(IC) Quickleaf's Rime of the Frostmaiden

Quickleaf

Legend
GM POST

GM: @VLAD the Destroyer & @happylace Btw the town Speaker and Sherrif Markham are these folks: An ivory-skinned woman with dark hair, fine fur-lined blue clothes, and a brooch of office holds a quiet but intense debate with an ebony-skinned bald man with a greying goatee, splint armor, and cloak adorned with the same crest on the lady's brooch: a chaff of wheat framed by antlers. They sit at a table near one of the windows, and several patrons nod deferentially to them in passing.


image.jpg
"Weeks ago?" Scramsax scratches his beard, thinking a moment. His waitstaff casts an exasperated look at the barkeep and Russet as they've no more countertop room to place washed plates and tankards. "I believe so, but she comes and goes a lot. Doubly so since the last of the caravans stopped two months past. Torrga... and her pirate bodyguard... one of the Folcey boys as I mentioned... a man who looked to be of the Reghed tribes... and two men I couldn't place."

Thinking a moment longer, Scramsax strokes his moustache. "Come to think of it, there was something odd. It was just a little thing. Torrga had two rooms upstairs, one for herself and one for her guards. When my staff went in to change the bedding, I overheard that in the four-bed room the guards stayed at only three of the beds were tousled as if someone slept in them. The fourth was completely untouched."
 
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happylace

Explorer
Alma nods at Logrim, ''Thank you. I don't know your name.'' She doesn't wait for it as she turns and heads towards the table where the two blue-robbed individuals are engaged in quiet debate. As she crosses the room, she waves a hand over herself. Clearing up the sulfury smell with a quick Prestidigitation.

She comes to stand in front of the table. Waiting silently until the two look up at her. It's polite to wait for a conversation to conclude before interjecting, she recalls. When Logrim has joined her and she has their attention, she speaks. ''My name is Alma Ostergaard. I'm investigating the murder of Priest Dellvon Ludwig. I was told Sheriff Markham may have some information. Is that one of you?''
 

Quickleaf

Legend
GM POST

020-01-009.markham.png
"Well, Miss Ostergaard," the armored man begins with a deep voice, gesturing to the woman seated across from him. "I'm sure Sheriff Markham is involved in an important conversation with his friend here, and doesn't–" However, a wave of the woman's gloved hand as if she were silencing his objections causes the man to sigh and relent.

"Speaker Duvessa Shane..." he gestures to the woman seated across the table from him, before pivoting and resting an elbow on the back of his chair. The air between him and the town speaker is a little tense from their previous argument. "And I am indeed Sheriff, at least until they kick me out. Dellvon Ludwig was a good man. He came to us from Neverwinter 4 winters ago. A priest of Torm the True. He'd never call his god just "Torm"; it was always "Torm the True." Were it not for the murders happening in other towns – and the popularity she's garnered – I would have taken Jelenneth, the priestess of Auril, into custody."

When the pale-skinned raven-haired woman is about to object, he squints and gestures toward Alma, "An ice dagger through the heart? Please, Speaker, we all know what that means."

017-01-008.duvessa.png
With an exasperated roll of her eyes, Speaker Duvessa Shane folds her arms over her crossed legs, leaning forward. "And how would the people react? Jelenneth's false promises offer hope that's all too scarce in this Everlasting Rime. This is exactly why we don't march on the House of the Triad, and oust the Aurilites." Restraining her urge to get back into the argument, the speaker sighs and regards Alma and her unnamed gnomish companion warily. "What is your interest in Tormtar Dellvon Ludwig?"
 

Necropolitan

Adventurer
GM POST

hlin-lily-abdullina_s.jpg
Easing back down into her seat after greeting the fairy and discretely casting her eyes about for eavesdroppers, the aging white-haired dwarf arches a brow toward Alma. Her mouth has just clamped down on the scrimshawed pipe. After a moment's deliberation, she shakes her head, "Torrga employs all sorts, and they're constantly coming and going. Whether that's cause they're unreliable sorts... or because Torrga needs plausible deniability for her ill-gotten gains... who's to say?" Hlin Trollbane takes a puff of the pipe, bringing its fading embers back to life.

"Last time I had a headcount she had five men working for her," she begins, gnawing on the pipe and cocking her eyebrow as she strains to remember. "A man with pirate's tattoos, Sephek something or other... An archer with clothes that look stained by the mines common in Huldenstone and Fireshear... A man that could be an exile of the Reghed tribes... The other two the usual sorts of criminals fleeing the law come to the north to hide, and overstaying their welcome." Hlin shrugs and exhales a stream of smoke over her shoulder. "Wish I knew more. Bounty hunting is what I'm comfortable with. Give me the straightest point between two lines. Investigation? That's a meandering river of problems."

@Necropolitan Zeth will immediately recognize the name Sephek – Sephek Kaltro was a sailor aboard your ship who fell overboard in freezing waters and his body was never recovered.
If this were a comedy the name "Sephek" and description of the man would have come at a time when Zeth had a mouth full of food or drink, causing him to spray it across the table. Instead it came when he was raising his glass to his lips. And he set the glass down to think.

Given the choice between betting that Sephek Kaltro had somehow survived his unfortunate tumble into freezing waters and betting that another pirate by that name was operating in these parts the former was by far the safer one.

Still, there was no reason to panic. Sephek had no reason to sell out Zeth and no way of doing so without incriminating himself in far worse crimes that he'd be certain to hang for. Instead Zeth would do the sensible thing and go along with this assassination (or 'compensated extrajudicial execution' if one was prone to showing of one's vocabulary and interested in making the act more socially acceptable-sounding). And if it just so happened that Sephek was the murderer (Zeth's mind assembled a possible scenario where Spehek had taken to worshiping a goddess of cold after his near-death and was carrying out what he believed to be her will) then Zeth would see justice done as swiftly as possible. Or if Sephek was innocent of these specific murders then he might be killed defending the real culprit or culprits. What mattered was Zeth retaining the title of "Sole Survivor of the Crew of...-" better not to think of that right now.

The plan was simple: Find the suspects, identify the murderer or murderers, then kill them and do whatever it took to ensure he wouldn't get in trouble for it later.

Then use the bonding experience of that to convince those with him worth taking to help retrieve the treasure. Zeth would have to think of what to say to ensure he actually got to keep it though, no sense losing most of it.

For now Zeth would follow Alma, she seemed like a sensible person.

GM POST

GM: @VLAD the Destroyer & @happylace Btw the town Speaker and Sherrif Markham are these folks: An ivory-skinned woman with dark hair, fine fur-lined blue clothes, and a brooch of office holds a quiet but intense debate with an ebony-skinned bald man with a greying goatee, splint armor, and cloak adorned with the same crest on the lady's brooch: a chaff of wheat framed by antlers. They sit at a table near one of the windows, and several patrons nod deferentially to them in passing.


image.jpg
"Weeks ago?" Scramsax scratches his beard, thinking a moment. His waitstaff casts an exasperated look at the barkeep and Russet as they've no more countertop room to place washed plates and tankards. "I believe so, but she comes and goes a lot. Doubly so since the last of the caravans stopped two months past. Torrga... and her pirate bodyguard... one of the Folcey boys as I mentioned... a man who looked to be of the Reghed tribes... and two men I couldn't place."

Thinking a moment longer, Scramsax strokes his moustache. "Come to think of it, there was something odd. It was just a little thing. Torrga had two rooms upstairs, one for herself and one for her guards. When my staff went in to change the bedding, I overheard that in the four-bed room the guards stayed at only three of the beds were tousled as if someone slept in them. The fourth was completely untouched."
A man falls into freezing water far from shore and turns up later in a group where one of them doesn't sleep and murders people with magical ice as part of worshiping a goddess of cold. The only question to Zeth now was what Sephek had become.

The Warlock thinks hard, mentally going through the endless books on magical creatures he'd read as part of his studies.

(Arcana or Religion, whichever is appropriate and both have the same bonus. 1d20+6 = 15+6 = 21)

If Zeth could think of something he might be able to reveal it to both boost his reputation with his party and these townsfolk and make it far easier to justify cleaning up loose ends. Or just lie and tie Zephek to the murders if necessary. The pirate was a murderer before this after all.
 

happylace

Explorer
GM POST

020-01-009.markham.png
"Well, Miss Ostergaard," the armored man begins with a deep voice, gesturing to the woman seated across from him. "I'm sure Sheriff Markham is involved in an important conversation with his friend here, and doesn't–" However, a wave of the woman's gloved hand as if she were silencing his objections causes the man to sigh and relent.

"Speaker Duvessa Shane..." he gestures to the woman seated across the table from him, before pivoting and resting an elbow on the back of his chair. The air between him and the town speaker is a little tense from their previous argument. "And I am indeed Sheriff, at least until they kick me out. Dellvon Ludwig was a good man. He came to us from Neverwinter 4 winters ago. A priest of Torm the True. He'd never call his god just "Torm"; it was always "Torm the True." Were it not for the murders happening in other towns – and the popularity she's garnered – I would have taken Jelenneth, the priestess of Auril, into custody."

When the pale-skinned raven-haired woman is about to object, he squints and gestures toward Alma, "An ice dagger through the heart? Please, Speaker, we all know what that means."

017-01-008.duvessa.png
With an exasperated roll of her eyes, Speaker Duvessa Shane folds her arms over her crossed legs, leaning forward. "And how would the people react? Jelenneth's false promises offer hope that's all too scarce in this Everlasting Rime. This is exactly why we don't march on the House of the Triad, and oust the Aurilites." Restraining her urge to get back into the argument, the speaker sighs and regards Alma and her unnamed gnomish companion warily. "What is your interest in Tormtar Dellvon Ludwig?"

Alma's expression doesn't change as she looks back and forth between the officials. Listening to what they have to say. There's no hint of sheepishness for interrupting their conversation, nor nervousness at Speaker Shane's question.

''We are investigating his death and its relation to the others in Ten Towns the last few weeks. I wished to ask for any information you might have in regards to the incident.'' She regards Speaker Shane with a direct, straightforward gaze. ''You seem convinced this Priestess Jelenneth is involved. Is she able to craft ice daggers? Does she remain in town at all times, or is she or her congregation known to travel between the towns?''
 

Quickleaf

Legend
GM POST

017-01-008.duvessa.png
Exchanging a glance with the Sheriff in which he seems to relent in his standoffishness to her unremitting gaze, Duvessa Shane narrows her eyes. "Bryn Shander was nearly wrested from me. The mage responsible is locked away in Revel's End, but had I trusted my gut sooner the damage he wrought would have been less. I fear this situation with Jelenneth is similar."

Young though she may be, the dark-haired Speaker realizes that for a person in her position gut feelings are not enough. "For several months, Jelenneth's preaching – restricted to Bryn Shander's cold market square (and no other towns) until recently – made frequent use of the phrase "a dagger in the Frostmaiden's heart." While I don't know her to be a spellcaster, she is a cunning manipulator who has swayed people that the only way to stave off the Endless Rime is to offer human sacrifices to the Frostmaiden."

GM: @Necropolitan Leaving aside shapeshifters or a mage with the disguise self spell, there are three broad categories of arctic creatures which might originate as a man, only to become something much worse. Aberrations, Fiends, and Undead.

Insofar as Aberrations are concerned, aboleth are not normally associated with the Sea of Moving Ice, but such entities are known to transform humans into psychically dominated "skum." Typically their appearance becomes inhuman during the transformation. Likewise, intellect devourers can crawl inside a creature's head and control it, but all records indicate the creature has to be living...whether or not a corpse sufficiently preserved by cold could still be inhabited, no writer has ever reported.

Of the Fiends, one name stands above all others: Levistus offers devil's bargains to travelers facing death beneath winter's claw. Those he spares always bear a token of some kind signifying their pact with Levistus and the damning of their soul. Should such a man send others in his stead to the Stygian Depths, he may lose his mortality and become a fiend.

And then there are the Undead, of which there are several. Wights may form through dark magics kept trapped in the ice or through resurrections gone wrong. While victims sacrificed to the Gods of Fury (Talos, Umberlee, Malar, Auril) rarely animate as undead, in the case of a druid who is sacrificed they may return as an icegaunt – akin to a spellcasting wight able to see through blizzards, but rarely going far from the spot where they died. A sailor who feasts on the flesh of men might return as a sodden ghoul (also called a "lacedon"), though the circumstances are murky – more than mere cannibalism is required, some act that is truly depraved and inhumane.
 

happylace

Explorer
GM POST

017-01-008.duvessa.png
Exchanging a glance with the Sheriff in which he seems to relent in his standoffishness to her unremitting gaze, Duvessa Shane narrows her eyes. "Bryn Shander was nearly wrested from me. The mage responsible is locked away in Revel's End, but had I trusted my gut sooner the damage he wrought would have been less. I fear this situation with Jelenneth is similar."

Young though she may be, the dark-haired Speaker realizes that for a person in her position gut feelings are not enough. "For several months, Jelenneth's preaching – restricted to Bryn Shander's cold market square (and no other towns) until recently – made frequent use of the phrase "a dagger in the Frostmaiden's heart." While I don't know her to be a spellcaster, she is a cunning manipulator who has swayed people that the only way to stave off the Endless Rime is to offer human sacrifices to the Frostmaiden."

GM: @Necropolitan Leaving aside shapeshifters or a mage with the disguise self spell, there are three broad categories of arctic creatures which might originate as a man, only to become something much worse. Aberrations, Fiends, and Undead.

Insofar as Aberrations are concerned, aboleth are not normally associated with the Sea of Moving Ice, but such entities are known to transform humans into psychically dominated "skum." Typically their appearance becomes inhuman during the transformation. Likewise, intellect devourers can crawl inside a creature's head and control it, but all records indicate the creature has to be living...whether or not a corpse sufficiently preserved by cold could still be inhabited, no writer has ever reported.

Of the Fiends, one name stands above all others: Levistus offers devil's bargains to travelers facing death beneath winter's claw. Those he spares always bear a token of some kind signifying their pact with Levistus and the damning of their soul. Should such a man send others in his stead to the Stygian Depths, he may lose his mortality and become a fiend.

And then there are the Undead, of which there are several. Wights may form through dark magics kept trapped in the ice or through resurrections gone wrong. While victims sacrificed to the Gods of Fury (Talos, Umberlee, Malar, Auril) rarely animate as undead, in the case of a druid who is sacrificed they may return as an icegaunt – akin to a spellcasting wight able to see through blizzards, but rarely going far from the spot where they died. A sailor who feasts on the flesh of men might return as a sodden ghoul (also called a "lacedon"), though the circumstances are murky – more than mere cannibalism is required, some act that is truly depraved and inhumane.

Alma's ears twitch. She recalls Hlin mentioning something about sacrifices. She quickly flips through her memory, searching for that information buried under talk of the murders. ''Sacrifices to Auril. Termalaine, Targos and Easthaven all practice sacrifice, yes? But not Bryn Shander.'' She looks meaningfully to Logrim and Zeth, wondering if they catch the pattern too. ''She's trying to convince the people of Bryn Shander to accept the ritual as well. Is Priestess Jelenneth originally from this town?''

This is all too much of a coincidence. Torrga's caravan seems like a strong suspect, but there's little doubt in Alma's mind now that Auril is at the center of this. Whether Jelenneth is a ringleader or merely spouting the same rhetoric used in the other towns is the next big question. The pieces are sitting in front of her, ready to be assembled. But she needs somewhere to start.

History check to see what I know about the lottery in the other towns: 1D20+2 = [4]+2 = 6

She tilts her head back at the two men. ''Do you know anything about the lotteries? What are your thoughts on this?''
 

Logrim opens his mouth to introduce himself to Alma but stops as she turns and walks away. He closes his mouth and hurries after her. He keeps silent as Alma speaks. He listens and begins to make some of the same connections as Alma. This seems to be a larger thing than just murders. When Alma turns to him to ask his opinion he is startled.

"I need to think on the lotteries. I know they are sacrifices to Auril as the Speaker said. Several towns in the region still practice them. He scratches his chin. "Madame Speaker do ya think this priest of Auril might 'ave been a follower of the Ice Witch?"

OOC: History check on the Lotteries: 1d20+5 15

Also when the Ice Witch was slain was her body recovered? What was done with it?
 

Quickleaf

Legend
GM POST

017-01-008.duvessa.png
Speaker Duvessa raises her brow at Logrim's question. "I... It is not impossible, but the Ice Witch kept little human company. When she sent her forces against our gates in the dead of night, they were orcs and verbeeg and winter wolves. The only men who served her were of the Bear Tribe." Running her gloved thumb along her chin in thought, the young speaker turns grey-blue eyes back to the windows of the tavern and light snows outside. "One of the adventurers who defeated the Ice Witch retired to tend the House of the Morninglord. Her name is Mishann. She was wounded and thus wasn't there for the killing blow, but she can regale you with stories closer to firsthand than my own.

GM: @VLAD the Destroyer The Ice Witch rose to power 4 years ago, but her threat was ended in that same winter season by a band of adventurers. Stories claim that her body melted away like the thawing snows of winter. No body was ever recovered.

History (lotteries): The lotteries started a few months ago in Targos and Termalaine first, with Easthaven adopting the practice soon after. They're not official per se, and most town speakers and sheriffs would abolish the sacrifices if they could.
 

Aethmud

Explorer
OOC: @tglassy fancy a few rounds of Three Dragon Ante together? It might be easier to pull a fast one on the Mintarn mercenaries if Mak and Jack team up, just sayin'... if not, no worries at all.
 

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