Saga of the Northlands

Session 19: From South To North
In Which The Party Greatly Expands Their Horizons

Since the harvest is only a week away, the party uses that week as downtime for various training and crafting projects. They also receive report from the Althing, which includes the fact that a neighboring clan has sent some as part of their expedition. The harvest (two weeks) is adequate to get them through to next spring. They hear news about Christians making more inroads into neighboring tribes and peoples back in Europe.

The party decides to form an expedition back to the southern forest in order to retrieve the strange boat they found partially buried there. They take a number of soldiers and miners with them but leave Alfradr and Kulgan at the settlement. Along the way, they encounter some trolls during camp. Fortunately, they sense something. Skogur shifts into eagle form to spy them from the air, and then the party reassembles at the top of a hillock to lie in wait as they pass. One of the trolls spots Asa and cries out to the rest of the group. They move in to attack.

Eirlif lobs an empowered & maximized fireball at them, scorching them all pretty badly. Then Radmar activates his ring, which blinds the trolls. Eirlif then casts wall of light to aid the defenders’ vision.Then Skogur and the archers launch a volley of arrows at them. That’s when they realize that these trolls are halfway buried in the ground, because their arms emerge from the ground to swat at arrows. Radmar then charges in with his axe, and the troll-wrestler with his fists.

Then two of the trolls stand to their full 18-foot height, revealing mossy backs that would look like hills if the trolls were to bend over. These are hill trolls! They then blindly, and wildly attack the party. The troll-wrestler grapples one as it attacks him. Eirlif casts electric loop and stuns two more. Radmar kills one, and a volley of arrows knocks back another.

Another troll pops up and wades into battle and manages to land a hit on Radmar, knocking him around a bit. Eirlif casts negative energy ray at a troll, but it does minimal damage. Asa casts storm bolt on one of the hill trolls and hits. The hill troll in retaliation comes out of the ground and jumps up. Upon hitting the ground the hill shakes violently causing rock slides knocking several soldiers, Asa, and Voldugur to the ground. Seven soldiers are killed while large fissures form on the ground. Asa along with 2 soldiers fall down the fissures.

Asa and the soldiers are able to climb out of the fissures before they close. Eirlif casts earth shock using acid, but has no effect on the hilll trolls. Voldugur tells the party that they need to hit the hill trolls HARD! Radmar complies with a big attack and brings down one of the hill trolls! The remaining trolls take a deep breath and dive into the ground to flee.

The party assesses the damage done and Asa heals the injured characters. Skogur tracks the remaining two trolls to see that due to their blindness they were moving under the earth in circles. The next morning the troll bodies above ground turn to stone, and the surviving trolls seem to have been able to move away.

The party makes its way to the forest uneventfully. Plants seem to have moved around while some changed colors and glow. Andr verifies that there is only a light spiritual presence among the bushes. The new recruits are startled by the strangeness among the plants of the forest because they’re not used to plant/tree spirits.

Eventually, the party arrives at the boat. The miners evaluate the boat and believe that it may be of dwarven origin. The party begins to uncover the boat from the ground, which takes a couple of days. While scouting, Skogur discovers tracks leading to and from the boat. The tracks seem to go north out of the forest and head towards the other forest the party has already visited. Andr and Voldugur cannot seem to identify them, but Asa, Skogur, and Eirlif recognize the humanoid tracks with claws as the same ones they tracked from the campfire in the other forest that led to the ash trees.

The miners dig to the bottom of the boat and see that it is floating! From what Eirlif can tell, he believes that the boat is in a conjunction that became stuck halfway. Radmar attempts to move it with physical force with little effect, and Eirlif attempts to dispel it with no effect.

Eirlif and Skogur walk around the perimeter around the boat and notice there are 8 bare areas in the forest. The bare areas seemed to have something there at some point, but nothing was there. In what would be the 9th position, the party discovers an old piece of bark that has what appears to be oriental writing on it. Eirlif takes the bark to bring to Heila for further inspection.

The party heads back to the settlement and arrive with no problems. Heila is unfortunately unable to identify the writing on the bark, but she does recall a legend of a flying boat built by dwarves as a gift to the gods, which could grow to fit all the Aesir and the Vanir at once or shrink down to fit in a pocket.

The party heads over to the forest to speak with the forest guardian about the tracks they discovered and the boat. Radmar heads over to into the forest while Asa, Skogur, and Eirlif wait outside. The forest guardian reveals that she is unable to speak about the creatures that created the tracks because she is sworn to not to. She recommends to go around the ash forest. After showing her the bark, the forest guardian says that she can also not speak at all on it due to the same reasons.

When the party travels to the north of the forest, they find tracks that lead farther north, but the tracks are old and mostly erased by the grass spirits. The party decides to head north to follow the tracks leaving the ash forest. After travelling 5 days north of the forest, Skogur casts Lay of the Land and sees that there are structures at the very north end of his range.

In the middle of the night, Radmar notices something is watching the party. During his watch, Skogur slinks into the darkness, and scouts the perimeter. Skogur, undetected, finds and observes a humanoid with skeletal features with fur watching the party. Silently, he returns and reports back to the group.

After casually waking most of the group, Skogur looks over to the creature and demands that he show himself. He walks out with his hands up and let’s them know he means them no harm. At this point, the creature steps out of the darkness along with seven others from nearby hiding places. The creature Skogur was speaking to responds, but in a language no one in the party understands. Asa attempts to communicate non-verbally that the party would like to talk and means them no harm. The creatures do not seem to understand him, but they motion Asa to approach them. The creature extends a hand out to Asa and he obliges. The creature lifts its skeleton mask to reveal a human face…

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Session 18: To The Southern Forest
In Which A Most Curious Vessel Is Discovered

After telling the rest of the party, Eirlif goes off to the forest guardian to parlay. He explains the events that led to her previous incarnation’s demise and apologized in behalf of the party. The guardian is initially very angry but Eirlif convinces her to allow them to enter the forest as long as they do not violate the three precepts: 1) Start no fires, 2) harm no forest creatures, and 3) bring no evil into the forest. She will consider whether or not to also place some sort of binding on the members of the original party that killed her. The rest of the settlement are still considered friends of the forest.

They spend quite a bit of time in the settlement to train. During this time, several members of the settlement, including Kulgan and Asa, return home for the Althing. Nineteen days after they departed, a seagull with a message for the settlement from Kulgan. He reports that they are making progress on obtaining the persons they settlement has requested. After a while, it is curiously noted that no one has seen any ravens in a few days, which is a bit worrisome.

Meanwhile, Radmar goes to visit his friend the linnorm. The linnorm seems to think that he and Eirlif are a couple and inquires after Eirlif’s whereabouts. He sends for Eirlif to come and help to heat the linnorm’s eggs. Radmar continues with his lessons in Draconic while there.

After the downtime, Skogur takes three scouts to check on the troll caves, and Radmar, Eirlif, and Alfradr take three soldiers to the forest to help to thin out the canopy so the spirit eater’s webs will dissolve.

The forest party camps outside the forest. They will enter in the morning. The night passes uneventfully. They enter and go looking for webs and climb trees and thin the canopy. By sundown, they are mostly done with their efforts.

Skogur’s party reaches the troll warrens. They find some large earthen berms around the opening to shade from the sun. He tells the scouts to take cover and then he takes the form of an eagle and surveils the area from the air. They basically would have to walk through a gauntlet in order to approach the cave mouth. He makes a mental map of the area and heads back to the freaked-out scouts.

The forest guardian makes an appearance as the forest party sleeps and speaks with Alfradr, who is on watch. She stopped by to keep an eye on Eirlif and also to welcome them to the forest. She is pleased with their work so far. Alfradr asks if it is okay for them to forage for food in the forest, to which she is agreeable as long as they do not harm the plants. In the morning, they continue their work. They are done by midmorning.

Skogur decides to head to the forest to meet up with the rest of the party to relay what he’s found. They then all head back to the settlement, where they spend two days while Alfradr upgrades some of their armor.

Afterward, Radmar, Skogur, Alfradr, and Andr go in search of the other forest to the south. It takes them two days to get to the farthest reaches of Skogur’s lay of the land spell. Along the way, they run into the same wolf pack they encountered before. They look more well-fed than before. They were coming from farther inland. Skogur then casts lay of the land again to get a view of the area beyond what he’s seen before. He doesn’t find any forest yet. They decide to backtrack the wolves’ tracks inland. They shortly reach the hills and some trees. Skogur takes the shape of an eagle to scout from the air to look for game.

He finds two things. First, there is more game, mostly small animals, but there is some deer as well. Second, he sees a small forest beyond the hills. He returns and tells the others. They continue on and reach the forest. They find a bunch of tree stumps along the edge of it. It looks like people have been here. Skogur looks for tracks. There are plenty of signs of life, even though the canopy isn’t super-thick. The cuts on the stumps aren’t as smooth as an axe. He finds the tracks of clawed humanoidish feet. Something between a big bear paw and human in size and shape. They head into the forest. Andr sees no spirits here.

The party follows the tracks. Skogur turns into a wolf to continue tracking. The scent from the tracks seems familiar to him but he doesn’t know where. He decides to track the scent instead. Andr still sees no tree spirits, but some of the bushes have spirits. So he goes to speak with one, but it seems to refuse any attempts at communication. As they continue to follow the scent, the plants become more colorful, a bit out of the ordinary. They eventually reach the source of the scent. It is a large, almost egg-shaped golden/metallic structure jutting from the earth.

As they circle around it, it turns out to be a concave shape. Alfradr examines it, but he can’t tell what it is. It seems to have the properties of both iron and gold with a slick feel to it. The scent lingering around it appears to be fairly old. Skogur returns to human shape and climbs a tree to get a look from above. It looks very much like staring down the front of a ship. He digs around it and finds more of it beneath the earth. Fortunately, they brought shovels and they start digging.

After an hour, they find that the shape continues to get larger. They keep digging. The thing is huge! They decide to stop after another couple hours and move on. Skogur casts lay of the land again and sees the entire forest with hills on the opposite side. He also sees that the ship goes down about 20 feet down before stopping abruptly. It was cut in half!

They decide to camp there for the “night.” Skogur catches a rabbit, which Andr sacrifices to the forest spirits before Alfradr starts a cookfire. During the first watch, Radmar notices a bush uproot and move. During the second watch, Alfradr smells a scent like fresh wine with an oaky undertone. The scent is smelled by Skogur during the third watch. He wakes up Andr, and he points out the bush that moved. It now looks like a pitcher plant. It also has a spirit. Andr goes to talk to it and informs him that it wasn’t going to get anywhere with them. It wouldn’t speak back, but the scent goes away, and the bush returns to its normal appearance.

Each of them had an interesting dream, the same one: It’s a night sky, a crescent moon with no clouds. They’re walking somewhere they know not where. They have a sense of foreboding, like something bad was going to happen.

It’s getting close to harvest, so they decide to head back to the settlement. They pass by the troll warrens on the way and find a couple extra berms. They reach the settlement without incident. The delegation has returned from the Althing. They were able to obtain many of their requested personnel, but they weren’t able to get someone who can cast the daylight spell or another troll fighter. It is about a week now from harvest.

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Session 17: The Hags' Eye Revealed
In Which Is Learned The Cause Of The Troll Problems

The fishing expedition returns with both good and bad news. They were able to find a good haul, but they ran into some rather large crabs, one so large that it looked like an island! They were able to kill and bring back two of the smaller ones as part of their catch. The next three days are spent in a huge feast, which raises the morale of the entire settlement—a great need, considering the fact that they’ll be hand-to-mouth by the time harvest comes.

The party decides to return to the forest to see if they can find the regenerated forest guardian, since it is supposed to return on the summer solstice. They bring Andr, the spirit shaman. They also bring offerings, including some food and a live goat. They enter the forest around sunset. Shortly afterward, Skogur and Radmar up front hear the sound of very large wings, possibly the forest guardian. Andr identifies two spirits flying overhead. Radmar grabs Andr and drags him toward the stationary figure. The rest of the party follows. The other figure flies to follow along.

Andr won’t go too much closer, so Alfradr walks around the tree and sees a magpie sitting on a branch. Meanwhile, the larger flier comes closer and changes shape. It is also a magpie. Eirlif offers them some fish. Andr steps into Eirlif’s zone of silence and tells him that his spirit guide says they are trolls. Eirlif attempts to signal the rest of the party that there is danger.

Meantime, a third magpie flies in and lands. Andr senses a fourth one at the extreme range of his senses. Eirlif drops his zone of silence, yells “Take down the trolls!”, and fiery bursts one of the “magpies.” It immediately kills it and turns into a misshapen trollish figure with four-clawed talons and wings. Radmar kills another. Eirlif, Alfradr, and Skogur kill a third. Eirlif then warns everyone of the fourth one coming in from the east. The fourth one flies in with a deepening screech as it shapechange into a different large bird, a roc! It flies straight for Skogur, grabbing him in its talons. An intense attack on its talons from Radmar forces it to release Skogur. Eirlif hits the roc with a fire burst spell maximized and converted to acid. The roc retaliates by wing buffeting Eirlif, knocking him to the ground. Radmar lands the killing blow.

A fortuitous effect of the roc battle is that eight trees were knocked over. The party decides they will make sure to send back an expedition to collect them for lumber. They continue on and encounter the new forest guardian, who has crept up behind them. It recognizes Skogur, Asa, and Eirlif, but it can’t recall from where. They explain that they wish to be friends of the forest, showing the heads of the trolls they defeated, and it accepts their friendship. They learn more about the guardian and the forest. The guardian doesn’t remember how it last met its demise, but it promises that it will visit “poetic justice” upon those who killed it once it remembers. The party doesn’t say anything in response. They take their leave. Since their business in the forest is done, they head back outside and set up camp.

During the first watch, Eirlif and Radmar hear three sets of wings coming from the forest. They’re perched on the trees looking at them. They wake Andr, who confirms they are spirits. Now there are four, now five. They wake Alfradr for his purelight and see that all six are ravens.

They drag Andr closer to see if he can identify them more definitively. When get does, he can’t determine what kind they are. In frustration, they start asking the ravens what they want. They finally realize they are after the sapphire that Skogur removed from the shipwrecked boat they encountered in the fjord when they first arrived. As soon as Skogur pulls it out, the ravens attempt to take it but fail. The ravens then start circling, so the party starts picking them off. They then rush into the forest, hoping to encounter the forest guardian to ask about the sapphire.

They encounter the forest guardian immediately, who tells them that the ravens are false spirits. The sapphire is a hag’s eye, a powerful magic item created by three troll wives (hags). They should NOT destroy the gem, because the hags will just create another. It should never see the light, because the hags can sense through it and channel magic through it. They quickly thank the guardian and leave the forest to discuss what to do with the evil gem.

They decide to head straight back to the settlement (since they’re still under the effects of Tern’s Persistence) and reach home the next morning. They convene the knowledgeable among them to see if anyone knows more about hag’s eyes. Eirlif carves a huge rune into some wood in the longhouse to prevent scrying and places the sapphire inside it. He suspends it from the ceiling.

They decide to have any who can to pitch in with Heila and her team to speed up the creating of the ward stones. Everyone else has downtime. And everyone levels up!

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Session 16: Skirmish At The Caves
In Which The Party Finally Meets Their Enemy Face-To-Face

After two weeks of downtime, the fishermen return with additional fish to add to their food stores. Their farmers are also able to increase production, and they should be able to make it until harvest. However, they can’t keep overworking them. So they decide to send out the fishermen again to bring back another haul. They then go off to look for the large troll.

During the previous week, Skogur was out looking for the large troll’s tracks. Among other creatures’ tracks, he finds a large humanoid’s tracks, which he believes belong to the “leader.” So he follows them east toward the fords of the river. He finds no tracks on the other side, though. The tracks pick up again several miles down the river, but there are fewer of them. The tracks wander south and end up at the cave that Eirlif had sealed off with the earthlock spell. It is no longer sealed off. They dug through the blockage.

After that, he follows the tracks that headed north for a day and a half. They take him to within sight of the forest and the hills. There are more signs of smaller animals. He then heads back to the settlement to report. It seems that the trolls’ hunting grounds are to the north. If they want to use those grounds, they should probably clear out the troll cave.

As they approach within 20 minutes of the troll cave, they start smelling rotten meat. Following the smell, they come upon a pile of animal carcasses as the source. Dragging tracks from there lead to the other entrance to the troll cave. They scout around looking for any other openings while Eirliff prepares his rune to seal off the back entrance. Alfradr stays with him, while Kulgan and Radmar guard the main entrance.

After about 15 minutes of searching, they find a depression in the ground. It is a depression with a large stone on top. Meanwhile, Eirlif and Alfradr encounter a knuslutr (that spirit that possesses grass), but Alfradr drives it off by spitting acid at it. By the main entrance, Kulgan hears what sounds like 4 goblins coming from the cave entrance.

After 19 minutes, the ground beneath the search party opens up, nearly swallowing the party. Troll-Wrestler ends up prone at the edge of the pit. It appears to be a tunnel with several sets of glowing eyes in it. By the cave entrance, darkness engulfs Kulgan and Radmar. Just as Eirlif completes his earthlock spell, the last of the animal carcasses disappears. Alfradr spits acid at it again, this time killing the knuslutr. Eirlif and Alfradr then see the dilemmas that their friends are in. Darkness then engulfs the search party.

Kulgan and Radmar back themselves out of the darkness, readying attack actions. Skogur and Troll-Wrestler also back out of the darkness around them. Asa remains inside, waiting for goblins to emerge. They hear at least seven figures crawling out of the tunnel. Asa now dispels the darkness with his magic ring. Exposure to the sunlight incinerates all the emerging goblins.

By the cave entrance, Kulgan gets clawed pretty badly by a goblin reaching from the darkness. Meanwhile, Troll-Wrestler and Skogur finish off the remaining goblins by the tunnel. Then a tendril of darkness attempts to ensnare Asa, but he avoids it.

Eirlif, still over 200 feet away from Kulgan and Radmar, casts dispel magic at the darkness. Unfortunately, it isn’t effective. Kulgan and Radmar continue fighting the goblins from the edge of the darkness. Kulgan manages to grapple one and pulls it out into the sunlight, where it bursts into flame.

Just as Alfradr arrives by Kulgan, the darkness expands, engulfing them. Kulgan chucks the goblin he grappled behind him, catching another goblin and sending them both out into the sunlight, where they both incinerate to ash.

The search party now starts making its way to the main cave to help out. A globe of darkness pops into existence over the hole. This is probably the work of a female troll. Something noisily climbs out of the hole. Eirlif arrives near the main cave entrance. Then the darkness disappears, and the cave mouth is revealed, covered by a stone wall. Erilif casts earthlock in front of the wall to double lock it.

Everyone then runs to the new globe of darkness. As they arrive, they hear grinding stone, and the globe disappears. The hole is now gone. The party retreats to heal up and assess. On their way back to the settlement, they stop by the linnorm nest to enlist its help with the trolls at a later date. It is more than happy to oblige.


Quotes:

Kai: “Kulgan, do you have any wind spells so we can blow away the darkness?”

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Session 15: Into A Linnorm's Lair
In Which The Party Turns Up The Heat

The party first addresses the food problem by redistributing more villagers from crafting and laboring to fishing and farming. They also set up an ongoing program of training more craftsmen as farmers. They then turn their attention to the lukewarm pools. They bring Andr, the spirit shaman, with them.

They arrive at the pools after a few hours and find they are indeed no longer boiling, much to Andr’s disappointment. He detects no spirits in the area. As
Alfradr prepares to walk across the pools to sound their depths, Radmar impulsively dives into the middle pool. Down there, Radmar notices that it’s about 20-25 feet deep, and the ground is quite warm beneath his feet. He moves to the upstream pool and finds it shallower, about 10-15 feet. The water is a bit more turbulent here. Radmar pokes around the bottom with his battle axe. That reveals nothing, so he surfaces and reports to the others. Then he makes his way to the downstream pool. It is also 10-15 feet deep. He notices that the water gets cooler downriver. He pokes around here but also finds nothing.

Alfradr, armed with diadem of purelight, goes down into the upstream pool with Radmar, and they dig around the bottom. They notice that the silt and debris they kick up is flowing toward the sides of the pool. There is a bit of a depression without rocks in the side of the pool where the silt is drifting. Digging around in it, they determine that it is a hole with a “clot” of mud. They clear out the mud and stop it up with rocks. After spending about four hours monitoring the situation, they find that the water temperature is now fluctuating up and down across all the pools.

Meanwhile, Eirlif takes Andr over to some nearby scattered trees to see if they have any spirits. They don’t, but they do find a whole in the ground in the midst of some bushes. The whole appears to have been burrowed by a small creature. He tosses a pebble into it but can’t tell how deep it is. They call over Radmar and Alfradr, and then he lowers a rock on a rope into the hole. He determines it goes down about 8 feet before sloping. Getting impatient waiting for the other two to dry off, he ties himself to a tree with his rope. Stopping to listen for noise, he hears the definite movement of air. He lowers himself into the hole and finds the air is warmer.

Alfradr suggests that he should enter the hole instead, since he has a light source. Andr becomes a tree and they tie Alfradr off to it. Alfradr lowers into the hole. After an almost vertical drop, the tunnel heads off toward the pools. The air is somewhat humid and misty. He’s reached the end of that rope, so they tie another rope to the end, and he continues. The air gets mistier and warmer. He eventually sees another source of light ahead. He continues on as the tunnel turns left. The light source is orange and flickers like firelight. He extinguishes his own light as he continues into a larger room. There is an artificial “river” of sorts on the floor of the cavern. There are some large glowing rocks in the water and a fire on the other side with some stones in it. And there is what appears to be a small dragon. It looks to be sleeping. He returns to the surface and reports what he saw.

Eirlif identifies the dragon as a linnorm (landwyrm). He wants to go down to see it for himself. He ties himself off with ropes and goes first. Radmar follows him without rope. Alfradr stays above to man the rope. They make it to the larger tunnel with the sleeping dragon in it. They see that it is silvery-blue with patches of light and dark gray on its body and hints of orange around its eyes. It is most likely a smoldering linnorm with abilities involving steam and smoke. It doesn’t look like an overly dangerous dragon, and it in fact looks wounded. Erilif is pretty sure the glowing stones in the water are dragon eggs. He knows that dragons are much more aggressive when protecting their eggs, so he decides it is wiser to try to wake the dragon rather than try to sneak around.

The dragon awakes and hops atop its eggs. Eirlif says “We mean you no harm. You look injured. Can I help you?” He mimes bandaging the wing injury. The dragon appears receptive and allows him to approach. The wound looks like claw marks. It doesn’t look particularly old but probably not that young. The wound is scarred over, which has impaired its wing. Eirlif hands the dragon his healing potion and gets it to drink it. It seems to help out the wound a bit. Radmar also offers his potion, and the wound heals over even more.

Eirlif helps to build up its fire with a raging flame spell, which makes the dragon happy. It had been heating stones in the fire and throwing them into the water to keep the eggs warm. He also fiery bursts into the water to help with the heat. The dragon is now huddling in the heated water with its eggs. They decide to stay with the dragon and send Andr and Alfradr back to the village to see if they can find anyone who can help to communicate with the dragon.

In the meantime, Radmar remembers enough Draconic quotes from sagas that he’s able to piece together some words to communicate with the dragon. They find that it is grateful for their help and he is their friend. It will be okay for them to stay the night but stay away from the eggs.

Meanwhile, Andr and Alfradr return to the village and have a time convincing the expedition leaders that what they’re reporting is true. They are able to find someone who might be able to communicate with the dragon, and they head back with him and some supplies the next morning.

Back with the dragon, they find out that it has been there for 64 years. It was attacked by three giant creatures about two weeks prior who killed its mate and badly wounded it. The eggs will hatch now in about six more months, but it will stay here. This is apparently its home. They explain that their villagers come every week to use the hot water and will stop in to help with the fire.

In the morning, the expedition from the village arrives, including Stjorn, the bard who can learn the dragon’s language. They return to the tunnel and introduce him. They also apply an herb poultice to the wing wound. Stjorn is able to determine that the linnorm is a male. The reason the water isn’t hot anymore is because he’s wounded and his mate was killed, so he isn’t able to keep the water as hot anymore.

Two weeks of downtime for everyone!

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Session 14: The Forest Exploration Continues
In Which Skogur Is Shown To Not Be Entirely Delusional

They decide to circle back to the forest to establish another route to the spiritless trees and also to see if the ash and the oak trees have spirits in them. Arriving at the ash trees, the spirit shaman finds that there are many fewer spirits among them than the elms. So they approach one of the enspirited ashes and attempt to convince it to allow them to pass in order to investigate if there is a spirit eater among them. They determine that there is at least one that harasses them along their southern border. They find out that the yew have also been attacked a lot. They decide to go check out the yew.

The yew spirit they speak to is at first reticent but when it finds out they want to help with the spirit eater, it eagerly talks to them. It confirms that the spirit eater has been attacking them a lot. They ask about the stone circle in the forest. It tells them that it was once a prison for a great evil, which was freed or broke out a couple years ago . . . perhaps the same four years ago that the elms said a great evil started to walk the land? It’s gigantic and somewhat humanoid.

The yews grant them free passage, and the party makes its way to the circle of rune stones. As it was the last time they were there, one of the stones is broken. Alfradr is able to read the Anglo-Saxon and Nordic inscription on the outside of the stones. It is a warning against giving in to the temptation/flattery of the beast confined therein. After taking down the runes and the inscription, they make their way toward the oaks and the fossergrim (waterfall spirit).

They encounter very few oak spirits. The spirit shaman detects no spirit in the first waterfall they come to in the river. Eirlif splashes in the water humming (badly) the tune he recalled from their first time meeting. The fossergrim then appears, and Eirliff introduces him to the new members of the party. They also discuss the spirit eater, which the fossergrim is afraid of. It is able to turn a spirit solid and its web can ensnare spirits. They get the fossergrim to introduce them to an oak spirit about half a mile down the river. They talk to him about the spirit eater. It confirms that there are fewer oak spirits than normal in the area. It knows about the evil that was imprisoned in the rune circle, and it was surprised that it had already escaped. It tells them that those who imprisoned it were a bit larger than the party. He said they were pretty friendly and spoke with the trees.

They bed down for the night near the river, enlisting the fossergrim’s help to keep watch. A couple hours into the first watch (Radmar and Alfradr’s), Radmar hears some rustling in the bushes. The fossergrim is able to see three, no four, ravens out there. No, wait, there are five now. They appear to be glaring at Skogur. They attempt to scare them off, to no avail. Fossergrim plays a lullabye, causing three to fall asleep and fall to the ground and disappear. Since it’s now about time to change watch, Radmar wakes up Eirliff to see if he can help figure out what’s going on. Skogur also wakes up and realizes that he’s not crazy, since the others see the ravens too. He shoots and kills one. The others look surprised and hop back a bit. Eirliff fiery bursts one, killing it. They the ravens suddenly look, each one over its own shoulder, and disappear. The “threat” gone, Radmar and Alfradr go to sleep. The rest of the night passes uneventfully.

They continue down the river through the oaks, inviting the fossergrim to accompany them. They part company when the party heads off toward the pine forest. As they pass through, Andr (the shaman) comes upon some invisible webbing. By throwing dust and leaves, they “map” out the path of the webbing and find a way around it. It’s almost dusk when they exit the forest. They retreat to the river and set up camp for the night.

That night, during Radmar and Alfradr’s watch, they hear something moving toward them rustling the grass as it approaches. They wake the party and prepare for an attack. Skogur and Alfadr both miss with arrow and thrown stone. Eirliff attacks with fiery burst and barely chars it. Andr announces that it’s a spirit approaching, but he can’t tell what it is. The fossergrim confirms but says it is hiding its identity from him. Eirliff leads off with a fireball. The whole grassy area is charred and moves toward the party. The grass IS the creature! Alfradr’s soulspark familiar soulblasts it. Radmar is able to damage it with his silvered axe. The creature moves right through the party and engulfs Eirliff. He yells out “Ten feet!” to warn his party members to move away, and then casts fiery burst. He hurts it badly, but it still grapples him. Radmar then attacks and kills it. The fossergrim informs them that it is a knusluter (hugging grass), a spirit that inhabits grass. It grabs creatures, crushes them to death, and consumes them. The rest of the night passes uneventfully.

In the morning, they head back into the pine forest to “map” out the rest of the spirit eater web. It stretches quite a ways through the pine forest. It had laid a trap for the pine spirits!

They head back to the settlement. They find that Kulgan has managed to get the rest of the newer members of the settlement to the mystical pool to introduce them to the spirit there. They are pulled aside by Stjorn, one of the expedition leaders. Three things have come up:

  • Some of the men think they saw one of the trolls that attacked during Valpurgisnacht skulking around nearby.
  • They discover that their current food supply will last them only 7 weeks.
  • The nearby boiling hot lakes have suddenly gone lukewarm, and they have no idea why.

Quotes:
“Forest Guardian jerky?” — Alfradr to the fossergrim, while offering him various foods to eat

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Session 13: Spirits of Fjollvættir Forest
In Which The Party Is Vexed By Unseen Impediments

The settlement members are in the midst of a mourning ceremony in the longhouse for 14 people who died during the Valpurgisnacht. Afterward, they are informed that there was a troll attack that didn’t go very well for the settlement. Fortunately, the longhouse was completed, and most were able to shelter there while the fighters handled the troll invasion. Unfortunately, one of the ship captains was killed by a Grendel.

They instruct the necessary people to start on a set of warding stones for the settlement to protect against trolls, an endeavor that will take a season. They discuss plans for the next steps in establishing the settlement and how to distribute their new resources. The determine that the next big thing to do is secure a supply of wood. In order to do that, they need to deal with the forest spirits.

The next morning, Eirlif, Radnar, Skogur, and Aflradr take their spirit shaman, Andr, with them to the forest to commune with the spirits there. Skogur scouts ahead. He encounters a small pack of emaciated wolves, possibly the same ones he had encountered some months ago. He intimidates them, and they scamper off. They make it to the edge of the forest before nightfall, and Andr starts looking for spirits. He finds out that each tree houses an individual tree, which confounds him. He approaches one of the largest trees (all elms) and tries to speak to its spirit without much response. After he threatens to chastise it, a figure steps out of the tree. It looks like a bearded man merged with a tree. He doesn’t look happy.

Through Andr, they speak with the spirit and ask if there is any way they can come to an agreement whereby they could take wood to build their homes. The spirit reveals that there are some giant, evil creatures who escaped imprisonment about four winters ago that come and wreak havoc on them. Maybe, if the party is able to rid them of that danger, they might be inclined to come to some agreement. The spirit tells them where they last saw them, in the southeast of the forest. The party takes their leave and heads into the forest. Not far into it, the elm trees end, and they come to pine trees. Andr tells them that there are no spirits in these trees. Skogur starts tracking, and he finds some larger human-sized tracks that look roughly like the ones he found some time earlier when they were following the torchlights through the forest.

They follow the tracks toward their origin with Skogur scouting ahead. He comes now to a section of yew trees, which Andr confirms also have no spirits. They continue on and come to a clearing with the remnants of a campfire and evidence of a battle. Skogur scouts for tracks and also finds large three-toed footprints. The three-toed prints do not leave the edge of the clearing. They may be some sort of raptor that attacked the people while they camped. It appears that the people ran away along the path they followed to this point. Skogur finds where they entered the clearing, and the party continues following. As evening approaches, they find a fairly defensible place to camp for the night.

The first watch goes by uneventfully. During the second watch, which Skogur and Alfradr take, Skogur hears some rustling in the forest. Whatever is out there is very light on its feet, possibly more than one creature. He wakes up everyone quietly, and then the noise stops. Alfradr turns on his diadem of purelight. The light reflects off of something dark and reflective, which then hurriedly moves off. Alfradr and Skogur go to investigate, leaving the rest behind to start a campfire. They hear more rustling as they get closer. It is apparently trying to stay beyond the light. They reduce the radius of the purelight and move closer. Then Alfradr fully lights up and reveals a giant spider. Skogur immediately starts launching arrows at it. The spider skitters around toward the camp.

Andr casts tree shape and disappears, while also looking for other spiders. Radnar steps up to attack it with Klofning, his magical spear-axe and slices it in half. Afterward, they look around for more spiders. Skogur searches at the edge of the light and gets stuck in an invisible web. Eirlif tries an acid spell on the web, but it doesn’t dissolve. He then casts dispel magic, which doesn’t do anything. They are able to hack him out with swords and daggers, but some of them get stuck in the invisible webbing. With Skogur free (but still enwrapped in webs), Eirlif tries his fiery burst on the webs, but it does nothing. It appears that only normal fire can burn it, and they manage to burn away a large section of it that way. Then they remember that they brought wine, which works wonderfully as a webbing solvent. They then burn the webbing to free the weapons that got stuck in it. Andr identifies the spider as a spirit eater, which likely explains why he detected no spirits in them.

After completing their rest, they head back to the elms and tells them of the spirit eater and promise to return to deal with the threat. The elms promise them free passage. They then return to the settlement.

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Session 12: Battle On Walpurgis Night
In Which A Grendel Is Not Allowed To Escape

It is pitch black, so Kulgan produces a flame in the palm of his hand, but it is a lot weaker than it should be. The party quickly lights torches around the village, as well as retrieve the magical candelabra they confiscated from the heathen temple and light its candles. They then do their best to prepare the village for the next 34-ish hours of darkness. They consolidate the non-combatant villagers in the central long hall and set up a perimeter of torches and guards.

During the first watch of the “night,” clumps of torches on the ocean side of the perimeter start going out with sizzling sounds. They’re being put out with water! Skogur sees glowing eyes in the distance. He shoots and hits. It emits a low growl. They start waking up the rest of the defenders. Then they hear a couple of their men scream and probably die. Another couple of defenders run screaming back into the perimeter, “There are dead things coming!”

Kulgan sends out a fiery burst and sees 3-4 shambling figures approaching in the distance. In the other direction, they see more yellow eyes (goblins?) waiting beyond the torch line. Radmar charges one of the undead and pops it. It explodes, splashing water all over him, causing damage.

On the goblin side, Asa takes an intimidating stance to drive them away. It works on a number of the smaller ones. One of the undead projectile vomits water at Radmar and Eirlif. Eirlif is impacted and starts to drown. Alfradr rushes over the help him as he gasps and coughs.

The red-eyes of the trolls start glowing brighter. Kulgan joins Radmar in attacking the undead. The two creatures run into the torch light. They are emciated with long claws and have arrows sticking out of their backs. Then the torches on the troll/goblin side go out, and the eyes disappear. Eirlif starts attacking the newly-arrived undead creatures with fiery bursts.

The new undeads’ eyes glow green and look around at everyone. Everyone around them get shaken, but Eirlif panics! The darkness on the troll/goblin side is now moving closer to them. Radmar gets grappled by the undead from behind. Eirlif gets away from Alfradr, and a soldier runs after him. Alfradr takes two soldiers and goes to help out with the two emaciated undead.

Asa activates his magical ring to create a bright burst of light that pierces and dispels the oncoming darkness, revealing eight trolls and goblins. It ends up blinding one of the undead creatures. The undead creature that grappled Radmar vomits water on him, causing his lungs to start filling with water (like what happened to Eirlif).

The trolls and goblins swarm the party. Kulgan kills the undead grappling Radmar, freeing him up to continue the fight. Eirlif gets set upon by a troll, but he triggers fireburst and kills it. Asa casts lightning blade and kills a goblin. Eirlif steps up to the goblin/troll line and casts earthbolt, killing all of them.

The party heals up and settles back down. It’s now Kulgan and Asa’s turn to watch with some soldiers. During the second two hours, Kulgan spots two red eyes in the distance. He yells at the eyes, and they turn away. Nothing else happens during the remainder of the Walpurgisnacht, and the stars reappear. They have now only a normal night to get through, which they survive uneventfully.

In the morning, they send the village trackers out to follow the troll tracks to their lair. The party spends the next three days resting and training. Afterward, they go troll hunting. At the entrance of their cave, Eirlif casts earthlock on the entrance and opens it up for them the enter. The idea is that they can close it behind them outside if needed.

They descend single file into the depths down a spiral path. They find five smaller tunnels, down two of which Skogur hears the pattering of feet. The spiral path ends in a large cavern with a lake and beach. No trolls or goblins, but there are a bunch of footprints. They try to go around the lake, but hit the cavern wall. At either end, though, is another small tunnel leading away.

Alfradr takes a minute to reshape his soulmelds and is now able to fly out over the lake with his own light source to scout out the rest of the cavern. There is only the lake, which drops off fairly deep. Kulgan decides to call out a challenge to the goblins. They hear laughter, and then the sounds of goblins coming down the large passage. Eirlif casts earthlock to block off the passage. Shortly afterward, the lake water ripples, and a troll head emerges. The temperature drops and a wind starts to blow.

Asa blasts the troll with stormbolt. Kulgan charges into the water and attacks the troll. The troll grapples Kulgan and hurls him into the lake. Its eyes then glow, and darkness spreads out from it. It then growls, and creatures emerge from the side tunnels. Skogur and Eirlif start attacking the goblins and pekkas.

Asa moves up and calls up the burst of light from his magic ring, dispelling the darkness and blinding the other creatures. Kulgan swims up and leeches life from the troll and some of the other creatures within 30 feet, healing himself. It kills one of the goblins. The troll growls again, and the goblins scatter blindly trying to find the party to attack. The pekka, however, casts transmutes rock to mud at the ceiling, sending tons of mud crashing down on everyone in the cavern. It kills all the goblins and damages everyone else. The troll dives back into the lake. Skogur disables the pekka with two arrows. Alfradr finishes it off by hurling a handful of pebbles at it.

Kulgan leeches some more life from the submerged troll before swimming toward shore. Asa heals himself. The wind begins to pick up, becoming a severe wind, preventing movement toward the lake. More goblins emerge from the side tunnels. Alfradr flies over to engage them on one side, while Kulgan takes them on the other side.

The wind now increases to storm strength. It knocks Skogur and Eirlif down into the mud. They start to suffocate. Then the troll pops back up from the water, apparently fully healed! Asa stormbolts the troll. Kulgan hits it with Kelgore’s Firebolt. Radar lunges at the troll with his spear and lops its head off with his second strike. Alfradr kills the remaining goblin, who attempted to flee.

They now have a problem, since the mud has blocked their escape route. But they turn their attention to any treasure that might be in the lake. Skogur casts lay of the land to see how deep the lake is: 50 feet at its deepest point. They send Alfradr down with a net to get the treasure and the troll’s body and head. Eirlif notices that the troll’s wounds seem to be regenerating. He burns it to a crisp with fiery bursts.

Eirliff reopens the escape tunnel. The mud partially clears there as it flows into the entryway. On the other side is a pekka, who immediately casts mud to rock on the mud. Eirlif casts earthbolt, killing the pekka. The party squeezes through the entrance and heads back to the surface and the village.

They then take their leave of the village and return home in six days. Something looks different when they return. The large longhouse and wall are done.


Quotes:

Kai: “Does my knowledge tell me anything about what’s happening to me?
Van: “You’re drowning.”

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Session 11: A Brief Trip Home
In Which A Blockade Is Run

Along the voyage back to Iceland, they are able to find out from their thralls and the priest more about their very strange religions, Christianity and Islam. The journey is uneventful, except for getting becalmed for six days. Near the end of their journey, they see what appears to be ships in the far distance. They decide to uses their thralls to row so they can attempt to overtake them. Eirlif changes the sails to black to make them harder to see them as they approach in the evening. They can now see there are 13 ships—a blockade!

They decide to attempt to go around. As they do, they note that the ships are all Moorish. They round the peninsula as they enter the neighboring bay, and they see two Moorish ships! Apparently, someone was expecting them. The move their warships to intercept. Eirliff and Skogur are on one and the rest of the party on the other. Alfradr is skimming behind his ship engulfed in his mantle of flame and enshrouded with his fellmist robe. Each warship targets a different enemy vessel.

As they near their target, Eirliff uses the hellfire gauntlet to launch a fireball at their ship. It kills everyone on board but three men. The boat is on fire with no one left to put it out. Skogur kills one with an arrow to his skull. The two remaining men dive off and swim for shore. Arrow fire from the other ship is targeted on Eirliff after that display. The other Norse warship rams their target. Three men fall off, and there is a huge hole in one section of the ship. Radmar charges aboard and starts skewering enemy combatants. Kulgan leaps over him and attempts to enter the fray (unsuccessfully). Asa casts thundercloud over the head of one of the robed men. Alfradr’s mantle of flame erupts against the hull of the ship. Unfortunately, it’s wet and doesn’t burst into flame, as he was hoping. The soldiers on board start launching spears at the robed man with the thundercloud over his head.

Meanwhile, Skogur jumps overboard to swim after the two escapees. Eirliff directs their boat to head over to help out their comrades. One robed man casts lightning blade and aims it at Asa, sending a bolt of lightning through him. He looks incredibly disappointed that Asa doesn’t immediately die. Kulgan gets swarmed but survives the onslaught. The other robed man casts a spell at Kulgan that starts to choke him to death. There are three better-equipped men on board, who now pull out their swords and make way toward the fray. Alfradr bursts again and continues to damage the hull down below.

Kulgan, continuing to choke, starts to move back to form a fighting line with Radmar. Asa also backs away and heals himself. Two soldiers cross over to attack the robed men. Eirliff’s ship now rams the ship but only grazes the prow. It still does damage to the front section but not enough to put a hole in it. One man falls off the ship as a result. His soldiers rus aboard and attack the enemy. Eirliff casts Aganazzar’s scorcher but does minimal damage to four men. Two men try to bull rush Radmar but end up skewered on his spear. One robed man kills two of the party’s soldiers.

Eirliff casts elemental burst on the wood of the ship. Wooden shards explode out amidst the enemy combatants and takes out a couple men. Kulgan casts deep breath on himself to help with the choking spell on him, then casts Kelgore’s firebolt at one of the robed men. He then backs away toward Asa. Radmar kills one robed man and one of the better soldiers.

Eirliff commands the rowers to back out to ram the ship again. Asa heals Radmar and Kulgan casts produce flame and hurls it at the remaining robed man. The robed man attempts to cast a spell on Radmar, which he resists, then backs away. After the last of their good fighters dies, the other men surrender, much to the robed man’s chagrin. But he doesn’t survive long enough. Kulgan kills him with a produce flame.

Meanwhile, Skogur has almost overtaken his prey. He kills one with an arrow, but the other continues running. Skogur keeps up the pursuit and kills him shortly after.

The party starts to gather captives and loot the occupants and the ships. They then sink the ships. When they’re finished, they notice that Skogur is gone. He has run on ahead to the nearest village. He informs them that they’ve recovered the artifacts. The port town hasn’t been taken, as far as they know. They have a caravan going to the port town soon, and the party is welcome to join them to return the artifacts.

The party finally makes it to the village to find Skogur relaxing and waiting for them. They go with the caravan to return the artifacts and then head back to the small village. While they were there, they recruited seven more men for their new settlement.

On the day they get back to the village, the lights all go out. The last of the Walpurgis nights has arrived. No lights for 24 hours, and chaos reigns. They hear wolves howling in the distance.

Everyone levels!!

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Session 10: Raiding Porto De Barcas
In Which All That Is Not Looted Is Burned

Radmar replies to the giantess, “We’re just explorers.” This leads to a short conversation with the suspicious giant. She demands to know what they want. Skogur explains that they don’t mean to impose. They just need a place to rest on their sea journey. She directs them to a small lake to the south, and they take their leave. After a brief discussion, they head off to the nearby lake to check it out.

The lake is rather large, and the area around it is quite warm. The lake is also hot, with bubbling water. It’s a volcanic lake! Perfect for these native Icelanders. Asa says some prayers for the lake, while Radmar and Eirlif strip down and jump in to enjoy the wonderfully hot waters. Skogur does his usual and goes off to scout the area. They don’t stay long, and head back to the ships to camp for the night. They will spend the next day foraging, fishing, and otherwise preparing for the rest of their journey.

During the second watch of night, Radmar hears rustling in the trees. He sends a soldier. Ten minutes later, he returns and reports that he found nothing. Radmar is a bit suspicious but the soldier does seem to be himself. The rest of the night is uneventful. The next morning, they begin their preparations.

Skogur, Eirlif, Radmar, and Kulgan head to the lake to scout around. Radmar notices something funny about the water. It’s moving slowly in a counter-clockwise direction. It’s picking up speed. The water then starts to bulge up in the center. Skogur has moved up on the ridge, but he can’t see anything different from there. The rest of the party also moves away from the lake. After about 15 minutes of churning, the water erupts upward in a gigantic lake-sized geyser!

Back at the shore Alfradr notices the water explosion. He grabs some soldiers and they all run up toward the lake to check on their fellows. Fortunately, the explosion doesn’t damage them too badly. Skogur and Eirliff back up to the lake to check it out. They notice something coming out of the water . . . a gigantic fiery humanoid. A second one follows it out. They begin stomping off in the direction of the giantess. Eirliff surmises that the lake is some sort of portal to Mulpelheim. Skogur follows at a safe distance, and the rest of them follow him. However, they send the accompanying soldiers back to the ships.

They bump into Alfradr and Asa and tell them what happened. After seeing to the soldiers’ wounds, they send them back to the ships while Alfradr and Asa continue on to the giantess’ house.

Meanwhile, the other part of the party sees the giants arrive at the house. A not-so-nice discussion ensues between them, which they party is only able to partially make out. Something about schedules, obligations, being late. Finally, the giantess relents and lets them inside. Skogur sneaks up to the house. The rest move off the path.

Skogur sees them sitting at a table. He notices that the giantess’ skin is bluish, but he’s not familiar with that type of giant. One sketches some things with charcoal during their discussion. Apparently, she is supposed to be doing something and paying them for something. He listens for about 15 minutes and shares what he’s heard with Eirliff. The wizard surmises that the giantess is perhaps failing to do something with her own supernatural abilities (connected with the sea, maybe?) that the fiery giants want from her. Skogur asks them to leave him there to continue spying on the giants.

As the rest of them are leaving, they bump into Alfradr and Asa. After hearing their story, he tells them that he thinks she might be one of Aegir’s (the sea god) giant daughters. They head back to the shore and find a bunch of seals. They decide that they need seal meat and skins. Asa casts animal trance. He gets one to approach him. Two others follow it as Asa leads it away. They get the soldiers and encircle both groups of seals and move in for the kill. Radmar kills a seal with a single blow. Eirliff casts earthbolt at two seals and Radmar finishes them off. After a short fight, they have six dead seals.

Meanwhile, not much else of significance is happening with the giants. About an hour and a half before the ships are supposed to sail, the conversation ends and the fiery giants leave and go back to the lake. They disappear into the lake. Skogur returns to the shore in time for them to depart.

They heave off about 4 in the afternoon. They see the giantess coming to shore with an oar on her shoulder. She glares at them and starts paddling the water as they leave. As a result, their ships seem to be moving away at a faster than normal rate.

The next morning, a tentacle bursts from the water, feels around the ship, and then disappears back beneath the waves. Very weird.

Less than a day out from the port, they plan a two-pronged attack: the ships with soldiers will be sent in to attack and create a distraction, and the party is dropped off earlier to stealthily enter the local fortress to look for and obtain the stolen artifacts. They disguise themselves in preparation and set their plan in motion about 4 in the morning.

The party manages to approach the wall of the fortress. The find a huge double door. Skogur starts scouting around the wall for another entrance. Meanwhile, Alfradr flies up to the top of the wall and fastens two grappling hooks so the party can climb up.

Alfradr wasn’t able to find any other entrances, but he does see three ravens. All six ravens follow him back as he returns. He did notice, though, that the corner towers are occupied. There are eight ravens now, and someone in a tower notices one of them, shooing it away. Skogur makes it back, and he also climbs up.

They make their way down the stairs into the courtyard. Asa peeks through the keyhole of a door of the inner wall. He sees light but hears nothing beyond it. The door is locked. They find a door where there are no lights inside. Alfradr flies over and finds that the door on the other side is unlocked on that side. He opens the door. Inside are two sleeping men. About that time, they hear a commotion from outside the fortress. Apparently, the attack at the dock has begun. He quickly lets the rest in and they manage to get all the way through without waking the men. The quickly head into the nearby smithy to hide. After a few minutes, men start rushing out, grabbing weapons from the smithy. Fortunately, no one notices the invaders.

When the stream men running out of the keep stops, they sneak in and start looking around. They find an empty barracks with 16 storage chests. Three are unlocked, and Radmar loots them. He finds a bit of money, some clothing, and some small daggers. They head upstairs. The eventually get to the top floor and find some pretty lavish quarters and loot them. Back on the first floor, the find a chapel with priests chanting. Eirliff recognizes that they are casting augury spells. The party makes quick work of them. Nothing else is in the room except the pedestal. The other chapel has a single frightened priest holding a wooden plus sign out against them. Also in the room are the holy artifacts they came for. Alfradr knocks the man unconscious, then they loot. Back on the second floor, Ramdar murders a sleeping man in a locked room. Nice job, you monster! Eirliff torches the rooms on the third floor.

They loot everything in the keep, load up a cart they found in the keep, and head out of the keep. They also take the priest that Alfradr knocked out. Skogur scouts ahead to make sure no one is around. They head down toward the dock. The sun is starting to rise. The see that their compatriots have lit everything on fire.

Both of their ships are down there, and there are two other boats being stolen by their men. They are able to leave unopposed with their treasure and thralls. They head off to Iceland to return their stolen relics.


Quotes:

“And I have blackface, so no one can see me.” – Skogur

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