Chronicles of Khaldun: Arctic Death, Infinite Night

Session 39

Saturday, February 24, 758 BC

After the initial shock wears off, Alyonka, Boudica, Gus, Jezzy, Khatun Javach, Torbjorn, and Xevok begin discussing what to do with Gennifer’s body. They have no ability to revive her or to use gentle repose at the moment, and carrying her body without resorting to animate dead seems unwieldy. They ultimately decide to bury her, marking the spot so they can return to it if they determine a way to return her from the dead. Khatun Javach recommends stripping her body of valuables — they need her things more than she does, and Laurie might like to have them if they don’t manage to revive Gennifer — and she casts detect magic to ascertain specific items of value. (She notes that a brooch, a ring, a silver dagger, and a few things in her pack all appear to be magical.) After this, Torbjorn says a few words and invokes a shatter spell on the earth so that Boudica can use mold earth to inter the body. Javach and Jezzy both take samples of earth so that they may return here quickly, and after debating whether they ought to harvest anything from the strange tree-creatures — Xevok is interested, but Jezzy refuses and Xevok doesn’t want to risk injuring himself with their poison — the travelers decide to leave and continue on their journey.

The rest of the day is largely uneventful, although they notice that more ravens join the flock that is following them to Suria. At night, they more thoroughly examine Gennifer’s personal effects, dividing up things as they deem useful. (Alyonka takes the healing items, Boudica takes the protective items, Torbjorn takes her holy water and dagger, and Xevok takes the spellbook and pistol.) The night is surprisingly quiet, with the sole exception of a pack of seven wolves that searches the area in the early morning before continuing on their way. (Jezzy left out food and false camps the night before, which the wolves investigate and eat.)

The next morning, February 25, the travelers rise and continue on their journey. Shortly beyond their camp, they find a dead body — although partially eaten by scavengers, Xevok’s assessment is that the body died of poisoning, likely from spoiled rations or scavenged poisonous roots. They deign not to scavenge from the corpse’s pack, and Boudica uses mold earth to cover the body as best she can without touching it. Later in the morning, they encounter another such body, this one mauled by wolves. (Why two lone hunters were out on the tundra is unclear. Perhaps they knew one another?)

After sunrise, just before midday, they spy another group of travelers approaching their position. As they approach and can clearly see the others, they number seven, all clad in parkas and other cold weather gear. One holds a staff, two wield daggers, one wears heavy leathers and carries a spear and shield, and three wear metal armor and carry swords. They hail each other, but as the figures approach, the travelers attempt to give greeting, but the other group takes up a ululation obviously designed to drown out their noise. The one wielding the staff says that they have brought a curse to this land — and before he can speak farther, they prepare for battle.

The wizard is beset by Gus as Jezzy fires on his position; he responds by telling the others to form on him and he invokes some manner of protective barrier around himself. Xevok attempts to cast haste on Gus, but the pair armed with daggers are revealed as wizards when they hammer Xevok’s position with fire bolts, disrupting his concentration and ending the spell. Khatun Javach mutters under her breath as she again invokes a floating blade that resembles a void in space, stabbing the lead wizard with it and cutting one of the other wizards in half.

The travelers largely fold under the strain after that. Boudica summons two dire wolves and turns into a giant elk, rushing into melee with the interlopers. After killing one of the swordsmen and the remaining wizard, two of the swordsmen surrender while the spearman continues to fight Javach unto death. (While he is bleeding out, but still alive, Jezzy begins harvesting his teeth.) The two swordsmen, Akkik and Saka reveal themselves as mercenaries from Golova. Their employer, a wizard named Aviq, seemed intent on confronting the travelers in the hopes of stopping the curse they spread. (He wouldn’t fully explain the nature of this curse, because he seemed to think knowledge of it spread it.) They came from Golova by train, but apparently were not sent by the Khan. Aviq knew where to find the travelers through divination, but it clearly did not aid him. Torbjorn also asks if they encountered a loop anywhere on the train track, and while they do not initially understand the question, one of the pair responds that there is a track heading north a few hours west of Kiiksiugun Colony. The train does not stop there, so they do not know what lies there.

After debating what to do with the prisoners — whether enslaving them as undead, sending them out into the wastes with the clothes on their backs, or pointing them to the nearest settlements — the travelers deign to accompany them to Suria and leave them there. (After taking anything of value from them, of course.) The summoned wolves eventually wander away, and the travelers continue their trek before finding a place to camp for the night. Jezzy establishes a secondary camp outside Leomund’s tiny hut, but she stays outside with Akkik and Saka so that they don’t cause trouble.

Shortly after they establish camp, they notice a lone brown bear trundling across the tundra. When it gets close and begins investigating the camp, Jezzy invokes speak with animals to communicate with it. It has seen nothing untoward nearby, but when Jezzy offers the bear a goodberry, the bear graciously accepts. Despite Jezzy’s warnings about how filling they are, it enjoys the goodberry so much that it requests additional berries, finally stopping at four of them. It then falls asleep next to Jezzy’s camp, much to the consternation of Akkik and Saka. Boudica leaves the tiny hut to pet the bear, which seems in a very good mood and allows this in between naps.

About an hour later, another shape comes loping across the tundra, that of a massive caterpillar much like the one they fought in the Gardens of Ynn. After giving warning to the newcomers to avoid its face tendrils — Boudica tries to awaken the bear and get it to flee, but the bear seems unconcerned — Xevok disbands the tiny hut and the travelers begin hammering it with spells. Boudica summons two giant wasps and sends them after the caterpillar, but it dies before it really makes contact with anyone, having been ravaged by fireballs, fire bolts, and other such spells. Boudica, unsure of what the wasps will do, sends them away immediately.

Certain that the danger has passed, the travelers bed down for the night. Torbjorn invokes a sending to his father, saying, “Father, sorry I’ve been away so long. We face a mighty enemy in a cursed land. How are you doing?” His father replies, “What legerdemain is this? Be you demon or witch? I know you be false, for you are here!” This sparks a memory as Torbjorn flashes back on a conversation he had with his father some time ago, before he left Rottingkroner, when his father described a strange waking dream in which someone appearing as Torbjorn attempted to contact him. Torbjorn informs the others that they appear to be in the past somehow, which may work to their advantage if they leave. Alyonka just muses that she would like to confront Ae’anharuath again.

Apart from a lone, mournful howl across the tundra, the evening is uneventful. The travelers awaken on Sunday, February 26, and after Jezzy feeds additional goodberries to the insistent bear, they continue their journey, evidently with a new companion. In the late morning, they encounter another frozen corpse, this one partially devoured, likely by the caterpillar they encountered last night. They again bury the remains with mold earth before continuing on their way. Shortly thereafter, around midday, they arrive at Suria. The village itself is quiet, possibly abandoned and partially burned with the smell of smoke hanging in the air. The largest sign of life is a garishly-painted carnival that has established camp just outside the village, which seems to be bustling.

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