This week in the Anduwin Chronicles….
Night has fallen as the SeaCrest passes the statue of the Maiden, making it near impossible to see settlements or land. The captain points in a direction, and wards that rowing the skiff will be difficult. Heading north from Booty Bay, the weather is getting colder, with occasional ice shards and bergs in the ink dark waves. Two skiffs are lowered into the water, in preparation for our moonlight crossing. Karl asks around quickly for holy water and iron filings to enable him to conjure his magical steed, but looking, he finds not too much. Granuelle does have some iron filings from earlier in her travels, and gives them to him. The lady then takes out a silver coin, and drops this into her Chalice. The cup shakes and dissolves the coin into a powdered form of silver and some other alloy elements. This too is also given to Karl.
Abraxos doffs his armor to prepare for the watery trip over freezing water, after his last sinking. Kavan himself, is once again weakened from his ordeal, and passes out on a stretcher. Karl affixes Kavan to his summoned ox. The mount begins to rise, but the knot was loose, and his delicate package falls onto the deck. Seeing this, Granuelle then assists Karl to tie the knot again, as Karl mounts his beast and he flies ox and Kavan to the surface. Stenton leaps from the boat into the icy plunge, and out of sight. We descend to take up position in a single skiff, now that Kavan and Karl aren’t sailing with us. Granuelle and Abraxos take up the ores, and the lady asks Patch to keep an eye out, and keep us on track, as directed by the captain.
Patch is able to see and navigate the crossing, and avoiding colliding with blocks of nearly invisible ice, with the aid of Karl from the sky. The ores pound the water over and over, as the solider and the lady row for an ages.
Karl rides through the sky, and connects with the mist. The ice turning it into near solid form hanging in the air. He feels his hands freezing onto the reigns, as he struggles to hold on. His torch goes out in the sheer cold. Karl turns back, and warns us in the boat of this, and tells us to slow our journey.
Patch clicks over and over conjuring divide fire into the air around us to heat the boat, and some of the icy mist begins to melt in the air. We sail onwards towards what seems to be a blanket of ice, frost and mist. Granuelle hurls a firebolt, but the cold around us extinguishes the bolt before it hits home. Karl chooses to ride directly up, to see how far this expanse before us is. He sees the blanket reaching out for a mile before us, with the shoreline beyond, and a rocky welcome. We seem to have no option but to try to break a tunnel through the mist. Brant takes out his artefact, the ice stone. His hands are already frozen, so the stone doesn’t burn him. He touches this to the water, and the sea around the skiff turns solid. Granuelle strikes the ice holding out vessel steady, and breaks it. Patch asks the lady about her magical wind, but she feels her wind may not be strong enough, but she tries anyway. The wind does carve through, and the mist seems to hold without caving in.
We agree to travel through with Granuelle’s wind leading the way, patch causing bursts of flame in the air to keep us warm, and Karl riding Ollie who is pushing the skiff. Abraxos warns that we are not alone here, and there is something in the mist. At the half mile point, we encounter shards of something, with sticky ichor. Abraxos keeps an eye out, and notices what appears to be a frozen, giant web. He skies what look to be clumps of snow in the web filled sky. As he focuses, the clumps aren’t snow at all, but seem to be cacoons, and body shaped. A shiver runs down our respective spines, and Abraxos and Brant recognises that this was the influence of something trying to get into their minds. Their mental magic, and time with mind shielding rings respectively has helped them in this insight. Karl succumbs to this influence, and steers Ollie away to one side. A funnel in the mist opens up, and Karl continues, until he is alone and held in a web, panicking, as the boat continues onward on its own momentum.
Karl stills his panic, and then heaves his arms free and takes hold of Ollie, and orders the ox to fly back, and rescue Kavan and Karl. Above him, as the three flee, beasts are flitting their way down the webs. Spiders, but huge. They escape and Karl raises the alarm of the spiders, to us all, as he prepares for an assault. Abraxos keeps rowing, and Brant begins to cut away at the mist and webs. Granuelle conjures more wind, and Patch continues to warm the air to prevent us all fro, freezing. We move further, and some smaller spiders throw themselves at us, skidding on the water. Swarming, and a horde of the arachnids. Karl fires his crossbow, but aims low in his panic, and peirces the water. We begin throwing spells and firing into the swarm. Brant reminds Patch of his magic sword that can cut through anything, so the bard and archeologist swap places on the boat. Brant starts to insult the spiders, weaving his magic into a psychic attack. The swarm becomes smaller bit by bit, and when Karl is sure they’re close enough he conjures a dreadful aspect, and a chunk of them are frightened of the paladin, and stop their advance.
The spiders begin to throw themselves at him, and he shrugs many off, but seven bite home, injuring him greatly. He feels a pulse of disease creep into him, but his divine strength now renewed and recovered from alcoholism, he is now immune to diseases. The boats speed slows, with Ollie’s strength failing from being bitten. Karl asks Brant to cut Kavan free of Ollie, which he does whilst continuing to weave his magic into more insults. The paladin pushes Kavan onto the boat, and jumps himself into the vessel. Karl orders Ollie to charge, and he does, plowing into the horde, before being overwhelmed, and dragged under the water, with flesh being rended from his form.
Stop. The boat runs a ground, having hit some form of sand. Brant opens his satchel of ensmallment, shrinking the boat down, so we can take this with us, in his bag. Before us is a rock face, with water all around us and a small slightly webbed cave. Karl rushes towards the cave entrance, followed by Granuelle and Abraxos. Brant does not want to go into the webbed route, but follows the party. Entering Patch lights up his blade, and keeps cutting through the webbing. Quickly after we find the web is all around us. We pause for a few minutes as Abraxos and Granuelle don their armour and we continue. The air is warmer, and the sandy ground is littered with fish skeletons. Cutting forward, we find outselves having last two stone obelisks, and stone steps slowly leading down into the middle of a large dome ceilinged chamber. Looking around, and alert to spiders, Karl notices recent tracks of a large multi legged entity. Stalactites extend from the dome, with thick strands of webs connected to them. The centre of the room has a simple alter with a tilted bowl. Patch shares this is an old anointing chamber, and when he does, Karl looks at his magical map, with an X on it, signalling tresure nearby. He sees three Xs in one webbed corner.
We gingerly approach the the bowl, quietly. Patch asks if Karl can tell any religious symbols or uses from this anointing chamber. Patch addresses Karl as “Sir Frankfurt”, but the knight corrects him saying he is “no sir”.
Brant checks the bowl for crimson marks thinking about possible blood uses, but fortunely finds none. Patch checks for runes, or symbols of the Anduwin, but finds none as well. Whatever this place is, bares no alters to the Anduwin. The bowl is obsidian in nature, and Karl informs us that the site had not be consecrated or desiccated, but has simply fallen into disuse.
Granuelle offers to carry Kavan, for Karl, to allow him to rest. Karl points out items revealed by the map, but it is agreed to press on, and not disturb the webbing. We move on, and approach a sizeable stone archway, and again feel a tingle pass through us, as something tries to enter our minds. Karl and Brant stop moving, and find they are held in place. Above us, the webs begin to shake and move. A thick, long hairy leg descends down. A monsterously huge white spider steps towards us, and we hear a sickening cackling breath into our minds.
“Food, so warm, coming into my den” the voice reaches into our minds.
“I didn’t want to” Brant protests “I tried to go around”
“Fools” it rasps, “should have followed your intuition”
“Tried to” still protesting his choices Brant continues “couldn’t”
“You come here to die… slowly”
“It doesn’t have to be death” Granuaile interupts, “we can just pass through peacefully, we don’t want to fight. Just let us through and no one has to get hurt”
“Foolish orc, why would I pass up such tender food so willingly?”
“We don’t taste very nice” she replies.
“Oh I believe you do” still creeping closer “better than the wet fishes of the sea and the seafolk – so chewy. But you are from the land. So warm”
“We aren’t that warm”
“I think you’ll find our steel is quite cold” adds Abraxos as he allows the spider into his mind to communicate
“Ah, finally, strange magic with this one” the spider directs its thoughts to the samurai, “I can hear you”
“Only because I want you too. Now we either come to a deal, or I’m cutting the line”
The arachnid laughs to itself out loud and telepathically, “amusing little creature. What kind of deal could you possibly wager with me?” It’s interest peaked
“Your life for our passage”
“But my life is not under threat. It is you who are in my domain” as it steps further towards us. Abraxos draws his blade to ready himself
Trying to keep the monstrous beast talking until Karl and Brant are able to love again, Abraxos asks “As we are so near to warm blooded civilisation, how has a creature like you kept away for so long?”
It pauses and tries to grin. “There is no warm bodies here. Only the cold,” the spider says, “only the treacherously journey that one one has ever seen, or returned from. Far, far to the north, there are warm bodies. Large and tribal creatures but they never venture this far south”
“How long have you been here?” Brant asks trying to escape the paralysis that overcame his body.
“How long though?”
“Since I was very small” it grins again.
“How long ago was that though?”
“Longer than you have lived” with a hint of irritation in its mentally projected voice.
Also trying to buy time, Granuaile asks the creature’s name.
“Were you around at the time when this place was still in use?” Abraxos asks as he gestures the anointing chamber.
“Yes. I lived here, in a small crack in the wall” crossing further down the webbing.
“If you let me go, I can summon an ox to feed you” asks Karl as he too tried to escape the paralysis.
“Why would I accept just one thing when I currently have five things” Kwen replies, having not counted Kavan in his weakened state.
“Have you ever eaten a dragon?” Asks Brant with shocked, excited, worried and intrigued gasps and looks from the rest of The Outsiders.
“I have not” starts Kwen, “they tend to be in the air”
“Well, we may have a dragon contained” Granuaile contributes, “would that interest you? If you let us pass, I will leave you a dragon”
“Is it living?” Kwen asks, hoping that it is indeed still alive. She says the thrill is in the kill, but she needs to be prepared to end it quickly.
Abraxos tried to read the spiders intentions and whether it will actually accept the deal, but he has no experience in reading a spiders motives.
At this time, Kwen has reached the cavern exit and stands fifteen feet tall across the only way out and forward. Her form looks larger now stood, and not traveling down her web, with some sort of stinger at the end of her abdomen.
Granuelle opens the void urn with a twist, and the dragon is thrown out in a daze as the spider leaps at the drake. The spider immediately graspes the dragon and sinks its stinger into the dragon, who goes limp and starts spasming. The spider rolls around with its prey, and begins eating feverishly. We take our chance to time our run, or charge through gaps, into the tunnel before us. We run, and dash finding ourselves at the foot of a stone stairwell. We begin our climb, and again see two stone obelisks, before the chamber becomes a more natural cavern once more. We continue long into the early hours, until we see daylight, and a field of crisp snow spreading our before us, with a mountain in the distance. A small jagged path scales the mountain towards an old, and odd looking structure, seemingly caved directly from the mountain, made of dark rock.
We feel that this mountain and structure is likely to be where we are heading, but that we may struggle without a guide. Abraxos spies a smoke spire rising in the distance, and thinks these may be from troll tribes to the north. Brant thinks back to his experiences with trolls, and that they respect honour. Thinking about where we are, Brant recalls his recent interactions with the Snowmane tribe, who live far to the north. He thinks on that snow changes the nature of some people. Granuelle suggests we go towards the smoke and possibly a village.
Granuelle and Patch seem to really feel the cold. Abraxos takes out his think noble cloak, and throws this over his friend, not looking, and walks on. The samurai grew up in a snowy land, and is used to the temperature. He turns his skills and experience to helping the group survive this harsh landscape. Karl also keeps an eye out, fro, his time as a troll hunter, and spots evidence of tracks leading to another place. Not the smoke, but to someplace closer.
We discuss plans to move towards the smoke, as it is likely to be a village, with heat and food. We travel for a few hours, as the cold bites in. Exhaustion sets in, as we discover a snowblind as a temporary shelter from a long dead and frozen traveler. The site is small, but there is enough wood and shelter here for us, in a yert, and a wagon of supplies. Granuelle and Karl search the area for winter clothing, or usable supplies while Patch begins to set up the tent he has been traveling with. Karl finds a dagger which stands out as silver and untarnished, and Granuelle finds a small golden compas. Karl borrows Patch’s shovel, and digs a grave for the long dead man we found. Karl digs, and as he goes to pick up the man, a drawn out breath escapes the man, who is seemingly not dead, but gasping. Karl drops the body, and the head creaks and the neck snaps, as the undead man swings a rusted dagger at the paladin but the blade glances off Karl’s armour. Karl returns the strike, and channels radiant magic into his dagger. The body smoulders slightly, as the divine magic burns and binds the body which goes limp once more. Karl then settled and lays the body into the dug grave.
Granuelle discovers a series of notes around the yert, as well as Brant finding a journal belonging to the man we just encountered. The notes are passed to Patch to translate, and we learn of an affliction that swept through the camp. Those who die from this affliction, return fro, death, but can only be banished when cleansed by fire. Patch shares what he has learned, and we settle in for a rest after our night of travel.
Abraxos searches for alcohol and begins to drink alone. Granuelle finds some root vegetables and starts to make a turnip curry to help our recovery. Karl takes first watch, and uses his magical treasure map to check for any other riches. He tears a tarp and tied this around him, as a make shift cape. He searches where the map alerts him, and digs, finding a buried chest. Taking it back to he yert he starts to count out the 2500gold pieces before waking Patch for the second watch. While on watch, the cat discovers this group had traveled from Onkonia and were heading to Cantra. The merchants were searching for a rare flower which grows only in this region for a new potion recipe which would have wonderful properties. Allegedly the trolls would have this flower, but would be unlikely to trade for it. Patch learns that the expedition was funded by the organisation known as Imperious.
Learning about the magical map, Patch asks how this works, and how the maps knows what is considered treasure. Patch has a look, and sees two Xs that Karl doesn’t. They work out that the map will show only what the barer considers treasure. With this in mind the two head shortly south to investigate the Xs. The first is a book, buried and frozen, and in a poor state of repair, however, the second marker leads further down. To a large crater with an orange amber stone or gem floating a few feet off the earth, and pulsing. Patch collects this stone, which is cold to the touch, and as soon as he touches it, the pulsing and floating stop. We return to camp and complete our rest, and prepare for our onward journey.
And that’s where we left off.