Classic Fantasy Ironsworn - Eilwen's Tale
RE: Chapter 60

(10-12-2022, 12:05 AM)Jingo Wrote: (Note that it’s been many days from my initial writeup here, and I noticed while editing this prior to posting on RPGSolo that I forgot to apply her Archer ability to spend an extra supply to reroll any of the dice on that Strike... Note to self, remember character abilities! )


Don't worry too much about forgetting the Archer ability.  I think if I had a giant spider/ant creature fall on MY back, I would probably forget how to walk, something I do every day without thinking. In other words, the result of the failed roll makes perfect sense under the circumstances and actually added additional drama and gravitas to the scene that wouldn't have existed otherwise. In fact, the entire sequence was exciting to read specifically because of the misses and weak hits.  On the one hand, we want good rolls for our characters, but, at least for me, the bad rolls usually end up making the game much more interesting.
Quote:Glad you enjoyed the twist, Teviko. Conflict is indeed what drives all story and character arcs forward. But sometimes when it all seems to be going downhill you want them to catch a break. And sometimes that doesn't happen. (I reflect that this is the same with our own lives. We hate the trials, the pain, the conflict; but that's how we prove our mettle, how we grow, "in the furnace of affliction...")

Episode 64
Just within the dim radius of her blue light, another shape perched on the iron column above her. Folds of shadow undulated out of the dimness, molding into another of those things! Three insectoid legs clung to the iron column and it moved slightly, sending down flakes of iron dust into her eyes. Its other appendages began to form.

She backed up coughing and blinking the reddish dust away, and raised her bow. On its bulbous head, its strange partitioned mouth had already unfolded revealing the flaps of spikes, and the long snake-like tongue, wet with shadowy tar, tasted the air.

On her left, she spotted the first horror come around the iron pillar, its own head raised high, its tongue also tasting the air. She raised her bow to target it, aiming. It sensed her, screeched and lurched forward into attack, about to lash out with its tongue.

This is the same encounter but because more showed up, the encounter rating increases from “Troublesome” to “Dangerous”.

She trusted her instincts, continuing to aim despite the tongue that lashed towards her.

She’s securing an advantage with her Archer talent. I’m trying to offset the -2 momentum she has here by using the first checkbox in her talent.

She gets plus 1, to her wits, so her roll +3 but she ignores the die roll if its a 1 or 2.

7 = 4[d6]+3

A fairly good roll. Now the challenge dice.
17 = 9[d10]+8[d10]

Another miss. (Miss count 10/24)

Argg! She cannot catch a break!

The tongue wrapped around her bow, and pulled it out of her hands, and it disappeared into the darkness in front of her. The creature came on, stealthily, more into the light. Bulbous eyes on its bulbous head contracted in the dim light. The segmented joints that made up its legs rose up above its body. The snake-like head returned to its mouth.

She stumbled back and pulled out her spear. The thing on the pillar was growing its last leg, she had very little time.

She isn’t going to wait for it. She needs to take initiative away from this thing. But it might be too early in the fight for that. I’ll have to risk it. I’ll use the once-per-fight Turn the Tide move.

With a sudden battle cry, she charged the creature, spun in a fierce kata that brought her up in a leap and drove the spear’s point towards the thing’s head.

Turn the tide, risking it all here she gets to roll plus iron (she only has 1, but gets another plus 1). So, a whopping total of 1d6+2.

5 = 3[d6]+2

14 = 9[d10]+5[d10]

Another miss!
(Miss count 11/24)

Her spear hit the iron floor and drew sparks as the creature skittered to the left. It’s sticky tongue whipped out. The tongue’s end expanded as it neared her into a net of suckers that slapped wetly around her, pulling into her skin, pinning her arms and spear awkwardly against her, the suckers feeling her skin, digging into her.  She slammed into the ground, and her breath was knocked out of her.

Slowly, the tongue began to retract, pulling her towards it, the flaps of its mouth heaving in anticipation of its feast, revealed the tooth-like spikes, coated black in shadow and iron dust.

Is she near a pillar to brace against?
(Somewhat Likely | 1[d10]) No, and...

She rolled in desperation to the left and the right, struggling against the pull, flexing her arms and legs, trying to tear free with everything she had. She felt the iron dust around her getting into her mouth, felt the rough iron metal scraping into her, scraping her skin, mixing iron with iron.

Face Danger with Iron to break free
3 = 1[d6]+2
13 = 3[d10]+10[d10]

Well, her negative momentum goes against her here. The 1 is ignored. So she just has a 2 vs a 3 and 10. Not that it would have changed anything. Yay.

(Miss count 12/24)

She found herself beneath the creature, the tongue now pulled her up near the flaps of its mouth and she was drawn upwards. She yanked and pulled, but could not break free.

By some miracle, does Gethyd manage to come back to aid her?
I’ll say Very Unlikely. He’s probably dead or worse. But you never know. We’ll find that when and if she ever goes looking for him:
(Very Unlikely | 1[d10]) No, and...

She heard Gethyd scream again, this time more faintly. She yanked, pulling against the net, and looked for the light of his torch.

Can she see his torch at all?
(50/50 | 3[d10]) No

The medallion she wears is a source of dim light but it’s also a sort of memory holder that revealed information to her when she was at the Green Home. This thing feeds on memories. It stands to reason it might be able to sense the memories contained within the medallion. Is that true? (SL)

(Somewhat Likely | 3[d10]) No
No such luck.

“Mother!” Eilwen screamed, and her voice echoed off the heedless iron columns. Even as she yanked her head back and thrashed as the flaps with their strange spikes of shadow neared her face.

Does her mother hear and help Eilwen?
What will happen to Eilwen?
Will this be her end?

Tune in next time for the possible finale!

Here’s her current stats:
Iron: 1
Edge: 2
Wits: 2
Heart: 1
Shadow: 3

Momentum: -2/10
Supply: 1/5
Spirit: 0/5
Health: 3/5

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If it does end here . . . 

Cons: Your character is dead and the story is over.

Pros: You have a lot more time to focus on other projects!  Big Grin

Jingo, refresh my memory, please.  For "reasons" I jumped into the middle of this campaign and saw a name I had completely forgotten about.  Whatever happened to Scratch? I'm sure there is some explanation as to what happened to him or what he's been doing, but I don't feel like scanning back through 20 or 30 chapters to find out.
Quote:Jingo, refresh my memory, please.  For "reasons" I jumped into the middle of this campaign and saw a name I had completely forgotten about.  Whatever happened to Scratch? I'm sure there is some explanation as to what happened to him or what he's been doing, but I don't feel like scanning back through 20 or 30 chapters to find out.

Ah good ol' Scratch. Smile Great question. He was last seen in Episode 45 at the Battle of Longfalls, appearing at just the right time to cement two warring bands under her rule. He's an NPC that does his own thing. He's probably just off hunting or exploring, but I think he likes Eilwen, kind of like how my cat likes me... from a distance and comes when he wants snacks and wants to play...So, on his terms. 

Scratch hasn't really surfaced because, honestly, I haven't asked the Oracle if he's around and there haven't been prompts that made me think to ask. Now that you've reminded me, we'll see. But she's currently in a place (Shadow Realm) that it's Almost Impossible that he'd be there.

Eilwen can't officially have Scratch as a companion until she 1) pays the fictional price of training him/spending time with him and 2) pays the mechanical price of buying a new asset worth 3 XP. The fictional price is well underway and may very well be completed. I think there were something like six or seven boxes on the progress chart for her vow to train Scratch. The mechanical price? Well, she keeps spending her XPs on other things she needs...

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Episode 65
The tips of the spikes drew nearer. She saw only a future of darkness and pain. She’ll try to break free again.

Face Danger with Iron
2 = 1[d6]+1

12 = 8[d10]+4[d10]
Uggg. What a roll. 2 vs 8 and 4. That’s a miss.
(Miss Count 13/24)

She’s destined to get consumed by this thing, me thinks.

Time slowed...

Scott Buckley music for you for this scene. I love his music and this track is particularly fitting!

The flaps of alien shadow-skin slapped down around her upper torso, and she felt pain and loss as the shadow spikes drove into her shoulders and arms, pinning her down against the ground. She screamed in agony and felt the tongue-like suckers latch onto her temples, her mouth, her nose.

I must say I love the simple elegance of this system and how quickly I can create an engaging creature with a single stat of “Troublesome”, but as you have seen, because of its features and tactics, it’s proving far more than just Troublesome. If its features had been slow and ponderous and dull-witted, she would have had time narratively to strike at it several times with her bow before it even got close. But no, it’s fast and can climb on walls and all sorts of nasty stuff...

Back at it.

First and foremost, because she’s in a dangerous encounter, she takes 2 damage. It’s trying to subdue her completely first before sucking her memories dry.

Her health is now 1/5.
She’ll Endure Harm

7 = 6[d6]+1

2 = 1[d10]+1[d10]

Well, well well. Hoozah! That is the BEST she could have rolled in this situation! A strong hit and a match! She embraces the pain and takes 1 momentum (now -1/10). She’s still at 1/5 health. But more importantly, the best match she could have received: double ones!

Let’s review the rules:

-- rule snip --
When you roll for a move, you
should be on the lookout for a
match on the challenge dice. In
cooperative and solo play, this is
your trigger to add a twist, create
a new complication, or otherwise mix things up. Something interesting,
unexpected, or unusual happens. If you’re unsure, you Ask the Oracle, which
is a move you use to ask questions or check for inspiration. If you’re playing
with a GM, a match on the challenge dice can be their prompt to introduce a
surprising turn of events.

The outcome of a match should be evaluated based on the result of your move.
• Strong hit: The match should represent a twist in the narrative, something interesting, or a new opportunity.
• Miss: The match should represent a heightened negative outcome, a complication, or new danger. Things get worse for you in an unexpected way. You can also let the intensity of your success or failure frame how you interpret a match. Rolling matched 10’s on your challenge dice should prompt you to introduce a harrowing turn of events or a dire failure. It’s as bad as things get.
-- end rule snip --

“Mother!” she groaned against the pain but struggled still, refusing to give in to her approaching doom.

If anyone in this place of death and darkness could hear her, surely Mother could.

She felt the wet, sticky, sucker-tipped tentacle-tongue, its texture rough and stippled and rubbery, with with saliva, trying to cover her mouth. She twisted and bit down hard on the strange appendage. She felt the rubbery texture give way. Felt liquid gush onto her face. She tasted its blood, cold and thick and alien. The dark viscous substance spurted over her face, ultra-saturated with iron. She gagged on it. Choked on its fetidness. Acidic bile rose in her throat.

The creature hissed and reared back, and the tentacle-tongue released, retracting, dropping her. She fell with a clang against the iron floor. The shadow beast backed up, wary. The other one clinging to the pillar had finished growing its leg, and like a noxious fruit, ripened in its foulness, dropped to the floor with a scratching, skittering thud.

The two creatures drew closer, one on either side of her, splayed tongues darted out again, tasting the air.

“Mother! Save me!” she coughed, wiping her mouth. She struggled to her feet and picked up the spear. She spat the brackish substance from her lips and wanted to vomit. It tasted of death and decay and sorrow entombed in despair.

(She still has initiative now and the positive narrative event I imagined is still occurring.)

“Eilwen...” a voice whispered gently, caressing her, whether in her mind or outloud, she could not tell.

Is it the voice of her mother?
I think in this place of shades and ghosts and shadow horrors that that is indeed likely.

(Likely | 6[d10]) Yes

Track switch:

She felt a warmth that seemed to envelop her, and the faint blue light from her amulet grew into a sphere of bright light that extended outwards.

Do the creatures turn and run? They hate bright light. I’m going to cut her some slack and say it’s likely.
(Likely | 6[d10]) Yes

Thank goodness! The monsters being defeated or retreating counts as a milestone to return Gethyd to Valeri, but more importantly they’re gone!

(Return Gethyd Vow - Progress now 3/10)

Instead of shadows twisting about her, the light grew. It wrapped around her, a nimbus the color of one of those rare and pure, cloudless, cobalt-blue mornings when the sky is tinged with purple fingers, and a breath of pink wreathes the snow-white peaks. The beauty of the vision staggered her. She could taste the cold snow that hung on the mountains, and she half expected to see Aron next to her, grinning in anticipation of a fine hunt on a fine day.

Instead, she saw a beautiful blond woman she at first did not recognize.

“Mother?” she asked but heard not her own voice. She was both there, but not there.

The vision solidified around her.

Mother looked more beautiful and younger than she had ever seen her.

Her father, Cadfael, came up behind Arwed and wrapped his arms around her, clasping them against her bulging middle.

“A girl?” he laughed. “How do you know? You’re not some kind of seer are you?”

She smiled and leaned back against him, caressed his face with one hand, and rested her other hand on his atop her large abdomen.

They stood some distance outside their longhouse near a ledge. Eilwen felt the crisp clear air and smiled again at the beauty of the scene. Her mother’s smile was infectious. The look of such satisfaction and...peace on Arwed’s face caused a pang in Eilwen’s gut from the desire to share in it.

“Call it a woman’s intuition, husband.”

“I won’t argue that,” he said, pulling Arwed against him. She snuggled back into his warmth and together for a long moment they smiled out at the pink-tinged peak together, swaying slightly together to some unseen music as the sun slowly warmed the peaks with its fiery glory.

“Here, feel this,” Arwed said after a moment. “She’s awake.” She repositioned his hand lower and to the side.

He grinned when his hand bounced slightly off her taut belly. “Ha! If this be a lass, then she’ll be trouble!” he brushed away Arwed’s hair with his chin and kissed her cheek and then her neck. He laughed, feeling the thump under his hand. “And another kick! She’s a fiesty one!”

“She is indeed that,” Arwed said. “As healthy as an ox. She must have some of your temperament.”

“Ah, the feisty she gets from you,” Cadfael smiled. “What do you want to call her?” he asked.

“Eilwen,” she smiled.

“A good name. I like the sound of it.”

“It’s more than just sounds. Do you know what it means?”

He shook his head.

How cool is this... I didn’t know it when I picked her name as my PC, but it’s perfect.

“It means...brow-blessed, holy, pure, and white--like this snow.”

“It’s perfect,” he said and breathed warmly on her neck..

“It’s a name befitting a princess,” she nodded with satisfaction.

“A princess, eh? What do you mean by that?”

“Nothing...” she smiled up at him. “It’s a good name as you say.” 

She smiled again, tilted her head, and they kissed.

The tenderness she had witnessed and the love she felt from her mother stung Eilwen’s heart.


Another track change for another scene:
Gotta love Scott Buckley:

In the light, a part of her swam, and the vision changed. 
Instead of light, there was dark. 
Instead of peace and joy, a cry and pain. 
Blood, water, and tears.
A birth.

A storm ravaged the longhouse. Inside, a soft warm glow from the oil lamps hanging from rafters and the fire at the hearth, kept the dark at bay. The winds beat furious and fell blasts against the sturdy home, and the mountain sent flurries of shifting snow in ragged shouts of wind that clawed down into the longhouse’s chimney, disturbing the flames. The house smelled heavy with sweat and weariness.

Inside his home, Cadfael watched as the weather-beaten face of the midwife cleaned up the birthing clothes and dropped them into the fire where they hissed and sputtered for a smoky moment before a gust of air flamed the logs. The smell of burning cloth, blood, and bile made him want to gag, and he breathed through his mouth. But soon, the crisp air cleared the stench.

“It is done,” the old woman said. “Congratulations, Cadfael. You’re the proud father of twins! A boy and a girl.”

“Twins!” Cadfael gasped and leaned against the central beam for support. “There’s two of them?”

“That’s what twins are,” the old woman gave a wry smile and she held up two fingers. “Two. Twins.”

“Twins...” His astonishment changed to a grin. “How are they? How is Arwed?”

“The boy is healthy....But the girl,” she shrugged and shook her head. “Her fate is...uncertain.”


“During the birth, the boy’s cord was wrapped around her neck. She went without air for a long while. I...did what I could to help her. She’s breathing now,’s difficult for her. Only time will tell.”

He gripped the woman’s arm. “And Arwed?”

“Tired and resting. It was not an easy pregnancy, slender and small as she was." she shook her head and frowned. "Me thinks she wasn’t ready for two.”

“Two...” he breathed and shook his head again, still in awe at the prospect.

“I’ll leave you now,” the woman’s voice creaked. “If you need anything, you know where to find me.”

“My thanks,” He nodded and helped open the door as the old woman trundled out of the longhouse into the deathly cold night, carrying her basket. A swirl of snowflakes and a gust of frigid air swept into the main chamber. He shut the door quickly, but it was some time before the warmth from the hearth could reassert itself.

Cadfael paused for a moment and then pushed open the stitched leather curtain where his wife lay resting in the partitioned-off section for her birth. Her eyes closed in sleep, her breast rose and fell in deep sleep.

Then he saw them. Two perfectly formed babes lay in peaceful slumber in a simple wooden crib next to Arwed’s bed.

He reached down and brushed the head of each. The swaddling on the boy--his son--had come loose, the infant's eyes closed in sleep, reached a pudgy fist and grabbed Cadfael’s rough finger with a small but firm grip. Cadfael chuckled, and with his other hand touched the girl’s head. She barely moved. He extracted his hand from the boy’s grip and gently wrapped the swaddling back around him, tucking it in close and warm.

Then he leaned closer to his daughter and held his cheek above her small face, stilling his own breath, listening. He felt warm air stir tentatively against his skin. Her breathing sounded labored. She puckered her face in a fierce scowl.

“You’re determined, aren’t you,” he whispered and then brushed his lips against her small forehead. The midwife had cleaned the babes, and she smelled clean and new and fresh, like the snow falling outside. But her skin had a bluish tint. He frowned.

“Breathe little one!” he whispered and looked about at his little family and then back at his new daughter. “By the gods, keep breathing!” he whispered, his voice deepening with unexpected emotion. He gripped the edge of the crib with white fingers and brushed a rough finger across her furrowed brow. “Breathe...”

He watched his children for a long time. The miracle of these new additions to their family astonished him. He couldn’t stop looking at them. And, for now, Eilwen kept breathing.

The fire in the hearth had died down some, and he put on some more logs, stirring the embers with a stick until the flames caught and began to lick the coarse wood.

Arwed stirred from her slumber at the crackle and pop of the flames. “How are they?” She asked him.

“Sleeping,” Cadfael replied. He knelt by her bed and took her hand in his. “What happened to your intuition?” he grinned. “A boy and a girl?”

“I was partly right,” Arwed gave a faint smile. Her face looked haggard and worn. Sweat clung to her damp hair, and her hands trembled.

“Twins! By the gods, what a blessing!” Cadfael said again. He looked completely nonplussed.

“The gods abandoned us,” Arwed coughed weakly. “We are to make our own way in these lands now.”

He ignored that and grinned as he brushed aside damp locks of her blond hair, now darker from the perspiration. Her beautiful face lay half in shadow, half in light. “Twins, Arwed!”

“Twins,” she gave a weary smile and nodded her head.

His smile turned to a frown as he thought of Eilwen and her labored breathing.

“What is it?” Arwed asked.

“Did the midwife not tell you?”

Arwed shook her head.

“It’s Eilwen,” Cadfael’s brow furrowed, and he looked from his daughter to his wife.

“Tell me.” 

“She’s not breathing well.”

“Bring her to me,” Arwed said.

“Are you sure? She is sleeping, and you need your rest. I can--”

“Do it, husband,” she said. “You can do nothing here.”

Her stark reply stung, but he nodded, and his strong, scarred, weathered hands gently picked Eilwen up, a smile of pure love and joy on his face. “She’s so small. Such a small beautiful person!” He said in awe and handed her to his wife.

Arwed took Eilwen in her arms then nodded to Cadfael, her face serious. “A box is under my bed. Bring it to me. Set it here on the bed,” she pointed to the coarse wool blanket.

He looked at her, puzzled, but he nodded and pulled out a wooden box with an intricate carving on its lid, twisting vine-like branches of a tree. “I’ve never seen this box. Where did it come from?”

“You’ve seen it,” she said with unreadable blue eyes. “You just haven’t remembered.”

“What do you mean,” he asked, rubbing his finger across the beautiful wood. “I’d remember this box if I saw it. It's carvings are...exquisite!”

“It doesn’t matter,” she said, taking the box. She traced a symbol on the lid, and it clicked open.

“Arwed,” Cadfael asked, slowly, a frown began to crease his face. “What is this?”

“A tool to help our daughter.”

“What sort of tool?”

Arwed lifted the lid and moved aside a rich-looking moth-eaten cloth that covered something. Under the cloth, she pulled out a coarse leather sack. She undid the leather drawstrings and drew forth a set of dark disks, black, made of iron, bound together with a metal loop, angular markings covered the surfaces of the disks.

“This,” she said.

Cadfael’s eyes widened. “Is that...dark iron?” he breathed.

She nodded and gave a mysterious smile. “‘Tis said that the ore was forged in the hot belly of the stars themselves.”

“But how?” his face held awe and trepidation. “Where did you get it?”

“No more questions,” she said. “I will help our daughter.”

Arwed unwrapped a portion of the swaddling. She pulled forth Eilwen’s right hand and placed her daughter’s hands on the iron and chanted:

“Iron, forged of stars,
Blessed by starlight
And shadow’s night
Imbue this little one
With your might.”

Then she pricked Eilwen’s tiny finger with a small iron needle, and a small jewel of ruby formed on the finger’s tip. The babe began to cry from the pain, awakening her brother who also began to squawk. Cadfael took a step forward but stopped from a stern glance from Arwed.

The twin cries of the babes seemed to urge the howling wind, and the shutters and leather coverings shook and billowed. The fire guttered and then flared again in the hearth. In the dim light, Arwed smeared the ruby tip of blood atop the disks. A hiss of black mist and the blood disappeared, pulled down into the deep iron’s runes, darkening them red for a moment, then the red blood on its surface blackened as if burned away to ash.

“Arwed,” Cadfael choked, pulling back, his face stark white with fear. “What devilry is this?”

“Do not interrupt!” she hissed then pressing Eilwen’s struggling form against the iron disks chanted anew:

Forged of star and shadow
Take upon you Iron’s power”

“You have made her Ironsworn?” Cadfael hissed, eyes alert and wide in alarm.

“The power of the metal is hers now,” Arwed said. “I will not lose my daughter! Not when I have the power to save her. She is important!”


“Cadfael,” her mother said, cutting him off. “I love you, you know that. But there are some things you will ever understand nor accept, and so it is better this way.”

“What do you mean?”

Arwed raised a hand and made a design in the air. Her hand trembled from the weakness of birth-giving, and Eilwen watched as if from two origin points, one from a memory as a babe, a memory she had forgotten, looking up into her mother’s stern, sad, determined, sweat-drenched face, and one from her adult vision looking down, as a silent and invisible participant, somehow present but also apart. The mind-twisting origin points of the vision swam in her head, and she groaned, disoriented.

But she now saw the blue, shadow-misted rune hanging in the air. A rune Eilwen recognized. The Skaed rune. She watched her own babe’s eyes look upon the rune in fascination as it hung in the air, saw her pudgy baby hand reach out...

Cadfael hissed and scrambled to his feet, knocking over a pile of blankets. “Witch!” he hissed and backed to the door, a look of betrayal and confusion and sadness on his face. But Arwed gave a single word of command in an unknown tongue. He stilled and a glassy expression came over his eyes.

“You will forget,” Arwed said in a gentle voice filled with infinite regret and utter sorrow. Her mother blinked away a tear and it took a moment for her to speak again. “Would that I could share this with you, Cadfael. Would that we could be truly one, you and I, but your superstitions are far too ingrained. It will be better this way. I promise.”

Arwed’s face then looked up to the rafters, and Eilwen’s vision returned to her own adult form. And she saw a melding of the young Arwed with the older Arwed, two in one, superimposed atop the other, one light and youthful, the other darker, an older woman, not quite a crone, but trending in that direction as wrinkles and gray hair and dark decisions upon dark decisions marred her mother’s youthful glow.

Both sets of eyes stared into her soul.

New track time!

“Daughter of Queens...” they said in tandem, one voice young, warm, but weary from childbirth, the other old, like the whisper of rubbed parchment on a gravestone. Both filled her mind with purpose, and she sensed Arwed’s admiration and...something else. Envy, maybe? Love, perhaps?

“Remember, Daughter, you are Ironsworn. Born of our twin bloods, born of iron! Imbued with a strength forged from the stars. There is more than blackness and shadow and darkness of night, as such provides rich tapestry to comprehend its opposite...the light!”

The vision ended, and Eilwen fell to her knees, gasping almost in pain at the flood of thoughts and knowledge. The nimbus of bright light expanded and exploded from the amulet, a sapphire-sun dawning then and there. It surrounded and protected her, illuminating the iron pillars, chasing away the shadows.

And in her mind, the knowledge of a new rune coalesced: a rune of starlight and moonlight, cold and bright upon the snow, a rune that birthed the dawn-breaking purple and brought the golden sun and crisped the white mountains in a fiery glow.

I’m going to say from this experience, she’s no longer shaken, and her Spirit actually goes up by 1 automatically. Yeah, I might have milked this positive narrative match for what it’s worth. But I gotta try and save our heroine, right? Fear not, she’ll probably die in the next episode anyway...

There’s a Lightbearer talent that allows one to store and use light like this. Given that she’ll likely be traveling dark roads more often in the future, I think that might be useful, so that was a bit of narrative scaffolding to allow that talent once she gets enough XP... assuming she survives that long.

Hope you enjoyed this episode. This was one of my favorites to write.

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Episode 66
Ribbons of light streamed off of her, chasing any shadows that lurked behind the pillars further into the wide hall.

The light wrapped around her. It’s pretty bright now.
Can she see Gethyd?

(Return Gethyd Vow - Progress now 6/10)

Is he wounded?
(Likely | 8[d10]) Yes

Was a Shadow Horror crouched over him when she drew near?
(50/50 | 3[d10]) No

For his wound(s), I’m going to roll rpgsolo’s Get Dmg button and add +5, given that he was alone and probably attacked by one of the shadow things.

Good luck, Gethyd!

(13 = 8[d20]+5) Moderate Injury: Hampers action significantly; will require first aid/medical attention.

Okay, not too bad I guess. Is it a physical injury?
(50/50 | 9[d10]) Yes

Had it been a No, I would have ruled that he had some of his memories consumed too. But no, he’s healthy in his mind. Alas. He probably actually wishes his recent memories of his father’s death and him killing that old woman were taken away...

Wound location (From a custom table I created)
Right eye

“Gethyd!” Eilwen knelt next to him, the blue light of the amulet washing over him. His entire right side, including his face, was covered in the black, sticky, tar-like substance that had glued his eyelid shut and pinned his right arm to his side. The goo had dried and pulled his mouth slightly open in a grimace as if a sticky appendage had tried to force its way in. She put her finger to his neck and detected a weak pulse.

A spent torch lay nearby, also covered in the strange substance.

Does he regain consciousness?
(50/50 | 4[d10]) No

Gethyd lay unresponsive to her touch, save for a groan of pain. His right eye fluttered open, but he fell into darkness again. She touched the strange substance on his face and felt its wrongness.

She’d have to cut off the strange webbing.

She lifted Gethyd under his armpits and dragged him until the minutes seemed to turn into hours, and the hours dripped by in an endless eternal night.

Secure an Advantage with wits
7 = 5[d6]+2

7 = 2[d10]+5[d10]

A strong hit! She needed that. I’ll take the +2 momentum, now 1/10.

What does it look like?
4 = 4[d100]

88 = 88[d100]

She followed the sign posts and took a corridor that branched off from from the expansive colonnaded room, and along that route, she found an out-of-the way alcove under a half-crumbled rusted iron balcony where an iron pillar had collapsed and smashed into it, rending the metal under it a twisted mess.

Since she was successful here, I’ll say she found some wood too.

Happily / Dull

Ceaselessly / Lethal

Half buried under the shattered and jagged-sharp ends of the balcony, she found some racks of weapons, now dull with age and time. At her touch, their iron tips had flaked away and the hafts of wood crumbled to dust.

Nearby, a dark curved doorway revealed a path that snaked downward into the dark unknown, a curving waist-high railing the only thing holding back a growing stretching blackness beyond.

She rubbed her hand over a nearby signpost, brushing aside a patina of iron dust. The etchings on it marked the route forward that they needed to take.

Is her amulet still brightly lit?
SU (Somewhat Unlikely | 5[d10]) No

Her amulet’s bright light had long since receded to its usual level of a dim pale glow.

Does Gethyd wake up now?
(50/50 | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

She sighed, pulled out Gethyd’s dagger, and began to gingerly cut at the goo around his face. Halfway through her work, a hand shot and grabbed her wrist and his left eye opened in a fear-widened rictus, his right eye and mouth strained against the hardening goo.

He screamed. His cry echoing down the dark hallway.

“Gethyd!” she leaned on him, struggled with him, covered his mouth with a hand, her eyes darting around before they centered back on his face. “It’s alright. It’s me, Eilwen!

He shoved against her, trying to wrestle her, but he was partially immobilized, and that worked in her favor. She held him down. “Quiet! I’m going to remove my hand. No more screaming. Do you understand?”

After a long moment his ragged panting slowed, and he gave a tentative nod.

“I thought I was dead,” he breathed, staring up into her face. His words sounded slurred with his bottom lip not working right from the substance keeping his mouth partially opened. “One of those things attacked me. I--I had to run. I...had to.” Sweat sprang out on his forehead.

“I know. It’s okay,” she said in soothing tones. “It’s okay. Hush. I’m going to cut away this...webbing okay?”

He gave a half-hampered nod. “Try to relax,” she said, and pulling out a knife, she began to slowly and methodically work in the dim light.

Heal + wits

8 = 6[d6]+2

9 = 7[d10]+2[d10]

A strong hit! Yes!

For long minutes she worked, carefully cutting away the odd substance. When she finally pulled the last of it away, his face looked bruised and puffy, like a nest of bees had stung it. She touched it gently.

“Hurts,” he winced.

“I think you’ll be okay,” she said and handed him her canteen.

He took a long drink, and they ate some more of their diminishing food.

“Are you ready to carry on?” she asked.

“Do we have any choice?” he groaned.

“There’s always a choice,” she gave a weary smile as she helped him to his feet. “Perhaps not with the road we’re meant to travel, but on how we make our journey.” She felt the darkness close in around them and pulled her cloak about her. She realized the futility of the action. The cold was not physical. She pointed to the iron signpost. “This is the way.”

“How can you be sure?”

“Because I don’t want to go anywhere near those shadow creatures again.”

“Fine by me,” he muttered, and they picked up their packs and continued their journey.

Undertake a Journey + 3
5 = 2[d6]+3
9 = 7[d10]+2[d10]

A weak hit.
Journey progress now 9/10
Spirit is 1/5
Loses 1 Spirit, now 0/5

Ensure Stress
7 = 6[d6]+1
13 = 9[d10]+4[d10]

A weak hit. You press on. Spirit stays at 0/5.

Reach Your Destination
9 progress boxes vs
6 = 4[d10]+2[d10]

Strong Hit
I’ll take the +1 momentum (now 2/10)

The pathway snaked downwards. Peering over the edge of the railing, she saw other passageways below and above her, moving off to other destinations. Soon, she arrived at a circular platform with a round iron pillar and runes etched along its circular face.

She followed the instructions on the baseplate and a circular staircase descended from the platform and ended in an iron doorway.

She pulled it open and saw the sky. Her heart leaped. The real sky. Her sky!

Is it night time
(50/50 | 5[d10]) No, but...

The doorway she had opened became a twisted line of blue and black light that reflected off of a pool of water and the nearby iron pillar. A sunset bathed the ground in a golden light, and a waterfall crashed down off the ledge.

She started... the clouds and the sun. Was it her imagination, or did the same sun and the same cast of clouds meet them that they had left behind when they escaped the church tower in Redhall? Surely some time had passed... But if it did, not much.

Gethyd also noticed it and looked at her. “Time moves strangely in that place,” he said.

She nodded but said nothing.

She led the way, and they stepped out of the strange doorway. It closed noiselessly behind them, disappearing into a line of blue and black that misted into nothingness, as the last ray of sun hit the rune-faced iron pillar.

They had made it out!

She turned back. They had stepped out of empty space by the pillar. The correct pillar near where Thorganna and her warriors should be. She breathed a sigh of relief at hearing the noise of birdsong and feeling the breath of real wind on her face.

She inhaled deeply, and she and Gethyd smiled at each other. But her smile faltered. She remembered the arrow, her arrow, hitting his father.

“Are you alright?” He asked her.

“Your father,” she said. “I wish--”

A thunderstorm of angry fury brewed on his face. “I’ll kill the bastards who shot him dead!” he swore.

She looked at him and then slowly shook her head. Now was not the time. Maybe never would be the time.

“What? You think I shouldn’t?” he shot at her.

“Sorry. I didn’t mean that. I didn’t mean for any of...this to happen.”

She thought of his father’s death, their flight into the shadow realm. And those...things, those terrible multi-limbed shadows with their awful mouths and sticky black tongues...

She felt hollow and empty, like all the light inside of her heart had been sucked dry, replaced with ash. She thought of Aron, her blood and twin, now her enemy. The world felt dull and shallow and vain. She brushed at her face, as if perhaps the touch of the creature’s tar-like tongue still clung upon her face.

She touched the amulet and moved it under her tunic, trying to remember the light and the love she had felt from her mother. Already it seemed too distant, replaced by a mockery that whispered of death and darkness and endless despair.

“I’m just glad we’re out,” she said, trying to shake away the shadowy despair that clung to her. She blinked into the final beam of sunlight and then twilight fell.

Wow. The drain on Spirit in the shadow realm is insane! I’m glad they’re out. It’s a cool ability to get out of a tight spot, but a double-edged sword too...

Here’s her current stats:
Iron: 1
Edge: 2
Wits: 2
Heart: 1
Shadow: 3

Momentum: 2/10
Supply: 1/5
Spirit: 0/5
Health: 1/5

Unspent XP: 1

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Episode 67
They rested that night by the iron pillar. The clouds cleared, and she saw the pinpricks of light from stars in the velvet dark of night. They talked little and tried in vain to keep watch. But both were too weary and eventually gave up. They slept near each other, feeling some warmth from each other's presence, listening to the snapping hiss of the coals of their fire, trying to forget the darkness.

The next morning, she and Gethyd went in search of food.

Resupply Move by hunting because she gets a +1 from her archery.
9 = 6[d6]+2+1
4 = 3[d10]+1[d10]

Strong Hit
Supply is now 3/5


By midday, they had replenished some of their diminished food supplies, trapping a couple of gray rabbits in a simple vine trap that Gethyd made. Eilwen supplemented the meal with some berries they found growing along the river bank.

By midday, they resumed their journey toward Thorgunna. Eilwen ached from her wounds and felt weak and lackluster.


By the time evening fell, they approached the area where Thorgunna had agreed to meet them.

Is Throgunna there?
(Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

Eilwen and Gethyd approached from the north, their eyes alert, but even so, Thorgunna’s handful of warriors rose up out of well-hidden platforms among the trees in a classic ambush formation, bows out and arrows nocked.

“Who goes there?” Thorgunna called out, her voice harsh and imperious.

“Thorgunna!” Eilwen called out. “Hold! It is I, Eilwen!”

The guard captain watched as Eilwen stumbled down a mossy slope followed by Gethyd. With a curt gesture, Thorgunna motioned for the warriors to lower their weapons. They did but faded back into the trees, still alert, cautious.

Has Yormid sent squads this way looking for her?
(50/50 | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

Thorgunna inclined her head as Eilwen approached, Gethyd trailing behind. “My queen! Forgive me. It is good that you are safe! I thought you would come from the south,” she said. “But we had both approaches watched, just in case, we kept hidden with no cook fires should Willan and his ilk return.”

Gethyd’s face showed concern, likely at Eilwen’s own promotion in social standing, Eilwen thought.

She noticed Eilwen’s bandages, red with stale blood, and saw the queen limping. “You are hurt!” Thorgunna ran and aided Eilwen, placing her shoulder for Eilwen to lean on. “Bring bandages!” Thorgunna shouted. “The queen is hurt!”

“Thank you, Thorgunna” she smiled at the other woman’s concern and leaned on Thorgunna. Once inside the camp, she let the woman help ease her into a sitting position on a log. She twisted her face in pain.

“You are wise to be watchful,” Eilwen said, her attention back on Thorgunna.

“Willan did not return,” Thorgunna said. “More’s the pity. I should have liked to have gutted the man. But a squad of six men from Redhall did arrive, about an hour ago. They were heavily armed and riding horses. They were shouting...looking for us, they spoke as if you were some witch who had bespelled them.”

As they spoke, one of her honor guard, a woman with dark hair, dainty nose but fierce bearing, named Kiari, came bearing some bandages. She crouched and prodded at Eilwen’s leg as Eilwen sat on a log.

So, the rules specify some set ways to regain Health, one is with the Sojourn move with a community, one is the Make Camp move in the wild, and one is the Heal move. I think Heal makes the most sense here, but Eilwen is not narratively the one doing her own Healing. Maybe I should just ask the oracle if she gets some Health back? But that seems like cheating somewhat. So I’ll just do the normal Heal move, but will roll wits instead, as if she were treating someone else, since it’s the other woman doing the healing on her... and Eilwen is guiding her.

6 = 4[d6]+2
12 = 9[d10]+3[d10]

A weak hit. She’ll lose -1 momentum but get 2 back. Her health is now 3/5. Momentum now 1/10. The ever-shifting numbers.

“Tell me what happened,” Eilwen said. She hissed at Kiari’s probing fingers as the other woman removed the bandage and began to clean and examine her wound. “Did you come to blows?”

(50/50 | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

“Yes. We defeated them to a man. Ambushed them from above, just like you saw. Not one escaped.”

“That is well, but they’ll be back and with larger numbers, when that squad doesn’t return,” Eilwen warned. “Did any of their horses survive?
(50/50 | 6[d10]) Yes, but...

“Most fell to our barbs. Some were wounded and ran screaming into the woods. Should he locate them?”

“No...” Eilwen's voice trailed off in thought. “Bring me my weapons and gear. We have plans to discuss.”

Thorguanna shouted an order.

As the other woman finished seeing to Eilwen’s wounds and tied a new bandage, a runner soon returned bearing Eilwen’s gear.

Eilwen strapped on the two blades and took the darkwood bow. It felt good and right to have the bow Caldas had gifted her back again. The twin blades, Toothbite and Myrddyn, were comfortable weights on her hips. She ran her palms over their pommels and smiled.

Haf showed up, and his gaze lingered with disapproval on the sword Myrdden, but he twisted his frown around into a grimace of a smile. “Eilwen. It’s good you are back!”

“Thank you,” she told him. “Is all well?”

“I used the bow you gave me!” he said. “I shot a horse out from under a man who would have driven me down.”

“I’m glad,” she said.

“He fought well,” Thorgunna nodded. “But what of you, my queen? How did your mission go? I did not expect you back so soon,” Thorgunna said.

“Things became...complicated,” she frowned, and her hand smoothed across the pommel of Toothbite. “I’ll share my events in a moment. But first, where is Valeri? I must speak with her.”

Thorgunna frowned. “She is not here. The last we saw of her was when we parted ways with you, yesterday.”

Yesterday... That confirmed it. Time passed differently in that dark place of bleeding iron dust, dark shadows, and timeless death. Eilwen’s frown turned into a thin line of determination and concern.

“We need to find her,” Eilwen said. “Gather the others. I’ll fill you in.”

Thorgunna gave a command, and after her warriors descended from trees and soon gathered about them, Eilwen gave Thorgunna and her royal honor guard a slimmed down version of accounts. She left out swaths of detail about the shadow realm, but Thorgunna got the gist of it.

Steel rose in Thorgunna’s eyes and voice when she heard of Willan’s duplicity and of Yormid’s cruel butchery of his own people. “That man needs to be put down!” Thorgunna growled. “Those men,” she amended herself, including Willan.

“I agree, but Yormid has a great many warriors and defenses around him, and he is now alerted to me...likely to you, as well, once this squad you attacked doesn’t return.”

“What are your orders then?” Thorgunna asked.

“We find Valeri first and then go from there. She was supposed to meet you here,” she looked at Thorgunna.

“As you can see, my Queen, she didn’t,” Thorgunna replied.

“Something happened,” Eilwen said, a growing knot of concern growing within her. She stood and began to pace back and forth. Her anger clashed with her concern, one hand on a sword pommel, white-knuckled, clenching and unclenching as she paced.

“My mother?” Gethyd said, finally coming out of the background to join her. “What did you say about my mother?”

“Nothing,” she said to him with a frown.

“You said she’d be here,” he said, brow furrowed and he looked about them. “I’ve looked and asked, but no one has seen her. Where is she?”

“I’m going to find her. I’m going to take you to her, Gethyd. I promise!”

“But you said she’d--”

“Queen Eilwen has said what she will say!” Thorgunna spun on Gethyd, steel in her voice. “Cease your mewling! It is not for the likes of you to question a Queen!”

He blanched at the fiery guard captain’s words. “But--” he started, his voice tentative, confused.

“It’s alright, Thorgunna,” Eilwen said, and then she turned to Gethyd. “I swore on iron.”

“You what?” he asked, confused.

“In the darkness of that place, when we were separated, Gethyd, I vowed I’d return you to your mother on iron. I am Ironsworn, and I made a sacred vow. You understand what that means, don’t you?”

Gethyd exhaled slowly and finally nodded, the tension easing out from him somewhat.

“We search for Gethyd’s mother!” Eilwen called out to the small band of stoic faces that surrounded her. “We will approach cautiously towards where I last saw her.”

She turned to Thorgunna. “Keep our guards on our flanks. You and I will be in the center. Haf and Gethyd,” she turned to them. “Stay behind us, but keep pace.”

“I want to help,” Gethyd said. “If my mother is in trouble, I will help! I already lost my father. I won’t lose my mother too!”

“And she doesn’t want to lose you either,” Eilwen said.

“Do you really think we’ll be running into anything worse than those...things in” Gethyd asked.

“She breathed out a slow smile. “You’re probably right. Just... be careful, Gethyd. A weapon forged by human hands can make you just as dead as those...creatures.” She thought of the events in the church tower. Their errant shots... She saw a grim expression on his face and guessed that his thoughts likely delved along a similar vein.

She gave a sigh and touched his harm. “I don’t want you to get hurt either. Just promise me you’ll be careful?”

Gethyd nodded and gripped his own bow in his hands.

Haf looked at him and then her, curious. “There’s a story here,” he mused. “Where did you two go?”

“A story that will have to wait,” Eilwen replied and motioned for Thorguanna and her five warriors to move out.

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Episode 68
It grew dark, and over the next few hours, Eilwen led them cautiously through the trees towards Redhall, to the location she had last seen Valeri.

Do they get there without incident?
(50/50 | 1[d10]) No, and...

What’s the problem?
Action / Theme

68 = 68[d100]

8 = 8[d100]

It sounds like Redhall is sending out more troops (weapon) to locate (restore) the squad that hasn’t returned.

Eilwen saw the snaking line of torches first. Thorgunna held up a fist, and their small band of warriors stopped, taking up positions behind trees, bows out.

Down below them, winding up from Redhall, they saw a troop of warriors, about a score strong, moving along the road to the north, and they heard voices and the clink of weapons on armor.

Eilwen lay down behind a tree and studied the approaching men. Wet grass tickled her nose. She strained to hear.

“Nan’s men should have been back by now,” a familiar voice hissed. “Something has happened to them.”

She recognized the familiar voice as Willan and saw him speaking to another man, backlit against torches.

“So what do we do? Tell Yormid?” the other man asked.

“Are you daft? We’ve already lost those prisoners to the witch!” Willan said, a sour sneer in his voice. “If we go back now, without something to show for it, Yormid will have our heads! No, we press on. We will find out what happened.” His voice lowered to a more menacing register. “And if that witch is here, I’ll gut her!” he said.

“Now? We can’t be blundering about in the dark?” the other man said. “And not with the witch out there... You don’t understand, I was in that church tower. I saw what she did! Shadows and darkness twisting and churning out of nothing...It’s not natural!”

“That’s what the torches are for! We will end her. Now, keep the men moving!”

The other man didn’t look convinced and jumped at the shadows created by the torches, but he motioned his hand and the troop of men continued up the road.

Thorganna appeared out of the darkness, scooting down in the grass next to Eilween. “Willan is with them! The road curves up to where we are now. They’ll be upon us soon. What do you command?”

Eilwen could sense the bloodlust in the other woman. She considered their options. They could move further into the trees and possibly let the band pass, but the rustling might just as easily attract them and end up separating them. Or they could strike them now, in the dark, while the fear was thick upon the night.

“Ready the warriors. We will ambush them on my mark. Confusion and fear will be our ally. Stand ready!”

Thorgunna grinned, a flash of white in the night, and scooted off to tell the others. After a few moments, bows were drawn, and she signaled that they were ready.

Eilwen nodded to her and began a low chant under her breath, summoning the shadows to her.

She gets a +4 on this roll.

7 = 3[d6]+4

14 = 7[d10]+7[d10]

Oh wow! A miss with a negative match. This will not turn out well...

(Miss count 14/24)

I’ll roll on the Mystic Backlash table because that’s always fun.

98 = 98[d100]
Oooff. Roll twice more on the table and apply both results.

99 = 99[d100]
Oooff. Roll twice more on the table and apply both results.

Great.... So three total results on the Mystic Backlash table with a negative match! Oh man, what I wouldn’t give for some momentum to burn to turn all this around...

18 = 18[d100]
You inadvertently summon a horror.

3 = 3[d100]
Your ritual has the opposite effect.
So... instead of twisting shadows we have shimmers of blue white light twisting around her!

20 = 20[d100]
You inadvertently summon a horror.

And for the negative match, assuming this isn’t enough, what should we do:
Action / Theme

62 = 62[d100]

97 = 97[d100]

Or we can flip it, a wealth of overwhelm. Or actually both makes sense. Ah hah... Smile

Oh boy... This just got interesting in a bad, bad way!

She began her chant, and almost immediately, she could sense something wasn’t right. She had missed some crucial step! The shadows came to her, obediently, yes, they swirled around her, but then mocking her, twisted around her skin. She gritted her teeth, felt the power of the designed effect shift and morph. A closed circle, signifying boundaries and control, she hadn’t completely closed it! Its end lay open!

She had been too quick, too anxious!

Horrified, she inwardly cursed herself for her sloppiness, and then, flustered, tried to retrace the symbol. But that only made things worse when her finger blurred out the Skaed rune for shadow, causing its opposite effect, that of light.

As her hands moved the ritual to completion, tracing the strange lines, the misty clouds of sapphire shimmered, hanging in the air around her, and then the shadows around her became twisting serpents of blue flame, causing her to become illuminated in white blue light. She illuminated the warriors around her. Also, from under her tunic where she kept the sapphire pendant, the glow-shine grew even brighter, a throbbing pulsing in tandem with her heart. She became, instead of a figure skulking among shadows, a beacon pulsing in the darkness.

“Now!” she heard Thorgunna shout.

The other woman must have assumed this was the signal, Eilwen realized, as arrows slashed down from her honor guard into the group below. She saw a few men cry out in pain, some falling, clutching at chests and throats.

Willan, ducked behind a man who took an arrow with his chest. The scoundrel shouted in fear and exultation, “It’s the witch! Kill her!”

The result of the negative match will likely come about shortly... I’ll reveal that probably soonish. Smile

Then the Redhall troop of warriors reached for their own weapons, some returned fire with hastily loaded bows, their arrows stitching through the trees. Others began charging up the incline.

At the same time, something--no she shook her head, that wasn’t right--some ‘things’ moved in the trees above her, quick and strong, and white as ice in winter. Two lithe forms leaped down out of the trees among the two groups, two skittering, bone-white shapes that moved like dancing dervishes of death. She had summoned shadows only, hadn’t she? Or... no! How-- Where had they come from? Were they drawn to her? Did she call them somehow?

One dropped down among Thorgunna and her warriors in a whirring dancing blur of death. Another leaped down among the Redhall warriors. She caught glimpses of the things, serrated forearm bones sharp as iron, and her mouth went dry, her tongue cleaving to the roof of her mouth.

“Bonewalkers,” she whispered. She and Aron had fought these strange creatures atop the iron pillar on that horrific lake of the dead in the mines under the mountain in what now seemed like an age gone. (See episode 8). She half expected her brother to leap to her side, his shield and axe protecting her flank as he had once done. But no. Aron was gone from her. Hated her. Despised her.

The bone creatures moved with alien grace, silent as the grave, efficient in motion, economic in their wages of death. She saw twin slashes of bone from one the creatures, as both its forearms arced out, the scythe-like blades severing a man in two in a cloud of viscosity, the blood spraying red, then as it left the torch light, it appeared black and splattered the terrified man next to him.

Screams and shouts of horror and death and blood cut through the night.

She had been right after all, she thought grimly, as she hit the earth to avoid the arrows that arced toward her. Confusion and fear would indeed reign this night.

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This is not an an episode post, but just wanted to say that on my Patreon site, I've posted an audio narration of the Prologue to this game thread.

Give it a listen here:

I'm toying with the idea of turning this thread into a full podcast entitled, "Queen of Shadows" (which if you've followed the episodes thus far, I'm sure you'll find it to be quite a fitting name.) 

Let me know what you think


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Very well done. I image that if you did create a podcast that people would enjoy it.

The music at the beginning seems a little too loud such that it made it difficult to hear and concentrate on your narration.

Keep up the good work!

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