Chronicles of Khaldun: Arctic Death, Infinite Night

Session 34

Sunday, February 18, 758 BC

Boudica awakens in an alpine forest beside a roaring campfire. Her pain is gone and her wounds are not present. As her eyes adjust to the gloom, she realizes that a pile of furs lies stacked across from her, on the other side of the pile.

A person.

When she addresses the stranger, the pile of furs shifts as a head emerges from the pile. Boudica recognizes the face: Sigrid, the woman whom the travelers met in the Devoured Land and who slew Spicy Hot Dog Man when she took the form of a ravenous wolf. As Sigrid addresses Boudica, she rises from the pile of furs, revealing that she is nude. She paces at the outer edge of the fire light, lithe and sinuous, and as the men of the Devoured Land claim, her eyes are yellow, and she bears toothy maws where human nipples would normally be.

She explains that Boudica is dead, although this is not the afterlife. Souls in the Domains of Dread are not allowed to leave, instead reincarnating into new demiplane denizens indefinitely. Boudica, however, has a greater purpose and so is being offered an opportunity. (Not to mention that Jezzy is still in grave peril, all alone in that secluded catacomb.) While the four totems of Isiksivik have turned their face away from this place, the Wolf is still a force to be revered. If Boudica accepts the Wolf’s bargain, she can return. Boudica asks if this will make her a werewolf like Sigrid, but Sigrid laughs and says it will not; it will only invite a small piece of the Wolf’s essence into herself. Her senses will sharpen and she will gain the perceptive acuity of the wolf.

Boudica thinks this sounds fair, so she agrees.

Sigrid approaches her, cuts into her palm with one of her thumbnails, and smears the blood across Boudica’s forehead as a benediction.

Boudica awakens in the black tomb. The blood rushes in her ears, and she is intensely sore, but alive. Her wounds will require treatment, although some have closed and formed scars. Next to her lies Jezzy, and with Boudica’s newly-acquired senses of hearing an smell, she can tell that Jezzy raggedly breathing with a thready pulse but still alive. The place is suffused with the coppery smell of blood and the scent of voided bowels underneath the damp smell of long-untouched stone.

As Boudica has the chance to examine her surroundings, she notes that she and Jezzy have been dragged from where they fell to the dais upon which the sarcophagus sits. The tattered remains of the two cultists have also been moved there, although they are clearly dead. As for the bear-beast itself, it has flung itself across the Khatun’s sarcophagus and it currently lies there, unmoving.

Boudie invokes a healing spell to awaken Jezzy and then casts another upon herself. Jezzy notices that Boudie smells of heavy musk, almost like an animal — a wolf, perhaps? Boudica explains what transpired, and after they are certain the beast is no longer moving, they take the opportunity to investigate it. Jezzy lights a lantern, noting that the creature (which they presume to be the tupilaq) appears to be a roughly-taxidermized armature, bear hide stretched over bone. Jezzy makes short work of stripping the hide, finding a bear skeleton held together with gut and stuffed with furs and reeds. The bones, as well as the inner surface of the hide, are marked with runes; many of the runes on the bones have been marred by the movement of Jezzy’s tooth bullet. She harvests as many teeth as she can from the composite creature, and then the pair slumps against the sarcophagus to rest.

After spending an hour or so bandaging their wounds and recounting the day’s events, they decide that they ought to leave this place. A careful search reveals that the blocks in the far wall are only loosely-mortared, and could probably be pushed aside. Jezzy takes to scraping out the mortar, while Boudica changes into the form of a polar bear to break through the wall. Before leaving, Jezzy also smashes and dismantles the remains of the tupilaq, to ensure it is fully dead. When they are prepared to leave, Boudica begins smashing through the stone wall. The lantern light reveals the main chamber into which they first entered: to the left is the grand stone door with a stone throne facing it, the throne now empty of its skeletal occupant, while an open doorway yawns to the right, initially unseen because it was too far into the room. Lining the walls are the four skeletal statues, their swords wet with blood.

Meanwhile, after retreating from the tomb complex, Alyonka, Cloy, Gus, Igan, Sukai, Torbjorn, Xevok, one of Xevok’s skeletons, and three of Igan’s bodyguards regroup to plan and determine their next steps. After a brief conversation, Alyonka, Gus, Torbjorn, and Xevok decide to stay at the tent posted at the mouth of the mine in case they hear movement from within. Otherwise, they will stick with the plan to attempt to breach the mine again in the morning.

After close to two hours of waiting, Torbjorn hears activity, as the group becomes aware of a muffled clattering within the mine, accompanied by bear noises. Torbjorn asks if the others heard the noise, and then begins shouting for Boudica and Jezzy as he moves down the tunnel.

Upon hearing Torbjorn’s shouting, Jezzy shouts back, indicating that they’re alive. A quick plan develops: when Torbjorn counts to three, he’ll throw the doors open, and Boudie and Jezzy will make a dash for them. Everyone agrees, and Jezzy climbs upon Boudie’s back to ride out of the catacombs.

When Torbjorn counts to three, Boudie makes a run for it. One of the skeletal statues swipes at her with its sword, but it is a mere glancing blow. However, those present hear shouting deeper in the catacombs as Gennifer and Laurie come running out of the darkness for the open door. Seeing that Gennifer is not going to make it past the threshold in time, Boudie grabs her in her jaws and drags her out of harm’s way. As the skeletons advance, forming a cordon around the entrance, Torbjorn closes the doors.

The travelers are reunited.

After shooing away a curious Igan and Sukai who arrive to investigate all the shouting, the travelers catch up and inform each other of what transpired after they were separated. Boudica is fairly certain she died, and realizes that she was probably dead no longer than ten minutes. Jezzy is concerned that Boudica now cannot leave the Domains of Dread, and that she will die if she ever returns to the Devoured Land. (Hearing of the deal and noticing her wolf musk, Torbjorn notes that Boudica’s eyes have not changed, and he asks if her breasts have changed in the manner of Devoured Land werewolves. She briefly checks, and they have not.) Torbjorn conveys that the skeletal guards are immune to mundane weaponry and lightning, although they have other magical forces they can attempt to use. Despite the language barrier, Alyonka manages to convey to the Weathermay-Foxgrove twins that Zsolt has died.

After discussing whether or not they even wish to remain, given that they are fairly certain they have retrieved the hide of the tupilaq, they decide to remain, both to determine what Igan is going to do, and to interrogate Khatun Javach’s body with speak with dead in the hopes of gathering more information about the Khan. With their plan decided, the travelers rest for the remainder of the day so that they may prepare spells for tomorrow’s trials.

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PsychicMayhem

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