The Weregild

Garros Garamonde - Reflection at Ravens Best
As They Delve Deeper into Grungir Forest

Life in the lands of the Linnorm Kings is a hard and harsh mistress, for those who dwell there know that their thread may be cut at any time. When the lands are not a frozen marsh they are scattered with stones and boulders and winter’s chilling grip of long dark days only inspire despair for starvation is the face of a grim specter waiting in the shadows to snatch it’s poor next soul.

And yet it had been days since Garros and his companions had left Karlsgard and were set on venturing through the Grundgir forest lead by Thalanol as their guide. The forest was arduous in equal measure as it was dangerous and it tested their capabilities from their very first steps into its domain. For many know that Grundgir is the demesne of Fafnheir, the king of all Linnorms and home to various other dangerous beasts and creatures that lurk under his shadow.

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After walking into his room at the Raven’s Head, Garros felt the pang throughout his body had finally taken its toll. He knew he was physically exhausted but further to that he hadn’t been able to clear his mind since entering the forest and he had become more troubled after his encounter with Bavakanga – the mysterious magical gnome of Delmon’s Glen.

“Has time crept up on me?” Garros pondered as he rubbed his forehead. He thought back to the Fey creatures they encountered on the trailed path in the forest and how his blades, despite his best efforts could not strike true. Repulsed by the very thought he set aside that notion for he knew it was not age that hindered him but it was still his mind wandering to the past. Farmer boyd charged him with information that had set him on this path and now that he was on it, his thoughts wondered to the slaughter of Doma, of his family. Surely, he thought, he needed to focus for he would wind up dead or see his companions injured or worse, if he did not find his center.

What troubled Garros further was Bavakanga and the mystical deck of cards that he possessed. Thalanol had suggested that a game be played and Bavakanga seemed all to eager but it was while playing this game that Garros discovered the gnome knew much about everyone and more importantly many things about him personally. He stated the fates are seemingly playing with Garros and that they ebb and flow, ever fickle in their nature and the strings that pull at him. Two cards were drawn from the deck; a Queen of Spades and a Queen of Hearts.

Garros scoffed as he thought to himself, “I am my own master! No one dictates the outcomes in life but me.”

As if lost in thought, Garros remembered what Bavakanga stated about the cards he drew. The Queen of Spades boded ill tidings and that some form of misfortune or curse was placed upon him and the Queen of Hearts would grant him a single wish. Simply entertaining Bavakanga and not knowning for certain what would happen between these two mysterious cards, Garros decided to speak his wish out loud as he placed the card on the table,“I, Garros Garamonde, wish for the power, capability and skill to kill all of the White Witches, including Baba Yaga.”

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He knew that it did not matter what happened with this game for his desire to see the life snuffed from the White Witches did not change regardless of a few cards on a table. Garros breathed a breath of air and sighed, relieved by his memory of the wraith that had appeared magically after Macleod had drawn his own card. He recalled unleashing bent up anger and pain – delivering a flurry of felling strikes from his two blades. Each strike one after the next, a precision strike and in a fell swoop completely eviscerated his foe. Even the Gnome seemed amazed by the skill demonstrated by the Retainer of Doma.

Cleary these cards held great magic and evidently this was no child’s game. Tom had appeared to walk away with the best of luck whereas Macleod had been frozen in time until the duration of the game was done.

After it was said and done, Garros was able to pry some very crucial information from Bavakanga – the location of the creatures and forces that struck Doma were allegedly currently hidden away in the Frozen Pines. The Gnome stated it was roughly an hour trek through Grundgir Forest, if you knew the path and that he’d offer to guide him to the Pines. Soon, Garros would be one step closer to the White Witches.

His room suddenly felt as if it was stifling and he needed to step away to clear his mind. Silently, Garros left his room and left Raven’s Head and approached a pool of water some distance from Delmons Glen. A serene view for Garros to ponder the coming events that awaited to unfold.

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Garros now walked the Winter Path. For it could only lead to a frozen hell. What would become of this “curse” Bavakanga divined from the Queen of Spades and would Garros’ wish be fulfilled to destroy Baba Yaga and all of her progeny…

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Garros Garamonde - Withdrawl from Grungir Forest
A Witch's Head Hangs From His Belt

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The Grungir forest had a reputation, indeed. Then again, Garros had been displaying a senseless disregard for his life since reaching Delmon’s Glen. As the carriage was pulled by the untiring strength of the horses in front of it, Garros observed the beauty of the Grungir Forest. Horrifying beauty he thought.

“Better to share the road don’t you think Rakim?” chuckled Garros as he sat beside the foreign traveler at the front of the carriage. Reprieve from the carnage that had ensued was a welcomed prize that most warriors were seldom awarded. How many days had it been now since they entered Fafnheir’s forest he wondered?

It was times like these that Garros cherished in secret – a sense of companionship. The venerable Tian was clearly content eating what he considered a delicacy, berries from his pocket. He could see that his Tian companion truly appreciated the simple things in life, or rather, sometimes Garros wondered if he was just truly simple. Tom, visibly exhausted from the trials of the forest was comfortable enough laying among exotic fabrics and silks – Garros was beginning to form a kinship with this soldier. Perhaps an unspoken understanding of loss and the life of a warrior or perhaps it was the superior competence in battle that Tom displayed that Garros respected. Nevertheless, he was truly glad their paths had crossed and sensed greatness in Tom that had yet to unfold either here in the land of the Linnorms or elsewhere in Golarion.

Though the rest were reluctant or perhaps even now oblivious to speak of the fact that when they entered Grungir there were five of them and now they left only four. Garros had never encountered an Elf before Thalanol but after his abrupt departure and dubious attitude towards his fellow brothers in arms he decided that he held a great distrust for their fickle nature. The Halfling MacCleod also pressed on Garros’ nerves for he deemed him a man not worthy of trust. This so-called “gentleman’s agreement” that MacCleod entered with the group had been upheld but had since been altered by the Halfling stating that in addition to retrieving the black piece there was more to accomplish than was originally agreed upon. Garros knew that ultimately it was of little concern, a man’s word was important in the land of the Linnorms and he also knew threads were cut for far less.

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“A gruesome trophy, no?” poised Garros as he looked directly into Rakim’s eyes. His face was visibly covered and only his eyes were exposed like sparkling jewels. Rakim was a bit taken back as he was looking at the head which had clearly been severed from its corpse not long ago. “We all keep secrets, Garros. Some are kept shrouded from others to see and others in plain sight for all. In my travels I’ve learnt not to ask questions for there are some answers one might not want to hear.” Rakim could see a grin on the middle aged man’s face. Weathered by age, but also by suffering. “She had it coming, you can trust that.”

The Retainer glared deeply into the forest line that was becoming less and less dense as the carriage continued on. He thought back to the seconds before he ended Yolanda’s pathetic life. His eyes darting between the trees, a pinnacle of perfection would not be a lie in describing his execution of the witch who had taken refuge in the Frozen Pines. He knew the path before him and this path was soaked with blood but there was a slight pull at his humanity, a moment of hesitation. He thought of Owain and his wife Aelion and his eyes swelled ever so slightly. Suppressing what pulled at his heart Garros reminded himself that the White Witches would suffer for taking everything from him.

For better or for worse, Garros knew something had changed within himself. He thought of Bavakanga and if those cards did in fact hold true. He had felt a rage so fierce and strong but tempered to a point of clarity when his blades struck Yolanda. There were no deities that Garros put stock in but possibly it was Owain and Aelion guiding his blades he thought but did not know for certain. Some answers still eluded him.

A deep breath cleared the Retainer of his thoughts and visibly his demeanour had changed to a pleasant one, not the usual stern look and furrowed brow. He turned back to the rest on the carriage and began to speak, “There is much to discuss once we reach Kalsgard no? Gentlemen, I’d imagine the remainder of the road will be quiet in comparison to what we have encountered thus far!” and Garros bellowed a deep chuckle. “I believe I am endanger of trusting you all with my life, I consider it an honour to share my blades with you all” and as he turned to face away from everyone, his face returned to his usual demeanour.

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An audience with the Wyrdmake was crucial. But before that Garros had a few other tasks to set in motion.
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Garros Garamonde - A Never Ending Winter: On the Doorsteps of Irrisen
A Seized Opportunity

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The march back from Gojko was an amalgamation of unsorted feelings for Garros and much stirred in the retainers mind as they all returned to Blackraven Hall. He recalled the party’s arrival at Kalsgard after their time in the Grungir Forest and how they were hailed as conquering heroes but this… this was unceremonious. As the masses shuffled their way into the hall, Garros knew this was in stark contrast to Kalsgard – they were not returning heros, there was no one to receive them, to celebrate their victories.

Garros spat.

“What victory was achieved here?” murmured the swordsman as if to blow off a portion of frustration. He knew, however, that was not entirely true. Though initially he was reluctant to make for Gojko and did not understand what purpose this measly fiefdom would serve their interest, Baron Mikula would hold some information that would be of some use.

Though, perhaps, a larger portion of himself felt that time and resources had been wasted in this “noble” pursuit that Tyrod had been adamant in seeing through. There was something acutely visibly different about him and that left the retainer in question. What did he hope to achieve here in Irrisen? Good intentions were surely a waste in such a cold and wicked place the retainer thought.

“Another thread cut. An able fighter wasted in vain, only to see a broken man brought to this vigilante justice?” Garros shrugged, “that man’s blood is not on my hands, nevertheless what a waste.” Vas was a strange man and seemed to talk in circles and the swordsman wondered if he was touched in the head but he did hold critical information having been employed by the Jadwiga. Now that information was just as dead as the giant of a man.

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The trudge from Gojko was an opportune time for Garros to obtain some information from Baron Mikula. He found himself taken back after speaking with the Baron, however. He held Mikula in contempt along with the rest of the Irrisen bastards and Witch cunts but there was some sense of nobility in this man, he did his best given what he had. There was something different in his character that struck Garros – he was of course a broken man but perhaps he wasn’t corrupted by the politics of Irrisen or jockeying for power. Either way it didn’t matter, he was only a stepping stone to what Garros truly desired.

What was imparted from the retainers questioning was rather useful. Garros learned that there is a lovers quarrel in the Verge, a lovers triangle so to speak. Duke Arvanoff was bedding Baroness Pribuska but now fucks Baroness Slavena and Pribuska is certainly all the more jealous for it. This was certainly telling information that could be exploited the retainer thought. Mikula shared his account of how Arvanoff is a puppet to his sister and how he was put to heel – he wears his hand around his neck as a reminder of obedience, a reminder of how cruel and cold the ties of family are among the Jadwiga. Finally, Mikula divulged some telling information regarding the comings and goings of Zelen, Algidheart and Redtooth.

Perhaps there was some merit in overrunning Gojko after all, Garros thought. With this information, he knew what the next moves against the hags of Irrisen would have to be.

As the final villagers of Gojko passed into the hall of the Blackraven Garros could see a familiar face make its way towards him. It was a pleasant sight to see Tom again for every time a warrior faced battle, it could mean their thread being cut.

“Garros, a word with you” Tom said. He had sought Garros out after the party returned from their raid on Gojko. “Have a drink with me,” he motioned in the direction of the great hall, where they could find the strong drink favoured by those at Blackraven Hall. “I’m never one to argue when offered refreshment.” Garros said in his characteristically gruff voice. “Lead on, friend.”

Garros was of course tired from the road but he would not deny his friend Tom and they conversed for a while. While some of the conversation had led to anger the swordsman – as he was quick to anger depending on the subject, he knew there was no malice in the skilled warrior’s words. Actually, Garros was equally surprised as he was elated, though he did not show it through his demeanour – Tom had brought up the letter that was given to him and that he was accepting the retainer’s petition for help. Not even Garros knew where his vengeance would take him but he knew he needed aid in achieving this goal and that would be one step closer with the cheerful archer at his side.

It had made him wonder what Li had thought of the letter he was presented with or event yet made a decision…

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As Tom finished his mead he stood up and wiped his mouth and placed the horn on the table, “I bid you good evening….Sir.” and he walked down the hall chuckling.

Garros had a belly full of mead but he was still in full control of his wits and he made his way to speak with Freyr Darkwine. Garros had been planning the whole time on the road after speaking with Mikula and now he would put thought into action. The retainer had made his way through the Blackraven Hall to Freyr’s chamber and knocked at his chamber door.

“Yeah!? You going to knock there all fuckin’ day? It’s not like I’m busy ‘er anythin’! Come in damnit!”

After a few encounters the swordsman had surmised that Freyr was heavily burdened and that his demeanour was a direct reflection of that weight. Keeping the Irrisen forces at bay was a task not many Ulfen men could shoulder. Though the swordsman may not come out and say it, given how brash Freyr was, Garros had a deep respect for anyone who would take up arms against the Jadwiga and Freyr was in a league all his own.

“I would think you’d be interested in what transpires in Irrisen would you not? We have returned from Gojko.” As the retainer finished speaking Freyr’s eyes narrowed and he placed his hands palm down on the table that he stood in front of,_ “Well, pull my fuckin’ Ulfen beard. Gojko? That piece of shit hovel? Not even Elvanna gives a fuck about that waste of frozen rock!”_ there was a pause and then he continued, “You better have something fuckin’ good to tell me Garros because I’m sure as hell sure you’re about to waste my time!”

“Glad you’re in good spirits Freyr, I was worried you were going to ask how we managed” as Garros chuckled trying to diffuse the man across from him if only a little. “We have Baron Mikula in our custody. I have extracted vital information from the Baron that can be exploited in delving deeper into Irrisen and obtainer further information.”

Informing Freyr of all the information parted from Mikula had him pacing back and forth across his room. Garros noted the bottle on his table and how it had appeared to be about empty; clearly this was how Freyr kept his demons at bay. “_Well fuck Garros, seems you didn’t waste my time after all! Clearly it takes an Ulfen man to get things done around here and we’re all the better for it damnit.”_

Garros nodded and began to speak, “With the Blackraven’s numbers being what they are and with trading routes and possibilities in them I’m taking Rakim and Li with me to Zelen. I intend on getting more information regarding Pribuska, maybe even her head. One less bitch I say. Tom is a proficient soldier and I would have him make his way into Skrata leading a group of Blackraven’s new recruits under the protection of Desna and hidden in the shadows to gather further intelligence on Slavena”

Freyr began to laugh out loud, “You’re fuckin’ serious aren’t you? Stern Ulfen man. You do have stones don’t you Garros? Though, maybe with someone like you we might shift the fuckin’ tide here on the border.” He had turned and now had his back facing Garros, “I’ll tell you what, come back in the morning and I’ll tell you what I fuckin’ think – I’ve got other damn matters that need my attention. Now, get out!”

Garros headed off to his quarters and took a night of rest with anticipation. The next morning he would seek out his compatriots and inform them what was in store next as they plunged deeper into Irrisen. Surely, Freyr would not be opposed but then again Garros did not know his mind. His head rested on the bed that was provided and he was thankful. His mind was clear and he felt purpose, he thought back to two years ago…

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Garros did not know what to expect here on out. What would Freyr say? Garros needed the others but would they go along? All that lay ahead was a never ending winter…
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A brief history!
Summary prior to Obsidian Portal

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Here’s a general order of events in chronological order to recap the entire campaign as well. If I’ve forgotten anything (I have) add it in via comments and I will update it. These events transpired over the course of almost 2 months.

  • A man known in Kalsgard as the Wyrdmake recruits a group consisting of locals and foreigners to investigate strange happenings in the city. A hag named Madame Kawoah being puppeted by some strange power or coven is dug out of the Jade district and killed along with her monster scorpion and cultists. They’re attacked by a strange monk named Photep who evades them.
  • The group is attacked in the tavern ‘The Jade Panther’ by doppelgangers. A clue is in one of the jackets they where wearing.
  • The group is lead to believe that a trade guild called the ‘Icecrowns’ have also been behaving strangely. They investigate the docks then stow away on one of their ships. They capture the ship and are led to believe (by torturing the young captain) that they are indeed corrupted somehow.
  • The group sets out to sea themselves and attacks another icecrown vessel. They destroy it and all hands are lost save those given the blood choice by the pirate Torharr. The captains maps show a route to an island.
  • The group infiltrates a small island and kills the Icecrown mercenaries there. A large stash of goods is recovered.
  • Further investigation in the Ironbound isles reveals that the goods where to be used to pay an Orc army ruling in their island stronghold to attack the Southmoor province. Photep is tracked down and killed and a new Orc ruler is put on the throne. The Thunderhold is now friendly.
  • Upon return the group is unsure how to confront Gudrun the leader of the guild. Everything points to him being responsible. That night Gudrun comes for them and kills Woo the tavern owner then attempts to assassinate the group responsible for foiling his plans. He is revealed to be a doppelganger as well in service to a White Witch. Gudrun is dispatched after a hard fight.
  • After some time the group is asked once again by the Wyrdmake to investigate happenings in the Grundgir forest. After setting out with some fresh recruits to the band they enter the forest.
  • Evil Fey creatures (Redcaps from Feyfrost!?) and Unnatural Magical beasts attack the party. These kinds of creatures do not belong here so the party ventures to Delmons Glen to consult the druidic gnomes.
  • Bavakanka the mayor sets them on the right track after MUCH convincing.
  • The White Witch responsible for all the corruption in the Thanelands and the forest is found, defeated, and beheaded. The group returns to the city of Kalsgard as heroes. They are one member short.
  • The group then decides to make for Blackraven Hall after consulting the Wyrdmake again. Garros is intent on taking the fight to the border and the others are convinced to aid this endeavor. They are beset by a warband of Giants and White Wolves en route.
    – An excursion north to release a dangerous criminal named Vassily goes horribly wrong. The party retreats for the first time.
  • The party encounters a ‘Guardian Doll’ for the first time while attempting to cross the border. The creation is incredibly powerful and inhumanly quick. It makes a mockery of their group before finally suffering damage and retreating. It seemed to follow them at a great distance, observing.
  • This incursion planned into Gojko, a small hillfort just over the border into the Verge, goes well. A group of peasants are emigrated to Hagreach province and the Baron of the fort is captured and interrogated.
  • A small contingent of warriors is trained at the Hall and the party spends a few days recuperating. Interrogation of the prisoner and peasants is done at leisure. Some rumors are gathered as well about some random happenings.
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The aftermath of Gojko, The consequences.
The witch hunters return from a small raid.

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The peasants and workers of Gojko begrudginly prepare to leave their homes for the border. Apparently free after 100 years of servitude in the fiefdom of Gojko.

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Baron Mikula Kseniya is unceremoniously paraded back to Blackraven hall by the party.

“Look at these filthy animals” Thought Ksenia looking at the adventurers who has massacred his men as he trudged along with as much dignity as he could muster. He was hungry and tired but tried to maintain some semblance of nobility as he had his whole life. He could tell his subjects where as well. He had ordered his cousin, a capable Jadwigan ranger, to hunt down some large game the day before. He thought of the animal now spoiled upon the pit in the village. He thought of his cousins body now a bloody pulp in the foyer of the hill fort he had once begrudgingly called home. His people had been living on Winter-Yew gruel for some time. It was a good staple and the peasants had not complained but production tended to increase when they received some proper red meat. Despite the isolation, nay, because of the isolation he treated his subjects better than most lords in the militaristic province of The Verge. Everyone had their position in the politics of Irrisen but Mikula Kseniya was disenfranchised enough to understand that his peoples fate was his own…

He eyed the pompous fuck whose skin almost glistened despite the setting of the sun. Tyrod, he had learned the man was called, seemed to have masterminded this pointless attack on Gojko. Why the Baron had no clue. He had no standing army to threaten the border with. Gojko was a glorified watchtower. Strategically insignificant. The Blackravens almost never came within range. The chance ambush his ancestor had executed over 100 years ago was no longer in the living memory of any man alive that took part.

“Ignorant fools. Whatever they’ve hoped to accomplish is beyond me. We’ll see how long the Blackravens tolerate this many more mouths to feed.” He mumbled. He did a headcount as they walked in procession. There was almost 40 of his subjects accounted for. Few children. Not many pairings resulted in children. What parent would want to raise their young ones in such a miserable little hamlet on such a miserable cold hill. He had watched as every so often one of the peasants would look over their shoulder as the town faded in the distance. It was their home after all. The small hovels and yurts many of them where born in became lost forever as they entered the sparse forest and then north across the plains of the Hagreach. Baron Kseniya suddenly realized he was further west than he had ever been in his life. His whole life. His whole miserable fucking life. He didn’t look back even once. In fact, he felt a burden lift from his shoulders.

“Maybe they’ve done me a favor” mused the Baron.

He decided then and there he would end this miserable life at the first opportunity he got now. Sustenance had been his only motivation for so long… This self righteous bastard that goaded them along north to the Hall would be responsible for his flock now.

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Up the Rimeflow
The Witch Hunters head up river...

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After discussing his findings from the interrogation of Baron Mikula with Freyr Darkwine and Eldgrim, Garros had a plan. He met with his companions Tom and Li and described to them the political intrigue he had discovered and how he wished to capitalize on the vanity and jealousy of the witches. He hoped he could turn one upon the other for a short enough time to extract some valuable information about Duke Arvanoff, Master of the verge.

A man with whom both women where ‘familiar’

He would need Rakim as a cover for this all to work.

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Tom, competent as he was at stealth, headed off into the wilderness to the outskirts of Skrata. Skrata was the home of Baroness Slavena and Tom took it upon himself to infiltrate the busy port town to gather information. He would be as prepared as he could be when his fellows came back down the river.

  • He discovered that Slavenas’ husband, Baron Ivan Betyrina, knew about her affair but cared little. It was possible he could be convinced to take some of the garrison up river to Algidheart if the ledger was tampered and a shipment found ‘missing’.
  • Tom recruited the help of Cherni Oslonovich, ‘Left-arm’ Karastov, and Sanzina Rodoc. All where members of the Heralds of Summers return and hatched their own schemes to interfere when the time came.

Garros insisted on overnighting the rest of the party on the south shore of the Rimelow when night came. They had had a long day of rowing upstream but the men they had hired where in good spirits. None of them thought it a good idea to sleep in the Verge territory.

Just before sunrise Li spots something…

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A dark blue dragon, its wings immense and its tail tipped with a hooked stinger, crawled from the icy river on two taloned feet and roared a challenge.

Li, unable to duck its attacks swiftly, is stung by the creature. One of the sailors is eaten whole and Garros takes wounds of his own. All the men realize it needs to be dispatched quickly before it harms another and double their efforts. After a frantic fight Garros opens its throat with his relic Furyborn sword.

They leave the carcass on the shore…

Passing Algidheart the next day their Merchant guide, Rakim, manages to divert the interest of a Mirror Man on the citys busy shore after Li attempted a staring contest with its mirrored face.

“One of the other traders warned me about these creatures. They are the witches eyes. A mirror is easily enchanted and it is said these men can witness a thing, and show a witch that thing from a great distance.”

The rest of their trip goes without incident.

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Upon arriving in Zelen the group seeks audience with Baroness Pribuska.

She is convinced that Rakim is a powerful merchant and his aides, Garros and Li, are both council and protection. ‘Garrem’ reveals he is an experienced bounty hunter and Li supports the claim. She seems excited by this.

She decides to test them further. The group is led to a courtyard where a circle of palisade stakes is erected. The ground there was a mixture of frost, mud, snow and blood. ‘Fargut’ the frost giant drop his axe and enters the ring, excited to have some sport.

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After a struggle and more than one humiliation the giant is brought to heel. Li, having suffered the worst, delivers a coup de grace to the creature with a spell. Almost having been beaten to death nobody blames him. Pribuska shrugs and they return inside.

She promises to reward them handsomely if they manage to quietly kill her nemesis…

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The River Fate
An attack on Slavenas Manor

Tom Gatii had a plan and he would need every thing to fall into place at the perfect moment for it to work. Garros mission to Skrata would surely succeed with his careful planning.

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Offering a silent prayer to Desna he jogged the last kilometer to the gates of Blackraven Hall. Confident in the training he had imparted on the Ulfen scouts he left outside Skrata, he was returning to the hall for provisions and his mount. It was risky but they would need all the help they could get at the moment. Searing arrows, Sunrods, and potions. Some new tools he had never used before.

When he drew close to the gate he slowed. A giant of a man, pale like a corpse, was lumbering down the east road with his eyes glazed over. Was this the Vassily character his friends had taken to the assault on Gojko? Was that man not reported to be dead?

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Desna surely watched over Tom as his return to Skrata was unhindered. Noting by the sun he had some hours before Garros would arrive. He turned his mount back to the trail the man Vassily was taking and convinced him they where allies. Vassily seemed more aware now and eager to join in the attack on the Manor in Skrata.

Garros stepped off the boat well upriver of the docks of the town. He made his way through the pines on the outskirts to meet his comrades. United they waited for the signal. Toms plan had involved members of the Heralds of Summers Return, a group that worked in secret against the rule of the Witches of Irrisen.

First they would use oils destined for Redtooth to set the docks alight causing a great distraction.

Second Cherni Oslonovich had forged false ledgers indicating a large shipment missing. Baron Ivan Betyrina had gone up river with a guard escort to investigate.

Third Sanzina Rodoc, Skratas apothecary and alchemist, had been sympathetic to the cause and concocted a vial of corrosive liquid to help overcome the masterwork locks on the Manor.

When they saw the first flicker of flames on the docks that evening, the hunters moved in on the Manor.

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Breaching a service entrance the small group made their way inside turning each room over meticulously. Finding the stairs to the second floor they where spotted from above by one of the Jadwigas elite rangers. Wasting no time or words Tom grouped three arrows perfectly into the mans throat, heart and left lung.

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With the element of surprise gone they rushed up the stairs finding the door to the Witches quarters hastily barricaded. Their combined, magically enhanced strength, easily overcame the door and they made their desperate attack on Baroness Slavenas remaining guard.

After summoning the willpower to resist what he was sure was a powerful spell of death, again, during the last few moments of the battle Tom made his hail-mary attack. Dropping to one knee and exhaling slowly he loosed his shot. Striking the White Witch perfectly beside the right breast. A heart shot.

She was dead.

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After returning to Zelen via boat Vassily required divine aid to remove the curse upon him though he loathed religious ceremony. Garros made for Pribuskas manor while Tom waited with Li and Rakim on the dock. Both foreign men had remained in Zelen to keep up appearances.

Lady Pribuska was extremely pleased to have Slavenas head.

So pleased in fact that she offered the group a Warrant of Trade with which Rakim could produce in almost any city to conduct business on behalf of the Baroness. Though how well this document would stand up to the authority of Jadwiga with greater power was yet to be seen it was a great boon to have the patronage of Baroness Pribuska.

Where it would take them was yet to be decided…

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Garros Garamonde - Ice Shatters: The Next Staging Point
So Close Yet So Far...

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The Ulfen people know Irrisen is a harsh cold northern land covered in the snow and ice of a winter that has lasted centuries. The snow never melts, and almost as omnipresent as the snow and ice, is the feeling of dread that pervades the whole of Irrisen, for as harsh and unforgiving as the land is, it is nothing compared to those who rule it. Garros also knew this to be true for this was not his first time in the borders of the White Witch – Queen Elvanna.

The band of unofficial witch hunters had found themselves delving deeper into Irrisen with each incursion and the retainer knew this was not about to change. They were making strides and gaining momentum – Garros wondered if Tom was right, they quite possibly might have the initiative. With the word of Freyr stating that an attack by the Blackraven forces lead by himself personally on Three-Troll – the next staging point would be Redtooth, Garros was sure of it.

A subtle thought crossed the swordsman mind – as cold and as frozen Irrisen was, he knew ice either shattered or would melt away. What he didn’t know is that it also mirrored his heart. Would it be shattered in ice; consumed by his hatred and rage for the Jadwiga or would he find a way for it to melt and find peace?

Though, he knew he was set upon a path and he would continue down this road. He now had valuable allies and more importantly, friends for which he shared a growing bond, one that was becoming stronger and stronger. The raid on the Skrata manor was proof enough in of itself. Garros had charged Tom of the Gatii with infiltrating the town and gain as much information as he could and Tom had proved incredibly resourceful. Further to that, he was a demon possessed when time came to draw blades. Their incursion into the manor had been one of stealth until they were spotted by what appeared to be a bodyguard of the Baroness where in the blink of an eye Tom’s combat instincts saw three arrows fly before anyone moved a muscle. The man came crashing down in front of the group as Tom put his bow away. Also begrudgingly by the retainer, Tom took the honours of essentially single handily ending the life of Baroness Slavena. While Garros would have enjoyed the pleasure of the felling strike he took solace that one less Jadwiga took breath.

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A very important resource that not in abundance to the swordsman was time for Baba Yaga would be returning to take her daughter and grandchildren and supplant her with a new daughter queen. This, Garros thought, could be an opportunity in disguise for imagine the displeasure Baba Yaga would feel when she returned and Irrisen turned upside down and all if not many of the White Witches dead. Then one final stike at the terrible Crone herself.

A calculated strike at Redtooth would be the best course of action, Garros decided. The Warrant of Trade would see them taken there without incident, for how could Rakim deny them; there were profits to be had for the ever expanding merchant. Vassily had a debt to settle and Garros would use this as a resource to the cause. He would need Li for his diplomatic tongue was invaluable; though the swordsman had a different approach he knew there was much need in the venerable Tian. Finally, it would be foolish to have anyone other than Tom accompany the group. Garros would count on him again. The retainer made his way to the artificer at Blackraven Hall to prepare himself for what was ahead.

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Did the Blackraven forces and the party truly have the Initiative? Redtooth is to be the biggest staging point yet for Garros but Duke Arvanoff was renowned for his military acumen…
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The Blackravens march...
A pre-emptive strike against Three-Troll

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Freyr surveyed the Palisade wall of Three-troll from the furthest range of his two hastily assembled ballista. It was just before the dawn and he could almost see the mist and fog rising off the Grungir to the west. After discussing the particulars with Tom Gati they had come up with a plan of attack.

The siege equipment was of terrible quality and not designed to last. A short hour of sustained attack would inevitably provoke even these trolls, more intelligent than others of their species, into sallying out of the town and attacking his forces. In fact, the engineers where already preparing traps around the equipment for when they withdrew.

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The hillside offered excellent terrain for keeping his forces hidden and scattered into medium sized units. Skilled now at both skirmish warfare and holding a shield-wall the Blackravens would engage the enemy forces piecemeal as they charged up to Freyrs’ position.

His banner high, and the ballistas spitting bolts of fire, the commander of the Blackravens made himself a valuable target atop a hill overlooking the town. If everything went according to their plan this fight would be over by late midday and he could withdraw back across the border.

He worried that all the events the witch hunters had set into motion had not yet provoked and serious retaliation. He hoped he would have enough time to lay waste to this large force of troll auxiliaries and regroup in the event his suspicions where accurate…

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Vas Nabokov - Going Home

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The rocking of the boat shook Vas from his slumber. His rest had been fitful, as it had been nearly every night since the encounter with Elvanna. The slumber itself had been oddly peaceful, but since awakening he only felt mad. Yuri had been so close, and yet now he was so far away. Arvanoff and his hag had seen to that. Now Vas had two more debts to pay. There would be 3 heads for his axe now. His axe…

He looked at his new axe, the unimaginatively named Cassie II. It was of fine quality and very sharp. It could shave the hairs off a gnat, so the shopkeep said. He’d actually contemplated killing the two men who failed to bring his old axe back to him, but it wasn’t the time.This would have to suffice. He would have to get used to it. He supposed it wasn’t much different than the Splices back in Canterwall trying out new arms. With any luck it would sing its song of steel for him soon.

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This made him think of home. It had been so long ago but his memories of it were clear. The Moors, the Fog, the scent of blood on the air. The stories of people who just went… missing. If you stayed quiet you could hear the faint sound of despair whistling through the trees. Funnily, it also drowned out the screams of the still living more often than not. A fact of which Vas was acutely aware. It had been the perfect place to grow up.

He knew the trip would be long but it would be worth it when his group got the information needed. He hoped Yuri was resting well. He’d need to enjoy it while he could. The bleak harbor of Nidal beckoned.

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