Saga of the Northlands

Session 23: Finishing Off The Trolls
In Which The Trolls Are Temporarily Relegated To A Lesser Role

The heat from the linnorm kills two of the Hunting Bears and badly damages several other nearby allies. Radmar climbs out of the hole. Alfradr activates the diadem of purelight, which pierces the twilight and the smoke and ash, and runs out of the linnorm’s heat radius. Eirlif earth locks the hole that the hag emerged from and asks the Northerly Wind spirit to create a whirlwind focusing the smoke and ash around the hag. It starts the process immediately, and the party sees the smoke clear and start collecting around the hag.

Asa steps forward and heals the linnorm at a distance. Skogur draws back his bow, calls on his heathen Celtic gods to bless his shots, and lets loose two arrows aimed at the clasp of the hag’s linnorm-scale cloak. Apparently, his gods heard him, because the two shots shatter the clasp, causing the cloak to fall from around the very surprised hag’s shoulders. She is now vulnerable to the linnorm’s heat aura!

Seeing his chance to be a hero, Radmar immediately charges the hag and snatches the cloak away from her with his spear. He then hurls it over toward the grateful linnorm. Kulgan move over to the bridge troll that’s attempting to bind to a new bridge and tries to grapple him unsuccessfully. Some of the other allies chuck spears at the red cap, killing it.

Eirlif asks the Northerly Wind spirit to command the animated bridge to attack the hag, so it lumbers over nearby her. The linnorm launches himself at the hag in a fit of fury. She now has a nasty wound but is still standing.

Then a hill troll starts emerging in the midst of the allies. Before the troll attacks, Asa tries to use his beguiling appearance on it and fails. :-( The troll jumps up and lands, causing an earthquake in an 80-foot radius. Everyone of the allies, except a few, fall into the fissures that open up. They all need to climb out. Some end up falling into the tunnels below, plunging to their deaths. Crawling out of the fissures are a large number of goblins and three more red caps. Alfradr sees two thurse also emerge. Another one also emerges, but it’s behind Alfradr, so he doesn’t see it.

The only allies standing are Skogur, Radmar, Konna, and a couple Hunting Bear leaders. Skogur succumbs to a spell from the hag that makes her appear appealing, and he starts to walk toward her. Radmar notices that Skogur’s face looks strange and guesses he’s under some sort of enchantment. The hag withdraws a bit. Kulgan starts climbing out, and even with help from Konna and the nearby bridge troll, nearly falls back in. The ensorcelled Skogur notices his friend’s plight and helps him out of the fissure. Unfortunately, the fissures close a few seconds later, killing a large number who weren’t able to climb out in time. On the upside, the remaining bridge trolls are also squished.

Eirlif asks the Northerly Wind spirit to animate another bridge, which successfully grappling the hill troll. Eirlif then casts a fireball at the hag. She is badly burnt, but still fighting. The animated bridge hits her on the head. Radmar steps up and hacks her with Klofning, removing her head.

As she dies, she looks at Radmar and screams something at him in trollish. Then a black, oily mass of shadows bursts forth from her dead body, causing negative energy damage to Radmar. Radmar asks the linnorm to breathe a line of steam at a bunch of the weaker enemies. It kills several goblins and one thurse. Skogur sees the hag’s body explode and breaks free from her charm. He starts shooting at a nearby red cap.

All of the remaining enemies except the hill troll fail morale and flee. The hill troll pounds the ground, causing an earthbolt to erupt in a line from the ground. It catches Kulgan, Skogur, Konna, and Voldugur. Then nine ravens fly out of a hole and start circling above. Radmar points them out to the linnorm, who moves under them. His heat aura kills all of them. Radmar then starts attacking the grappled hill troll, killing it in two swings of his mighty axe. It dies in an explosion of pebbles and sand.

They ask the spirit to animate another bridge and direct them to destroy all the other bridges and berms and use them to block up the holes. The party follows the linnorm down the hole he dug, following the ravens. After a short time, the ravens stop coming. So the trail runs cold. They then just follow the tunnels as far down as they can. They reach the bottom after a few minutes. There’s a large, empty cavern with some footprints but not very well-trodden.

The dragon notices some ravens heading down a side tunnel, so they check the tunnel but don’t see them anymore. They try to track them to their source. They come to a slightly more-traveled cavern, but it is empty. At this point, the Northerly Wind spirit asks Eirlif if he will need his services for his final allowed five minutes. He says he doesn’t, so the spirit departs.

The party continues on to the third large chamber. Here they find a lot more recent traffic. A lot have entered, but no one has left. They complete their sweep of the entire tunnel complex and return to the surface. The people aboveground says they didn’t see any more ravens emerge. The destruction of the berms and hole closures has been completed by this time.

There are only five of the Hunting Bears still left, and the settlers have lost quite a few of their own men. Asa speaks with the Hunting Bear leaders and suggests that it is probably not a good idea for them to take up residence in the troll caves this winter, to which they agree. They are invited to instead stay with them at their settlement until the spring.

They all start discussing how to destroy the tunnels. Eirlif sets up a runestone to alert him when the trolls return to the area aboveground. They also get the linnorm to agree to return to scout out the area and let them know if he sees any changes, which he eventually does . . .

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Session 22: Assaulting The Troll Caves
In Which A Wide Variety Of Trolls Are Encountered And Slain

The combined forces of the settlement and the Hunting Bears prepare for battle against the trolls. They arrive at the troll home to find a lot of new berms and three new holes in the ground. They guard the holes while some of them start trying to break down one of the berms in an effort to get the trolls to emerge to engage them. They manage to break off a big chunk. Then Eirlif’s tremor sense detects troll feet running toward them underground then stopping. They direct the linnorm to breath ash down the nearest hole. Screams emit from the hole. Tremor sense reveals only one left.

Aflradr’s true seeing reveals two large but quiet creatures covered in fur emerging from another hole. He yells a warning to the Hunting Bears that are standing nearby, telling them to move away from the hole. He then runs at full speed right up to the invisible creatures. Meanwhile, Skogur enters their hole, flanked by Kulgan and Radmar, to cast lay of the land. From Alfradr’s description, Skogur recognizes them as thurse. They can be invisible and attack. They can mess with one’s perception. One of the thurse hits Alfradr, activating his troll cross, which damages the creature and sends it hurling into the nearby berm, killing it outright. The other decides not to continue that attack and moves toward the Hunting Bears. Erilif’s tremor sense detects it, and he fiery bursts it.

The Hunting Bears gather around where they think the thurse is and attack. They then start tossing water at it, making it visible . . . and now vulnerable to the direct sunlight. He catches on fire. Eirlif helps out with another fiery burst. Radmar sends the linnorm to the hole the thurse came out of to breathe into it. They now hear more drum beating, coming from underground. Battle of the Bards has begun!

Then, holes open up underneath three of the arch/berms. Goblins emerge from the holes. Erilif directs the nearby fighters to drag/push them into the sunlight. Meanwhile, the linnorm heats up in preparation to release his breath weapon. The heat kills a number of goblins and the thurse. The invaders move away from him.

Skogur’s lay of the land reveals more details of the tunnel complex. Each of the three original holes has a spiral tunnel beneath it that leads to a large chamber, and there are tunnels connecting them. He also sees what appears to be pit traps off a distance away on the surface.

The linnorm breathes, but they hear no screams. Radmar asks him to enter the tunnel. When asked why, he tells the linnorm that the hag that killed his wife is down there. The linnorm immediately dives into the tunnel. Most of the goblins that surfaced are now dead, so the remaining three dive back underground. Unfortunately, they kill three of the soldiers before doing so.

Then, two heads (an ettin) pop up out of two holes. Eirlif yells out “Ettins in the holes!” Unfortunately, one of them grabs a soldier by the throat and drags him underground. The other attempts and fails to grab someone and also disappears back underground.

While the rest of the party discusses what to do, and just when they decide they should go down the hole near where the ettins popped up, Kulgan and Radmar decide to continue down the hole they’re in without telling the rest of the party. Disappointed, but after a quick discussion, the rest of the party decides they should accompany them.

Meanwhile, an ettin pops up and one grabs another soldier. Then the tunnel that Kulgan and Radmar went down is cut off by a wall of rock. Peccas! They then see a hill troll approach them down the tunnel.

Above ground, two more holes open up under two more archways—bridge trolls! Skogur starts launching arrows at them. He also informs the party that these trolls are weaker the farther they are from their bridge. Alfradr climbs out of the hole and moves to attack. The troll hits him, and Alfradr’s troll cross activates, hurling it a few feet away, but surprisingly the troll pops back under its bridge! Asa and Eirlif also climb out. Asa lightning bolts it and Eirlif fiery bursts it.

Underground, Kulgan and Radmar attack the hill troll and are able to damage it pretty considerably. It then emerges from the floor of the tunnel, so its head is in the ceiling.

Another hole opens up, and a third bridge troll and a number of goblins pop out of it. This was the arch that the party had earlier knocked a hole in, so the goblins burst into flames and die. The bridge troll attacks Asa from behind.

Radmar kills the hill troll, whose death fills the area with sand. The sand allows his scorpion sense to now discover a pecca standing on the other side of the very thin earthen wall it had erected to block them in.

Asa charms the newest bridge troll. He mimes to him to go to sleep. But it replies (in Troll, which only Skogur understands) that it can’t because he’s supposed to kill everything up here. Eirlif concentrates on his magical flower, seeking for something that could help them in the tunnels The dandelion drops from his hand to the ground and plant itself. Eight more also pop up in a circle, and a wind blows. He hears a cheery voice whisper to him negotiating how long it will help. Eirlif asks for its help getting rid of the bridge trolls. A very cold breeze speeds by him, and one of the bridges turns into a creature of rock. That causes its associated troll to become susceptible to sunlight, so it slowly moves to the closest bridge, slash its palm and hold it up against the bridge.

The troll that Alfradr and Skogur were attacking moves to engage Alfradr. The third troll decides to try to bond with another bridge, since his is broken. Then five baby spirit eaters emerge from another hole and move to attack soldiers. Then two little demented, vicious-looking creatures with big knives pop out of another hole—red caps!

Back underground, Radmar goes to the earthen wall and tries to attack the pecca through it. His attack breaks through, and he spears the creature through the hole he created. That kills it.

Skogur starts shooting the red caps, trying to knock the caps of their heads and encourages everyone else to do the same. It works with one of them. Asa lightning bolts, catching the red caps and the cap that was shot off its head. It destroys the cap, which causes one of the red caps to die. Eirlif fiery bursts the remaining one.

Kulgan steps through the hole that Radmar opened up and listens. He hears several things moving around the corner. He also sees a tunnel leading off to the right that leads to one of the pecca holes. There’s also another hole farther down the tunnel that leads down. Kulgan heads to the hole to the surface. Radmar moves to follow.

Voldugur, the Troll Hunter, grapples the second bridge troll and drags it far from its bridge. Two more spirit eaters are killed. Alfradr charges one of the trolls and knocks it away from the bridge it’s trying to bind to. The invisible thing that Asa summoned blows the cap off the remaining red cap. The cap sprouts wings and flies off. Meanwhile, the stone creature is sent to start damaging the other archways. Some of the Hunting Bears manage to grapple the red crap and drag it into the sun.

Then a hag (wearing a linnorm-scale cloak) emerges from one of the three original holes. She waves a hand, and the light dims to twilight. Immediately afterward, the linnorm bursts out of the ground nearby. He appears to be badly scratched up. The intense heat kills one of the trolls and the remaining spirit eaters.

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Session 21: The Winter Elves' Tasks
In Which Both Summer And Winter Are Up To No Good

The party makes it to the meadow to meet the elves. They bring with them the Moors who wanted to go home as well as the four pregnant women who don’t know who the fathers are. There are 9 summer elves and three winter elves. Among the winter elves, they notice the one who they met earlier. After some niceties, the winter elves’ tasks are outlined. They must:

  • Cause someone to give up their life out of devotion to them
  • Cause a change of heart in someone without alerting those close to them.
  • Cause a stranger, who knows nothing of their kind, to welcome them into their home and get to know them.

One of the summer elves speaks to them alone, explaining that he can provide some help with the trolls, once this business is done.

The party comes up with a plan to assist the winter elves with their tasks. The summer elves approve, and they start enacting it:

Eirliff casts zone of silence around a tent created by the elves. Starting with one of the Moors, Asa and Alfradr bring him into the tent and attempt to convince him to convince the other two Moors to be happy about staying with the settlement. They offer to take him back home (ransom) if he does that. He is also supposed to maintain the ruse that he is also happy to remain until then. As a sign of goodwill, Asa heals the man’s broken wrist. They also enjoin him to school the winter elves on the cultural intricacies of the Moors.

They next bring in one of the pregnant women, a warrior. Asa explains that they believe that she has been impregnated by an elf. Her life would be unbearable among her own people as an unwed mother and the mother of a half-breed. She would therefore be better off among the Alfar. She isn’t completely convinced but agrees that she will go if the other three women also agree. They narrowly manage to convince them, and the task is complete. Skogur heads back to the settlement to gather the women’s belongings for them.

Meanwhile, Radmar and Kulgan also are heading back to the settlement. Once they get there, they find that the entire place is shrouded in mist. Skogur finds the same thing. Radmar finds the Moors’ tent and finds them asleep. He can’t seem to wake them. Skogur succumbs to the mist and falls asleep. Radmar drags one of the Moors and Skogur, while Kulgan drags the tent, out of the camp. Outside the mist, they awaken the Moor and Kulgan informs him that the tent now belongs to him. Skogur heads back to the meadow to inform the rest.

The party escorts the winter elves to the encampment so they can try to befriend one of the Moors there. The summer elf approaches and confirms that the Moor considers the tent his home. Meawhile, Asa works on a way to disperse the mist. He casts wind’s favor to create an area of strong wind to keep the mist away from them so that Kulgan and Radmar can pull out the other Moors and Skogur can gather the women’s belongings.

The winter elf meanwhile appears to have successfully befriended the Moor. He exits the tent with the Moor, laughing and smiling. Once the Moor disappears back into the tent, the winter elf drops all pretense and says: “That was disgusting. I need a bath.”

They head back to the meadow, and the elves leave. Before leaving, though, they tell them that the meadow is no longer consecrated. In the field, they find three small flowers made of silver and gems: a rose with rubies, a pair of dandelions with pair of topazes, and a lily with three petals made of opal. It suddenly starts getting colder.

They return to the settlement to find the mist is gone and the people are up and about. They tell the others that the four women sacrificed themselves for the good of the settlement.

Heila examines the flowers. They emanate strong conjuration, strong divination, and faint enchantment. They appear to reach out to find something, bring it to you, and enchant it. The rose is associated with earth, the dandelion with air, and the lily with water.

They stay around the settlement for the next eight days to await the completion of the ward stones so they can attune to them. They have to figure out how to place one in the middle of the river so as to have a complete circle encompassing their settlement wall. The settlement finally warded against trolls, the party is able to head out to the forest to meet their new nomadic friends, the Hunting Bears.

They arrive at the forest and have to wait for three days for the Hunting Bears to show up. They arrive in a large mass. They are able to meet the chieftain and discuss working together to rid the area of the trolls. During the conversation with the chieftain’s intermediary, they discover that their chieftain is female. The Hunting Bears appear to be a matriarchal society! They set up a time and place to meet in order to launch an attack on the trolls in two weeks’ time. They also reveal that they have another ally, a steam dragon, who will help them in the fight.

In preparation for the battle, Skogur takes some Hunting Bear scouts to check out the area around the troll cave. They find more berms, and some are taller. The ground is uneven, and the grass has been pulled up.

Asa and Eirliff have visions about the metallic flowers. They get the impression that some creature can be summoned by each flower to aid in the fight.

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Session 20: Stories Of The Past
In Which Two Very Significant Tales Are Told

The stranger reveals herself to be a woman of indeterminate age. Her skin is somewhat tanned, but she looks like no people the party have ever encountered. Skogur points out their clan sigil of the narwhal on Eirlif’s chest. She gets excited and pulls out a glowing sword made of a narwhal horn to show them. Skogur drops to the ground and draws a crude map, attempting to show the woman where they came from and asking her where she is from. Using this method, they start to share each other’s language. They learn that these people also speak to the trees in the forest. They get some of them to agree to journey to the forest with them so they can use the trees as interpreters. They will meet them at sunrise to make the journey.

Along the journey, they attempt to learn their language. They find out that these people are natives of the region. They know nothing of metalworking, but would like to learn. They find out that the narwhal sword was already glowing and they killed the creature to gain it. However, the creature they describe isn’t from the sea but from land. It’s from a unicorn! The natives are surprised to learn that the party isn’t responsible for the disappearance of the animals the past year. They are aware of trolls and are bothered by them as well.

They arrive at the forest and seek out an elm spirit to talk. They ask about the boat in the other forest, and they tell them it’s related to the stone circle. They tell them a story . . .

A long time ago, there was a very powerful king of the trolls under the mountains. He and his followers raped, pillaged, killed across the lands. No one liked them. Finally, several different groups sent powerful people to bind him. They succeeded. But he broke out some years ago. They’re not sure how, though. And no one remembers how they put him in there in the first place. He managed to later escape in a large ship with his followers. The spirits and elves and people chased him. He tried to head back south, trying to get back to his world. The elves did something, which caused the ship to get stuck. A forest grew up around it. They’re not sure if he made it back to his world or not.

They learn that their new friends are nomadic. They move south during the winter. They just bind up in furs and seek out caves to live in. The party warns them to avoid the troll cave. They ask about the spirit eater. The natives tell them that there are at least two. They make arrangements to meet back at the forest on their journey south in a few weeks so they can meet their chieftain. They then part ways, and the party heads back home. About mid-day of their first day on the way, they encounter snow, just on them. Apparently, the elves are trying to get their attention. They stop and wait for them. A winter elf greets them. He says he’s just passing through. Even though he can’t tell them directly what sort of assistance they would request. However, he can tell them stories . . .

He tells them what happened last year. He draws in the snow as he relates the story. There is a particular pair of mountains up north. There is a fierce pack of large hounds that the summer elves sent them to kill one of them. And they had to do it without magic. The first obstacle was a ravine. They had to cut down trees to make a bridge. Then an avalanche blocked their way. They found a way past. Then they encountered a wall of steam that blocked their way. They then realized that they were thinking too much like winter elves and realized they should go back down and around the other side of the mountain. They found an avalanche also on that side. The burst through the stone wall and found a tunnel. They were then able to sneak up on the beast and slay it. He warns that the summer elves will try to trick them in various ways, and they have to have a different perspective.

He leaves them, leaving behind the story still in the snow. They realize that the “drawing” is actually runes, so they copy it down and bring it to Alfradr, Heila, and Urkoma to decipher. It spells “Helgi” something “Bane”. Knowledge of sagas reveals that it is “Helgi Houndsbane.” All of his sagas involve interfamilal strife, he was married to a Valkyrie (enchanted love), and his mother was a winter elf, the personification of the evening mist.

After some pondering, a couple of the party members receive some inspiration from their dreams. They figure that they won’t really know what to do until faced with the task. Radmar drops in on the dragon to check on him.

The next morning, the jarls are presented with a problem. Five of the thralls would like to join the clan, three want to return back home, and one is indifferent. Eirlif and Asa go speak with the indifferent one. He’s okay with joining the clan, but he’d prefer to return home, if that is possible. They then talk to the three to find out why they think returning home is even a possibility. It turns out that they were prominent people back home and would earn good ransoms. Kulgan breaks the arm of one of them and convinces them there’s no way they’re returning home. The indifferent one is also convinced to join the clan.

Another issue: four of the women have gotten pregnant, and they don’t know who the fathers are. Asa calls the women in one by one to ask them which men they’ve been with. He casts detect thoughts to ensure that he gets the truth. He records the information until the babies are born.

The equinox arrives two days later. There is snow, and a light appears in the meadow, beckoning them to approach. They go to the meadow to meet the elves.

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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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