Returning to the village of Fromir with Kelar Icevein in tow, the party is met by guards of the House Klaj. They congratulate the party, and send word to Count Hothgar, several days away, who will be sure to come and present to use our reward. The party made sure to accompany the guards to the dungeons to ensure Kelar was safely in chains.
The party then argues in the streets about what to do next. Ikazuchi pushed for the Mead hall, with support from the Professor. Audwyn preferred to sort it out right then and there. Heyward recalled fighting some shadar-kai in a prior battle, and he speculated that maybe one of them was Vord Marzt. Audwyn recalled healing an unconscious Ikazuchi.
As the discussion continues, Audwyn mentions that she heard the word “induction” and felt connected. At that moment, the word resonated in everyone’s minds, and suddenly we could all sense each other’s presence at the edges of our senses.
Heyward announces he is going to the Lodge to try to talk to Teodor, and the party assents. After geting some mead and goat/venison, the party ascended to their lodgings where they found Teodor, asleep.
An inquisition begins. Teodor is only able to tell us that he met us in the mead hall, that we were asking for a guide to find Icevein. It was of the “utmost importance.” We told him we would forget everything and that he needed to write it down and let us sign it. We examine the document, yet nothing seems out of the ordinary. However, our ability to sense each other is definitely Arcane in nature, as though a ritual had been peformed on us as a group.
Teodor is excited to find out that we captured Icevein, as he will get 10% of the 6,000 gold piece reward – as we promised.
Over the next few days, the story of our fame spreads. People constantly offer us ale and mead. Counth Hothgar will arrive in 3 days, and the execution will be held in the old style, letting the gods decide Kelar’s fate. Ikazuchi knows that this means Kelar will be put in an arena and forced to fight something that will be mostly impossible to kill. Rumors abound as to what this will be: an old general from kelar’s past, and 10 of his troops; giant bears; a white dragon; hothgar’s brother’s guards.
Count Hothgar arrives and greets the party personally outside our lodge. He is a skinny weasely man, completely out of place in this land of heroes. When he speaks, it’s in a high-pitched nasaly voice.
Heyward inquires as to whether we have met the Count before, which he denies, but then congratulates us on our great victory. Hothgar’s guards deposit a chest of great treasure in front of us, worth 6,000 gp, and the Count invites us to attend the execution as his special guests.
Nelrue does his best to figure out 10%, and ends up giving Teodor 500gp. Teodor decides not to argue.
Hothgar mentions in passing an old Crone who predicted the end of his house, but dismisses it as nonsense and won’t talk about it further. He also ignores several questions Heyward asks about his deal with Kelar and his giving of the land to his brother.
Heyward utilizes his telepathy to tell the party the Count his dodging his questions, and there is some confusion as the party tries to figure out if this is part of their new “sensing” of each other. It turns out it is not.
In parting the Count does mention that perhaps the Crone could have cast a strong magic on us, like what we are experiencing. The party considers finding her to get some answers.
Checking around town the party discovers the Count is not well-liked. He taxes his people harshly. Many doubt he has the true blood of heroes in his veins. They also learn that The Crone is a figure shrouded in legend, like the wizard of Oz. Some say she’s a witch, some a healer, some a messenger from the gods. Some just a crazy old lady who lives in the woods. Rumor has it she is difficult to find if she doesn’t want to be found.
But Teodor has visited her before, and offers to take them for another 50 gp. Figuring we owe him another 100 gp, we take him up on it. He takes us deep into the woods. It’s cold, and a light rain is falling. We follow a creek up to a clearing where a small cottage sits by the creek.
Standing in the doorway is a woman who appears to be twice as old as Teodor.
To the confusion of all, Heyward greets the Crone as if he had met her before. The Crone cackles and says: “Silly shardmind, I know better than to mess with the powers that have chosen you.” When Heyward asks about these “powers,” the Crone responds: “Hahahaha! Why should I bother… you will just forget… Your mind is like that creek now… always moving downstream…” Ikazuchi says something wise about beavers and dams. The Crone cackles.
The Crone claims the Count’s house shall come crashing down around his head – according to our plans – of course, unless we change our plan. She speaks more mysteriously of the powers that afflict us and expresses a fear that they would kill her if she meddles. She offers the group tea.
She does tell the group that the gods have chosen Kelar. When asked about which god, she speculates that perhaps it is Feylar, the god of nature, animals, and the elements. She says she told Hothgar that because Kelar was chosen, his rule would end. And for that reason, Hothgar denied Kelar the land – out of fear of Kelar’s power.
The Crone quickly ends the discussion, and leaves the group alone. Audwyn accuses Teodor of tricking them and being in cahoots with the Crone. Teodor explains that he had been here once 50+ years ago with his former lord, Count Aelfric. Seeing nothing further to be gained in the cold, rainy woods, the party returned to town.
After praying to the gods for guidance, and receiving none, Audwyn suggests they go speak to Kelar, to get his side of the story. Audwyn talks the way past the guards for her and Heyward, on the pretense of taunting Kelar on the day before his death. Heyward communicates with Kelar telepathically while Audwyn shouts insults at him, and Ikazuchi regales the guards with tales of the battle.
Kelar reveals that he believed we were with “The Man in Green,” who killed the bird woman. Vord saw the man in green and described him as cloaked and hooded. The man in green shot the bird woman down from the sky like he was hunting quail. We showed up shortly after the man in green, so Kelar assumed we were working for him.
Kelar says he has no regrets about the murder, and would chop of Hothgar’s head, too, if given the chance.
Kelar is relieved to hear that Vord survived, and suggests that we talk to him. He thinks we may be able to convince him that we were there to talk if we had Kelar’s ring, which is currently in Hothgar’s possession.
The party heads off to the games. We take a place near Count Hothgar, who is guarded by men with bows and swords.
Kelar is brought into the middle of the arena. The guards release his shackles, and give him a rusty-looking dull sword. The corners of the arena open, and out come two giants bears, who are at least part dire bear. As the bears approach, Kelar’s sword is suddenly sheathed in ice. Heyward determines that it is divine in nature, and the crowd overhears his announcement of the gods’ blessing on the sword. A murmur sweeps through the crowd that the gods have blessed Kelar. Hothgar looks uncomfortable.
An eldarin standing behind Hothgar waves his hands, and Kelar’s sword returns to normal. Hothgar looks relieved and smirks. The crowd begins to murmur, “The gods have abandoned him! He must die!”
Kelar does his best to fend them off with his pathetic rusty sword, and the crowd goes wild.
Heyward asks for a distraction, and Nelrue grabs a flagon of ale and begins to act incredibly drunk, shouting “Rip him up, bears!” Teodor leaves in disgust, with the Professor trailing behind. Teodor returns to the lodge doing nothing of interest, and the Professor returns.
Heyward casts a not-too-stealthy version of Visions at the bears, which Hothgar immediately sees. “You there! What are you doing?” he shouts at Heyward, who calmly replies “Trying to make sure the bastard can’t escape with more magic,” as the bears are pulled away from Kelar in surprise. Nelrue, meanwhile, has descended into the arena and is staggering towards the fight.
As Hothgar shouts “Guards, subdue that man!” pointing at Heyward, Audwyn races up and points to the back of the crowd, “Look up there m’lord! A man in green waving his arms about! He just ran down those steps.” Hothgar turns to look, and Audwyn charges in that direction shouting “After him!” A couple of the guards follow her, but two of them stay and move towards Heyward.
Suddenly, coalescing out of the air in a puff of ice and snow is a huge wolf. The crowd gasps. Audwyn’s chase comes to halt at the commotion. But the guard at Heyward doesn’t see it and places the tip of his sword to Heyward’s throat, and demands he stop whatever it is he is doing. Heyward raises his hands and protests that he’s not doing anything. The eldarin retorts “He lies, master.” Heyward replies “That wolf came out of nowhere, I had nothing to do with it.”
Hothgar demands that Heyward stop, and then notices he only has two guards with him. “Hit him with the pommel of your sword, Fredric,” Hothgar orders. Audwyn diplomatically stops the braining, and argues that it would make no sense for us to help Kelar, as we captured him in the first place. Hothgar quietly insists “Do not interfere with this! Kelar must die.” Then urges us to do something about the wolf if we really are on his side. The Professor announces “I am on it!” and dives into the arena. Then Hothgar has second thoughts, and says “No wait! The crowd sees it as a sign from the gods, we cannot harm it!” But the Professor is already gone.
In the mean time, the wolf has stopped near Kelar and something is happening. For whatever reason, Kelar now looks resigned. As the Professor rushes past Nelrue towards Kelar, the crowd goes wild. The Professor attempts to speak telepathically with the wolf, and gets only “must… finish… mission…. Have… power… must… give.”
The wolf leaps over the bears, and Kelar charges them. The Professor gives chase, shouting questions “What is going on?” Kelar shouts over his shoulder: “This is how I must end. It is up to you now,” as he dives into the melee. Arrows being to fly by the Professor, as the archer guard begin to take aim. Nelrue closes on the bears and attempt to distract them from Kelar.
The wolf leaps up into the stands, heading directly for Ikazuchi. Everyone backs away, while Ikazuchi draws his spear. Instead, the wolf kneels next to him and offers its paw. Ikazuchi places his hands on its paw.
The wolf vanishes! Ikazuchi’s spear is suddenly encased in ice, and the crowd issues a gasp! The bears maul Kelar, and Ikazuchi attempts to throw his spear into the arena at the bears, but it sticks to his hand. Murmurs of “the gods have chosen” being to start through the crowd. Hothgar announcnes “It is a sign! YOU are meant to dispatch this criminal!” Hothgar calls to his guards: “Call off the bears!”
Call off the bears, indeed.
Next Episode: A Kelar on the Loose?