Campaign of the Month: April 2019

First Blight

Episode #114
There And Back Again

05.04.841 TE – Denerim
Revas, Rhea, Sargis, Valeria



Thunderday, 05.04.841 TE

The sight of Denerim weighs heavily on the members of the Heartbreaker Gang as they start their search for Ardis. The wait to get there in the first place nearly drives Revas into a state of despair, so the talks of searching Leonara’s room and Cato’s as well put him even further on edge. They have a rough plan for finding Ardis here in the Tevinter occupied city, but that doesn’t mean that the group are all fully focused on one singular goal. The opportunity is just too much to overlook when it comes to dealing a blow to the Liberatori and their foothold here in Ferelden.

Footsteps thud down the corridor, catching the attention of the ever perceptive Revas as he stands near the door. The sound of someone or something being dragged is heard as it leaves the space by the door, but the more pressing situation is the sound of someone stopping and sniffing the air.

Fear of being ambushed and wanting another way out runs through the minds of the Heartbreaker Gang, so Rhea attempts an interesting application of her magic. Using her decomposing magic, she starts to slowly rot away the wood in the wall. But upon seeing that the amount of surface area wouldn’t be rotted fast enough to make a quick escape, the effort is left for now.

Not wanting to wait any longer, Valeria charges into the hallway and finds several draaks and mages between the gang and the exit to the mansion. A battle breaks out, several mages running off while attacking around corners and dodging into rooms when they can. The gang manages to persevere and heads into Cato’s room for a quick check. They grab everything they can find of value, keeping an eye out for any books and journals, when a plan comes to mind that’s too tempting to pass up. They dump a couple of books on the floor and rip some curtains down, and when all that is done, a fire is set to burn the mansion down to the ground. When they rush down the stairs, they are confronted by a couple of mages, who are either dispatched or left behind as the group leaves the rapidly igniting building.

The group marches forward, knowing that every minute is one minute too long. But even so, they are going so far as to sneak through alleyways of Denerim, the patrols on the street none the wiser of their trespass. The moment they step into the tower however, things don’t go as cleanly and without bloodshed.

They make their way through the tower, taking on guards and mages left and right as they search for the floor Ardis might be on, burning and taking what they can as they move. Two prisoners are freed, released but unconscious as the Heartbreaker Gang hurries at the behest of Revas and a growing sense of dread between them all. But upon finding Ardis, everything starts to take a darker turn. His body lays cold on the ground, and it freezes the hearts of the gang as they take in the scene.

Red magic symbols cover the floor of the room, Ardis’ body in one spot while black dragon eggs sit in other circles nearby. An electric current flows between the egg and the body, and it flickers as it interacts with another body in a metal cage. Its black, draconic body is recognizable, even from where they stand. Revas falls to his knees near the body of his partner in shock. Sargis and Rhea look about the room, trying to find a way to help with the situation at hand and perhaps reverse the process, but Valeria is the first one to act. Cutting herself carefully, she looks to the red symbols and the magic that she has come across before and does all she can think to do to help the weakening flickers of electricity.

Valeria feeds the spell, aiding the magic ritual she has come to fear from interactions with similar dark work. In her efforts, the body in the cage eventually begins to breathe more evenly and twitches to life as the spell starts to take effect. And as it finishes, draak eyes open and look upon Revas in confusion, pain, and fear. It is Ardis that looks back at Revas. Ardis feels the weight of his own form and sees his previous body laying on the cold stone floor. But Revas moves forward, opening the cage and greeting Ardis as the two of them speak and try to figure out what is happening. It takes some convincing, some words of comfort spoken between the two of them, before the group moves forward with more haste. Even as tears travel down Revas’ cheeks at what has been done to Ardis, the two move together with love in mind as the Heartbreaker Gang start their retreat.

Revas and Ardis, in need of a quick escape, take the other members of the Heartbreaker Gang at their word that they would join them soon, and crush their own orbs that Leonara provided to teleport them back to safety. Meanwhile Rhea, Valeria, and Sargis’ work is still not quite over. The three of them quickly take to the stairs again, leading up further into the tower to try and sow a little more chaos in this Liberatori base.

The next floor up, standing there with more corpses under his command, is Sathurian. He looks surprised to say the least, as the trio show up before him. Even more so as Valeria and Sargis leave him to Rhea as they surge towards the top of the tower and their secondary goal for coming here. While they rush up the stairs, Rhea calls out that she will be back home in three minutes. Meanwhile, buying time for the others, she takes out a few enraged corpses, their puppeted bodies unable to handle the power of the Sword of Sareth. This definitely catches Sathurian’s attention as he turns to defend himself from her attacks as the tower and his heart begin to burn.

To the top of the tower with haste, Valeria and Sargis rush to find themselves face to face with several draak guards lying in wait. They attack with fire, with fang, with claws, and leave the duo with burns, but still with intent in their hearts. While Sargis deals with the draak while staying behind his shield, Valeria focuses on breaking the crystal with brute strength and a few well placed strikes. Even as the two are attacked, bleeding from the attacks and fending off two draak each, they break the crystal and hear the silence fill Denerim. Silence, empty and lifeless, takes over the streets of Denerim until chaos breaks out as the controlled forces of the Liberatori break out into fights between one another.

Taking that as a hint that it’s time to leave, Valeria grabs a piece of the crystal and turns around just in time to see Sargis hop on the ledge and jump off the tower. With the dramatic flair he’s come to be known for, Sargis waits for a moment before crushing the orb he has and teleports before he becomes a smear on the flagstones. Valeria meanwhile marvels at the dwarven craftsmanship of Borin Runeforge, wondering at Ashrune’s capability of breaking a crystal while keeping its edge. But soon enough the remaining draak turn their wavering attention to Valeria, so she too vanishes after crushing her own orb.

Rhea, Valeria, and Sargis soon find themselves back near Wutherford with grass beneath their boots and trees casting shade upon their backs. Revas and Ardis stand awkwardly with Leonara who eyes the situation warily even as the others show up. There’s a moment to breathe, to take in fresh air not clogged with smoke and blood, but the reality of the situation and the quick decisions made in the moment now start to hit the gang as they take a moment to collect themselves.

When the world seems dark, the Heartbreaker Gang make their move to bring light back to the places around them and to the people they care about. But what is there to be done when irrevocable change and hasty decisions might one day come back to bite them? Will Ardis be able to cope with his new form? Will the results of the blood magic ritual have further effects on Ardis and Valeria? Will the Liberatori lose control of Denerim as the freed draak and darkspawn tear each other apart? Thoughts for another moment perhaps after they enjoy a few seconds of peace. For who knows what might be waiting for them as they take their first steps towards home again with new allies and old ones forever changed by the Heartbreaker Gang’s actions.

Episode #113
Until We Meet Again

03.04.841–05.04.841 TE – Raven’s Roost
Revas, Rhea, Sargis, Valeria

Wutherford Map


Tearsday, 03.04.841 TE

The night passes by uneventfully.


Windsday, 04.04.841 TE

When morning comes, the keep of Raven’s Roost is abuzz with life. People are transporting things back and forth, carrying supplies, repairing houses and structures, and talking in the bailey.

The heroes all meet in the main hall for breakfast. Arna has handed little Erik to Bert so he can take care of him, and she makes sure that the group has the great hall for themselves before she speaks.

“We’ve had word from Lady Affraic. She will be here later today. It was a short note, and it didn’t say why, but I’m assuming it’s because of the attack. Maybe she will bring some help.”

Lachtna steps up and also wants to have a word. “She will indeed bring some help. Also I’m here to inform you that we have finally figured out where all the eluvians are leading. Some are safe to traverse through, others are not. I’m sure Lady Affraic will give you more detailed notes on the matter. For now I at least wanted to tell you that we finally know which eluvian leads where. In Ferelden, there are quite a few eluvians, and the ones going to Vigil’s Keep and Killarney are likely not safe.”

After breakfast, Faustus pulls Rhea aside. “Are you doing alright? I know it all came as a shock, so I just thought I’d check in with you. If you need to talk, I’m here. If you need company, I’m here. If you need me in any way, I’m here. Just know that, alright?”

Rhea is grateful, and tells Faustus that she will see her later, and that Faustus better bring a bottle. She then hands Liam to the wet nurse, and also puts the Elvhen Stone in Liam’s bed. Rhea also asks Bert to look after Liam when the wet nurse needs to rest.

Down in Raven’s Glen, preparations are already made for the cremation of the fallen. Velenna is in charge, and the heroes know that she has cleansed the bodies and dressed them in white linen. After that, the bodies are placed on boats which have been filled with wood. Soon, these will be set alight.

The fallen include:

  • Braedon
  • Engar
  • 4 knights
  • 5 chevaliers

The ceremony is prepared, and a lot of people are gathering at the small docks of Raven’s Glen. Velenna walks up to Rhea and hands her a small amulet. It’s a simple whale’s tooth depicting a ship weathering a storm.

The boat containing Braedon’s body is then slowly pushed out to sea. Rhea steps up to give her eulogy.

“In truth, Braedon and I have not known each other very long. Ours was a short courtship—we knew almost instantly that we were meant for one another. A perfectly matched pair.

With Braedon, I experienced the truest partnership and happiest marriage imaginable. He understood me, supported me, and completely and utterly loved me. He gave me a wonderful son, Liam, to whom he proved a devoted father. I will carry all the memories we made with me for the rest of my days.

Those who were with Braedon at the end told me that he died with regrets. He regretted leaving me so soon, and not being able to raise our son together. As he died with his, I must live with my own. That I could not protect him from his fate, that I was not here with him in his final days, that our last conversation was so quick and impersonal for the sake of matters that I can hardly recall in the face of his loss.

As we put the love of my life to rest today, I pray a part of him lives on. In the stories of his deeds, in the hearts of our family and friends, in the character of our son. Things will never be the same – but I know the world is better for the years my husband lived.

Goodbye, my beloved. Until we meet again."

After her speech, an archer steps up and shoots Braedon’s boat with a flaming arrow. It takes fire right away.

More people step up to say a few words. A former Baranti guard steps up and clears his throat.

“Today we say goodbye to the only child of Teyrna Alannah and Liam Burdock. Ferelden will long remember their son Braedon as the heir to a weighty legacy.

His mother was a powerful political figure, and his father was a loving man whose brother raised Braedon for the first decade of his life. He raised goats, worked the fields, and all the while trained swordsmanship with his uncle.

And so I’ve found that Captain Braedon was a very humble man, always aware of where he came from, and what the people around him had to endure to get to where they were. I struggled in the beginning, but Captain Braedon was compassionate and kind, and helped me get through the rigorous training, until I finally was able to please him.

His heart was a big one, and he always took care of those under his protection: whether he made sure that we had all eaten, or whether he made sure that our beds in the barracks were of acceptable quality, he always stood up for us.

I will always remember him as a gentle man, who spent more time with us than he needed, and who always loved a good joke.

May the Lady protect him.”

After him, a young woman takes his place.

“Captain Braedon was a good man. He helped us out wherever he could, was understanding when things didn’t go according to plan, and led us with a dedication that was admirable.

He would always preach to us that we will never be entirely comfortable. That this is the truth behind the champion–he is always fighting something. To do otherwise is to settle.

And so he died fighting. He died trying to keep his friends and family safe. I think that means he did what he preached, always fighting, until the last moment.

May Korth be with him.”

Faustus finds Rhea in the crowd, and puts her hand on her shoulder. “I’m here.”

Finally, Bert makes his way to the front, heavily leaning on his cane.

“I’m not a man of many words, so I will make this short.

I only recently started spending more time with Braedon, who I’m sure everyone knows, was a lovely man with a big heart.

He came to me in a time of need. He missed his wife, and so did his son. It wasn’t an easy time for him, and accepting my help went against everything he believed he stood for. But he accepted it anyway.

I feel honoured to have known him, and especially honoured that he chose to trust me with his son.

Braedon dedicated his life to making other people’s lives better. He always put others first. Always made sure they were okay before he took care of himself.

I admired him, and I hope that we all can live better lives because we have known him.”

The ceremony is tearfilled, difficult, and silent, but as it ends Revas goes to find Valeria about her plans to head to Wutherford. The two also find Sargis and speak just loud enough for Rhea to hear. Rhea listens for a bit and then goes off to hunt down Bela’s assistants in the alchemy lab. There she asks about some ingredients and also buys some.

The group then sends Hildr into the forest to try and track the enemy forces that fled. She’s taking 15 knights with her.

Then, around noon, the group leaves Raven’s Roost behind.


Late Afternoon

The heroes pass the last bridge before entering Wutherford, and they think back to the time when a bunch of poor people set up here to collect money from travelers. Things aren’t too different now. At the end of the bridge, just in front of Wutherford’s walls, stand four guards, all of them alert and with their hands on their weapons. When they spot the gang, they spread out, and one of them steps forward, calling over. He has a distinct Tevinter accent.

“Hello there. Welcome to Wutherford. We are the Seventh Battalion. If you have business here, we ask for a small fee of 5 silver per person to keep the roads and buildings maintained. Now that Wutherford is under our control, we want to make sure that it goes back to its former glory, and for that we need your coin.”

The guard waits for the group to get closer, and then adds: “We can also provide directions to the most important buildings in town, if you need them. And Matteus over there has maps of the city for sale, if you’re interested.”

The Heartbreaker Gang immediately calls the soporati on the high price, and starts arguing with the man. But when they figure out that he only cares about the wellbeing of the city, they agree to pay, if they get a map for free. The guard agrees and so the heroes are allowed to enter the city.

Inside the city, the gang soon notices the stark difference to before. There are no lone children on the streets, or deserted animals. The streets are clean and well repaired, and the buildings spanning them look much the same.

When looking around, the heroes see several soporati patrolling the area, keeping an eye on everyone they don’t know. A few suspicious looks are thrown their way, but as the members of the gang behave, the soporati don’t waste a second glance on them.

While travelling through the town of Wutherford and looking for the Black Tar, the group overhears some people talking in Tevene. There are several knights talking loudly in an alley. They’re talking about a female mage, someone they want to capture alive, if at all possible.

“I’ve seen her somewhere around here.”

“You said that earlier. And she was nowhere to be seen.”

“Well, it’s not my fault the fucking Bitter Barrel lady threw us out. What if she was in there?”

“Psh. If She had been in there, we would have found out.”

“Right. Sure. Whatever.”

“Don’t fucking whatever me. Just fucking lead us to the Black Tar so we can get this over with. That bitch’s gotta be somewhere around here.”

The gang tries to fast walk past them, but as they pass the knights, one of them seems to recognize them. He yells after them, and, when they don’t react, shoots a crossbow bolt at Valeria. The group call for the guard before getting into a scrap.

Combat breaks out, with several knights laying into Sargis, who defends himself skillfully. Valeria in the meantime is taking heavy damage from two frost mages, while Revas has climbed up on a roof and is lobbing arrows at whoever isn’t paying attention to him. Rhea helps out Sargis, and strikes at the heavily armoured knights.

After some fighting, and the scales tipping in the group’s favour, six Tevinter soporati appear, wearing the colours of the former Jader Battalion. They fight with the mages for a while, but soon manage to subdue the angry people, and thank the group for their help. They also apologize for the group getting in trouble, and promise them that they can come to the headquarters to make official complaints and file charges.

After the fight, a familiar face leans out of a window nearby. Neladrie, the Black Tar’s owner. She is curious as to what happened, and invites the group in.

The building called the Black Tar has certainly seen better days. Its facade is crumbling, and the few windows that can be seen are rather dirty. It looks like Great Bear Lake sometimes floods this area, and that is likely why the building is sitting on rough looking stilts.

The interior is far from clean and neat, and it’s rather common for old drinks to still be sitting at deserted tables. In one corner, there is an odd table surrounded by quite a few people. It looks like two of them are playing a game which involves trying to shoot a small puck into the enemy’s goal.

The group orders drinks and food, and speaks to Neladrie for a while, during which they learn about some rumours.

  • Bravik the jeweler sells stolen items, especially jewellery. The group better watch their belongings when they visit him.
  • Anyone hiding anything always stays in the Black Tar. That’s just how it is.
  • Trina has had an affair with Rorden, and since then his prices have gone up significantly.
  • There’s definitely someone who won Olenna’s attention. There’s a guest at the Bitter Barrel who’s stayed there for a while now. For free.
  • The priestesses at Sigfrost’s Shrine have now added someone to their roster who will read books to those who can’t read themselves.
  • There’s a thief roaming the Highdocks. They keep stealing stuff that is designated for the Seventh Battalion.
  • Yes, “the Lady” stayed in the Black Tar for a few nights, but about a week ago she didn’t come back.
  • Neladrie doesn’t know where “the Lady” is, but suspects that she is still hiding within the city. After all, she is a smart woman, and Neladrie can’t imagine her having been caught by the no-good soporati.
  • If Neladrie were to hide, she would go to a place no one suspects. Someplace innocuous. A place that would be the last place anyone would look.

The heroes decide that Leonara is most likely at Sigfrost’s Shrine, and so they make their way there. Once arrived, they speak to Wilca, and convince her that they need someone who reads a book on herbs to them. At the same time, Revas and Sargis spot a familiar looking figure among the priestesses. The group goes up to her and they soon find themselves face to face with Leonara. Wilca called her “Lena”, and so the group continues the charade, calling Leonara by that name until they are in a separate room. There they question Leonara about Sathurian and Augustus.

Leonara Intel:

  • Augustus doesn’t usually kidnap people. He kills them outright. And Sathurian is instructed to do the same.
  • Taking Ardis might have been a tactical decision. Sathurian might have simply done it to keep the group from attacking Augustus, since he essentially has a way to keep them under control. If they attack, he’ll likely kill Ardis.
  • The group might be able to trade Ardis for something or someone else.
  • Augustus uses elves to power his spells and experiments. Many magisters do.
  • Augustus spends most of his time in Fort Drakon when he’s in Denerim. This might have changed, now that Cato is no more. Someone’s definitely taken over Drakon Tower, Augustus would never leave that unattended, not with the control crystal at its top.
  • Ardis might not be mind controlled anymore but he might be being tortured if Sathurian finds out he’s a half elf.

During their conversation, the group manages to convince Leonara to go with them to Raven’s Roost. Valeria hands her a dragon that she specifically made for her.

Then they buy the book on herbs, and offer to help Wilca and the shrine by taking care of orphans and providing the shrine with blank books.

They stop at the Sapphire Scythe and stay for the night. They enjoy the good food, comfortable and spacious rooms, and a bath at the end of the hall.

They talk in the mirror shard with Arna, get an update on Lady Affraic showing up and drinking, as well as the news that Hildr and the knights managed to capture 5 mages alive.

Valeria and Leonara stay in the same room, Sargis keeping watch outside the door in a chair before switching shifts with Valeria.

Rhea and Revas however seem to not be getting much sleep as they talk about Ardis and Augustus, and Rhea studies her mother’s journal.


Thunderday, 05.04.841 TE

After breakfast, the gang makes a temporary trek to go find the plants Rhea needs for her ritual. There is no road leading to the coast of Great Bear Lake, and trees and thickets cover almost the entire coastline. Who knows what or who might be in there.

Stumbling through the thicket, the group hacks their way through branches and twigs, leaving a visible trail behind. Doing this is exhausting, and it takes all of their effort not to succumb to the encroaching fatigue.

Deep in the forest, the heroes spot a possibly ancient statue, easily five yards tall. It is covered in moss and overgrown with ivy in some places, but it is still magnificent. It depicts a naked man holding up a trident in a threatening pose, almost as if he’s mid-strike. His muscles are clearly visible, and the veins are bulging on his imposing arms. Part of the trident is lying on the forest floor, broken off and useless. The statue is Björn Reed-Beard, and likely several hundred years old, built during a time when the forest hadn’t moved so far inland yet.

Rhea climbes up onto the statue and reattaches the fallen down trident part with a piece of rope.

Then the group continues on. While making their way through the forest, the gang does their best to stay positive. Every tree they pass looks the same, and every branch they strike down seems to return to its previous place.

A raven sits on a branch nearby, seemingly watching the group. As they move, it follows them at a distance, always watching. Whenever they look back, there is one more raven sitting on a branch up in the trees.

Sargis throws some food onto the ground for them, and the ravens gather around it and start fighting over it.

Finally the group arrives at the coastline of Great Bear Lake.

As the heroes look around, they spot a mother bear teaching her young how to fish in the shallow water. They seem to have noticed the group, and the mother bear is throwing looks at them from time to time, but doesn’t seem interested in attacking them. After a while, the two of them tire of fishing and slowly make their way along the coast, away from the heroes.

It seems that the bears had a good reason to leave.

The heroes hear the loud flapping of wings. As they turn around, they see a majestic blue dragon fly over the surface of Great Bear Lake. She’s flying low, seemingly looking for something just below the surface.

Suddenly, she dives down into the water, submerging herself fully. For a moment, the only thing visible are the waves and ripples on the water’s surface. Then, a few yards over, a massive dragon head emerges, and she takes flight again. Her blue, almost turquoise scales reflect the sunlight and throw shimmering lights onto the grass in front of the group. The dragon is close now, but hopefully it is busy with the prey in its mouth. For a moment, the high dragon hovers in the air, looking down at the group…

Episode #112

Tearsday, 03.04.841 TE – Raven’s Roost
Revas, Rhea, Sargis, Valeria

Raven's Glen

The sun is high up in the sky on Tearsday the 3rd of Cloudreach when the Lonely Siren makes its way towards Raven’s Glen and its adjoining keep Raven’s Roost. Waves are lapping at the sloop’s hull, and the siren at the front of the ship is parting the sea in front of her with ease.

Salem stands at the bow of the ship, holding onto the rigging with one hand, while stroking Drynne’s hair with the other.

“Soon we’ll be home,” she says quietly.

The young boy doesn’t seem to hear it. He’s holding Senga in his arms, letting the dog look over the railing at the splashing sea.

Nearby, Arna holds onto Valeria’s arms, her face red and freckled, and her eyes tired and only half open. Despite keeping her eyes on the horizon, she’s still feeling seasick, and worries that she might have to lean over the railing once again soon. But Valeria’s strong hands keep her steady, and the imminent need to puke subsides when a gentle hand rubs her lower back.

“Thank you.” It’s clear that she means the words, but they are tinged with a kind of sadness Valeria knows only too well. All of them have been thinking about home and what might be going on that they couldn’t get a hold of their people through the mirror shards or the Elvhen Stone. “I hope they are alright,” Arna says. “I don’t think I can handle them not being alright.”

Further back, holding the steering wheel in his hands, is Sargis, enjoying the midday breeze rushing through his hair and beard, carrying with it the smell of salt and algae, and the sounds of seagulls. Captain Etienne stands near him, keeping a keen eye, but also trusting his sailing skills after having seen him navigate the whirlpool only a day before.

Rhea and Revas are leaning over the railing nearby, watching dolphins follow the ship, and trying to spot whales in the distance blowing water out of their blowholes. A tiny Gereon lies at Rhea’s feet, curled around them like he might get lost otherwise. When Dayron approaches Rhea and Revas, he does so with careful steps, and makes sure to stop a few feet away so as not to disturb the little puppy.

“Do you think there will be fighting?”

“Likely,” Rhea says.

“Alright. I would like to help, then.”

After accepting Dayron’s help, Rhea goes back to thinking about home and her husband, Braedon. Worried, she tries to push those thoughts away, but doesn’t succeed.

All the way high up in the crow’s nest is Hildr, keeping an eye on the ship’s trajectory and its path. Keeping Sargis at the helm informed of what’s ahead is her job, and so she yells down, her voice carrying easily over the wind.

“There are boats ahead! Quite a few of them!”

When everyone has a look, they realize that the boats all belong to fishermen, who have banded together and are talking to each other excitedly as the large sloop approaches. At least six small boats can be seen drifting in the water, with nets hanging from their sides and fish in containers on deck.

The fishermen soon greet the people on the ship with a sort of anxious excitement. They may not know the Lonely Siren, but they very well know their leader Ser Valeria, and when they spot her, voices start talking all over each other.

It becomes clear that Raven’s Glen has been attacked yesterday, and a small force of people somehow made it into the village undetected. By the time people knew what was going on, it was already too late. Buildings were set on fire, people were killed, and whoever wasn’t quick enough to hide in the castle had few options left to them. Especially the fishermen who had still been at sea didn’t make it back in time for the warning bells, and so they stayed at sea, too scared to enter the burning village.

Now that they mention it, the group also sees the smoke rising on the horizon, likely from their home.

Once the conversation with the fishermen ends, the Lonely Siren again rides the waves towards Raven’s Glen, this time with even more purpose.

The smoke on the horizon creeps ever closer, and finally, as they pass a cliffside obscuring their view, the group can make out their home. Or what is left of it. Even from afar it is clear that most of the thatch roof houses are burning or burnt, and Raven’s Roost further up the hill has seen better days, as walls seem to be crumbling.

Even from here the heroes can see the fighting going on in front of Raven’s Roost’s gates, with a massive golem attacking the enemy troops, while arrows are raining down upon them from the walls of the keep. The defenders are surely doing their best, but they don’t seem prepared for what happens next. A purple streak shoots across the sky, emerging from Raven’s Glen’s center square and aiming for the keep, where it impacts loudly with the tower. Someone is directing magical attacks from inside Raven’s Glen, and they need to be taken out.

When the heroes arrive in Raven’s Glen, it is hot and full of smoke, making navigating more difficult than expected. Only the constant barrage of purple magical missiles shooting towards Raven’s Roost helps the group keep their bearings.

Valeria remembers images from her childhood, and it requires some effort to shake them off.

The group passes a dead body near the docks, a woman who used to sell old clothes, her face smashed into the wet mud, her skull cracked open, blood and brains seeping out into the ground.

Further in the village, sheep and goats are bleating in fear, and the noise is the only sign of life for quite some time, until the group rounds a corner and finds a middle-aged man sitting on the floor, holding his intestines in his hands. He’s spewing blood, and seems on the verge of unconsciousness.

When the village center comes into view, it is not what the group expected. Burning buildings surround it, and many purple crystals have been placed on the village square in regular intervals, with one massive crystal at the square’s center. Flickering purple energy seems to travel from the smaller crystals to the large one, and the group is witness to the large crystal spewing out a missile which shoots directly at Raven’s Roost.

There, near the crystals, the group then notices several people. Four familiar looking bodies shamble towards the group, each one of them a villager they have seen once or twice. Now they are dead, their eyes devoid of life, and there is nothing in them except for the demon possessing the dead body in its rage.

Behind them, almost hidden behind the large central crystal, stands yet another figure, this one very much alive. An elvhen man looks at the group with bright red eyes, his face tattooed in ways that are unfamiliar even to Revas. He is dressed in elegant mail armour, and carries a shield and spear. His white hair is short at the sides and slightly longer on top. All in all he looks like a dashing man, if it weren’t for the deadness in his eyes.

Next to him is a figure that looks nothing like him.

Rhea recognizes the being next to him as an arcane horror. Even in death, a mage runs the risk of succumbing to demonic possession. In the body of a deceased mage, a pride demon becomes an arcane horror, funneling spirit magic through itself even as its desiccated remains crumble. An arcane horror knows magic, and has the tools to sap the power from other mages.

The figure next to the elvhen man is tall and slender, and seems to be female. It is floating slightly, and its hands move in weird patterns, almost as if it is composing an eerie song. Its matted grey hair looks like that of a corpse, and when its face comes into view it is clear why. The skin is emaciated and grey, and only red eyes distract from the fact that this body has long been dead.

“Welcome. I am glad you have finally arrived,” the elvhen man says. “I am Sathurian, and this is my beloved Mellia. If you do as I say, we will stop this assault, and you can keep your little castle and your people. All we require is the man named Braedon Burdock, and we shall leave you alone.”

Sathurian nods at the group. “Master Augustus is nothing if not understanding. If you hand this Braedon Burdock over now, we can forget about all this and just continue on with our lives.”

When Sathurian spots Revas, he sneers. “So you are the one he has been talking about.” He looks Revas up and down. “I don’t understand why he was so adamant to protect you.”

The group doesn’t listen for long, and when combat breaks out, Sathurian is in the middle of the field, his spear seemingly everywhere at once. Next to him, the arcane horror named Mellia dishes out spells, keeping people under control, and sucking the life force out of everyone near her.

During the first round of combat, Sathurian waves his spear and speaks. “So you choose to resist. Well then, maybe this decision will be easier for you if we bring out our little helper. He’s been so useful already, giving us all kinds of information. Come on out, puppet.”

And so Sathurian motions for Mellia, and shortly afterwards, the door to the building behind the two opens, and out comes a familiar figure. His face has been beaten up, and there is blood seeping from several cuts on his face and arms, but there is no denying that this is Ardis, Revas’ lover. He is not bound, and he’s holding his spear in his hands, while walking towards the group.

Sathurian grins. “Greet your lover, puppet.”

“Aneth ara, Revas,” Ardis says, his voice odd and monotone.

“Ir abelas,” he then continues, just before he lunges to attack. When he strikes, the heroes are as shocked as they are surprised. Ardis, the gentle giant, is attacking his friends with a ferocity that is unheard of.

During the fight, Sargis’ rune in his armour goes off and protects him from Mellia’s spells, and the heroes take out the many small crystals surrounding the square.

When Mellia is killed, Sathurian realizes that he can’t win, and he goes to Ardis and teleports away with him.

The troops far up on the hill near Raven’s Roost are left to their own devices, and are soon crushed by the united effort of the people in the keep, or they disperse in all directions.

Uncertain, and in some ways broken, the Heartbreaker Gang rests and tends to their wounds as Revas’ bondmate has disappeared without a trace or known way to reach him.

The Steel Picks, by now, have reached the shore, at least some of them. And the men go about trying to put out the fires that are still burning everywhere.

In the keep, chaos reigns. Wounded people are sitting at every corner, and there are a few people kneeling over corpses, either crying or trying to get them back to life. People are running back and forth, carrying supplies or wounded, and Gale can be seen at the center of the bailey, directing someone carrying Flora to the infirmary and following them inside.

Up on the ramparts, Faustus is navigating her people, and making sure that the wounded are taken down to Gale’s infirmary.

A soldier comes down the ramparts, a body thrown over his shoulders, and as he passes the group, they recognize Dora, who seems to limply hang from the man’s strong shoulders. Out of a nearby building, Cole comes running, Bert trying to catch up to her and almost stumbling over his cane.

In the infirmary, Gale is desperate to get help. Her hands are firmly planted on Bela’s chest, who seems to be unconscious. She sighs. “Oh, you’re here. I… I need help. My medics are doing the best they can, but we need more mages. I can’t heal all these people, I don’t have the resources. Someone needs to make a decision.”

She points at four adjacent beds. Flora, Arcas, Bela, and Dora are lying next to each other, all of them seemingly unconscious and bleeding heavily. Gale’s medics are trying their best to stop the bleeding, but it soon becomes clear that Gale is right. There aren’t enough supplies to save everyone, and the wounds of the four people in the infirmary are grave.

And so the heroes share their supplies, healing potions, and lyrium potions, with the medics and the wounded. They choose which patients to help first, prioritizing the people they have more contact with.

First patient: Dora
Second patient: Bela
Third patient: Flora
Fourth patient: Arcas

When all wounded patients are taken care of, Gale takes Rhea to the side. She leads her to an adjacent room, where a familiar person lies on a table. Braedon. His armour is dented and blackened, as if something exploded right on his chest.

Gale places a hand on Rhea’s arm. “I’m sorry, dear. He is gone.”

“Braedon was leading our defensive line on the ramparts when it happened. He was coordinating his recruits, and doing his best to keep everyone safe. After he was struck by a magical missile, he was brought to me, still alive. I couldn’t save him. I am so sorry.”

Gale stands in the corner, watching Rhea as she says goodbye to her husband.

Revas comes in to console the weeping Rhea, and when Gale speaks, it is as much to him as it is to Rhea.

“Before he died,” Gale says, “he wanted me to tell you something. He regretted not being able to help you raise Liam, and told me that he loves both of you very much. He apparently hid something in a drawer of your home, something that he was going to give you at some point.”

Valeria and Sargis go outside to work on keeping everyone together and focused on their tasks, helping here and there, carrying supplies, comforting the wounded and grieving, and just generally making sure that everything goes back to being normal.

Revas goes to Oleo and the two comfort one another and tell each other what has happened as they let themselves fall into their grief for just a moment.

Rhea takes some of the items from Braedon’s body after whispering softly into his hair. She takes his star pin and ring, and then goes to then ransack the room and finds an unsent letter from Braedon.

“Dearly beloved Rhea,

you are away traveling, and Liam and I are home alone. I know that Liam is still too small for such a long trip, but I must tell you that we both miss you very much. Much more than anticipated.

I wake every morning and think of you. Liam is often already awake, expecting me to take him to his wet nurse. She is a good woman, and often sings to him, just like you do. I have been practising my singing voice as well, and hope to sing a few songs with you once you return.

I hope your trip is a success, and that the Avvar treat you well. I have heard many different things about them, likely all untrue, but some of them make me lay awake at night with worry. I am sure you would tell me if there was reason to do so, even though our talks are often short and rushed. I trust that you will keep yourself safe, even among the Avvar.

Another day has passed and I still miss you very much. Bert is trying to teach me how to cook, and it is not going well. How he manages to cut things into such tiny pieces is beyond my understanding. It is a good exercise, however, and Liam enjoys being taken care of by Jori. They love our boy with a passion, and it is wonderful to see Jori and Bert interact with him.

You are still gone, and I admit it is starting to weigh on me. Liam often cries at night now, and I am sure he misses his mother. I try to console him, but it is not me he wants, and so all my endeavours are destined to fail.

This morning Bert offered to take Liam for a few days, so I can get some sleep. I have not slept in days, and I feel like a terrible father. I agreed to let Bert take Liam for one night, and I am feeling guilty for being so selfish.

Beloved, I finally got some sleep, and I am feeling much better. I cannot wait to see you again, and after our conversation today I am in a much better mood. When you return, I plan on going on a picnic with you. The weather is so nice, and I am sure you would love it, and so would Liam.

After reading the letter, Rhea leaves her room and goes to Liam and holds him close as she sings to him.

Meanwhile, Valeria speaks with Marissa, Lachtna, and Faustus about the damage and people as well as making preparations to attack Jainen. She also wants to visit Wutherford immediately to speak with Leonara about what just happened.

Valeria also requests a list of the dead and those that were left behind.

Sargis goes to encourage the people and celebrate this victory with them, taking the time to visit Cole and spend some time with her. He hands her the ribbons he bought in Eagle-Eye Hold, and the little girls is very excited. She ties them around her wrist, into her hair, to her clothes, and everywhere they can fit.

Revas goes to talk with Illen as they try to figure out what Sathurian wanted and where his hatred towards elves came from. They think on plans for Augustus before Revas goes to sleep in the aravel and hugs Eira.

As the group settles in for the night, the name of the Heartbreaker Gang hits home to each member as they struggle with their own heartbreak for the first time in awhile…

Episode #111
Sailing Home

02.04.841–03.04.841 TE – Highever and the Waking Sea
Revas, Rhea, Sargis, Valeria

The Lonely Siren

The man who entered the Golden Jug calling out Sargis’ real name is older, with matted grey hair halfway hidden by a thick headband. He has brown eyes and a broken nose, and is holding a pipe in his crooked mouth.

The old man appears to be someone Sargis knew from a ship back in the day. His name is Castrion, the first mate of Captain Alejandro Musk. He seemed to have been left out at sea after an attack. He was a pirate.

Sargis seems to become more vigilant, and tries to change the conversation quickly when the word “pirate” is mentioned. Then, Sargis invites Castrion up to his room, and the two of them have a conversation upstairs. When Sargis returns, he is alone, and he rents out the room for two additional nights.

Meanwhile, Rhea goes to pack.

Arna gently pokes Revas’ shoulder to get his attention, and tells him that he got a visitor while he was in jail: Aeson, the elder of the Alienage.

Revas and Valeria go to the Alienage to speak with Aeson, seeing the elves tying ribbons to their sacred tree before dispersing. Aeson admits to being the leader of the Midnight Scars, and then mentions that one of his men is missing. Lerith, a young man, had gone to sabotage the wagons of the Steel Picks in front of a tavern called the Broken Arrow. Martin, the semi-leader of the Steel Picks, is a big strong guy that sometimes doesn’t have armour on.

After hearing Aeson’s story, Valeria agrees to try to help and try to talk with this Martin to get the elf back.

In the Golden Jug, Rhea talks with Arna about kids, responsibilities, and their respective loved ones. A snarky comment makes Arna blush and have to repack as she gets flustered.

Revas and Valeria return to the Golden Jug, and find that the group has mainly finished packing. They decide to ask Salem to get everyone onto the Lonely Siren, while they go to talk to the Steel Picks to see whether they can get the elf back.

And so the group makes their way to the docks, and has an eye out for anyone who looks like a mercenary. In front of the Broken Arrow, they find a group of Steel Picks, who are deep in conversation. One of them, a massive man, isn’t wearing any armour.

Valeria steps up to talk with them, and after some conversation manages to get into a sparring match with Martin who seems to go into a rage during the fight. However, that comes much too late, as a well-landed strike of Valeria’s takes the man to his knees. And so Valeria manages to come out victorious, and both Rhea and Sargis win one gold piece for having bet on Valeria’s win.

After some more talking, Valeria manages to get the Steel Picks to agree to joining the Heartbreaker Gang’s venture to attack Jainen. They will serve as specialized troops in the battle.

With the Steel Picks leaving Highever, the elves in the city will be free to accept more mercenary jobs, and take up the jobs the Steel Picks had before. On top of that, the friction between the two groups will be gone, as the elves are free to expand with the Steel Picks gone.

During Valeria’s conversation with the Steel Picks, Revas sneaks off and climbs on top of a roof. He takes advantage of the distraction and goes to sneak into the building as a raven. He manages to do so, and ends up in the kitchen of the Broken Arrow. Deciding to try a different way to handle people in the building, Revas decides to use the potion Sudden Slumber to knock out the cook. He drops the contents of the liquid into the cook’s drink, and waits for him to pass out.

Once the cook is unconscious, Revas dresses again and climbs into the window as an elf, so he can actually open the trap door located in the kitchen. When he does, he can hear some noises coming from inside the dark cellar, and soon finds rats scattering across the place. Then he spots a foot behind a barrel, and when he inspects this further, finds what he assumes is the missing elf Lerith.

Lerith is unconscious, and it takes Revas a bit to wake him up and convince him that Revas is there to help. Once that is achieved, Revas leads the way out of the cellar and kitchen, but Lerith is still wounded and clumsy, and makes quite a bit of noise.

They climb out of the window and manage to escape while Valeria, Sargis, and Rhea manage to seal the deal in taking the Steel Picks with them to fight in Jainen.

Revas manages to get the elvhen lad home, despite the burn to his hand and cut on his leg. When he tells Aeson, he is given a gift of an ironbark charm that helps prevent poison. Revas thanks him and says his goodbye.

The group eventually makes it to the ship and Captain Etienne prepares for setting sail and putting everyone she can to work.

Captain Etienne is busy commanding her people around when the group approaches the ship. Everyone on board seems to know what to do and is busy doing it. Men and women are hanging from the rigging, people climbing up and down, seamen yelling commands at each other, and at the center of it all, Etienne, a huge grin on her face.

“There you are! Bonjour! Took you a while, didn’t it. Well, you’re here now, and I hope you’re prepared to help out.”

She looks the group up and down and then poses a question none of them expected. “Any of you used to a life at sea?”

Etienne stares at the group with an intense look in her eyes. “Also I need to pick something up in West Hill, but that won’t take any time at all. I’ll make sure to make up for that time with my wind weaving.”

When Sargis and Rhea mention that they have been at sea before, Etienne looks surprised.

“You certainly don’t look the part. What with your heavy armour and all,” she says. “But all right fine by me.”

And with that, Etienne questions both Sargis and Rhea, testing their sailing knowledge. She first asks them simple things, testing their knowledge on sailing terms, and then moves on to more advanced questions and situational decisions.

Sargis wins the testing process, and as a reward, Captain Etienne makes him her First Mate. She then turns to the rest of them.

“The rest of you can either help my boatswain or my cook. We don’t do any dead weight around here.”

With that, everyone busies themselves helping out, and Revas climbs up into the crow’s nest to keep lookout. For a long time he sees nothing interesting, until suddenly, he spots a whirlpool in the distance.

Down on deck, Sargis tries to do his best to sail the ship away from the sudden threat of death down in the deep, and commands people around to the best of his ability. Despite not having been on a ship in such a long time, he manages to steer the ship away from danger, and so the ship only takes minor damage from the debris swirling around in the whirlpool, hitting the hull. All his efforts, however, mean little when three sailors go overboard and are gone forever.

Sinice the ship requires repairs, Orrun the boatswain asks for help from the group. Valeria does her best to help him make repairs while the two of them swap stories. He tells her that the ship may have once belonged to Martha the Great, an infamous pirate and force at sea, and that in its maiden years it used to be a merchant ship.

Mariana the cook requires help cooking the evening meal. What with most people helping repair the ship, she could use an extra few hands. When prodded to do so, Arna offers her help, but doesn’t do so well, likely because she’s been seasick for a while now. And so Drynne does his very best, but only manages to put in the wrong seasoning, almost ruining the entire batch of food. Revas comes to the rescue, and helps Mariana finish the meal.

During the cramped and uncomfortable dinner, Valeria talks to the others about hers and Borin’s conversation the day before, where Borin contacted her via the Amulet of the Planes:

Borin appears sitting down on a rock and holding the amulet around his neck, in front of Valeria. The Dwarf has seen better days, his armour is bent and bandages cover most of this visible body. His breathing is laboured and his movements are sluggish as he shifts his weight to one side. But the look on his face tells a completely different story, like he has accomplished something he is proud of. If Valeria didn’t know any better, it could almost be mistaken for joy.

“It’s good to see you again Ser Valeria. You look…well.”

Valeria blinks in surprise at seeing Borin before her, even if his image reveals him to be more magic than actually there.

She’s quick to check the door to her room before looking back at Borin with a tired grin as she moves her hair aside and shows him her new wolf tattoo on the shaved side of her head.

“Got into trouble, am starting trouble, and even ended up in jail the other night. Just another day with the gang. But to be honest, I feel lighter than before after my trip…it’s hard to describe.

How are you though? Looking like you’ve been picking a few too many fights as well."

Borin chuckles at the news of them in jail for a night, “Some things never change I see.” As he inspects the tattoo from a distance.

“I was in the Brecilian Forest for some time, I finally got to see a Great Bear.” He pats something invisible by his side, “Mine and Misha’s training is complete. Though it nearly killed me, I too haven’t felt this good in a while.”

The Dwarf seems unsure how to phrase his next words, choosing them carefully before he speaks, “I thought about contacting Velenna but I can’t do that to her. How is she? How is the group doing? I guess you could say I’m feeling a bit nostalgic today.”

Valeria nods at the news of the great bear, listening intently to his tone and way of speaking to see how he’s really doing but trying not to be too obvious about it.

When asked about Velenna and the gang, Valeria nods and looks thoughtful.

“Velenna and the others at home seem to be doing alright. Had some trouble with some old enemies of ours, but we caught it early so no harm done. As for the gang…where to even start… Revas is hanging out with a nice baker named Wulf who is around my height and from my home. Rhea is working with more and more magic recently, and the spirits seem to be noticing this. That or demons….not sure half the time. Had a few run in but we dealt with them on their home turf and made out just fine. Sargis on the other hand…while he was his usual self before, as soon as we stepped foot in this city he started acting even more odd than usual. As if he was rushing us out of here and doesn’t want to be seen. Then there’s me. A few fights, a few losses, acceptance from my mother, and another son to look after. It’s been a busy time for me but comforting despite the challenges. Was there anything you wanted me to tell the others?”

Borin nods as Valeria tells him the news of everyone, listening to her words carefully.

He chuckles again at the news of Revas, “Forever on the quest of making his harem bigger.” He begins to speak again, “Rhea…..” but then catches himself and simply drops his head with a smile.

He ponders the news about Sargis, “Mmm perhaps he has had dealings in that city in the past.” And then shrugs his shoulders.

He smiles warmly at Valeria, “I’m glad you got acceptance from your mother, I know it was weighing on you for a long time.”

Thinking on if there are any words for the group or the people back at Raven’s Roost, he opens his mouth to speak but then catches himself. Shaking his head he says, “No words for anyone. Velenna needs to forget about me so she can find her prince that will make her a queen. And I’m sure the group well do fine with any words from me.”

Shifting his weight to one side again he grimaces a bit before continuing, “I’m on my way to Jader, I need to do some research at the library there before I make my next move.”

Valeria raises an eyebrow at Borin’s response but says nothing of it. Instead she stretches and looks off at the door idly.

“We might be getting access to the largest library known to these lands…if we do well with our plans. Can’t let us be pushed around forever, and I’m done running. Also you know as well as I that Velenna won’t take no for an answer and would fight me herself if I so much as tried to suggest that.”

The Dwarf thinks again if he should say something to Velenna, he takes his time before responding, “No, she needs to forget about me.”

Borin gets up and moves to stand in front of Valeria, seemingly forgetting the state his body is in, “And when will you aquire this library? Where is it?” His words are rushed and Valeria can tell that she has gotten his full attention.

Taking note of Borin’s sudden change at the news, Valeria nods to herself and switches to sign just in case someone is listening in.

“We’ll be attacking Jainen in a few days. We expect opposition and captives, but we have to deal with this nonetheless. We also have some help navigating as well as an ally to help us deal with Jainen’s forces. We plan to take it and take out their leader, leaving the library in our hands for a little while. Potential plans are to have those on hand to secure the library and keep it safe from fire or damage if Jainen finds themselves in a losing battle.”

Borin smiles his smile of insanity. The one Valeria has seen too many times before. The wide grim always seen before the Dwarf does something foolish, something he knows he shouldn’t but simply can’t help himself.

He stares at Valeria for a while with the glint of madness in his eyes before letting go of the amulet and disappearing before her eyes.

When Sargis is asked whether he killed Castrion, Sargis simply denies it, and explains that once upon a time he did something bad, and so he simply wants to stay undetected in Highever and at sea.

Finally, as the moon rises high, everyone tries to sleep, but with seasickness and cramped spaces, it is hard to actually recover during the night. Rhea does her best to set up proper watches for the night, and thankfully nothing happens while she is on watch, but once morning comes, the heroes find the ship stuck in slithering sargasso.

They have a look around, and see Captain Etienne and others fighting the green, slimy tendrils reaching out to them, and so they decide to help. During combat, Rhea is grabbed by one of these tendrils, and almost pulled into the raging sea, but thanks to Sargis’ quick reflexes, she is freed and finds purchase on the wooden deck.

With the knowledge that the night before they couldn’t get in contact with Raven’s Roost by any normal means…the gang readies themselves for trouble as they sail home…

Episode #110

01.04.841–02.04.841 TE – Highever
Revas, Rhea, Sargis, Valeria

The Velvet Fang

In the morning, everyone gathers for breakfast and sees Hildr looking rough after a nightmare and Rhea looking like she barely slept at all. She requests to go to the herbalists’ shop in the morning before the gang follows up a lead in the brothel.

The streets here in the city center are clean and well-kept, save for a few pieces of paper fluttering around thanks to the wind. Some of the buildings here have seen better days, but most of them are in rather good shape, as befits a city center.

Small groups of people wander these parts, going from one shop to the next, or simply having a look at the windows.

The Wilds is a robust one-floor building. There’s plants and flowers visible through the large windows and a small welcome mat is lying in front of the entrance.

Inside, the smell of greenery fills the air. It is almost suffocating. Along the wall stands a large shelf with all kinds of jars, bottles, and plants on it.

While Rhea and Revas go to the herbalist shop, Valeria and Sargis go into a music store. This large stone building has seen better days. Its façade is dirty, overgrown, and in dire need of repair. Even the door has seen better days, though it is at least reinforced with metal. Through the windows, a well-lit interior can be seen, which is in much better shape than the outer wall.

Inside, a woman is playing the piano. She is a weathered woman with her dark hair worn in a long, tangled style. She is wearing fine clothes that are brown in colour.

Sargis stands in the middle of the room, watching the woman play the piano, while Valeria stays in the background.

Rhea and Revas get some of the items Rhea needed, and Rhea is told of an island in Great Bear Lake she might need to visit to get what else she needs. Oddone Braunbeck warns her that there might be a dragon around that area, you never know. He seems slightly deaf and from a place called the Orthlands, which both Rhea and Revas figure out after listening to his accent for a while.

In the music store, Valeria buys a blackwood kalimba for herself and a cherry wood lyre for Arna. Sargis plucks at a harp and seems enraptured by it.

Revas and Rhea in the meantime have finished their business at the herbalist and wander off to the next building. It is a small building at the center of town made out of large stone bricks. Its roof is dark and dirty, and from inside the clanking of metal on metal can be heard.

Inside it is almost unbearably hot, as two forges are heating up the small building. A muscular qunari owns this place. His clothes are dirty, despite the heavy leather protection he is wearing.

They speak to him, and he seems rather bored while he is talking to them. Rhea decides that maybe Revas should collect yet another man for his harem, but Revas is insistent that he’s had enough. And so he only buys an exceptional dagger and then leaves the store, while Rhea tells him to wink at the qunari man called Marak. Revas, under his breath, mutters:

“I only have one eye, Rhea! It would just look like I’m blinking!”

Eventually, while Valeria gets Arna’s gift wrapped, Revas and Rhea join her and Sargis in the music store called Soul Sound. They watch what Sargis is doing for a while, slightly suspicious, and wondering whether he’s on drugs. Then Rhea has a look at some of the instruments, and the group leaves.

Valeria hands Arna her new lyre, and Arna gives her a kiss on the cheek as thanks, which makes Valeria blush terribly. Arna grins and even plays a few notes on her new lyre, but doesn’t dare play a whole song in the middle of the inn. She promises to play some music for Valeria later that night.

On their way to the Velvet Fang, the group hears some rumours:

  • It’s no coincidence that Conobar got Highever. He paid someone to have the former Arl Tenedor and his knight Ser Forannan killed.
  • Had nothing to do with his wife’s disappearance. She was a whorish young woman who cheated on him with a bard and then left together with that man.
  • Arl Conobar has a bastard daughter and son with someone from the Guardians.
  • Arlessa Teagan has been amassing troops in the Halkirk Arling, and no one knows why.
  • She had a dalliance with another woman of low status.
  • Nest of Sparrows is an organization that puts children to work.
  • The children are all orphans, poor things. They are clearly owned by whoever they work for.
  • Someone has seen a man hit one of the children once.
  • The man who frightens the children is called Silver.
  • The children are all unhappy, and sometimes some of them just disappear.

Arriving at the Velvet Fang, Revas climbs up the building next to it to try and look in through an upper story window.

Inside, the group is greeted by someone from the establishment but after spotting a woman with silver hair and dark blue eyes, they focus on her. She seems to run this establishment, the fabled Silver who only has eyes for Rhea.

Revas meanwhile heads up to the roof and stashes his stuff before turning into a raven to take a look around and listen in at some windows. Once he’s decided on a plan, he dresses himself again and climbs up to the third floor, where he climbs in through a window. He listens and sneaks around a bit until he gets to the fourth floor, where he quickly slips into a nearby room to avoid people coming up behind him.

When he turns around, there is another elf looking at him like she got caught doing something she shouldn’t. The two speak for a moment, and promise not to say anything about each other. The young woman also tells him some things about a man named Corbin, who is supposedly Silver’s second-in-command. She describes him as a handsome young man with medium dark skin, short brown hair, and grey eyes. Revas keeps all that in mind, and while he’s already in what Revas suspects is Silver’s office, he has a look around at the papers lying around. Nothing unusual seems to be there, so he gives up and leaves the room, going downstairs as if he belonged there.

Downstairs, Rhea is making an effort to seduce Silver, who’s not so easily had. Silver mentions coin and payment a couple of times, and while she seems to enjoy the attention Rhea is giving her, she also makes it clear that this isn’t going any further than friendly flirting.

Valeria decides not to say anything and instead turns to talk to Sargis. Then Revas descends the stairs.

Several guards walk into the brothel looking for the gang, claiming they are wanted for assault and murder. Valeria willingly goes with them, as do Sargis and Revas. Rhea first hides under the table, and then tries to make a break for it but gets caught immediately.

When the gang is escorted into the jail and their individual cells, they are taken to another room one by one by a guard to have a conversation.

First is Revas. When Revas is taken to the other room, the guard seems fairly relaxed and friendly.

“Why are you here in Highever?”

“Looking for a ship.”

“Why are you looking for a ship?”

“Because I want to go home.”

“How long do you intend to stay?”

“Hopefully not long.”

“That’s not really an answer, but I’ll let it slide,” the guard says. “You’re a strange bunch. Three humans, one elf. How did you end up together?”

“We met at a tavern.”

“That was how long ago?”

“Half a year ago.”

“Alright, what were you doing in the Alienage?”

“Visiting my people.”

“Okay. What is your business with the Steel Picks? Are you part of the elvhen freedom fighters?”

“No, I don’t live here.”

“Why did you attack the guardians in the Apothecary?”

“They were harassing the clerk. They didn’t back down.”

“Who is Bernard to you and why did you attack him?”

“He’s nothing to me, I don’t know him. He attacked my friends.”

“Which people would you like present for your defense?

“Yeric, the alchemist.”

Then, Revas is taken back to his cell, and Rhea is told to come with the guard. Her questioning requires a lot of patience from the guard, as Rhea constantly tries to talk her way out of things, or is purposefully vague. Eventually, the guard gets her to comply. Somewhat.

“Why are you here in Highever?”

“To travel. Trying to get out of here.”

“How long do you intend to stay?”

“We were gonna leave today, but…” Rhea motions at her shackles.

“What is someone of Tevinter origin doing here in Ferelden?

“Many of my fellows were imported here. I originally served in Denerim and then Wutherford, then I made some friends and married a very handsome man. We have a son now. I’m just living my life.”

“You guys looks like a wild bunch. How did you end up together?”

“I don’t know how the other three met, I know they used to be in Jader. I met them near Caer Darrow.”

“Why did you attack the guardians in the Apothecary?”

“They were trying to rob the poor man.”

“You were just defending him?”

“Of course, you can ask him.”

“Why did you use magic on your opponents?”

“I would like to speak to whoever made such claims. Maybe it was just a trick of the light. Who knows whether they even know what magic looks like, you don’t even have a Circle.”

“Who is Bernard to you and why did you attack him?

“He was leading a rogue sect of guardians, they were robbing people, etc, and we confronted him to stop what he was doing and he refused. One thing led to another rand next thing we knew we were defending ourselves. We spared who we could, but sadly he died.”

“You didn’t set out to kill him?”


“Which people would you like present for your defense?”

“Captain Dimitru, and Yeric the alchemist.”

“Alright. I’ll take you back to your cell now.”

The guard does so, pushing Rhea into her cell. When he picks up Sargis, he seems fairly annoyed, much more so than he was before talking to Rhea. Once they are alone in the room, the guard sits across from Sargis.

“Why are you here in Highever?”

“Just passing through.”

“Passing through to where?”

“We’re going back west.”

“How long do you intend to stay?”

“I honestly have no idea. The sooner we leave the better. "

“I couldn’t agree more. How did you end up together?”

“Meeting on the road, hanging together… the roads are dangerous, with all those darkspawn about. This was all just a misunderstanding. Some guardian business needed taking care of.”

“Why did you bribe the official to let the people go?”

“I didn’t bribe anyone, I made an agreement with him and he allowed us to purchase the freedom of the prisoners. In full public view. He told me a price and I paid him.”

“I see. And why did you attack the guardians in the Apothecary?”

“Well they have been going around harassing shopkeepers, and we asked them to stop and they drew their weapons and assaulted us.”

“Why did you kill the guardian in the Apothecary?”

“There were more of them than there were of us, and they kept coming. And you know how fights are, you can’t always control the fight. The rest are alive and well.”

“Who is Bernard to you and why did you kill him?”

“Bernard is the leader of this fiendish band of no-good rascals. I was just having a drink with my friends and he walked in and wanted a fight, and so we took it outside. Only he was killed, we spared the others.”

“Which people would you like present for your defense?”

“Yeric, the alchemist and Captain Dimitru.”

Once Sargis has been taken back to his cell, Valeria is brought to a separate room, where a very annoyed guard starts questioning her.

“Why are you here in Highever?”

“I’m here to travel.”

“Travel to where?”

“Down River Dane.”

“How long do you intend to stay?”

“Well I was planning to leave today.”

“Well that’s not gonna happen. How did you and the others end up together?”

“Hm. The usual circumstances when you bump into people who don’t always match with your ideals.”

Valeria can tell the guard is getting frustrated with her non-answers. "Fine. What is someone of your heritage doing with these people?

“Just because of my heritage it’s not going to be easy to find people to simply do business with. You gotta be able to interact with everybody, not just one type of person.”

“Whatever that means. I guess we’ll just keep this going, then. Why did you attack the guardians in the Apothecary?”

“I heard sounds of distress from inside the shop, from the shopkeeper, Yeric. I went in as a concerned citizen.”

The guard grumbles something to himself, clearly dissatisfied. “Who is Bernard to you and why did you attack him?”

“Bernard to me? I mean I don’t really know this Bernard that well, but considering that he had connections with what happened in the Apothecary, as well as some other mentions of such bullying and throwing his weight around while using the Guardians’ name in such a light, that would be my reason.”

“Which people would you like present for your defense?”

“Captain Dimitru. Yeric, the alchemist.”

“Alright then. Back to your cell you go.”

Clearly in a very bad mood, the guard takes Valeria back to her cell.

Later that day, the group faces a hearing. Judge Korinth is presiding. In the back of the room, Captain Dimitru sits in a corner, watching everything happen. Several guardians are also in the room.

The group is led into the courtroom, their hands bound, and shoved before the judge, who looks less than amused. He reads through a few statements and then lifts his head.

“You are here today because you are accused of the following: Revas. Assaulting a citizen, disturbing the peace, hampering justice. Rhea Bastion Biel Burdock. Assaulting a citizen, disturbing the peace, hampering justice, and using magic on a citizen. Duncan. Assaulting a citizen, blackmailing an official, disturbing the peace, hampering justice, and murder of a citizen in two counts. Valeria. Assaulting a citizen, disturbing the peace, and hampering justice. What do you have to say in your defense?”

Revas stays quiet.

Rhea: “We were only doing this in the defense of the city of Highever. There were rogue guardians afoot and we only did it to help the people of Highever. In addition, just because I look Tevinter doesn’t mean I use magic on every person I meet. I think the assumption is very rude.”

Sargis winks. “Firstly your honour I would like to apologize for this egregious waste of your time. You’ll find we’re innocent and all we had in our heart were good intentions, to help this city in these troubling times.”

Valeria: “I am here as someone who helps people, no matter what city I’m in. Regarding these charges, I think the truth will come out.”

“How do you plead?” The judge asks.

“Not guilty, your honour.”

“Is the city prepared to go forward with the trial?”

The prosecutor stands. “We are, your honour.”

“Then we proceed with the trial tomorrow morning.”

The group is put back in their cells.

02.04.841 TE

The next morning, they are taken to the courtroom again. Judge Korinth is presiding. He’s an older man with short grey hair cut the way soldiers wear it. His clothes are neatly kept and he’s flanked by two clerks.

Again the judge reads out the offenses, and then asks whether the pleas stay the same. The plea stays the same, and the prosecutor rises.

“Calling our first witness, Jonas Broadseat, Guardian.”

One of the surviving guardians from the Apothecary walks up to the stand.

“Please stand. Raise your right hand. Do you promise that the testimony you shall give in the case before this court shall be the truth?”

“I do.”

“Please state your first and last name.”

“Jonas Broadseat.”

“What is your profession?”

“I am a Guardian.”

“Where were you the day before yesterday around noon?”

“I was in the store called the Apothecary.”

“Who were you with?”

“I was with three fellow guardians.”

“And what were you doing there?”

“We were collecting a protection fee.”

“And did you have a contract that allowed you to do so?”

“Yes we did.”

“And what happened while you were collecting this protection fee?”

“We were attacked by these people.” Points at the defendants.

“Do you know why?”

“Supposedly because we weren’t within our right to collect the fee.”

“But were you?”

“Yes, we have a contract.”

“Did these people ask to see your contract?”

“No, they only threatened us and then attacked.”

“And what happened then?”

“They killed Tobias Theros, and wounded me and the others.”

“The others being?”

“William Hild and Peter Knolls.”

“And you three were wounded?”

“Yes, William rather gravely.”

“Were the other people wounded?”

“I think so, but now they all seem to look fine. William’s at the healer’s.”

“No more questions, your honour.”

After that, Rhea and Sargis (or well, Duncan Gork) take the lead in the trial, talking fast and pushing hard against the witness, who soon stops responding for fear of incriminating himself.

The questioning of Peter Knolls goes much the same way.

After that, the prosecution calls a third witness, Jace Mackey.

“The prosecution calls Jace Mackey to the stand.”

. . .

“Jace Mackey.”

The prosecutor looks around and seems confused.

“Your honour, it seems our witness isn’t here yet. I would ask for some more time.”

The judge doesn’t look too pleased when he hears that.

“No. If you can’t produce your witness, either call your next one or it’s the defense’s turn.”

“The prosecution calls Buster Williams.”

. . .

“Buster Williams?”

“Your honour, I know this looks bad, but I would ask for some more time.”

“No more time. Either call your next witness or it’s the defense’s turn.”

The prosecutor curses and says “The prosecution rests.”

Then, the defense, mainly made up of Sargis and Rhea, starts their work. They question Yeric the alchemist, who soon reveals that he signed the contract under duress, and that the guardians under Bernard were threatening to destroy and steal his wares should he not cooperate.

The questioning of Captain Dimitru goes well, and he reveals that he has several shopkeepers who are willing to testify to the this guardian sect’s wrongdoings.

The judge goes to his chambers after this, and soon returns with a verdict of not guilty because of lack of evidence.

Rhea and Sargis stay to get their reward from Captain Dimitru, who admits that he paid people off to not show up in court. Thankfully Jace Mackey and Buster Williams have better things to do than to appear in court, which would look very bad for them, considering their clientele.

Rhea notices that the guards took some money from her.

Valeria walks off towards the inn and Revas follows before he goes off to go hunt Corbin for a bit. He watches his movements, but doesn’t dare attack.

Valeria arrives at the inn and tells everyone what happened. It turns out the group had already heard rumours that the Heartbreaker Gang were caught, but weren’t sure when the trial would be.

The gang prepares themselves to leave Highever and just as they are finally all together in the inn again, an old man enters the place and looks around before spotting one of the group.


Episode #109
Getting Dimitru's Right Hand Back

30.03.841 TE – Highever
Revas, Rhea, Sargis, Valeria

The Broken Arrow

After visiting the alienage and learning some rumours, the gang heads back to the Golden Jug. Sargis gets some soot from Korinna, who looks slightly baffled at the request, and asks him not to ruin the room he’s sleeping in. He promises to behave, and the group go upstairs.

The gang has their mirror shard conversation, and the news is very…worrying:

  • Decimus Priscillian tragically killed himself and his children Tettia and Opiter by jumping off a bridge in Emerius.
  • Through her research, Flora has figured out that the High Priestess mentioned in Caius’ journal was indeed the same person who wrote the secret notes from 40 years ago that were hidden in Caius’ journal. Her name was Vesnia Priscillian (The Forgewright). She was a High Priestess for Toth around the same time the Golden City blackened, and is likely one of the Magisters Sidereal. Her current location is thought to be Emerius. It is likely that she is the one behind the attacks on the Priscillian family, though it’s unclear why she would attack her own bloodline, apart from the fact that she despises them.
  • Marissa has collected some information on Emerius and The Black Cadre.
  • Illen has a contact named Adem who will be able to get a small group into Jainen Castle. He’s just waiting for the signal. Illen will come along once it’s time.
  • Some darkspawn tried attacking the Vethari Clan, but the elves had magic and sylvans on their side.
  • Logerswold didn’t fare so well: Darkspawn kidnapped several people, especially women.
  • Large groups of darkspawn are gathering near Antiva City. There are ogres among them.
  • Divia was able to get some information on Leonara. Supposedly she was sighted near the Black Tar.
  • The Order found another keystone and is willing to give it to the group in exchange for Arcas.
  • Lady Affraic informs you that the Order’s official name is the Grey Wardens, and that Sargis and Valeria may call themselves Wardens as well. Lady Affraic will be called Warden-Commander.
  • In an encrypted letter, Lady Affraic also informs the group that she is not too pleased with the distribution of the Joining potion. The make and effects of the potion need to stay secret. She also informs you that the Order has adopted a new practise: Either recruits drink the potion, or they are put to the sword. Too risky is it to have people find out about the effects of the potion and spread the word.

The group leave instructions for home:

  • Find out more about attacks along the coast
  • Keep an eye on Wutherford
  • Speak to Arcas (Bela and Faustus)
  • Keep an eye out for darkspawn
  • Divia keep an eye out for disappearances in Wutherford
  • Flora find out whether there were disappearances in Jader

Sargis returns from his room with his beastman cloak on and soot on his face to hide his identity from the dark leader of the Guardians.

However, before the group sets out to the docks, they go to the Shrine to Björn Reed-Beard, where they meet Flora’s half-sister Leilani, who is Tranquil.

The group learns that Conobar has a child with a shrine maiden, before buying some books about Highever, the Coastlands, and other big cities.

Valeria makes an offering to Björn Reed-Beard, which earns her a blessing.

Cleric Lorian, the leader of the shrine says that Björn Reed-Beard must be angry, considering how many ships are being wrecked recently. Arl Conobar would pay for help with finding out what’s going on out at sea. He has an interest in finding out what’s causing all this destruction. Cleric Lorian also mentions that the Juni Moon might be involved. He could get the group in contact with Conobar’s people to talk about getting some items that might help at sea.

Rumours the group learn from Cleric Lorian:

  • The Heroic Endeavour has nothing to do with anything, it’s just one of the ships that went missing.
  • The Juni Moon is run by a young woman called Conni.
  • There’s an organization called Nest of Sparrows which takes care of the kids who sell stuff at the market.
  • Silver is the name of the person who is running the children.
  • The elder Aeson regularly steals money from the elves.
  • The resistance group is called the Midnight Scars.
  • The resistance group is called the Raven Speakers.
  • The members of the resistance group is mainly young men.
  • Captain Dimitru is in big trouble because of the deserters.

The gang, after talking to some civilians, goes to the Docks. Often considered the gateway to Highever, the Docks and its narrow streets see nearly every arriving visitor on their way to the rest of the city. Most buildings sport some damage from the last bout of summer storms. They are for the most part poorly built, since they must be replaced every year or two due to storms, but a few are made at least partially of stone and are meant to withstand the winds and rains.

The Warehouse District’s boardwalk stops at the edge of the Docks, leaving foot traffic to make its way through the wooden or mud streets. Raised paths formed from old boards allow pedestrians to stay out of the mud in some places, although these routes are occasionally detoured to the more sinister alleys, where criminals await their prey.

The Docks are loud and packed with people. The air is pregnant with the stench of seawater and waste, blood and fish guts, and the myriad odours wafting up from the people, some thickly perfumed to cover up body odour.

The Docks are vibrant and exciting, alive with the clash of cultures that call this place home.

Off to the Black Gull the group goes to try and find a captain. Here, Sargis goes by a different name, “Duncan Gork”.

The Docks are full of taverns and pubs, but given the rough clientele, most honest folk look a bit further into the city for a drink and a meal. The Docks are no place for the mild, and nowhere is this truer than the Black Gull. Squeezed between two warehouses in the eastern part of the Docks, the Black Gull is a dangerous place that caters to the nastier sorts that visit the city.

The Black Gull is a fixture in Highever. It takes its name from a huge raven that flew in the door when the bar first opened and then refused to leave. The owner at that time, Dill Mackey, started feeding the bird. One night, a sailor who was three sheets to the wind looked up and said, “That’s the blackest gull I’ve ever seen.” Within days, Mackey had renamed the bar and replaced the sign out front with a painting of his favorite pet.

Of course, all that was almost 15 years ago now, and Dill passed away last year at the ripe old age of 59. His nephew Jace Mackey runs the place now. The sign out front now shows some wear, as does the raven, but the bird is still there, clever as ever. When it’s not perched on Jace’s broad shoulder, the scrappy old bird rests in a wrought-iron cage up behind the bar, croaking foul obscenities at patrons but relatively safe from the raucous crowd.

The Black Gull is a narrow building with only two walls of its own; the sides are formed by the brick warehouses that rise to either side. Dill Mackey built the back and the front when he claimed the place, and they’ve been replaced several times since then after summer storms blew through.

The interior is dirty and the floor covered in suspicious stains. A bar runs along one side with wooden stools in front for patrons, and some benches and tables line the opposite side. A few other tables fill up the empty spaces, placed just far enough apart to squeeze between them. The décor is decidedly spartan; a mariner’s wheel hangs from the ceiling along with a few nets and other junk.

Fights happen like clockwork in the Black Gull. Mackey tolerates them mostly, but whenever anyone comes over the bar or threatens him or any of his staff (which includes three waitresses and a busboy) he lets his bouncer, Buster, loose on them.

The Black Gull has prices that range from reasonable to downright cheap, usually about half what you’d pay elsewhere. The quality of the booze is low too, but priced right for the thirsty. Jace’s one departure from the way his uncle ran the place is that he now serves “food,” of a sort—the foulest, greasiest fish stew anyone has probably ever seen. A new batch gets whipped up every few days or so, as needed.

Sargis, aka Duncan Gork, sits down at the bar and hands Jace a few gold coins. One for the drinks this night, one for some information, and one to be informed when the Guardians and Bernard come in.

Rhea sits down a few paces away, also at the bar, and drinks her own drink out of Salem’s flask.

In the corner of the room, Jace points out a red haired captain to Sargis, as well as an elder captain who is currently dancing on a table on the other side of the establishment. Out of the corner of his eye, Sargis sees Valeria make a beeline for the captain with red hair.

Revas follows Valeria, not wanting to leave her alone. Together, they learn that the captain is called Etienne, and likely is Ciriane. She is confident and ready to handle any trouble. When Valeria offers her some wolf wine, she drinks it with little effort.

After some conversation and some flirting from Val’s side, they decide to charter Etienne’s ship, the Lonely Siren, for their trip back home as well as to Redcliffe, though they don’t mention that to Etienne.

They are charged 4 gold pieces a day because of Etienne’s Wind Weaving skills, which will get them to their destination faster.

When the Guardians walk in, Rhea stands at the door and Sargis stands at the ready. Before a fight can break out, however, Jace makes it clear that they need to take their fighting outside.

They do so, and the fight is a pretty one-sided one. As Rhea constantly dazes Bernard, he is not able to lead his men, and unable to defend himself as Sargis cuts into him time and time again.

Bernard is slain, and his hand is tossed to the guardians that rush back to Dimitru. Before they leave, Sargis calls to them that he was “giving Captain Dimitru his right hand back”.

After getting the meet up time for Etienne, the gang goes to the Golden Jug to sleep for the night.

Sleep comes for all but rest does not as Sargis, Valeria, Arna, and Hildr all have the same tainted nightmare.

“Blood is seeping from your mouth. You have fed. Mother gave birth to you and now you’ve consumed flesh for the first time. And yet you are all but sated.

Hunger drives you forward, towards the surface. Your brethren are following, and together you will crush everything in your path. Master commands you.

You face opposition, but they don’t stand a chance against you and the many. You cut them into pieces, many, tiny pieces.

Then master calls. You will move on. More places to conquer, more people to kill. You follow master’s instructions and make your way back into the deep roads.

Behind you, your brethren are dragging women down below with them. Good. There shall me more like Mother. You laugh to yourself, bloody drool dripping down onto your armour.

Soon there will be even more of you."

Episode #108
Highever, The City Of Commerce

30.03.841 TE – Highever
Revas, Rhea, Sargis, Valeria

In the morning, Braedon contacts Rhea via the Elvhen Stone, and tells her about some of the letters she’s received.

  • Samara sent Rhea information about a book called the Secrets of the Aether
  • Gaspar has not arrived in Bastion, and news of a pirate queen has Rhea worried

Marissa is asked to check on Gaspar, which she promises to do.

Highever’s gate is an old one, but travelers wouldn’t be able to tell just by looking at it. The red stone of its foundation and walls is in excellent condition, and the grey stone of its pillars is almost polished enough to reflect light.

The portcullis is halfway down, and several guards stand ready just behind it. They are well equipped, and seem to be in good health. Several of them are searching a wagon that is passing through, seemingly for contraband. The owner of the wagon is standing next to it, waiting for them to finish. He seems relaxed and not in a hurry, while his druffalo are scratching the stone below with their hooves.

Once the guards finish searching the wagon, they let the man pass. One of the guards walks up to the group and calls out.


What looks like a small family walks up to the guards, showing them their few belongings

The group pauses a bit, and tries to overhear the questions people are being asked. They manage to do so and find out the following:
1. Who are you?
2. Where are you from?
3. Where are you coming from?
4. Where are you going?
5. Why are you going there?
6. What is your business in Highever?
7. Do you know anyone in Highever?
8. Entry into the city costs 4sp.

The group decides to split up.

Valeria and her family, including Salem, head up to the gate, telling the truth as best as possible. Valeria gives her real name, and says that she traveled to find out things about herself. She is from mossley, got the goat on her travels, and is heading through Highever to continue her journey.

Rhea gets in just fine, saying she came from Wutherford via West Hill.

Sargis, Revas, Hildr, and Wulf all approach together. While they are being questioned, a guard approaches Sargis.

“You are one of the Guardians. Stay here.”

It takes a while, but eventually Sargis is let through the gate, where a man wearing Guardian armour is waiting for him. He is a strong looking man with dark skin and short curled hair. He looks at Sargis with eyes so dark they look almost black.

“Welcome to Highever, guardian. I’m Captain Dimitru. I am the reason they let you into the city.”

Captain Dimitru will tell Sargis that he has heard of him. It’s not every day that someone decides to build a new outpost in the middle of nowhere.

“I don’t know what your business is in Highever, but the Order of Guardians here in Highever could really use your help. It’s rare that one of our own travels through, and we can’t get anyone else involved in the matter. If you’re interested in helping, I will reward you, of course, and put in a good word. I’m well liked in Antiva City, and my word carries weight. If you help us out, I will make sure that you’re promoted soon.”

Then Captain Dimitru takes his leave and vanishes in the collecting crowd at the end of the plaza.

As the heroes enter Highever, they soon find themselves in a mass of people. They all seem to be moving in the same direction, towards the other side of the plaza.

Once they arrive there, they can see what they have been led to: a public execution. On top of a stage an executioner is sharpening his axe, while a man in elegant clothing is reading offenses from a list. They include arson, assaulting an official, burglary, murder of a citizen without justification, and theft.

Several people stand in line next to the stage, most of them looking rather scared. Several guards and an official are next to them, with the guards making sure that no one flees, while the official is deep in conversation with Captain Dimitru. Several times the official shakes his head, seemingly annoyed.

One of the waiting people is an elvhen woman, the other is an elvhen teen boy.

Sargis manages to pay to get the people off their sentencing and to be bought to work for the Guardians.

While wandering through the streets of Highever, the group spots all kinds of interesting things. There are merchants set up left and right, selling trinkets, food, and adventuring supplies.

One stalls is run entirely by children. They are selling dolls and other (mainly wooden) toys. The kids call out to the group to buy something.

“Oy! Warriors! Yes, you, right there! You have children with you, why not buy some toys for the kids? Spend some of your money here, you won’t regret it!”

The kids sell wooden figurines depicting various animals, wooden dolls depicting guards and guardians, soft dolls hanging from a noose, pin wheels, and swings.

While the others are busy buying things from the children and questioning them, too, Wulf stops and has a look at a nearby baking stall. Excited, he turns to Revas, pointing out all kinds of things he has never eaten before.

Arna joins him and the two of them start discussing baked goods excitedly, while the stall owner listens on, slightly confused and not sure what’s going on.

While they are standing there, Theodore, the town drunk, stumbles by, bumping into Rhea. As she complains, he drunkenly babbles on and blames her for his fall, and she pushes him to the floor again and laughs. He scrambles to his feet and tries to get away.

Just before the group make it to the Golden Jug, a child bumps into Revas, apologizes and tries to run off. The child steals his coin purse.

Revas snags the kid’s wrist and gets his purse back. It’s the same child they previously talked to when it tried to sell them toys. The child runs away and into an alley.

Then, finally, the group arrives at the Golden Jug and pays for the night, as well as some drinks.
Korinna, the owner, tells the group some news and rumours:

  • Someone saw Lady Rhiannon jump out of the window of the tower. She didn’t run away, she’s dead.
  • Arl Conobar cheated on his wife with the maid.
  • Some say he had a dalliance with a woman from the Shrine.
  • He’s a proud man, and once tripped a rival bann in the ballroom.
  • Took in many elves from Emerius and let them stay in his city, gave them work, and a home in the Alienage.

The gang also speaks with Selivas the barkeep, who just happens to be an elf with more rumours:

  • There are some guardians who extort money from merchants, saying they only do it to keep them safe.
  • The reigning champion of the gladiators is a quiet old man named Cousens.
  • One time, when Cousens defeated his opponent, he accidentally killed him.
  • The steel picks have been fighting with the elves. They are worried that the cheap labour they provide will impact the miners.

Stepping out into the streets nearby, the group looks around. Nearby are several small buildings. One of them is different from the others in this street. Made of plaster and wood, it sticks out like a sore thumb, despite being in good shape. The wood is light and intact, and the plaster is as white as they come. A sign next to the door reads Trickster’s Choice, an odd name for a cartographer, but maybe not as odd as the owner himself.

Trickster is an old elf who has seen better days. His long grey hair is tied into a ponytail, but half of it has already escaped and was brushed behind his ears. His clothes seem to be in good shape, and there’s several pencils sticking out of a chest pocket.

A map of trade routes and Jainen are bought at this cartographer, but loud voices in the nearby potion shop catch the gang’s attention. Guardians are taking potions and harassing a shopkeeper, so the gang decides to step in.

This very small store could easily be overlooked, especially since it doesn’t even have a sign out front. It looks like any other building in this street: made of stone, and in good condition. Under a large window sits a planter full of greenery, which has been flattened by a cat lying in it.

Inside, the store is even smaller than it looked from the outside. Several tables line the walls, and one round table sits perfectly in the center of the room, all of them holding potions, poisons, and other liquids of some kind.

Behind the counter is a sturdy old dwarf with a big beard, his clothes as immaculate as his bald head. In front of him stand four tall men, threateningly packing potions into their bags.

The gang take them out without any real effort. One is killed by Sargis, but the rest quickly surrender after that.

The shopkeeper, Yeric the dwarf, seems thankful for the help and is told that should he find any trouble he can go to the inn to ask for help.

The group lead the Guardian members back to their headquarters.

The Order of Guardians in Highever is a long established organization. They are located in the center of the town, near the Central Market, in a large stone building which has a large courtyard at its center. The three story building is in good condition, its grey stone façade well-kept and clean. The door is surrounded by large pillars leading up all the way to the top of the building.

Sargis hands them over to Dimitru and realizes the problem at hand as Captain Dimitru explains it.

The order is having to deal with a group of deserters who would have rightfully been imprisoned or owed huge debts if the order hadn’t taken them in.

There is a ringleader, Bernard, who pressured the others to leave as Avvar and darkspawn closed in, and now that they’ve deserted the rest feel they don’t have any other choice but to keep following him as he causes chaos.

Forcing people to quarter them, taking supplies and provisions from people who might not be able to afford to go without, or shops who can’t get by giving goods away for free, getting into bar fights every night, harassing the steel picks, etc.

The guardians call on Sargis to fulfil his oath by helping deal with this issue, but even they may not be entirely sure how they want to resolve it. They could have the men fulfil their original sentences, reprimand them in some other way, or it could also simply come down to killing them.

Meeting with the prisoners from earlier, the gang learns more about the people.

  • Tobias, a mason, defended his son against an official who had the son flogged for using magic on a citizen. The group decides that the son needs magical training. Tobias also has a wife.
  • Mary, seamstress, burned the house of her ex husband down.
  • Matt, Wainwright, stole money and items from the Shrine. Has four family members.
  • Ellis, had an old-clothes shop, killed her husband in self defense. Has two children.
  • Uriel, teenager, not a fighter, stole some bread. Will stay in Highever with his family.

Deciding to check the alienage out, the gang heads towards that direction and passes by the Gladiator arena and the shrine to Björn Reed-Beard.

The alienage is a quiet place, and not many people are walking around the area. But there are a few stalls, where Revas goes to buy a few ribbons.

Revas then goes to speak with the elder, Aeson. He learns that Aeson used to live near Emerius at one point, and he also finds out that there’s a broken eluvian in the Planasene Forest, where Aeson is from.

Revas agrees to look into the Steel Picks who are causing trouble for the Alienage. With all this in mind, the group walks out of the alienage with things on their mind as they prepare for their trip in Highever.

On their way to the Shrine, the group overhear some rumours:

  • The kids are run by some man in the eastern part of the city.
  • The person who runs the children also owns a couple of warehouses.
  • Arl Conobar had a dalliance with a woman from the Shrine which resulted in a child.
  • Arl Conobar has a weakness for dracolisks and even owns two of them.
  • Captain Dimitru used to have a wife and child.
  • The navy are cowards. Something has to be done about the dangers at sea, but the navy is helpless without information, and indeed they barely dare leave dock.
  • The leader of the steel picks has forced his way into his position via blackmail.
  • Some say that Aeson is leading this new elvhen resistance group that opposes the steel picks.
  • The arena hasn’t been used much lately, ever since that accident with the dragonlings.
  • One time the elvhen resistance group went so far as to kill a steel pick.
  • Arlessa Teagan once slapped her brother in public over an archery dispute.
  • One of the ships causing trouble out at sea is called the Heroic Endeavour.
Episode #107
Sacred Warrior Trials

26.03.841–30.03.841 TE – Eagle-Eye Hold
Revas, Rhea, Sargis, Valeria

In the morning, Valeria greets Sargis and asks for Gunnar’s whereabouts for a fight later. Walking past, Flem says good luck before heading out for the morning. The sound of someone entering the longhouse catches the group’s attention as Morrighan’nan steps in, walks up to Sargis, and kisses him on the lips. Valeria puts on a mask immediately. After a few words from her, Valeria heads out into the cold morning air to go pick a fight with Gunnar.

Seeing this, Rhea suggests Arna and Morrighan’nan go talk to Val who seems to be potentially upset. Arna hands Erik off to Rhea and follows Valeria through the hold, with Morrighan’nan in tow.

Valeria arrives at the Leaping Elk and has a few drinks as Ragna asks what ails her. Comments about the machinations of men throws her off a bit, but Val takes the hint to head off when the door opens. Morrighan’nan and Arna head in, and Morrighan’nan is told to talk before Arna heads out to give them some breathing room. Morrighan’nan apologizes, but Valeria seems upset as she downs more than one drink and talks about Sargis’ funeral.

Meanwhile, Rhea and Sargis wander about Eagle Eye Hold while Sargis is high. Rhea shows him all kinds of things, and Sargis finds everything incredibly wonderful and interesting. Thanks to being high, everything is glowing with colour, and it almost feels like he could taste colours, too.

Revas goes to visit Wulf at his bakery and almost runs off when he sees his cousin is there. After a quick response from Wulf, they discuss the fact that Revas is engaged but in an open relationship. Wulf seems alright with that, and proceeds to ask quite a few questions about Revas and his life. After their conversation, Wulf decides to go with the gang once they go to Highever, so he can stay with Revas. It likely won’t be permanent, he says, but he would like to learn more about Revas and the Clayne.

Valeria leaves Morrighan’nan and Arna behind and arrives at the temple to talk with Gunnar. Gunnar is sitting with his back to Valeria as she enters the Shrine to Hakkon. When he hears her, he gets up and looks towards her.

“Thordis. I did not expect to see you here.”

Valeria is pleased to hear him call her by her given name, and proceeds to speak to him about the gods. Their conversation is a short one, and once Gunnar agrees to fight Valeria, they move on to the Leaping Elk. Gunnar explains that they will make it a proper challenge, to please the gods. As befits a warrior, Valeria will face the reigning Sacred Warrior Gunnar in several disciplines.

Rhea in the meantime helps Sargis back to the longhouse and asks Flemeth to lock him in. Flemeth casts a spell on the main door of the longhouse, since Sargis seems keen on getting more of the amaranth nectar he took before. Rhea speaks with Flemeth about this, and learns more about the drug. It is considered harmless, but it easily makes people addicted.

Sargis comes out of his room and talks about his magical pipe as he gets it checked by Dayron. Turns out that it is a Pipe of Spirit-Calling. When the pipe is used, a spirit will be conjured up. What kind depends entirely on fate.

Then, Hildr arrives at the longhouse and talks about taking the Joining potion with the gang. Drinking it causes her to go immediately unconscious.

Revas arrives at the longhouse, and Arna soon after.

At the other end of the hold, Valeria takes up Gunnar’s challenge for the gods.

Gunnar goes and gets the blessing of his thane Morrighan’nan, who is more than willing to attend the ritualistic contest.

Gunnar explains that there will be five different disciplines Valeria needs to succeed at. Drinking, Climbing, Running, Swimming, and Fighting.

To honour the gods, and mainly Hakkon, both warriors will wear face paint.

The first contest is drinking, which Valeria wins without leaving any doubts as to who is the better drinker.

The second contest has them climbing a cliffside to get a flag sitting at its top. Valeria soon takes the lead, and keeps it until the end, when she grabs the flag for herself.

Then the two face off in a running contest, where Gunnar leaves Valeria far behind.

Next he takes her to a small lake, where the two of them fight against the ice as they swim to the other side and back. Valeria wins this contest with a flourish as well, leaving Gunnar still struggling on the other side of the lake.

As a final confrontation, Gunnar has planned a fight. He prepares himself with flexing and warming up, and swings his two-handed axe around. The fight begins rapidly, with Valeria lunging at Gunnar with all her might. He tries to defend himself, but Valeria’s blows simply come much too quickly for him. After a few blows, Gunnar waves his hands and gives in.
After her win. Gunnar teaches Valeria about what it means to be a sacred warrior.

Meanwhile back at the longhouse, Hildr comes to and talks to the others about her experience.

On the last day, Valeria punches Sargis in the gut for his crimes and drops the issue for now.

Visiting Morrighan’nan one last time, Valeria and her hug. They say their goodbyes as Valeria gives her a gift of a carved ogre skull which contains Sigune’s story. Valeria also gives Morrighan’nan a mirror shard to talk with her every now and again.

Morrighan’nan gives Valeria her armour, which Valeria takes and wears with pride.

With everything gathered and Hildr joining the gang after some conversation, they head off towards Highever and the greenery of spring…

Episode #106.1
Family Matters

23.03.841–25.03.841 TE – Eagle-Eye Hold


In the late evening hours, when the light begins to descend and shines over the rimed ground of Eagle Eye Hold, the Amell family spends some quality time together peacefully. While the other members of the Heartbreaker gang go about their business, Valeria and Drynne spend time training Senga the wolfhound a new command. Drynne puts in a lot of effort, happy and willing to learn if it means his future chances at getting a war hound of his own are increasing. And knowing this, as she watches Senga trot over to Drynne after he calls to her, Valeria smiles wistfully as she starts to recognize the signs that things won’t stay the same.

Light cascades across the room from the fire nearby, filling the room with warmth as Arna and little Erik sit at the table and talk with one another. The soft murmurs of their two voices, sleepy and calm, leave Valeria feeling more sentimental than usual. Drynne’s request cuts through the evening air, and it makes Valeria furrow her brow slightly as she refocuses.

Being a parent would never be simple, but Drynne doesn’t make it easy as the boy grows up in leaps and bounds. His request is simple, not something out of the ordinary for someone his age, but even Arna doesn’t seem too sure about it as the word tattoo is brought up. The discussion is brief, and Valeria caves as she sees the hopeful look on Drynne’s face, before she agrees to his request and goes to talk to Galinn about it tomorrow. Drynne quickly heads off to get ready for the outing the next day, a bounce in his step. Meanwhile Arna and Val relax at the table and reminisce about where they started and how much the boy has grown since they first met him. Talk turns to travel, to the things they need to do, and the long way home, but the evening slowly comes to an end as the family prepares for bed after another long day.


The morning reveals a sleepy Morrighan’nan who greets Valeria and Drynne before listening to her daughter’s apologies early in the morning. Her behavior after the fight wasn’t the best, a feeling of being inadequate taking over after losing yet another fight to an opponent in a sparring match. Seeing her daughter’s expression and feeling of still being less than, Morrighan’nan suggests taking on other opponents that might be more appropriate until Valeria has managed to get better and have more confidence in her combative expertise. Thora is mentioned, and after a few jokes about her and Valeria’s comment about being loyal but not being blind when it came to seeing another good looking woman within Eagle Eye Hold, Valeria agrees to have a sparring match with the warrior. With some sibling to sibling looks and threats about not letting word of this leave the room, Valeria, Drynne, Björn, and Morrighan’nan head off to the arena to see how the fight will go.

Greeting Thora in the arena, the light snow covering the arena only disturbed where Thora was training in, Valeria challenges her to a sparring match. Though Thora is well trained, experienced, and quick, things don’t go so well for Thora. Valeria’s heavy blows from fighting those in stronger armor, and from wielding such a large weapon for most of her career, give her the advantage she needs to drive Thora back and knock her to the ground. With a final strike at the ground beside Thora’s head, the match is over. While Thora’s win streak is now marked, Valeria takes the win graciously and listens to Thora’s suggestion of fighting Gunnar.

Taking all this in stride, Valeria heads back to Morrighan’nan and the boys, seeing the pride in Morrighan’nan’s expression before messing up Drynne’s hair playfully. The two women exchange stories, drinking in the Leaping Elk after all is said and done as they mention how fast kids grow up and round out their evening companionably.

After arriving back at the Longhouse, and Drynne’s new tattoo being shown to everyone around with pride, Valeria goes to talk with Flemeth in her room. Flemeth warns Valeria about fighting in the Landsmeet, despite the strong hints of wanting to do so when it came to Conobar and Luthias. To try and help in her own way, Flemeth tells Valeria about how Conobar is more likely to simmer about the issue regarding the war with the avvar, while Luthias is more the kind to get loud about the topic if mentioned.

Hearing Flemeth talk about Conobar, questions come to mind as Valeria attempts to prepare for her first meeting with him. If things were going to work between the two sisters and for the future ventures for Valeria and the Heartbreaker gang, information needed to be gathered about what all Conobar has done and how he is as a person. While Conobar is not a cautious man when he’s angry, his skill in naval combat and on the field of battle himself is not something to ignore. He’s a capable leader and combatant, and there will be a gap left behind should he lose his position. The Guardian’s Captain Dimitru of Highever is the one mentioned to take Conobar’s place should something happen, but it leaves many questions about Conobar’s lack of planning for such an event. What will be even harder to find is evidence, and even with the hint that such things could be found if one talks to the right people in Highever…things are looking a lot more difficult in gaining information about such an important political figure in Ferelden.

Flemeth also speaks abotu Conobar’s prowess in battle. In fact, the man is skilled in more than just being a noble. His skill at naval combat is worthy of note, the same with his prowess with longsword, shield, and/or a two-handed spear. Though he tends to not be cautious when angry, the evidence of wrongdoing is more likely to be found in Highever than anywhere else. Perhaps this Captain Dimitru will be able to provide the answers as the one to take over command of the city should anything happen to Conobar himself. And with Sargis’ connections with the Guardians, it might be easier to talk with him first.

Flemeth and Valeria keep up their conversation for awhile, Valeria voicing aloud her plans to make friends with Arlessa Teagan and Sheridan to try and make some moves within the political sphere as well as aid in the battles to come. And while the Liberatori are a threat, Flemeth seems knowledgeable about them to quite a degree but once again keeps her words to herself, as is her way. But she does speak her mind on having her own plans when it comes to Conobar. And that should the day come that Valeria declares war on Conobar, Flemeth says that she too might join in the fight so as to get revenge for Valeria’s sister and also to mete out punishment for the man that caused so much harm.


As the day of departure continues to get closer and closer, Valeria spends her time crafting and spending time with her family. The time is spent making a wooden figure, and going off to buy a new riding goat that she lovingly names Stig. When time passes and laughter and soft words pass between Valeria and her family, the day to leave is soon to arrive and all she can do is bask in the warm glow of it all and hope that things go by smoothly as they leave this place and head back into the dark political mess of the world beyond…

Episode #106
A Champion's Quest

22.03.841–23.03.841 TE – Eagle-Eye Hold
Revas, Rhea, Sargis, Valeria

22.03.841 TE, Evening

The gang spends the night preparing outfit plans for the Landsmeet.

23.03.841 TE, Morning

On the morning of the 23rd, Hildr again enters the longhouse. She’s accompanied by her dogs, and again tiny dog barks are coming from two rooms.

In her hands, Hildr holds a flower, which looks incredibly small in her large hands. Its white petals are reminiscent of snow, and its green leaves seem to almost wrap around it protectively.

“Spring is finally coming,” Hildr says. “Spring is coming, and to welcome it, Morrighan’nan wants us to perform the Sacrifice today. Get ready. I think it would be good if you attended.”

And so Hildr turns to Valeria: “I have thought about your offer, and I’ve thought about it hard. I hope you believe me. But I can’t find it in me to betray my people like that by taking something that is only offered to me because I’ve spent more time with you than they have. All of us should have an equal chance. So I must decline. Honour demands it. I hope you understand.”

With that, Hildr goes quiet, and pets her dogs diligently.

Valeria then decides that the potion will go towards the existing pool of potions, helping one more person at least.

The Sacrifice, as it turns out, is held outside the hold. A short walk away, the heroes find a large wooden area sticking out of the snow. Almost like a wooden coliseum, the circular structure holds two levels which can be used for sitting or standing on, and at its center is the snow-covered ground. Wooden pillars stick out of the snow at regular intervals, and the heroes soon see that the walls of the fighting arena are lined with sharpened sticks, pointing inward.

Outside the arena some merchants can be found. Everything but Axes (Ered), All the Rage (Halvar), and the Keg Stand (Finnr) have set up shop. For the first time, Halldis’ assistant is running Everything but Axes, and he is clearly nervous. The heroes can see Halvar talking to the man, trying to calm him down.

At the center of the arena stand about 50 or so men and women, all of them clad in battle armour and carrying weapons of different types. They all look up to one corner of the arena.

Morrighan’nan walks up onto the large steps of the arena. She looks massive, even from over here.

“Drengr (honourable men). Being called a drengr is an honour, and all of us do our best to embody drengskapr (doing the right thing). Whether it be sacrificing to the gods, keeping oaths and being loyal to comrades, upholding the laws of a thane, or being a good host and leader of men, we do all of these things because it is our duty as drengr.

“It has been a long time since the last Sacrifice. Only the eldest among you will still remember. Even I was still a wee babe when it was held.

“The time has come to show your sisu (resolve) once again. Show your strength of will, determination, and perseverance. Sisu will get you through a hundred nasty winters, and sisu will get you through this fight as well. Sisu is the tenacity to keep fighting when the battle goes against you, and all of you who have been infected, your fight has only just begun.

“Today is the day you will fight before Hakkon and show no fear. Ofermod (fearlessness) will be with you as Hakkon watches over you. Make him proud and fight with heart! No man lives longer than he’s fated, and you will prove today whether you are fated to live on!”

The 50 people in the arena emit a loud war cry, some of them banging their weapons against their shields. This takes several moments, and then people disperse, spreading out all over the arena, Hildr among them.

And with the loud sound of a bell, the fighting begins.

Hildr is trying to find a ground to stand on. Most of the fighters are stronger and more massive than she is, and so she needs to use her agility to her advantage and find those fighters that she stands a chance against.

Hildr finds some opponents who are busy fighting other people and manages to backstab them, striking one in the side of the head with her axe, while kicking the other in the knee and making him stumble to the ground.

In the meantime, Morrighan’nan navigates through the crowd and has Sargis step aside with her. Since everyone is here for the sacrifice, now would be the best time to go find and replace the hold beast. Her scouts have spotted the signs of a massive bear in the mountains. She’s been around for so long that they’ve even named her: Mallium. Mallium is a special bear, one of the great bears that can only be found in the most out of the way places, far away from society. Morrighan’nan is sure that she is the next hold beast.

She talks about how her scouts found scratches on wood and stone, fur stuck in hard to reach areas, as well as droppings. She urges Sargis to join her now, and shows him a special set of shoes that the avvar use in winter. It will slow him down, she explains, but he’ll have a much easier time walking up the snow covered mountains.

She also mentions the poison Galinn had given her, which will make Mallium docile enough to lead her back to the hold. All they need to do is to get the bear to swallow some of it. To this extent, Morrighan’nan has brought a large flank of goat meat with her.

The plan is the following: Get Mallium into the nets that they have brought with them, and then get her to eat some of the meat.

And so Sargis follows Morrighan’nan and her scouts into the mountains; the sun is high in the sky and the danger of snowblindness is high. All of them are wearing snow goggles, and are thus protected from the sun, but at the same time they run the danger of being set upon by a wild beast, with their sight so limited.

It is no surprise then that they have trouble finding tracks. Despite the snow making track reading easier, the group still struggle to find viable ones that actually lead somewhere.

Finally the group spots some paw prints in the snow, as well as a large flat area next to them. It looks like the bear has been laying in the snow.

The prints lead further north.

It’s a difficult trek through the mountains, and the air is getting ever colder.

After some time, the group consisting of Sargis, Morrighan’nan, and two scouts comes upon the ruins of a former hold. Morrighan’nan explains that these are the remains of Star-Caller Hold, a hold which was once home to some of the best mages in the Coastlands.

The bare bones of what used to be a flourishing home for people are sticking out of the snow in irregular patterns. Thick stone bricks are covered in ice, and it almost looks like there are plumes of warm air emanating from them.

Of course this is not the case, and the plumes are actually from the ice wolves hiding in the ruins. Before Sargis and the others can react, the strange elementals attack.

Four of the beasts make their way out of the ruins and set upon the humans.

In the arena, Hildr is faced with a mountain of a man who brings his maul down upon her, which she just barely manages to dodge. Before she can find her bearings again, the large fist of the man finds her cheek and sends her reeling.

Rhea calls out to Hildr, warning her of incoming blows, and so Hildr hides behind one of the many pillars and dodges an incoming throwing axe, which gets stuck in the wood. She quickly takes it and throws it back, hitting the woman who threw it straight in the chest, sending her to the ground.

Up in the mountains, a fight breaks out, a battle against ice wolves that shift and crack like the element from which they were formed from. But even without the help of the scouts, Morrighan’nan and Sargis handle the four beasts with ease.

After the fight, Sargis finds a pipe made out of bone, as well as an old chamber pot with some rosy quartz inside, but that seems to be all that is left of the formerly glorious hold.

When the group finally tries to find the bear’s tracks again, they really struggle. The fight with the elementals has made the tracks almost unreadable.

Together, they manage to spot some disturbed rocks in the distance, which have been cleared of snow. They set out to examine the area closer.

Hiking through the deep snow is getting harder by the minute.

The group’s feet drag through the snow despite the snow shoes, and after every step they have to shake off the cold white. Sweat forms underneath their furs and leathers, and especially Sargis in his plate armour is struggling.

Eventually they make it to the uncovered rocks they could see from Star-Caller Hold. The large boulders are directly in front of a rocky cliff face, and from here Sargis can see that something must have climbed up the rocky path, as plenty of snow has collected at the bottom of the cliff.

They must climb up there, but how? Thankfully Morrighan’nan and her scouts have climbing gear with them.

Once they have climbed up the two massive steps, they find themselves in front of a cave entrance. Snowy pawprints lead inside the darkness.

Instructed by the group, Hildr ducks a swing of an axe and kicks out her opponent’s legs, sending him flying onto the ground. She finishes him off with a loud battlecry and a stab of her dagger to the neck. Getting back up, Hildr pulls a spear from the ground and wards off an attack from her left with its help, before jabbing the weapon at this new attacker.

Hildr slips on some of the blood on the ground, but manages to keep her footing. An axe comes down towards her, and she blocks it with her own before kicking the axe’s owner in the crotch. He goes down with a moan and throws up, just as a loud horn blasts its sound across the arena. Enough avvar have fallen, and the ones remaining standing will be given a potion and thus a chance at life.

After the fight for her life, Hildr succeeds in battle and joins the others at their longhouse as they all relax and wait for Sargis to get back from his venture with Morrighan’nan.

Salem talks with the group, mentioning the conversation she’s had with Morrighan’nan, and the stories she told her mother-in-law.

  • One time Sigune and Salem were stuck in an inn for a week because of a snowstorm, and all the inhabitants were getting more and more rowdy the longer they were stuck. Eventually, a couple days in, Sigune started entertaining the whole inn with her falcon Angar. She had the bird do little tricks, and even managed to get some coin out of it.
  • The first time they met, Salem’s foolhardiness got her too close to a dragon they were fighting, and the massive beast almost flew off with her in its talons. It was only thanks to Sigune’s quick thinking that she survived. Sigune sent her falcon at the dragon’s eyes, and the beast dropped Salem into a bunch of trees which hardly softened her fall. After that, Salem insisted on buying Sigune a drink, and ended up confessing all kinds of things to a very amused Sigune. It was that night that Salem told her that she was now honour bound to follow Sigune until she’d paid her back for saving her life.
  • A short while after their first kiss, Salem awkwardly asked what it meant for them, and what Sigune’s intentions were. The avvar only laughed and kissed her once more, which took not only Salem’s breath away, but also all coherent thought. After that they didn’t talk about it anymore, and Sigune showed her every day what exactly her intentions were, by showering Salem with love and kindness and an ungodly amount of patience.
  • Soup was never something Sigune liked eating, but when she fell sick one time, Salem patiently fed her with chicken broth until she recovered, and even paid for their stay at the inn all by herself, even though they weren’t a couple yet.
  • One time when hunting in the desert (Western Approach), Sigune shot a fennec from afar, only to have it taken away by a hungry phoenix, which immediately after set upon her. If it hadn’t been for Salem and her axe, she might not have made it out alive.

It takes courage and determination, but both Sargis and Morrighan’nan have those in spades, and so they enter the cave despite the darkness.

Inside they soon find what they are looking for: an angry and hungry bear ready to strike them down. A female bear named Mallium that appears mighty enough to be a good replacement.

Working together, they manage to make the bear docile with the poisoned meat as well as Sargis’ rations.

Once the bear is docile and relaxed, they lead it out of the cave and down the cliff, where Sargis then decides to ride the bear back to the hold. He succeeds at calming the bear enough to climb it, and so he rides into the hold, where the people who witness it bow to him and call out to Sargis of the Golden Arm. A mass of people follows him and Morrighan’nan as they make their way to the Sacred Animal Pit.

They pass the longhouse the group stays in, and Rhea, Revas, and Valeria come outside to see the procession move past them. They follow, amazed by Sargis riding the massive bear.

At the Sacred Animal Pit, Galinn performs a ritual for the bear, so that it is now considered the hold beast before its placed in the pit.

Sargis and the gang go to the Leaping Elk to celebrate a successful capture of the hold beast, and Sargis pays for everyone’s drinks in the bar for all to enjoy.

After the celebrations, the group goes to Morrighan’nan’s longhouse to watch Valeria and her mother fight. They make bets on who’s going to win, and part from Hildr, everyone bets on Valeria.

The fight is a rough one, and Morrighan’nan beats her daughter, hugging her afterwards and giving her words of affirmation.

Valeria tries her best to keep her feelings to herself and heads out of the longhouse with a nod and no further word as she gives a look to Arna. She heads out with the dogs. Arna immediately follows, and the two talk about Valeria’s loss. Arna shows her support before leading Valeria back in. Before following Arna, Valeria grabs some ice hanging from the roof.

Once insice, the gang talks after Valeria shoves ice down Sargis’ armour. The conversation is sparse before they all set off in their own directions to take advantage of what time they have left in Eagle Eye Hold before they head to Highever and beyond…


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