(IC) Quickleaf's Rime of the Frostmaiden

Steve Gorak

Adventurer
Aric signals his companions to follow: "Comet will show us in. She just ran the southern loop. Let me know if you want me to ask her a question."
GM POST @Steve Gorak @Kobold Stew @VLAD the Destroyer @domminniti

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The sled dog huffs, stretching and opening his jaw into a wide yawn. "Brfff ROU! <Like you, but not YOU> Fruffr rawr shffff. Fraafruff. <The others are eating and sleeping. Lazy dogs.> Marrrrarr Evee krrrurrr. <Miss Eve fixing sled.> Rawrawrawraw. Efffffh. Fruffr kff rou. <Good good good good. Follow me. Introduce you to others.>"

As he rises wearily, Comet isn't much shorter than Aric and looks between Russet and the goblin with pleading eyes, an ascending tone of inquiry, "Harrar rawarrr? <Can I eat smells like rabbit-person?>"
Aric smiles in a good-natured way. "You're kidding Comet, right? He's a friend, and it's not because he sorta looks like a rabbit that he'd taste good. Besides, you're asking for trouble if you try, look at his spear; he knows how to use it!"
Padding around the cracked open door, the white dog slips inside, letting you follow. Eleven other sled dogs, most with black and white and brown mixed coats, are arrayed around the campfire. Aric can make out several of their whines and huffs as teasing Comet, "<Hey Whiteout. How's the tail Old Whiteout? Still walking oldie? Brought in more strays?>" Offering a mild growl of irritation, Comet pads over closer to the campfire burning in the high-ceilinged kennel; smoke streams out through a hole in the ceiling with a propped-open hatch.

Talking to all the dogs, Aric says "Hi friends, I'm Aric. Mind if we join you around the fire? Tell me, is there a person around, my friends want to talk to them."
 

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Necropolitan

Adventurer
Zeth Religion DC 18: Auril is the goddess of winter's dispassionate cruelty, pragmatic indifference, and cold self-reliance. While some of her worshippers can be found among monsters, the peoples of the North tend to propitiate her with sacrifice – rather than truly worship – so that she doesn't visit storms and cold death upon them. Her true followers tend toward extremes, as the initiation allegedly involves exposure to the most brutal of the elements. She is said to have many forms and many names, some blurring the line with fey – but that is beyond the scope of the religious texts.
Well, there was certainly something to admire in the religion's mentality even if their focus on self-deprivation would suck the joy out of life. What's the point of attaining whatever one considered a winning mindset if it meant you couldn't enjoy the finer things in life? Winter's good for making you appreciate a warming glass of wine, but there'd be no wine if it lasted all year round.

Zeth's parents worshiped Waukeen primarily (trade was trade regardless of what side of the law a merchant was on) and Zeth knew enough of that faith to feel it a better one for him than most. And he'd met adherents to Mask and seen that the god of thieves had plenty to offer.

Those were gods he could have a working relationship with, not some frozen joyless goddess who thought killing off her followers was a good way to organize a religion. Ugh, this was going to be a pain, negotiating with fanatics always was. Who looks at the misery around here and thinks "You know what? I want in on that!" what kind of person? as if joining Auril's cult offered anything more than the ability to posture with other pathetic wretches sneering at anyone who shivers while pretending you couldn't feel the cold.

But he wouldn't be ranting at them, Zeth had learned to feign indifference and he'd showcase his pragmatism by not spitting in their faces.

Zeth motions to Alma before they enter.

"Try to appear stoic and don't seem too eager for help, (OOC: Zeth explains the information he got from his Religion check). Avoiding offense will hopefully make it easier to get information out of them. And make sure you've got at least one escape route if things go wrong."

@happylace
 

Quickleaf

Legend
GM POST @Steve Gorak @Kobold Stew @VLAD the Destroyer @domminniti

The Kennel

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With what resembles a groan, Comet slumps down near the fire, looking plaintively at Arik with big yellow eyes. "Hrf hrf hef rou. <Ok ok, if you say so.>" However, your description comparing Russet to a tasty rabbit does little to dissuade the white dog's fantasy, and he periodically shifts his eyes toward Russet as if knowing he shouldn't look at him that way... but not being able to help it. "Eee kfkfr rawr, <I never joke about food,>" he says with a yawn, half to himself.

Sniffing the air, the other dogs perk up. "Harrar? Harrar? <Rabbit? Rabbit?>" When the sled dogs realize they can understand Arik, the echo of curious growls fades off, with one singular voice in the back inquiring a bit too loudly, "Hefffl harrar? <Did somebody say rabbit?>"

The sled dogs fall quiet, lazily watching you approach the campfire in a ring of stones radiating warmth. A few whine inarticulately, wag their tails, and look towards the far end of the kennel.

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"Well, the dogs aren't alarming on you, so I suppose you're not here to make trouble?" comes the voice before you see the woman, dark-red hair and high cheekbones blending the look of a Luskan and a Reghed tribesperson. She enters from the far side of the kennel, carrying a dog harness. "Eve Breengren. I see you've met Comet? What brings you here near the Frostmaiden's hour? Won't be anymore sleds going out til morning."

GM: @Kobold Stew @Steve Gorak Your passive perceptions (17 and 14) are high enough to realize that there's someone smaller than Eve hiding behind the double door you came in from, carrying a crossbow possibly.
 
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Ludo moves between Logrim and the hidden person. It stares at the double doors intently. Logrim seems oblivious to this.

"We are investigating the deaths happening around Ten-Towns. We wanted to see if any of the sled teams have been acting strange? Leaving at odd times or coming and going suddenly?"
 

happylace

Explorer
Well, there was certainly something to admire in the religion's mentality even if their focus on self-deprivation would suck the joy out of life. What's the point of attaining whatever one considered a winning mindset if it meant you couldn't enjoy the finer things in life? Winter's good for making you appreciate a warming glass of wine, but there'd be no wine if it lasted all year round.

Zeth's parents worshiped Waukeen primarily (trade was trade regardless of what side of the law a merchant was on) and Zeth knew enough of that faith to feel it a better one for him than most. And he'd met adherents to Mask and seen that the god of thieves had plenty to offer.

Those were gods he could have a working relationship with, not some frozen joyless goddess who thought killing off her followers was a good way to organize a religion. Ugh, this was going to be a pain, negotiating with fanatics always was. Who looks at the misery around here and thinks "You know what? I want in on that!" what kind of person? as if joining Auril's cult offered anything more than the ability to posture with other pathetic wretches sneering at anyone who shivers while pretending you couldn't feel the cold.

But he wouldn't be ranting at them, Zeth had learned to feign indifference and he'd showcase his pragmatism by not spitting in their faces.

Zeth motions to Alma before they enter.

"Try to appear stoic and don't seem too eager for help, (OOC: Zeth explains the information he got from his Religion check). Avoiding offense will hopefully make it easier to get information out of them. And make sure you've got at least one escape route if things go wrong."

@happylace

Alma takes in the state of the temple as they approach. Her curiosity catches her and she tilts her head at the three statues. She assumes they must signify this Triad. Though she doesn't know enough about any of the gods to guess which is which. For all the fascinating things to be found in the heavens, deities don't make her list.

She nods. Her expression has maybe changed twice since they met and her voice even less so. ''That won't be a problem. I should also let you know that I am quite accomplished in enchantments if needed. I have the ability to charm people and soothe tempers in the worst case scenario. If you can lead a line of questioning, I'm also able to read thoughts to a small degree. Though my magic can occasionally be...unstable. So I would prefer not to rely on it more than necessary.''

Alma looks back up at the temple. She's never dealt with an Aurilite before. And if navigating careful social cues is necessary for this... ''Since you seem to be more familiar with their attitudes, perhaps you should lead the conversation.''
 

Quickleaf

Legend
GM POST @happylace @Necropolitan

House of the Triad (occupied by Cult of Auril)

With hinges speaking in protest at the frost, you push the heavy door open, revealing a long hall with three raised platforms separated by arches extending between support pillars. A few worshippers clad in white-fur lined cloaks circumambulate around a font emitting strange vapors (like dry ice), whispering words in a language neither of you recognize. Three elevated stages once served to honor the Triad. While the permanent relics of worship remain – bas reliefs, graven images, anchored holy symbols – the tapestries and unfixed holy symbols have been tossed to the corner. In their place, a large pale blue banner emblazoned with the Frostmaiden's emblem (a black snowflake inside a black diamond) hangs from the rafters.

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A woman holding counsel with two troubled townsfolk places her hand on the man's shoulder as she notices you. Garbed in light blue, white, and lavender fineries, she cuts an unlikely figure in the rough towns of Icewind Dale. However, hints of frostbite on her cheeks, worn boots, and clear alert eyes suggest she's no stranger to these lands. "It is good you seek sanctuary here... You have come to offer homage to the Frostmaiden?" she inquires as she descends a step, offering a cool smile but squinting as she realizes she can't place your faces.

"Jelenneth Arnuanna, her messenger," placing a hand over her heart, she bows her head before looking up with sharp dangerous eyes full of too much fire for a follower of the winter goddess.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
GM POST @Steve Gorak @Kobold Stew @VLAD the Destroyer @domminniti

The Kennel

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Eve lifts her brows at the gnome, and once she realizes his companion is a construct, her eyes go even wider. She gives a subtle shake of her head in the direction of the double doors. Then she watches Russet very carefully, making sure to keep the campfire and a few dogs between him and her. "Not one of those harefolk brigands, are you?"

She's not wholly at ease yet. Even with the pack of wolfhounds, the four of you and Ludo look better armed than most and it's the dead of night.

"The killings? Heard things went downhill at the dwarf-built temple fast after the priest's murder." Gruffly nodding, she turns her back only for a moment to hang up the dog's harness on the wall-mounted tack board. "There sure was. Torrga's entire 3-sled caravan returned not even a day after setting out for Easthaven. I was out in the field when they came back in, fixing a sleigh, but I heard they were in a rush. Saw Torrga as she was headed out the north gate, probably to Targos."
 

domminniti

Explorer
Russet Ghostfur

Dogs scared Russet on a primal level. No matter how many ambushes of dog sleds he could never shift the terror they inspired in him. On the trail, they could be vicious, but could be driven off with teamwork and planning, but here in their domain, he felt like pray. His fur stood on end, and the adrenaline pushed through the alcohol haze. Why oh why did he think investigating the kennels was a good idea? He swore to give up ale... or at least drink less.

The dogs had hunger in their eyes. And they could sense Eve's unease. Russet backed away to the double doors behind him.

No!... Not any more.... J...Just a sellsword... A mangy stringy one... T...tell your dogs to stop looking at me like that!
 

Steve Gorak

Adventurer
GM POST @Steve Gorak @Kobold Stew @VLAD the Destroyer @domminniti

The Kennel

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Eve lifts her brows at the gnome, and once she realizes his companion is a construct, her eyes go even wider. She gives a subtle shake of her head in the direction of the double doors. Then she watches Russet very carefully, making sure to keep the campfire and a few dogs between him and her. "Not one of those harefolk brigands, are you?"

She's not wholly at ease yet. Even with the pack of wolfhounds, the four of you and Ludo look better armed than most and it's the dead of night.

"The killings? Heard things went downhill at the dwarf-built temple fast after the priest's murder." Gruffly nodding, she turns her back only for a moment to hang up the dog's harness on the wall-mounted tack board. "There sure was. Torrga's entire 3-sled caravan returned not even a day after setting out for Easthaven. I was out in the field when they came back in, fixing a sleigh, but I heard they were in a rush. Saw Torrga as she was headed out the north gate, probably to Targos."
Aric listens, and jmps in "How long would a normal caravan take to come back, if a day is quick? Also, how long ago did Torga leave to Targos?"

He then takes a quick look at Russet with a blank expression. He is hoping that the hare-folk is using his fear as a ploy to check the door.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
GM POST @Steve Gorak @Kobold Stew @VLAD the Destroyer @domminniti

The Kennel

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Clearly expecting a rougher introduction from the harengon than the frightened words he offers, Eve Breengren purses her lips. "Careful there, harefolk. My boy's at the door," she waves toward the double door and hesitantly a youth of about 12 or 13 steps forward, darker hair than his mother, but the same high cheekbones. A loaded light crossbow is in his hands, but pointed down towards the ground.

She utters a heel command twice to the sled dogs. Arik can make out Comet whining, "<Why does Miss Eve always repeat herself?>" But upon seeing the boy, Comet begins excitedly wagging his tail.

"Torrga's caravan left for Easthaven two days ago - most sleds leave in the morning. It's a 14 mile track. A team of dog can make that in 4 hours at a steady clip, one stop along the way," Eve explains, distances rolling off her mind instantly as she warms her hands by the fire. "But they came back later the same day. I only caught the tail end as I came back from the field – I could tell by the emblem she flies: a gold wolf's paw on a black field." As an afterthought, she adds with a glance toward Arik, "Targos is just a 3 mile track, so dogs can run that in under an hour. Healthy team will clock 4 miles in an hour on the trails."

GM: VLAD was asking about timeline of murders, thought I'd repost this from OOC thread so you have it handy:

2 years ago, the Everlasting Rime begins.

2 months ago, last caravan arrives in Icewind Dale.

1 month ago, first murder – dwarf glassblower in Termalaine.

3 weeks ago, second murder – human shipbuilder in Targos.

14 days ago, group of mages arrive in Bryn Shander.

10 days ago, third murder – Morin Littlebucket, halfling trapper in Easthaven (Arik's friend).

3 days ago, fourth murder – Dellvon Ludwig, human priest (of Torm) in Bryn Shander.

3 days ago, Cult of Auril claims the House of the Triad (Dellvon's temple).

2 days ago, Torg's caravan departs for Easthaven, makes an unusual return trip same day to Bryn Shander... (then possibly heads out for Targos that night).
 
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