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Winter’s End: Sessions update (29-32)

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After tracking the cultists into a fortress at the end of a grotto the party blitz-assaulted their base and routed the forces. Villagers were rescued and politicking carried out. It was the magic on one of the girls who shed light on the leader of the cultists, Milel, being a mage of some sort. Milel had been feeding on the girls essence. The forces were tracked to their rallying point at Anvil Rock. A defense was prepared and battle sought that night. A mantlet assaulted from the front and scouts tried to infiltrate the rear. It was another rout. Too well-organized and supported by a pack of summoned Dire Wolves the cultists never stood a chance. Until Milel drained the girl almost to her death and summoned a huge earth elemental. It collapesd the fortress around them methodically. All escaped with minor injuries and camped in the cold night. Milel escaped and probably with what ever they were trying to dig up.

The Sheriff took the villagers back to their homes. The allies (Lorco, the vampire hunter, Dalldra, the axe-woman, and Artan the wizard) continued to accompany the party. They had split ways and were beyond the borders of Vrim. Milel’s forces were tracked for two days when it became apparent they were headed towards the Keep of Kentos. That was one of the locations the Vampire Queen Marcelline could have been. It was only another day and everyone was convinced it was no coincidence: Milel was her servant.

One night they were awoken by Lorco calling out, “Be gone in the name of the Rose.”
He had turned some form of undead creature. Perhaps a wraith or a shade.
Later it came back and Felghanis rebuked it – gaining command. It was cemented now that the queen had sent this as a scout – this Allip. With agreement Fel’ pushed it away and Lorco destroyed it.

The next day they were within sight of the keep. Spells and familiars scouted the fortification. It was stout with an outer curtain wall and inner bailey where the donjon sat proudly. At least 40 lesser undead guarded the walls and manned the gatehouse. It didn’t inspire confidence. They had to act soon. Kalista was able to make out their shelter from the walls with her Arcane Eye spell. That meant anyone else could see it as well.
As they prepared the buzzing they had not noticed caught their attention as it rose to a thrumming drone. Lorco whipped open the shutters.
“Swarm!” He yelled, and loosed a fireball.
Slamming the shutters closed he looked pale and scared. “Locusts… a mountain of them.”
They fell upon the secure shelter like some kind of dark wave and the party shuffled closer together, touching shoulders, looking nervously at the roof.
“They can’t eat stone. We need more protection,” Don’ said. “That spell, the one that shapes stone.”
The roof was under assault. A multitude of nibbling mandibles were working their way through the old seasoned timber. Kalista shaped the stone floor up into a dome with fine holes for air. It was only a few minutes before the roof collapsed and the locusts filled the shelter with their angry insect noise. The cold was too much for them and before long they were silent. Goran was sent out by Fel’ to find out what happened. The locusts were all frozen in great swathes of icy chitin.
Dalldra freed them with a few swings of her axe and the gathered their supplies.
“We have to act now.”
They advanced through the strong wind driven snow. As the ground turned rougher and more steep they stopped to prepare their forces. Kalista cast speak with animals and as she was preparing a summons something fell from the sky exploding in rain of burning oil and potsherds.
“Catapult!” It was Lorco who yelled.
They broke and ran for their lives. The girl, Nullia had fallen and it was Don’ who bound her wounds and hoisted her over his shoulder.
Chests heaving and throats raw from the icy air they gathered in a gully’s steepest point between two hard rocky outcrops. The rest of the plan was put into action and Nullia was left behind.
The dire bats were enhanced and the flew out into the snowy gusts.
As the closed on the wall, a mere 200 feet away, large arrows streaked into their flight. The first bat fell, and then the second, but the others were fast enough to respond to Kalista and catch the falling allies.
On to the walls they assaulted the watch tower. Inside they fought skeletons and Felghanis seized control of their animus. Then they stormed the gatehouse. Dalldra’s axe splitting the door in one massive strike. Here they found a Rot Reaver, running for its hide, and skeletons poured down from above – only to be struck to dust by Lorco’s turning.
The keep’s walls were breached and the gatehouse taken, but the donjon remained to be stormed.

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Kiltayre: Session 24 and Session 25

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The beast appeared at the gate dragging a mountain goat. They launched their attack. Artan and Lorco hit it with fire spells. Lorco, a Fireball, and Artan an Aganazzar’s Scorcher. The bear was then trapped in the gateway by Kalista’s summoned dire wolf. It did not fight long before they killed it. Dressing the large carcass took some hours and they returned to the Secure Shelter to rest. Lorco agreed to go to Muddy Cape and hunt clams with them but he had to cut Dalldra in for a share as well as pay for her services – albeit at half-rate.

Overland the journey was tough. Exposed to the dastardly cold north west wind that came straight off the sea ice they took comfort that at least it wasn’t snowing. Digging about with their one shovel they found a clam after an hour. Then Kalista used Locate Plants and Animals and it was easy to find another score of clams. In all they had three pearls and it was deemed enough clam meat for Madam Lim.

When they returned to Vrim it was only three days to the full moon and Don’ needed to be ready to fulfill his role to the Fey.

It was Lord Tovran who added the complication. They should have known by the serious looking man with the scars and the old wound of a shallow fractured cheek bone, Sheriff Daeus.

“You may have heard that Sheriff was investigating something to the east. That much I know was being talked about. What you may not know is that he has found a troubling thing. Tell them, Daeus.”

The Sheriff complied and let them in on what had happened days ago. A young girl had wandered in from the east frostbitten and alone. She claimed that people had been rounded up and taken by the cult of Ath-Voarnus. Those who resisted were put to the sword, and those who fled were butchered from behind. They had found abandoned farms and buildings. No livestock and a few bodies in the snow. Then they had run out of food and had to return.

“I ask you to aid Vrim again and help us rescue these people, or at least put an end to this cult’s raids on Vrim’s citizens.”

“We have just enough horses,” Daeus said quietly to Lord Mikhail.

On the ride out the next morning they asked about Herath. Daeus had seen a man briefly but assumed it was one of the few lone trappers who lived on the margins. He didn’t try and talk to the man.

Cultists had moved into the area and at first kept to themselves. Then they had become aggressive at getting people to convert. It was the little girl, the lone survivor from the nearest village, that had told Sheriff Daeus the background. Many had fought on the fateful day but the cultists cut them down and that cowed the rest of the villagers. All were marched eastwards, with every last scrap of food and feed, for the livestock. Each village was bare of people and food. Corden, Villyme and Puldup; the farthest. Don’s tracking was superb, as always, and he followed the trails as well as a bloodhound might. They past no campsites but when the reached the fifth bridge, a marker of the furthest reaches of the fief of Vrim, they found heavy destrier’s tracks – as if the horse wore barding.

“A knight?” Don’ asked Daeus.

“Perhaps invaders. Maybe the Livruss and Kulvuss left a contingent behind.” The sheriff mused.

They weakened the fifth bridge, removing recently added bolsters, and did the same at the bridge near Puldup – hiding the material in the woods underneath snowdrifts. Then they rode hard back to Vrim as was promised by Tovran so that they might deal with the Fey in the Lutemakers Woods. The lord understood the need to Don’ and his peoples’ craft guild, and thus livelihoods. The Dwarves had secured the promise of the guildmaster to aid them and continue to provide a beast each full moon. All that left was to deliver the beast Lord Tovran had provided. As he left the area outside the stables Lord Mikhail announced that Daeus would be going with the party, and that Lady Varnia Sipran would also be attending – now that the Sipran family were back in their castle.

“Is she bringing the shield guardian?” It was an innocent enough question from Kalista.

“They have a shield guardian? Why was it not used when their keep was attacked?” Tovran was angry, infuriated actually. He stalked off muttering venom about letting innocents die.

It was the end of the 98th day since they left Felk Bay, that they dined with Lord Mikhail Tovran’s family and retainers, but not Lord Mikhail, who sent his apologies at being in a mood most foul that he would not be polite company. Freyald has many tales to sing, though, and regaled them with a long epic ballad from Iron Claw; Hadramyr the Griever. It didn’t help the feeling.

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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 21

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“In business we have a saying. Deal with a problem before it grows too large and becomes beyond your ability to fix,” Aenir said.

The group had be back-and-forth over options and tactics.

“Well, the Beaming Censer is on the way to the North Gate,” said Kalista. “We can see Lady Sipran on the way.”

“And keep our pledge to Lord Tovran,” Don’ added.

“I really must ask you to reconsider. It is quite dangerous in Stonecrest,” Brannighan’s careful voice warned.

“Thank you but we must perform this task,” Kalista responded.

“Then, seeing as you have refused my aid and counsel seven times, I am realised from by bonds to protect you. I wish you luck in finding who, or what, you pursue.” With that he left and went about his business.

They too left the library and entered the streets. It was not as cold as they expected but the sky was  strange bruised peach colour. Dark clouds, grey-purple, striped the sky. The streets were busy with foot traffic and people pulling rickshaws carrying richly robed figures.

“I expected wizards flying about the city and displays of powerful magic,” Kalista muttered.

“That would be wasteful,” Felghanis answered.

It was a dozen yards or more before they identified what was disturbing.

The Beaming Censer was close and they entered quickly. It was richly appointed with polished wood panelling and carpets from wall to wall. They felt out of place and even Aenir seemed unsure of himself. A concierge approached them with a warm smile.

“Are you seeking rooms?”

“We seek a guest here, or at least we think she’s here, Lady Sipran of Vrim.”

“Ah, yes. Please won’t you wait in the lounge whilst I pass on the message. Who shall I say seeks her audience?”

“Lord Mikhail Tovran sends us.”

The concierge bowed his head politely and departed.

Hanging on the walls of the lounge were numerous paintings. Most depicted the city under wheeling clouds that spiralled over the tall tower dominating Stonecrest’s skyline.

“What is that, you suppose?”

“A storm?”

“Who is it that seeks Lady Murelle Sipran?”

The woman’s voice was strong, commanding even, and when they turned to face her she wore a veil covering her face from below the eyes all the way down. Behind her stood a shield guardian.

“Lord Tovran sent us to find Lady Murelle,” said Don’.

They exchanged words and Varnia was bristling; even defensive. She took a fighting stance.

“Who are these people, Varnia?” An older woman’s voice approached.

“They claim that Mikhail sent them, Mother.”

“Why did he send you?” The lady asked as she entered the lounge. She seemed very old and moved slowly as if in some pain yet bore it with dignity. Varnia hovered at her left seeking to attend to her. The shield guardian was at the doorway.

“To find out why you fled the keep.”

“To save my family line,” Lady Murelle said simply. “We are the last four of the Sipran blood. The last women of the line and against the fiend that attacked our home we had no chance of victory.”

“But your a powerful spellcaster?” Don’ protetsted.

“Who told you that?” Lady Murelle was wry. “Once, I was a competent sorceress. Age has taken that away leaving me with only a few talents and my visions.”

“You did not see it coming?” Felghanis was incredulous.

“No. My visions have never been so accurate and simple. I had a recurring dream in these last months. The winter…” she waved it away.

“We seek to stop that winter from returning.”

They explained the books of Fimbulwinter and Lady Murelle did not know them. Even after Felghanis stated that Lord Kentos had left one with the family generations ago she had no idea.

“It makes sad sense, though. I saw a hand of stone and bears, a pair of them, chasing three trees that even though didn’t move were elusive. I saw winter setting in all the year round and far away an empty throne. The empty throne of Davinus.”

“Davinus? That was Kentos’ liege,” Kalista said

“Davinus, was the great-thane of Kiltayre, the first king, and ascended to become the true god of the Church and all Kiltayre.”

Felghanis, Donhallan, Kalista, Aenir, and Kellor were all stunned.

“What? Davinus is the god of the Church?”

“Yes. It was Davinus who ascended to the throne of Kiltayre and founded the Church. It is why in Vrim we do not follow the teachings of the Saint. But I must leave you now. I am so tired and so struck with grief. I take my leave.”

Varnia escorted her mother from the room and the shield guardian followed them with heavy footsteps.

“Someone is trying to become a god,” Felghanis conjectured.

“In business we have a saying. Deal with a problem before it grows too large and becomes beyond your ability to fix,” Aenir said.

Kellor nodded, “We need to stop Jonas and take back the book.”

The party flew into a torrent of speculation. Kellor and Aenir stood to one side and spoke quietly. It seemed to motivate the others and they collected their gear to head out into the streets again.

North of the Beaming Censer was the markets. A large square filled with stalls, stands, tents and carts selling goods ranging from mundane food to exotic focii, and services from basic healing to forging of magical staves.

“Maybe we can find a way to heal my arm?” Aenir said. Together with Kellor the split off to search the sellers for a cure.

“There’s the Amorrensis Trade Guild chapter house,” Donhallan pointed to a three storey narrow-house near the north gate.

Felghanis, Kalista and Don’ pushed open the doors and came into a small room with a counter. Two men were standing to one side waiting. Each was kitted out with packs and ropes as if going on an expedition. They gestured to go to the counter and made room. A man in lead-grey robes looked up as the door closed and Kalista saw the Captain from the stone ship.

“Ah, this a surprise.” The Captain said. “Have you brought me Fenris?”

Kalista’s heart skipped a beat; he remembered them.

“No. We have not but we did see him.”

Felghanis chipped in, “He’s compelled by some force, probably the lords of Elemental Water. I don’t think he’s in control of himself.”

“That may be the case and could explain a few things,” said the Captain, musing on the idea.

“How did you come to be here?” Kalista almost blurted out.

“Well, it was a bit of bad luck and good luck. After the ship was destroyed I was going to be banished from the guild. Luckily I had, well stole, the crystal you were carrying and that enabled me to purchase my station but with a transfer to this chapter house. I will miss the sea but at least I am still with the Amorrensis. I really should give you my name. Villeroy Morgane, Captain.”

“Morgane; isn’t that Fenris’ name, too?” Kalista asked.

“Yes, he is my cousin. Thankfully he takes no issue with me personally. He is a dangerous man, and luckily I can keep tabs on him through his sword. Which I knew I’d probably not be able to prevent him recovering. Maybe I should have had twice as many guards.” He sighed, “It is done now. He has it back that horrid blade of man bane. But enough of me, how can I help you? Maps, guides, travel, other services?”

“We plan to go through the Rift Weave, can you help with that?”

“There is a storm coming so at the least tie yourselves together. The guards told me that some people left recently through the gates.”

“That’s who we pursue.”

“People from the Church?” Villeroy asked. “Well they left nearly two and a half hours ago. You’ll have a hard time catching them, if indeed you even can. I could help you for a price.”

“Well, we know of a place you can get more of those crystals, possibly.”

“That seems a fair trade to me,” Captain Villeroy was excited. “There’s even a way I could perhaps help you close that gap in time. You see after some research over the last weeks I have found that with enough spell energy and will one can travel a short way through time’s passing by riding certain currents in the Rift Weave.”

Felghanis was drawing a map on a scrap of parchment. He finished it and handed it to Villeroy.

“Ah, I know this place. It makes sense that a mine may be there.”

They talked a little more and it was decided. Villeroy would help them cross back to when the Scours left in exchange for that map of the Deep Earth Crystal mine at the Hand of Gulresh.

“My arm!” The door flew open and Aenir burst in with Kellor beaming a huge smile behind him.

“It’s healed.” He flexed his hand a few times. “I think it’s even stronger than it used to be. Kellor, let’s test it.”

They gripped hands and tried to crush each others palm.

“Aye, I think it is stronger,” Kellor nodded.

With a renewed Aenir they left Stonecrest to be met with a roaring wind. The Rift Weave was ahead of them. A swirling mirage-like scene of wavering landscapes covered in snow and backed by tall mountains. The storm was closer and the Rift Weave seemed almost alive. Parts of it seemed to reach and grasp. They tied themselves together and approached.

“You may see some things in the Rift Weave that appear as visions. Pay them no mind. It’s some time of time leak. In the storms they are more active and will be quite visible. Head forwards,” Captain Villeroy said loudly to be heard.

They walked forward, a bit stumbling because of the rope at first, and entered the Rift Weave. Creatures or spirits started swirling around them pulling at their clothes and brushing their cheeks.

“Pay them no mind, they’ll leave soon …”

But Felghanis bristled at the attention. He surged with negative energy and the things harrying the others surged away to congregate on Fel’.

“Don’t do that. They feed on that energy. You’ll have them all trying to drain you,” Villeroy warned.

Felghanis ceased instantly and then there was a pull on the rope. The landscape swirled and darkened. He saw a flare of purple lightning and a tear of blackness. Beyond his Uncle seemed to be sitting at his desk.

“Uncle?”

The dread necromancer unlocked and opened a drawer, retrieved a large crystal ball and began peering into it.

“Uncle?” Felghanis asked again.

“Felghanis? What… what are you doing?”

“What is your plan, Uncle? What are you doing?”

“I…” Fel’s uncle seemed to be struggling against some force. “I won’t tell…”

Faint traces of purple electricity ran from the orb up Uncle’s arms.

“Tell me!” Felghanis pushed.

Like he was straining against it physically, a compulsion of the mind, Fel’s uncle suddenly seemed to wilt. “I… I will seize the bell and with it raise an army. Then, then, I will take the throne for myself!”

With a mewling scream Uncle fell forward.

Kalista was in silence. The Rift Weave seemed to have gone quiet. A curved wall seemed to loom into view. There was the sound of battle and fallen bloodied men lay about. It was the Iron Tower’s library where the Scours were killed by the steel dog. Jonas and another man fought the construct and suddenly Fenris seized the other man driving a dagger between his ribs from behind.

Jonas pushed them both away and felled the steel dog with a might blow from his war axe. Fenris scrambled to his feet and Jonas seemed to simply no longer be there. The Scour had seized the book of Fimbulwinter and moved through a door. He pushed it closed as Fenris rushed him with a wicked looking arming sword. Try as he might Fenris couldn’t get through the door.

It was suddenly dark. Kalista could see a figure kneeling in prayer before an old altar. Suddenly a second figure was standing there. The scene lightened and Kalista recognised the chapel at Vrim. Jonas stood and turned to Mellevictus and they seemed to be talking but she could not hear any of their words.

They were standing before Goran. This time she could hear.

“You will go to the inn and ransack the necromancer’s room. Then place his rapier under the girl’s bed.”

Kalista could see Felghanis’ old rapier in Goran’s hand as the Scour went out into the snow.

A swirl of deep purple like the worst type of contusion. Jonas and all the Scours save Goran were standing at the narrow path to the Sipran Keep. He drew out the Iron Flask.

Mellevictus protested, “You can’t do this.”

Jonas said some arcane phrases and threw the flask down. The demon appeared in a haze of rust streaked smoke and surged up the path with its terrible blade held high.

Twisting, a wrenching sensation, in her perception and Kalista saw Goran in a cell. Jonas approached and seized the door. The Scour, the werebear mentor of Thiridea, ripped the door from its hinges, iron bending like clay. Jonas seized the cowering Goran by the collar and threw him through the portal to the waiting demon. It cut Goran down in two swings and that was just enough time for Jonas to step through and cast the Dismissal which sent it back to the Pale of War.

“They’re evil. So evil and cruel. The Church is lost,” Kalista thought.

Like a ship heaving beneath them they suddenly found themselves in a cold biting wind. Ahead of them the Scours were gathered around Jonas.

“Quick, hand me the book,” Jonas says to Mellevictus.

Thiridea reacts first. “Enemies!”

Before anyone can respond she hurt Felghanis, some telekinetic effect launched him with enough force to nearly knock over the dwarves crushing him in the rope, and advanced with her poleaxe.

Felghanis cried out, “I claim sanctuary in the Saint’s name.”

“Necromancers have no protection from the Church,” Thiridea yelled back.

“Wait!” Jonas commanded. “I would hear what he as to say.”

“My uncle plans to steal the throne using the Bell of Thullemon.”

“You know where the bell is?”

“I think so. In the Iron Tower, the crystal in its base.”

Jonas nods and then, annoyed, pulls Thiridea back. “Get back here.”

Felghanis pushed, “My Uncle wishes to overthrow Davinus.”

“Has he retrieved the bell already?”

“No I don’t…” That was as far as Felghanis got with his response.

Jonas cast a spell. Fire and divine force smashed down on the party. Felghanis, Kalista and Aenir fell to the ground. Then Thiridea leapt to the attack. With Willem’s long spear and Frellan’s Spiritual Weapon to support her she finished them quickly.

“Finish them…” Jonas commanded but he was struck by a powerful blow of ice.

A figure had risen out of the ice to attack. Thiridea lead the charge.

Guards, the lizardmen, came out of the Rift Weave.

“Ah, there. The fire of gods led us here. See… it is as the old one said.”

They gathered up the party and bound their wounds.

“We take them to Villeroy. He might help.”

“And he close,” added another.

In the trade guild Kalista was woken first.

“This is a surprise. I didn’t expect to see you again. Have you found Fenris?”

“No… didn’t we already have this conversation?” Kalista strained against her disorientation.

“I haven’t seen you since you left me at Plateau Point…” Captain Villeroy trailed off. “The guards said they found you outside the Rift Weave. Had you just left Stonecrest, by any chance?”

Kalista nodded sadly. They had come back before they left and this Captain Villeroy had indeed never met them since Plateau Point.

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Kiltayre: Session 20 review, part 1

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Smoke the colour of lampblack billowed and disappeared leaving the huge form of an Ogre’s corpse, but it stood, and began brandishing a great club of knotted wood. This it swung at the sword demon but the fiend was too fast for Felghanis’ summoned help.

Suddenly the demon seemed to swell with prowess and it swung that terrible smokey-steel blade into the side of Kalista’s head. She fell and before her body hit the ground the fiend had back-stroked Felghanis. Kellor was raising his axe against what was a feint and with a snapping hiss Aenir’s arm was severed to fall across Kalista’s legs with Aenir collapsing in a heap. Kellor bellowed and the blade of the demon slid under Kellor’s guard, puncturing the gorget, sending the doughty dwarf back against the wall.

Don’ fought desperately to try and drag them away. The ogre zombie swung at the demon and connected well enough that it caused some cracking of ribs. It wasn’t enough. With a well-timed slash Donhallan fell face-down clutching the back of his head.

While the leaping-fire, the energy of life from the Fey, repaired Don’s tissues, the sword demon duelled the ogre zombie. It was brute power versus infernal competence and the zombie lost in short order. Somewhere deeper within the fiend heard a door slam and it lumbered forwards cursing in its horrid language; unused to the sensation of fatigue.

Don’ flickered his eyes open and struggled to his feet. He was so tired. Fionnghal was lost. The poor hound’s ribs were split open and the shepherd boy turned away. Aenir’s arm was still pumping blood and he quickly used the Hyloka to stop the flow. Everyone else looked likee they could be saved and Don’ did so with the remaining oils in Kalista’s possession.

“This keep was almost our death,” Kalista said after she regained her senses. “We are leaving.”

They gathered their wits and what mettle they had left.

“What has the Saint-damned church done?” Felghanis exclaimed.

Entering the great hall and the carnage laid about they were all numb with shock. Somehow they struggled down the stairs and then heard a voice.

“Jonas said it might be waiting for us.”

“It is I, Kalista. Who goes there?”

A helmeted head peeked in the doorway. They heard a voice, male, say, “It’s those villagers from the Crypt.”

“Come back. Leave the keep.” Another gruff voice ordered.

The rattle of armor quickly vanished and the group from Felk Bay struggled into the courtyard.

“I want to check these stables,” Felghanis said limping to the closed doors.

Inside was the wagon in what Goran was transported to the Sipran Keep and a few twitchy horses that flared their nostrils at necromancer.

The snowstorm had not let up. Thunder still shook them and it was dark as night. Descending the path from the Keep they saw five figures arrayed in church colors. Each held a weapon at the ready.

“What has happened to you?” A broad gruff man called out. It could only be Jonas since he wore the crest of Ursa Bellor.

“A demon attacked the keep. We tried to fight it off but failed.” It was Kalista who answered.

Jonas said resolutely, “Then we must pursue it. Move aside.”

They complied and the Scours hustled past. Thiridea glowered at them all. In her hands she held her poleaxe. Somehow recovered, or purchased, from Cyne.

“Glad to see the back of them.”

At the Whalers’ they were almost leapt upon with concerned people. Their story made faces blanch but Daldra Urdron was inciting a group to get up to the keep and burn it to the ground.

Felghanis countered well, “Lord Tovran would not be happy about that.”

“Let’s ask him,” Daldra said and led three others to find out.

Exhausted, shocked, and fighting tears from coming so close to death they each retreated. Don’ slept, Kalista rested and meditated, Felghanis kept his counsel to one side. They took meals and slept early then rising late assembled in the common room.

Over breakfast they said little.

“I have something to tell you…”

The door flung open and everyone looked. A young guard in the Tovran colours approached their table, eyes focusing on Felghanis.

“Ghanis? Lord Tovran seeks your presence and that of your companions at the Sipran keep. He wants your counsel on a matter.”

Interrupted they left for the keep with Kalista setting aside her words for a more appropriate time.

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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 12 review

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Fionnghal was excited as Don’ awoke. The fey-touched dog reaching into Don’s thoughts said, “Close tower. We moving.”

Don’ knew that meant they had to be ready in case this lone person was hostile. Fionnghal didn’t have the smarts to figure that out but given this person was feeding the dog scraps of meat and offal that he’d hunted he at least had a soft spot for stray animals.

They prepared an ambush at the top of the cut-stone stairs which led up the rocky butte to the stable’s area. Don’ gathered a few heavy rocks and Kallista was surprised at the doughty lad’s strength. They waited, looking, whilst Felghanis scratched away on some salvaged parchment.

His writing was a little poor from long days of not handling a pen but Felghanis managed to assemble a lot of his notes from the lost journal in a tight small script. His Uncle might even be watching, now. Felghanis recalled his experience after being struck by the lightning trap. He hadn’t shared what he saw; his near-death experience, but it still haunted him.

The amethyst column thrummed with mana. It had a sliver of what it could potentially hold and that felt like enough energy to raise a mountain. The others were stuck in the passage fighitng the steel dog, but the column kept drawing Fel’s attention. What was it about this incredible thing that kept pulling him back?
The sounds drifted away as he began to see something within the faint purple glow. An image; there but not. In two places and neither of those places was really in the column. An arc and a dome, and a rim around the bottom… it was the bell of Thulemon.
“Oh my god,” Fel cried out and rushed forward.
There was a thunderous crack and then, nothing.
“Felghanis?” Uncle asked, surprised and annoyed. “What are you doing here?”
The room was so dark he could barely be sure he was there and Fel struggled to make out anything.
“We weren’t meant to meet again like this, nephew. You need to go back.” Uncle sounded disappointed and a bit angry.
“Go back? Where? Where am I?”
“Just go back Felghanis.” To Fel’ it sounded like Uncle was very annoyed. Like something he had hoped he could put off was now a pressing urgency.
“But where? How?”
“Can’t you feel them calling for you?”
“No! Who’s calling me?”
“Your friends. They are bringing you back. Go to them. We’ll meet again later.”
“But how? What’s happening? What have you got to do with the bell?”
“Go back Felghanis. The bell is outside of even the Saint’s reach. Rejoin your friends.”
Fel’s breath rasped in his chest and if he was conscious there would have been great pain. He rested and was given care by his friends. Kallista fussed over him and tended his wounds. By morning Fel was well enough to stand and help forage for food, but he bore the scars of the lightning bolt that killed him – burns and stitch-marks over the left side of his torso and up his neck. It did kill him because the phylactery was gone. Nothing left of it but some black ash.

Absently, Felghanis scratched a message on the parchment, “Uncle, if you can see this message, send me a sign?” It was a long shot but worth taking, Felghanis felt.

“I see him,” Don’ called out.

The figure seemed to just appear at the base of the rocky butte atop which perched the Iron Tower. Fionnghal broke from trotting along in the man’s shadow and sprinted up the stairs. Happy little whimpers escaping as he rushed back to Don’. Much happy licking from the dog and pats and ear rubs from Don’ as they were reunited after weeks.

The man who approached looked tanned and rangy. He was dressed in ragged bone-scale armor and wore his hair long. Carrying some spears and a longspear he gave the impression he was a hunter in his element.

“State your purpose,” Don’ yelled out.

“Let us meet, face-to-face, and talk. I don’t  yell out to shadows,” he said without breaking his stride.

The whole party stood to face the newcomer. Weapons were held in their scabbards, or points upward, in uneasy tension.

“I seek an end to spring and the Old Mountain has said this is the first place to look,” Herath, the hunter said after they realised there was no enmity or deception happening.

“We’ve been through the whole place and found that the winter is some books of Fimbulwinter. There is meant to be one in Kentos’ Barrow, to the east, near the mouth of the Greywynd River,” Felghanis said.

“Then it’s true what Old Mountain said,” Herath growled. Then he launched into a rhyme.

Iron mount once held bell of the dead
Where giant-slayer rests his head
Lost titans wait for ice’s return
The tree and tear must surely burn
Or spring’s last breath will pass us by
Find the way while the chance is nigh

“The titans are returning? Oh that’s just great,” Felghanis crowed. “Now who is Fenris working for: the Hrimpursar, or the Church?”

Or someone else?” Don’ asked.

Who is Fenris and why are you so afraid of him?” Herath asked bluntly.

They retold their story to this point, the trip on the stone ship, everything. Herath listened carefully and never interrupted. “What kind of power is that?” he asked once they were done.

“Birthright, ordained, or some kind of pact,” Felghanis said miserably. Then his tone lifted, “If we are to travel together we should start now.”

They agreed and continued on their journey, chatting and sharing information as they walked.

Rocky beach the color of dark clay led them east. The forest was thick once back from the high-water mark, and high enough that the tree-roots weren’t exposed to salt water. It was the Greywynd Forest according to Fel’s map and they kept looking for signs of Garren. Those territorial markers of skulls pinned to trees by long arrows. They didn’t see any and that made them nervous.

Picking up the trail of a bison herd the party moved into the forest. The bison were down from the high plains to find food in the harshest winter for decades and the party needed meat. The hunt was quick with Fionnghal’s fey power, Entangle, launching roots out of the ground to seize three bison. One escaped and the party only slew one more. They would have more meat than they could carry otherwise.

Don’ and Herath had barely finished packing the meat when everyone became aware of the smell of wood-smoke. They looked about and a pall was rising to the north. Disturbed they returned to the beach, which was frozen firm, and trekked north towards the smoke. As they closed on the source of the pall a pinned ogre skull was spotted and they sought cover.

It was Aenir who suggested they prowl forwards to see what was going on. Herath joined him and the dwarf surprised the tribal hunter with his stealthy movements. Felghanis made it moot as he rustled and grunted along after them. They came to a small creek, frozen over, and it seemed to be a border for the burning settlement. Humpbacked structures had mostly burned to the ground.

Bodies of Garren littered the spaces between. Hacked and left sprawled in dark stains of blood in the snow. Among the tall wiry Garren were some thickset goblinoids with dark skin: Hobgoblins.

“We’ll find their camp and kill’em all,” Aenir said with a snarl.

Herath spotted something moving. Like a hemisphere of darkness it glided through the village and away from the men laying on their bellies in the snow.

“There,” Herath whispered, pointing it out.

“Blakh,” Aenir said, shaking his head.

They returned to the others to report.

Felghanis led the argument to go into town for survivors and Kallista quickly jumped on board. They gathered together and entered the town. So many dead. Even the giant beetles the Garren kept as livestock had been slain in their pens. Just speared, until they bled out, by the merciless hob’s.

Finally they found a survivor but it was one of the hob’s, barely alive.

It was Kellor who hefted the large creature on to his back and carried it back. He wasn’t gentle but neither did he try to injure the hob and push it over the abyss’ edge.

Back at camp Kallista saw to its wounds and by morning it was awake. They interrogated it, dismissing Felghanis’ overtones of using torture, and found out that there were two camps, with three Blakh between them. The Hob’s and the Blakh had been in the woods for three days and this was the second village of Garren they had razed.

“Why?”

“It is orders, for the glory of our people,” the Hob, Breakfinger, answered.

Bound tightly but kept warm the Hob was left laying on the ground while the party planned their next moves. As the day drew to a close and camp was established they were in good spirits. The weather had been clear and the sun warm on their faces. Greywynd Woods were no longer a dark threat that hid Garren behind every bole.

The next morning they travelled on and the dwarves insisted that Breakfinger carry all the meat Felghanis had preserved. With lots of food available they spent the day walking and gathering firewood, whilst keeping Breakfinger in their sights.

The day after that Breakfinger started making a fuss and nodding ahead. Slipping his gag down they heard him say, “The camp is ahead at the river mouth.”

Wisely Felghanis asked the hob to draw a map. It held up its bound hands and when let loose it drew a crude map in the sand with a stick Fionnghal had been idly chewing. Four tents on the edge of the river mouth with three trenches. Guards picketed in pairs, too. The camp looked well defensible and the party had Breakfinger lead them around it – a mile out to avoid the patrols which the Hob’ said were to half a mile. It worked.

They made it to the river which was frozen over in a thick sheet ice. Herath tested the ice and pronounced it safe to cross. Once over the river it dawned on them how can they find a barrow in a forest.

“I recall the Codger saying they used to plant trees of certain types on top of barrows. Not sure which types, though. Usually thought to be protective,” Kallista said.

“We need a view,” Don’ said.

Herath found a tall tree and asked for a rope. He used it to scale the giant fir and once high in its branches he could see the distant Hobgoblin camp. The two figures of the guards he could just make out right where Breakfinger said they’d be. To the west he could see a long barrow. The trees on top of it were giants and darker, and more dense, of needle than the surrounding fir and birch.

“I’ve seen it,” Herath said once back on the ground.

Everyone was nervous about revealing anything more in front of Breakfinger. They whispered and decided to let the Hob’ go free, here. Breakfinger backed off about 20 yards then ran for his life. He was out of their sight and ear-shot within seconds. The party was still for a few heartbeats.

“Alright. Let’s go and I’ll cover our tracks,” Don’ said.

They did a sterling job and before much time had passed Herath led them to the barrow. It was long, some 100 feet or more and five giant silk yew trees had grown over the mound. Their massive roots could be seen, thick as a man’s leg, over the side of the barrow. At the southern end a mossy slab of stone was mostly concealed by roots and shade.

“Looks like the door,” Kellor said and strode towards it.

Kallista brushed the moss of the slab revealing a worn carving of a figure carrying a long spear in old-fashioned mail armor.

Don’ took his crowbar from the pack and started to pry at the door but couldn’t make it budge.

“Here, lad, let me,” Kellor took the crowbar from the young man and worked the slab loose. “Grab it here and pull.”

Together they opened the slab. A gasp of air rushed in then a small puff of dust escaped. The darkness inside had the party staring for a brief moment in total stillness.

Kallista said firmly, “Lux!” The top of her staff burst into white light and they entered, Don leading.

As soon as Don’s foot fell across the threshold an inky form seeped out of stone-slab sarcophagus at the end of the small chamber. It began to form a figure, just like the small statue on top of the casket.

“What-for you enter the tomb of Lord Kentos, giant-slayer, servant of Davinus?”

Don’ took to one knee almost instantly in a sign of humble respect. “We seek the return of Spring, and the book of Fimbulwinter we believe will aid us in that.”

The form, now almost solid, in a long chain hauberk, carried a bone white sword that seemed flecked with ice-crystals. It levelled the blade at Don’. “You may enter but touch nothing save the book.” It warned. Then it faded away back into the rough stone casket.

There was little to say. Felghanis had studied the apparition with Detect Undead and it was strong; at least the match of any two of them, possibly more so. Pressing inwards the great roots seemed to cling to the walls, adding strength to the structure. They passed two more stone-slab sarcophagi and standing in them, through the stone, were two more apparitions of what must have been Kentos’ shouldermen. Each warned the party, levelling one of the bone swords at them, and let them pass.

The final chamber was larger than the others. A tall stone column split the entrance and was carved with runes. Felghanis took a rubbing and as he did managed to translate a phrase that was repeated a few times in the passage.

“Three deer?” he asked aloud.

“That matches the seerwoman’s vision,” Kallista said excitedly. The fact she was in a tomb of active spirits seemingly dismissed.

Beyond the column a great spear, glowing with magic, was lain across a large ornate stone casket. It lit the room well. Behind the casket, in an alcove of stone, a tall statue depicted a fierce warrior some seven and a half feet tall. On his hip was a satchel, part of the carving of stone, holding a large leather bound book.

“That must be it,” Felghanis hissed.

Don’ and Fel started whispering on how to beseech the spirit of Kentos for the book when Fel suddenly inspired dropped to one knee, hands outstretched.

“Lord Kentos. We seek the book of Fimbulwinter to find out how to stop it from taking over our lands. To bring back Spring, and prevent the return of the Hrimpursar.”

His words had barely finished reverberating from the stone when the clash of steel echoed from the entrance to the barrow. A battle had started and they were already in a tomb.

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Kiltayre: Session 11 review

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Felghanis healed well and in combination with the rest of Kallista’s reserves he was fully recovered in the morning. The phylactery had worked and it renewed hope in the Felk Bay people. Still, the Iron Tower beckoned and the dwarves did not want to leave without fully exploring the structure. They assembled and once again pressed into the rust-streaked tower.

Back in the room with the tall amethyst crystal, the site of Felghanis’ fall to the lightning bolt, Kallista attempted to disable the trap. She tried to Dispel Magic, but on both counts she failed to break the inherent resistance of the node. Unwilling to risk the lightning bolt they went back up.

The double trap doors revealed a large cellar come stoe-room. It was mostly full of junk but a small fireplace held scraps of bloodied bandages. Searching around the fireplace it became apparent to Don’ that one person had camped there, judging by the disturbance in the dust. The rest of the cellar held junk: scraps of timber, iron, masonry and chain. Most of it was unusable save for the larger pieces of iron and the chains.

Being more thorough than last time they carefully searched each level. There were a few odds and ends in the detritus that could be sold for a handful of coppers or maybe a silver or two but no-one wanted to bother with that kind of thing. All that remained was everything above them at that point.

Aenir belly crawled up to the door way and peaked in at the things. They were still there and behind them he saw the racks of weapons, bundles of arrows, and an armor stand far to the right. Suddenly the things were moving towards him he almost leapt back from the doorway.

“It saw me,” he said as he rushed back.

They made a quick plan and Felghanis tried to take control with Command Undead. Unfortunately the thing was too strong. Aenir threw his flask and oily slick gel covered the area the things were standing in. One fell over with a thud that was far too light to be a stone sarcophagus. The other seemed to retain its balance easily. A crocodile appeared, care of Kallista’s Summon Nature’s Ally II and began to attack the clawed sarcophagus things. They fought back and soon the crocodile was barely alive, pierced with the lashing claws. Kellor dashed past, focusing on defense, and from range managed to hit one with a flask of alchemist’s fire. It burned but did little to break the undead’s body. Fel was unsure what to do next. His Command spell was failing over and over and there was little else he could affect undead with in his arsenal. To melee them would be suicide for the young necromancer. Another summoned creature appeared to fight alongside the crocodile. This time a wolf. They fought but the creatures were too strong. Kallista sealed the doorway to clawed sarcophagi with a Shape Stone spell, enough stone to fill the doorway almost a foot thick, and that allowed them to get past.

Up through the tower they went. The next level was a series of small lodging rooms. One of which was recently used as a camp for 5 people, according to Don’. They found no sign of injury in the remnants and pushed on. Above was once luxurious lodgings with painted wood panelling and servants quarters. It was faded now and the furniture had mostly frayed and warped to be almost useless. It was different to the levels below. The walls were interspersed with tall narrow windows that were glassed in. There was little of note here, though, so they went up to the next level.

At first glance it was once a large library, the shelves now empty and damaged, but the three bodies, tabards bearing the mark of the Church of St. Fergus covered fin mail, in pools of congealed blood showed a battle had ended here. They carefully entered with Kellor at the head holding his large shield at the ready. No foes were nearby. Relaxing a little they spread out and Kallista found a fourth body. It lay before a broken steel dog, like the one that was still trapped in the clay far below.

“Unlike the others his neck was broken from behind, most likely, and this dagger wound shows he was stabbed for good measure,” she said to the others.

“A competent ambusher,” Aenir grumbled, now wary.

On the walls, around the whole storey, was a frieze depicting many scenes of a man carrying a long spear and five shoulder men bearing large kite shields.

“This tells a tale,” Felghanis said looking at it like it was a puzzle to be solved.

Around the other side of the central column a magic circle was marked on the floor and in it a bookstand of stone, no longer held a book.

“It holds no magic other than abjuration,” Fel’ relayed.

An arch led to another stair, this time ending at a cold-iron door. Much like the one far below; now concealed under the stables. However, this was not locked and it opened on to the battlements at the top of the tower. Wind buffeted them and the dark grey sky seemed to reflect the distant sounds of crashing waves some 150 feet below. Each of the gaps in the battlements was very tall, at least 12 feet, and rather wide even for the largest of men. Glancing back at the door they realized it was set in a very large dais, stairs to either side leading up. On the dais stood two large statues, some eight feet tall, made of steel and wood that seemed posed as if guarding an empty bell mount.

“Shield guardians,” Felghanis whispered. “Very dangerous constructs.”

“Are they active?” Kallista asked, suddenly wary.

“Almost certainly,” Fel’ answered in hushed voice.

They adhered to the better part of valor and returned to the library where Felghanis and Kallista attempted to decipher the frieze. It took them at least an hour and it was mostly Fel’ who figured it out.

“Ah, this is the tale of Kentos, the giant-slayer,” Fel started. “He fought the Hrimpursar to retrieve three books of Fimbulwinter. Each book was one third of the ritual that the frost titans had used to make Kiltayre to their liking. Kentos retrieved the last in a battle with a Hrimpursar elder, but fell in battle. His five shouldermen raised a barrow on the site and interred him within. The other book was kept here. This was the tower of Davinus and Kentos was his vassal. It doesn’t say where the third book is.”

The party looked on quietly. So much had fallen in to place.

Kallista faced the dwarves, “Aenir, Kellor. You have been honorable allies and we’ve not told you something important.”

They were quite, listening patiently.

“Before we were gaoled by the church we were on a quest to find what was making the winter’s longer, and stop it.”

The dwarves broke into wide smiles.

“I’ve not been on a quest for sixty years! It will be great to be alongside you.” Kellor said.

“Aye, it’ll be like fighting the goblins all those year ago. When Dwarf Town was at its lowest and the greenskins attacked. They were some battles.” Aenir reflected on glory days.

“We’d be honored to join you in this quest. The winters have indeed been getting longer and harsher.”

Kallista shook hands with them, in the dwarven way, and they both beamed at the gesture.

Good will was all around when Don’ brought them back to reality. “We should search these bodies and find more food while the sun’s up. There’s bound to be more fish out there.”

The bodies were well equipped. Fine chainmail, masterwork weapons, and an enchanted footman’s mace.

Kellor examined it and his eyes widened, “This is metalline. It can mimic the properties of silver, adamantine, and cold-iron. A very useful weapon. With this we could defeat those things in the armory.”

“If we can isolate one of those things we can take out the other one.”

“When I open the doorway again I can make a small wall for cover.”

“If I can just bend their will then one of them can be forced to fight on our side,” Felghanis’ frustration at his previous attempts leaked through.

“It’s worth trying,” Kallista said.

The discussion went back and forth and finally their plan was agreed.

Everyone readied themselves at the sealed doorway and waited for Kallista’s cue. She worked the clay and her magic and the doorway surged into the room making a low wall.

Don charged in and landed a heavy blow on the first clawed sarcophagus. The mace was fully effective. Kellor followed suit and his axe bit into the thing.

Felghanis reached out for the thing’s will and sought to seize it. With a cry of victory he had it solidly bound to his commands.

The battle raged. Aenir’s tanglefoot bag failed to glue the other clawed sarcophagus to the spot but it slowed the thing down greatly. The sarcophagus was some kind of image projected over the thing, concealing its true visage.

Kallista summoned a dire wolf and it proved very effective, tripping the uncontrolled undead allowing everyone a solid blow whilst it was down. And then it was destroyed.

“We can’t have this thing following us around, Fel,” Don said gesturing at the controlled clawed sarcophagus. “Make it stand over there. We’ll destroy it.”

Fel grumbled, “It aids our party. Look how strong it is.”

“It’s abomination!” Don’ yelled. “Just do it, now.”

Fel complied, however much he cursed to himself.

They arranged themselves and simultaneously attacked the thing knowing it would immediately defend itself. Kallista’s summoned dire wolf seemed to be its main target and it turned on the summoned creature almost felling it right there. Kallista healed the dire wolf. Aenir struck the thing and tumbled out of reach. Kellor’s axe bit deeply and Don’ seemed to lose his mettle, missing entirely.

The dire wolf, suddenly ducked in a snapped the undead’s leg off, dragging it to the ground in a rattle of bones. Within a few heartbeats the sarcophagus image decayed away leaving a horrid form of a boneclaw.

“What a strange thing to do,” Felghanis said. “Cloak them in that illusion. For what?”

None had an answer for him.

Aenir had drifted over to explore the rest of the armory. A case had held a dagger but it was recently removed. The dust on the glass only disturbed a few days past.

Felghanis came back to the present and helped pick out the items that were enchanted. There were a few. A chain shirt, breastplate, light shield, longsword and shortbow.

The longsword’s scabbard bore decorative motifs of thunder and some runes were etched on the hilt. The shortbow was runed, too, with marks of lightning.

“Seems this is worth a lot more than that old door,” Felghanis said with a cynical smile.

They set about gathering food with what was left of the sunlight. Fishing was slim but they caught enough for a few more days. That night they lodged in the same room as the Scours from the Church of St. Fergus had some days before. They closed the stout door and saw a circle of protection had been etched. Its magic had been gone for days but it helped reassure them that this was the best place to stay.

“Five fingers of stone,” Kallista said.

“That was the Hand of Gulresh,” Fel answered. “We found that.”

“What about five swords of bone?” Kallista asked.

“Wait…” Fel went into his memory. “I saw something about that upstairs.”

They gathered and went up with torches. Fel pawed over the frieze until he found the panel.

“Here. The five shouldermen of Kentos were rewarded with swords crafted by their lord. That’s Kentos. They were made of the thighbones of Hrimpursar and enchanted in hardness, rewarded to his shouldermen for their loyalty and fearlessness in battle.”

 

With the small coal fire burning a warm red-orange Don’s thoughts drifted to Fionnghal.

“Two-legs shared food. Travel with two-legs. See tower. You at tower?”

“Yes and we’ll be here for you tomorrow, boy. Take care.”

Don’ fell asleep thinking of finally being united again with his faithful companion.

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Kiltayre Session 10: review

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Retreating, nursing wounds, to the stables the party rested and girded their courage for another entry into the tower. They were lying about, waiting for the sun to rise enough to give light.

Alassiel was restless, most unusual, and gabbling softly to herself. She escalated in energy when she saw the party watching her with caution at this uncharacteristic behaviour.

“This, all of this,” she gestured. “It doesn’t matter any more, because I don’t need matter. I am beyond it.”

In her mind she had linked psionic ways of escalating her power. Based on all the fear and repressed emotional energy of a short lifetime wary of other’s distrust and fear of her powers. She’d pieced channels for that energy to massively amplify her powers and with those channels she had found how to transcend matter.

“All of this, all the fear and distrust I leave behind.”

Stepping forward Alassiel began to glow and in a simple soundless step faded away in a brief silver suffusion – the psi-crystal popping after her in a trail of light silver motes.

Kallista spoke first, “Did you see that? Please tell me everyone saw that.”

Aenir and Kellor could say little. They were too surprised. Don had little to add.

It was Felghanis who managed to say much at all. “Wish I could leave this place so easily.”

They talked for an hour about what it was and what it might mean but the puzzlement left them somewhat dumbfounded. Since there was nothing they could do about it they turned to the Iron Tower.

“At least we could get some loot for being out here in this wilderness,” Aenir said.

“We should go back in, I agree, and head down. Making sure we have a clear line of escape,” Don put forward.

Don had his own concerns. Fionnghal was still missing since they had been gaoled. He reached out to the Fey-touched hound, their mystic-link allowing communication at any distance, and felt Fionnghal’s responses. “Hungry. Cold. There’s a two-legs. Keep seeing him. Catches me at night. Smells like has food. Want food. Try get food from two-legs.” Don was worried but Fionnghal had to eat. He did his best to dismiss the concern. There was nothing he could do to change the situations.

The group entered the tower and headed down the central stairs. They found a cold damp cellar with that was constructed off of a natural cavern that led to the sea. A rough hewn quay was fashioned with stone mooring posts. Under the clear cold waters the rotting ribs of old longboats sat starkly against the mud.

What stood out most, was a bare iron door.

“That’s cold iron,” Kellor stated.

“We could feed our whole town with what coin that door’s worth,” Don exclaimed.

He started to try and pry it apart at the hinges. It was going to be very hard work that would take a long time.

“I have a spell that could help. I can shape the stone, perhaps loosen the door.”

“If you can loosen it here, here and here, we can pull the whole door free with its hinges,” Kellor explained, gesturing.

Kallista began her casting and poured some of her extra mana into the spell. As she worked the reagent of clay there was a sudden push back. The aura of the door turned her spell aside without any effects at all.

“What happened? Why’d nothing happen?”

“Cold iron. It turns a lot of magic. Why it’s so valuable.”

“I can make one more attempt today,” Kallista said and prepared again. This time she worked at making the spell more penetrative and its energies proved unresistable.

Don’ and the dwarves seized the door and dragged it free of its mounting, hinges and all, to lean it against the rough stone.

“We need a piton or something. If this thing falls it’ll take off someone’s foot,” Kellor said with raised urgent tones.

The door was secured and the party began exploring the passage beyond; Don’ in the lead.

Small niches dotted the base of the wall, where it met the floor, and in each was a small rune.

Felghanis studied them, “Some kind of divination… and more. A conjuration effect.”

“So a watching spell and a summon spell,” Kallista guessed.

With his shovel Don’ covered them all with detritus from the cellar part of this area. “Shouldn’t be able to see anything now,” he said proudly.

They progressed to a small round room dimly lit with faint violet light that issued from a passage to their right. As they faced the light source a gasp escaped Fel and Kallista. A column of what looked like amethyst rose up, at the end of the passage some thirty feet along, at least seven feet. It was clearly some kind of immense deep earth crystal. Even almost empty it held more mana than they could likely utilize in a day.

“Quiet! I heard something,” Kallista broke the staring pause.

Like a fork dragged on stone the sound came again and they rushed to meet it, weapons ready.

A dog-shape, but of sooty coloured steel, sprinted around the corner and attacked Don. Its momentum was great and it mis-timed the strike. Combat ensued and Aenir lobbed a flask at it only to overpower his throw and have the small glass vessel plop harmlessly into the water of the quay.

Kallista tried to summon a dire wolf to attack but she couldn’t see the dog-thing to place her spell. It appeared in the small round room, snarling, and growling to join the fray.

Felghanis could barely keep his eyes off the amethyst column and kept glancing back at the curved passage where the sounds of combat issued forth.

Don’ pushed to force the dog-thing back but it was too strong. Kellor tried the same thing and forced it back so that it was on the quay. In a few more heartbeats Kellor had taken a vicious claw to his leg but the doughty dwarf bull rushed it back into the water where the dog-thing sunk immediately to the bottom. It seemed unperturbed at its submergence and began trying to scale the slimy wall of the quay.

Aenir called out, “Can you get my flask?” Pointing down into the water at his little bottle.

Kallista was able to use a mage hand spell to lift it out and get it back to Aenir.

“Oh my god!” Fel exclaimed from far down the passage to the crystal. Then there was a thunderclap as lightning erupted.

At Kallista’s behest Aenir rushed to retrieve Fel and bring him back for aid.

“He’s down and not breathing. Looks like he’s been boiled and roasted at the same time.” The horror at Fel’s injuries was apparent in Aenir’s voice. “I’m not getting him! The trap might still be active.”

Each time it surfaced the forced it back into the water with spears or shield. Kallista summoned a large shark but it failed to damage the steel dog. The construct began defending itself with frightful results for the shark – that now seemed soft and vulnerable. Before long the shark was slain with its belly laid open. It vanished back to where it came from.

Don’ retrieved a small anvil from the cellar and returned hefting its weight. The group worked together so Don’ could make the shot and as the steel dog broke the surface of the water again he slammed the anvil down. The steel dog was forced off its climb and sunk immediately, but it rolled out from under the anvil as it fell down in the water. Again it started climbing.

“This thing is going to keep coming!” Kellor cried.

It suddenly dawned on Kallista that roughly half the quay wall was natural stone. She could effect it with a stone-to-clay spell.

The steel dog broke the surface again before Kallista was ready to cast and again Don’ and Kellor forced it off the quay’s wall. It sunk, hit the bottom, and then Kallista’s spell took effect. Great clumps of clay sloughed out into the water burying the steel dog under hundreds and hundreds of pounds of thick clay.

“That ought to hold it for months,” Don’ said.

The quay groaned and cracked.

“This isn’t stable,” Kellor yelled. “We have to get off this dock.”

“We can’t leave Felghanis!” Kallista protested.

“We’ll get him,” Don reassured.

Kallista ran to safe ground and Aenir braved the passage as Kellor ran to his aid.

The trap was active and it loosed a horrifying bolt of electricity that some how Aenir anticipated. He flattened against the wall and the arc grounded harmlessly into the stone.

When Fel was laid at Kallista’s feet the dwarves and Don’ looked on. She began to stitch him closed but it was plain that was not enough.

“Here, girl. This will help,” Kellor said, handing over a flask of gold oil.

The oil was a curing preparation and Kallista carefully applied it to the worst of Fel’s wounds. A bright sudden flare at Fel’s neck drew everyone’s attention to the phylactery there. It turned grey before their eyes then fell to black ash. A shallow breath raised Felghanis’ ribs.

“He lives,” Kallista was so relieved small tears welled up.

Once again they retreated to the stables but it was only Kallista and Felghanis who stayed. Don’, Aenir and Kellor retrieved the heavy cold iron door.

“Now what do we do with it?” Aenir asked, puffing.

They discussed it at length but it seemed the most practical thing was to hide it and collect it later with a chartered vessel once the spring thaw was done.

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Kiltayre Campaign: Session 9

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Travelling with the dwarves was easy. They were both friendly and straight-forward dwarves of principles. It was those principles that made them stand against taxation by the Church, and that led to their arrest. Kellor and Aenir ran a small crafting concern, Kellor making items and Aenir mostly selling them. Both were well able to assist the group’s survival requirements.

Food was thinning after some foul weather. The party made some good time whilst on the flat ring-like ledge which seemed to circumscribe Plateau Point. When they came down of the raised land they were faced with thick old fir forest and a pebble beach that stretched to the horizon.

In the afternoon, many days after leaving the stone ship wreckage & Captain Morgaine’s camp, Dom and Kalista spotted an ogre with its back to them, sitting against a thick fir tree.

The party went silent and Aenir whispered, “I can sneak up and check if it’s alive.”

Dom replied, his Fey sight granting him a brief few seconds of incredible detail, “No need. It’s dead. There is no clouding of breath and I can see ice over its skin.”

The party closed and saw the ogre had bled out on the spot. Some fresh snow not enough to cover the deep red stains. Yet it was the missing leg that disturbed the most. Some creature had removed it, likely for food, and then departed.

It was the next day, when they were faced with a broad river that had not iced over, that they heard a creature.

“Some kind of ape predator. I’ve not thought they could be in this part of the world. They’re meant to only be on foreign shores.” Dom was concerned. He knew they were powerful and fast.

The concern was justified even though they did not see the predator. Traipsing a few miles inland they found the river iced up enough to cross safely.

On the pebble beach they saw signs of a one-man camp. Was it Fenris?

They couldn’t be sure.

“I think it’s 50/50 that it was Fenris,” Kallista pronounced.

That night a pair of emaciated ogres attacked them as they prepared their campsite. The hairy giants were little match for the combined might of the party. Aenir’s speed and dwarven combat training turned out to be the hammer against the anvil of Felghanis’ blindness curses. His powers had grown. The ogres had little salvageable gear but the large snares drew Dom’s appreciation.

It was a few more days later that they found sign of a large camp. Maybe 6 people arrayed around a fire.

“Has Fenris found allies?” Dom thought aloud.

“There’s not enough evidence,” Felghanis put forward.

It was towards the end of that day the Iron Tower came into few. A rust streaked needle in the distance, sprouting from the top of a high butte of rock that protruded into the waters.

The shore turned rocky and they travelled in heath and frozen marsh. Then they heard seals on the rocks below. With the aid of a summoned shark they managed to secure a young seal. 35lbs of meat ought to last a few weeks.

Felghanis said, “I can help preserve it. At least for four days before I need to cast again.”

As the closed with the Iron Tower its shape became more apparent. There was a large gallery around the base, above the entrance stair, that likely was for defensive counter-attack. Full of murder holes and the like. Before the tower’s base a stable had been erected.

The climb to the tower was up a series of carved steps. They were far apart to ease the ascent for horses and once at the top the party investigated the stables. Its roof was covered in iron tiles and it was well weathered but serviceable. Inside they found the remains of a camp and a few travelling packs. Rifling those quickly they found the Canon of St. Fergus, oil, and coal. They hadn’t been there long because the damp had not seeped into the material.

“They may be inside and needing aid,” Kallista was concerned. Even if they were part of the Church that wrongly charged them, they still deserved aid.

“Why help people who will make our lives harder?” Felghanis muttered. Clearly he had no inclination to aid anyone from the Church of St. Fergus ever again.

“It is the right thing to do,” Kallista protested. “And they will likely know nothing of us and Dwarf Town.”

Dom was in agreement and Alassiel piped up.

“If we’re going in the tower my psi-crystal will scout ahead. Like at the Hand of Gulresh.”

It was agreed and the crystal scuttled into the tower at a rapid pace.

Inside there was a kind of staging room. Or a holding area. Easily defended with further access to the tower on the opposite side of the entrance. Some debris and potshards indicated nothing but age and abandonment. Stairs led up and to the level with the gallery and its further defences. A combination of reception areas and the archers’ galleries filled out that level.

It was on the next level the psi-crystal found some movement. Two large figures approached it, as if sensing its life-force, and Alassiel pulled it quickly back. Unwilling to risk it against the unknown entities.

“Well, let’s go in, then.”
It was as the crystal had reported. When the reached the landing above the gallery they saw what the psi-crystal had retreated from. Two walking sarcophagi. It was so unnatural. What was worse, bony arms with large sabre claws lashed out and struck Dom with two severe blows. Wounding him badly. The dwarves rushed to drag Dom to safety.

Felghanis could sense they were some kind of undead. He surged up the stairs and sought to command them in the fashion he was taught by his Uncle. They were too strong and too resistant to the energies involved. As if in reaction to his following spell the things lashed Felghanis and he fainted from the shock.

“Retreat, retreat!” they yelled.

“I have to get Fel,” Dom called. He channelled his Fey energy and greatly enhanced his speed. Running past the open arch that the things were attacking through he managed to evade their cleaving claws and retrieve Fel. Back on his feet, Fel recovered his breath.

“What are those things?”

“We’ll regroup in the stables and think of our next move,” Dom answered.

There was no further discussion.

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