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Campaign 1 Session 22 - The Apex, part 1

Posted: 20 August 2022 (reading time: 7 minutes; 1362 words)

Recap by Melissa Savlov

After their recent travails, Asgardeyda awakes in the Fortress of Memory a bit disoriented and uncertain about how to spend the day leading up to Thorsday and the momentous meeting between Glasya and Asgard.

I

Greunthrn takes the opportunity to broach a difficult subject with Belnirith: How would she feel if they got into a situation where there’s an opportunity to kill Ægnagryd, her mother? Pretending not to listen, Vyshka and Laguza become very still as they await their comrade’s answer.

Belnirith becomes thoughtful. “I don’t think I could do it… But, if one of you … well, it would probably be the right thing to do … to let her soul travel on.”

Everyone steeps in Belnirith’s sadness, unable to imagine what it must be like to issue one’s own mother a death sentence — regardless of how fraught their relationship might be. But it’s all too clear that Ægnagryd, the woman, hasn’t been in that body for a while now.

Belnirith’s troubling family situation causes Vyshka to reflect on the pure, beautiful relationship she once shared with her sister Aeryn — before the soldiers got ahold of her and extinguished her young life 6 months ago. Vyshka asks one of the shadowy figures wandering the Fortress of Memory if she might be able to talk to her sister. After all, they are in the Shadowfell. When the entity returns, he informs Vyshka that her sister’s soul has already passed on to Corellian (God and creator of the elves).

Instead of marinating in her disappointment, she seeks out Helrynn and asks her what that journey to the other side might have been like for Aeryn. They engage in quiet, companionable conversation.

Meanwhile, Laguza observes the Shadar-Kai squadrons of spiked chain soldiers, known shadow dancers, hoping to apply some of their elegant techniques to her battle repertoire.

II

Greunthrn wanders around a bit before suddenly remembering the ritual scroll and staff of power they’d recently collected. He calls over Belnirith and they study them together. Among other things, they learn that the ritual must be performed at the apex of magical ley lines on the world in which it is being cast. It also must be cast by a high-level sorcerer or warlock. So Greunthrn suggests that Belnirith reaches out to Osk, who agrees to meet them in Vogsal.

But where might the magical apex be? Belnirith transports to Yuki, who cooks up a divining brew from which a picture emerges. In the bubbles, Belnirith can make out Haettrland, marked with lines. She deduces that apex rests atop of the highest peak of the Shadowlow Mountains. Belnirith returns to her friends and shares the information, which reminds Laguza of a rumor she once heard about the ruins of Twilight Tower, secreted within the Shadowlow Mountains. They all agree that this is their likely destination, even though it’s supposed to contain the remains of a crucified demon.

III

Then, a Shadar-Kai guard emerges from the shadows: “They’re gathering.” He leads them to the throne room. The Raven Queen perches on her throne. Glasya arrives with two pit fiends. The Asgardians arrive: Odin, Thor, Freya, and Heimdall. After bowing to the Raven Queen and hurling a variety of insults and taunts at Thor, Glasya begins:

“Here’s the deal. I know you have an army of souls. I know they’re capable. But, even after the gate closes, they’re not going to be enough. I’m willing to commit an army of devils to mop things up. But I want the corrupted souls.”

This spurs a debate between Glasya and Odin. They agree that there should be a third party to verify that Glasya’s devils won’t actively corrupt otherwise non-evil souls in order to increase their bounty. Glasya suggests Asgardey∂a, and Odin agrees that they would be an acceptable neutral party. But they are horrified. No one wants to do that.

Vyshka in particular gets quite stirred up. She even stuns them all by suggesting that the Raven Queen do it. When that isn’t received well, she Vyshka says, “I don’t understand why you won’t just trust each other. You’re all adults.” Greunthrn grips his shaking head. At that, two Shadar-Kai guards escort her back to Asgarday∂a’s room and lock her in.

As the guards carry her away, she yells to her comrades: “Don’t agree to anything!” Later, she sends a message to Belnirith: “If they try to make us do it, tell them we’ll just flip a coin!”

Freya, who has the best relationship with Glasya, suggests that maybe they can designate another arbiter. Glasya agrees to consider it. Greunthrn suggests Yuki. Belnirith doesn’t think Yuki would want the hassle, but she agrees to transport back there and ask. To Belnirith’s surprise, Yuki loves the idea. But she has a condition… “Ask Helrynn if she could get me the right to go back home to the Feywild whenever I want to, and I’ll do it.”

Now, it’s Helrynn’s turn to disappear from the throne room for a bit, as she requests permission from Princess Alraystra. Upon her return, Helrynn announces: “Yuki can return home one month per year. If she doesn’t kill anyone, it can be extended.” Yuki agrees, and Asgardeyda prepares to resume their mission.

IV

Thor lends the traveling troupe one of his goats, Grimnir, who can help them ascend the notoriously steep, rocky Shadowlow Mountains. “But don’t eat her, and don’t you dare break my goat.”

Laguza, Greunthrn, and Belnirith collect the angry, pacing Vyshka from her cell. Vyshka uses her word of recall to transport Asgarday∂a to Vogsal.

The moment they arrive, Asgardeyda can tell that Vogsal has further deteriorated in their absence. It feels dark, ominous. They are immediately greeted by Valli, Bersei, Gaettr, and Osk. After the updates are complete, everyone beds down for the night, trading off shifts to keep watch. Next morning, everyone agrees that Viggo, their beloved Dire wolf, will be safer in Vogsal. After some nuzzles and snuggles, they leave him behind with the new leaders of Vogsal.

V

As Asgardeyda and Osk head for Shadowlow, the weather is fine. They follow a dry riverbed that snakes up through the mountains.

During a brief pause in their journey, as the group eats a little and rests their feet, Greunthrn wanders off. He finds an abandoned campsite and a knapsack that appears to have been left behind. Tentatively, he lifts it. It feels heavy, as if coins are shifting around inside it. He carries it back to an area somewhat near his friends and asks Belnirith if she senses any magic. There is some, but it doesn’t seem like dark magic. Together, they agree to open the knapsack with caution. Inside, they find what appears to be 500 gold pieces as well as a stick with a button on one end. Belnirith tells Greunthrn that it’s an Immoveable Rod. They bring their booty back to the group and Belnirith explains how the rod works. Greunthrn carries the knapsack as they resume their expedition up Shadowlow Mountains.

The higher they ascend, the colder and steeper it gets. They rely heavily on Thor’s goat as the climb approaches an 80-degree angle. Laguza has no trouble staying on Grimnir, but it’s a struggle for Belnirith and Vyshka. They just barely manage to hang on. Greunthrn is not so lucky. He loses his grip and falls off altogether. Fortunately, because he has a ring of feather falling, only his ego is injured. They throw down a rope and pull him back up.

Belnirith sends her raven familiar, Asja, higher up the mountains to check things out. There’s an angry snake woman with multiple serpentine arms and red eyes. Belnirith recognizes it as a demon known as a marilith. Through Asja’s eyes, Belnirith also sees something that looks like goo on the bridge. Too late, Asja notices that the marilith’s snake-arms are tipped with swords. The snake woman uses telepathy to scream in Asja’s mind: “Get Out! Mine!” whipping her arms and throwing swords at the bird until Asja is sliced to pieces.

Stunned, Belnirith mumbles, “Asja … is … gone.”

The once-hopeful group’s spirits take a sudden plunge.

TO BE CONTINUED…

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