Game Session: 6/3/2012
The Fortress of Baldor, The New Forest, Hampshire, England.
Cold, Lightly Snowing
Deep in the woods, Aiden led the party to a wall of thick timber posts, each fifteen feet in height and fashioned to sharp points forming an imposing barricade. Guarding the structure were many burly men armed with spears – faces dirty and clothed in heavy furs and leather. Aiden moved ahead with wide strides and spoke to a large man at a gate. His belly was the size of a cauldron, his hair long and wild and his beard so large that it was difficult to see his face.
He waddled over towards the group with Aiden. Aiden introduced him as Hobbs.
“Hahahaha glad to meet ya, hahahaha” he muttered in a deep and guttural tone. The adventurers introduced themselves and made the usual pleasantries to the grunting fat barbarian. He opened the gate for them with more of his strange laughter.
Within, there were many men and women dressed in furs and beaten leathers, fires were scattered about in stone pits and racks of animal skins dotted the grounds. Beyond, the mouth of a great cavern was sealed by a large iron door behind the barbaric people, covered by a canopy of ancient trees. Aiden walked towards the door and the guards opened it for him.
The cave was lit by many torches built along the walls, giving the gray cavern chamber much light. The floors were carved smoothed and the walls glittered with ornate carvings of faces, weapons and writings in unknown languages. Along the walls tremendous statues of great bearded men towered high. They were shirtless and bulked with muscles, their massive arms ended as huge hammers instead of fists. To the side of each one were spears. In all, there were six of these monuments lining the fortress. A fire burned low in a pit in the center of the large room, many men sat gathered around it on stools. One sat on a stone chair draped with furs, he is grayed and thin. His wrinkled skin mottled with moles and liver spots. A wiry and long white beard jutted from his chin, a silver necklace about his bony neck. Atop his head was a wreath of rosemary and thorned vines. He looked up at the party with his sunken blue eyes and said, “Welcome friends, we have been waiting for you to join us, and now the time has come. The moon spoke to stars last night, whispering poems that clouds overheard. Then they told the sun, and what the sun knows the rain and snow brings down to my ears. We have heard tales of witches and swords, ships and spirits. I see an ocean of anxiety in some of you. I see a war, and when war comes, men stab the dawn, cut down the forests and rape the earth of her sacred gifts.”
A large man with red cheeks and a bushy black beard roared, “We have been through this before, Brenhin. Our swords will draw their blood as easily as theirs. We must bring the blade to them first or we will all soon find it at our throat.”
The soft spoken old man talked again, “So eager for blood and death, Hafgan. Tell me do your crows fly higher over rivers that run red through the woods. Do you lust for such things? Or does it distract the finger of death in touching you?”
“Your flowered words do not sway me.” Hafgan stated as cold as iron, “We will march to Amesbury, with or without your consent. We will stand by Eric. We will shed blood. And the crows will soar high and feast on the dead.”
“Then the Order of the Nine truly is carried by lost winds.” Brenhin said as he looked upwards with sorrow.
Another man spoke; he was dressed in white fox furs and decorated with bracelets of mistletoe. His skin was wrinkled and his jowls hung like loose flaps of meat at his face. “And what of this weather? What of the fae? The lights increase their numbers, and their acts grow more malicious,” he stated feebly as his hands shook. “There have been confirmations of children strangled by vines in their slumber. An entire settlement was destroyed yesterday in an avalanche, reports of lights nearby. I do fear that the fae have been angered.”
The old man on the throne responded, “Those are words of alarm, indeed, Bowdyn. If men have angered spirits of nature then the fae will return with hatred. The icy rains and the snow have ruined the fields, livestock shall perish and people will soon starve.”
“And what of them?” Hafgan grunted, “Who cares of them? Not I! We have stored food, cheese, salted beef. We are hardened men and women of the wilds; we will survive as we always have before.”
A wiry-haired old woman croaked, “The people already starve, here and there.”
Aiden stepped forward and said, “The balance of nature has yielded to chaos, we must protect our lands as well as theirs. We all shall go hungry soon if we allow the winter to stay for the spring. And what if it remains for summer, then autumn as well? How long can our stockpile last? How many months can we feed our livestock with no fields to graze? They will grow sickly, and unfit even for eating. This problem has the strong possibility of destroying us. We need to do something.”
“We should allow our guests to speak, as you know, these are the good people Lord Eric has requested that we bring to him, in his campaign to reclaim his throne.”
“And tell me why again do we raise our arms to aid Eric?” burst a wrinkled old man with a long white beard woven to a single braid.
Brenhin hammered, “Tarl! Allow the people to speak.” He looked to the group and asked, “What news have you brought us?”
The old man in the white, misted with sparkling white stones upon his cloak spoke, “And this Lord Eric, they say that he abandoned his people. That because of him, Reynard took the county so easily. Now we are asked to fight a noble cause for an unnoble man?”
Elora told them that he did not abandon his throne and offered them the letter to look over.
A woman’s voice, lighter than ethereal mists echoed in the carved fortress from behind, “Foolish old men, bickering over who should fight for whom and who’s sword is bigger than the other’s. No matter, Christian, Pagan or Jew – a man is simply but a man.” Without the sound of footsteps she emerged out of the shadows and into the firelight, the orange glow pulled the darkness away like a shroud revealing a woman with light red hair, wavy and to her waist. A headband of yellow primroses accentuated the porcelain features of her face. She was one of the most beautiful women they had ever seen. She looked towards them and smiled gently, “Greetings new friends, my name is Aislinn. I trust that Aiden and Geddren seen you here safely, not too rough I hope.”
Kyrs, mesmerized by her beauty responded, “No, it wasn’t… Unless you like it rough.”
Aislinn continued, “It seems obvious to me that the Fae are the reason behind the weather. They are the spirits of the wood, the air and the skies. If what I believe is true, then it would mean Queen Mab of the Winter Court is to blame for the unbalance. Soon, all of the lands will be covered in ice and snow, and we will perish beneath her cold amethyst eyes.”
“There are many here among us who believe this theory is truth,” said Brenhin. “But how are we to stop the Goddess of Air and Magic?”
“Silvanus has a magical harp, if he were to play it, they say it returns all nature to balance,” offered Aiden.
Aisleen looked to Aiden and smiled, “If that were true, dear Aiden, then do you not think that Silvanus would already be plucking away at those golden strings?”
Elora showed Aisleen her drawing of the amulet. Aisleen stated that it looked like it was a relic of Tirnanog. Elora asked how she could get to Tirnanog, Aisleen told her that they needed something from those lands in order to do so. Kyrs told her about his death curse and asked if she knew any way to help him.
Aisleen said that she could take them to Willow Pond, a sacred place where the goddess Caer Ibormeith is worshipped. She explained that Caer is the goddess of dreams. The party agreed to go with her. Brenhin asked Geddren to go with them and protect Aisleen, she agreed.
After resting for a few hours, the party left for Willow Pond.