Hellfrost- EvilAllen

To the tower of doom
If it ain't broke, smash it.

Raaaattts !!

I hate them; it reminds me of when my fellow shield bearers and I were starving deep in an advance post beyond Frost Keep. We had exhausted our rations, something was creeping the game in the area, so all we found to eat for weeks were those damn rats. Even with spices, they don’t taste good… But I digress (you see, I know fancy words too)! Buy me another ale lad, and I’ll tell you the rest of my story. << drink. Belch. Tap on the knee. Laugh>>

Ok, where was I? Well, after “interrupting” the rats and orcs in Penda’s granary, one of them escaped (the same lil’ bastard that escaped from us after that ambush in the mountains on our way to Dunross). His last move before escaping was to shoot an arrow into Penda’s brainpan. Since I don’t like unfinished business, I chased him in the village, following his fresh track in the snow. The tracks were leading to the village’s palisade and stopped right there… I asked the guard if he’d seen anything: nothing at all. I went up the catwalk and looked outside for hints of where the orcs had managed to sneak in, when another guard post bell rang. I made my way there, where a guard explained he had just found a small tunnel that had freshly been excavated below the palisade. He could have sworn it wasn’t there a few minutes ago. SORCERY!!

Perplexed, I made my way back to the granary. Orrigg was looking into the orcs’ belongings and found several flasks. One of them had been recently emptied, and the others contained a foul smelling liquid. Orrigg thought they were trying to poison the town’s flour supply. It seems they have already started, and our healer was already trying to sort the bad flour form the rest.

The guards finally arrived on site with their captain. I used my legendary silver-tongue to explain them what had happened, and that we needed supplies to track the bastards and make sure they won’t come back for seconds. The way they had snuck it unnoticed was especially concerning, and suggested some wild magic had been used to conceal their approach. We’re eating roasted sorcerer for dinner tonight!

Good Orrigg used its runes to heal me, myself and Stormborn who still looked a bit green from the rats’ infectious bite. The baker arrived on site and we asked him to keep sorting the flour while we left the village on our punitive mission. The town council was being convened to talk about the situation, and the guard’s captain was going to relay our plan. All they could muster was a couple days of rations and horses. Better than nothing I guess, but I hope they’ll be more generous once we have killed the dragon and rescued the princess… or I keep the princess.

We had a hard time convincing Orrigg to ride a horse; the kid wanted to sedate him during transportation, but we finally talked the wee man into riding behind me. That’ll keep us warm I guess. As we left the village the weather started getting ugly again: lots of snow and chunks of ice the size of my cowbells were dropping form the sky. Our mad survival skills allowed us to take shelter during these deadly “rains” and we kept our heading despite these interruptions. The orc tracks disappeared started following an old road that seemed to have been unused for a while. At that rate, it’d take two days to reach the tower, and the first twilight was approaching, so we started to call it a day early and find a good camping spot. We dug a trench in the snow, started putting together a quick frame to hang the tarps on and started a fire. We grilled my leftover sausages, and I was about to start throat singing a sad ballad from Drachenland when Stormborn and Ember were hit by a freeze ray! I guess it could have been worse, since these two are fairly resilient to cold. The monster that had tried to turn these ladies into Elf-sicles was a strange elemental entity unlike any I had heard or seen before. My axe could not even make a dent into its frost shell, and it seemed to want to hurt Ember more than anything. Luckily, Stormborn’s porta-furnace managed to melt this thing in a couple hits. Our arcane inclined specialists reckoned this thing was a frost elemental, which normally should not even exist in Rassilion. “It’s supposed to guard odd mystical points where elemental energies are focused”, they said… Grilling Ember about the creature unveiled that our Paladin seemed to have angered some deity. Were the frost wave and the wolf attack from the very beginning of our journey related to this as well? In any case, this elf need to atone, and fast…because my sausage got overcooked, and I won’t stand for that.

Next morning, after a quiet but cold night, we resumed our trip and reached the tower by the end of the day. It was an ancient square building with a front entrance and a tower at its centre. Stormborn went ahead to case the place, and spotted a head on top of the tower. It disappeared quickly, suggesting we may have been spotted. We left the horses behind and approached the building. The place reeked of rat droppings and decay. Our mages prepped themselves by casting protection and deflection spells. Stormborn even used her hrimwisardry and cast a frosty shell around her. Orrigg and I entered the building, establishing a shield “wall” to protect the rear guard. As soon as we got in, a horde of rats came out from the stonework. There were hundreds of them. Luckily, the Anari kid used his fist-o-might power to squash half of them in a few seconds. There were chunks of rats flying everywhere, it was so beautiful! We managed to kill the largest ones afterwards, but it was rough. As the fight ended, the same bloody orc came out of the woodwork, took a shot at Stormborn with a barbed arrow, and disappeared. In the aftermath, we looked at the rest of the floor and into the tower, but it had been deserted. We also found stairs leading into a basement where the orc had obviously fled and was preparing a banquet in our honour. There was desecrated and decapitated statue of a deity. Argius was disturbed by this sight and decided to place the head at its rightful place. He felt something strange and as the statue finished to fix itself; his skin thickened and started looking like cracked stone. I almost proposed to put this new skin to the test with my axe, but the situation was tense enough. Orrigg finished healing some of us, but we could see he was running out of “juice”. The rune magic was taking a lot out of him.

We made way into the stairs and ended inside a natural cave. As we entered the first room, more rats rushed us. Some of them were as large as horses. I rushed into the opposite room entrance to prevent them from surrounding us, but was quickly overrun by the vermin. The rest of the battle was a blur, the damn beasts were everywhere. Ember managed to control some of them and get off our backs, Stormborn was frying some of them with her elemental inferno, Argius was bashing them remotely and Orrigg was doing his best to heal us as we were getting hurt. My lord Tiw granted me a second wind, but the foul beasts managed to overrun me and everything went dark… When I woke up, there was a lot of dead rats in the room, Stormborn looked just like I felt (just more blue), and my damn shield arm was broken! That does it, now I’m angry…

View
The Honest Merchant
Most rats have four feet but some only two...

And so…

The Plague of Rats having been freed by fire- the problem was quickly falling behind our barely escaping transit. The horses strained. Pulling 30 bags of Dunross-milled flour, 3 common adventurers, a not-so-common Tuomi, the burning town’s ex-mayor and it’s chief ex-rat killer and their healer, a very unfortunate half-dog and of course our Dwarf. All trying to impress, I tried to give approving glances where I may. But alas, this time of caring and thoughtful praise had to be cut short, for our most emoting companion leapt from the wagon. No, not Agnes, not the other women- our Dwarf. So bold, so… <sigh>
The wagon, at its quickening pace, made a fast and widening gap as the boulder-legged martyr trundled away towards the great blaze. Restraining my Noble’s fury, I used measured words to stop the Dwarf and so too our wagon. By the time the Tuomi and I reached the foolish fellow, he was utterly undone, a masterpiece of burns and blisters. We loaded the over-cooked cargo back on the wagon and off we went with dark skies and cruel winds closing in.

Just before all remnants of light fled, we found ourselves back at the familiar way-tower but this time lodging squatters. As it turns out these were Reliqus men from The Citadel, some four days east of here, set with the task of locating their wagon team that had been headed to Dunross for flour. There were two men, one a proper scholar by the name of Guldir ap Regila and the other a tracker of dubious quality named Scrat. After exchanging pleasantries and titles in Trader-speak, I spared nothing in the retelling of our victory over orcs, rats, and plague. In this, they were suitably awed. Others of our group told of the Citadel’s failed and doomed wagon-team. Then our Tuomi gifted them the bones of their dead, and was rewarded blood-rights of 30 gold scields. At dawn we parted ways, the survivors of Dunross joining the east road with the Reliqus men.

The same evening; after a grueling march from the way-tower; and dropping off the last of this area’s milled flour; we find ourselves seated in the Mayor of Dalsetter’s den. His ill-suited retainer at our call serving this land’s banner drink- watered wine. After the telling of the warded shed against the other storehouses whose wards had been defaced, the mayor encouraged us to make the acquaintance of a well-known local merchant named Penda, though he was genuinely affronted at the smallest mention of Penda’s possible complicity. The group, calling for rest, and I an easy mark for the welfare of the hardscrabble poor, felt these weathered souls could use a respite for all their good intentions.

The next day finds us talking with the apple and grain farmer, Penda. A curt interrogation reveals he blames a skinny bucked tooth and bearded northerner for cajoling him to protect his stores at the expense of others and then to move those stores here. We decide to check on the town’s sheds given all that has transpired so far.

At the local storehouses we are shocked to find giant rats within and more of the same orcs! Again I am put to the task and again magic trumps might and I skillfully put down the majority. No praise expected and none found. But, one got away and not even my skills could stop this one. An Orc we had seen before fled to the outer town’s berm only to vanish! I investigated. It clearly vanished. Upset, I have sworn to myself this Orc will find the story of his death in my Journal inside a week.

View
R.O.U.S's? I don't believe they exist.

Slad scares me. What kind of lust makes a man so gleeful, as he hacks arms and heads from torsos? The dwarf was concerned about vengeful corpses. Origg dismembered the orcs as a practical matter, but Slad took great delight in this chore. I wonder what’s under that kilt.

After dispatching the orcs, we continued on the road to Dunross. The sun was low in the sky when we saw a tower ahead. We looked forward to the shelter it would provide. Until we got closer. It was all wrong. No lights came from the tower, no smoke from the chimney, two wagons parked outside, with their canvas torn to shreds.

The dark mystery unraveled as we examined the scene. From the tracks under the snow, we could see the foul events had occurred days earlier. The horses from the wagons tore their tethers and fled in terror. The ripped canvas bore the symbol of barley and the letter, “D.” Dunross? Dalsetter? Ember found traces of flour amongst the wagons’ broken cargo.

Inside the tower we found traces of blood and the tracks of some small creature. Whatever disruption that had occurred was days ago. The hearth was cold. Then we ventured upstairs.

It was a scene of unnatural horror. Four skeletons sprawled across a floor covered in frozen blood. On closer inspection, we found marks on their bones. Hundreds of bite marks from rats gnawing the flesh from the men. How could there be so many rats out here, in the wilderness? They ate four men, but there is no vermin scat to be found. So what do we do?

Eat and rest, of course. Slad fed us roasted wolf. Ember preferred to eat oats with the horses. Night passed without further incident. In the morning, we donated five gold and continued on our way.

We were not on the road for long before we came upon the bodies of a hapless rider and his horse. Killed and robbed and eye-piercer orcs. Argius found a letter which he read to us with great flair. It was addressed to “My Lady,” and signed by the mayor of Dunross. He describes losing the village grains to a ceaseless tide of rats. He beseeches for her to send soldiers, healers and rat catchers. Knowing that there may be no flour for us, we pressed on to Dunross nonetheless.

As we approached Dunross, we saw columns of smoke rising, but not from chimneys. A large fence protected the village. As we approached the gate, a seasoned guard calls us to halt. He commands us to leave, and Argius tells him that we have healers and can help. The guard tells us that previous travelers had promised the same, only to attempt to take their flour. Lord Clueless tries to bribe him with two silver. Surprisingly, Argius does somehow manage to gain us entry.

Inside we find a pandemonium of humans and dogs chasing countless rats. Mounds of rats burned in the streets. Origg runs immediately to the infirmary to heal the injured and make the diseased more comfortable. We met the mayor, a priestess, a rat catcher, and the master of the granary. None of them knew why their village had been overcome by an unnatural tide of rodents.

There were a few curious clues at the granary. There were markings of Eostre on the walls throughout the building. All were scratched off, except for the marking on Granary 1. The manager said that just prior to the rat outbreak, a man named Otto arrived and managed to remove the flour from Granary 1. Otto had mentioned something about Dalsetter. Granary 1 is marked with an apple over a sheaf of wheat. Inside, there were no signs of rats. Then we looked into Rodgar’s granary. The rats had eaten some, but not all of Rodgar’s flour. Ember, Slad and I start loading the 30 sacks of salvagable flour on the wagon, while Argius went and recruited some simple-minded oaf to work for him.

We left the granary, intending to pick Origg up from the healer’s and then leave town. Before we could gather Origg, we heard high pitched screams. Citizens were pointing to the western wall, where a mass of rats flowed into the village like a tsunami. At the gates, the guard toppled over barrels, spilling oil on the village grounds.

Perhaps we could have escaped before the rats were on us. But we were not going to leave Origg behind. We fought, and Argius suffered some rat bites, but we were able to reach the gates of the city with Origg. We also managed to save the mayor, the priestess, the rat catcher, and adorable little Snapper.

We pass through the gates, with giant rats on the wagon and swarms all around us. Then the guard does the unimaginable. He sets the oil alight, setting himself and the village on fire.

We stop a short ways outside the village and finish those demon rats. Origg heals us, horses included. Before us is the road to Dalsetter. Behind us Dunross burns.

View
Onwards to Dunross

Amidst the treacherous pathways leading through the Jagged Peaks, you and your companions have fought and triumphed over four orcs laying in ambush. Stormborn pursued a fifth orc, but it managed to escape into a tunnel which collapsed behind it.
Now there are bodies to loot, but beware, for the winds are picking up and night comes swiftly in the high country. Your map shows a travellers way-station somewhere ahead…

View
Diary entry 243, 9th winter in the lowlands. (part 1)

The snows have deepened and the temperature is finally comfortable again. I won’t ever get used to these sweltering lowland summers, the heat becomes almost more than I can bear, and the insects! They are everywhere! Well I’ve wasted entire weeks of diary entries on this topic before, so I won’t go over it again here, but I am very grateful that the halda has once again covered the lands, even if I am not in the best position to meet its kiss.

This past fall I have spent most of the season in my sickbed. Master Klendir’s wife Gretchin tended me while I lay sweating the fever sickness from my joints. I remember very little of the worst of it, but I do recall the long days of recovery, with Goodwife Gretchin kindly leaving me to a backroom with the shutters open. It was the same illness I healed the Master from that summer, but I was too weak to use the runes that would alleviate my symptoms as I had with him, so I had to suffer through them. By the time enough strength had returned to me that I could use the runes, I had spent over two months in the Master’s house without earning my keep. That which I had earned from my work, I had consumed in my sickbed, and though Master Klendir is too proud to break the rules of hospitality that the lowlanders live by, Father Winter had arrived, and what the Master had was just sufficient to carry his household through to Spring. It was time for me to depart.

Master Klendir is a kind man, and he gave me provisions enough to get me to Dalsetter, about a week’s journey by foot. With the improvement in the weather, and the good frozen roads, I could even shave a day off that time. The roads however are dangerous, and so I left a bit earlier than Goodwife Gretchin wanted me to, as there was a travelling group that had taken shelter in Master Klendir’s barn one night. They were reluctant at first to accept a stranger among them, but with the Master’s good word, and a small demonstration of my healing arts they agreed to let me accompany them. They are Saxa folk, and none would speak to me for most of that entire trip, save to order me to fetch this or that, or to have me look as some ailment they suffered. These Saxa are a suspicious and introverted lot, but they are good people. I have worked with their kind before and if you can gain their confidence a dwarf could find no truer friends.

We made it to Dalsetter without incident, and though I made no friends on the road, I parted with these good people on comfortable terms, which is happy progress with folks such as these. I hope in the future that I might encounter them again. Looking about this town, it struck me as no different than dozens of other such villages I have been in since I entered the lowlands. The lumber here appears better, and so the buildings were constructed with closer fittings and seem more durable than usual. The town has the usual market found in all such places and so it was there I went hoping to find winter employment with a local healer, or perhaps with a herbalist in need of skilled hands. This is when I happened across a post set near the market. It appeared to be there for the sole purpose of attaching messages for it was thick with nails and assorted pieces of board and bark which had messages scrawled upon them. One large battered board had painted on it an advertisement, " Skilled men-at-arms, adventurers, healers, men of lore needed to aid Dalsetter in her time of need. Inquire at the “Four Sheaves” in town at dusk." This to me seemed promising. The best way to find acceptance in any community is to prove your worth, and this seemed to be just that opportunity.

Being that it was still mid day, I made my way to the tavern. The folk of Dalsetter seemed an unusually friendly lot, and were willing to point the building out. I was dismayed to see smoke rising from a chimney as I approached the Four Sheaves, but I won’t say I was surprised, and upon entering the heat was typically oppressive for a lowlander house. I was directed by the tavern-keep to a table ridiculously close to that inferno feeding the chimney, but my irritation at this was immediately forgotten as I marveled at the strange collection of people who sat there. Two elves, gods bless me, sat at that table! I have heard that they lived here in the lowlands of course, but I had never actually seen any of their kind until now. I tried not to stare, as I didn’t mean to be rude, but such grace and beauty! Both female, one tall, slender and pale with startling eyes of deep black; she could only be Frostborn, which I suppose makes her no elf, but even more curious. She must have hated that hellish blaze in the hearth even more than I. The other was petite and lovely, with long slender braids of pale bluish hair and a slightly up-curved nose. Neither so much as looked upon me as I approached, intent as they were at frowning into mugs of dark ale. Two others were at this table, one a wilder from the outer lowlands. Dressed in thick furs which never the less did little to hide his heavily muscled shoulders, his mass of dark matted hair hung in braids cascading down his chest. On his back the carefully hide wrapped handle of an axe jutted over his left shoulder and several empty mugs lay upon the table before him, while a fourth was busy trying to drown him in it’s dregs. He saw me as I came over and eyed me over that mug, slamming it to the table when he emptied it and letting out a belch that drew looks from across the room. The Frost-maiden’s frown deepened at that. Lastly, at the head of the table, closest to the fire was a young-ling dressed in charcoal grey robes of fine felt. He had an expensive air about him with his finely cut hair and neatly, close trimmed beard in the style of human aristocracy. The staff which leaned against the back of his chair immediately announced his profession which was quite shocking considering his age. A Heahwisard of such youth is not something I have ever heard of before. There was something else about him, a radiant friendliness that is just so out of place in this world, I found him immediately fascinating. I found an open bench near the Heahwisard, and received his permission to be seated. That he was a Lord was obvious from his manners, but he appears to be too young to have grown into his full arrogance, for he offered me his name (Argius ap-Geidan) and a smile; both courtesies that I don’t expect from humans I’ve have no introduction to. The beast sitting across from me I was surprised to learn is a man of noble title as well, Sir Slad, a Knight of the Rhode. Mistress Ember was the maid with the coldfire hair, and the quiet and severe Frostmaid was introduced to me as Stormborn. I did my best to remain silent among this dangerous but incredibly interesting group until our patron arrived, and he soon accommodated me.

A wealthy Saxa, obvious from his attire, approached our table and promptly paid the expenses that had been incurred there. While these folk are typically insular, they are by nature generous hosts. He named himself Rodgar ap-Annwn, and he is a man of influence in Dalsetter. In Saxa fashion he wasted no time with pleasantries and got right down to the job. 50 gold coins each would pay for our services to retrieve 50 barrels of ground wheat for the village, which was suffering from a lack of such, and he would provide the means (a wagon and horses) with which to ferry the goods. The village of Dunross was our goal, and Dalsetter was its destination. There was no discussion or haggling over the payment as it appears we are each strangers here and have no credit with these people. I will say here that I cannot understand why such creatures as I find myself with would condescend to such mundane chores. Myself, I have no home, none to vouch for me, and a great need to fill my stomach for the winter. These here however are folk of means. As no one was volunteering such information however, I would not intrude by asking. The deal was sealed and we set off immediately to provision. I confess that I find myself a bit intimidated by the company I found myself in, and I will be cautious and quiet as I try to figure out how not to give even the slightest offense.

View
Opening

Welcome to the Freelands of Rassilon, a world in recovery from the Blizzard War with winters becoming increasingly difficult, arcane powers become erratically dangerous, and the fires dwindling. In the crowded and dangerous streets of Aslov you find a flyer nailed to a post in the market square, calling for men and women of stout heart seeking adventure to travel a few miles north to a village called Dalsetter. The city of Aslov is overcrowded with refugees from the High Winterlands, food riots are breaking out, and crime on the rise; the prospect of honest work is appealing.

Two days later at the appointed time, you arrive at The Four Sheaves tavern in the village of Dalsetter. A look around the common room and you spot a group of four other travelers gathered…
Your adventure begins on the second Waescdaeg of Snaermonan (Snowmoon), 499 IR in the middle of winter, and snow blankets the realm.

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.