So this week in the Anduwin Chronicles…

In the aftermath of the battle with the cephalopod, 428, Sivaras, Granuaile and Magnus begin to parley with the troll chieftain via his translator. After a period of back and forth discussions about why the group of non-trolls are in this tribes land and killing their hunting quarry, the two groups debate what transpired, the monsters body begins to convulse, causing many to wonder if the beast is actually dead. It retches and then expels a chest or trunk. It would have been spit up from its mouth were it not for the hole burned through by the wizard’s fireball detonating moments earlier. The chest the creature spat out is claimed by the trolls as spoils of battle, though Journ’ee and 428 do protest this for a time, until the troll leader begins to unsheathe his own blade, causing the dwarf and giantkin to settle down, accepting that the tribe, who vastly outnumber the party, has claimed that this is their reward for the kill. Magnus steps up, as his quest is to bring the warring troll tribes together for a peace talk. He is able to reach a diplomatic solution allowing the trolls to keep the kill spoils, in exchange for locations of other tribes land, and the names of the tribes and chieftains. With this settled, it is agreed that the party of adventurers will be guests of the trolls at a feast to celebrate the kill of the cephalopod. With this agreed, many of the trolls who tower over even 428, set about butchering the tentacle carcass, cutting the meat away and preparing for the feast. Brant Goldust remains still and hidden in his hiding place. He sees an opportunity for action when the trolls begin to work on the butchery and so sneaks out and collects some of the stomach acid that has been thrown up along with the chest, and stores this acid in one of his alchemical vials for study later. He then swiftly scampers up the tree again and holding himself perfectly still hums a quiet tune to himself to allow him to understand the languages spoken, even without the translator. The magik takes effect and Brant is able to follow the conversation effortlessly, and even learn if everything is being translated accurately. To his relief, it is.

Meanwhile, Journ’ee decides to cook the roc’s egg that had survived the battle, and adds it to the food the trolls are preparing from the creatures hide. However, Journ’ee has limited experience in bush craft and survival, and so is unsure of how to approach this task. He manoeuvres the egg to rest over a small hole in the ground, and commands his flame creature familiar to climb beneath it, to use her heat as the means to cook. Journ’ee is hoping to offer scrambled egg to the trolls to add to the feast, but in the end, he manages to create a sort of cooked egg soup. Granuaile assists Journ’ee in this endeavour, and draws on experience from her military days. She advises that in times of need the soldiers would have to kill and cook their own horses for meat, in order to survive.

At mention of the horses, attention is brought back to Julio, whose breathes have drawn shallow and laboured, as a slowly setting patch of crimson discolours his otherwise shiny brown coat. This is the first the party have noticed the horse’s injuries. Granuaile has grown very attached to her horse of the last few months of travel, and so is upset to see him so wounded and likely to not survive. She attempts to apply slaves and wraps around the wounded area, but her experience in medicine is limited. Seeing this level of distress over the beautiful Granuaile, Sivaras tries to help. Sivaras applies her druidic knowledge to the salves, to help them sit in a better place to promote healing, and the wraps are rebound, slightly tighter to better slow and stop the bleeding. Not knowing what else to do, and thinking that the horse is likely done for, the blue woman gently places her ringed hand onto the horse to calm him, and thinks about trying to restore and return him to his stronger fighting self. No sooner has the thought occurred then the ring pulses slightly, noticeable to Julio and Sivaras alone, before the crimson begins to retract back into Julio’s body. The fur remaining dark, and is growing darker, turning black. The shadow overhead seems to linger, and Julio himself seems to transform into a darker version of himself. His coat- midnight, and his eyes flash red for a moment before returning to their natural state. The energy doesn’t seem to leave the horse, but stays, coursing through his veins and muscles, and making the powerful warhorse stronger, and faster. Julio stands, pulling itself free from the branch, but the magik is still in effect, and so the wound closes in an instant, and the horse stands proudly. Recovered. A slight breeze passes and Sivaras could almost swear she sees Julio nod almost imperceptibly in her direction, as some form of acknowledgement and thanks. The whole transformation is over in moments, and Sivaras is shaken, but instead of showing this, tries to cover it up, as her skills druidic healing that had helped Julio.

During the festivities, Magnus and Granuaile tell the trolls stories of the party’s adventures, made visual by Magnus magikally controlling flames and shaping water into the form of enemies. Each of these watery and fiery foes charges Lady Granuaile, who parries attacks and twirls her warhammer like a death dealing baton, breaking the watery forms into splatters across the sand banks, and the fiery forms of greyborn are split with each swing of her hammer, becoming smaller and weaker with less fuel for the flames. The trolls are visually impressed not only by the stories told, but also by the magik used to make them appear more real and dramatic.

As the night rolls on, some trolls begin an impromptu fighting ring, and start to spar with each other for trinkets and boasting rights. The giantkin, 428, steps up and is allowed to fight. He engages in a few knife fights with the trolls, and wins several matches without breaking a sweat. However, he is then challenged by the chief. A quick appraisal of the troll and the customs the party has seen so far suggests that it would be unwise for 428 to win this bout, but equally foolish for the barbarian to throw the fight and let the chief win. The rules are simple. First to nick the blade into an opponent three times wins, with drawn blood as the proof. 428 gets in two nicks easily, and then he starts weaving, and dodging, putting on a show. The chief catches up, and in succession draws two lines of red across the giantkin’s chest. What follows is an exchange of blades swiping, and missing from both combatants, until the fight has gone on long enough, and the chief draws a third cut of fresh blood, ending the brawl and beating 428 in the process. Though Magnus has suspicious that the giantkin had indeed allowed the chief to win. From his prowess in the fighting pit, even if he didn’t win, he has fought off a significant number of the tribe, a female troll starts to make amorous advances towards him. Whilst he finds this experience odd and unusual, he goes along with the trolless, again, not wanting to offend the trolls customs or cultures. The pair make their way out of sight of the feast, and return an hour or so later, not noticed by anyone else in the party, other than Brant, who has continued to observe and watch for any signs of hostility throughout the whole troll presence. When the evening air draws colder, and the feast is coming to a close, the information Magnus has asked for, about the names and locations of other tribes is provided, and the two groups part ways, as unlikely allies in their one time fight against a river monster.

Not wanting to camp near the cephalopod carcass, fearing it may be attacked or scavenged by other wild animals in the woods, the party travel in land about a mile. Sivaras stops and asks for directions from some of the woodland animals. Most ignoring her, until a small coral snake with a golden crown-like pattern on its head seems to pay more attention to her. With the help of this kingsnake and some others met along the way, a suitable cave is found. Granuaile and 428 check, and confirm that it is empty of threats, such as bears or wolves before setting up a camp and bedding down for the night. Brant is frustrated with the party for everything that has happened and decides not to sleep in the cave, instead cocooning himself in his bedroll to stay warm whilst not getting the benefit of the cave’s shelter. Sivaras and Granuaile take first watch, and spend some time awkwardly talking about Julio’s miraculous recovery. Magnus starts to fold paper into small boats and then pours water into a bowl. With each boat he mutters a spell and sets it to float in the water. As the spell takes effect, the paper boat sails off the water, into the sky, speeding up and then flying out of sight. The spells are messages he is sending to people he knows, including messages to his family. Magnus has used this spell for months now, whilst travelling, and has learned that he has always known if the target has heard his message, even if they don’t reply. However, this night, he is shocked to learn that one message isn’t delivered. He starts frantically packing up his belongings and talking about needing to get back, before he gives important party items to Granuaile and says he needs to get home immediately. He takes Julio and rides off in the night. Granuaile does not wake any others for their watches not wanting to alarm them that the wizard had ridden off in the night.

In the morning the party slowly begins to stir and Granuaile shares that she has stayed on watch all night, after Magnus had departed. Without waiting for any further information, 428 charges, striking heavy feet into earth as he runs after the hoof tracks of the stronger Julio. Sivaras reflects to the group that Magnus has showen considerable power in the battle with the trolls, and that he has potential to be of great aid to the group and her own cause, as well as Brand Goldust adding that Magnus was too important to allow to simply leave. He could be captured by the pursuing Templars, and made to give up information on the other party members and their mission, and that is simply too great a risk to take.

Sivaras opens her spell book, and uses her staff to start drawing runes into the dirt in a circle or disc, before filling the runes with magikal energy to create an invisible chariot, capable of holding 428 and Brant’s combined weight. Next, the blue skinned woman explains her plan to the party, before transforming her body again. Though this time she does not become a bear, but instead takes on a form similar to Julio’s powerful warhorse build. The bard and barbarian take up their places on the invisible chariot, and Granuaile mounts the horse form of Sivaras Marvolaas. Four of the party members take chase trying to reach Magnus, who has several hours head-start on them. Journ’ee remains behind at the campsite, refusing to allow himself to be distracted by the other dwarf’s personal crisis, and wanting to try and keep the whole group focused on the mission.

The pursuing four give chase, with Sivaras’ hooves pounding the ground at an impossible speed cantoring along with the invisible chariot magikally following behind her, and somehow keeping pace. Even though there are no physical tethers between the chariot and the horse, the magik that made the chariot came from the horse, and so the chariot keeps pace and follows. After an hour of continuous riding and galloping, the chariot fades out of existence and Sivaras’ form returns to being a blue skinned woman. The group needs to rest for a few minutes while the druid draws more runes and transforms herself again, and they ride on. Repeating this ritual each hour until they catch up to the dwarf with a commanding lead.

Between the combined efforts of 428, who knows and respects Magnus, and the silver tongued Brant the party are able to convince Magnus that leaving is fine but that leaving the party is not. Magnus is angry and worried and shared that he had send a message to his son, but not heard that it was received, and this made him think his children may be dead. He needs to flee home to see for himself, or to save them if he can. After tears he agrees to stay with the group, but only because he may need the groups assistance in crossing the world to get to his home country. There is rumour Brant knows of about a powerful magikal ally who may be able to transport the group across the world that lives a few days travel to the south, but is certainly closer than a few months at sea to get back to Bukká Mortainé.

Granuaile, Brant, 428, Magnus and Julio head towards a pre-agreed meeting place in the south while Sivaras heads back into the wooded camp site to collect Journ’ee and tell him of the plan to reunite in a day or so, and then travel onwards to Bukká Mortainé.

And that’s where we left off…