IC Thread 1: Ch. 1, Stolen Land

Sergei nods at Kadebor's pronouncement, and listens to his sing-song chant.

"The fairie folk can be mischievous and cruel on a whim, Sandy," said Sergei. "I think our friend Kadebor has the right of it. This smells of faerie games. No pun intended." He smiles at his accidental humor.

"I don't believe there is any danger, but watch your possessions. They do love to play tricks."

The rest of the night passes by uneventfully. At some point during Sandra's watch, the odd talisman Kadebor constructed disappeared; one moment it was hanging from the branch, she looked away, and then it was gone...

You continue your exploration of this stretch of the Narlmarches. The day is brisk and breezy, the spring sunlight dappled on the shaded woodland paths before you. All is peaceful and well, until you hear a sound you were subconsciously dreading: the mechanical snap of a bear trap. Unseen in a small cluster of ferns, Sandra's horse steps in the trap, nearly throwing its rider and screaming in pain. Acting quickly, Sergei and Kadebor are able to pry the trap open and free Sandra's horse. No bones were broken, and the horse is able to continue on with a slight limp.

Again, towards the end of the day, Sergei discovers another unmarked bear trap hidden behind a log. He marks its location, increasingly appalled at the laziness or callous indifference of the trapper who laid them.

As you make camp for the night, another incident transpires with the campfire. As the fire begins to burn, suddenly it starts to smoke; and smoke, and smoke. A cloud of foul black smoke billows out from the fire, filling the camp with itching, choking fumes. Although the smoke dissipates after a few minutes, you all end up choking and coughing, with tears welling in your eyes. The horses and Shash are likewise irritated by the smoke, and after the smoke clears the whole fire has gone out! Sergei gets another fire going, swearing the wood he found was dry and perfectly normal.

Once Tallamor gets his breath back, however, the elf has his own theory as to what transpired...

Aleksandra Valyreth, Dilletante Swordswoman

After her own mount's encounter with the bear trap, Sandra will make two changes to her behaviour. First, she's going to spend the rest of the day walking her mount. Second, she'll take the time to pry both of those bear traps out of the ground, and heave them into the back of the wagon where they can't hurt anyone else.

The new event with the fire, once Sandra's done coughing and hacking, draws forth a rather wry observation. "Compared to the bear traps, this campfire stuff is a breath of fresh air. You don't think that your 'forest spirits' are responsible for the traps, do you, Kadebor?"

Tallamor snarls in frustration at the circumstances after the events of the second fire. The sight is disconcerting for anyone who has ever spent time around elves simply because the action is so un-elflike. His anger is quickly subdued however, and he replaces it with a countenance of calm and vague annoyance.

"Whatever fey is following us is responsible for the fire. I know a pyrotechnics spell when I see one, and that effect was unmistakable." He interjects himself, answering before Kadebor can answer Sandra's question. "I do not believe the fey are responsible for the traps. Rather, I think the traps are responsible for our issues with the fey. These traps are too numerous and conspicuous to be mere carelessness on the hunter's part. Rather, I think whoever has laid them is intentionally trying to allow others to stumble into them blindly. And that does not sit well with Kadebor's 'forest spirits.' They are likely angry and looking for revenge, albeit not necessarily upon us. Rather, we are simply in the wrong territory at the wrong time. Perhaps if we could speak with it, we could come to some sort of agreement. Until then, we had better be prepared for faerie tricks."

As you settle in for the night, Tallamor's familiar, Mirli, gives the elf a sense of suspicion and alarm through their empathic link. The hawk flies up into the darkening branches above, but returns after a few minutes, relaying a feeling of disappointment or shame, like some prey had escaped. Clearly, the hawk was able to spot something the rest of the party could not, but if it was the fey that's pranking you, it managed to slip away.

In the morning as you pack up camp, you discover that Sandra's horse has been... vandalized? All along one side of the horse (the side that was facing away from the camp most of the night) there are now stripes, dots, and crude drawings painted on the animal's fur with mud, berry juice, and other impromptu pigments. It looks like the chaotic scribblings of a toddler. There is a message written in crude Common:
I wish my rider wuz moer kareful my hooof hurts

The fey graffiti is washed away easily enough with some water. With no sign of the prankster anywhere, you continue to explore the trapped glade. Over the course of the day, you discover three more bear traps, thankfully before anybody can step on them. With the traps flagged or sprung, you conclude the day much as you did the last one, approaching the evening lighting of the camp fire with some trepidation. Nothing amiss occurs, however, so Sergei catches a pair of rabbits for dinner.

Once the rabbits are well-roasted on the spit, you divide the portions of meat on skewers and set to eating. However, just as Tallamor is about to take a bite, the skewer slips from his fingers. He picks it up again, only to have it slip out once more. Examining the skewer closely, he notices the skewer has been coated in grease; specifically, the kind of grease created by a grease spell. It wears off after a few minutes, but you can swear you hear the softest of snickers from somewhere in the branches above as you finish your meal.

After his failure to lure out the fey, Kadebor grows increasingly restless. His meditations at dawn have become a murmur of orcish and druidic whispers. The fact that they find more traps each day also seems to worry the half-orc. He keeps Shash close by his side and picks his steps carefully. The bear doesn't rebel, but whimpers sadly when Kadebor calls him back to heel. Obviously, Shash is used to a greater freedom to roam. We must walk the same path, my friend. I fear for you.

After nearly avoiding another trap only to have Sandra's horse step into it, he lets out a string of curses in Orcish and says: "Even the elk gets to know his hunters before the pack rips his throat. These metal jaws of death, they name not the hunter. And all who walk these lands are their prey. The forest spirits are angry with the makers of these jaws. That is why they disturb our path."

That same day, Kadebor picks some berries that look especially delicious and gives one to the injured horse and one each to his comrades. "A sparrow sung to me which berries to pick. I want to share these with you." To your surprise, they provide great nourishment. You feel as though you had eaten a whole bunch of grapefruits. "These can keep your heart true and your stomach full. I have always found them when the path is rough."

After another night of faerie mischief - the night of the black smoke -, Kadebor starts preparing another talisman. This one is simpler, and made mostly from tree bark. The next day, he walks up to Tallamore and says in a low voice: "You know of magicks. I have come to tell you of one magick that I can make. It will make all in a circle show their life light. Even spirits can not help it and will glow. I have made another talisman and tonight I will lure the spirits to it, as I did two dawns ago. Then, knowing the circle, I can make them appear. I need your sharp eyes and the eyes of your hawk to let me know when they come for the talisman. Can you help me make this magick?"

Sergei takes Kedebor's offered berry and truly enjoys its succulent taste. Probably some magic to it, but still good travelling food. His respect for the big druid grows as the days pass by. Kadebor will make a worthy ally when it it time to deal with the Stag Lord.

The next night, Sergei warms himself by the fire and watches as the druid again creates a talisman, then speaks quietly with Tallamor. Not knowing what to expect, Sergei simply tends the fire and waits.

Aleksandra Valyreth, Dilletante Swordswoman

Despite having to take an extra twenty minutes to rub down her horse in the morning, Sandra can't help but giggle at the 'message' she's been left. "Who knew faeries can't spell?" Still, a prank like this can't go unanswered, and Sandra begins to plot her revenge, memorizing just a slightly different
Sandra is memorizing Open/Close instead of Light today.
spell loadout for the day.

When Kadebor comes by with his very
See what I did there?
good berries, in addition to thanking him, heads out to the bushes where he got them, and spends about twenty minutes filling the bottom of one of her oversized drawstring sacks with berries.

Sandra's cunning plan is to leave the sack open, perhaps ten or fifteen feet away from herself, with the drawstring open, and then pretend to go to sleep. since she's not taking the first watch. And if anything she can't see starts picking up berries inside the sack, well, she'll be ready and waiting to cast her spell!

That evening, the party sets their own traps of sorts, waiting for the unseen fey to take the bait... but despite vigilant watches and a certain sense of suspense, nothing happens. Kadebor's talisman remains unclaimed, and nothing so much as touches Sandra's bag of berries.

As the night goes on, it gets quite cold, and by morning, the dew has turned into a rime of frost, coating the branches, tree trunks, and forest floor in delicate ice crystals. Your breath steams from your mouths and the snouts of your mounts. While you're comfortable enough by the camp fire, Sergei and Kadebor both know that should you decide to continue your exploration today, you'll be putting your fortitude against the cold.

The night of vigil leaves Kadebor quite tired, though he manages to get a few sound hours of sleep just before dawn. The first rays of the sun catch the half-orc meditating, his steady breath frosting in the crisp air. He seems to be thoroughly enjoying himself, despite yesterday's failure. Bones from his special pouch clatter to the ground a couple of times. A big smile exposes his white teeth. "The Frost Queen finds us worthy of her jewels. It is good to see her gift early in the cycle of moons. And with the dawn, I too received a gift. I have in my hands her warmth, enough for two. I would share that warmth with my companions, if you need it."

Those lucky two that Kadebor touches feel the cold gradually leaving them, replaced with a sense of warmth and well-being. He then proceeds to stretch with a big yawn. Nice day for a hunt, today. Shash seems quite pleased with the change and lopes around the camp, bumping into people playfully. After watching his companion for some time, Kadebor gets out a gopher-fur hooded cape from the packs and throws it over his shoulders. He also greases his moccasins with yesterday's leftover fat. This would make him look quite imposing, if it wasn't for the pleasant expression on the half-orc's honest face.

"Let us walk on and hope that the cold drives out the makers of metal jaws. Then the spirits will quiet."

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