“Goodbye Mother, Goodbye Lord”
Mid morning of the 25th of Dasad, 1331 Avard.
The five remaining members of Caerne's Clan were welcomed like heros. They had brought back from across the pass a large herd of goats and sheep, ensuring the survival of the town of River Crown. The attacks by the undead had left the town with what would be a tough winter. Since the clan had erected a totem to ward off the undead, there had been no attacks by the unliving.
Maleah's cold stare kept many away from her, but Liam's gentle nature meant that he was often touched, even regarded as something more than a hero. Maleah retreated to the temple to get away from the crowds, and Liam retreated to the forge. Sir Tyrne, Lord of River Crown, arranged for several goats and even a cow to be prepared for a feast at noon, and a celebration for all of that day.
Telemon was met by his wife, who offered him a good luck charm. She had stayed in Galthin of Hodrax's former room, and found a small treasure the man had hidden away in there. No one in the town recognized the silver brooch on a chain, and so she had been allowed to keep it. The brooch had on its surface the engraved image of a crown, a ship, and shears.
The image matched a seal found on the encoded elven letters Maleah had found in Kaala's portfolio. The meaning of the seal was unknown, but Telemon decided to wear it for good luck, anyway.
The elf Ethelen, bodyguard for the Heir Mage Boredmin Dunnigan, had apparently gone through town about a week before. He had stayed a night, and then left. No one had particularly liked him, as he had cruel-looking eyes, and seemed to laugh at everyone behind their backs.
When asked where Wyanne had gone, and why, the elder Weavie said that she had probably gotten cabin fever pretty badly. Aelar had never heard of cabin fever; the winters of Giranhad and Kur Maeth had never been so bad as those of the Janis Plains. When the elder Weavie explained that cabin fever caused people to see things, hallucinate, go stir crazy, Aelar became wary.
When Aelar left the town square, he was almost hit by an icicle. Had he moved a hair slower, then the foot-and-a-half icicle likely would have killed him. Telemon, though, saw something. He ran around the home from which the icicle had fallen, Aelar following. What Telemon had seen, he could not explain – it was as though a vole were traveling under the snow, and had just exploded before he could arrive. There was no sign of anything; just freshly turned snow.
Lucard took up his usual location on watch atop the miller's tower. He saw someone, some mile away across the snow-covered plains – and then that someone disappeared. When Will went to investigate, he returned, saying only that it was a 'man and his dog', and then Will added a strange word: 'pain'.
Lucard, Aelar, and Telemon went to investigate. They could find only a single print in the snow, that of a huge wolf. “Snowfell.”
In the forge, Liam worked diligently, taking refuge in the ring of steel on steel. Sir Tucker worked on a variety of farm implements, playing catch-up for the fall harvest, and putting their new pig iron to good use.
The row of hoes and rakes and scythes fell down, and the calamity raised quite a ruckus. Liam moved forward to begin picking them up, when Sir Tucker tackled him out of the way – just in time. A remaining scythe almost killed him.
There was ice up in the rafters holding the sod roof up. Nowhere else in the forge was there ice, save right over where Liam had nearly died. The ice was dripping, slowly, almost menacingly.
Aelar had split up from Lucard and Telemon, once they arrived back in town. He was confused and concerned about the snowfell print, and what it could mean. As he walked through town, he could hear children playing in the snow a street over, the singing of hymns at the temple, and other things throughout the town. He was alone, and suddenly a snowfell walked across the street.
The snowfell padded quickly, though without running. It looked right at Aelar as it went by, and he noticed that it wore a collar. And then it was gone.
Aelar raced up to where the snowfell had been, sword drawn and ready – and there was nothing. No sign of a snowfell. Not even the faintest sign of a print. Aelar began to panic, thinking he was getting cabin fever.
The guard was called out. Zhaunee was dead. He had been in the commons barracks with the few other men-at-arms there, and Zhaunee had died in the room with them. There was ice stuffed into his nose and mouth, and he had suffocated in his sleep, turning blue, ice even into his lungs.
Sir Tyrne and the clan quickly moved to investigate. Maleah was one of the only ones to look up. Ice was dripping down onto Zhaunee's corpse, and a small tunnel had been burrowed through the sod roof to the other side. The hovering ball of light that was Will easily illuminated the tunnel of ice.
Sir Tyrne heard Sir Tucker's warning of what had happened in the forge. There was only one building in town with a roof of solid wood, and that was the temple. Sir Tyrne ordered everyone to the temple, and had the alarm triangle rung. The men-at-arms went door to door ordering everyone to the temple immediately.
Lucard went to the barn, and felt that the best thing to do would be to free the goats and sheep. The clan had shed a lot of blood and spent a lot of time to get those animals over the pass and to River Crown, and Lucard was damned if he was going to let anything get to them. He freed them all, and they scattered throughout the town.
People continued to stream towards the temple, where Maleah stood outside with Liam. The two guided people inside, calming them, reassuring them in each their own way.
Some of the sheep began to bleat, and then they stampeded in one direction. Aelar, Telemon, and Lucard responded instantly – only to find half the goats dead. Icicles were sticking out of them, and the snow around the bases of the homes seemed somehow disturbed – as though something had tunneled through the snow and then burst up out of it.
There was snow all through the town, several feet thick around the homes, several feet thick on the homes. The snow outside the town was five feet thick.
The three of them began to realize just what kind of trouble they were in.
Someone cried out, “Wilhelm!” It was Wilhelm's brother, Reese. They raced to help Reese and Wilhelm – only to find Wilhelm quartered, even his head severed from the body. There was blood everywhere in the snow, and Reese was going into shock at finding his brother's body so. The snow around Wilhelm showed every sign of disturbance.
Aelar vomitted. He had fought the undead. He had fought elementals. He had killed and gutted livestock. But this was the first time he ever truly looked at death. He had played with Wilhelm and Reese when they were younger. The coppery tang of blood, the smell of feces and urine from Wilhelm's death, all were too much for the young elf. He vomitted again, dry-heaving, unable to bear the sight of the horror.
Telemon and Lucard held up somewhat better, but Telemon was keenly aware of the danger they were in. They grabbed up Reese and quickly retreated to the temple.
Liam pointed towards Sir Tyrne's manor and the barracks. The elf Ethelen stepped out from between the two buildings, snowfell padding along beside him, collars on the snowfell. Ethelen's eyes had been a cold blue color, but now they were burning with a green they had seen once before. Green fire like that had consumed Gale of Teras, apprentice to Master Heinz, and summoner of the undead. The spirit that had driven Gale had escaped, and found a new host: Ethelen.
The elf laughed evilly, and called them out, sarcastically asking how they would survive the winter. He pointed, and two snowfell bolted in the direction of the remaining goats. He pointed, and two snowfell bolted in the direction of the sheep.
As the possessed Ethelen walked back between the buildings, the clan reacted, firing arrows and slings at the snowfell. Lucard ran off after two of the snowfell, unable to bear the thought of losing the herd. Maleah and Liam hesitated, wanting to go attack the elf and make him pay. They saw Sir Tyrne and his men-at-arms, Sir Tucker with them, run towards the elf – and so Maleah and Liam ran off after Lucard, Aelar and Telemon with them.
The snowfell had been a trap. Small creatures made entirely of ice erupted from the snow, some of them even from on the roof tops, and began to hurl deadly sharp icicles at the clan. The snowfell turned and moved to attack, the icicle creatures aiding the snowfell with blades of ice.
The snowfell's eyes were dull. They did not breath as they lunged at them. The clan realized they were undead, and moved accordingly. The undead, they knew how to deal with. The snowfell went down, and each of the icicle creatures did, too – most of them destroyed in a single instant by Maleah's calling of a powerful ethereal shockwave.
They heard the battle going on in the town square, bordered on two sides by the barracks and Sir Tyrne's manor. The five of them raced to aid Sir Tyrne, and were caught in a blizzard just as they saw the square. Sir Tyrne and his men were surrounded by snowfell, and more snowfell guarded the possessed Ethelen. At least a dozen of the icicle creatures were attacking Sir Tyrne and his men, all of whom were trapped, back to back, defending themselves with their shields and their weapons as best they can.
Telemon, Lucard, and Aelar raced around the barracks. Liam clambered up on top of Sir Tyrne's manor, and advanced on the icicle creatures there. Maleah fired ethereal powers blindly at the creatures, trusting her instincts to guide her power through the blinding snowstorm. Will rushed forward to aid Sir Tyrne, even as one of the men-at-arms went to his knees, hamstrung by the snowfell.
The possessed elf gestured, and another dozen of the icicle creatures erupted from the snow, forming from the very ice itself. The fresh icicle creatures were waiting as the snowstorm dropped, restoring visibility to Maleah.
Two snowfell had been waiting for her, but one turned to attack the trio of Caerne's Clan that rushed around the barracks. The icicle creatures continued letting loose a hail of razor-edged ice, but Liam's armor and shield was able to shatter most of it, and he charged through a line of the creatures on Sir Tyrne's roof, before leaping down and moving to assist Sir Tyrne and Sir Tucker, even as another of Sir Tyrne's men went down.
Lucard rushed forward and leapt with the aid of an angel's wings, landing to hammer the possessed elf. Unfortunately, an air of extreme cold seemed to eminate from the elf, and his skin was armored in ice. Lucard found himself nearly surrounded by icicle creatures, face-to-face with a possessed elf.
The possessed elf brought to bear a blackened arm bone of an elf, with owl feathers attached. The blackened bone brought a green hailstrom of aetherfire to bear, and Sir Tyrne went down.
Liam went down in a hail of snowfell teeth and icicles, trying to rescue his liege lord.
Telemon rushed forward in desperation, and ran his grandfather's sword through the possessed elf. Still it remained standing.
Maleah drew upon the sanctions of the gods, and caused a golden crown to appear about the possessed elf's head. The crown of retribution would ensure that any damage dealt to the clan, was also dealt to the elf.
Aelar reacted in an instant, reaching out with his shamanistic powers, preventing a snowfell from slaying Maleah. He pulled some of the damage she took, taking it into himself. They both went down, but not dead.
The icicle creatures attacked Lucard; The elf, Ethelen, went down in a wail of defeat, Lucard also falling to the blow of the icy attack. The spirit fled Ethelen's Body.
Telemon found himself the only one standing, the sole target of all the icicle creatures. The snowfell, finding their prey unmoving despite the terrible gashes and red blood staining the snow, saw the remaining, moving target, and found it far more interesting.
Telemon had one instant, realizing that he was it. Maleah was down, as were Aelar and Lucard. Telemon was the only one left standing, surrounded by enemies. He reached down, picked up the diamond that was left in the elf's hand, and then picked up the blackened elf arm bone.
The icicle creatures were his to command – but he could feel the cold of the diamond. The diamond would possess him with its cold, even kill him, if he wasn't careful. He remembered too well the huge ice creature that had become of Boredmin the heir-mage's brother. The undead snowfell, however, resisted Telamon's command, and the blackened bone was dropped immediately.
Telemon used the icicle creatures to attack the snowfell, and to defend him, while he helped the barely conscious Lucard back to his feet. He also commanded the icicle creatures to aid Liam, but there was nothing they could do.
Lucard, barely alive, in a blast of radiant energy, destroyed the necrotic bone.
Will pulsed, and icicle creatures and snowfell alike were attacked, as they attacked one another. And suddenly there was silence.
Only Telemon and Lucard were standing, finding themselves on top of one of the village buildings, not even remembering the climb up.
Will plunged into Liam's chest, even as Maleah issued her last breath, and Liam began to breath again. Maleah's body dissolved in a dusting of blue light, and then she and Will were gone.
Sir Tucker, roused, could only run his hands through his beard. His liege lord, Sir Tyrne, was dead.
Mid afternoon of the 25th of Dasad, 1331 Avard.
We met at my place on the 25th of February, 2010. Dave made his fishy-noodle bowl, and there was much rejoicing. I liked Bill's take on 'cabin fever', and how Aelar thought he had a bad case of it. Ross' rolls were phenomenal; the damage he dealt the evil spirit was impressive, more than 50 points in one strike! There were a couple of times that, had Ross rolled less than 10, the game likely would have been all over, the campaign ended. And yet he managed to pull through, and gave everyone a chance.
Liam's fall, and Maleah's substitution in his place, was a better ending than Liam's death. The party was very nearly wiped clean off the map. Telemon was the only one even standing, there towards the end. Why? Because the party split up. Rule Number One of D&D: never split the party. “Divide and Conquer” was what the party tried, but in the end, it's what they let the enemy do to them. Awesome rolls, Ross; you pulled everyone's butts from the fire.
Even though Liam died temporarily it was an awesome session. The first half of the battle my 20-sider rolled good and the second half (when it mattered) it rolled as bad as possible including my final death saving throw that ended up a 1… There were 7 attempts to stabilize Liam (4 from the Telamon-controlled shardlings and 3 from Liam) and they ALL failed. Oh, and the times Will tried to burst but failed - talk about bad luck… I think Whalin wanted a chat with Liam lol
Maybe Whalin got that chat, before sending him back. Wunner how that's going to affect Liam. :)