Lord Mikhail asked.

“I cannot be certain. I have many notes and journals that were strewn about the room. There has not been enough time to read them all again to see if anything is missing.”

“Goran, what say you in your defense?” Lord Mikhail said strongly.

“I have done this because I am cursed,” Goran said meekly but his voice rose in volume as if gathering confidence. “Cursed by Demons from the Pale of War.”

“Cursed? Stop this man from speaking. Gag him and take him from the court.”

Lord Mikhail looked troubled. “Goran of the Church, you are found guilty and must pay the sum of repairs to Arthur’s property plus 10 gold pieces to Ghanis.”

Vrim’s people were still railing at the admission of a curse. Run him out of town, burn him, drown him under the ice, where the various cries. Lord Mikhail bowed to his scribe, Tivvus whom Kalista was trying to find, and they whispered in the din of the folk of Vrim. Don’ boosted his hearing and caught some words.

“That is the lady’s dominion to judge, yes?” Lord Mikhail asked.

“Aye, m’lord. He must be sent to the keep in chains,” Tivvus answered.

It was over quickly.

They filed out of the court, Don’, Kalista, and Fel’. They took shelter under the eave of a large house near the watch and threw ideas about. The folk of Vrim were hurrying back to their houses. Heavy dark clouds were rolling in from the west and a sudden bolt of lightning lit up the town with harsh blue-grey shadows.

“Oh no,” Felghanis said. “It was all a diversion.”

“I was troubled by the same thought,” Donhallan affirmed.

“How?”

“He was meant to be caught so they could get Goran in the Sipran Keep.”

The storm drove them back to the inn.

Herath had his bags and was agitated, fearful even. “My friends. We must leave,” he said gravely.

“Why?” Felghanis asked.

“It is the Shadow of the Face of the Dragon. There will be death this night. Much blood will be shed in this town. We must leave while we still can.”

Donhallan and Felghanis looked at each other. “It must be bad if we agree.” Fel’ said.

“I am leaving. There is little time.”

The storm was closing in on Vrim. Thunder and strong wind shook the roof and window shutters. Arthur interrupted politely and Kalista cast Mend on the shutters Goran had broken.

“In this we will need protection.” She cast Endure Elements on everyone.

Felghanis nodded, “We must get to the keep as fast as possible.”

“No, we need to leave Vrim this night. The omen is clear. There will be death and blood.”

“Are these omens always right? Does anyone even try and stop them in your tribe?”

Herath’s hand twitched towards his large knife but stayed away. “I leave with or without you.” The tribesman went to the door of the Whalers’.

“As I do in heading to the Sipran Keep,” Felghanis hefted his bag and strapped on his rapier. The staff lay unclaimed in his room.

“I can’t let you go alone,” Kalista said reluctantly.

“Neither can I,” Don’ added.

The dwarves looked at each other. Their kind were superstitious, too, but they were soldiers and they stuck with the Felk Bay people.

“We agreed to stay with you and aid you all in this quest of yours. We will go to the keep with you.”

Herath nodded, “I will be heading East, up river, if you change your minds.” He left without another word. They were fools, to his mind, not to listen to the fates.

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Kiltayre: Session 18 Review

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Kalista’s player, Chris West at buygameshobbies.com, has written a fantastic entry which I’ll link to instead of writing my own review.

Winter’s End: Session 18

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Kiltayre: Session 17 Review

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Don’ dreamed again, of a misty forest circle with tall thin figures moving about within. They would turn their heads as if hearing or sensing him on the outside of the circle but never founds him in their gaze. The trees were old and thick boled. Don’ awoke. Was it a summons? The imagery was stronger this time and he mentally shared it with Fionnghal. The dog, though fey-touched, was still a dog and did not understand but the memory was now there.

Whatever tension that was had with Felghanis seemed to ease at breakfast that morning. They sat and ate, talking about their plans and things they had seen. It was so good to be with people again. Everyone of them in the party were all so much more relaxed than travelling the snowy wilds.

Don and Herath went into the markets and asked about the surrounding lands. They found out that food prices were 50% above normal, when they could be had, and all the good furs were sold out as soon as they were offered. Each trader was keen for more, having sized at least Herath up as a good woodsman, and they offered good prices.

It was the Lutemakers Woods that had Don’s interest and the traders dismissed it out of hand as haunted. Don’ seemed unfazed by that and determined to have a visit, since it could be done in a day at less than 10 miles away. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to tell the others they planned to go there.

Turned out the rest of the group, except Aenir and Kellor, wanted to go to. Even Fel. Whatever their spat last night seemed to have vanished. A good night’s sleep can solve many things, it appeared.

On the way out of Vrim Don’ led them to scout old buildings. Abandoned after the Livruss and Kulvuss fleet attack.

“We could take one of these over.” Don’ was excited at the idea. “Maybe just pay a notary or something a lease-fee.”

He knocked on the door of the nearest neighbour. They were wrapped in blankets and making crafts. Their small fire barely enough to heat the hut, but they were happy for visitors. After sharing information they asked Don’ and his friends back for drinks, song and cake. It was agreed.

They set off over rocky hills that were wind-lashed. On the other side they descended to the margins of the woods and saw a miles wide stand of various good timber trees. Spruce, maple, birch and cedar. All growing straight and tall. The predominant northwest wind seemingly not reaching them here.

Fionnghal suddenly went on alert, growling towards the trees. As they thought to ready themselves a great four armed beast leapt from under a snowdrift and raked the dog with claws. Herath acted first lunging in with his spear and the thing was quick to respond. Rending the hunter’s face almost from his body. The man fell into a heap blood staining the snow about his head.

They fought hard and the thing tried to run off with Herath’s body, but a black ray from Felghanis weakened it so much it dropped the hunter and fled into the massive trees. They had won out. Herath was healed by Kalista and they gathered themselves.

Don’ described the stones that surrounded the circle in his dream and asked Kalista to try and locate one. She cast her spell and searched out. There was nothing close but her spell would last long enough that they could cover another furlong or so. The forest became older, darker, and more still. Mist gathered between the boles and Kalista sensed a stone like Don’ described. They cautiously approached and then Don’ gestured they stop.

Don’ moved forward and knelt, starting some ceremony, to place three torches and three silver pieces on the ground. He chanted briefly and then removed his touch. It was almost as if he had summoned the three figures that appeared in the mist. Each walking towards him from a different position. One in silver mail, another dark armor, and a third in brown clothes that might have been made from bark and leaves.

Each had skin like leaves, hair like grass and dark eyes like set amber, and seemed completely disinterested in everyone save Don’. They spoke to him.

“Our forest has been desecrated.”

“Too many times have the men come into our place and taken our old beautiful trees.”

“A price must be paid in blood.”

The three seemed to know what must be said. Like they were reciting some old prose.

“The next hunter that enters these woods.”

“You must bring to our circle.”

“And make an offering of to pay the price.”

Don’ was shocked. A blood price for the Fey. “What about a beast instead?” He had no want to be a murderer.

“Aye.”

“A beast for nine years.’”

“Each time the moon is full.”

The question was how.

“You will do this service for us.”

“Make right the wrongs in our realm.”

“Or the price will be paid by you.”

Each took a torch and a silver piece, turned, and after a few strides seemed to melt away into the mist.

The party said little as they left. It seemed too close the edge of the forest and that elicited comments.

“We may have to delay the journey with Lorco,” Don’ said.

When they returned to the Whalers’ Retreat Aenir and Kellor were waiting for them.

“We saw our friends from the Crypt,” Aenir said gravely.

“That means Thiridea has made it back to Vrim.”

This made things even more dangerous if Jonas, Thiridea’s mentor, was still there in the chapel on Manduran’s Hill.

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Kiltayre: Session 16 Review

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The inn was warm and cosy. It was a great change not to breath freezing cold air all night. They slept well, except Don’. He was visited with a vivid dream. Figures in a mist forest circle were milling about, as if edgy with each other, and they kept looking about for him as if sensing Don’s presence. When we awoke he was a little disturbed, but it was just one dream.

After Kalista rejoined them from her long bath they discussed their plans. All the fine weapons they’d looted from battles past had to be sold. The money would be helpful even if the food Felk Bay needed was not to be had. They had asked Arthur, the Innkeeper, about the Rhett attack and he had no news of it. Too far north it seems for the news to have travelled.

Aenir and Kellor would pursue weapon and armour smiths to trade the looted items with. They had been in that business in Dwarf Town and Aenir was described as a silver tongue with other merchants, by Kellor, and the older warrior was skilled in crafts able to easily recognise good work versus pretty work.

It was barely decided when the door opened and a quartet of guard stamped into the common room of the Whalers’ Retreat. They rubbed their hands and glanced about settling their sight on the group. Nerves ran high as the guardsmen approached, rattling in their mail with weapons at their hips.

“Well young ones. Where have you come from?” The sergeant started.

The questioning was short. Hard eyes of the sergeant watched them all and relaxed as they answered.

“From the south of the island?” he laughed incredulously.

It was enough for the guards to think the young troop were no threat and they left. Likely back to their warm watch house somewhere near or in the Tovran tower whose heraldry they wore.

With that stress over the party split up to deal with their various needs. New boots, clothing, backpacks, trade-in weapons and armor, and find supplies for Kalista’s spell working. It was a long list and in a new town it might take some time.

Madam Lim’s was the apothecary everyone pointed them to and when they arrived Kalista was so happy to see the variety of materials that she almost cried. Lim had everything, from canis root, to fulgurites, to quartz, to mummified donkey hoof. It was amazing.

Whilst Kalista rummaged the store and looked at every last thing in case it was what she might need the others, mainly Fel, asked Madam Lim about the history of the area. They were richly rewarded. She told them that Vrim, and most of the coast from outside the Saints Valley all the way to the Greywynd River, was awarded to Kentos by the Great Thane Davinus. Kentos later divided his lands and awarded Vrim to a Sipran lord. Many Sealer Nomads chose to live on the land instead of in the fleets and changed their life. A century or two ago the land was divided again with the Tovran being awarded the south of Vrim in murky details, or secrets.

Madam Lim asked the group if they would be willing to collect clams from the Muddy Cape, over the mountains to the north, and they agreed. She said that any pearls she found in the clams she’d give to them on top of a fee. The clam meat being useful in boosting the power of healing potions – which many needed after the attack by the Livruss and Kulvuss fleets.

They met the Dwarves at lunch and the battle-brothers were excited to share they’d found the two armorers in town. One had less stock than the other but rumor had it Cyne, who had more stock than Alfwin, sold cursed weapons. With bellies full of food that wasn’t seal or bear meat they visited Alfwin. It was true. The smith had little stock and nothing they were interested in so it was off to Cyne. A good salesman Cyne traded most of the group’s won prizes for a few hundred gold coins and some other weapons: a long spear of giant bane, a staff of rapid attack, and more.

Lorco was next on their list and with the dwarves they located him easily enough at the Red Stag. Aenir had already come across him that morning. They entered the Red Stag only to have Kellor and Aenir depart to talk to a Margad woman in a bright yellow cloak. She was broad and massive with purple eyes and bright bronze skin. Herath followed looking on with infatuated eyes.

At a small table Lorco pondered a map. His broad hat and long arming sword sat next to it with a tankard of ale. Rough old travelling clothes and fine brigandine armor gave him the look of a well travelled ranger or scout. His long beard and wild hair made him look like a typical travelling wizard.

“What do you know of vampires?” Felghanis opened.

Queen Marcelline was Lorco’s target. He claimed to have killed 6 vampires before and aimed to make her the 7th. Lorco said she was turned away from her fief, banished, by St. Fergus in the early part of the church’s ascension to power. That was some 400 years ago. Felghanis swooned over the knowledge a creature like Marcelline might possess.

“Don’t worry about him,” Don’ said.

Fel huffed and stood up. Leaving without a word. Kalista and Don’ were surprised. Not understanding but Lorco was here now and they kept talking to him. Highgate Monastery and a large fort on the edge of the marches were the two locations Lorco suspected she was holed up in.

“Experimenting on creatures,” he said.

“Like otyughs?”

“Yes. She seems to do this everywhere she goes, experimenting.”

They talked at length and decided when the group was ready Lorco would be accompanied to investigate Highgate Monastery. Lorco had Daldra on retainer for the expedition so he’d have a potentially strong mercenary at his side. It was agreed that they’d leave in 2 days and the group would part ways once Lorco had enough information to determine if Queen Marcelline was in the old monastery – the group heading on to the Muddy Cape to clam for Madam Lim.

Don’ chased after Fel and caught him in the street. Heated words were thrown about and a threat from Fel had Don’s back up. They parted company.

Felghanis walked the streets then decided to find the chapel that Frellan had said the Scours were using as a base in Vrim. As Felghanis got closer to the area known as Manduran’s Hill he could see that the chapel was being rebuilt. A snowball crunched at Fel’s feet and he glanced about for who threw the thing. From around a wall the hard weathered face of Fenris beckoned him with a hand. Too curious to refuse Fel’ approached and Fenris spoke in a rushed whisper.

“I know you’re not following me so you’re safe. Jonas is inside. Consider this an apology.” Fenris looked like he was physically making himself stay, against some compulsion. “There’s more going on here than you can know. I don’t know what it is, yet, but it’s more than the Church and these books.”

Felghanis nodded then said quickly, “Next time you need something send a message.”

Fenris managed a thin smile, “I’ll try.”

Whatever force was compelling the traitor, the Night Wolf, it won and Fenris trotted away nearly silent. But what brought a look of shock to Felghanis’ face was the man’s feet never broke the surface of the snow.

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Kiltayre Session 15 Review

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The blizzard had set in. Camped in the hollow of a once enormous fir tree’s trunk the party had good warmth.

“Seal meat, again,” Felghanis moaned.

“I can barely eat it any more,” Kalista agreed in sentiment.

“At least we know where the third book is.”

“It could be in two places. What might be Stonecrest and almost certainly Vrim.”

“After you rest maybe you can use the spell-structure in the book to locate the first volume?” Fel asked.

The Felk Bay people speculated about the book, the ritual and the Church’s involvement. Fenris’ name came up again and Felghanis vented his frustration.

“He killed members of the Church, but not us, why? If only he would talk to us.”

It was a moot point but they dwelled on it for some time.

“Perhaps the tear of the Elder’s could break the competed ritual?” Don’ suggested.

Felghanis set aside his notes and referred to the book, “No. Once complete it’s like any other ritual and has to be dispelled or otherwise negated. That might be difficult considering the tier of magic involved.”

Kalista nodded. It was in concordance with the laws of the arcane that she understood.

“Here, read this,” Felghanis said handing out a page of notes to Kalista.

They call him Codger and he likes it! How I’d rail against such impertinence. Such disrespect. My brother was ever the one to smile and bear fools. I shall not. How the visions grow but so does my plan. An army, a horde, a sweeping ocean of the raised dead will be lifted back to the mundus. Why must my brother be so close? It matters little, if at all, he could never discern anything through my scrying-guards and other obfuscations. I long to say he is a fool but the evidence is contrary. He is cunning, if somewhat deluded, animist.

Kalista’s mouth opened, “Your Uncle is Codger’s brother?” She was incredulous.

“He might have been keeping an eye on my Uncle, even scrying him to see what he was doing. Maybe trying to prevent him from finding the Bell of Thullemon.”

Don’ was no so sure, “The Codger was kind and a bit doddering. He didn’t seem on the same level as your Uncle.”

“I don’t know about that,” Kalista said. “Although it was your Uncle, Fel, that realised I had talent for magic. It was Codger who trained me in the ways of the Wizard-Animist. I still remember my mother baking a pie and sending me over to deliver it to him. That was the first day I started studying. It was a few months later that he sent me into the hills to find some quartz with Don. That was when I missed the chance to go with Felghanis to Vensing to study at the college.”

Fel rubbed his chin, deep in thought, “That just supports my idea.” His voice was soft.

The conversation drifted and the eventually slept, or took their watch. The next morning Kalista prepared her casting. The energies were quite great, at the top of her spell tiers, and she delivered them into the spell-structure of the book.

She sensed the book. It was east, and a bit north, in a massive stone building. Like two towers on either side of a domed cylinder. It had to be the Vatican of St. Fergus. Glowing light pulsed and reached for her as her focus began to narrow on the book. A presence pressed her soul and it felt like an archangel.

“You are not welcome here,” the archangel said.

The light’s intensity grew and it became like a solid wall against her reaching sense then threw her back.

Felghanis, Don’, Aenir, Kellor and Herath saw a dim glow about the girl flare then fade away as she gasped. It was barely two heartbeats from when she touched the book to the light being gone.

“What happened?”

“It sensed me… I felt so dirty, so unworthy.” She went quiet, solemn, and stared at her feet.

Don’ touched her on the shoulder. “Almost certainly part of its magic.”

They broke camp and traipsed through heavy snow back on to the beach. It turned from rocky, to smooth, to icy, and then rocky again. Days passed and Felghanis mused that they were lucky for the trees or they’d all be snow-blind by now.

Fionnghal whined and kept sniffing the air behind them. Don’ sensed the dog’s concern they were being tracked. Whatever it was could not keep up with them and he did not worry the others with this news. Another day passed and it was clear that the creature tracking them had fallen too far behind for Fionnghal to scent.

It was late on the 7th day that they saw distant lines of chimney smoke. As the sun set small yellow lights, the windows of buildings, lit up their destination.

“That must be Vrim!”

“Aye, and I bet they have beer!” Kellor added.

The all picked up their pace and pushed their speed to double-time march. It was tiring but worth it as the opened the door into the warm interior of the Whaler’s Retreat. The inn was recently thatched with heather and the well-made furniture was worn to glossy wood.

Arthur the inn-keeper greeted them and they arranged a trade. All the seal meat for rooms, meals and as much as they could drink from below the top shelf.

Other patrons sat about, talking and eating. A tall woman with bright copper hair approached Kalista and they talked for a while. She was Daldra Urrdon, a Corsiff mercenary, and stood an impressive six-feet and eight inches tall. Daldra recommended Kalista talk to Colle, a dwarf, who was searching for something called Bilof’s Stronghold.

Felghanis settled into the nook by the fire and read one of the Canon of St. Fergus books that they had claimed at the Iron Tower. He couldn’t reconcile why he hadn’t started weeks ago. Still, it was comfortable and warm here and easy enough to concentrate. Local hunters bemoaned the sighting of a tentacle beast with a huge maw of fangs. Sounded like an otyugh to Fel. He just listened in for a while and heard that they were finding it hard to feed themselves so many were travelling further into the marches to the south to hunt for meat.

People began retiring and soon the only people left in the common room were Fel and Arthur, who kept yawning.

“Seems there’s a lot going on around here. Lots of weird things. What’s the strangest you’ve heard?” Fel asked Arthur.

“Well, there’s a person who was staying here but moved to another inn who thinks there’s a vampire in the mountains. Can’t say I believe’em though. Why’d a vampire come here? There’s hardly anyone left after the Kulvuss and Livruss fleets attacked before the ice set in.”

Fel nodded and kept his tongue.

“I’ll be retiring now, if you don’t mind. Have this mulled wine to keep you warm and stoke the fire as you please. Good night young sir,” Arthur said and excused himself.

Felghanis sipped the warm beverage. Most of the alcohol was gone and that was good. It wasn’t something he enjoyed, but a vampire? That was something he could enjoy taking control of. A wry smile crept over his face.

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Kiltayre: Session 14 (part 2)

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Felghanis stowed the book and with Herath at the lead they all headed back to the coast. As they travelled, slowly, Kellor got used to swinging his axe again for their firewood needs. The dwarf seemed happy to be useful again. Aenir and his battle-brother were in good spirits. May have been relief that they were still alive together.

With most of the day ahead of them they pushed as far as they dared whilst collecting wood. After setting camp Felghanis began deciphering the book. Kalista tried as well but she couldn’t make heads or tails of the writings. It may as well have been in ancient Lecorrean for her.

It was written in ancient Hrimpursar runes and the phrasing was esoteric since it described the Ritual of Fimbulwinter. The book revealed that the ritual also summoned a kind of dire elk that the Hrimpursar loved to hunt and eat. There were many other secrets in the book:

  • Hrimpursar claimed a right to blanket the land in winter.
  • This was the second of three books.
  • It described the ritual.
  • And how the ritual must be done at least 60feet from any tears of the elders. “There must be no regret or the ritual will fail.”
  • Each book could be used to find the others. It held a kind of empty “spell structure” that could be fuelled with any spell of the first tier. The heading and rough distance to the book being asked about would be given. However, this could only be used once per day.

In the morning they would have their energies returned enough that Kalista could cast the necessary spell into the book and determine where it may be. She gathered herself and charged the spell-structure. The sensation was wrong. It was like two shadows were competing for her attention and neither could be trusted. One sense was the book lay in Vrim. The other sense that it was in Stonecrest, or at least where the place was marked on Felghanis’ map. Confused she shared it with the others.

“We should go to Stonecrest,” Felghanis. “My uncle said they have a grand library.”

“The high plains are dangerous. Moreso than these woods,” Herath cautioned. “And far colder. It may not be possible to travel in the winter. Even the bison leave the high plains at this time.”

“But it’s not that far. We’ve been further. We can go back along the mountains’ foothills and cross to the high plains further west.”

“Vrim is far closer and Vrim will have hot food,” Don’ said.

Aenir and Kellor glanced about the party, “Vrim is so much closer. We should go there first.”

“If the book’s not there we can head to Stonecrest afterwards.”

Felghanis looked dismayed but said no more on the matter.

“Either way,” Kalista added diplomatically, “We still need to rest this night.”

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