Critical Missions

Session of the 6th of September

Disturbed by the huge figures in town Teine alerts a couple of the sailors to keep watch on them and goes to rouse Banning and tell her about them. While agreeing that they are unusual Banning states that giants roaming the town are none of their concern as long as they don’t try to get aboard the ship.

When Teine wakes Aesha up to start her watch he lets her know about the large figures. Aesha send her eidolon Ellerine into town to see what it can find. There aren’t any giants in evidence as Aesha watches the shore, although she does see a few of the towns older folk moving down to the harbour, perhaps to check fishing lines. Ellerine returns very quickly to the ship, clearly disturbed by the atmosphere of the town but unable to actually come up with a concrete reason why.

Alv searches the ship for good hiding places, but finds most of them already filled with other goblins.

When morning comes round Teine and Aesha head into the town to see if they can find any tracks from the mysterious figures he observed during the night. While there is nothing as clear as a trail of footprints the sorcerer does notice several regions high up on the towns buildings, well above head height, which appear damaged, many of them seem corroded or rotted.

Aesha and Teine come across one of the shrines and Aesha shows Teine how to see the hidden figure the shrine represents. They make their way to Eric’s moot hall and look around outside for tracks, Aesha manages to find some huge footprints leading away from the hall.

Lyssia also arrives at the hall, having come down to check on the members of the noble’s contingent who had stayed the night in town. She finds Aesha and Teine examining the giant footprints and she and Teine discuss the possible connection to the marks they found in the caves the day before.

A couple of the towns guards open the doors, rather bleary eyed, and invite the party in. Going inside Lyssia finds a two of the noble contingent just woken up and suggests that they should check in with the ship at some point, although Banning has said they are unlikely to leave today. Everyone is distracted when Alv, who has finally left ‘The White Mare’, is caught trying to pick the pockets of one of the townspeople and flung across the room.

As Lyssia looks around the hall she sees Cressa lying next to the noble she has attached herself to, the girl is hugging her doll. Lyssia focuses her preternatural senses on the doll and receives a sense of a dark wave of evil radiating from the small figure, perhaps it is her senses being warped but the doll’s head seems to twist round and stare at her with its lifeless eyes. Somewhat taken aback Lyssia stays focused on the doll for long enough for the other members of the party to be aware of something odd. As they leave the hall Aesha notices that Cressa is awake and staring at Lyssia’s departing back.

Intrigued by the various hints of something mysterious going on in the town Teine and Aesha decide to go and explore further in to the cave system. Lyssia suggests they take up the offer of a guided tour to the top of the glacier through the caves, the others suggest that this will somewhat cramp their ability to investigate and stray from the beaten track. As they retrace Teine and Lyssia’s journey from the previous day they reach the clearing in the forest. Ellerine is very wary of the stone statues and gives them a wide berth. The party discuss a variety of explanations for where the figures came from and why they are there, they certainly seem to be much older than Eric’s settlers could be responsible for.

Alv finds shallow depressions scraped out in from of each statue, now overgrown with grass. Excavating a bit he reveals the underlying bedrock which seems to have deep grooves scraped in it, made of four parallel grooves complementing the four digits on the statues’ hands. Teine determines that the bedrock exposed by Alv’s digging is of the same form as that the statues are composed of. Lyssia mentions that they remind her of a child’s toy where a coin is placed in front of a carved head and a mechanical arm pushes it into the mouth. They discuss why there are so many things which the wind causes to whistle, rattle and clang in the clearing when the town has such a taboo on doing those things when there are lights in the sky, Lyssia suggests they are to draw the lights away from the town while Alv suggests that perhaps they are to draw the lights once they have taken people and they are brought to the statues to be eaten.

After some examination, sure there is something strange about them; Teine tries to form an arcane connection to the statues as he would to a magical device. He is stunned and hit by a vertiginous feeling of an enormous weight and depth of time stretching back from the ages from the statues, it reminds him of the way the Itani themselves persist through time. Alv boast of his magical prowess, a boast met with some scepticism from the part, he demonstrates with an amusing jape making noises of flatulence from behind Lyssia.

Leaving the forest clearing they head to the cave where Lyssia felt disoriented the previous day. Before they get a chance to examine the large cairn in the cave mouth Alv begins digging into it from the bottom trying to find any interesting items he can appropriate. Lyssia drags the goblin off the cairn and scolds him for desecrating other people’s religious monuments. The half-elf then contemplates the cairn for a few minutes before meticulously reconstructing it, substantially from her own memory but also with a few promptings from her god. Alv reluctantly hands over the few pieces he tried to keep to himself so she can finish her reconstruction.

While Lyssia is indulging in arts and crafts Teine has gone off to the next cave alone, the one where they found the human bodies. Examining the cairn outside this cave he can just make out a humanoid figure if he stands on the tips of his toes and squints at it.

Back at the rebuilt cairn the figure hidden within can be seen to be some sort of quadrupedal beast. Lyssia and Alv get sidetracked into a discussion of comparative religion with Alv suggesting that since it is predominantly figurative with no written component the religion may be a goblinoid one (though not in those words). Lyssia says that her religion doesn’t rely on writing either and shows Alv her God, hanging from a stout braid of chain and leather around her neck. The ‘God’ is a primitive solid cube at first glance but it seems to have very fine lines inlaid or carved into it.

Not wanting to hear any more religion from Lyssia; Teine and Aesha head off deeper into the cave. After a short time they begin to experience the disorientation Lyssia warned them of. Teine tries to counterbalance the sensation by casting dancing lights to provide his own illumination, this seems to have some success and they continue on into the glacier. After a short time the dancing lights Teine conjured seem to distort and form a distended sheet rather than their usual small globular form.

Realising that Teine and Aesha have headed into the caves, and been gone some time, Alv decides to follow them. Lyssia persuades the goblin to take one end of a rope she has in her backpack before he ventures in deeper. Alv ties the rope around himself and heads deeper into the cave looking for the others, lyssia holds on to the other end of the rope. Before long Alv reaches the end of the rope; he takes out some of his own homemade rope, made from a variety of unsavoury organics, and secures it to the end of Lyssia’s rope retying the new one around his waist. Through the walls of the ice cave he sees vague dark shadows shifting around and moves towards them. Lyssia moves gradually forward giving him more slack but making sure she doesn’t lose sight of the cave entrance.

Coming round the corner Alv meets Teine and Aesha who have managed to get their bearings but have slowed down their progress a lot. They seem to be considering turning back when Alv bursts in on them before being abruptly jerked back on his tether rope. Flying into the air by the force of his own momentum the goblin hangs for a second before nimbly landing back on his feet. Aesha and Teine convince Alv to go further into the caves, suggesting that precious gems might be the source of the sparkling light. Eyes shining at the thought of such treasure; the goblin quickly unties the rope from his waist and heads further off into the caves.

Worried that the rope has gone entirely slack Lyssia calls down into the cave, but only hears vague muffled noises coming back up.

As Alv heads down into the cave he comes to a larger cavern, in the centre is a dirty feral looking child crudely sewing together animal furs. Worried that the dancing lights will give away his approach Alv heads back to Teine and gets him to dispel the enchantment. Sneaking back to the larger cavern the goblin cautiously approached the child from behind. “Hello” said Alv in common, the child immediately drops the furs it was working on, spins round and leaps at the goblin bearing him to the ground. With lithe grace the goblin slips out from under the wild boy and runs back up the corridor as fast as he can.

Teine and Aesha are waiting for Alv to return when he runs straight past them at full pelt. They are somewhat surprised when round the corner behind him comes a filthy, ragged, long haired and wild eyed young boy. Catching sight of the two spell casters and the peculiar beast beside them the ragged child turns tail and runs back the way he came. At a gesture from Aesha Ellerine bounds off down the corridor after the boy, Teine and Aesha follow closely on their heels.

Back at the cave mouth Lyssia watches aghast as Alv charges past her gibbering incoherently about something attacking him in the cave. With a sigh the paladin makes a loop in the rope she still has in her hand and gently lowers it over the cairn. Lyssia follows the rope deeper into the caves and when it peters out she pulls a khukri from her belt and uses it to chip out a directional mark when she reaches a junction. She tries her best to follow the sounds from the others ahead of her despite the disorienting effect of the cave system.

Up ahead Teine and Aesha have reconsidered the wisdom of charging at full speed after the child and slowed down to a more cautious pace; they too have started marking their passage so they can find the way back. The corridors the child has taken have been leading them inexorably up through the glacier. From up ahead Aesha and Teine can hear sounds that resemble the howling of wolves. They reach another cave mouth, this one leads out to the plateau atop the glacier, there is a stretch of snow and a freezing fog prevents them seeing very far. What they can make out is the child standing a couple of hundred feet from the cave mouth, naked and apparently oblivious of the chill gusts of wind whipping the snow up around him.

Somewhat out of breath from having jogged uphill through the glacier in her armour Lyssia reached the cave mouth. Lyssia joins the stand off between the feral child and the spell casters, she gasps for air and stares across at the boy. Slightly confused as to why they have all been chasing this naked child Lyssia calls out to the boy to come in from the cold. The boy doesn’t say anything in response but takes a couple of steps toward the cave. Alv arrives at the back of the party having finally overcome his initial urge to flee. Aesha steps out onto the glacier and slowly approaches the boy, reaching into her pack she takes out a handful of trail rations. As Aesha moves forward Teine follows several yards behind, Ellerine stays back in the cave mouth so as not to spook the child. Behind her Lyssia notices that Alv has loaded his crossbow and is drawing a bead on the boy, she steps in front of the goblin to block his aim but he doesn’t lower the weapon.

As Aesha got to within a few dozen feet the boy started to back off, the halfling leaves the food on the snow and retreats back several yards. The boy scurries forward and tries some of the food, but he lets the rest fall from his hand clearly unimpressed.

As this is going on Lyssia notices something from the corners of her vision, from either side of the cave mouth two dark blurs have appeared in the fog and are converging on Teine and Aesha from behind. They appear to be two enormous wolves, easily the size of a man. Drawing her scimitar Lyssia suggest to Alv that he can shoot at the wolves and runs towards the animals, calling out to warn the others. Hearing the cry the wolves wheel and run at the armed paladin instead. Lyssia meets the approaching wolves head on, charging at the closest one and dealing it a vicious backhanded slash across its muzzle. The other wolf moves round to behind the paladin and bites her. Ellerine charges out of the cave and pounces on the wolf behind Lyssia. Teine and Aesha circle the fight, heading back towards the cave, the sorcerer hits one of the bolts with a bolt of arcane energy. Back in the cave mouth Alv has lined up his crossbow and takes a shot at the wolf in front of Lyssia.

After a further short exchange of blows one of the wolves runs off, the other backs away from Lyssia and the eidolon and towards the boy. Lyssia lowers her scimitar and begins to back slowly towards the cave. As she backs away the boy begins to advance and suddenly the second wolf has appeared beside him, when the reach the first wolf he takes the boys other side and the three advance. As they come forward an even larger dark shape begins to resolve behind them. As the wind blows the fog away for a second the form of a gigantic wolf, easily 3 times the size of the first two, appears and as well as its enormous size it appears to have two heads.

Lyssia continues to back towards the cave with the child and his beastly escorts following. From the multiple head comes an eerie two toned growl, to Alv there seems to be something unnervingly familiar about something in the growling casting a spell to help him comprehend all languages he finds that it almost has goblinoid accents. As the others reach the cave Alv steps out and addresses the approaching wolves and boy in goblin, asking how he can help them and refraining from referring to the others as his servants. The boy replies in a growling form of goblin that the must leave the glacier and return to the village, that the land is not theirs and they do not belong here. The party very readily agrees to this and quickly returns back through the caves.

Back at the ground level entrance to the cave the party gather themselves, they consider that perhaps the cairns are demarcating certain territories on the island since the one in the cavemouth is of a fourlegged creature. Still gifted with his magical comprehension Alv asks Lyssia if he can see her god again, to see if he can make out and sort of writing upon it. Lyssia obligingly takes the little statue out from her surcoat and kneels down so the goblin can get a better look. As Alv peers at the object he begins to get an inkling of meaning from the fine grooves all over its surface, suddenly the comprehension of the vast amount of information and order in what he is seeing hits him like a bolt and the little goblin is stunned into unconsciousness. Lyssia notes that not everyone can handle the purity and perfection of absolute order. Sighing, Aesha sling the comatose goblin over Ellerine’s back and the party head off to explore the other caves.

They reach the seers cave and go inside, the seer is absent but his runes are still sitting on the floor. Examining the rune stones Teine senses some inherent magic. Alv is roused from his coma and the party ask him to use his ability to magically comprehend languages on the stones. Alv studies the rune stones and even without his magic he recognises them as being derived from a classical goblinoid pictographic tarot set.

Aesha tries casting the rune into the pit they are sitting by, as she does so she feels some sort of network of mystical force centred on the pit seems to grab and direct the fall of the stones. Only three of the runes land face up, Alv studies the stones and identifies them as ‘The Wall’ (symbolising division), ‘The Plough’ (symbolising humankind) and ‘The Crescent Moon’ (symbolising goblins). The way the stones have fallen seems to put the human and goblin runes together on one side of ‘The Wall’. Teine tries casting the runes outside of the pit but gets no feeling of magical power, he suggests that the pit itself might be important for getting a true reading. Aesha wonders if given all the goblinoid things they have been encountering today the odd ethnic cast she had noted in so many of the townsfolk was from a goblinoid race.

The party make their way to the cave with the upright dead bodies frozen into the walls. Teine thinks that one of the bodies that was there the previous day has gone missing. He suggests to Lyssia that she may be attracting zombies again. The party examine the room and bodies more closely, they find drag marks leading away from the cracked niche and Lyssia determines that all of the bodies seem to have died of natural causes.

Following the drag marks further into the caves they find several more larger chambers with even more bodies in them. In each one they find a few of the frozen niches which seem to have been broken into and bodies removed. They discuss possible reason behind these cave, from some sort of hierarchy of the dead to a rather goulish emergency food supply.

Heading further in they encounter the old seer that Teine and Lyssia met the day before. Unfortunately they can’t find any common tongue to converse in and their communicative bard seems to have gone missing. Aesha once again tries to substitute food for diplomacy, a common Halfling ploy, and offers the old man some of her rations. The old man is much more receptive than the feral child and after only a few seconds scrutiny wolfs down the food, revealing in the process a mouth containing a jagged mass of broken, jumbled and razor sharp teeth which make quick work of the biscuits. Suspecting that the old man is a magic user, from his abilities with the rune stones, Teine shows of his dancing lights spell. After a short time the old man replies in kind, starting off a ray of frost directed at the ceiling, but not letting it progress beyond an icy crystallisation hanging in the air above his palm. After these minor displays of magic the seer and the group find themselves once again unable to communicate effectively. As some of the party try to move past him the old man steps into their way and signs that they should go no further. Acceding to the old man’s wishes the party accompany him back down to the town.

In town the old man wandered off about his own esoteric business. The party make their way to what passed for a market in Icevarr, recalling ‘Mad’ Hettie’s rune/chicken emporium the more magically inclined members decide to invest in their own set of rune stones.

Comments

Good stuff as always – quick point though; Aesha’s eidelon is Ellarane rather than Ellarine.

(I think that’s what it is on the character sheet anyway… that’s what it is in my head at any rate).

Session of the 6th of September
Mfisher

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