Monday, February 19, 758 BC
Although Xevok is keen on stealing Igan’s spellbook, Alyonka, Boudica, Gus, Jezzy, and Torbjorn don’t want to risk it, and everyone agrees that it is likely to turn into a bloodbath, so they quietly take their leave. (Gennifer and Laurie both don’t know enough about the situation to get involved, although they seem upstanding enough that they probably wouldn’t agree to it, either.) Jezzy attempts to apologize to Sukai for shooting him before she leaves, but he sends her away, clearly quite displeased.
The travelers make their way from camp, picking their way through the mountains as they head north towards the village of Qima, according to their map. As they leave the mountains, they find a lone goat the size of a horse, seemingly disinterested in their progress.
It is late afternoon (already past sunset) when they hear the hooting echoing across the plains. They cannot pinpoint the source, but the threat of the birds puts the travelers on edge. As they consider finding shelter to avoid the depredations of the birds, the conversation reminds Torbjorn of the brooch he stole from the tomb. He retrieves it to show the rest of the travelers, and as he does, Laurie staggers forward, apparently dazed with a brief moment of vertigo. When the others look to her, she responds that she is fine — in the common tongue, which Laurie does not know. When they begin inquiring, she swiftly (albeit reluctantly) reveals that she is Khatun Javach. Laurie is now in the amulet and Javach walks in her body; she warns the travelers against breaking the brooch or manipulating the spell, as it will kill Laurie but merely inconvenience Javach. She wants to know what has transpired since she disappeared into her tomb, and while the travelers are foreign, they know a smattering of things — the Khan is still alive, having found some way to cheat death, cut Isiksivik off from the rest of the world, and possibly even drive away the gods themselves. (Given how he seems to project these bodies, Javach notes that they must be constructs of raw magical force, and the Khan must have perfected his orgone experiments. She doesn’t know enough of the details to give them a lead, other than it makes sense that banishment would dispel them.) Javach knew his ambition would bring only destruction, and is resolved to end his rule. Over the course of the conversation, she reveals that she built the tomb to be discovered, as she saw her brother’s potential for ruin and “wished to outlast him.” She laments the fact that he is still evidently around (When asked, she reveals that the sarcophagus in the false tomb bears a false floor that drops into a pit while awakening several dead soldiers to attack the tomb robbers’ companions.) She expresses an interest in returning to Golova to spy upon her brother and end his reign — especially given the horrible things he seems to be doing — although the travelers note that they are outlaws there. When asked about the body in which she resides, she says she does not wish to live in it forever, and will return it unharmed when she is done with it. When they note that Laurie would no doubt be recognized as an outlaw by the Khan, Javach says she has it under control and that it is none of their concern. (Realizing that they no longer need her head to speak with her, Torbjorn gives it to Xevok. Javach has no particular attachment to it, having abandoned her body long ago.)
(When the travelers ask if she recalls anything of her brother’s habits when he was young, she also indicates that her memories of childhood are very fragmented, as she has not accessed them in a long time and will need to think about it.)
Since the day continues and they have miles to go, the travelers resolve to discuss this more in the evening when they make camp. They continue on their way, their journey north interrupted only by a howl in the distance. The threatened owls do not return.
Eventually, they make camp with Xevok invoking Leomund’s tiny hut. (Jezzy builds a small shelter for watches, so that if someone happens across the tiny hut, there is an actual representative of the camp to speak with them without any travelers having to interact with the magic of the hut and potentially scaring the locals. Javach scoffs at this practice.) Over dinner, they converse a little more with Javach, having resolved to fully explain the situation to an increasingly-concerned Gennifer in the morning when Torbjorn can prepare tongues to communicate with her. Torbjorn passes the brooch to Xevok for examination, and he does not require sorcery to identify what happened: the black pearl on the silver brooch is probably the focus of a magic jar, which can potentially be dispelled or destroyed without killing Laurie. He keeps this to himself until he has an opportunity to tell the others. Javach asks if she can have her brooch back, and Xevok gives it to her; although Torbjorn seems ready to protest, thinking it good leverage, Xevok winks at him, indicating he has some manner of plan.
Further questioning reveals that the skin of the tupilaq can probably be used as a cloak to ward off spellcraft — potentially useful for anyone having to go toe-to-toe with the Khan. It probably couldn’t be wrapped around him as proof against his magic, certainly not without further modification.
The travelers don’t fully trust Javach, so she does not have a watch tonight, which seems to suit her just fine. (Her mood is terse and demanding; the travelers quickly surmise that she is a noble, and is used to getting her way.) They reset the watch order: Torbjorn and Xevok on first watch, Jezzy on second watch, Alyonka and Boudica on third watch, and Gennifer and Gus on fourth watch. Xevok informs Torbjorn of the magic jar and all that portends. If she cast the spell herself, she is capable of casting spells of the sixth circle and is no doubt a powerful magus, but not so powerful that they could not potentially overpower her in combat. Although the brooch makes good leverage, he thinks it better that they stay on her good side until they decide it is time to do otherwise.
The rest of the night is largely uneventful. As Alyonka and Boudica’s shift ends, they see a small herd of four mammoth pass, although Boudica is disappointed that no babies are with them. A herd of thirteen caribou pass the camp while Gennifer and Gus are on watch, but there are otherwise no interruptions.
In the morning, over breakfast, the travelers continue to speak to Javach to plan their next move. Torbjorn invokes tongues on Alyonka so she can explain the situation to Gennifer; she is obviously displeased, but understands the situation in which they find themselves and how they have few choices. Although Javach is adamant that she will relinquish this body at some ill-defined future date, the travelers are equally concerned about how they might be get her into another body or otherwise free Laurie from the amulet. Javach is eventually bored of this, and before anyone can react, she invokes words of power and disappears, leaving most of Laurie’s equipment behind. (Armed with only the clothes on her back, her coat, and the Khatun’s brooch.) As far as anyone can tell, she is gone — she leaves no tracks behind (as she might with invisibility) and is not visible close at hand (as she might be with dimension door). Although Gennifer is understandably upset, Alyonka and Boudica reassure her that they will retrieve Laurie. After all, they suspect she is heading to Golova, and they have tools of their own to uncover information. (Although Alyonka is concerned, because she suspects Khatun Javach used a wish spell to bring herself forward to this time, given her note of “wishing to outlast” her brother, and her lamentation that he still exists. Wishes rarely unfold as their invokers expect.) Given that they have their own tools, Torbjorn realizes that he can attempt to commune with Thor to learn more information, invoking a prayer of divination. He asks about Khatun Javach and how they might best find her, and is surprised to hear Khan Yemur’s voice answer in response, commenting, “She has returned? Interesting…”
Torbjorn emerges from his trance to give the others the bad news. However, this just reinforces that they don’t have time to waste: they must continue onward to meet the raven-druids in Suria and then investigate Kiiksiugun Colony to find secrets about Khan Yemur and to rescue Thomas. (They don’t know where to find “a mill where souls are bound and embodied,” but it is supposed to be along the railroad, so they can no doubt find it by following the tracks from Kiiksiugun Colony.) As previously noted, Qima is next on their map, and they expect to reach it by midday.
They reach Qima without incident, but as the travelers stand on the ridge overlooking the village, they note that it is ruined and abandoned, half-buried by snow. (Xevok also has a weird feeling — a fleeting melancholy, perhaps? — that soon passes.) The noonday sun is muted by cloud cover, as if a storm soon threatens. The travelers spy movement which they think to be wolves, although Torbjorn thinks they are moving too intelligently for mere beasts and are likely men in the shapes of animals. They decide to give this place a wide berth to avoid any curses that may emerge from disturbing the ruins, instead skirting around the outer edge of the town and continuing east.
After about four more hours, the travelers stop and make camp, invoking Leomund’s tiny hut. Tonight is largely uneventful, with only a herd of thirteen caribou wandering past the camp shortly after first watch begins. The rest of the night passes uneventfully, and the travelers awaken on the morning of Wednesday, February 21, ready to continue towards Kilu and parts east.