Good-bye, Fortress Defender!
The game opens with the adventurers continuing their conversation with Saul, aka Fortress Defender. They learn that Saul has the most extreme case of ADD ever. He has no ability to carry a linear conversation. His mind jumps around and every other sentence he’ll get up and go do something. Sometimes he’ll come back and answer a question asked an hour earlier. But he loves to tell war stories. Over the course of their time with Saul they learn the following tidbits:
- Saul, Lum, and Dalia are from Midgard. They are of the norse culture.
- They have fought side-by-side with the norse gods in their wars against the squid giants. Many of Saul’s stories will refer to having fought side by side with Thor, Sif, Frey, Balder, and so on. He doesn’t mention Loki, Odin, or any of the giant gods like Surt.
- “The squids aren’t that tough to kill; the real wounds are psychotic.”
- “But us norse warriors are too strong mentally, we are immune to psychotics.”
- “We had a tough encounter with elder giants.” “I was there fighting right beside Thor, who defeated the boss squid and drove them back into the abyss.”
- “Now we’re on furlough. Thor said we deserved a break and sent us to here to this backwater world.”
- “I don’t know why Dalia had to break us up. She had to get somewhere and begged me to go with them but I have to defend my post.”
- “I’m sure Lum will be fine once he has some R&R. He definitely needs to get laid.”
Having his advances spurned by Ada, Saul focused his lecherous attentions on Mavra. Mavra at first resisted but eventually consented to a tour of the fortress. After promising to introduce her to the norse gods, Saul was able to get into her panties. While his seduction attempts were crude, Mavra learned his stamina was second to none.
Heads on Pikes
On the way back to Esh the party is ambushed by a troll on the trail. The troll jumps into the party and bellows. Mavra and Vecna make their steel tests but all the horses buck and flee, leaving all four PC’s on the ground, drooling or not.
The troll has a commanding position atop a large boulder and cranks back with a whip, eyeballing Vecna. Before he can unleash, Vecna hits him with The Fear and sends the troll back to his hole while the players duck for cover.
It’s now a mexican standoff with the troll above the trail in his ambush spot, the horses run off, and the party behind a rock below the trail. The troll commands them to leave a toll and they can pass. Kwell leaves some gold on the trail and the party retreats down the trail from the direction they came. Mavra and Kwell go the furthest while Vecna and Bart take cover.
Eventually, warily, the troll comes out of its hole and spots Vecna in his hiding spot. He takes the rock in his hand and hurls it at Vecna while Vecna returns the attack with White Fire and Vecna’s companions unleash with arrows and bolts. The troll has a section of this chest sizzling and has Mavra’s arrow out his stomach and Bart’s bolt through the back of his throat. The only thing that missed was Kwell’s bolt, which went wide. The troll gets that glassy look in his eyes and slumps back into his hole, gurgling.
Mavra, Bart, and Kwell charge up into the troll’s hideout and Mavra insists that they decapitate him quickly. To get a clean shot they drag him out onto a boulder, but even then it takes Kwell several wacks to do the deed. The deed is messy and bloody.
Then the party notices that Vecna is curled up in pain. The troll’s rock hit him in the gut and did more than just knock the wind out of him. He takes a Midi wound and is suffering internal bleeding. It’s not life threatening but it’s exceedingly painful. The party has no skills to heal him but manages to get him on a horse and take him to Esh.
In Esh, Serakka’s herbalism proves effective and reduces the die penalty from -2 to -1. Losing the next die and returning to full health will take 6 weeks.
Mavra mounts the troll’s head on a pike. Yay, Heads on Pikes!
Sakhmet blesses Kwell and Serakka
Kwell and Serakka return to the Temple of Isis to meet with Sakhmet and learn of her divinations with the Goddess. The setting is formal. Sakhmet explains that Isis will back the ritual and what the cost will be. “We do not see this as a one-time transaction but an ongoing relationship between your family and our priesthood. To the extent that you show your devotion to Isis, the Goddesses favor will be returned in the form of ongoing fertility and the health and prosperity of your offspring. Devotion can be deepened with participation not just from Kwell and Serakka but also their families and clans. Devotion can be expressed through worship, tithes, influence and constructions.”
Kwell and Serakka spend about a week in preparation including private instruction in the precepts and worship of Isis, fasting, prayers, and, for Serakka, lectures on the duties of motherhood. In spite of this time it’s difficult for the dwarves to deeply understand the notion of Faith, which is a more uniquely human trait. Kwell and Serakka see the relationship as economic, or even mathematical.
In private, Serakka and Kwell discuss the situation and agree that “they are in.” They go on to discuss how much they should donate
- they were given two large 50ct gems by their respective families. “Do we trade in one or both?”
[GM note: This information wasn’t disclosed during play time but I’m adding it here.] Between Kwell’s visits to the temple and Vecna’s and Mavra’s visit with Sakhmet the party can put together the following information about Isis (which blatantly riffs off traditional Egyptian myth) and the Temple of Isis here in Esh.
- Isis’s spheres of influence are magic, fertility, and motherhood.
- Isis is the first daughter of Geb and Nut.
- Isis, Set, and Nephthys are siblings.
- Isis hates undead and defends the dead from unnatural endings. Her priests offer dream interpretations and healing.
- Isis and Osiris were husband and wife, but Set tricked Osiris and has cut him into 11 pieces, each of which is hidden throughout the universe. Finding these pieces of Osiris is the top priority of the Church of Isis. Many visions and portents point to one of these pieces being hidden in this world.
Eventually the ritual is performed. It is an all-night affair that peaks with Sakhmet laying hands on Kwell and Serakka and they each having a vision of being in Isis’s divine presence. In Kwell’s vision he has a deep insight, seeing the powers of the cosmos flowing through Isis, that force, matter, magic, and energy are all one, and the preciousness of life, from living creatures back to sperm and eggs, but back further into the genesis of creation. And with this is the understanding that Isis is the mother of life. In this moment, fully in the presence of the divine, Kwell has an epiphany into the nature of Faith. Mechanically, this means that Kwell is eligible for the Faith trait in spite of being a dwarf, although he still has to earn it in a trait vote.
Serakka returns from the ritual with no such insight. The happy couple rejoice in completion of the ritual and put aside from their minds this tiny seed of dissonance.
Sakhmet Purchases Tomi’s Ring
Sakhmet invites Vecna to dinner. He brings Mavra. Sakhmet offers to purchase the ring in exchange for a cash fund plus a single magic item. She explains that she took this item from an evil death art sorcerer and that it’s extremely powerful. She tried to use this item herself but experienced disturbing whispers in her dreams. But she theorizes that Vecna could use the item because as an elf he doesn’t sleep…or dream. Vecna seems interested so she takes a box and puts it on the table, facing Vecna, with herself and Mavra on the other side. Vecna opens the box and sees a long cylindrical object wrapped in red silk. He carefully lifts the silk and sees a rod fashioned from a single large shard of black onyx, capped with a shrunken fist-sized human skull. At the base of the skull, is a silver setting mounted with gems and essences.
When Vecna sees the skull he immediately sees the skull on two levels, one “normal”, but the other through a tunnel vortex of howling wind where on the other side instead of a skull is the face of a sorcerous human male shade. This shade whispers to him, “Take me from this cursed place and I will teach you sorceries beyond what you can currently fathom.”
Vecna agrees to the bargain. He learns that the rod is called “The Lich Skull of Armond” and, of course, the shade is Armond himself. The immediate benefit is +2D on Sorcery Tests.
Sakhmet explains how a fund works and sets it up in Mavra’s name. Mavra explains that there is another party. Sakhmet says to bring this person to the Temple of Isis and she will add his or her name to the fund. Mechanically, the fund is 3D but with a +1D bonus in Dorsang and a +1D bonus dealing with the Church of Isis. These bonuses are cumulative.
Captain Mitar’s Proposal
Captain Mitar, who recently won the Royal Cumberlan Rally with his ship, The Storm Bellows, invited Mavra to dinner. After a nice dinner and smalltalk Mitar asked Mavra if she could help him out. Mitar has a price on his head by the Empire and unfortunately lingered in Esh too long after the race and now the amnesty period has passed. Imperial spies are watching his ship and he believes his ship will be seized and he will be arrested if he tries to sail away. He proposes to Mavra that they trade ships. “I will sail The Markovian with my crew and you will sail the Storm Bellows with your crew. We will leave at the same time. You will get stopped by the authorities but since there isn’t a price on your head they won’t detain you, or at least not for long. And we will each have bills of sale that show that we each bought the other’s ship. Then we will both sail to the Bardic College marina and meet up on Angus’s ship, The Scholarly Pursuit.” To make it worth her time he offers her a golfball-sized blue pearl (6 cash dice).
Mavra is understandably skeptical and asks for a tour of his boat, which he provides. The boat is relatively new, less than five years old, and is in great condition. Vecna uses mage sense but finds no magic on the boat. The captains quarters are particularly luxurious. The ship is about 50% larger than The Markovian.
After further deliberation Mavra decides to pass on the opportunity.