On May 25th, Year 6, a Wednesday, Verdis is awakened early in the misty morning by a knocking against his keep window shutters. He opens them and a small bird enters, telling him in plain elvish (which Verdis now understands quite well due to Wraecliff’s castle) that it has a message from Viera. His axe, which Viera took to keep the negative emotion charged item out of the hands of malicious fey, was stolen from the Sleeping Satyr, probably by fey from the Skeleton Wood.
- Verdis (HuS): Level 12 Human Fighter
- Phineas, Talking Rock
- Ragnvaldr (TrS): Level 8 Human Fighter
- Subdued Owlbear
- Neville, Level 2 Toad Familiar
The bird tells him that Viera warned the Blood Wood and the Green Wood to stop them, but doubts they would risk going that way. They are probably going over land through the mortal world directly to the Skeleton Wood. She wants him to try to intercept them before they get there, after all, it is his axe sullied by his evil deeds.
Ragnvaldr has spent the night at the keep and Verdis grabs him to go on the hunt with him. They quickly track down Titus, who manages one of the log barges in the river, and borrow a barge from him. With Verdis being well-respected in Confluence (even Taren, the hero of Confluence, has joined his cause as a retainer) Titus lets him take the barge provided he can return it before too long.
The pole down river as quickly as they can, rowing across the Vale Lake in the mist by Verdis’ impeccable sense of direction. With Ragnvaldr’s might and Verdis’ memory of the river, they make good time and avoid any problems. The mist clears and they carry the barge over the shallow ford before nightfall.
With the ford passed, they are confident pushing on into the night with a lantern hanging of the front of the barge. Verdis takes the first shift and though it is dark, he knows the river fairly well and is able to proceed a only half pace. On Ragnvaldr’s shift, he is forced even slower in the dark. About halfway into his shift, he gets caught in an eddy that starts to spin the barge around.
He wakes Verdis, but with the water deep here and the currents strong, they are powerless to control the barge as it whirls around and around and they fight off nausea. Soon, Verdis starts to get a sense of the pattern (Direction Sense II), and having noticed the deck of the Midnight Queen on one side by the light of the swinging lantern makes a plan for the two of them to be ready to push off of it.
They push off and to toward the shore, not daring try to make it around the sunken aft of the Midnight Queen. They break free of the eddy’s stronger currents and make it to shore, dragging the barge out of the water and camping on the shore the rest of the night. At first light, they launch into the river on the south side of the Midnight Queen.
They pole down river for about an hour before seeing an unknown impediment they want to portage around. They push into shore near it and see that it is a bridge of ice through the river. Surely the fey they seek crossed here. Tracks of frost and snow come to the bridge from the east and west, so they follow the east track, hoping to gain on their quarry before the warming day melts the signs of their passage.
After an hour of tracking, they come upon some fey (a bereginyas and four fraughashar from Tome of Beasts) and slay all but one, whom they take prisoner and continue. After another hour, the cold track seems to be sustained by colder weather as they go east. It descends into a frozen creek bed and then down the creek a ways. As they follow, they come upon the source of the cold: an ice maiden (the Winter Warden) with her two beli and two fraughashar. They have the axe. The ice maiden offers to return Verdis’ axe (it should be in his hands, after all) in return for a kiss. Verdis wisely declines and battle begins!
The Ice Maiden calls down a hail storm on Ragnvaldr and the Owlbear (as Verdis closed too quickly to be targeted safely) and Ragnvaldr uses his magical dome shield to protect them from most of the hail, though they are both severely damaged. Verdis quickly cuts through the fraughashar and cuts the ice maiden down. The two beli try to get the axe and shoot arrows, which Verdis resists, but when they kill one of them the other flees.
They take the axe and return to Confluence, poling up river and arriving in Carrie by evening on Saturday the 28th. They walk to Confluence, sleeping in the keep and sending some Prickly Bois to bring the barge back to Titus in Confluence. Sunday, they start to the Sleeping Satyr, arriving by Tuesday afternoon to return the axe and learn about the fey goods taken from the thieves. Viera is grateful and makes amends with Verdis for previous arguments by giving them free drinks and rooms. By Friday afternoon, June 3rd, they are back in Confluence.
This was bound to happen eventually. When Verdis gave his axe to Viera, I knew I would have it stolen eventually and the spurning of the Winter Warden was the perfect catalyst. Getting the boat got them on the trail much faster. For my prepared notes, support me on locals (or let me know you’d be willing to support somewhere else and I’ll get it set up).