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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
De Exilio
Chapter 1 — The Immoth
~ first-day, 21st of Eleasias, The Year of Wild Magic, morning
Gotokok

On the morning of the sukkiruchit, the first day of the tenday, the village was at its busiest yet, but the adventurers were instead preparing their dog sleds and teams to ride alongside Skata to the Lugalpgotak Sea and then north into the Lugalpgotak Mountains.

   They had explained to Tirmuk their change in plans, but he assured them that if they ever returned, he would still be able to lead them to Hykopgruk in exchange for a new kayak.

   It was another cold but calm day as they set out traveling directly to the east, and they encountered no wildlife or monsters.

   They stopped for lunch, and Skata sat on the ground looking sad. "I ate all my food the other day on the walk to the little village," she said. "I did not plan very well."

   They offered her some of their meat, but she laughed. "That would only whet my appetite and make me feel worse," she said. "I could eat double the full amount you have left and still be hungry!"

   "Have you ever been to the Plane of Air, Skata?" Leokas asked her, when he had finished eating.

   "No, I have not," she said. "Annam All-Father gave Toril to his children. Only the titans have abandoned it."

   By the end of the day, they had reached the Lugalpgotak Sea. The vast sea was covered in pack ice, icebergs ranging in size from a few yards to floating islands of ice that looked large enough to hold entire villages. Many seals lounged on the ice.

   "Ulutiu, who betrayed Annam All-Father, sleeps deep below these waters," said Skata, "or so the tales say, though I do not believe it."

   When they asked her more about this, she told them that it would be best not to talk about such things.

   She had them continue for a half hour more until they reached a stream, an outlet from the sea. The stream was covered with transparent ice at this point. "This is the first of three streams we have to cross," she told them. "We should cross and then rest for the night." With that, she took a couple steps and hopped across the twenty-foot-wide stream. Then she looked back and realized that the others could not so easily get across.

   "Now, I didn't think about this problem before," Skata pondered. "I can just hop across, but I don't think little creatures like you can jump that far, can you? I'm so sorry! I keep forgetting how disabled you all are with your short legs."

   "Can't you just carry each of us across in your hands?" asked Szordrin.

   She agreed and found herself giggling with each person she carried over. "You don't weigh anything!" she exclaimed. The sled dogs did not like being moved in this manner. A few tried to bite her, but her thick giant skin prevented them from causing her any harm. "It tickles!" she said.

   They made camp by the water, now on the northern edge of the Sea. Skata took her harp from her hip and began to strum a peaceful melody. Considering the fact that the harp was human-sized, her skill at strumming each note was impressive. Mythlos — and his magic toad — sang a tune with lyrics that Jayce had taught him.

   "You have a beautiful voice," she said.

   "You play excellently," said the moon elf.

   She laughed. "It is nothing. My people are lovers of music and art. I know no one in my home who is not a better musician than I."

   "Jayce would have loved to visit then," said Mythlos.

   "Who is Jayce?" she asked.

   "A friend," said Mythlos. "He was left behind on the island."

   "Tell me about this island," she said. "Remember, Bjorn and I first saw you when you slew the dragon. We know nothing of the adventure you had that brought you here."

   As it grew darker, they filled her in on some of their prior adventures. She was delighted with every story.

   Leokas showed her the omlar gem. "Is the pebble we seek for you anything like this?"

   "No, it is a stone, not a carved gem like this one. These are Dethek runes, and the symbol of arcane fire. E, A, M...."

   "Yes, it spells the name 'Samber'. That much we know."

~~~~

The night passed peacefully. The 22nd of Eleasias was calm and cold, as most of the days had been. By mid-morning, they had reached a second stream. Skata once again carried each of them across.

   "That there is my home," Skata said, pointing at a the mountain range of white they could see in the distance. "See the palace?" They could not, not even the elves.

   They continued traveling along the coast of the Sea. Here, the water was jammed with high, floating cliff walls of ice.

   Around mid-afternoon, they reached the final of the three streams. This one was wider than the other two, but not too far for Skata to jump, though she needed to get a running start to land far enough from the shore not to crack the ice with her landing.

   At last the elves could make out what she had been pointing at earlier, a blip of dark against the white of the mountains, some fifteen miles or so away. Leokas found it odd that the blip was not surrounded in cloud.

   "I do not think we will be able to reach the palace until after dark," she said, "but I think we should press on anyhow. I would like to sleep in my own bed tonight, and I need a warm bath."

   She led them along the Sea, heading east, for about one more hour; then, she had them turn to the north and head into the foothills of the Lugalpgotak Mountains. Two more hours passed, and they were well into the foothills now. The slope of the land kept increasing. The dogs began to grow weary. "Put the dogs on the sleds," she said. "Let them rest. I can drag the sleds uphill. The rest of you will have to walk the rest of the way. It is going to become too rough for sleds anyway."

   The terrain did grow rougher, and large rocks began appearing through the ice. The sun had also set fully now, so it was dark, and they were all hungry, having exhausted their food supplies. Even so, they had traveled in far worse conditions.

   Then Leokas spotted something airborne. "Skata," he warned, "look!"

   Everyone turned and saw a large prismatic object floating toward them. Soon, they saw that it had a roughly humanoid body, with two legs, two arms, and a tail. It was about nine feet tall and seemed to be a creature carved from solid ice.

   "That is not a frost giant is it?" asked Szordrin.

   "No," said Skata. "I do not know what it is." She bent down and began to make a boulder-sized snowball.

   "An elemental of some sort then?" the wizard guessed. "From one of the para-elemental planes?"

   The creature floated nearer. They could now see that it had sharp claws on its hands and feet. Icicle-like projections grew from its face like a beard. It came to rest fifteen feet from them. They noticed that Skata's feet were no longer resting on the snow; she was floating a foot or two off the surface, much like Vashti used to do. She had packed her snow boulder into a ball of packed ice.

   Cassiera's magical yuan-ti eyes could see an aura of green around the sharp tip of the strange creature's tail. It was poisonous.

   Now that it had landed, they could also see that its body was covered in glowing runes, somewhat like tattoos, carved into its icy body. It had a rope around its shoulder, but otherwise was unclothed and appeared sexless. It looked them over carefully. Then it spoke slowly, with a deep calculated voice. "What are you?" It directed its question directly at Cassiera.

   "Who is asking?" she replied.

   "I do not have a name," said the creature, "though I have been called Isskegg before."

   "A fitting name," said Skata.

   "What does that mean?" asked Szordrin.

   "It is Jotun for 'ice beard'," she said.

   "I am Cassiera," said the yuan-ti.

   "I did not ask you who you are; I asked what you are. You are not an elf. You are not a dwarf. You are not a giant. You have strange skin on your neck for a human. What are you?"

   "I am a yuan-ti," she said, "one of the many serpentfolk of the world."

   "Hmm," the creature said, almost humming. Then it turned and gazed at Szordrin. "What are you?"

   "Do we even know that yet?" said Hakam.

   "Yes, I told you all back in Chult that I am a tiefling," said Szordrin.

   "A tiefling?" said the creature.

   "A tiefling. I am a human with fiendish blood in my ancestry, but I am mostly human."

   "Hmm," the creature said.

   "What are you?" asked Mythlos.

   "It is not your turn to ask questions," said the creature. So they remained silent. It looked at Mythlos next. "You are a silver elf, yes?"

   Mythlos nodded.

   "You are a copper elf. You are a cloud giant. You are a green elf."

   "A wild elf," said Belvin. "My people find the term 'green elf' offensive."

   "What are you?" the creature asked, staring intently at Ilthian.

   "I am a forokell, sir. Now it is our turn, I think," she said bravely.

   "Yes, yes. It is your turn to ask me questions."

   "What are you?" repeated Mythlos.

   "I am an immoth."

   "Are you from another plane?" asked Szordrin.

   "Perhaps once. Now, I have no home."

   "What do you want from us?" asked Mythlos.

   "I desire knowledge."

   "What sort of knowledge?" asked Szordrin.

   "Deep knowledge, old knowledge, knowledge of other times and places."

   "We could tell him of the blue dragon's treasure perhaps," suggested Mythlos.

   "Or the ruins of Calim's harem palace," said Leokas.

   "What will you do if we give you this knowledge you seek?" asked Szordrin.

   "I will let you pass."

   "And if we give you no such knowledge?" asked Skata.

   "I will eat you," said the immoth matter-of-factually.

   "Show him Samber's journal," said Leokas. Szordrin did so, approaching the ice creature carefully and handing it to it.

   The immoth took the book in its sharp claws and turned a few pages. Apparently, it could read extremely quickly. It tossed the book back on the snow in front of Szordrin. "No," it said. "This Samber seems a powerful mage, but the words that give him his power are not on these pages. I desire words, words of knowledge, words of power. Can you tell me where to find him?"

   "We fear he is dead," said Hakam.

   The immoth shook its head. "That will do no good."

   Szordrin next tried the fragment he carried with the logo of the Interlink Consortium.

   "Hmm," said the immoth as it studied the symbol intently.

   "Why are you hunting that symbol down, Szordrin?" asked Hakam.

   "It represents the scum of Toril," was the tiefling's only reply.

   The immoth shook its head again. "I do not know this symbol, but there is no power in it."

   "If you ever see it again, find me," said Szordrin.

   Mythlos unrolled one of his arcane scrolls. "What about this?"

   The immoth seemed able to read the scroll and understand the spell it contained. It stepped back suddenly, moving more quickly then they had yet seen it move. "No, no, no," it intoned. "I cannot control fire; I am a being of ice."

   "What about this one?" said Szordrin, holding up another scroll. "It is a magic of shadow, not of fire."

   "Hmm," the immoth hummed. "Hmm," it said again. "I have found many words of shadow magic of late, but I have not found this one. I will have it." It snatched the scroll from Szordrin's hands. Then, it started to turn around and walk away. "There is no more to talk about now." It stopped suddenly. "You may have this rope, and these useless stones," the immoth said. It tossed the rope it had carried to the ground and with it a pouch that it must have held in one of its large hands the whole time. Then, without saying anything else, Isskegg floated away.

   "Well, then, that was weird," said Skata. She reconnected with the ground and tossed her snowball down the side of the mountain.

~~~~

"The rope is magical," said Szordrin, after casting a spell.

   "And this bag of coins weighs more than my armor," said Mythlos. "It is all gold too."

   The magic rope was knotted through a small wooden ring, which had Dwarven runes on it. They showed it to Skata, who struggled to read it, since the runes were so small to her eyes. "Yes, this is Jotun," she said. "Ormur er meg nom., which means, 'My name is Ormur.'"

   "Ormur, Ormur, Ormur," said Belvin. The rope quivered in response as if alive.

   "Ormur, tie yourself into a figure eight knot," said Leokas. The rope obeyed, resulting in a beautiful knot.

   "Now this will come in handy," said Leokas.

   Szordrin picked up the rope.

   Hakam took issue with this. "That rope is certainly worth more than the low-power spell you gave that creature!"

   "Not from its point of view!"

   "We should keep climbing," said Skata. "Settle your disagreement later. Come."

~~~~

At last they came upon the fallen cloud palace. The complex was a mile wide, spread out now over several hills. It had fared relatively well from its slow fall from the sky. Walls and colonnades that had connected the various towers were broken apart, but the towers themselves stood upright for the most part, though some had more tilt than others. The construction was rather simple; the palace seemed to have been constructed from massive stone bricks. If cloud giants were lovers of art, architecture was not considered a great art. This is not to say that the palace did not appear impressive, but it did so from its shear size, not from the beauty of its edifices.

   Skata had them stay away from the main gate. "I will take you up to my tower through my bedroom window. I do not want anyone else to know you are here."

   "What about the dogs?" one of them asked. "We cannot keep them from barking."

   "They seem exhausted from the long day now. In the morning, I may have to think of something. There are other dogs in the palace. Giants keep pets just like you elves and humans do. Our walls our also thick. I do not know; I shall think of something.

   "Come now, who is first? Hop onto my hands."

   One by one, all rode on Skata's hands like on an elevator, as she used her magical power over wind to float the several giant-sized stories to the top of her tower and let her passenger step onto the window sill of her chamber. It was somewhat terrifying seeing such a large-sized room.

   "Where will we all be staying?" asked Ilthian, once they were all within the room.

   "You can all hide in this closet," Skata suggested. "Just be careful not to knock over my boots and hurt yourselves. I will bring you some pillows from my bed to sleep on. What will work for a chamber pot? A tea cup, perhaps? I shall go find one. If there is not enough room among my boots in there, some of you might fit in this bottom clothes drawer in this dresser, if I empty it first." She removed a large weight of clothes from the bottom drawer and tossed them on her bed.

   It was a somewhat awkward arrangement, but the adventurers were so tired from the long day's journey, they put up with it and rested for the night, wondering what a day in a cloud giant palace would entail on the morrow.
Session: 64th Game Session - Thursday, Jan 21 2016 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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Pointer-left Investigator__male_2_thumb
Lhynard
Posted by the GM
De Exilio
Chapter 1 — Skata Karisdottr
Around dinnertime, there was some murmuring in the guest camp, and folk began pointing at a strange fog that had appeared in the distance and was now approaching at a fast pace over the snow. This was all the more strange as there was otherwise no significant wind, barely even a breeze.

   Hakam prayed, "Anachtyr, purge all hidden things from around me!" A ripple emanated from his body, but nothing invisible revealed itself. He bravely approached the incoming cloud. Leokas nocked an arrow.

   Suddenly, from within the cloudy mist, a tall figure emerged, first one enormous brown boot, wearing a snowshoe, followed by the rest of her massive figure. Tall was an understatement — the woman standing before them was over seventeen feet high. Her sharp-featured face looked about the age of a teenager, yet the muscles of her bare arms were defined like that of an athlete from the Thulbanian Games. Her skin was milky-white, much like an albino, yet it had a blue tint to it, similar to Mythlos'. Her long hair was the color of polished brass and was braided in two pigtails held in place with silver combs. She wore thick and high fur-rimmed boots, a skirt of leather and fur over leather leggings, and a fur-rimmed tunic. Her clothing was decorated with intricate patterns sewn in with thick golden thread, and she wore white gloves and, around her neck, a necklace of pink pearls. At her hip belt hung a huge brass mug inlaid with jade stones, a couple velvet pouches, and a human-sized golden harp.

   Many of the Iulutiuns drew their iuaks, while others rushed to grab weapons from among those being prepared for trade. "Isejotun!" was a cry that the adventurers heard, but the arctic dwarves nearby tried to calm the Ulutiuns, and the giantess herself shook her head. "Ekki et isejotun, et skyejotun," she said with a booming but pleasant, youthful voice. "I am a cloud giant, silly little peoples," she said in Common, "do not be afraid. I mean no harm." The arctic dwarves quickly translated this information to the frightened humans.

   Leokas lowered his bow, not that the giantess seemed bothered by it. Her eyes quickly scanned the crowd. She spotted the adventuring party and her face lit up with excitement. "Oh, there you are! You are even tinier in real life." She crouched down and rested her arms on her knees to get a closer look at them, and her head was still a good eight feet above the ground. "Oh my gods! look at your tiny pointed elf ears," she said, staring at Mythlos. "And look at you!" She glanced over at Hakam. "You aren't even as tall as my knees. So cute! May I pick you up?"

   "First, introduce yourself," said the cleric.

   Before she could answer, an arctic dwarf ran up suddenly from somewhere in the village proper. The adventurers had not noticed this particular dwarf before. He bore a large harpoon of some sort, which was oversized for him, and it looked like he might shove it into the giant woman, but he stopped short and shook it at her while shouting out with a booming voice, demanding that she declare her name and purpose.

   The giantess stood back up to her full height and placed her hands on her hips. "I am Skata Karisdottr," she said proudly. "I have come here to take this little group of funny people back to my granduncle's palace."

   "Who is your granduncle?" shouted Szordrin, but the giantess had burst out laughing, almost snorting, and didn't seem to have heard the question. "Put that stick away, short, little runt," she said to the dwarf, "before you hurt someone."

   "I am not a runt! I am Nurthal of the Inugaakalikurit of Novularond," he said, "and I have slain many giants!" but despite his efforts at sounding tough, his high-pitched voice only made the giantess laugh more.

   Once she could stop herself from laughing, she replied, "Well, perhaps you have indeed slain an isejotun, though even that is doubtful, but I am a skyejotun. I could simply float just out of your reach and drop a boulder on your head."

   Thankfully, two other arctic dwarves came beside Nurthal and had him lower his weapon. They apologized to Skata for him.

   She then turned her attention back toward the party. "So, you should rest;" she said, "we have a long journey to the palace tomorrow. Would you mind building me a pillow of snow? I think I'll sleep over there, so that I don't accidentally roll over and squish any of you when I sleep; I do tend to toss and turn a lot."

   "Wait a moment!" Szordrin protested. "Who is your granduncle again?"

   "I never told you his name," said the giantess. "He is Nafni, chieftain of my tribe of giants."

   "How does he know us?" the tiefling demanded.

   "He does not know anything about you at all," said the giant.

   "You just said you were to bring us to his palace."

   "Only because I live there. If I have my way, he will not know of your existence until after you return with the prize. It is I who want you. I need you to help me win the wager I made with my elder brother. He thinks you cannot do it; I think that you can."

   "Why would you make a wager about us?" asked Leokas. "How do you even know about us?"

   "I've been watching you for days now."

   The adventurers stared back at her, confused. The villagers began to disperse, as it seemed this strange visitor had no concern for them directly.

   "Come, sit, and I shall tell you my story." With this, she bent down to unlatch her snowshoes. Then she sat crosslegged in the snow, shaking the ground as her weight settled. The adventurers also sat down to listen.

   Skata smiled and giggled. "I'm sorry," she apologized, "It's just that you look like the dolls I had when I was little, sitting to have tea with me."

   "How do you know us?" Leokas asked again.

   "Yes, yes," she began. "Back on the twelfth of Eleasis, Bjorn — he's my brother — and I were in the family den, bored, as usual, and so we looked into the scrying pool to see what was happening outside. This tends to be how we spend our time when there is nothing else to do on a given day. We scanned around until we saw a white dragon that looked like it was about to dive down on its prey for a kill. I don't particularly like to watch such things — I can't bear to watch weak creatures suffering — but Bjorn loves to, says it's just a part of nature. So I wrestled with him for control of the runes to change what we were watching, and then we both saw the six of you and stopped our little fight to watch. It was amazing! You with the furry face and your magic that kept the dragon from escaping; the pretty little lady and her neverending flasks of fire; the tiny, brown, handsome man and his purple grid — what was that? — and beam of light; and you," — she pointed at Mythlos — "you kept falling over and getting back up again like a little wooden wobble-doll toy I had as a girl! We laughed so hard, my brother and I; it was the best.

   "After that we became addicted to watching you in the pool each day. Of course, we had no idea what you were saying, since we could only see you, not hear you, but it became pretty obvious that you had no idea where you were going or what you were doing, and you certainly don't belong on the Great Glacier, which made it all the more exciting to watch. We quite enjoyed when you annihilated that awful, ugly mohrg. (We had to look up what that thing was afterwards in the library.)

   "You have a library?" asked Belvin.

   Skata looked insulted. "We are cloud giants, not barbarians!"

   Szordrin and Mythlos grew excited. The former asked, "Do you have a magical laboratory?"

   Skata gave him a funny look. "What did I just say?"

   She waited a few moments. "Shall I continue?" They nodded, so she did. "So anyhow, then Bjorn and I got in a heated argument about what other feats you six little people could perform. He thinks that you are all just overly blessed by your goddess Tymora or something like that. But I think there is more to you than that, even if you all are barely two feet tall! So I made a wager with him about the pebble, and he is holding me to it. Thus, I need you to come back with me and retrieve the pebble, and with such a victory over my brother, that will put me over him in the ordning."

   "What pebble?" said Leokas. "You never told us about any pebble yet."

   "Oh, of course, because you interrupted me and started to ask questions about Granduncle. I want you to sneak into a frost giant lair and steal a tiny pebble. Well, not just any pebble. This pebble is covered in very small runes, all over its surface. It will be found in an unassuming pouch, probably deep in their storerooms. They are too stupid to know what to do with it; it won't be well-protected."

   "Why don't you just attack the frost giants and take the pebble yourself?" asked Szordrin.

   "I'm only thirty-seven years old!" said Skata. "I could hold my own against a single frost giant, because they are useless runts, but I'm a young maiden, not a warrior. I'd be overpowered by a whole tribe of them."

   "Yet you made a bet that we could defeat them?" said Cassiera.

   "Not defeat them! I just think you are small enough to sneak in and get back out undetected."

   "Why don't you use your powerful magics to shrink yourself and sneak in on your own?" asked Szordrin.

   "I wouldn't win the wager with my brother that way, now would I? If I win, not only will I pass my own older brother in the ordning, but I will also restore my tribe to the clouds!"

   "Wait, Szordrin, I think we could do this," said Leokas. Then he asked Skata, "Why do you want this particular pebble? What does it do? What do you mean, 'restore your tribe to the clouds'?"

   "To answer that requires another story," said Skata. "You see, my tribe lives in a cloud palace ruled by my granduncle, Nafni, as I had said, my father Karis' father's brother. For years, we sailed the skies on our cloud, stopping on high mountains here and there, visiting our kin or other races in whom we choose to show interest. A few years ago, however, something happened. I do not know what, and neither I nor my brother are high enough in the ordning to know, but we... crashed. Not quickly, thank Stronmaus, but gradually. Even so, it was beyond the power of the runecasters to stop, and we came down to rest in the western tip of what the humans of these parts call the Lugalpgotak Range."

   "Is that by the Lugalpgotak Sea?" asked Szordrin.

   "Yes," said Skata. "Thankfully, the temperatures here are not so much colder than they are high up in the sky where we are used to living, so we do not suffer greatly. Still, a cloud giant does not belong so close to the ground, and we long to soar again.

   "And this is where you come in. I made the wager with my brother after I did a little research of my own. I have always shown talent greater than other giantesses my age at school, and I am quite skilled at finding what I need to in the palace library. I found a book of history that wrote of an old cloud giant settlement in the Novularond before the coming of the Great Glacier 3,909 years ago, when Ulutiu betrayed Annam All-Father, all honor be to him. This cloud giant settlement was sacked and destroyed by a powerful frost giant jarl. (The frost giants were far more numerous and powerful then; they were not the barbaric and stupid runts they are now.) In any case, this tribe of cloud giants died out and all of their possessions, including at least one unused cloud palace levitation runestone. The book claims that the descendants of the same tribe of frost giants still live within the same cavern complex as they did nearly 4,000 years ago! The runestone must still be in their treasure chambers."

   "How are we supposed to find this pebble?" asked Leokas.

   "Here is the best part: the book included a map! The map was not made by giants; it was made by human explorers, from before I was born, from far to the south. They stumbled into the giants' treasure room by accident through human-sized tunnels when exploring for gems. These explorers quickly fled the caves, but they recorded the map and years later traded it with some scribes, and it eventually found its way to our palace, and someone inserted the page into the book. You would simply find your way through the tunnels and into the frost giant lair, locate the runestone from among the junk I'm sure those runts have collected, escape, and return to me. Easy as eating a pie."

   "What would be our reward?" asked Szordrin.

   "We are cloud giants! I am sure there will be something that I can provide you as a suitable reward. What sort of reward do you seek?"

   "Do you have any expert swordsmen among you?" asked Mythlos. "I desire to become better skilled at my blade."

   "My people tend to favor clubs or axes," she replied, "but don't you think you are a little bit little to be trained by a giant?"

   "Do you have any magical weapons our size that would help us in our quest to infiltrate the frost giants' lair?" asked Szordrin.

   "Not magical weapons your size, no."

   "Perhaps in one of the dollhouses you mentioned?" asked Belvin.

   "I gave all my dolls to a younger cousin decades ago; I am not a little girl anymore! Even so, why would my dolls have had magical weapons?"

   "I don't know," said Belvin. "I thought maybe because you were cloud giants, not barbarians...."

   "There is something we need," said Leokas. "We need to cross over the Southern Shield. If we won your wager, and your palace was restored to the air, would you be able to fly us over?"

   "I myself do not know where this Southern Shield is. Is it a mountain range? That might be possible. In any case, you must come to the palace before heading out to the frost giants' lair; I will need to give you the explorers' map, and I can sneak you into the library if you wish to prepare yourselves beforehand.

   "Now then, I am tired. Are you going to make me a pillow of snow or not?"

~~~~

They agreed and made a large pile of snow for her. That evening, after she had gone to sleep a good distance from the guest camp and fair grounds, Nurthal, the dwarf who had challenged Skata approached them secretly. "You are foolish to trust that giantess," he said. "Never trust a giant!"

   "I think we'll be okay," said Leokas. "Thank you."

   "If you ever change your minds," said Nurthal, "here is my calling rune." He handed them a small slab of stone with a rune carved in it, two parallel horizontal lines with the lower line intersected by a perpendicular line.



   "What happens if we touch the rune?" asked Szordrin.

   "Nothing," said the Dwarf, "but if you have the magic to contact me, the rune will help." He turned and left them.

   "Should we get him to come along with us?" Szordrin asked the others.

   "I don't think that would be wise," said Hakam. Leokas agreed.
Session: 64th Game Session - Thursday, Jan 21 2016 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
Viewable by: Public
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Pointer-left Investigator__male_2_thumb
Lhynard
Posted by the GM
De Exilio
Chapter 1 — Gotokok
Gotokok seemed about the same size as Koyoss in terms of the number of snowhouses, but just outside the cluster of homes was a large area with permanent stone half-circles. Villagers were working on building shop counters of snow and hanging roofs of animal skins, turning these structures into shops for the trade fair.

   The party had arrived two days early; however, there was already a good deal of bustle in preparation for the fair, and many other visitors had already arrived as well. A cluster of temporary snowhouses were erected near the fair grounds, where visiting Iulutiuns were staying. Wariik and his sons found a spot and began to build.

   The others began searching around for someone who could speak Common. They eventually came across a man who had similar hair and skin color to the Iulutiuns but was much taller and less broad. He wore an Iulutiun parka for warmth, but he also had an ornate sash as a belt that further set him apart as an outsider.

   "My name is Liang Jin," he said, while squinting, giving a slight bow with his hands folded in front of himself.

   Hakam introduced himself and his companions and explained how they were in need of a translator and of help in understanding certain cultural expectations among the Iulutiuns.

   "I speak fluent Common and High Shou, the language of my homeland, far to the east, in Kara-Tur. I have lived here for a year, so I also speak Ulutiun, but I am not fully fluent. My master, however, is, though he is not likely to leave his snowhouse. He is a very private man."

   "Who is your master?" asked Szordrin.

   "I am a monk, a disciple of Lin Man-Shu, follower of the great Mad Monkey. Fellow disciple Bai Shun and I traveled far over the Eastern Shield to find him. He believes that true isolation in a great wilderness leads to the pure physical perfection we seek."

   "You came over the Eastern Shield?" asked Leokas. "Did you encounter any remorhaz?"

   "Shun and I spotted one in the distance, but the gods spared us an encounter with the great beast." Jin continued, "It is said that there are far more remorhaz in the Southern Shield than in the Eastern Shield."

   "Do any of the Iulutiuns speak fluent Common?" asked Hakam.

   Jin continued squinting. "There are a few. Iirkik, the medicine woman, does. She is a sort of outsider in the community, for she worships the god Ulutiu, whereas the majority of Iulutiuns reject the gods altogether. Moreover, Ulutiu is said to be either a dead or sleeping god."

   "Why don't the gods simply show up and reveal their power here as in the rest of Faerûn?" asked Leokas.

   "They have no power if they have no worshipers, remember?" Hakam replied.

   "Is there anyone else?" asked Szordrin.

   "I know that Nirval, the village anagakok, speaks Common," answered Jin, "but she is also treated more as an outsider."

   "What is an anagakok?" asked Szordrin.

   "They seem to be the closest the Iulutiun people have to a wizard," explained Jin, "but their powers are mostly concerned with survival in the cold. They have a very strange ritual they must pass to receive their powers. It physically changes them forever."

   "How so?"

   "If they survive the process, they grow fur, much like the yeti."

   "I can see why she would be an outsider," said Mythlos.

   Jin squinted and shook his head. "No. It will seem strange to you, but the Ulutiuns are used to such a thing. They find her strange because she keeps many animals as pets."

   "Such as?" said Szordrin.

   "Penguins, for example. The Iulutiuns treat dogs and kupuk as almost family, but all other animals are thought of as food sources."

   "Would you be able to show us to this Nirval?" Hakam asked.

   "It is growing dark now," said Jin, "but her house is over there." He pointed to one of the snowhouses on the edge of the village.

   Before they rested for the night in the visitors' camp, they also priced kayaks and found that trading a single sled dog would get them four of the one-person boats. They decided to hold off on trading for anything until morning.

~~~~

That night, at moondark, just at the end of his shift as watch, Belvin spotted a troupe of four large humanoid figures in the darkness, passing by the village. Three of the creatures seemed very hairy, had long arms, and hunched over somewhat as they walked. They carried large clubs of some sort and had a cluster of javelins on their backs. They seemed to be led by a slightly larger, horned humanoid with a chain shirt and a greatsword and bow strapped to its back. It was not hairy like its counterparts. All four carried large sacks, as if they were on a long journey somewhere. The creatures stayed some 20 yards beyond the edge of the village.

   As usual, Belvin waited to see what would happen rather than sound an alarm.

   One of the creatures spotted the elf and stopped. Belvin could hear them whispering in a foreign tongue amongst themselves. The bigger, horned one seemed to be ordering the other three; then, it turned to look directly at Belvin and waved.

   Belvin waved back.

   The hulking humanoids then turned and walked further off, until Belvin could no longer see them in the darkness.

   "Anything out there?" asked Cassiera, as she came to replace Belvin for the final watch.

   The wild elf shrugged.

~~~~

The next morning, Hakam found Leokas and Ilthian and told them that they were all going to speak with Nirval, the anagakok. First, he used his tongues spell on himself. Then he recovered Wariik and Hitlak. Szordrin also asked to come along.

   Nirval indeed looked like a yeti, albeit a small one. Only her eyes and lips could be seen through the white hair on her face. She did not wear bulky clothes but dressed instead in a simple skin tunic. She was very welcoming and friendly, and invited them in to her inner lulik. On the lower floor, she had a pool of water in which three penguins were playing. None of the adventurers had ever seen a penguin before, though they had already been introduced to penguin stew by Chamuk while in Koyoss. The flightless birds seemed quite playful.

   "What is that?" asked Szordrin, motioning to the strange furry thing around her shoulders that he at first mistook for a thick scarf until it moved.

   "That is Kiigaa," Nirval said. "He is my ice worm. Do you wish to pet him?"

   Szordrin declined.

   Nirval spoke excellent Common, but Hakam chose to speak in Ulutiun by means of his magic so that Hitlak and Wariik would hear everything. "We were hoping you could assist us in matters regarding the customs and mores of this land with which I am not familiar," he began. He then explained how Ilthian had accepted an engagement gift from Hitlak and reciprocated with a gift of her own.

   Nirval answered with the same information that Lelchik had told them. Until the parents of each party gave approval, the marriage would not occur. However, she further explained that the engagement could only be broken by mutual agreement of the two parties or by a rejection from either set of parents.

   "I do not oppose the marriage," said Wariik. "My son needs a good wife, especially since his elder brother has found one. I admit that I at first feared that my son chose Ilthian for poor reasons — as Inum says, 'Beauty is deceitful; its promise of happiness is as false as its guarantee of permanence' — but as they rode in my sled together two days ago, I saw that she has a good and kind character. I would be happy to have her as a daughter-in-law. My only concern is that I cannot judge her fertility, as I do not know her mother or her sisters, and she has rather slight hips."

   "I will not break the engagement!" said Hitlak, appearing somewhat exasperated. "I will be true to my commitment. Besides, I know that Ilthian is meant to be my wife, for Najlak prophesied that I would find my wife before winter comes. It must be her! Also, I do not disapprove of her tiny hips."

   For her part, Ilthian was silent and seemed to be contemplating matters. (It also probably helped that she could not understand the Ulutiun word for "hips".)

   "Neither of you could be her father," Nirval observed, looking at Leokas and Hakam, and speaking in Common. "Where is the young maiden's father or mother?"

   "He is far away," said Hakam.

   "Nearly on the other side of the continent, beyond Chult," Leokas added.

   "I have never heard of Chult," said Nirval. "You seem a powerful person, though," she said to Hakam. "I see you wear the symbol of some god or other. Can you not use the power of your god to contact this maiden's mother or father?"

   "Her father is a... simple man," Hakam explained, "and he would not understand the customs of Alpuk. On their island, matters of marriage are handled very differently."

   "So you have not even tried to send word to him then?"

   "We believe that a powerful magic prevents it," said Leokas. "We have tried contacting others on her island and failed."

   "One of our goals is to travel back to the island and return her to her people, but that may be a very long time," said Hakam, "and we cannot even promise that we will survive the task. It is fraught with danger." Hakam repeated himself in Ulutiun so that Wariik and Hitlak could understand.

   "Perhaps Hitlak could travel with us," suggested Szordrin, and this was translated by Nirval into Ulutiun.

   "I would not be of any use to you outside Alpuk," said Hitlak. "I am a good hunter, but I am humble. I know that I am not yet as great a hunter as my father or even as brave as Dygtuk. I also have never traveled even as far as the Lugsaas. You have slain a white dragon; I have only ever slain a white bear.

   "Ilthian is a woman of great honor. I know that she will keep her promise; I know that she will return to me when she can. I have only seen sixteen winters. I still have four years before others in the village will begin to think me lazy. Besides, Najlak only said that I would find my wife before winter, not that I would marry her. I will be patient." He ended by giving Ilthian an awkward but genuine smile.

   Hakam roughly translated what the young man had said to his companions and Ilthian.

   "Will you return to him, Ilthian?" Nirval asked her kindly, "if your mother and father permit it."

   "My mother and father will almost certainly not permit it," said Ilthian, "but I often go against father's wishes. However, I have learned from Hakam that it is wrong to go against one's own commitments. Hitlak is very kind, but even if he were not, I agreed to marry him, so until... unless my parents undo it, I am happy to remain engaged. I promise to return here if they do permit it.

   "Please do not translate the part where I said I think that they will not permit it," she added.

   Nirval translated, and Hitlak looked very happy.

   Hakam told Hitlak and his father that they could go, but that he had a few more unrelated things to discuss with the anagakok.

   "Thank you for your help," Hakam said, after the two Iulutiun men had left. "Might we ask you some further questions?" Nirval nodded, and Hakam continued. "Are there other important matters of culture we are likely to encounter that we should know about?"

   "You should know that Iulutiun culture is an honor culture," she said. "It is the worst of crimes to dishonor another. Such things lead to blood feuds. However, on the whole, we are a very peaceful people. We have had no wars since over 2,000 years ago. After these Keryjek Wars, the Angulutiuns and Iulutiuns established koatulit and sukkiruchit, such fairs as you now attend, so that better understanding will always exist among the different tribes and settlements."

   "Have you ever traveled to the Southern Shield and encountered remorhaz," asked Leokas, "and would you be able to guide us there?"

   "No to both of your questions," she replied. "I am not a powerful wizard; I would not survive long against such beasts. They can generate intense heat with which they melt tunnels through the snow. Dreadful creatures! No, I stay local and help the village when they go on communal hunts. I have helped them slay a white dragon — indirectly, of course, by spells that strengthened and protected the warriors — and only once, but the people of Gotokok have no reason to travel to the Lugsaas. I think you overestimate the use of magic in these lands."

   "So you do not have a magical study or a place where I could scribe new spells?" asked Szordrin.

   "I do not. I have never scribed a scroll. My magics are more subtle. See, my spellbook is but a simple leaflet compared to yours." She held up a small bundle of pages of animal skins.

   "How did you become a wizard then?"

   "I became apprentice to another anagakok, from another village. At that time, I had no fur, but had smooth skin as all other Ulutiuns do. For a month, he taught me these spells and the secret lore of survival that all anagakok must learn. Then, on the coldest of nights, we performed a ceremony together. After many long hours of meditation, his power transferred to me, and I took on the appearance you now see."

   "Why do you keep such strange pets?" asked Szordrin.

   "Oh, don't be like the others! I do not understand why everyone does not keep such pets. Penguins are so much fun; they make me laugh, and I find Kiigaa comforting. Is that not why you keep a similarly furry creature around your neck?"

   "No, Ferry is magical and very useful," said Szordrin.

   After they had crawled through the tunnel leading out of Nirval's snowhouse, Ilthian spoke to Hakam. "I did the right thing, didn't I, Hakam? Are you proud of me?"

   "You did the right thing, yes," he answered.

~~~~

The rest of the day was relaxed, as there was not much for the adventurers to do in such a small village as Gotokok, where they could not speak the language. They had discussed whether or not they should leave now, but Szordrin and a couple of the others were curious about the trade fair and what weapons might be available. Beyond that, the only guide they could find, one Tirmuk, was not willing to leave until after the fair. So they waited. As in Koyoss, the people were very welcoming, but this did not help with the boredom.

   As the day grew on, however, more and more visitors began arriving, and the number of temporary snowhouses began increasing, until things began to get crowded.

   Some of the new arrivals looked like the Iulutiuns yet wore parkas of caribou hide instead of seal and muskox hide. Their parkas also had pointed instead of rounded hoods. These arrivals rode in on caribou sleds instead of dog sleds. Other guests wore parkas of wolf skin. Still others looked just like the Iulutiuns in manner of dress, but they came in sleds pulled by exceptionally strange beasts. These looked like very large dogs at first, but they had enormous tusks, almost like a walrus, and very long, prehensile tails, which they kept curled up in a spiral most of the time. They had a hairy mane, much like a lion, but they appeared almost fur-less otherwise. Their paws were wide, clawed, and webbed, allowing them to walk easily upon snow.

   Most noticeable of the guests, however, were the white-haired arctic dwarves, the Inugaakalikurit. They were as short as the wild dwarves the party had met in Chult, but even wider. They had sunburned skin and long curly hair. The males sported short goatees with long, curled moustaches, instead of the long beards they had thought all dwarves grew. Both the men and women dressed in simple tunics made from polar bear hide — which bothered Belvin — and went completely barefoot, despite the snow and cold. They had relatively high-pitched voices, which further set them apart from the humans of the region. These dwarves spoke a strange dialect of Common, in addition to their own language and that of the Ulutiuns, so they could communicate relatively easily with the adventurers.

   Leokas wanted to ask one of the dwarves about passage underneath the Southern Shield, so their group approached one of the fair booths where some dwarves were setting up shop. One of the dwarves spotted them and wobbled over to Hakam, pointing at his firearm. "What manner of weapon is that?" the dwarf said excitedly in his higher-pitched voice.

   "It is called a musket," Hakam replied, lowering it for the dwarf to examine. The cleric began explaining to the dwarf in detail how it functioned, and the dwarf took this information in with awe.

   "Where did you acquire such a thing?"

   "I purchased it from a gnomish village in the kingdom of Tethyr," Hakam answered.

   "Did you come here to trade these weapons?" asked the dwarf. "Where is your booth tomorrow?"

   "No, it is my personal weapon; I did not come to trade it."

   "My name is Garik," said the dwarf. "I am a craftsman of a very special kind of arrow. I do not usually make deals before the fair officially starts, but this seems a unique case. Here let me show you...." He abstracted a long arrow from a quiver and held it out. Leokas took great interest in this. It had a tip that looked like it was shaped from solid ice yet with a master craftsmanship as precise as any magic arrows he had seen. The arrow head was barbed and aerodynamic. "Our people are not known for powerful magics and we do not typically share the impressive craftsmanship of our dwarven cousins, but this here is an example of one of our worthy exceptions. It is a kerrenderit, carefully grown and crafted with nurturing care and magic over many long months within our deepest ice caves. Only our greatest hunters carry such arrows."

   "Pardon my ignorance in such matters, but what makes it so special?" asked Hakam.

   "The barbs do significantly more damage to a target then a normal arrowhead," said Garik, "and their shape makes them fly straighter, truer, and farther through the air. As a byproduct of the enchantment I use to create them, they also are better at passing through magical protections than a simple arrow."

   Garik noticed the interest that Leokas was showing and said, "If you are not willing to trade your musket for this arrow, perhaps your partner here would wish to trade something for it. Perhaps he carries another kind of magic arrow in one of his quivers."

   "How many arrows do you have?" asked Hakam.

   "I only have five kerrenderit here for trade. Again, they take many long months to create."

   "You are not the most accurate with your musket, Hakam," said Leokas. "It might be worth it to you to trade it for something easier for you to use."

   "I don't have a bow, and I'm no better at archery!"

   "Trade the gun for the arrows for me, and I'll compensate you so that you can get a more fitting ranged weapon for yourself later."

   "The gun cost me a platinum bar," said Hakam. "Would you give me one of the ones you received from Walker?"

   "Instead, would you be happy if I traded you the three dogs that are my share?"

   "That would be fair," Hakam agreed.

   "I believe that remorhaz are immune to the cold, like most creatures on this glacier," warned Szordrin. "The arrows might not be worth it to us."

   "The arrows are not imbued with the energy of ice," explained the arctic dwarf. "They are simply crafted from ice. Their power will still wound frost giants, white dragons, and winter wolves. I guarantee it!"

   "What is your offer, then?" asked Hakam.

   "I'll give you three of my five arrows for the musket," said Garik.

   "You will need ammo and smokepowder as well," said Hakam. "If I throw both into the trade, will you give all five of your arrows."

   The dwarf seemed delighted by this offer. "If you all give me proper training in how to load and fire the weapon, it's a done deal."

   Hakam agreed. Leokas received five new magical arrows — which he was careful not to bring inside a snowhouse, lest they melt — and the Calishite and the dwarf spent an hour or two learning and practicing the use of the musket.

   Meanwhile, the others had several conversations with the other Inugaakalikurit. They all agreed that there were no tunnels under the Lugsaas Chain. It was explained to them that all of the saas were primarily solid ice, formed from the violent manner in which the Glacier was formed thousands of years ago. Moreover, even if there were tunnels through the ice, they would be unstable, as a glacier was not a static thing. "Perhaps if you were to descend into the deepest Underdark," said one, "but then, the dangers you would face would be a hundred times as bad as a swarm of remorhaz." Szordrin even used a spell to read thoughts on one of the dwarves but this benefited him nothing. "There are countless expanses of tunnels beneath the Novularond," said the dwarf, "but none below the Lugsaas," but he thought, Why would anyone want to go to the Lugsaas? Why would anyone want to leave Novularond? Why did I even come on this trip. I hate this trade fair. They don't even have anything but the most basic of magics! Who needs another harpoon or ritiik? I'd much rather be sunbathing and enjoying a snowcone. Why do I always let Joylin talk me into coming each year? She's not even interested in me...!
Session: 64th Game Session - Thursday, Jan 21 2016 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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De Exilio
Chapter 1 — Sled Ride
Hakam and Belvin protected them from the elements once again. Wariik and his sons were bundled up in the typical Iulutiun fashion and were also wearing wooden snow goggles. Around highsun, they began mushing, leaving the tiny village of Koyoss behind them. They had arranged with Wariik before leaving a signal for him to give if he needed to communicate with them anything of great importance, and Hakam had readied an appropriate spell if needed. As they glided along behind the happy running dogs, Leokas — hooded in a new Iulutiun parka he had traded for just before leaving Koyoss — kept glancing back behind to ensure that neither white dragons nor Hilur were following them. Stormshadow seemed to be enjoying herself running beside the other dogs.

   Since he was stuck on a sled with Ilthian, Hakam had to answer more of her curious questions. "I heard you talking with Szordrin and Lelchik about me," she said, "about marriage. On my island, some of us are married, but they always have been. The Maker made them that way. I am not married. It sounds like, in this place, people who are not married can become married. I am no longer surprised by such things, as my island seems to be the strange one, but how does that work?"

   Hakam did his best to explain the concept of marriage. "In other lands, people do not start out as adults as you did; they come into the world as babies and grow in size and intelligence until they reach the age of majority, which in Calimshan is fifteen years old.

   "Oh, then I am too young to be married? My father is not yet fifteen, yet he is married to Mother."

   "In Calimshan, yes. I do not know about here in Alpuk, and on your island it is different."

   "Why do people become married? Why are they not content with the role in society the Maker,... I mean, the gods gave to them?"

   "Because their role changes as they grow and change themselves. In Calimshan, once a boy or girl becomes a man or woman at his fifteenth birthday, his role in society now changes. He no longer has to obey his parents' every command, he sets out to establish a trade for himself, and he has a responsibility to his family to take a wife. If a Calishite is not married by the time of his twentieth birthday, he brings disgrace on his family. It is a shameful thing!"

   "Am I to become married to Hitlak then?"

   "I do not know," Hakam replied, "but you did make a binding agreement, even if that was not your intent."

   "Can one become un-married?"

   "You can."

   "Are you married, Hakam?"

   "No."

   "Have you ever been married?"

   "No."

   "What about you, Cassiera?"

   "My people are very different," the yuan-ti woman answered, as she stood at the back of the sled. "We have families, of sorts, but we do not marry. There is very little love in the yuan-ti culture."

   "Love?" said Ilthian. "Hakam never said anything about love. What does that have to do with marriage?"

   "It has little to do with marriage," said Hakam.

   Meanwhile, on Leokas' sled Szordrin was asking about the ecology of the Glacier. It seemed strange to him that any animals could survive on the glacier at all. How were there enough plants to sustain even the small herd of muskoxen they had earlier seen?

   "From what I have heard about such lands," explained Leokas, "the animals migrate throughout the year. In the spring, presumably some resilient plants break through and grow for a short time, even in a place like this. The animals feast, storing up fat to survive the long winter, and they travel slowly from spring to autumn. I assume that the ones we saw knew of food somewhere to the west of where we were and simply came to the water to drink."

~~~~

It was a cold and calm day, and the sky was clear, which meant that they had to be careful about sunburn and snowblindness, but they were making good time. By highsun, they could spot hills to the west, and the elves claimed they could even see some green. Wariik had them stop for lunch and loosed the dogs. They all rushed to drink from the stream, barking happily. Everyone, except for Mythlos, got out some meat and began to eat. Wariik tossed some to the dogs as well.

   As he gnawed on some seal blubber, Wariik pointed to the hills. He growled and then lifted his head back and howled. Then he smiled.


   They did not, however, see any wolves that day. By mid-afternoon, as they traveled along the stream, the hills vanished from their sight behind them. They did see a cluster of eleven fat seals, reclining on the far shore of the stream, which ignored the travelers, and a herd of seventeen head of caribou, but the day was free of any predators.



   After they had stopped for the day and eaten dinner, Wariik and his sons began constructing a snowhouse for themselves with impressive speed. Leokas volunteered his help, and when they had finished, Wariik gave Leokas a slow nod, clearly indicating that he was impressed with the elf's knowledge of snowhouse construction.

   That night, Leokas, Cassiera, and Belvin kept watch, in turn, but the night was free of predators as well.

   Just as light was appearing on the eastern horizon, however, Belvin spotted two massive white bears approaching.


   The bears cautiously approached, sniffing the air. The dogs began barking and growling loudly and formed a tight circle. The bears sat on their rumps, some 20 yards away, and watched their potential meals with curiosity, but they did not come any closer.

   As the others began waking from the sound of the dogs barking, they looked up to see the wild elf approaching the bears slowly, making low grunting noises and speaking to them gently in Sylvan. The bears stared at Belvin intently and lay down fully on the ice.

   Belvin reached the larger of the two bears and bravely reached his hand out to stroke its fur. The bear seemed not to mind and even showed signs of enjoyment as Belvin began to scratch it behind the ears. Everyone else remained silent and still, not wanting to startle the bears and ruin what Belvin was doing.

   As Wariik came out of his snowhouse, he stared in complete shock, for Belvin crawled up on one of the bear's backs and was speaking to it softly. The bear got up and began to trot around in a wide circle. The other bear followed close behind, wanting to join in the play.

   After a few minutes of this, the bear Belvin was riding rose up to its full height of nearly ten feet, and Belvin fell to his back on the snow. The bears then began to walk away. Belvin was unhurt and let the animals leave. He got up and returned to the others.

   Wariik began rambling in Ulutiun. They could not tell whether he was angry or just excited. Leokas gave Belvin a nod, but Hakam shook his head.

~~~~

After the encounter with the polar bears, the party saw no other wildlife for the day.

   Today, Hitlak managed to communicate that he would like Ilthian to ride with him, so Ilthian traded spots with Hitlak's brother, and Dygtuk rode with Hakam on Cassiera's sled. The young Iulutiun was exceptionally quiet, not that Hakam could have understood him anyway. Ilthian and Hitlak appeared to be teaching each other words in their languages during their ride.

   Around highsun, they reached a fork in the stream, where two smaller streams joined together from the south to become the one they had been following. They stopped for lunch. After finishing eating, Wariik pointed to the west and said, "We go."

   Wariik kept them on a course driving directly into the sun for the whole afternoon. Before nightfall, they came to a large body of water, perhaps 20 miles across at its widest point. "Risuak... Lake," he said. "Good water; good fish. We stop."

   Like the stream they had been following earlier, the water was blue and crystal clear. The bottom of the lake was only five to twenty feet deep, and they could indeed see that it was full of many varieties of fish.

   Hitlak took a fishing pole from his sled and began teaching Ilthian how to fish. As he did so, he came up behind her and held her hands in his as she held on to the pole, showing her how to move it. They heard her speaking back to him in Ulutiun more and more.

   Leokas approached Hakam. "Can't you see what's going on?" the elf said. "We need to do something about this. Ilthian doesn't understand what is happening here."

   "She made an agreement," said Hakam.

   "Did she? Is it ethical to hold someone to an agreement about which they have no understanding?"

   "Wait till we reach the village," said Hakam. "I'll seek out someone there who can speak Common and I will learn more about their customs to discover what options she may have."

   "The sooner the better," said Leokas.

   Wariik and his two sons caught more than enough fish to share with the group, and they all enjoyed something different than seal meat for dinner.

   After dinner and building a snowhouse for himself, Wariik began pointing at the sled dogs, his own snowhouse, and the cloudy sky and saying the word jititip.

   They eventually understood that it was going to snow and that he was instructing them to build snowhouses for their dogs, one for each team, and he and his sons began constructing one for their six animals.

~~~~

That night, it indeed snowed. For five hours, from shortly after midnight, during Mythlos' watch, until dawn, when Leokas had the post, a mixture of snow and sleet came down, leaving two inches of precipitation the next morning.

   Today, Ilthian wanted to ride with Hakam again, which made Hitlak visibly sad. She spoke something to him kindly in Ulutiun, but this made him look even sadder.

   "I think that I told him I would ride with him tomorrow," she said, "but I might have accidentally said, 'yesterday'."

   Leokas looked at Hakam and mouthed, "Now's your chance; talk to her."

   Hakam walked over to him and whispered, "It's not her decision!"

   "She is not even seven-years-old!" said Leokas. "She is not old enough to give consent."

   "I do not even think she is that old," said Hakam. "You may have a valid point, but I already agreed to look into this more one we arrive at Gotokok. Be patient."

   On this their third day of traveling by sled, they glided alongside the lake, heading in a counterclockwise direction. At late morning, a few hours before lunch, they came to an Iulutiun village. "No Gotokok," said Wariik, "This... Vekkak."

   Vekkak was an even smaller village than Koyoss, with probably two-thirds the population. The villagers were intrigued by the strange array of travelers. They did not stay long, but Wariik traded for some seal meat for some fish.

   Setting out from Vekkak, they soon reached the stream that fed the lake and began following this south. It was covered in a thin layer of translucent ice with puddles of water here and there.

   At mid-afternoon, Wariik stopped them and gave the signal for Hakam to use his magic so that they could speak. Hakam used his power to loose his tongue to understand all speech. Wariik then explained to Hakam that Gotokok was several hours from this spot, on the stream but on the other side. They would need to cross the stream, which was risky, but he thought that here was the best spot to do so. The ice was indeed thicker here, fully opaque.

   "What do you think?" Szordrin asked Leokas.

   "I would guess that the ice could support us, but we could form rope teams just in case."

   This they did, and they cautiously crossed the stream, one at a time, and ordered each team of sled dogs to pull the sleds across one by one empty. There were no problems, and everyone crossed safely without the ice cracking.

   Now on the west side of the stream, it was only a few more hours of sledding until Gotokok.
Session: 64th Game Session - Thursday, Jan 21 2016 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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Pointer-left Investigator__male_2_thumb
Lhynard
Posted by the GM
De Exilio
Chapter 1 — The Huuk
Hilur stepped boldly forward and in a deep voice sang a short melody, while staring directly at Mythlos. He smiled, and all the crowd of Iulutiuns began chuckling. Lelchik, trying not to smile herself, translated. "He says, 'My friend, I ate some caribou meat last night that made my stomach sick. I thought of you.'"

   "Your sled has more life than you do," said Mythlos.

   "You forgot to sing," whispered Ilthian, but Lelchik already began translating.

   The crowd did not seem to respond well. Hilur's smile grew larger. This time, he turned and faced the crowd and sang a similar tune to them while pointing at Mythlos. "'My friend here has a temper so bad,'" Lelchik translated, "'that it makes dragons cower in their caves.'"

   This time Mythlos sang, and he matched the tone and style exceptionally well, but the crowd did not seem impressed with his improvised lyrics: "Indeed I do. Do you wish to be next?"

   "'My friend,'" sang Hilur through Lelchik, while staring at Mythlos again, "'your breath smells worse than year-old seal blubber.'" The crowd roared with laughter.

   Mythlos seemed stunned. He answered and sang, "If you hadn't lost your sense of smell, it would have."

   Lelchik translated this, but then she whispered to him, "You sing our song very well, but your insults are too defensive."

   Hilur's next insult was, "My friend, your skin has the fair texture of tirichik stew."

   "What is a tirichik?" asked Szordrin.

   "Better than the texture of a dire rat carcass!" sang Mythlos.

   Lelchik did not even translate this one. "Rats do not live on the Great Glacier," she warned. "Quick, something else!"

   "I'd rather crawl than rent one of your sled dogs," sang Mythlos. Lelchik hesitated but then translated. The crowd moaned and murmured.

   Hilur looked exceedingly angry. He paced around quickly, thinking. Then he faced Mythlos and sang. The crowd erupted in hysterical laughter, and Hilur began doing what appeared to be a victory dance.

   Lelchik said, "He says, 'My friend, I found moldy, hard bread bits in the bottom of my sack this morning that looked like teeth. Are you sure you did not lose any?'"

   The villagers began to disperse again.

   "I think that means we lost," said Ilthian.

   Lelchik nodded.

   "What does that mean for us?" asked Szordrin.

   "It might be for the best," said Lelchik. "Hilur is appeased. Some of the older villagers may now consider you dishonorable, but most are not likely to treat you any differently, although do not be surprised if your performance is not forgotten...."

~~~~

That night, shortly after dark, there was a great commotion in the tiny village. Hunters were rushing around, gathering up their bows and spears. Only Belvin knew this, because the rest of his companions were toasty warm inside Chamuk's snowhouse. Typical of Belvin, he simply observed.

   Perhaps an hour later, the hunters returned, bearing a massive, muskox-like creature among them on a sled. The creature had a humped back and snow-white fur. Belvin watched with curiosity as they butchered the animal and began to divide up the meat among themselves.

   Then, he noticed something else in the distance, in the fog, beyond the hunters, to which they seemed oblivious — two faint, glowing circles of blue, green, and yellow light. The lights were hovering and shifting about and changing colors. They looked somewhat like lanterns in the darkness, yet their movements were not like that of a person holding one.

   Belvin carefully crawled into the snowhouse and silently summoned Leokas out of trance. The two elves returned outside together.

   "I don't recognize these things," said Leokas. He approached one of the men who carried a large chunk of freshly cut meat and pointed at the lights. The man shrugged.

   "If he is not worried, nor am I," said Leokas. Belvin nodded. Then the two went back to resting for the night.

~~~~

In the morning, Chamuk brought them seal blubber for breakfast. They did not find this particularly appetizing, but they tried not to offend her and chewed on it until she left.

   When they exited the snowhouse, they located Lelchik and requested her aid as a translator once again. Leokas asked her about the strange lights the night before.

   "The aurora polaris?" she suggested. When Leokas answered in the negative, she did not know what else to suggest.

   With Lelchik's help, they traded the dragon head for several dozen pounds of meat and some arrows. Then she introduced them to Wariik. He agreed to guide them to the sukkiruchit in Gotokok on the next day, since they were going there anyhow.

   While arranging this, a young Iulutiun woman came up to Lelchik and delivered a message to her. A serious expression crossed her face.

   "What is it?" asked Szordrin.

   "I was wrong about Hilur," she said. "He still was not satisfied with his victory in the huuk last night. He has apparently now requested yijikak. That is, he is asking permission of the elders to murder Mythlos for insulting his dogs during the huuk. Now, do not fear; the elders typically take at least a month before making a decision on the matter. Even so, it may be in your best interest to leave Koyoss sooner rather than later."

   When this was suggested to Wariik, he agreed to leave a day early, and soon he and his two sons were helping the party to load their newly purchased sleds. Each of the three sleds required a single pilot, standing in the back. Leokas, Belvin, and Cassiera were chosen, as they had the best skill in handling animals. One sled would bear a miniaturized Kamil, another would bear Mythlos and Szordrin, and the third Hakam and Ilthian.

   While Wariik, through Lelchik, explained how to steer the dogs, the youngest of Wariik's sons walked up to Ilthian. "Hitlak uyung'a," he said, among other things they could not understand, while pointing at himself.

   "Ilthian uyung'a," Ilthian replied.

   Hakam looked shocked. "Have you understood their language all this time and did not tell us?"

   "No," she said, "but uyung'a is clearly how they say, 'my name is....' I am a quick learner."

   Hitlak handed something to her, and then exposed his large teeth to Ilthian with a giant smile.

   It was a necklace of smooth black stones. "It is pretty," she said. She immediately placed it over her neck and smiled back at him. "Thank you!"

   "Laali," he replied. He turned to go.

   "Wait!" she said. He stopped. Then she pulled a small wooden bracelet from her wrist. "Here, this is something I made from some scraps from Erol's shop. I do not see much wood around here; would you like it?"

   The man smiled even bigger and took her gift. "Quana! Quana! Nakurmiik!" he said. Then he hurried off.

   Szordrin and Hakam took Lelchik aside and asked her about the exchange, fearing that Ilthian may have agreed to something unknowingly. Indeed, she had.

   "If she gave him a gift in return, that is a sign that they are now engaged to be married. I know that Hitlak has been seeking a wife...."

   "How long is an engagement?" asked Szordrin. "What happens next?"

   "Both must receive the permission of their parents," explained Lelchik, "at which point the marriage is complete."

   "Then we do not have anything to worry about," said Hakam. "Her father and mother are thousands and thousands of miles away."
Session: 63rd Game Session - Friday, Dec 11 2015 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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