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Thanks @Colinmnash. That means a lot! It's the interest and the feedback that keeps me writing. (And wow... I'm impressed there are those out there who read this all the way through!)
Hey Jingo,

I know you posted this a little bit ago but I'm just getting around to reading it (I'm a bit busy these days with a lot of other projects and responsibilities). Good to see you back. Was wondering where you went and was hoping you didn't just fade away. (Guess you were busy with other projects and responsibilities, as well.) Story's getting deep! As a player, don't you love it when these twists, turns, and narrative opportunities sneak into our games?
(06-03-2022, 12:20 AM)Teviko604 Wrote: [ -> ]Hey Jingo,

I know you posted this a little bit ago but I'm just getting around to reading it (I'm a bit busy these days with a lot of other projects and responsibilities). Good to see you back. Was wondering where you went and was hoping you didn't just fade away. (Guess you were busy with other projects and responsibilities, as well.) Story's getting deep! As a player, don't you love it when these twists, turns, and narrative opportunities sneak into our games?

Thanks Teviko! I do enjoy the twists, but this one was hard to make fit for me, since Aron has been one of her staunchest supporters up till now. I wasn't sure how to proceed and it took some time to figure that out and write it up in a way that would make sense. Anyway, here's the next episode!

Episode 49
The next morning, the rain had stopped and a cold mist covered the ground. She ate mechanically when she heard a bell toll, its sonorous boom portending a doom she feared to witness.

She saw Caldas in the hall flanked by two guards. Two more guards stood by Aron. Caldas nodded to her as she entered. It looked as though he had slept little better than she.

Does Aron look defeated?
(50/50 | 6[d10]) Yes, but...

Aron sat, morose on a creaking chair, bound hand and foot. But under the depression, she saw a seething anger in his eyes.

Other leaders from her “court” were there: Grayce and Thorgunna and a few of her other personal guards, as well as Caldas’s advisors.

Outside, more guards tried to keep the crowd at bay. But Eilwen heard them shuffling behind the closed windows and doors waiting to see what would befall the Oathbreaker. Apparently, they didn’t know that he had not sworn fealty to her.

What now is Caldas’s ruling?

On the Action / Theme oracle:

84 = 84[d100]
Follow

38 = 38[d100]
Protection

“I have arrived at a decision.” Caldas said and nodded. The guards heaved Aron to his feet. “Aron, son of Cadfael, and brother to Eilwen. For actions of harm and violence committed within our boundaries, you are hereby condemned...”

Thorgunna exulted, leaning back, a satisfied smile on her face. Eilwen clenched her fists together and felt her throat constrict.

“...to permanent exile from these lands and--”

“What?!” Thorgunna shot to her feet, and lunged towards Aron as if to rip out his entrails with her bare hands. “He killed my sister! He--”

Eilwen felt so stunned she hardly noticed the other woman’s lunge. The guards were more vigilant and intercepted her before she could do any harm. They shoved her away from Aron and held her safe. She strove against them but was held fast.

“Throgunna, you will keep your peace, or you will be next to receive our judgment!” Caldas said, iron in his voice. Resigned, she stopped struggling, but the guards continued to hold her fast.

“Aron...you will be escorted without food or weapons or items, save the clothes on your back to a day’s journey into the northern forest. And should you show your face again within Longfalls, your life will be forfeit. This is our judgment.”

A sea of whispers churned in the morning air.

Caldas held his hands for silence and turned to Eilwen. “Let it not be said, Lady Eilwen, that when you are recognized as queen across these lands that my justice was not also without mercy.”

“My Lord, this unexpected kindness and mercy are noted and...appreciated,” Eilwen said in a small voice. Her legs felt weak. Aron would live!

“That is all,” Caldas said. “Guards, see that my judgment is carried out swiftly!”

The guards immediately shoved Aron out towards the doorway. He twisted in their grasp shouting and cursing. He gave Eilwen a parting glare that carried an iron-shard promise of death.

Then he was gone and out on the streets. Through the open door, she saw the crowd heaving about him and his guards. Some threw garbage and refuse and spit in his face. More guards arrived and shoved the crowd away.

Thorgunna cast Caldas an angry glare and then yanked herself free and also strode from the hall.

“Though your brother lives, I fear this was no mercy or kindness Caldas gave you, my Queen,” Grayse said, her eyes shifting to Caldas who talked in low tones to his advisors. “Your brother has murder in his eyes. I do not think we have not seen the last of him...”

“Maybe. But that is a problem for another day. For now... I will rejoice in the possibility that my brother may someday be reclaimed.”

“Pardon me for saying so, my Queen, but there is no reclaiming that one,” Grayse said.

“We shall see,” Eilwen said. Then she turned to Grayse.

“I wonder if this Caldas also plays some deeper game.”

Eilwen studied the handsome man for a moment and then turned back to Grayse. “How would you like to see the rest of Wolf Fang driven from these Ironlands.”

“It would please me greatly.” Grayse said, her jaw clenching.

“Good,” Eilwen nodded. “You will take my brother’s place then as Chief Captain of my warband.”

“Yes my Queen,” Grayse said. “But what of your personal guard?”

“I’ll take Thorgunna and a few others with me.”

“She will not like that.”

“I know, but if she remains here, she will try to avenge her sister’s death and will likely do harm either to herself or to my brother.”

“Would either of those be such a bad idea?” Grayse asked, pursing her lips as she watched Thorgunna move out on the street.

“Don’t get any ideas Grayse,” Eilwen said. “If Aron is meek and humble as a mouse, he is to be left alone. But if he threatens violence against you or me in any way from this point on, you are free to be rid of him. For now, can I not at least celebrate this final hope?”

“Just remember that this hope you have for Aron is only an illusion. Also, be careful of Thorgunna. She is a capable warrior, but she is a brazier of flame amidst dry straw...”

“I will.”

“When should I leave?”

“No more than three days. Caldas grows weary of our warriors here. Muster the warriors and what supplies you can. But forage from the land as you go. I would not see Longfalls stripped of all her foodstuffs.”

“It will be done,” Grayse said.

“I knew I could count on you,” Eilwen said, clapping the other woman on the shoulder. “I’ll let it be known that you are the new captain.”

“And when will I see you again?”

“When my business in the south is finished,, I’ll find you.”

Grayse nodded and left, eager to be about this new assignment.

Caldas finished speaking with his advisor and then approached Eilwen.

“Thank you again Master Caldas,” Eilwen said. “For sparing my brother.”

“I meant what I said,” Caldas replied. “I am not without mercy. I cannot say the same for that hot-headed Thorgunna. If she finds your brother, it will go differently...”

“She’s going with me.”

“She won’t like that.”

“So I’ve heard,” Eilwen gave a grim smile.

“When do you leave?”

“Within three days time, my warband heads north to finish off the Wolf Clan scum. I’ll stay on for some time longer to re-provision before I head south.”

Does he seem anxious to see her leave? I’ll say somewhat likely since she’s competition of sorts.

(Somewhat Likely | 2[d10]) No
I wonder why that is...

“South? You’re not going with your band?”

She decided to trust him. Her secret was out anyway. “No. I need to find the other half of this,” she held up the ornate crown. Though she had wiped Aron’s blood from its crenulated edge, some red flecks still remained. She blinked away the memory of his bloodied face. “I have sworn on iron...”

“Ironsworn,” he breathed and nodded with solemnity. “I should have known.”

“I will see these lands united, Caldas. For should I fail, our people are doomed to fade and diminish, consumed by the nature of these lands and their own pride.”

He searched her face then nodded and held out his hand. She gripped his forearm and felt his strong grip match her own.

“I pray that the fates be with you, Lady Eilwen. Whatever happens in your quest, know that my people owe you our lives. For that, we are in your debt. You have my thanks.”

“We could not have defeated Uzak without each other, Lord Caldas. The feeling is mutual.”

His face shifted to a warm smile. “Go in peace,” he said, gave a small bow, then turned and left.

---

Two days later, the war band moved out, led by Captain Grayse and other undercaptains on horseback. The tramp of feet shook the walls of the homes. Families watched them leave. Caldas waved them farewell and drums of the warband beat in cadence to their marching.

Grayse turned her white horse about expertly, and its white mane whipped in the wind, the hooves prancing backwards. She waved to Caldas and then saluted Eilwen, arm across breast, before turning her horse northbound.

Later that day, Caldas’s guards returned and brought word that they had fulfilled their Lord’s judgment of Aron. She yearned to go with him, to talk with him as they once had, to see his ready smile to--

She turned her thoughts back to the task at hand, as she and Valarie continued their preparations.

Sojourn again:
1d6+1 for heart +1 now that she had a bond.

7 = 5[d6]+2

7 = 6[d10]+1[d10]

A strong hit! She’ll increase two health (now 5/5) and two spirit (now 3/5).

She spent long hours resting from her wounds and even longer hours in the friendly company of Valarie, her rambunctious but full-of-life children, who were beginning to see Eilwen as some sort of aunt, more than a queen.

In the evenings, she often visited the folk of Longfalls, who were always eager to be next to fame and to give her their thanks.

Does Caldas keep himself aloof?
(50/50 | 3[d10]) No

Hmm. I wonder if there’s something brewing there. Or is he like stalking her to ensure she leaves...?

(Unlikely | 1[d10]) No, and...

Caldas even started visiting her, checking in to see how she was doing. He often brought something from the wild or something old he had found while hunting for her to look at: an old iron key, old iron arrowheads and some ancient nails.

Was he... interested in her, she wondered?

She had seen men look at her out of lust before, but Caldas showed genuine interest for her as a person--her well being, her character, her thoughts, more than just her looks. They passed days in long conversations on a variety of subjects. He manifest a keen mind, and she was not blind to a budding kinship that was beginning to form between them.

He brought the strange parchment of the giant Kildha again and asked her to re-read it to him. He had an insatiable interest in those who lived before the ironlanders arrived and an anxious wanderlust to see the world, but he felt duty bound to help the people of Longfalls.

What else do we know about Caldas?

Does he have family here?
(50/50 | 9[d10]) Yes

Siblings?
(50/50 | 2[d10]) No

Parents?
(50/50 | 6[d10]) Yes, but...

Grandparents?
(Unlikely | 1[d10]) No, and...


His mother still lived. His father died when raiders hit the coast when he was young, and his mother carried him and his siblings into the Hinterlands and settled here. His two older brothers had moved to the havens. A sister had married a trapper in Shieldwick.

Character Goal:
Secure Provisions

Once Longfalls had enough goods to see them through the next winter, he hoped to explore the icy lands north to find Kildha’s burial chamber. But the settlement came first.

They enjoyed long walks across the hills and long rides on horseback. Two weeks passed in restful recuperation. He asked her endless questions about the Veiled Mountains. She in turn showed him some of the items she had collected in her journeys.

She found she enjoyed his company. He was intelligent, dutiful, but stubborn as a mule.

This calls for another Sojourn move.
3 = 2[d6]+1

9 = 6[d10]+3[d10]

A miss.
Miss Count 31/24
I’ll reveal what I rolled up shortly.

A few days later, back from dinner at Caldas’s table, she nodded to her guards who saluted and entered her rooms. Something wasn’t right. She noticed that a small bundle of her clothes she had laundered and rolled up for packing had been moved slightly, the bundle not quite as well done up.

Her eyes darted about the room. Everything looked place, but she saw tell tale signs of other things which had been moved slightly. Someone had been in her rooms and had, it seemed, been quietly and quickly looking for something.

Should she call her guards? But maybe they were the culprits. She pulled out her dagger and cautiously stepped through her rooms, looking for the intruder.

Nothing.

Are her guards or Valerie or her children hurt? This seemed pretty low-key so I’ll say unlikely.
(Unlikely | 4[d10]) No

She took a quick inventory. The crown was on her person in a napsack over one shoulder. She took it with her everywhere, as she did the pendant and her two swords. But the iron disks, those she...

She quickly moved to the small intricately carved wooden box and quietly opened the lid.

The disks of black iron, the disks her mother had given her, were missing.

And now, revealed:
On Pay the Price
24 = 24[d100]

Something of value is lost or destroyed.

I’ll roll a D5 for these:
(Crown, Sword 1, Sword 2, Iron Disks, Pendent)
4 = 4[d5]
The iron disks... hmmm...
Episode 50
Eilwen questioned her guards, Valeri, and others in Longfalls about anyone suspicious who had been seen in or near her quarters recently.

Gather Information + wits
7 = 5[d6]+2
Technically 8 since she shared a bond with the community and gets a +1.

11 = 6[d10]+5[d10]

A strong hit. Helpful and specific. Since I have no idea, I’ll ask the oracle.

Action / Theme
29 = 29[d100]
Hold

72 = 72[d100]
Power

Someone who holds power. It’s someone in authority. It wasn’t Caldas, as he’s been with her, though he could have sent someone.

Who is it? (I rolled these up on Ironland character oracles)
Name  = Haf
Goal = Seek a Truth
Role = Miner
Descriptor= Cautious, Kind

I’ll say Haf is one of the advisors she saw with Caldas. As a miner, he leads the mining operations in the nearby hills. He was one of the advisors the day Aron was judged and he has the ear of Caldas.


Did he take it for Caldas?
(Somewhat Unlikely | 6[d10]) No, but...

No, though he does know that Caldas is interested in the Giant Kidha’s burial site, and is interested in seeking after that, and in discovering other old things in these ancient lands. However, he didn’t take the disks for that. He took them because of his goal:

Seek a truth

What truth does he seek?

48 = 48[d100]
Gather

68 = 68[d100]
Portent

He’s been having dreams or visions of some dire threat and the feeling is growing on him month by month, year by year. He’s tried to shut his mind to it, but the dreams and visions keep coming. He hides it well enough, though he often doesn’t sleep well. He wants to know the truth or have more proof about what’s coming before he tells anyone. He doesn't want anyone to think him mad which is why he didn’t ask Eilwen about it.

What doom is portending?
46 = 46[d100]
Mourn

8 = 8[d100]
Weapon

Mourn / Weapon

Does it have to do with the Sword of Myrddyn weapon she picked up from Uzak?
(Likely | 9[d10]) Yes

How long has he been seeing these portents? Long?
(Likely | 6[d10]) Yes

But who told him she even had the disks? Who even knows she has them?
Aron and Valerie and Seith would have seen her studying the disks now and then over the past few weeks. I don’t think she’s really looked at them much since she’s been at Caldas. It’s likely it was either Seith or Aron:
(Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

Interesting. Both of them together told Haf about it. Why? Probably because they were scared she might be turning into some kind of fell witch, and they convinced Haf to steal the disks to get them away from her. Seith also knows that Black Iron is a precious metal and those disks would be worth a lot and maybe he had ulterior motives to get them from Haf?

Of course, Eilwen doesn’t know any of this. Let’s see what happens.

For two days Eilwen asked about and ran a private investigation. Settlement folk reported that Haf, one of Caldas’s counselors, had been watching her place, often walking past it, frequently making excuses to talk to the guards, making small talk, and glancing in on her quarters now and then.

She went alone to Haf’s home to ask him about his suspicious actions.

Is he there?
(50/50 | 8[d10]) Yes

Has he evoked any shadows?
(50/50 | 2[d10]) No

At least not yet.

Is he alright?
(50/50 | 6[d10]) Yes, but...

But what...?

MAG Time! Smile
(trident with flames, surgical knife, cpu, magical energy, fireball, curved arrow symbol, spear in blue flames, sword in stone, envelope)

Is the room aflame?
(Somewhat Likely | 6[d10]) Yes

Wooden home?
(Likely | 9[d10]) Yes

Weather...?
19 = 19[d20]

Wind and rain whipped about her with torrential force as she jogged through the muddy streets to Haf’s home. She kept her hood up, her head bowed against the storm. As she neared, she saw firelight--a lot of firelight. Black smoke churned from a window, not the white smoke of homey cooking fires.

She glanced through the window as she ran to the door. The neighbors’ doors were shut tight and windows shuttered against the sudden storm. The sound of water on roofs plus thunder and lightning made it unlikely anyone had noticed.

“Haf?” she called out through the window.

The older man, large and burly, with well-defined muscles for a man no longer in his prime, sat at a desk. He wore a scraggly beard. Parchments and scrolls with odd drawings and designs surrounded him and lay scattered over a worn desk. (envelope)

Through the window, Eilwen saw that the man held a sharp knife mere inches from his wrist (surgical knife), his face a grim mask of concentration, muscles bulging, hands shaking, knife quivering, eyes unblinking. Tears marred his face, and his mouth yawned open in a silent scream frozen in time. An oil lamp had fallen to the floor, its contents splattered across furniture and walls, flames had not yet touched Haf, yet they spread across the floor and walls greedily consuming everything.

Under his wrist, she spied the iron disks, ready to catch his blood should it be spilled.

“Haf!” she called and tried the door.

My MAG interpretation. He read something (envelope) on the discs (computer core). There’s a high flame signature. Some fell magic is at work. I think the iron discs (computer core...cpu...) are trying to get him to plunge the knife into his wrists (arrow symbol) and cut himself open (surgical knife, sword, trident) spilling the blood on the disks to activate something. I really do love the MAG; it’s one of my favorite rpgsolo tools!

Is the door locked?
(Very Likely | 7[d10]) Yes

The door didn’t move. She rammed the door with her shoulder.

Face Danger (Iron) to break through the door before the man does self harm. Her iron isn’t the best...

5 = 4[d6]+1

16 = 8[d10]+8[d10]
Oh wow. This is not good at all. A miss. And double eights is a bad bad match...
(Miss Count 32/24)

The door did not budge. Frantically she looked for another way inside.

Windows big enough to get through?
(Somewhat Unlikely | 4[d10]) No

Does he cry out in pain?
(Somewhat Unlikely | 6[d10]) No, but...

She darted to the window--but she saw no way through--just as he plunged the dagger into his left wrist and drew it down towards him in a ragged gash. He flinched but didn’t cry out. Blood, dark and viscous, pooled and ran down his left arm and onto the disks.

“Haf!” She screamed just as thunder jarred the night, mocking her cry. The air about her began to tingle and thrum, and a dark foreboding came over her. She backed away from the door.

I have an idea of what to do, given the above match but want to see if the oracle spurs anything cooler. What is the nature of the bad match...?

16 = 16[d100]
Evade

66 = 66[d100]
Community

Okay let’s combine that somewhat with my idea

Out of the blood, shadow oozed and leaked from the disks. It mixed with the blood and fire and smoke. It dripped on the floor and pooled with other shadows in dark corners. The mixture formed a small whirlpool in the center of the room that grew larger and larger, a dark rotating mist with streaks of red. Orange cinders and red embers were also caught up in it. Larger and larger still it grew. And beyond that a black...something...yawned. It seemed to be a circular midnight disk outlined in blue light that twisted and revolved nearer and then stopped into a sort of...doorway (evade community). Shadowy tentacles writhed out of that place, wrapped around the now unconscious Kef, pulling him from his chair and starting to drag him and his bleeding wrists nearer.

Eilwen watched in horror. She looked up, blinking against the rain. Above her, an answering storm swirled its dark menace outside the man’s abode. It pelted her with rain and speared tridents of lightning across the sky.

She had to get inside and save the man and her metal disks!

She’s going to try and get that door down to try and rescue him again! Face Danger again.
3 = 1[d6]+2

6 = 1[d10]+5[d10]

Whew. That’s actually a weak hit.

She slammed into the door once, then twice. Finally, on her third try, it burst open and she stumbled inside.

(Loses 1 momentum for the weak hit now at 0)

The shadowy tentacle had pulled Haf halfway across the still-burning floor...and into a cooking table that had collapsed from the fire.

She darted first to the desk and snatched up the blood-smeared disks off the table. She thought she felt the writhing shadows under the skin of her palm as she picked them up. She shoved the compact set of disks in her pouch and darted to help Haf.

Does he catch fire?
(Somewhat Likely | 6[d10]) Yes

His boots and leggings caught on fire, his mouth still open in a silent scream. The fire didn’t seem to hurt the shadowy thing, whatever it was.

She drew the Sword of Myrddyn, its green light glowing like a pale hot fever and slashed at the tentacles.

I’m going to rule that this sword does affect this creature, whatever it is. This is a legendary artifact of sorts. Though mechanically it doesn’t do anything.

I’m not going to do a full combat. She’s just trying to get it enough strikes to make it release him and then will pull him to safety. So a Face Danger instead.

Face Danger with Iron again to cut the tentacle and free Haf.
5 = 4[d6]+1

10 = 9[d10]+1[d10]
That’s a weak hit. Troublesome cost.

She rushed deeper into the room, slashing left, then right, then jumped over the burning half-collapsed table. The flames and heat made the moisture in her cloak hiss and steam up around her in white puffs.

(I’ll say the water protects her from the fire initially.)

She looked about. A wall on fire crackled on her left, a cluttered desk and the open door behind her. In front of her, a swirling vortex of black, blood, and flames.

Her sword severed another nearby tentacle of shadow, and its severed piece dripped down upon her, bleeding black, before dissolving into nothingness. Another dark appendage wrapped around her leg, hissing through her pants and into her skin with a cold otherworldy frost that exceeded anything she’d felt from the Veiled Mountains. She gasped in pain and sliced through it with the Sword of Myrddyn, freeing her leg.

Then reaching Haf, she grabbed one hand about his hair and pulled as she cut other tentacles that came near.

(She takes 1 harm. Now 4/5)

Endure Harm
5 = 1[d6]+4

10 = 5[d10]+5[d10]

That’s a miss with ANOTHER negative match--though not as severe. (Miss count 33/24 and momentum is now -1)

What happens for the match? Not sure. I roll 23 and 78 on Action and Theme:
Manipulate
Idea

We’ll do that in a bit.

Face Danger with Iron to pull Haf quickly to safety while keeping the appendages at bay.
8 = 6[d6]+1
14 = 10[d10]+4[d10]

A weak hit. Troublesome cost.

(She loses a point of Spirit. now 2/5)
Endure Stress
4 = 2[d6]+2

11 = 3[d10]+8[d10]

A weak hit. You press on.

She pulls him free and out into the rain and cold muddy street, where the deluge quickly hisses out the flames on his lower body.

With the disks no longer in the room do the shadows and the strange gateway dissipate and disappear?

(Somewhat Likely | 2[d10]) No

Ah of course not. She’s going to have to do it herself.

She sheathed her sword, pulled out the disks in one hand, and began to chant, tracing symbols in the air, but before she got too far, a negative pressure began to build in her mind.

Does it sound like it’s from her mother?
(50/50 | 1[d10]) No, and...

Whatever this thing is, this mind that touches hers, felt entirely alien to Eilwen, and she recoiled from it. She tried to shove it from her mind.

She loses 1 spirit.
Endure Stress.

7 = 6[d6]+1

10 = 1[d10]+9[d10]

That’s a weak hit. It’s enough to push the mental manipulation away.

Now she needs to close down the vortex in the burning home.

She chanted the words and the symbols hung in the air, painted on a canvas of rain-water night. She finished with the Skaed rune, poignant with power, the symbol of shadow, of night, of darkness. Then she drew the opposite symbol, that of daylight, of the sun, to hopefully cancel it.

Blue streaks of light clung to the darkness awaiting her final command.

Shadow Walk + 3 + 1 from the last check box on the ritual’s card:

6 = 2[d6]+4

8 = 2[d10]+6[d10]

A weak hit. From her Shadow Walk ability, she adds +1 momentum, so back up to 0/10 now. Whew!

The force pressed against her, but she shouted her defiance, and as lightning speared the earth nearby, the vortex pulled back, obeying her chanting.

Then the vortex vanished, leaving only the roaring flames. The tongues of fire began to lick at the base of the desk.

She felt physically drained, and for a moment she fell to her knees in the sucking mud, gasping for breath.

She loses 1 health, now 3/5.

But then she grimaced. Those parchments and tomes on his desk looked important. She dashed back inside to try to rescue them.

Face Danger + edge

5 = 3[d6]+2

12 = 6[d10]+6[d10]

Oh wow! A third miss (miss count 34/24) with ANOTHER negative match!
I’ll roll the Pay the Price table for the miss.

40 = 40[d100]
The current situation worsens

The flames flared up to the desk just as she darted inside. She tried to pull at the tomes and scrolls, but they crumbled and flaked under the roaring heat and the heat and forced her back outside.

(She loses 1 health, now 2/5)

That’s for the miss and now for the negative match...

Lightning slashed the weeping sky, and a shadowed gloom bled from the skyward wound and settled as dark pall upon the town. She felt a fear and a malevolence grow upon her moment by moment.

“Haf,” she whispered, kneeling in the mud next to him as the unnatural gloom closed about them. She shook him. He groaned at her touch.

She looked up and saw that a dark creeping mist oozed thick like tar from the torn sky. The thick mist drenched the stars beyond the clouds with inky blackness, and one by one, this strange palpable darkness blotted out their pale lights. Soon even the sound of rain grew muted, though oddly she still felt its cold clamminess, and felt mud sucked at her boots. Her heart thrummed in her ears in desperation. Other sounds grew more prominent, such as the chittering of mad whispers on a black wind.

“Oh Haf, what did you do?”

Thoughts:
It’s crazy how this spiraled down a bad path from one simple failure on a Sojourn roll. I love it! Also, multiple negative matches are really bad! I don’t know if she’ll survive this. She’s injured, her Momentum has bled dry, and her Spirit is teetering on a 1. Yikes! But this is what heroes are born for, right?

Eilwen
Iron +1
Edge +2
Heart +1
Shadow +3
Wits +2

Health: 2/5
Momentum: 0/10
Supply: 3/5
Spirit: 1/5
Episode 51

The darksome mist rolled down the streets, in mournful, inexorable billows of black. It swept over chimneys, roofs, and walls, coming closer, ever closer. In the distance, where the cloud hit the town, she heard screams and cries.

(This encounter is a scene challenge from the Delve expansion book against an anomaly, so we'll set up a progress track of ten boxes for it. The anomaly also has a countdown track of 4 boxes. This is a Dangerous scene which means we mark two boxes of progress whenever we Face Danger.)
She shook Haf frantically, not wanting to leave him out to meet this strange darkness.

Does Haf become conscious?
(Somewhat Unlikely | 2[d10]) No

The large man groaned but did not wake.

She looked about and saw light shining beyond a leather-covered window from a nearby home. With shaking hands she sheathed her sword then grabbed him under his arms and hauled him through the downpouring rain and mud towards the light.

Face Danger + Iron to pull him (and her) to safety through the mud

4 = 3[d6]+1
3 = 1[d10]+2[d10]

Wow. That’s actually a strong hit!

He pushed on the door.

Is it unlocked?
(Unlikely | 1[d10]) No, and...

Light leaked from the edges of the barred door. She pounded on the heavy wood and shouted over the muted rain and the hammering in her chest.

“Please! It’s me, Eilwen, this man is hurt! Let us in!”

Per the Rules of dealing with a scene challenge, you only use Face Danger or Secure an Advantage moves.

Face Danger + Heart. Since she shares a bond with them, I’ll allow her to get the + 1 for her bond... I don’t know if that’s strictly legal, but since this is in place of a Compel Move and you get it with Compel, I think it’s okay.

8 = 6[d6]+2

8 = 6[d10]+2[d10]

Lucky! A strong hit.

The door opened, and helping hands drew them inside. Darkness billowed outside and swept past the door. Someone slammed the door shut behind her.

Two more progress. Now 4/10.

Is it a family?
(Likely | 7[d10]) Yes

A young family huddled around the hearth. The young mother with a dirty face held a baby boy. His incessant cries added to the sorrow and fear that threatened to surmount them. An older girl stared at the darkness with wide eyes. It blanketed the windows and puddles of ink began to ooze through the cracks and under the door.

“What is happening?” the goodman of the house said backing away from the door, his voice hoarse.

She ignored them and darted to the fireplace, dumping two hefty logs onto the fitful flames.

This sounds like
Secure an Advantage Roll + Edge

5 = 3[d6]+2

7 = 3[d10]+4[d10]

A strong hit. Prepare to act, she takes +2 momentum.

Momentum now 2/10
Progress 4/10

Are there torches or lanterns nearby?
Likely.
(Likely | 8[d10]) Yes

Sparks and flames churned around the dry wood, and the fire leapt up, chasing the pools of darkness back. She saw a bundle of unlit torches, drew forth two of them, and thrust them into the flames of the fireplace.

She passed them to the father. “Here! Hold these by the windows and doors. Protect your abode!”

He did so, and the shadows seemed to shrink back for the momeent. She lit two more torches and held them herself, protectively edging out any shadows.

“What are your names?” she asked.

(I used https://www.fantasynamegenerators.com/ce...-names.php)

“I am called Guto,” the father said, his voice a tremor, his eyes darting to the mist that shifted and churned outside the door. “This is my wife, Tangwyn. Our girl is Lili. The baby is Telor.”

“Thank you for offering us safety,” Eilwen said. “This is Haf,” she said, pointing to the injured unconscious man. “I found him hurt outside when these mists came. He is injured.”

“Of course. But--but what is it...this mist outside?” Guto asked, holding the fiery brands in each hand.

Tangwynn had set her baby down for a moment into a wicker basket and helped move Haf onto a cot. She covered him with a simple blanket then returned and took up her child again.

Eilwen nodded her thanks and then turned and responded to Guto’s question. “Hopefully only a passing nightmare,” Eilwen said.

“I’ve--I’ve never heard of such a thing,” Tangwynn said. She and her two children had retreated close to the hearth, shrinking back from the unnatural mist.

“Nor have I,” Eilween said, and then smiled grimly at them. “But I will face it with you!”

Sounds like Secure an Advantage + Heart
She’s trying to bolster their spirits and her own. It doesn’t say she gets the +1 to her bond with this... so I won’t.

2 = 1[d6]+1

10 = 6[d10]+4[d10]

A miss. Mark on the Countdown box
1/4
(Miss Count now 35/24)

“Mommy,” Lili said. “I’m scared.”

Eilwen’s promise sounded hollow. She thought she heard scratching at the leather-covered window, and she spun at the sound.

Through the windows and door they heard dark whispers, indistinct and muted at first. But as they listened, the voices became clearer and resolved into low shouts and desperate pleas for help.

“Eilwen!” Aaron’s voice whispered and she stepped back startled. “I’m sorry. Please! I didn’t mean to betray you! Let me in, oh please let me in!” He was just outside the door!

“Aron?” she groaned, and his desperation tore at her heart. She stepped towards the door, wings of hope rising in her breast. “Aron!”

Face Danger + wits to use insight to understand what’s really happening

8 = 6[d6]+2

11 = 2[d10]+9[d10]

A weak hit.

She paused, her hand on the door latch. But no... it couldn’t be. Aron had been expelled from these lands. To come back would be his death.

Her heart felt cold with indecision.

“Aron,” she breathed, and took her hand away from the latch. “I’m sorry. I can’t.”

“You did this to me!” he said, accusing through the door. “Your lust for power has killed your own flesh and blood!”

“No!” she shouted and pushed away from the door. She held her head in her hands and felt tears wet her face. She vaguely realized that she had dropped her torches. The flames had guttered and went out, consumed by the strands of shadow that moved tentacle-like over their embered ends, twisting around them, hissing them to a silence of light’s death.

Progress now 6/10
Countdown 2/4

Pay the Price -- Endure Stress 1.

Spirit now 0/5

2 = 1[d6]+1

10 = 1[d10]+9[d10]

Wow. Barely a weak hit. You press on.

“Guto, it’s mother!” A woman’s voice called, also from outside. “Please, it’s so dark. I cannot see. Where are you? I need you! Please help me!” 

“It’s mother, Tangwynn,” Guto said, his face drawn in concern. “I must help her!”

And then he too began to open the door, his torches also falling to the ground...

“No, Guto...” his wife shouted. “I don’t think--”

Eilwen darted to the door and slammed her weight against it. She looked at Guto, and she held his eyes with hers. “You cannot, Guto! The voices are only lies and deceptions of some fell power that haunts us!”

Face Danger + 1 Heart to convince him to leave it shut.

3 = 2[d6]+1

7 = 6[d10]+1[d10]

A weak hit.

Progress 8/10
Countdown 3/4

“But it’s my mother!” he said, in a pleading voice.

“I know it seems so,” Eilwen said, gripping one of his arms in hers. “But it is not. Think! What would she be doing wandering the rain and the mud of the streets this late at night?”

“But--” he said and tears were in his eyes

“Come to me Gusto,” Tangwynn pleaded. “Sit by the fire! Come to the light.”

“Yes, let us go to the light,” Eilwen agreed. She took his hand and pulled him with her. They backed away from the pooling, grasping, mist that oozed like a loathsome miasma under the door and poured waterfall-like from the window’s lip into the home. The mist piled down upon itself, rising up into a deeper wall of black darkness.

Gusto and Eilwen retreated back to the hearth where the wall of mist now swam and twisted in front of them. They watched as its gloom-ridden shades crept nearer.

In the shadow’s gloom that churned about them, she saw a scene emerged, totally made from the mist. The clouds showed a three-dimensional revisitation of her encounter with Aron some days back. She saw a representation of her now, made of mist, standing over her brother, the bleeding crown in her hand, dripping mist, like bloody tar.

Aron’s misty face wept mist, and his black mouth opened wide, his teeth became stretching strands of blackness. “You did this!” he screamed.

“I am queen!” she shouted back and realized she held both swords in her hands, crossing them in front of her, as if they could ward off this strange entity. Their magical lights intermingled, one pale white, one sickly green. They reflected off the inky black wall in front of her.

“I defy you foul shade!”

Face Danger + Heart (courage)

4 = 3[d6]+1

14 = 5[d10]+9[d10]

A miss
(Miss count now 36/24)

Countdown 4/4

Her spirit is 0 Spirit. Since it’s a dangerous scene, because she’s at 0, she loses 2 momentum. Momentum instead, now 0/10.

Now she Endures Stress

Endure Stress
2 = 1[d6]+1

17 = 7[d10]+10[d10]

Another miss. She now has the Shaken condition

(Miss Count now 37/24)

Aron’s scream reverberated in her heart, in her mind, and the mist darted towards her, tendrils of shadow licking at her face, feeding on her sorrow, her fear, caressing her staccato heartbeat, freezing her tears on her face.

She fell to her knees, groaning in heart-sick agony. The light from the swords still shone about her, a pale nimbus. Her head was bowed, her hair hung limply. Her tears were twin black jewels on her face.

“Aron... I’m sorry...I’m so sorry....”

Next to her Guto had fallen to his knees, openly weeping. The fire had nearly gone out.

Because the countdown reached 4 boxes, we now resolve the encounter by making a progress roll out of 8 filled boxes.

16 = 10[d10]+6[d10]

A strong hit

Her heart beat inside her. And a small ember of warmth warred against the cold in her veins.
She concentrated on that heart beat. Focused her will on it and what it meant.

Life and warmth.

“I am Ironsworn,” she heard herself say, a mechanical whisper, barely audible at first. Then conviction firmed her voice and her will. She roused, struggling to her feet. “I am Eilwen!” she said louder, defiant of her own weakness.

This mists churned and hissed its twisting darkness about her.

“Legitimate heir to a broken kingdom. Daughter of Queens! Wielder of the Sword of Myrddyn. I am Shadesbane!” She slashed two paths of twin skaed runes in reversed arcs. The tips of her dimly-glowing blades created lines of light that hung in the air. “I am Lightweaver! I chose this path, and I will not be denied!”

(Funny how the lightweaver thing is what she runs with. It was all part of a mystic backlash that caused her to get a bluish ethereal glow way back in Episode 7.)

The amulet about her flared and then dimmed to a faint blue light. The strange shadowy mist rolled back upon itself, churning to get away from her, as if afraid of her light.

She strode towards it, defiant her fears, her swords crossed in front of her, and the light about her shoved the strange mists away. They recoiled, melted into the ground and retreated into the clouds, into a sky that sucked in this second night.

Time returned in a lurch. The rain had stopped. The clouds were gone, and she saw stars. Eilwen sank to the muddy ground, spent to her core.

Eilwen
Iron +1
Edge +2
Heart +1
Shadow +3
Wits +2

Health: 2/5
Momentum: 0/10
Supply: 3/5
Spirit: 0/5 - SHAKEN
Episode 52
She knelt in the mud, and felt the numbness and the cold seep into her heart. Was Aron right? Was she merely following in mother’s footsteps, fated to become another hated mystic and a bringer of darkness? Thoughts, accusatory and hateful, hammered her heart.

But she hadn’t done this; Haf had! In fact, she had been the one to save the town, to drive this strange mist-shrouded doom back into the night.

She stood, suddenly angry. Nights and Demons, but what had possessed the man to steal her disks? She would find out.

She trudged back to the open door, feet squelching in the boot-sucking mud. At least the strange storm was gone. Tangwynn and Gusto looked at her with barely concealed awe on their faces.

“The night is back to normal,” Gusto said, looking at the stars and then at Eilwen. “You did it, Lady Eilwen. You have saved us!”

Tangwynn took her hand, “Thank you! Thank you!.”

Outside, windows and doors opened, and the folk of Longfalls called greeting to each other and spoke of what had befallen them.

Eilwen nodded a tired response to Tangwynn and gently pulled her hand free.

Is Haf conscious now?
(Likely | 8[d10]) Yes

“Where am I?” Haf asked her, sitting up. He swung his large towards her in confusion. “This is not my home... No. Why-- What happened? Why is my wrist bandaged?”

She ignored his questions. “Why did you take my disks?” Eilwen asked instead. “Explain yourself!” She put Myrddyn’s point to his neck, and its sickly green light pulsed brighter in anticipation of a kill.

His eyes went wide and he shrank back from the blade. “Forgive me, Lady Eilwen! Please show Mercy! But I had to.”

She stared at him, her heart numb of feeling save for the cold pit she felt. “Do you know what you did?” she whispered.

“I--No. I only meant to--”

“Can you not hear the shouts of hysteria in the streets? The cries of the wounded, maybe even the dying? They are your doing! Yours!” She pressed the point and he backed up against the wall, still in a sitting position, eyes wide.

“No... I--” and tears leaked from his eyes. “People are hurt. I couldn’t--wouldn’t. I didn’t do--”

“You awakened some foul force when your blood mixed with the iron plates. Do not deny it!”

“My blood--” Confused wrinkled his brow. “No--that wasn’t me. Or I--I... I don’t know. I didn’t mean to. I was only searching for answers. Answers!”

“Answers for what?” she said, her voice cutting, eyes narrowing.

His eyes flicked from her face to her sword. “Visions... Dreams I’ve been having.”

“What of them? Everyone has nightmares in these lands,” she said, her mouth a grim line. “Why are yours any different?”

“These have the feel of prophecy,” he said. “I’m--I’m no mystic,” he stammered. “I just oversee the mining operations around Longfalls, and yet--” he swallowed. “Yet, I continue to see it in my dreams.”

“You should have come to me, asked me to use the disks. You nearly destroyed the entire settlement!”

“I--” he nodded. “Yes...of course, you are right, but I didn’t know it would--”

“Our world is full of dangers,” she said. “Most are seen and felt, but some of the most dangerous lurk in plain sight to ensnare the unwary mind or heart.”

“The iron plates,” he breathed. “What are they?”

She held the tip against him for a moment, her eyes hard. Then the fire went out of her. With a sigh, she let the tip point drop to the ground. He exhaled a sigh of relief.

“They hold ancient rituals...earlier than our forefathers’ landing on these lands. I believe they come from the same ancients who built the strange iron obelisks. I can say no more for I know little more. But one should not casually open themselves to their power. Even I do not know the full extent of their mysteries.”

“Now, tell me what you’ve seen in your dreams.”

“That blade,” he said and looked at her sword.

“What?”

“Your sword. THAT very sword,” his eyes swept over its shimmering length, over its stunning beauty. “‘Tis a fell blade milady.”

“This? How? Is this not the famed Sword of Myrddyn, rumored to be blessed by the ancient gods?”

Haf did have maps and diagrams and tomes on his desk. He really does know a bit about this blade, right?
(Likely | 6[d10]) Yes

“Some have claimed for it to be so,” he said. “But that... that blade I’ve seen in my dreams, and it is no blessing. Believe me, I know.”

Eilwen sat down in a nearby chair with a tired sigh. She put the point of the sword and held the hilt in her hands near her face, gazing at him.

“Very well. Tell me what you know. What do your dreams portend?”

What is in his dreams? I used the MAG:
Flying bee/insect with stinger.
Apple with arrow.
Vortex of some sort.
A disguise? A cut pineapple... not sure what it is.
Arrow turning 90 and then 90 again.
Something bouncing off a shield.
Active volcano
Finger pointing downwards
Tentacle

“Pestilence, disease, and starvation. An earth that vomits flames. Destruction. Strange creatures from the shadows, and at the center of it... that sword.”

“Anything else? Did you see who wielded it when this fate befell our lands?”

Did he see who held it?
(50/50 | 4[d10]) No

“I cannot say. The face and form are always hidden in dark mists.”

They stared at each other for a minute, and then Haf looked away. When they heard the sounds of a cry and weeping in the distance, he gave a groan. “I am sorry for what happened--for anything I did...I don’t know what came over me. I would never knowingly do this,” he raised his bloodied and bandaged arm. “You must believe me!”

“Perhaps you are right. I fear some fell power did begin to control you,” Eilwen said. “For only those who are filled with some form of darkness would knowingly do such harm,” she said.

Yet she wondered, did Mother spill blood on the iron plates to open some hidden depths of power? She shied away from the thought; for she felt herself wanting to explore the possibilities, aflame with curiosity. Maybe Aron was right... Maybe...

She pushed away the dark thoughts. She was queen. She would decide.

“In your home, there was a fire,” Eilwen said pulling. “I pulled you to safety but could not reach your scrolls in time. The flames bit too fiercely. But the glance I got, before they crumbled to ash, I saw drawings of a blade. This blade? What do you know about it, and what of the Sword of Myrddyn? Is there a connection?”

What else?

Action and Theme:
Defend/Love

“Thank you for not letting me perish,” Haf said as he held his wounded arm protectively on his chest. “There is a connection.” He leaned forward, wincing in pain at his wound. “I have searched much lore to understand these dreams, Lady Eilwen. In generations past, the Sword of Myrddyn was a normal blade, unnamed and possessed by the ancient Queen, Catraoine Uí Dornáin. She used it to protect her family and her kingdom.”

https://www.fantasynamegenerators.com/irish-names.php

“And this?” she touched her blade.

“What do you know of Medrynn the Black?” he asked instead.

“I--” she thought back on her vision of the dead queen and the bloody crown, of foul murder by Medrynn. She swallowed, thinking of Aron’s blood on her crown. “I have...heard the name.”

Haf grunted and spat on the ground. “Her sword and the crown remained in the queen’s family line for ten generations. Five hundred years later, the Heralds of Night came on the storms and threatened the old world and the kingdom.

“At that time, Medrynn ‘Oathbound’ as he was then called, was honor guardian for Queen Carlyn, daughter of Queen Sheenani. Honor-bound to protect and defend and love the line of queens above all other concerns, he instead yielded to his lust for power. He fell into darkness.

“Consumed by jealousy and greed, Medrynn slew Queen Carlyn himself. He stole the half crown that you seek and his appellation of ‘Oathbound’ became ‘the Black’. After the remnants of both families fled to these lands, their warfare continued. Medrynn was hunted by Carlyn’s surviving line. In open battle, Medrynn slew the queen’s son, General Ehdan, and took the queen’s sword for his own, naming it the Sword of Myddryn. When the battle went ill against him, he and his chief advisor, a mystic named Edris, fled to a mountain tower near a crumbling underground city somewhere near the Veiled Mountains.

“Edris cast unspeakable enchantments upon the sword, changing it to a thing of fell power. It thirsts for more and more conquest. Uzak, was just a petty criminal, yet he--well, you saw what he became in the end.”

“This Edris,” Eilwen interrupted Haf, and a chill ran through her as she remembered the strange man’s black orbs staring unblinkingly at her under the weight of that tower above Grimstone before they fled into the darkness of the mountain and Kyffin fell to Edris’s creation. “What do you know of him?”

“Edris was fascinated by the iron pillars. Some called him an ‘Iron Priest’ but he always eschewed that title.”

“You know a lot for a miner,” Eilwen interrupted, puzzled by the fountain of lore spilling from the man, and his rather scholarly tongue.

“I was taught my letters,” Haf said somewhat defensively. “And I’ve collected bits of knowledge over the years.”

“Digging in the ground,” she said flatly.

When he didn’t say anything, she continued.

“One might think that was how you found such an astonishing trove history? Was it a tomb you found?”

Is that where he found all this info?
(50/50 | 8[d10]) Yes

“Well--” he hedged. “I don’t see that this has any bearing on--”

Was it a tomb?
(50/50 | 4[d10]) No

She looked at him with her steady gaze. “Who are you really?” she asked.

Is he related to the line of queens?
(50/50 | 7[d10]) Yes

He ducked his head, “No one, milady.”

“Ah, I don’t think so,” she said. “You speak in a different way from others. You weren’t always a miner, were you?”

(Unlikely | 2[d10]) No

He shook his head slowly and finally managed a painful shrug. “I am of the royal line--or my grandfather was, not that it matters out here,” he said. “But I was taught things. Some things I learned at my grandfather’s knee. Others I stumbled upon, and yet others, I sought out,” he said.

“Part of the royal line,” she mused and then she gave a small and tired smile. “Then we are kin?”

“I suppose we are,” he gave a kind and answering smile. “Albeit distantly, I’m sure.”

“For shame, and you never told me?”

“Distant relatives... probably not much shared blood anymore,” he tried to shrug, but the move pained him, and he settled for looking down apologetically.

She leaned forward, whispering. “I too seek answers of what happened in those days and the line of queens. What did you find? A tomb?”

“No,” he lowered his voice in kind, but Tengwynn and her husband had gone outside with the children to help a neighbor. For now they had their privacy. “It was more than that. A vault, you might call it. A vault of knowledge.”

Was it a typical library?
(Unlikely | 4[d10]) No

“A library then?”

“There were tomes and scrolls, but there was more than that. A strange dais and short pillar made of iron with blocky runes on it.”

“Can you read those runes?”

Seems like he could... That’s why he took the iron disks.
(Very Likely | 9[d10]) Yes

“Yes,” he said. “I took your metal disks, didn’t I?”

“You did,” she frowned. “But how did you find this lore cache? When and where?”

I’ll roll on the Region and Location Oracles:
Region: Deep Wilds
Location: Path

I’ll roll some action/theme to get a little more context
Reduce / Creation

“So many questions,” he shrugged. “This was many years ago when I was a young man living in the Havens near the Deep Wild. I had a young wife and a small family then. My wife had fallen ill to a loathsome disease. Red sores grew all over her fair face, arms, and hands. She could barely hold our newborn baby.

“In desperation, I went three days into the Deep Wilds to seek some herbs as a cure. I found an overgrown path. I thought at first it was a game trail, but later I found some ancient cobble stones on the broken path. I followed it as best I could. It led to a gaping vine-covered ravine. At the bottom of the ravine, I found some vine-covered statues, broken, with faces worn away, but with a stately bearing. They flanked the entrance to a cave. I went inside and after some time underground, I found a room I spoke of with its scrolls, tomes, and the pedestal--all of it.”

Haf watched her, then seemed to make a decision. “And on the iron pillar, I saw this,” He leaned over and traced a skaed rune on the dust on the floor.

“That is a rune of power,” she breathed. “I know that one.”

“Yes,” he said. “It is discussed on your metal plates.” His face creased with some unspoken displeasure.

“Haf, did you know anything about my mother, a woman named Arwed? In her younger years she would have been beautiful with blond hair and blue eyes. Some called her a witch.”

Given his lore finding and connections in these more southern regions, and the skaed runes I’ll give it a somewhat likely.
(Somewhat Likely | 7[d10]) Yes

“Arwed,” he said, turning the name over on his tongue and thinking.

Did he know her well?
(Unlikely | 1[d10]) No, and...

“No...I’ve never met a woman by that name. But all the same, the name sounds familiar. Give me a moment.” He leaned his head back and creased his brow and seemed to be sifting through some catalog of collected facts. “Arwed... Arwed...”

She massaged her leg and watched a group of men carry a stretcher in a jog up the street.

“Ah yes, I remember hearing something of a woman named Arwed.”

What does he know about her? Action/Theme
Overwhelm/Momentum

Something positive about her?
(50/50 | 4[d10]) No

What was the situation? Action/Theme
Scheme/Home

“My brother and his wife lived near me in the Havens many years ago. At the time, she must’ve been living in the Deep Wilds. My brother had acquired a home in a game of dice. But when he went to move in, this Arwed was there. She was a beautiful woman by all counts, but cold and distant and as immovable as a boulder. My brother said for a blond beauty, she had a ‘look that could freeze bones’. Such an interesting expression, don’t you think?”

Eilwen frowned at him.

“Well, she wouldn’t let them move in, no matter the arguments, or threats. In fact, she threatened them.”

How did she make them leave? Action/Theme
Secure/Religion

“Why?”

“My brother never said. He only told me briefly of the encounter. He said that she told them that she would curse them with the ‘tongues of the ten thousand Heralds’ if they didn’t leave...I can only surmise that she did so because she wanted some privacy.”

For a moment Eilwen pondered that.

I’m going to say this gives her a progress mark on two vows. 1) To find out more about her Mother quest (now 4/10) since it’s the line of queens. The crown and sword are also mentioned and knowing that this cache is available as a lead, will give her another tick on her Queen’s Quest vow. (Now 2/10)

“Haf,” Eilwen leaned forward, her eyes intent. “I need your help to find this area you spoke of, to find out about my mother and about the crown... I have saved your life and this town. Aside from that we are also bound by blood. Come with me, please?”

Compel Move + heart since she’s trying to barter. She has a bond with the community but maybe not with him. Though she did save his life and they found out they are kin, so I’ll try to

Forge a Bond first:
5 = 4[d6]+1

4 = 1[d10]+3[d10]

A strong hit. The bond is forged. I’ll increase her Bonds track as well by one tick. (Now 5/40) Since she is Shaken, unfortunately, her Spirit can’t go up. She has to clear the Debility first through the Sojourn move.

The exact rule says, “The shaken and unprepared conditions can generally only be cleared as you find fellowship and gather provisions in a community through the Sojourn move (page 71).”

The word “generally” here gives a little leeway, for interpretation, and given that she needs all the help she can get right now, I’m going to milk it. I’m going to say instead of needing Sojourn in this case, that because of what she found out in this scene, and she found an ally and kinsman in Haf, she’ll be able to clear this debility. So... it’s cleared. Thanks lenient GM!

Also, regarding Sojourn, the rule is, “Make this move only once when visiting a community, unless the situation changes.” I wasn’t aware of this rule before. I do think the fact that Caldas seems interested in her and wants her to stay around will allow her to take this more than once as that’s a situation that seems to have changed. Also, she just helped save the town from the strange shadow, I think that counts too.

Now the Compel Move
4 = 2[d6]+2

11 = 9[d10]+2[d10]

A weak hit. He asks something in return.

“Well--” Haf squirmed for a bit, but then an eager light came on in his eyes and he slowly nodded and leaned forward. “Look, if you promise to destroy that cursed blade or cleanse it of its evil, I’ll come with you,” he said. “But only if you swear that on iron! Maybe once that’s done, I can regain my normal dreams.”

She knelt, holding the hilt in both hands, the swordpoint of Myrddyn down on the floor and stared at Haf. “I swear by the very iron in its hilt that I will cleanse this blade of whatever fell power it may have or destroy it if need be!”

The familiar warmth thrummed through her.

Sounds like a Formidable Quest!
7 = 5[d6]+2

11 = 5[d10]+6[d10]

A strong hit.
Take +2 momentum.

EIlwen knew exactly what she’d have to do, it was almost as if she could smell the damp decay under the collosal weight of those hills and the shiver crawled up her flesh again at the thought of seeing those dark.

“I’ll sheathe this blade in Edris’s flesh!” she hissed nearly to herself. “And take my vengeance upon him for Kyffin’s death.”

“Wait? Edris? You know of Edris? But surely he must’ve perished long ago,” Haf said.

“Oh no,” Eilwen replied. “He’s very much alive, if you can call his existence a life. But for now, I need to find out about my mother. Later, I’ll take care of the sword and Edris.”

Haf didn’t seem pleased, but when she explained that he was welcome to come to the underground crumbling city and face Edris with her, instead of going to the Deep Wilds, her recanted.

“You swore on iron, I know it’ll be fulfilled,” Haf responded.

How could she explain the weight of her many vows? Their mountainous weight threatened to crush both body and soul.

“Come, your home is ruined,” she said, looking out the door at the ruined still smoking embers of his home. “You can stay in my place. Besides, we have supplies to gather and plans to make.”
Episode 53
Is Caldas waiting for her when she gets home?
(Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

“Eilwen, there you are!” Caldas stopped pacing when she moved up the small hill to her apartments in the middle of the night and jogged towards her.

Does he make a move to hug her?
(Somewhat Likely | 8[d10]) Yes

Have they hugged before?
(Somewhat Unlikely | 8[d10]) Yes

His hug was awkward but genuine. Her leg hurt and needed tending and she winced without meaning to from her wounds. He pulled away quickly and scratched at one side of his face. His recently-trimmed beard looked most fetching on his square jaw.

“Nights beneath, Eilwen! But I thought you had fallen to those strange mists this night! Your guards didn’t know where you had gone!”

She shook her head to clear it. “Indeed,” she said. “But as you can see, I am well enough off.”

“Haf? What are you doing here, my friend?” Caldas moved over to Haf and investigated his hurt arm. “You have taken some hurt! You need a healer.”

“A wound I got when I--”

“An accident,” Eilwen interjected. “An unfortunate...accident. Last night, Caldas. I happened to be in the right place at the right time to help Haf. I have already sent for a healer.”

“She saved my life, Caldas. And she sent that thing back...from where it came,” Haf finished and his eyes met hers. He gave a nod of thanks.

“Well,” Caldas said. “Longfalls owes you our thanks, Lady Eilwen. And I personally thank you for helping Haf. It seems we are in your debt yet again.”

“And we’ve found out we’re related,” Haf said.

Is Caldas there for anything else beyond being concerned about her?
(Unlikely | 3[d10]) No

“Related?” Caldas smiled at them, confused. “Surely there’s a tale here.”

“A tale for another time perhaps,” Eilwen said and managed to bite down on a jaw-creaking yawn. Nights, but she was tired!

“Of course. Of course,” Caldas ran a ragged hand through his hair. “I’m glad you’re both well. Knowing you’re safe--that both of you are safe, I mean--will help me sleep this night.”

He gave an awkward bow to Eilwen and nodded to Haf and then walked away.

Haf looked after him and gave her a slow smile.

“What?” Eilwen asked, an eyebrow shooting up dangerously.

“Oh, nothing Lady Eilwen. Nothing at all.”

---

They spent three weeks resting, gathering supplies, and planning. The late spring slowly gave way to early summer. On her rides with Caldas, grasses mixed with wildflowers of every color took her breath away.

I think it’s time for them to Forge a Bond with Caldas specifically. She’s been hanging out with him for quite some time and something is growing between them.

7 = 6[d6]+1

6 = 1[d10]+5[d10]

A strong hit. Bonds tracker goes up (now 6/40). Spirit goes up by +1 (now 1/5) and momentum by +2 (now 4/5).

Is he getting more...romantic?
(50/50 | 2[d10]) No

Good, because a romance writer, I am not--at least not that I know of.

I’ll also roll another Sojourn Move
5 = 3[d6]+2

7 = 4[d10]+3[d10]

Very lucky. Another strong hit. I’ll choose
Consort +2 spirit and (now 2/5)
Recuperate: +2 health (now 4/5)

This time I’m not going to push my luck.

While she enjoyed her time with him, Things felt...awkward between them. She knew he cared about her, and she too cared about him, but...

“We need to talk,” she told him one day when they were out on one of their rides. Her guards remained a respectful distance away, watching for dangers.

The sky hung above them like a crystal blue blanket, with puffy cotton clouds that stretched to whisps over time. A cool breeze caressed the wildflowers and grass. The twin waterfalls misted off the rock face and sent a pleasant vapor over her. Her heart ached with the strange beauty of Longfalls. Could she ever go back to Frostbridge, to her previous life of snow and ice, where warmth and sunshine and greenery were as rare as black iron?

Her wounds had healed and she felt stronger, ready to continue to press on, yet she lingered. She looked at Caldas, his strong jaw twitched and his soft brown eyes held hers. Was it only now that she noticed their hidden depths and their warmth? Now, when she knew she must leave?

What is his initial demeanor?
Mistrust / Investment

“Very well, my lady,” Caldas said with a sudden stiff formality. He helped her down from her horse. She felt the muscles of his arms as she dismounted, but his hands felt cold, and he retracted them quickly. He inhaled deeply and put his hands on his hips and looked about him at the rugged nature unfolding in this uncharacteristic bloom of beauty.

“A beautiful time of year,” he said.

She didn’t know how to play this game. Her knowledge of dealing with the opposite sex was limited to her father and brother and the few boys she knew growing up...and Bevan, but he had tried to kill her so that didn’t count for much.

She was honest enough with herself to know that she was attracted to Caldas, and some of that was for very superficial reasons. He had an attractive physique, a well tanned face. He looked and felt very solid, and she very much needed a friend right now.

“I’m leaving tomorrow,” she said in a small voice.

Silence hung between them, like the mist of the falls.

“Very well,” Caldas said, his voice like cold marble. “Change is constant in the Ironlands.” He still did not look at her, but instead at the crashing water, as if the waterfall was the most interesting thing in the world. “You see it in the cycle of death and decay, the plants and animals, the seasons...the people.”

“We also see it in life and rebirth and growth. Change can also be a positive,” Eilwen said.

“And it can be painful,” Caldas responded.

“Please look at me, Caldas,” she said, and tinged the request with an edge of regal command. But even that couldn’t keep the sorrow completely out of her voice.

He did, turning slowly. Those brown eyes, like rich earth warmed by the sun, took her in. She saw pain and desire swimming in their depths. She ached to take away that pain and for her own to be taken away in return. She wanted to be held by him, to feel his protective arms around her. To forget about what had been lost.

“The road will be difficult where you go,” he said.

“The havens? Where the sun shines the longest and where crops actually grow? You told me as much. I think it shall not be all that difficult,” she smiled.

“Pardon. I mean to say, that your road will be difficult and uncertain, for that thing which you seek.” He looked away, back at the tumbling waterfall cascading in its rhythmic pattern. His back looked like one of the windswept boulders, stolid and strong.

‘That thing’. He meant the crown, of course. They rarely spoke of it. It was why she was leaving. She knew he resented her for that choice. The few feet of distance between them seemed to yawn into a chasm. How had she been so foolish as to let this relationship become so... inviting?

She hadn’t intended it to be so. Was that what love was? Just an accident? Or was love something more intentional? Or perhaps some of both.

She sighed. She didn’t need the distraction this relationship caused. She needed focus and a firm will. She leaned back against a low boulder and felt the warmth seep through her leather tunic into her body.

Their horses grazed on the thick grasses. Dragon flies darted about them. The sun through the misting falls refracted and a rainbow arched around them in hues both striking and subtle.

She crossed her arms and rubbed her shoulders as if to remind them what it felt like the last time he had held her.

“I will come back, Caldas,” she said.

“How can you promise that?” He asked, his back to her. “You are ironsworn and fate-bound to go where I cannot--to either die righting some wrong or to become queen.”

“I have to, Caldas,” she said.

“I know,” he said. “You’ve explained as much before.”

“You could come with me,” she said softly. “You could help me.”

He stood unmoving for a long time, looking down at Longfalls. Then back up at the falls and the cliffs above them.

He slowly shook his head. “I have a duty to them,” he swept his left hand out to the buildings of the settlement. small and distant, down the long sloping hills below. “Though, at the moment, I very much wish I didn’t.”

“Another could stand in their stead, and--”

“No, these are my people for now. Would you leave your vows unfulfilled?” he cast a glance over his shoulder and resumed his study of the water billowing down off the cliffs. “You would not. Nor will I leave my promise unmet, such as it is. They’ll need me this coming winter. Uzak’s invasion of these lands has not been kind to our food stores.”

“I’m sorry,” she said and felt the inadequacy of the words.

“No matter,” he turned and faced her. “In time, they may become your people, Eilwen. I don’t know what the future will bring, but I do know that this particular change is painful, and for my part, it is unwelcome.”

She didn’t know what to say. She ducked her head and clenched her jaw. A lump began to form in her throat. She felt hurt that she was causing him this pain, and she felt confused that she too felt the same pain in return.

She heard him draw nearer. Heavy steps. Then a hand raised her chin with startling gentleness and she again saw those eyes. “You have been a light in these dark times, Eilwen Lightbringer. I am fortunate to have known you.”

Then he came closer and took her into his arms. She closed her eyes. She smelled the warmth of the sun, the scent of the flowers, the damp scent of the mist, his clean tunic, the smell that was...him. She leaned into him and felt tension bleed out of her. For a long time they stood there, feeling the warm sun giving fickle smiles upon their union as clouds gusted overhead.

“I’ll miss you,” she finally breathed.

“And I you, Daughter of Queens,” he whispered in her ear. And she thought she felt his lips brush her neck for the barest of moments, but the touch was so light she wondered if it really happened. Even so, she felt an electric thrill course through her. “May the favors of whatever gods are left go with you.”

With that, Caldas pulled back, gave her one last long look, then he mounted his horse in a single fluid motion and galloped away.

She leaned back on the boulder and blinked away the mist that blew into her face as she watched him diminish and finally disappear from view. And she sat for a long time and watched the light disappear in a stunning sunset that purpled the sky in majestic hues of opal and azure.

And There you go folks. Romance and summertime can happen even in the harsh climes of the Ironlands! Happy summer everyone!
Episode 54
They left in the morning.

Weather roll.
1d20 - higher is worse weather. It’s early summer.
10 = 10[d20]

Their party consisted of  Eilwen and Throgunna, plus five other female guards. Added to these were Haf, Valeri, and her children.

Eilwen turned her horse and looked back at Longfalls. Clouds obscured much of the blue sky, leaving only streaks of blue to the west. To the east, the sun rose fitfully behind a blanket of clouds, diffusing its light.

Is Caldas watching her leave?
(Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

She couldn’t see Caldas on the wall. Perhaps it was for the best, she thought, a clean break. She was about to turn her horse around when the gate opened and a horse galloped towards them. Caldas joined her and flashed a smile. He wore a deep green.

“I’ll ride with you to the borders of my lands... perhaps a half-day journey. One last ride for old times’ sake?”

“I welcome your company, sir,” she said. Her heart felt lighter even though the pain of parting would come soon.  and felt warmth at seeing him.

Does anything dangerous or unusual happen while he’s with them?
(Unlikely | 1[d10]) No, and...

They enjoyed the cool morning weather and spoke of...

Gracefully / Harsh

Helplessly / Soft

Perfectly / Beautiful

... the graceful flight of a flock of birds, the soft rolling hills, the beauty of the falls. To her,  Longfalls seemed to be a perfection of beauty at this time with Caldas riding alongside her. Was he right? Were her fates, solitude through death or solitude through station when she became queen.

As the sun climbed past midday, their ride drew to  a close. They grew silent, and she considered the harsh reality of a final parting.

Finally he drew rein.

“I bid you farewell again, Lady Eilwen,” he said then dismounted and strode over to where she sat on her mount. He scratched at her horse’s ears and rubbed its forehead then looked up at her. “I don’t know if I have a gift fit for queen,” he said.

“You don’t need to gift me anything, Caldas,” she said.

“I don’t want you to forget me,” he said. He removed his bow from where he had it tied to his saddle by leather thongs. She took his bow and marveled. It’s dark wood was finely polished, its weight perfectly balanced.

“Did you make this?” she breathed and ran her finger along its smooth surface and pulled the string back.

(Likely | 5[d10]) Yes, but...

“I had some help,” he smiled. “An old craftsman when I was younger. He and I worked on it together for three summers. But yes, I suppose you could say I made it.”

“It is too much,” she said.

“It is mine to give,” he said and pressed it back in her hands.

“I will return it to you,” she said.

“Remember what I said about promises you cannot keep,” he smiled and touched her arm.

She grabbed his hand in return and touched an iron ring on the forefinger of his left hand. Her hand caressed his for a moment, and she smiled down at him. “I vow it upon iron, Caldas,” and the lump in her throat was back. “I will return to Longfalls with this bow in hand, and we shall ride again together.”

The air tingled about her.

Troublesome Vow
3 = 1[d6]+1+1

8 = 3[d10]+5[d10]

Bad roll...That would be a miss-- but I’ll burn my 4 momentum to turn it into a weak hit.
Momentum resets to 2 and she gets +1 momentum for a weak hit, so momentum is now 3/10.

She wondered how long it might take her to fulfill this vow.

“Foolish little queen,” he said. He shook his head with a rueful smile. “Foolish to make such a vow when the future is so uncertain. Nevertheless, I shall eagerly await its fulfillment.”

“Good bye, Caldas,” she said and leaned down and kissed him on his cheek.

“Fair you well, Eilwen,” he said and touched her face, then brought her fingers to his lips, kissed them, bowed, and in one fluid movement he was back on his horse and galloping north back towards Longfalls, churning up the sod.

“He’s a good man, Lady Eilwen,” Haf said. “Such are hard to find in these lands. Too many desperate people doing desperate things.”

“I know he is,” she said. She would fulfill her vow!

She set her jaw to the road ahead and kicked her horse in her flanks. She looked at Haf, “Do you know how to use a bow? My previous one needs a new owner.”

(Somewhat Likely | 7[d10]) Yes
“I do,” he said.

“Good. Let’s go,” she said and passed the weapon over to him.

He nodded his thanks while she strung Caldas’s bow. She then rested it across her lap and as she rode, she held it close. As the leagues passed, they moved south towards the Hinterlands she thought of all that had befallen her in Longfalls.

Okay, I’m going to *finally* spend some XP. She’s had two XP sitting around for a while, saving up to get a third to spend on training Scratch, but that hasn’t happened. I have a failure track that has been at 36 ticks which = 9 boxes on a progress track.

I’m going to do that move now:

LEARN FROM YOUR FAILURES Progress Move
When you spend time reflecting on your hardships and missteps, and your failure track is +6 or greater, roll your challenge dice and compare to your progress. Momentum is ignored on this roll.
  • On a strong hit, you commit to making a dramatic change. Take 3 experience and clear all progress. Then, choose one. • Adjust your approach: Discard a single asset, and take 2 experience for each marked ability. • Make an oath: Swear an Iron Vow, and reroll any dice. • Ready your next steps: Take +3 momentum.
  • On a weak hit, you learn from your mistakes. Take 2 experience and clear all progress.
  • On a miss, you’ve learned the wrong lessons. Take 1 experience and clear all progress. Then, envision how you set off on an ill-fated path.

10 = 7[d10]+3[d10]

So 9 boxes compared against that is a strong hit.

She gets 3 XP for a new total of 5 unspent XP

I’m going to spend 2 to max out her Shadow-Walk asset and take the middle option:
SHAD0W-WALK
[X] When you cloak yourself with the
gossamer veil of the shadow realms,
roll +shadow. On a strong hit, take +1
momentum. Then, reroll any dice (one
time only) when you make a move by
ambushing, hiding, or sneaking. On a
weak hit, as above, but the shadows
try to lead you astray. You must first
Face Danger to find your way.
[X] As above, and you may also travel
along the hidden paths of the shadow
realms to Undertake a Journey using
+shadow (instead of +wits). If you
do, Endure Stress (1 stress) and mark
progress twice on a strong hit.
[ X ] When you perform this ritual, add +1
and take +1 momentum on a hit

And I’m going to also max out my Archer talent, taking the middle option:
[X] When you Secure an Advantage by
taking a moment to aim, choose your
approach and add +1.
• Trust your instincts: Roll +wits, and
take +2 momentum on a strong hit.
• Line up your shot: Roll +edge, and
take +1 momentum on a hit.
[X] Once per fight, when you Strike
or Clash, you may take extra shots
and suffer -1 supply (decide before
rolling). When you do, reroll any dice.
On a hit, inflict +2 harm and take +1
momentum.
[X] When you Resupply by hunting, add
+1 and take +1 momentum on a hit.

1 Unspent XP
Episode 54
They moved south from Longfalls moving in the valley through the Tempest Hills towards the Hinterlands. The air grew somewhat warmer. She and Valeri road up a jutting hill and studied the valley beyond that descended towards the Hinterlands.

“Is this the route you took?” she asked Valeri.
(Very Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

“Yes,” she said. “I remember the route well,” she stared to the south, concern and sorrow etched on her visage as the wind gusted and blew about them.

“Your family?” Eilwen asked, seeing the look on Valeri’s face.

Valeri nodded.

“We’ll get them back,” Eilwen said.

“I hope you’re right,” Valeri said.

Eilwen changed the subject. “Along the valley route, are there settlements between here and Redhall?”

(50/50 | 5[d10]) No, but...

Gracefully / Valuable

“No, but there are some crumbling buildings of some ancient dwellers along the way,” Valeri said. “Beautiful architecture. Ramparts and spires that climbed the rock and shimmered like silver and gold.”

“I should like to see that,” Eilwen said. “But we had best get moving to lower climes before those thunderclouds reach us.”

Secure an Advantage with observation:
7 = 5[d6]+1+1

9 = 7[d10]+2[d10]

A weak hit, take +1 momentum, now 4/10.

Given the summer weather and that Valeri has traversed this area before, I’m going to say this is a Troublesome journey:

Is scratch around?
(50/50 | 2[d10]) No

Undertake a Journey
5 = 2[d6]+2+1 (from her bond with Longfalls)

9 = 3[d10]+6[d10]

A weak hit, mark progress, reach waypoint -1 supply (now 2/5)

Progress 3/10

Location and Location Descriptor
97 Woods / Expansive
Is this the area Valeri was mentioning?
(Somewhat Likely | 5[d10]) Yes, but...

They moved off of the meadows and rolling hills of the Longfalls plateau and down into a sheltered valley. Wind whipped through the cliffs above them making an eerie sound but they nary felt a breeze being protected.

Switchbacks took them lower to another plateau between the peaks to left and right that stretched for many leagues. There they began winding downwards through a massive forest of stunted growth, leaves filtered and dappled the sunlight when it peaked through the clouds.

By nightfall they were well into the forest.

“This is the edge that region I spoke of,” Valeri said. “In the morning, you’ll see a sight that will take your breath away.”

They made camp among the trees. With little light deep into the canyon, cool mountain air during the day turned cold at night and they made a fire.

How has Thorgunna been lately? (First part of UNE results)
Fanatic and inquisitive

Thorgunna badgered Eilwen about Aron, asking her a dozen questions about him. Eilwen could see the blood lust growing in the guard captain’s eyes but the woman obeyed when Eilwen ordered her to organize the watch.

The next morning, after a short meal, they continued through the stunted forest. The trees were not tall and they could see the mountain faces on either side of the valley as the sun crested the eastern peaks the western face of the mountain lit up in gold and silver sheens that reflected the sun’s light. Graceful archways, pinnacles, buildings and bridges between buildings were carved into the very side of the mountain. Balconies and windows yawned in darkness, and stood in contrast to the silver and gold shimmers.

“I wonder what people lived there,” Valeri sighed. “And how they died. It makes me feel sad for some reason.”

Does Haf know anything about who lived here?
He’s studied much lore, I’ll say likely.
(Likely | 8[d10]) Yes

Elves? VL given the graceful lines...
(Very Likely | 7[d10]) Yes

Did Haf ever come here?
(Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

Eilwen remembered the intricately carved stone figurines she had collected from one of the underground chambers, of a tall man and a woman with a flowing dress, with palms up-raised.

“I don’t know. Famine or disease... who can say? But the architecture bears similarities to what I saw in Grimstone,” Eilwen said and she thought back to the crumbling ruins, and the darkness that haunted their halls, and the fell monster that slew Kyffin and its dark master, Edris. She pulled her cloak about her more tightly to ward off the shiver that stole upon her.

“Elves lived here,” Haf said. “At least that’s what the scrolls I’ve read and stories I’ve heard call them. They lived here long, long ago. But the giants and other creatures more fell than they pushed them out of their mountain homes and into the Deep Wilds. They are now little more than legend...” his voice sounded mournful.

“Creatures and giants?” Valeri asked, shuddering at the mention of giants.
All that day they continued on in silence winding their way southward and to their west the wall gleamed silver and gold.

“What gives it those colors?”

“The stone in that mountain face. Depending on how it’s cut, it reflects the light differently, giving it that glow” Haf said. “Once you get closer, you can see that the elves carved beautiful and intricate designs into the rock. Graceful curves, circles within circles that bend the eye and pictures on the rock face.”

What were the events surrounding Haf’s journey here?

I’ll use the MAG
Spears, snow flake shards, wolf, mouse, sneaky hooded face, flames, stopper with liquid, dagger and a sword on an anvil.

“You’ve been there?” Eilwen asked.

“Yes,” he said, “Long ago when I first came north from the Havens, our settlement was hit by raiders. We fled north into this very canyon. They followed us, convinced that we had a store of black iron. In the depths of winter, they caught us, surrounded us like wolves. We fought in the snow and ice and were beaten. We fled and hid like mice in those ancient halls.”

“Did the raiders follow you there?”
(Somewhat Unlikely | 5[d10]) No

Haf shook his head. “They considered it haunted.”

“Was it?”

(50/50 | 5[d10]) No, but...

“I didn’t see any spirits, if that’s what you’re asking,” Haf replied. “But it is a very very old place, and it has a certain...feel about it. And there were strange skeletons all about of dead creatures, hundreds of them. Very very old skeletons.”

“What did they look like,” Eilwen asked and felt a chill.

“Humanoid, but different,” Haf said. “Taller and leaner than most humans, I’d wager an angled forehead. The eye-sockets were like--”

“A cat...” Eilwen finished.

“You’ve seen one?” Haf asked.

“Yes. Under a mountain of stone in a vast cavern,” she said. “An underground lake. I...saw some there,” she finished remembering the desperate fight Aron and she had on the slanted iron pillar in the lake and their escape from those dark halls.

“Fascinating,” Haf said. “I found their skeletal structure most intriguing. I wish I could have studied them more.”

“Indeed,” Eilwen said and nudged her hose in the flanks, not wanting to think about it more. Haf watched her, confusion on his face. Eilwen didn’t care. She suddenly felt less interested in seeing the gold and silver carvings if it meant possibly running into more of those skeletons...

By late afternoon, they decided to set up camp again in the forest and as they gathered wood, they saw old stone peaking out through nearby trees.

Ruins of the elves?
(Likely | 8[d10]) Yes

Their graceful lines of the fallen towers and sunken-roofed homes revealed these abodes to be more of the same architecture.

“More elf buildings,” Eilwen said.

“They built this far away from their rock?” Valeri asked Haf.

“Who can see if they didn’t start this forest city here and it eventually extended into the rock face to the west,” Haf said, fingering some moss on some crumbled stone. “It’s hard to say.”

Now in the afternoon gloom, the light no longer hit the rock face bringing with it the shimmering gold and silver.

“Thorgunna,” Eilwen said. “Keep our soldiers extra alert. I do not like the feel of these woods.”

“Yes, my queen,” Thorgunna said and saluted and called out orders.

She was going to scavenge for supplies or hunt for some food, but she decided instead to bed down for the night and be well away from this place before hunting.

Anything happen?
(Somewhat Unlikely | 2[d10]) No

Another night passed, and when it dawned, she felt glad to be leaving the strange elven city.

Weather roll
11 = 11[d20]

The skies threatened rain, but none fell. The heavy clouds added to the gloom as they finally moved out of the forest and moved south and ever downwards in elevation. Behind them, far between a cut between the mountains, she looked over her shoulder and caught a shimmer of gold and silver before the elven city was lost to gloom.

3 = 1[d6]+2

5 = 1[d10]+4[d10]

A weak hit. They make progress (now 6/10) and mark supply (now 1/5).

River / Mystical
Does it feel mystical/magical too?
(50/50 | 7[d10]) Yes

By mid-afternoon, the sun came out, and the river they followed leaped off of a rock, spraying shimmering rainbows of water around them. In the middle of the river right before it careened down a hundred foot fall, stood an iron obelisk.

“Oh, I forgot about this,” Valeri said when it came into view. “Isn’t it amazing?”

Any runes on it?
(50/50 | 2[d10]) No

Oddly, this iron structure didn’t have any runes on it, but the place had a feeling of...latent power about it. Eilwen touched its surface and felt a warmth she felt whenever she swore a vow on iron.

“How far away is Redhall?”

“We’re about halfway there,” Valeri said.

They set up camp just off the trail in sight of the mystical river and its strange iron structure and Eilwen and Haf went off to hunt for food.

Resupply Move
7 = 4[d6]+3

7 = 6[d10]+1[d10]

Strong hit. +2 supply now 3/5 and Momentum is now 5/10.

Maybe the animals were attracted to the tower or maybe it was their usual water hole, either way, shortly after she and Haf had set up a blind, some geese and a buck arrived together dipping their heads into the pool that reflected the iron pillar like a mirror.

A few bow shots later, and that night they were feasting on venison and geese. They slept well and continued their journey in the morning.

Undertake Journey

8 = 6[d6]+2

17 = 10[d10]+7[d10]

A weak hit. Supply is now 2/5 and progress is 9/10.

Marsh/Remote

Two days later, they passed through a low area of ground where water had collected over the last few weeks. Cold and mirely mud sucked at them and thrushes cawed and flew up in a flock around them. They trod their horses carefully over a half-rotted bridge and continued along the road beyond.

“We’re near to Redhall,” Valeri said. “We should reach it tonight.”

“Then let us press on,” Eilwen said.

Reach Your Destination against 9 boxes.
14 = 9[d10]+5[d10]

A weak hit. Face a complication.

They pressed on and the cliffs and plateaus and tundra of the Tempest Hills gave way to mist-shrouded pine trees, dense and thick, that hugged the sturdy rock walls of mountain and rock. They saw a mine entrance to their left.

Down the road, below them on a narrow switchback, they heard shouts. Coming into view they saw a dozen captives tied together with leather thongs around their hands and necks. A group of guards hauled them up the road.

The group of captives and captors below them drew nearer and trudged up the bend, coming into view. Eilwen saw that the captives were half naked, half starved, and moved with heads bowed. With each hungry slash of their whips, they were more and more despondent. They carried picks and large wicker baskets full of stone.

I’ll use part of UNE to see the relative power of this group with our group.
is as strong as you

There were about eight guards who shoved the group along.

Are any of the captives Valeri’s husband or son?
(50/50 | 9[d10]) Yes

Husband?
(50/50 | 5[d10]) No, but...

Does she cry out involuntarily?
(Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

“No, it’s not--Gethyd?” Valeri breathed.

“What?” Eilwen said.

“Gethyd! It’s you, my son!” Valeri said suddenly and with a shout she dashed towards the group of slaves.

An older teen with a dried smear of blood under his nose and swollen eye and cracked lip wore ragged pants and his shirt was as thin as a leaf in the fall and appeared just as frail. He shivered against the mountain cold and mist. The youth looked up, dazed and confused. “Mother?”

Valeri leaped off her horse and ran headlong towards the guards who had raised weapons at a woman rushing them out of the dimness of dusk.

Eilwen swore and darted her horse forward. Her own small guard of Thorgunna and three others followed her, struggling to get their weapons out as their horses followed.

Compel + heart to pacify the two parties to avoid a conflict
3 = 2[d6]+1

6 = 5[d10]+1[d10]

A weak hit

“Halt!” A large man called out from among the Redhall guards. “Who goes there?”

“Eilwen, shall we engage?” Throgunna hissed. “Look at what they’re doing to those people!”

“Stop! Put your weapons down,” Eilwen wheeled her horse about and shouted at Thorgunna. Then she shouted to the slavers. “We mean you no harm! We are here only to speak with Yormid.”

Weapons hovered dangerously about them as the large man, obviously the leader of this contingent strode forward. “Who are you? What is this?”

“This is my son Gethyd,” Valeri said. “You have abused him, look at him!” The skin on his back was torn and lacerated.

“Valeri, quiet!” Eilwen ordered and the other woman reluctantly closed her mouth.

“Who are you?” the guardsman asked again.

“I am...Lady Eilwen,” she said and stared at him with quiet confidence. “And these are my guards. We seek an audience with Overseer Yormid.”

“A lady eh?” The man gave a gruff chuckle and his eyes raked over her body in a way that made her want to put his eyes out. “Ain’t no ladies around these parts...lady,” he smiled, flashing some blackened teeth then gave a jaunty, mocking bow, and his men laughed. “Willan’s my name, and I’m willin’ anytime you please.” His men guffawed again.

She revised her mental list of things her knife would do to him. “To Yormid, Willan, if you please.”

“I’ll take you to Yormid,” he growled and hefted his axe and stuck his barrel chest out. “But your weapons and your guards will have to stay here.”

“I’m taking Valeri with me. She has business with Yormid as well.”

Does she know him?
(Somewhat Likely | 7[d10]) Yes

“Nice to see you again, Valeri,” Willan leered at her. The woman lowered her gaze, staring at the ground. “Valeri and I have some unfinished business, don’t we Valeri? Now that your husband is working in the pits, there ain’t nothin stoppin’ you from picking up where we left off.”

Eilwen seethed at Willan’s barely-veiled talk, but she kept her temper under check as she dismounted her horse and moved over to Yorgunna. She handed her guard captain her weapons belt, her bow, her quiver, and finally the reins to her horse and everything in her saddlebags. The only thing she had on her was the sapphire-and-gold amulet.

“I hope you know what you’re doing,” Thorgunna said.

“Me too,” Eilwen said and gave a grim smile. “Now, take the guards and Haf and go back to the low marshlands we passed, and find a place to hide. And guard all these with your life,” Eilwen whispered. “I’ll find you when I’m done here. If I’m not back in three days, go back to Caldas and explain what’s happened. Hopefully, he won’t do anything too foolish.”

“As you command,” Yorgunna saluted.

Eilwen looked at Yorgunna and each of her guards in turn. They looked back at her with determination on their faces. Then each saluted in turn and Yorgunna barked a command and led the other guards back up the road.

“Eilwen,” Haf said with a strained smile and took her hand. “Be careful, will you? I’ve heard some things about Redhall. Things that don’t sit well with me.”

“Thank you,” she said. “I’ll see you soon.”

They left and Eilwen turned to Willan.

“I’m ready,” Eilwen said to Willan, climbing up behind Valeri on the other woman’s horse.

Willan smiled a smile both lewd and cruel. He then grunted an order and His eight guards fell in around Eilwen and Valeri who were on one horse. Valeri’s children were on another.

“Trust me,” Eilwen whispered in Valeri’s ear, “Everything will be fine. I’ll save your family and deal with Yormid. I swear it on iron,” she said and touched Valeri’s arm where the woman’s iron bracer was.

Dangerous Vow
6 = 5[d6]+1

17 = 8[d10]+9[d10]

A miss... New Miss Count 1/24.
Great. -2 momentum and envision what significant obstacle stands in your way

Momentum now 3/10

“Bind them!” Willan ordered his guards once Thorvanna was out of sight. “Take the children to the pits and the women to my quarters. Yormid won’t mind if I have a bit of fun with them before his audience.”

Some of the guards complained and muttered that Willan got to have all the fun.

“Shut your traps. You can have the leftovers,” he grimaced.

The guards came closer, raising leather cords to bind the women and children.

“Eilwen!” Valeri said, panic rising in her voice. “Do something!” The children began to cry and shrank back in fear.

Things had gone from tolerable to horrible in an instant. Eilwen knew she’d have to do something before Valeri and her children came to harm.

She raised a hand and began a rapid whispered chant, calling the shadows, calling the shades of the dead to hide them with their haunting darkness.
Episode 55
She’s using her Shadow-Walk ability to hopefully frighten her assailants.
5 = 1[d6]+4[d4]

12 = 8[d10]+4[d10]

She gets a weak hit... but because it’s a weak hit, the shadows try to lead you astray. She has to Face Danger to find her way.

Shadows from the torchlight began to stretch and wriggle along the ground. Shadows of the men as they came forward, arms outstretched, melded with the other strands of darkness, and then moved in a pulsating wave, twisting around legs and arms then torsos as they moved towards Eilwen, answering her call. Whispers began to fill the air as the shades surrounded the group, a menagerie of two-dimensional shadows, standing upright, gossamer strands from arms and legs, stretched like webbing, oozing and connecting the shadows to the ground.


Do the men run away in abject fear?
(Likely | 9[d10]) Yes

Do any drop weapons?
(Somewhat Likely | 7[d10]) Yes

Any daggers?
(Likely | 9[d10]) Yes

Any axes?
(Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...
(Willan’s axe)

Any swords?
(Very Unlikely | 2[d10]) No

Any bows?
(50/50 | 3[d10]) No

Do the prisoners try to run too?
(Somewhat Likely | 7[d10]) Yes

“Come this way... this way,” a shadow as thin as the edge of her knife said. She didn’t see it at first, but then it rotated, and she saw what must’ve been its head. Holes where eyes would have been, its leer mouth tendrils of stretching tar. Through the eye holes and the gaps in its tarry smear of teeth, she saw torchlight and saw men running.

Through the shade-ridden gloom that began to enclose her, Eilwen could barely see that her assailants, and the prisoners, had fled in terror, screaming of witchery. Many of them dropped their weapons in a clatter as they scrambled to get away from the unnatural collection of oozing dark shapes.

The shadows thickened and swirled around Eilwen, Valerie, and the children, and Eilwen squinted, her vision trying to pierce the shadowed mists.

What does their attempt to lead her astray look like?
I’ll use the MAG: Gun emplacement, earthquake under a mountain, spiral going down into the earth, a skeleton key, a plus symbol with dots, flaming balls tied together or maybe twin suns?, tools, chemical bonding or a computer circuit, a warning symbol

The physical world became indistinct, blurred like muddy paint. Around them, shadows formed into something that felt more real. Walls of shadow formed and rounded around them into a tube-like tunnel, wide enough to hold two wagons abreast. The tubular walls shimmered with an otherworldly shadowed gloom, tinged with an alien light, like faint blue moonlight on a black and angry sea.

Does the light in the tunnel remain?
(50/50 | 1[d10]) No, and...

Does she see grass or other terrain where they had been standing before?
(Unlikely | 1[d10]) No, and...

She peered through the walls that quickly became more opaque, as the physical world slowly disappeared altogether, leaving only this hallway formed of dark shadows. Shadows and mist pooled and churned knee-deep around them, covering the dropped weapons and torches from her captives that had fled. Her torchlight reflected off the dark walls. that looked like rolling and twisting oily clouds trapped outside the tube.

“Eilwen,” Valerie’s voice trembled, and it sounded small and far away. “What is this?” She edged her horse closer to Eilwen.

“I don’t know,” Eilwen said. She tried to keep the trepidation from her own voice as she dismounted and scooped up a fallen torch that guttered fitfully under the misty shadows at her feet. “But fear not; the shadows cannot hurt you.” She hoped that was true and raised the torch high while she grabbed her horse’s bridle.

They heard no sounds of the night, felt no breeze. All was still and silent as a tomb.

Eilwen moved the torch through the mist at her feet, hoping to find any of the fallen weapons.

Does she find any?
(50/50 | 4[d10]) No
It was no use. She saw no glints of light on metal. Everything underfoot was either obscured or simply...gone.

The animals shied away from the strange tunnel walls, backing up, whinnying and rolling their eyes. Valerie’s children whimpered and began to cry. Valerie also dismounted from her own horse and went to her children, offering comfort and holding her own horse and theirs.

The wall of shadow to Eilwen’s left pulsated. Something began to ooze out, and she raised her sword, taking a step back. It churned into a column that twisted and resolved into a rough approximation of a human. As it did, it inhaled and sucked all the ambient light from the tunnel, and even her torchlight dimmed. In its face, eyes formed and within them she saw twin pinpricks of ethereal light tinged in faint blue.

Its eyes, twin holes of otherworldly light, latched onto hers. “This way,” it hissed and pointed a wispy finger down the tunnel.

“Where are we?” Eilwen asked the being as she looked about them. Behind her, the same tunnel stretched behind her into darkness.

Does it answer?
(50/50 | 2[d10]) No

If it heard her, the form made no sign; it merely continued to point. She tested the ground under foot. The tunnel floor, whatever it was made of, felt solid. She took a few tentative steps forward. They had been going down a slight incline in the real world, but here, in this realm of shadow, the tunnel floor seemed unnaturally flat and level.

She looked again at the figure, and save for its face which tracked her wherever she moved, it stood still, pointing down the tunnel. Its face had a faint nimbus of blue light about it.

“What is this place?” she asked again. “Tell me!”

But again, she received no answer.

“I demand that you return us!”

Face Danger + heart to convince it (this is from the weak hit consequence earlier)
4 = 3[d6]+1
11 = 3[d10]+8[d10]

A weak hit.

The thing leered and gave what looked like a low, mocking bow before it stepped back and merged with the wall, leaving only the light from her torch.

Eilwen moved to the tunnel wall and saw her reflection stretch as she neared. She pressed her hand against the wall.

Is it substantial?
(50/50 | 2[d10]) No

It moved through the tunnel wall.

She tentatively closed her eyes and stuck her head through the wall, curious about this strange place.

Have her surroundings changed?
(Somewhat Likely | 2[d10]) No

Does she see the land around Redwall?
(50/50 | 2[d10]) No

She opened her eyes and saw nothing. Only darkness. But she felt the shadows all around them. Her heart quickened. Where were they? This had certainly never happened before when she used her powers before. Had she done something wrong? Or something different?

She pulled her head back in and wondered what would happen if she just walked off in a given direction. But she wasn’t that impulsive. Still curious, she knelt down, reached through the wall and felt for the ground in the real world. She reached for the grass and leaves that should be tickling her hands.

Is it there?
(50/50 | 1[d10]) No, and...

Nothing. Nothing at all. Her pulse quickened and she pulled back from the edge.

“Valerie, light another torch. I need to try something. It might be best if you and the children stayed away from the walls.”

“What is it?”

“I don’t know yet,” She said.

The other woman pulled away from her clinging children and quickly reached into her bags and pulled out a torch. With a little flint and steel she soon had the oil-soaked brand lit. It flared and sputtered as she passed it to Eilwen.

Once she had the torch, Eilwen again knelt and peered through the wall of shadow. This time she brought her arm that held the torch through the opaque wall of mist as well. But even with the light about her, she could only see the light reflecting off her arm. There were no landmarks, nothing to catch the light’s illumination.

Can she see the exterior of the tube they’re in?
(50/50 | 9[d10]) Yes

She glanced to the right and left and sucked in a breath when she saw the exterior of the night-black tube that served as their road. It stretched off through the gray-black night. Fascinated, she tossed the burning brand and watched as it twirled through the sea of mist and shadows. She watched the blazing faggot fall, end over end, until her eyes burned. She blinked and squinted and saw the barest pinprick of light continue to fall away from her into a seemingly endless night and obscuring mist.

She pulled back inside the wall and scrambled away from the edge. She felt her heart in her ears. “Nights beneath!” she whispered to herself, but Valerie heard her exclamation.

“What is it?” Valerie asked, her eyes darting to Eilwen’s.

“Stay on the path!” Eilwen said more sharply than she intended. “The center of the path if you can. No matter what, stay clear of the walls!”

The horses did not need motivation to move to the center of the road as Valerie pulled the children.

“What did you see?” Valerie asked.

“Nothing.”

“Nothing?”

“Nothing at all. A seemingly endless void. The torch I dropped fell for as long as I could see into a bottomless nothing.”

Aside from the sputtering torch and the noises of the horses and whimpering children, the silence stretched between them.

“Where are we Lady Eilwen?” Valerie asked in a small voice, a whispered echo of Eilwen’s own question earlier.

(-1 Spirit loss from above Face Danger weak hit, now 2/5)
Endure Stress Move

5 = 3[d6]+2

5 = 4[d10]+1[d10]

A strong hit, she’ll exchange 1 momentum (now 2/5) to regain her spirit back to (3/5).

“I don’t know,” she said. She grasped the sapphire pendant and thrust it out in one fist toward the wall where the shadowy being had been. The blue light from the pendent reflected off the silent tunnel walls.

“Take us back!” She shouted to the churning walls of darkness. “Do you hear me? You serve me!”

Slowly, like grains of black sand blowing away in a stiff breeze, the walls of shadow receded to nothingness, grain by grain, until they stood back under the dark sky on the road outside Redhall.

She wasn’t sure what had just happened, but maybe, just maybe it would prove useful in the future.

Valerie and the children huddled together wide-eyed staring at Eilwen as the shadows ebbed and flowed about her, now obedient and subservient to her will.

“It’s alright,” Eilwen told them. “They will aid us now.”

Valerie looked at her askance.

She replaced the pendant under her tunic and bent down, retrieving weapons dropped by the fleeing guards. When she stood, she had secreted two daggers in her boots and held a spear in one hand and Willan’s axe in the other.

“Remember Valeri,” she said as she hefted the axe. “I have sworn on Iron. I will deal with Yormid and save your family as I promised. Now, arm yourself and let’s find your son.”

Valerie slowly nodded and picked up a knife.

Did the prisoners manage to pick up a knife and cut themselves loose and ran?

Did they?
(Likely | 4[d10]) No, but...

Eilwen heard a noise in a copse of nearby trees and she saw the group of huddled prisoners, bruised and spent, knees and elbows bloodied, faces and arms scratched by branches.

“Gethyd?” Valeri called out softly as they drew near. Eilwen noticed that the group of prisoners were trying to free themselves, by cutting loose their leather bands about hands on a sharp rock.

“This will do better,” Eilwen said. She knelt and cut Gethyd’s bonds around both hands and neck. Then she held out the knife to him, handle first.

Does he flee?
I think he’s afraid of Eilwen but his mother is there, so maybe not?
(Somewhat Unlikely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...
Well okay. Be that way!

Gethyd stared at the leather bonds that had fallen to the earth. Then he snatched the dagger and waved it in front of him, forcing Eilwen to jerk back a pace. She raised her hands. His eyes were wide, unhinged.

“Gethyd,” Valeri said placating, and took a step toward him. “It’s me. We’re here to--”

The dagger shook, his eyes wide with terror as he turned to face her.

“Stay away from me!” he hissed and darted into the forest.
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