Gearran 28th – Earr 20th, 907
As the group makes its way back from the Northface Mine the weather begins to take a nasty turn. To make matters worse Theodosia is not taking to travelling well due to her injuries, she is pale and spitting up blood.
With a blizzard about to blow in the group realizes they must find shelter. As luck would have it Balwain of the Woods has an older cousin (Liam) that lives in the area. The group makes their best time to Liam’s cabin, almost getting lost in the blizzard along the way.
The trapper Liam is home. He is obviously sick (fever, cough) but he welcomes them in. All except the Soustrian Colleen that is. The War of the Temple was hard on Liam’s family and he would rather see the Blade freeze to death than allow her to stay in his home. Colleen for her part takes it rather well, as if she was used such treatment.
As Colleen heads to the work shed/barn the rest of the group hurry Theodosia to a spot by the stove and make her as comfortable as possible. She soon loses consciousness. The cabin, while very sturdy, is cramped and flea ridden.
Theodosia’s dog, an amiable but untrained oaf, has to be taken out to the shed. Colleen welcomes the extra body heat in her frigid shed (Liam’s mule is also in here).
The group talks with Liam a time. Telling him about the events up at the mining camp. He is shocked and horrified to hear of it. He makes a valiant effort to be a good host but soon falls into a fevered sleep. Arlan fixes some tea and does what he can for the sick and injured then decides to make his way to the shed to spend the night. Showing Colleen that he considers her a companion.
The blizzard roars outside as the group sleeps. In the morning the sun shines and the air is still, the storm has run its course. They decide to leave Theodosia at Liam’s cabin. She simply will not survive the trip. They leave Liam a bit of food (he also warns them he’ll slaughter the dog if need be), borrow a small sled, and are on their way.
The trip to Demorthen Graenne’s cave is exhausting but uneventful (Balwain bags a deer however). Arlan leaves the group at the bottom of the mountainside, in a good camp location he knows of, and heads up to see the old Druid alone.
Graenne is understandably disturbed. Arlan finds out that Teague, the mine’s former owner and the man who used the cursed stones to such devastating effect, was once a prospective Ionnthen of Graenne’s who couldn’t commit to or bear the Demorthen life. She says that together they can destroy the stones, but they must transport it to a local standing stone, a place of power. The Demorthen and her Ionnthen begin crafting a vessel to transport the stones in, a process that will take a few days. She tells Arlan that this is a job for them alone, it is simply too dangerous for anyone else to accompany them. The rest of the group is sent back to town.
(Side note: while camping near the Demorthen’s cave Creedon, while on watch, notices the steam and smoke from his breath occasionally morphs into the shape of a faerie before fading away.)
The group returns to town and reports to the baron. As they wait for their turn they overhear that a local farmer from out along the main road saw a group of 6-8 armed men, two on horseback, traveling across the fields. With spring, and the opening up of the main road, not too far away it is not a poor assumption that it is a group of bandits.
It is the group’s turn to report. They accurately report all that happened up at the Northface Mine. The news hits the baron hard. He mourns the lost men. He is worried for the fate of the mine (Teague’s son is no miner). And he is upset he has lost his Ramblers.
Despite Demorthen Graenne’s warning to stay away, the baron decides to send a group of his men up to the mining camp to ensure the bandits (or anyone else) do not claim it. They are to keep a safe distance until the Demorthen’s work is done, but then they will move in. Balwain is told to stand ready to escort the group.
The group is told not to tell anyone of what happened up there. If they are to say anything they are to say bandits attacked and destroyed the camp. The baron appears to openly wonder if the suspicious group of armed men might be used as a scapegoat.
While in town the rest of the group rests, does some shopping, etc. The Varigal meets with the Sheriff Lannon to report and follow up on his deal. Creedon, perhaps, spills a bit too much information, telling the Sheriff that it was bandits and that they were possessed by cursed stones and turned to cannibals. It is also reported that Theodosia was excessively interested in the office and records of the mining camp (despite her grievous injury). This confirms Lannon’s suspicions.
Colleen reports everything to Rector Luciard. He is very interested. Demorthen powers unshackled seem to turn demonic. He predicts the Demorthen wanted to reclaim them alone (away from prying eyes), Colleen confirms this. He asks Colleen to share her story with the congregation (which she does horribly!) and uses it as a lesson to his flock.
The baroness approaches Colleen about being put on the expedition up to the mine, as a “bodyguard” to the scout. Colleen jumps at the chance. Elbeth gives some comforting words over Colleen’s botched address to the faithful and tells the Blade that her talents for proselytizing lie in her actions.
The day arrives for the baron’s men to head up to the mine and the group of them are away. The Varigal Creedon decides to tag along at the invitation of his new friend Balwain.
Meanwhile, Arlan and Graenne make their way up to the mine themselves. Arlan is a great help to the old Demorthen who would generally not make this trip until spring. Along the way they stop at Liam’s cabin. He is surprised and extremely honoured to have both the Demorthen and her Ionnthen in his house at the same time. Theodosia is still in rough shape, though Liam has helped her along as best he could. She has unfortunately contracted the disease Liam had. The Demorthen treats the two of them with traditional medicine (half ritual, half treatment) and the duo are on their way. Again, leaving Theodosia to get better.
(Side note: dog was not slaughtered for meat. Arlan brought some deer meat with him to give them.)
They continue on and eventually get to the road. They notice a group of men has passed this way not that long ago. They head up to find the group is the baron’s men and the other PC’s. They camp together. During the night Graenne takes a special effort to talk to and learn about Balwain’s current life and family.
The group (except for Arlan) is told to stay behind by Graenne. She and her apprentice head up the trail. The rest of the group refuse to stay behind and decide to sneak after them. The tell the Sergeant that they are going hunting. They are told to take Frank with them, a dimwitted inbred man (OOC: total accidental alignment of name and character, really, for really really).
Graenne and Arlan arrive at the camp. She does some hasty cleansing rituals, but is far more concerned with the stones. Besides, once some good and honest hard working local men come here their energies will slowly heal the area. Graenne studies the cave and the ancient body (more ritual). She explains that it is legend that a mighty Feonda “gifted” the stones to man, a legend she rejects as Feonda are known to attack humans directly. She explains that there are other cursed stones out in the world, each stone or set of stones bestowing a different madness on the people around them.
The stones are deposited in the vessel and the two are on their way. One of them must maintain constant attention to the vessel at almost all times. Graenne does most of this, allowing Arlan to guide her.
On their way out they immediately spot the group, who shouldn’t be there. Arlan gives them a dressing down before Graenne interjects. She knows they did it out of concern. They can accompany them for a time (not too far though as she does not wish Colleen to know the location of the Standing Stone) but they must camp in separate spots. Frank is told to head back to his unit and have them secure the camp.
They all head off toward the Standing Stone where the ritual to destroy the cursed Oghamic stones will take place. They will pass by Liam’s along the way, they hope to pick up Theodosia at this time.
It appears the group may miss the great New Years festival of Earrach Feis as it is only 10 days away.