The sounds of battle finally silenced with fall of the last of Asvig’s drunken warriors. The party stood amidst the chaos, having fought a long grueling battle and having drained a majority of their daily allotment of spells and powers. Koya and Zack set to work seeing which of the warriors were dying or dead. Asvig was certainly slain and the woman by his side was grievously injured, but not bleeding out.
Tayllon, Liam, and Mira began thoroughly scouring the farm, hoping that there would be a secret cellar or hidden crawlspace where they would find Ulf Gormundur, the guide that would help show the caravan the way over the crown of the world, and Suishen, the Amatatsu family blade. Although the three were able to find Asvig’s treasury, neither Suishen nor Ulf were anywhere on the farm. Once they had accounted for everything in the treasury and off the warriors, Koya and Zack had finished tending to the drunken warriors. The survivors, though stable, were still unconscious.
Though Asvig had been killed in the throes of combat, the red-haired spellcaster by his side was alive, albeit incapacitated. The party decided that she would likely be the best source of information. Having tied up the drunken warriors, as well as the woman, Mira cast a cure spell upon her hoping it would be enough to bring her back to consciousness. The woman awoke, gave the party a look of disdain and haughtily cast her head aside, eyes closed, refusing to answer the party’s initial queries.
Frustrated from having been the brunt of the woman’s magics, Tayllon attempted to scare her into talking before the rest of the party could think of what to do with her. Caught unaware, they attempted to follow in kind and assist in the intimidation, but the red-haired woman remained defiant and silent.
Liam shook his head and told Tayllon to stand aside. He asked the party to follow his lead as he would try to coax information out of the woman. Thinking back, the party had fought many vicious foes, but one in particular stood out to Liam as it was the creature that had assaulted him right before he met the rest of the party. Liam took the form of a sinspawn, and upon threats of feeding upon her the unbridled pride in her stubborn soul, broke the woman down into acquiescence.
She revealed herself as Helva, wife of Asvig Longthews. When asked about Ulf, Helva stated that Ulf had been assaulted and knocked out upon his arrival at the farm. Ulf was then taken from the farm by cloaked strangers, though she knew not where, nor by whom. When asked about the Tian sword, Helva confirmed that Asvig had indeed had some of his men aid him in raiding and stealing the sword from Fynn Snaevald. She knew not where the sword, nor Ulf was.
It was also revealed, though obvious by now, that Asvig had ordered the initial assault on the caravan by way of the Aril’s Hammer. It seemed that Asvig was a quite a regular patron with the Rimerunners Guild and had frequent dealings with them. Finally, when asked why Asvig and his men were celebrating this night, Helva revealed that it was an Ulfen funeral feast for Asvig’s own ring-giver, a jarl by the name of Snorri Stone-Eye. Snorri was set to be burned in Ulfen tradition, by way of funeral ship, shortly after dawn. The problem with this news was that Helva revealed that Asvig had stated Ulf would soon be joining Snorri. This was worrying, as the party had assaulted the farm early in the morning, and that sunrise was only a few hours away. Hoping they could get to the funeral ship and get Ulf and possibly Suishen off before being burned to ashes, the party hurriedly headed towards the launch point of the funeral ship, Spear-shaker’s point, a peninsula roughly fifteen minutes from Kalsgard’s western gate.
Tayllon stayed behind as the party hurried towards Kalsgard. Not feeling particularly gracious about tasting the brunt of Helva’s magic, knowing she was evil thanks to Zack’s divine powers, and having outlived her usefulness, Tayllon quickly and mercifully killed Helva. After all, if left alive, she could have tipped off others or perhaps suffered an even worse fate such as the first warriors that had assaulted the caravan.
The party staggered into Kalsgard an hour later. It was still dark out and sunrise was still a little over an hour off. They stopped first at the caravan unsurprisingly finding no one awake. Shalelu, Ameiko, Kelda, and Spivey were not with the rest of the caravan, so presumably they were still at Fynn Snaevald’s estate. Koya, though willing to continue further, but stated she needed to pray to Desna first, and if she was still needed, would be with the caravan until the rest of the party brought Ameiko and Fynn up to speed.
The party arrived at Fynn’s estate shortly afterward, finding only Kelda awake as a night guard, and Spivey performing her morning prayers to Desna. They quickly roused Ameiko and Fynn and brought them up to speed. The party asked Fynn and Kelda about Snorri Stone-Eye and learned he was nicknamed “The Mad Reaver.” The Mad Reaver attained fame in Kalsgard for leading many successful Ulfen raids on the people of the “soft lands” south of the Lands of the Linnorm Kings. On one of his most recent raids, Snorri Stone-Eye had contracted a mysterious illness and his decline and death came rather swiftly.
With only a little less then an hour until sunrise, the party hurriedly left Fynn’s estate but unexpectedly was greeted by Uksahkka at the gates of the estate. Uksahkka wanted to hear of what the party had found upon visiting Asvig’s farm, but the party was in a hurry so they elected to catch her up to speed as they headed for the western gate. After relaying what had happened and what they had learned and feared would happen, Uksahkka stopped the party and let them know they needed not to proceed to the funeral ship with haste, as a thick fog was going to roll in within the hour, and linger throughout most of the day, delaying the Ulfen burial, as revelers would not be able to spot the burning funeral ship amidst the dense fog. When asked of how she could be so certain that fog was coming, Uksahkka stated that her people, the Varki, have had a particularly strong affinity with nature. Her aunt was a highly regarded type of Varki shaman called a “wind-whisperer” and that some of her aunt’s gift had been passed down through the bloodline to her.
Sure enough, as the light of sunrise began trying to peek over the horizon, an overcast sky slowly lit and Rimeflow River disappeared into the morning fog. The party was relieved they would have a chance to rest before sneaking aboard the funeral ship. Uksahkka stated she would be able to spend the day procuring quick, small boats that the party could use to row up to the funeral ship. Uksahkka bid farewell to the party, telling them to meet up with her mid afternoon nearby Spear-shaker’s point.
There was now a plan set in motion. However, it would be impossible to board the ship unnoticed before it was launched, fog or not. Snorri Stone-Eye, after all, was a famed and revered Ulfen raider and there would be many warriors serving as honor guard at his funeral, not to mention spectators and well-wishers. After returning to the caravan, they spent a little time discussing things further but knew they needed some reconnaissance. Fortunately, Shalelu had stopped in bringing with her a morning catch to use for breakfast. Shalelu told the party she would scope out Spear-shaker’s point while also continuing to see what she could find out about the large raven. Sandru offered his assistance in “finding some way” to sell off some of the things the party had procured off Asvig’s men. Finally, the party could rest after a long, arduous night.
The party awoke early in the afternoon, and found Ameiko cooking a lunch for them. Ameiko stated that Shalelu reported back quickly after they had gone to sleep. At the funeral site, there were at least three dozen honor guards. While the party had faced more warriors the night before, they were of a lesser lord, and inebriated. Also, this would be in a very public place, and it would likely be frowned upon to see outlanders effectively raiding the burial ship of one of Kalsgard’s most revered raiders. As a safe measure, to ensure that the ship would not burn before they got to it and confident in that they could easily get Ulf and Suishen off before anyone ashore would notice, they decided to raid the ship shortly before sunset, when the rescheduled launch would be.
Seeing as how nothing they have tried to accomplish has been easy, the party decided that the best course of action was to get as much help as possible, in the off chance they did need to flee from a small army of angry Ulfen warriors. Shalelu was nowhere to found. Ameiko needed to stay out of sight. Sandru was conducting business. Spivey, is rather… noticeable. The party decided then to take Koya and Kelda with them. Koya suggested learning more about Snorri Stone-Eye, so the party spent a bit of time learning what they could from the Ulfen locals. In addition to what Kelda and Fynn had told the party, they learned that the Rimerunners Guild had financed many of Snorri’s southern raids and took a cut of the raids’ profits. Apparently, Snorri had also sold off or bequeathed many of his assets before his demise. Most of this is believed to have gone to the Rimerunners Guild.
The continuing connection with the Rimerunners Guild was troubling to the party. Of the party, only Tayllon had any interaction with them, as he had gone with Sandru in an attempt to carefully investigate the Aril’s Hammer under guise of legitimate business concerns. Tayllon recalls it was a quite boring experience and that even if they were involved in some way to the caravan’s troubles, they are still, at the core, a merchant’s guild. They pondered this as they met up with Uksahkka a few hours before the launch. A problem then arose. Uksahkka only expected four of them and had thus procured only two kayaks. Each kayak could hold two passengers, but one was modified to accommodate a third, but would need at least one strong rower to maintain its speed and mobility. Uksahkka gave kayaking lessons then left the party to try and quickly procure another kayak for Koya and Kelda. They were beginning to cut it close.
Unfortunately, it was not until sunset before Uksahkka returned with the third kayak. Before departing, Uksahkka gave the party a finely carved clay token of a songbird telling them to present it to the priest in the shrine of Shelyn in the Fire Quarter, as that was her safe house. Though a majority of the fog had cleared out, enough remained to provide ample cover for approach by kayak. As they readied the kayaks, suddenly, from out of the water, an enormous crab, bigger then anything the party had ever seen burst out of the water smashing its claw into one of the kayaks. The party was happy that the creature didn’t strike them first, but were still staring down at the biggest crab they had ever seen. Through uncanny insight, Mira recognized the creature as a shark-eating crab, just as it grabbed her with one of its pincers.
Zack, Tayllon, and Kelda waded into the shallows to face the beast head on, but its thick chitin proved to be quite a substantial form of natural armoring. The shark-eating crab maintained its vice like grip on Mira and had grabbed Kelda as well. Standing back, Koya called upon Desna to revitalize her allies while Liam drew a wand and unleashed jets of scorching fire unto the enormous crab. In the throes of battle, on a stroke of luck, Kelda wriggled free of the crab’s grip and managed to strike a successful blow. Seeing the ease by which he was hitting the shark-eating crab with scorching rays, Liam decided to preserve his wand and took a gamble that had failed every time he had tried it before. Liam called to the stars themselves to rain down on the crab, and from above it, a rain of minute meteors struck the crab piercing easily through the creature’s thick shell. After a second rain of meteors and more successful blows from the warriors, the shark-eating crab threw Mira aside and retreated back into the waters of the Rimeflow. Turns out it wasn’t such an easy meal after all.
After a quick mending spell to fix the damaged kayak, the party looked up to see a flame lit amidst the fog. That was not a good sign, the ship had already been lit and was adrift the Rimeflow. There wasn’t much time. The party quickly paddled up to the funeral ship and boarded. Perhaps this was better as the cover from the dissipating fog and the distance from the shore would aid greatly in keeping their activity covert from the mourners and honor guards ashore. With a silent image ready, the pyre around Snorri’s wrapped body was extinguished and an illusion of a fire was created by Liam. Knowing they would need smoke, Liam cast a prestidigitation spell and maintained the illusion that the pyre was still lit. The rest of the party called to the wrapped figure, hoping it was Ulf. However, after cutting the wraps off, a wooden mannequin was revealed. Something was wrong here. Maybe Ulf and Suishen were thrown amidst Snorri’s burial possessions in the hold below.
Moving quickly, the party readied to jump into the dark hold below. Mira tossed a rock with a light spell below to provide illumination while Zack was first to jump below. As he landed in the deck below, he saw that the fog had penetrated inside the hold, which struck him as odd as there were no windows into the hold. Before he could relay the oddity to the others, from the fog, a seaweed covered, decayed arm reached out and smashed into Zack. The enormous blow took him by surprise and he felt his own lifeforce being sucked from him. However, his will and determination pushed himself backup to face the new threat. Zack relayed that something had attacked him to those above. Kelda jumped down next and moved into the fog, right by the attacker. She was blindsided by a blow from the creature and turned swinging her longsword into the fog. Tayllon joined the fray swinging at the outline in the fog, but only connecting with his starknife. Koya called to Desna to heal Zack and Kelda while Mira dropped behind Zack and healed him as well. Mira easily recognized the “fog” as an obscuring mist spell as a seaweed covered greataxe burst out of it cutting deeply into Zack, this time, draining away some of his life force. Koya and Zack called upon Desna’s aid to defeat the foe, Koya empowering herself and her allies and Zack striking at the shrouded creature with holy fervor. Mira continued to heal Zack while Kelda and Tayllon swung their blades into the mist. In righteous fury, Zack delivered the final blow and the mist dissipated.
Before them was a rotting corpse covered in seaweed and with an eyepatch. Despite the deterioration, Kelda immediately recognized the undead abomination as Snorri Stone-Eye, who, according to Mira, had been transformed into a draugr captain. The party began quickly searching the hold for Ulf or Suishen while Mira cast a detect magic spell hoping the sword would quickly register. It didn’t. The only thing magical she found was a smooth grey stone lodged in Snorri’s eye socket beneath the eyepatch. As Zack was searching, he was oddly captivated by a winged helm in Ulfen style. Zack wasn’t sure why he was so drawn to the helm and knew that taking from Snorri, who was wrongfully turned into undead and a respected Ulfen warrior was wrong. Still, he consulted his Phylactery of Faithfulness and was relieved to learn that taken the helm was the right thing to do.
Having not found Ulf nor Suishen, the party realized that given Snorri’s condition, this was obviously a trap someone had set for them. They began heading out, once again Zack heading out first. Zack poked his head out of the hold to be greeted by Koya, who was concerned about Zack’s well being. Before he could answer, or even step out of the hold. Four vials of alchemist’s fire had smashed into different sections of the deck. Frantically, Zack looked around and upward for what had dropped them but saw nothing that could have thrown them. Instead, out of the corner of his eye, he saw one of party’s kayaks, which had been moored to the funeral ship, drifting freely away from the now burning funeral ship.