Chapter 01: Hot, then Chilly

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Session Number: 41
Date: Sunday 21 March 2010
Venue: Alain's
PCs & Players:

Arrian Rog1/Clr6 (Fergus) (kills: none)
Enok Rgr7 (Alain) (kills: wanted Arrian to be one)
Rowaine Pal7 (Craig) (kills: calm)
Troll Wiz7 (Densial) (kills: none)

XP Awarded: TBC

On the way back to the monastery, Rowaine catches Arrian's eye and says "follow me", hefting her axe. "Harley, stay here."

Rowaine finds a fallen log and stops near it. "Arrian, I have decided the service that I require of you. I require your death. Kneel before this log."

"I'm not sure that I have the liberty to give you that."

"Kneel before this log on your oath!"

"No… I will do everything I can to give you support to atone, but my life is not my own to give to you. You will have to choose a different thing."

Rowaine throws away her axe. "How DARE you? How dare you come back to us - like this! All pious and redeemed… After the things that you did to me, to my deity, to my home, to YOUR home! How DARE you? The things you did to me personally… I can't BELIEVE it!"

"I don't believe that I can ever properly make up for those, but I am convinced that it is better for me to be here than not."

"I was NINE years old! I was nine years old and you left me, you left me for DEAD, in the cold! I was … suffering, I was stuck up a tree and I was desperate - I cried out to Moradin for help, he didn't answer. Do you know what that DOES to a girl?"

"I can never know."

"I HATE you. I HATE you for what you did."

"You should… You may beat this body… It is yours. I can't give you my life because that is not mine. But if it should help you, you may beat this body. I can never understand what I did to you, and I make no excuses. It was an evil act."

Rowaine falls to her knees and cries. "Leave me! Leave me alone…"

Arrian goes back to the others. Harley looks quite distressed. Arrian approaches Enok. "What do you want?" Enok asks dispassionately.

"I think Rowaine could do with someone to talk to."

"What did you do?"

"I think the best thing is for you to go and talk to Rowaine."

Enok locks eyes with Arrian. "Stay here…"

Enok finds Rowaine who is still sobbing. "Rowaine, are you OK? What did he do? He'll pay if he … hurt you. In any way." Enok unstoppers a flask of dwarf beer and offers it to Ro, who declines.

"I just don't know what to do."

"About him?"

"I look at him and he sickens me - for what he did."

"He doesn't have to … what did he do?"

"You didn't hear the whole story, did you?"

"No… We just know that he did something … terrible. I'll cut his throat if he…"

"As he was leaving that night, what was it - 8 years ago? 9? I can't even remember now… I heard something, and so I got up. I heard something going on near the temple and before I knew it, an arm was wrapped around my neck. And it was Arrian. That was the night that he left. I … in my bravado, said that I would tell… And he… it's hard to say. He choked me until I blacked out and he carried me away with him."

"What?"

"I woke on his shoulder, and… eventually he put me down and told me that this is where we were going to part company forever. I'm sure he had the symbol, I'm sure I saw it. But he said 'This was it, that he was sick of us, sick of the monastery, sick of having to toe the line the whole way…' and that this was going to be the end. And so he left me there, to make my own way back to the monastery. I didn't know how far it was… Anyway it was very cold… And there was a bear…"

"He LEFT you?"

He left me … I don't know what time it was, it was the middle of the night. I was only nine. There was a bear… I'm sure he didn't mean for there to be a bear, but there it was… I was chased up a tree and I spent most of the night up there… I don't know how I didn't fall out of the tree, I was so tired… I remember trying to talk to the bear… You know how used to talk to animals? I remember trying so hard to remember what you would do… Eventually I think it just got bored and walked away… But by then I'd lost my way, I had no idea where to go… I think I probably went in completely the wrong direction. Had it not been for Dirrin, had he not found me when he did, I'm sure I would have died."

"I'll kill him! We don't have to put up with this!"

"That's what tears me… I do have to put up with this."

"Why?"

"Because he has put himself on my mercy."

"And so you can send him to hell!"

"I very nearly did… To my shame."

"I would have cut his throat!"

"That night when I prayed to Moradin, I didn't hear anything. I think I need to take this to him, and soon. It's tearing me apart."

"We will be at the monastery soon. Just… release him. Send him away!"

"I don't know that I'm meant to."

"Moradin wouldn't be that cruel!"

Rowaine sighs. "When you were a child, when the teachers corrected you for doing things wrong, don't you remember thinking then that they were cruel? We don't see things clearly. I have to trust that Moradin does." She pauses. "Until I have some word to the contrary, or Arrian reveals some other nature, then… I will have to take him at his word."

"As you wish," Enok says, with little conviction. "I love Moradin, but I do not feel bound as you do by lines… so he has just to make a wrong step, and you will be released from your vow."

"I'm sorry I didn't tell you this before, Enok."

"It's not something easy to say. I've always respected you… I respect you even more now, if it can be possible."

"I must be very clear. He didn't hurt me in that way."

"I follow your lead, then."

"We'd better get back."

Arrian is sitting in the back, trying to make himself as small as possible. Enok returns and fixes him with a murderous glare. The party return to the monastery.

The next two nights, Arrian leaves the monastery for a time. He does not ask permission to do so. Troll notices but does not tell anyone.

The following day Troll says that Elondel has some news. The party visit the portal in the chamber under the temple.

Since Elondel has received more imithrium, he has been attempting to communicate with other towers. Some still exist, one in particular he can sense but cannot communicate with it. The tower was run by one of Troll's family who was a wizard of some repute. He had a reputation for his knowledge of the art of magically capturing souls, although he didn't practice himself. He was known to have quite an extensive library.

Out of interest, Fergus reminds us all that the party knows someone else who is potentially good at manipulating souls - Valen.

Elondel is unable to transport anything to the tower itself. However, this was one of a number of towers that had "known safe areas" close by that Elondel can transport to. The area is a ledge on a hillside something less than 2 miles away from the tower. Elondel's last communication with the tower was some 3000 years ago. Not all towers have the illusion protection that Elondel possesses. They are also not all "towers" per se. This particular tower is a small fortified building on the top of a steep hill surrounded by a natural lake in cold, mountainous terrain. There were communities in the area in which the tower was originally built. Elondel has no means to determine whether spiders are currently present. This tower has a keeper similar to Elondel - not all towers do. Enok says that it might be a good idea to take some imithrium with us. Rowaine suggests that alloying it might be a good way to transport it, provided the processing equipment at the other end is operable.

The party get Elondel to manufacture:

  • Imithrium arrows (1lb)
  • Imithrium composite shortbow + 40 imithrium arrows + quiver for Rowaine (4lb)
  • Cold weather outfits for all (7lbx4 = 28lb)
  • Heavy furs for all (10?lbx4 = 40lb)
  • 200lb of metal alloyed with 1.5 cubic inch of imithrium (200lb)
  • Saddle + saddle bags for Harley (25lb)
  • Climbing kits x 4 (5lbx4 = 20lb)
  • Pitons x 40 (0.5lbx40 = 20lb)
  • Hammer (2lb)
  • 200' silk rope x 3 (20lbx3 = 60lb)
  • Grappling hook (4lb)
  • Chalk (0lb)
  • Sunrods x 12 (1lbx12 = 12lb)
  • Food: 14 days rations x 4 people (14lbx4 = 56lb)
  • Healer's kit (1lb)
  • 2-man tent x 2 (20lbx2 = 40lb)
  • Firewood: 2 days' worth (20lbx2 = 40lb)

Total weight: roughly 560 pounds of gear.

The party transport to Elondel and suit up. All but Rowaine don cold-weather clothing and furs in lieu or armour; Rowaine stows the furs and wears her armour. Rowaine and Enok carry a portal each. Troll instructs Elondel to transport.

We didn't think to choose our spells!

The party appears and is immediately blinded by white light. All are blown off their feet. The howling wind is all that can be heard. The cold hits exposed flesh like a physical force.

Everybody tries to grab hold of something. Rowaine manages to grasp Harley's straps and Arrian slides against the stone flyer's legs. Enok and Troll are blown out of immediate sight.

OK, didn't choose our spells, but damned glad we didn't take a boat

"We should rope ourselves together!" yells Rowaine, trying to make herself heard over the howling wind. She pulls out some rope and fastens an end to Harley's saddle straps. She ties herself to the rope, giving 10' of slack and tells Arrian to do the same. Together they move downwind towards the other tumbleweeding party members. Arrian's keen eyes spot Enok's legs poking out of a snowdrift. "Over there!" They rescue Enok, tying him onto the rope, and set after Troll. Arrian spots him a few dozen feet farther downwind, wedged against the rubble of a low wall. The party carefully shuffle over and recover him from the snow. Both are chilled but unharmed.

Rowaine is cold - her armor is wicking away her precious body heat. "Let's move to the other side of this wall and see if we can dig some shelter!" yells Arrian.

The wall arcs gently, marking the edge of the flat ledge. The snow-covered ground on the other side drops away gently. Rowaine senses that Harley is unperturbed by the chill weather. She asks her to remain atop the low wall to provide more of a windbreak while the rest seek shelter on the other side. Enok and Troll dig at the snow; Rowaine sheds her armor and pulls on her furs. Thankfully she is out of the wind and not wet. The furs gradually restore some body heat. Arrian pulls his hat down but it does not help him to see any better. Noone can see the mountain they seek, or anything more than a few dozen feet away.

Enok and Rowaine advocate building a shelter here; Arrian thinks it better to move now and build later. Arrian acquiesces; the party dig out a square area and erect one of their tents.

A shovel would have been nice. Maybe sleeping bags, too.

Rowaine thinks about scouting underground with Harley, but soon decides that the risk of getting lost is too great.

Enok has a hunch that the snowstorm isn't getting any worse; perhaps it is at its zenith. Shall the party wait it out?

They decide to try, huddling together in the tent under blankets. After a few hours the snow and wind starts to die down. Visibility improves to the point where the party can see that the hill flattens out to a white expanse with a spire about a couple of miles away. The ledge that they arrived on is around 50 feet wide by 20 feet deep, arcing gently with the hill contour. The wind is now about 40 miles an hour - far too much for Harley to fly in - at right angles to the desired path. After debating the viability of Tenser's Floating Discs in this wind the party settle on walking, with Harley and Rowaine in front creating a trench through the 2-foot deep snow and the others roped together, following behind. The party strike camp and set out.

Not long after, Harley and Enok detect an odd sensation coming from behind, an almost subsonic rumbling. Everyone turns around and sees a huge cloud moving down the slope towards them.

Avalanche!

The deluge looks like it will be atop the party in less than a minute.

"Cast your spell, Troll! Cast Floating Disc!" Troll leaps on Harley and creates two discs which Rowaine and Arrian clamber onto. Enok casts Long Strider to boost his speed. The troupe sprint with the wind, perpendicular to path of the avalanche front, and manage to reach relative safety before tons of ice and snow sweep past them.

Phew!

"Moradin's beard!" exclaims Rowaine. "What was that?"

At the bottom of the hill the deepening snow makes travel more difficult. Harley senses that she is no longer supported by earth; she backs up a little.

Rowaine decides to scout out under the lake atop Harley, looking to drop off a single party member somewhere on the island. She takes Arrian.

When Earth Gliding, Harley sees the inverse topography of the lake/island as the underside of a doughnut. Rowaine mentally guides her mount to ascend the inner spire, well above where the icy water lies. The sides are rather steep, making exiting into strong wind a risky proposition. Harley begins corkscrewing up towards the expected stone building on top, when Arrian realises that entering one of these towers without Troll might not be the greatest idea… They head back to the others.

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