* Trys is outside Stonetop getting the lay of the land. She notices a group of three riders camping in an area where there is a dangerous sightline that would allow archers on horseback to fire into town.
* Gavin is dreaming of being in the wild. He feels the presence of his wolves in the dream. They growl and surround him in a misty meadow, early in the morning. The sound of large flapping wings is heard, and Gavin knows the winged spirit of the cloak is coming toward him. Gavin lets the spirit come to him and envelope him. As it tries to fly away, he calls upon Danu to grasp the winged creature with the nearby foliage. The spirit is drawn into the earth and Gavin tells it that it must be patient. It relents. Gavin wakes, finding some scratches that mark the dream.
* Trys sees Gavin as she returns to town. She tells him of the camp outside town and suggests that they have the rangers, Calvin and Hobart, investigate. Calvin is very eager to help (he is a bit smitten with Trys since she carried him over the falls). Hobart, however, says that they need to hear from the Publicans that they can assist.
* Trys decides to loop Cullen in to help speak to Sawal and Siana. The two of them are at the Public House enjoying dinner with other townsfolk. They discuss the situation, and request the aid of the rangers. Sawal points out that there are three other strangers who’ve come into town, roughneck types, who are staying at the Public House. Their horses are currently being tended to by the Garretts, but they’ve pretty much stayed holed up in their room since they arrived. Cullen worries that there are two groups of strangers, one inside the town and one outside, that may be working together toward ill purpose.
* Meanwhile, Dap is walking about town, chatting with folks. He comes across Llewelyn, who sports a serious shiner, and Dap notes that things may not be going well with Henry. The troubled youth has been working as Llewelyn’s apprentice. He made a mistake, one he’d made several times before, and Llewelyn pointed it out, and Henry punched him. Dap offers to have a word with the young man, and Llewelyn agrees.
* As if on cue, the sounds of fighting can be heard from the Public House. Lief has gone after Henry, who seems to pay too much attention to Lief’s sisters. Trys and Cullen head in to break it up, and Henry takes the opportunity to send a haymaker at Lief, but catches Cullen on the jaw. Trys takes Lief back toward his home. Cullen keeps Henry outside and gets him to calm down. Dap arrives and mentions Llewelyn’s black eye.
* Gavin watches all of this and notices three strangers heading away from the Public House, they’re clearly roughneck types, geared for riding. Gavin gets Trys’s attention and points toward the riders. Trys asks Lief who these men are. Lief tells her they came from Gordin’s Delve to speak to the elders to warn of some refugees that may be coming our way.
* Henry thinks he sees the writing on the wall, and decides to leave before he’s kicked out. Dap calls him out. A crowd has gathered, and Dap tells them to go back to their business. He then takes Henry off so the three of them can speak privately. The two convince him to stay and agree to get Lief to leave him alone. Cullen confirms that Henry is not lying about not having any designs on Lief’s sister. He also agrees to resume Henry’s studies. They then send Henry home and tell him to get a good night’s rest, and then the two of them head back to finish the conversation with the Publicans.
* Trys and Lief are moving toward the Garrett’s place, in time with the three strangers. Trys wants to beat them there so she can find out what brings them to town. She wants to appear not threatening to them. She loses sight of them along the way.
* Gavin decides to speak with the spirits to see if he can find the men. He finds some temperamental earth spirits, annoyed at being trod upon by the humans in this heavily trafficked area. Gavin borrows their ability to sense the vibrations of those who walk in the area. He uses the ability to track the men who’ve headed back away from the stables, and back toward the western part of town.
* Trys tells Lief to stall the men if they come for their horses, if possible. Gavin and Trys start heading toward the west part of town. They see the men skulking about. Gavin realizes these men are here for Henry. Two are closing in on Henry as he approaches his cabin. One of them raises a hatchet to throw it. Gavin manages to dodge the attack and calls out to Henry, warning him of the danger. Gavin uses his Danu’s Grasp ability to bind one of them with plant life, crushing the life from him.
* Trys sees Gavin’s wolves closing in on the situation. Trys sees the one who threw the hatchet at Gavin. She runs past him to try to get on scene to help Henry. She retrieves a hatchet from the fallen foe, and hurls it at the one closing in on Henry. She strikes him, but he manages to close and attack. Henry manages to defend himself, fending off the attack. The two stand struggling with their hatchets locked.
* Having seen the wolves charging the scene, Dap and Cullen rush to follow. They see the situation. Cullen Censures the man fighting henry, labeling him an assassin, and causing him to hesitate. Trys then strikes him down, roiling with thunderous rage.
* Gavin looks for the third attacker, but it seems he’s headed back toward the Garretts’ stables. The group hears Lief cry out in fear. Trys immediately uses her ability to move like lightning, and gets to the stables quickly, and then bellows in thunderous rage, leaving the final assailant quivering in fear. He’s taken into custody.
* Henry is saved, and the immediate danger is dealt with. The plan is to question this prisoner and then determine next steps.
* Cullen attempts to question the prisoner to confirm if the others camped outside the town are with him. He doesn’t cooperate. Trys threatens him, but he does not seem swayed by violence. Dap looks into his eyes, and reads the man’s soul. He is haunted by the violence he’s done, and Dap thinks he’s either seeking punishment or absolution of some sort. Cullen notices that the man’s eyes keep darting to the flask at Trys’s hip, and he offers the man a drink, in an attempt to get him to cooperate. He takes a drink and confirms that the rest of his group is outside the town camped near Barker’s Butte. Dap convinces the man that absolution is possible, and that he may be able to find it in Stonetop. He agrees to sponsor the man if he swears to honor the agreement. He does, and then passes out.
* Meanwhile, Gavin collects some personal effects from the two fallen men, and heads out of town toward the camp. He brings his wolves and the ranger, Hobart. They are able to use the tall grass in the area to help sneak up on the group. However, there’s a group of raptor-like creatures that are stalking the area. Gavin sees some viscera from a recent kill. One of the riders must have been taken by these raptors and dragged into the grass. The rider’s horse is still alive and suffering, and tracks are leading off into the grass. The wolves are unnerved and about to growl. Gavin attempts to settle the wolves to maintain quiet, but Leta bolts off into the grass. Gavin reaches out and borrows power from nearby earth spirits and uses their ability to sense creatures moving nearby.
* There are three raptors not far off, circling Gavin and Hobart. Leta attacks the alpha raptor and bites its thick hide. Gavin and Finn move to assist. Hobart and Thorin remain near the rear to fend off the two flanking raptors. Hobart manages to kill the one raptor that attacks him. Thorin fends off his raptor but is tangling with the raptor in a scuffle. Gavin reaches the alpha, and it is engaged with Leta and Finn. While that is happening, he uses Danu’s Grasp to throttle the alpha and choke the life from it.
* Back in town, Trys storms off to try and calm down. Cullen and Dap discuss the fate of their latest prisoner. Cullen wants to know if Dap is sure he wants to offer forgiveness to this man. Llewelyn arrives and mentions that the Publicans may have an issue with this, and suggests we keep this prisoner somewhere out of town if possible. Dap says that he thinks it is Cullen’s place to decide the man’s fate, and Cullen says there’s no need to rush a decision. That they should give it the night and see what else develops, and then speak with the man again in the morning. Trys speaks with Lief and borrows one of the horses and heads out to see what Gavin and Hobart have gotten up to.
* Thorin and the remaining raptor are scuffling. The raptor gets the upper hand and is above Thorin. Hobart takes the opportunity to throw his hatchet at it, but it sees him and recognizes the threat and charges him. Finn barrels into the scene and attacks the raptor, as it attacks Hobart. Finn manages to kill it. The raptors are all dead, but Hobart is hurt and shaken. They hear the sounds of oncoming hoofbeats, and they all get ready, but then the wolves go from caution to welcoming as Trys rides onto the scene.
* Gavin finishes off the dying horse, and then the group decides what to do next. They know that there are three more men out there waiting. They’re about an hour away from the campsite. They press on and approach the camp. There is a fire burning, and they see two horses hitched at the base of the butte. Gavin whispers to the horses and convinces them to come quietly with him. He leads them away from the camp. The group makes their own camp not too far off, in a small copse of trees on a low hill. It is the most defensible position in the area, with a good view of the butte. The night passes uneventfully.
* Back in Stonetop, before the sun is up, Cullen and Dap take the prisoner, Cliff, to see Gwynn, the elder. They hope to have the input from one of the elders, and tell Cliff he needs to convince her of the sincerity of his claim. Gwynn hears about the situation from Cullen and then performs a viewing on Cliff, touching him to see the truth of his past and his future. She says that he will do good deeds in the future, he will give his life to save an innocent member of Stonetop. The man takes this to heart, and seems sincere in his desire to repent. Cullen tells the man he can join the community, but that he will need to earn their trust. Cliff says he’s spent his life breaking horses, he can help with that. Cullen explains that he’ll have to earn that kind of job. Dap suggests they apprentice Cliff to his father, Valwyn, the tanner. Cliff can start there and prove his worth.
* Meanwhile, Gavin and Trys approach the camp. The riders see Gavin and he tosses down the personal effects he took, and says “your friends left some stuff behind in our town”. Trys reveals herself, ready for battle. Gavin tells them this can go two ways; they can walk away and consider the matter over, or it can end here. One of them panics and draws his bow to shoot at Trys. The arrow glances off her armor, and the men are convinced to not mess with the Stonetoppers. They leave their horses and head off on foot, glad to leave with their skins.
* The group then heads back toward Stonetop with their newly acquired horses. On their way back, they realize the horses have some sort of mange that may be harmful. One of the horses collapses, and froths at the mouth. Gavin knows of a parasite in this area that infects hosts and causes these kinds of symptoms, called weald mange, which can spread to other animals. Gavin puts the horse out of its misery, and then sends the wolves off to keep them safe, but realizes that Thorin is already infected with the weald mange. Gavin knows that the blood of infected creatures is toxic to the weald mange, but may also harm the animal. If an animal is bathed in the blood of another animal that was infected, they may be cured. They bathe Thorin in the blood of the horse. He’ll recover, but it will take some time.
* Meanwhile, Cullen speaks to Henry about the fact that Cliff will be remaining in Stonetop. They were friends, and so Henry is troubled by Cliff’s willingness to set out to kill him. Cullen says that they’ll work toward redeeming Cliff, as well. Henry asks when they can resume their studies, and Cullen agrees to begin individual lessons with him, which begins to improve their relationship.
* Gavin and Trys return triumphantly, having driven off the gang and acquired two more draft horses.
* Dap, Gavin, Hobart, and Cliff crest the crinwin ridge and look out over the vast expanse of woods and meadows, marked by large stone formations. Off in the distance, they see the pool that Gavin saw in his dreams, surrounded by a stone circle, but the land immediately around it is barren and seemingly almost volcanic with steaming geysers and patches of lava. Hobart sees figures amongst the stones. He also sees that Cliff is eyeing the flask hanging at his belt and chides him for it. Cliff, embarrassed and insulted, reflexively places his hand on his weapon.
* Dap addresses the group that caution is in order here, but his comments are really directed at Cliff, who he hopes will listen and calm himself. Cliff seems to heed Dap’s words; he takes his hand away from his weapon and steps back. The situation is defused for the time being.
* Hobart says that he was not expecting to see folk out here in these wild lands and asks Dap and Gavin how they want to proceed. Dap stares into the sun to seek a vision from Helior of the stone circle. He sees the location as if up close. The twelve people are naked and marked by horrific burns, their eyes melted from the sockets, and they are chanting. They are exhorting the Crombul, a great primordial devourer, to return and consume all. Dap explains to the others that they appear to be suicidal cultists.
* Gavin feels from the spirit of the cloak that the Crombul is the creature that they seek; the cloak must be thrown into the maw of the creature to free the spirit. The group decides to try and get down there quickly to set upon the cultists. They manage to close the gap without being noticed and are on the outskirts of the barren terrain around the pool and the stone circle. Gavin senses what spirits are nearby and finds some fire elementals cavorting among the magma.
* Dap steps from hiding and calls out to the men to stop their blasphemy. They whirl and three of them run for the pool, while others seem to fly into a blind fury.
* Meanwhile, at The Ruined Tower, Trys is exhausted and Llewelyn is shaken from being possessed, so they decide to take the stone they’ve harvested and get out of the area. However, the ankheg is still in the area. They decide to attract it by collapsing a large chunk of The Ruined Tower. Using Cullen’s engineering tools, Trys strike’s a precise spot and topples the tower. The ankheg bursts from the land, and chomps onto a giant piece of debris, as Cullen and Trys flee to the cart. As the ankheg chokes on the debris, they make their getaway.
* Meanwhile, back to the north, Cliff and Hobart fire at the running cultists. Cliff manages to take one down, but Hobart misses. Gavin manages to use Danu’s grasp to hold and crush one of them. The one Hobart missed dives into the pool, which immediately begins to steam. It seems the Crombul is about to awaken. Dap meanwhile calls out to the others to try and keep them focused on him. Their chanting stops and they focus on him. However, a nearby geyser erupts, badly scorching Dap’s feet, hobbling him.
* The group closes on the cultists to try and finish them off. Cliff winds up with his knife in the heart of one, but it’s grabbed him and threatens to fling both of them into the pool. Gavin uses his Danu’s grasp to grab them both and pull them from the edge.
* Meanwhile, Trys, Cullen, and Llewelyn return to Stonetop. They find that a group of refugees from Gordin’s Delve have arrived and are outside of the walls. Grunhilda tells us that Sawal and Siana have prepared a big meal to welcome the folk. They head over to that side of town, and see the guard there, Carwyn, is on edge and has a bow at the ready. It’s a disorderly operation, with some folks shoving their way to a large stewpot that’s being used to serve. Dap’s wife Ilya is kind of running the show, and she’s in danger of being overwhelmed. Cullen and Trys spring into action. Cullen asks Carwyn to ring the tower’s bell, and he calls out to everyone to calm themselves. Trys moves in to take a position that will keep Ilya safe, and pushes the miners back away. The crowd calms and listens.
* Meanwhile, the cultists view Dap as some kind of harbinger or the Crombul. They ask him why they should listen to him, and he tells them that he knows of another creature that could be a companion to the Crombul, and that such companionship would ease its loneliness. The lead cultist asks Dap how they could be companions to the Crombul. Dap realizes that the Leviathan could bond with these cultists, and they could experience what it does. He convinces them this is true, and they agree to follow him.
* Gavin speaks with the spirit of the cloak, Bezinpul, and confirms that the cloak must be cast into the pool. Gavin senses that there are water spirits in the pool. He attempts to commune with them. It seems that there are some water elementals that resist the Crombul, and others that are in servitude to it. Gavin thinks about the relationship between water and air spirits, and he recalls learning that in the dawn times, the Crombul was absolutely an enemy of both water and air. Some legends say that it was the Crombul that bound the sky to the earth.
* Gavin tries to convince the water spirits to part so that he can free their brethren, the air spirIt in the cloak. The water parts gently and Gavin sees the Crombul sleeping. Dap hobbles over to join him. Gavin casts the cloak into the Crombul’s maw and then hastily draws back. Dap shuffles forward and lays a hand on the Crombul and quietly speaks to it. He tells it of the Leviathan that seeks companionship and how he’d like to bring them together to find peace.
* The Crombul tells Dap that it would like to consume the leviathan. Such a joining would be glorious and would sate the Crombul for some time. Dap seeks what the Crombul is most ashamed of, and learns that the Crombul did in fact anchor the sky to the earth, which allowed the world to develop mortal life, and so it blames itself for bringing life to the world.
* Dap walks away and tells Gavin they need to lead the cultists away and kill them all.
* At Stonetop, the miners back down, and the crowd calms down, but the most aggressive contingent demands answers. Trys intimidates them into cooperating. Cullen puts the town engineers to work crafting some shelters outside the walls for them, and before long a small tent village is erected.
* Cullen then meets with Sawal and Siana to get a sense for how many additional mouths the reserves can handle. The two of them are overly optimistic about the situation, but the head farmer, Mado, is on hand and he advises that we can feed the women and children, but not the laborers.
* Dap, Gavin, Cliff, and Hobart lead the cultists off and then kill them. Dap tries to impress upon Cliff that such actions should only be taken when they help. He gives him one of his holy relics and tells him to look to Helior whenever he feels the urge to do violence.
* Gavin and Dap’s group returns to Stonetop to find the refugee camp erected on the western side of town. The looming storm has arrived. Gavin and the Tubman family are near the central part of town. He’s teaching them about the ways of Danu and communing with the spirits. They hear a door fly open and heavy footfalls. The midwife’s assistant, Ifan, approaches Gavin. She’s got blood on her apron. She tells him that Joelle needs help because “there’s three”.
* Gavin agrees to go help, and also sends Ifan to fetch Dap from the chandlery. Gavin reaches the midwife’s and enters. Sally is within, her husband Terrence holding her hand, and Joelle is trying to manage the situation. When the husband sees Gavin, he rises to his feet and declares that he doesn’t want Gavin’s help. The midwife protests, but Gavin just accepts it and leaves.
* Ifan reaches the chandlery and Illya answers the door. Dap realizes something has happened, and pieces it together from Ifan’s panicked rambling. Dap, still suffering from his burned feet, heads over with Illya’s help. Gavin explains the situation to Dap. Illya and Dap enter, leaving Ifan outside with Gavin.
* Cullen approaches the miners to get a sense of who may be in charge and who may be helpful. Fenwin is the bully of the group, but there’s a quiet miner who seems like he’s equally respected, and who makes sure everyone else is taken care of before taking his share of the rations. Cullen challenges Fenwin, who he met upon his first trip to Gordin’s Delve (he’s the miner who stole the whiskey from Dap and Cullen). The unnamed miner steps in and tells Fenwin to calm down. Fenwin turns on him, and the possibility of violence hangs in the air.
* Meanwhile, Joelle the midwife is panicking. She is afraid of a nighttime delivery without the light of Helior helping, especially with three children. Gavin decides to reach out to see what spirits are present in the hut. He feels a strong sense of Tor, and also the earth spirits from the packed earthen floor.
* Terrence asks Dap if there’s nothing that Helior can do to help his wife. Dap invoke’s the sun god, which bathes the hut in holy light. Everyone within the hut is comforted and Gavin recalls how many litters of creatures that he’s delivered. Whenever there is a large litter, he recalls using willow’s bark to help calm the mother. Gavin gives Sally some willow’s bark, and also administers the crinwin honey. He then gets her into position and begins pulling the babies from her. He hands each one to Joelle so she can cut the cord. The babies begin to cry, and Terrence runs in to find Joelle, Dap, and Gavin each holding a baby, all healthy, and with Sally resting safely nearby. Dap refuses to accept any praise for the birth, and says it was all Gavin and Joelle.
* Back at the refugee camp, Cullen attempts to cow Fenwin. Trys manages to intimidate the rest of the miners so that Fenwin has no support. Finally, he sits down. Cullen then approaches the other leader, who introduces himself as Marged. Cullen explains that Stonetop cannot support all the refugees through the winter. He says that they can care for the women and children, but the miners may not be possible. He says that they may have another option. Trys then shares the plans for the animal powered water wheel that she and her father had designed.
* Smiling Francis is in charge and may not allow deployment of the device. Mining bosses are Mutra the Tief (Demi’s former lover) and Oto (mines and timber). Smiling Francis rules with an iron fist, out of fear of violence. There are two ridges near the top of the mountain called The Arms, which may have a secret way into the mountain and supposedly contains a motherload. Cullen is thinking that Smiling Francis needs to be removed, but is torn with the idea of killing someone in this manner. He needs to consult Aratis about this. He heads off to the Vault.
* After consulting with Marged, Trys heads back home, but takes her time, enjoying the storm and thinking about the current situation. She is hit by lightning on the way home. She sees a vision of a procession of enemies making their way toward Stonetop. They’re making their way through the storm, well equipped and well adorned. Some are mounted on horses, and they have hunting dogs. The largest figure among them is mounted, fully armored, shield on his back. In a flash of lightning, Trys seems him smiling, excited about what’s to come.
* Trys bolts upright and heads off to the Vault to speak to Cullen. She sees Gavin along the way and he goes along with her. They tell Cullen of the approaching force from Marshedge.
* Meanwhile, no sooner has Dap gotten back to his home to rest, than Hobart arrives. He tells Dap that he knows Marshedge is going to come for Stonetop, and they’re going to send their worst, Brennan. He’s a violent man, who’s slit many throats in his life. He’s a kidnapper and murderer. Marshedge made him their enforcer rather than deal with him as a threat. Hobart says he wants to take Calvin out on a scouting mission to see if there are any signs of an approach. Dap says Hobart should speak with Cullen, and Hobart heads out to do so.
* The next morning, Trys goes to Dap’s and brings her last dose of crinwin honey to help Dap’s feet. Illya talks about the celebration of the birth of the triplets. Trys agrees and then barges in to speak to Dap about the approaching army. Dap agrees to take the honey for his feet. They decide that the group should head out to intercept this approaching group.
* Cullen meets with Sawal and Siana to ask for Hobart and Calvin to be able to go out scouting. They agree and the two head out on horseback. Meanwhile, Ilya arranges for the celebration of the birth of the triplets. The festivities are enjoyed by all, despite the looming threat.
* Hobart and Calvin perform their duties well, and that’s where we end the session… we’ll begin next week answering their Seek Insight questions.
* From Hobart’s scouting, we learn: Brennan's former bandit company The Claws used to terrorize Marshedge communities with Fire Wasp Swarms from the Ferrier Fens. They're like Lightning Bugs, except their bioluminescence when agitated actually produces sufficient heat to ignite materials like thatched roofs and clothing. This only happens when sufficiently agitated. Their colonies are transported in large wicker baskets at the back of the caravan...which are on top of their wooden wagons...which carry personnel and supplies...which are hitched to their draft horses.
* The force that is coming is of concerning size, but it is Brennan and his Claws that are the true threat.
* Marshedge has a ritual where they periodically sacrifice an infant by leaving it at the edge of the bog that borders Marshedge. It’s said that Brennan was such a sacrifice, and is the only one to ever return. He is accompanied by two fen trolls, behemoths from the swamp. Brennan has, for all intents and purposes, taken control of Marshedge.
* Dap decides to move about the town and speak to the townsfolk to bolster their spirits in the face of the oncoming danger. His words help lift spirits, and the townsfolk prepare for the worst.
* Cullen and Trys speak to the miners, and ask them to help with the town’s defense if it comes to it. Fenwin takes offense to how Cullen approaches him, but agrees to do what he can, and so does Marged. The townsfolk pull together to find any and all supplies of use to equip the miners.
* Gavin consults with the fire spirits and seeks to borrow some of their power. The spirits are happy to help consume Stonetop’s enemies, but they are loathe to go beyond the waters of the stream outside the town. Gavin calls upon the air spirit, Beznpol, to convince the fire spirits that he’s s reliable ally. The fire spirits listen and agree, but in their zeal they burn Gavin’s hand.
* The group gathers to go out and confront the oncoming force. Gavin leaves Leda behind with Dap to oversee the defense of the town, if needed. The other characters head out (Gavin, two wolves, Trys, Cullen, Cliff, Hobard, and Calvin). They travel about an hour and a half south of Stonetop into the weald to the west, or the rocky crags to the east of the road.
* Gavin marks each of the group using his trackless step ability. The plan is to have Hobart and Calvin up on the eastern side with a good shot at the road, while the rest of the group is going to wait in the high grass. Trys recalls the ankheg that is not too far from this area, and so Gavin heads out to see if he can convince the creature to come and attack the force. The horses and giants would be attractive prey to the creature.
* Gavin asks the earth spirits about the ankheg and they know the creature and have a good relationship with it. The spirits will help Gavin speak to the creature. Gavin entices the ankheg with some supplies and then leads it toward the convoy.
* As Gavin arrives, the group springs into action. Calvin and Hobart loose arrows at the fire wasp baskets as Trys and Cullen charge Brennan near the front of the convoy. Gavin plans on grasping the nearest riders with his Danu’s Grasp ability, keeping them from reinforcing Brennan. Trys notices that Brennan’s cloak is likely fire-resistant.
* Roiling with Anger, Trys bolts like lightning to Brennan, attacking him before he even realizes. There is the sound of thunder as his cloak is torn from his body, and he is thrown from the horse. He rolls and is immediately upon Trys with his shield and spear.
* Gavin uses Danu’s Grasp to crush the two nearest Claws, who are killed and brought into the Earth. Cullen charges Brennan and Censures him as a creature of chaos, causing him to recoil, hopefully given Trys a chance to press the attack.
* Trys realizes that Brennan has a fetid aura, but she presses on through it, resisting its effects. She unleashes another brutal, thunderous attack, and annihilates him. A bolt of lightning strikes as she drives her sword through him, and he’s obliterated.
* The ankheg bursts from the ground and attacks the trolls, injuring them both and suppressing their fetid aura ability. The trolls retaliate, and injure the ankheg, but it continues to attack them.
* Cullen sees that Brennan has already been defeated. He stops charging and turns to face the other remaining Claws. He demands that they turn back or face the same fate. Some halt, some flee, but two charge at him. He readies his shield and his hammer to meet the charge, and manages to unhorse both of them, and wound each, without taking any harm himself. The two back off, and he lets them go.
* The ankheg finishes off the trolls. Without their leader and the trolls, and facing stiff opposition, the force from Marshedge falters. We’ll resolve this next week.
* Trys, Gavin, Cullen, and their companions are looking at the Marshedge force which is in disarray. Several of the Claws are regrouping at the rear of the convoy. The fire wasps are enraged and have set the rear wagon aflame. The laborers are in a state of panic.
* Gavin moves toward the rear wagon to try and calm the fire wasps. Unfortunately, Calvin is set on fire by the wasps. Cullen meanwhile tells the two Claws he unhorsed that they can be free to go if they take their companions and go back to Marshedge. Trys backs his play, and also keeps an eye on the ankheg, making sure it’s still content to eat the bodies of the fen trolls.
* Gavin uses his Danu’s grasp to pull Calvin into the earth to smother the flames and to kill the fire wasp swarms.
* Trys gets the feeling that the ankheg is nearly done with the trolls, and that it may be stirring toward more action. She positions herself between the ankheg and the laborers and other people about. Gavin makes his way over there to try and calm the creature.
* Cullen negotiates with the second in command of the Claws. They offer the peat and clay tiles in exchange for enough feed to get their convoy back to Marshedge. He also says that he can convince the nobles of Marshedge to cease further hostilities for at least a few seasons.
* Gavin speaks to the ankheg and realizes it is a female and desires a mate. Gavin agrees to help it find another of its kind. It agrees and leaves peacefully, knowing that Gavin will return to help her.
* The group goes back to Stonetop and collects the feed to trade with the Marshedge folk. Upon arriving back at the convoy, we realize that Brennan’s body and gear needs to be addressed. The group brings enough firewood to build a pyre. The Stonetoppers tell them that Brennan’s body is to be burned here; we don’t want the fen witches somehow undoing the natural order of things and restoring him. The second grows worried about this and says if they don’t return to the body to lay beneath a willow tree in the fen for the witches
* Winter move; it is a harsh winter. Our Surplus dropped to 0, our Fortunes to +1, our Prosperity remained at +1, and our Population is now growing +1.
* Cullen communes with Aratis; only way of undoing the witches permanently is through the vanquishing radiance of Helior’s sunlight...their abodes are living structures (like Baba Yaga’s Hut)
* Gavin heads out to find a mate for the ankheg; he brings his wolves with him but realizes he may need to forage at some point as he can only bring so many supplies- after being out in the field for two days, a severe blizzard looms and Gavin takes shelter. They only have enough supplies for one, so Gavin goes without food, leaving him a bit weak after the storm. Gavin forages for supplies.
* While exploring the cave, a large burrowing creature starts to follow him. Its movements cause some tremors that trigger a collapse in the cave- a huge cornice of ice begins to fall from higher up in the chasm. Gavin runs to avoid the crashing ice, and finds himself in a dead end. He reaches out to the female ankheg to call her to him. She burrows into the cave, and the two creatures face off. Gavin dashes between them and rushes into the cave burrowed by the female ankheg and escapes. The two ankhegs burrow down into the ground and leave. Gavin’s mission is accomplished.
* Trys and Llewelyn are overseeing construction of new housing, but the project is plagued by storms- the mortar is flawed due to the extreme temperatures, and one of the early structures collapses, with Llewelyn and others inside. Trys and her father rush to get there to help, Demi is also on site to help, and gives Trys and Sigurd guidance on what stones to move. Llewelyn and Lief are both in great danger. Sigurd works toward getting Lief out while Trys works on Llewelyn. Lief is saved and relatively unhurt; Llewelyn is also saved, but is badly hurt.
* The housing project stalls; the materials are recovered, but we cannot proceed now- Llewelyn’s broken collar bone will need to be dealt with sooner rather than later, or else it won’t heal properly.
, DANG SON! Either Autumn was disproportionately packed with stuff or someone's Chronicling suddenly became crazy levels of prodigious!