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Campaign 1 Session 26 - The Next Year

Posted: 13 November 2022 (reading time: 8 minutes; 1604 words)

Recap by Arash Shahangian

The mood in Vogsal is subdued after the massive battles they’ve faught. There is no celebrating, only a collective, quiet exhalation of relief. The leaders plan to hold a Thing in a few weeks with the major cities to set up the kingdom’s new government.

Asgardey∂a visit Osk in her hut in the woods nearby. Despite her severe exhaustion, she serves them excellent stew. “Cooking is therapeutic for me.” They enjoy this meal together as exhausted and wounded champions. In the weeks preceding the Thing, Asgardey∂a split off into each of their separate downtime activities, as Haettrland prepares for its rebirth.

I

Belnirith, through the Sending spell, contacts her friend and former “co-apprentice” Yargol, an orc blood hunter from a peaceful tribe in the Aesirbálkrs who had left his training early to go back to fight against the marauding tribe that had overrun his. Yargol informed Belnirith that by the time he had returned to his tribe, all the orcs were being assailed by lesser demons on many fronts. Yargol, with his new training and knowledge, unexpectedly managed to unite their tribes, and others, to work together against these Horrors.

Now that the Horrors are gone, the longevity of the tenuous orc alliance remains to be seen. Yargol, cocky as always, is confident he has what it takes to inspire their continued allegiance. Belnirith thinks otherwise and makes a mental note to suggest a “field trip” for Asgardey∂a to the Aesirbálkrs in the coming months.

II

Greunthrn remains concerned about the possibility of other portals remaining around Haettrland, or areas vulnerable to nascent portals emerging. So, he plane-shifts to Asgard, specifically to the Bifrost where stands his god, Heimdall, ever watchful and ever vigilant. Heimdall charges Greunthrn to establish churches in his name as a means of providing protection and warding in those critical areas.

III

Laguza sets out to become an envoy between the humanoid races and giants. Over the next eight weeks, she arranges for caravans to begin travel to the different giant races, naturally starting with the stone giants as she was raised among them. The stone giants offered to assist Vali in rebuilding Vogsal, using fitted stones to repair the city wall.

IV

Relieved to be alone again, Vyshka escapes into the trees and basks in her hard-won isolation. Settled against a sturdy trunk, she prays to Thor, thanks him for her survival, and sinks into a deep trance. During her meditations, Vyshka is struck by a shocking truth. When she approached death’s precipice during the battle with Aegnagryd, she didn’t fight it. On the contrary, something inside of her longs for death… longs to be with her beloved sister… and her sweet little brother… and her parents, wherever they may be in the next life. How can she, a healer, so long for death?

V

The Thing is held two months after the battle at Vogsal, half a mile outside the city walls. Every township and settlement in the kingdom of Alsvartr is invited, and Humans, elves, dwarves, orcs, drow, giants—all the local major races—are represented. Though they had battled and died alongside each other against the Horrors, the tenuous, temporary alliances that had been made are fraying, decaying back to the tribal vies for territory and resources that defined their lives before.

The Thing is contentious, particularly around issues related to taxation. It lasts one week, at the end of which it is decided that Valli will rule by committee. This is disappointing for the monarchs of the coastal kingdom of Bjarfold, who had wanted Vali to be sovereign. They didn’t want there people to get inspired to create their own representative governance.

Asgardey∂a is asked to stay close to help with governance, none of whom particularly want that role. They are adventurers, not police. They agree to serve on specific missions when their special skills are needed, but to be allowed to pursue their individual and joint ventures otherwise. These terms are accepted.

VI

Belnirith spends the next month in the Feywild with Yuki, continuing their tutelage. Yuki is still treated as a pariah in her homeland for betraying her sisters; the fey don’t care that much that she helped save Haettrland in doing so. Nevertheless, she is mostly left to her own devices, a condition with which Yuki has developed a centuries-long familiarity. Belnirith takes home a souvenir from the feywild, a strange plant that produces a different mystery fruit once per month. She delivers this to her first arcane mentor, Belladonna Hornwood of Vostordon. Arriving there, Belnirith finds the city still vibrant, having managed to avoid much of the recent destruction.

To Belnirith’s surprise, Belladonna had been expecting her, alluding to but not admitting to having used Scrying to keep tabs on her former apprentice. As news of Asgardey∂a’s exploits have reached Vostordon, Belladonna abandoned her previous secrecy about their relationship and practically paraded Belnirith around town for the next couple weeks. Belnirith pretended to be bothered, nay offended, by this, but ate up the admiration as a starving orphan would devour the sweetest slice of cake they could remember ever stealing.

VI

Greunthrn, himself from the coastal kingdom of Bjarfold, is concerned about their discontent with the outcome of the Thing. To this end, he enlists Asgardey∂a’s aid in establishing churches in the area. Laguza and Belnirith agree without reservation. They help out sporadically, a couple weeks at a time. Though she thought she’d hidden herself well in the forest, Greunthrn finds Vyshka easily. He has become much better at finding than she is at hiding. Unimpressed as usual, Vyshka declines Greunthrn’s request to join his crusade immediately, not even bothering to hide her sneer. But Vali aids Greunthrn, by sending along a few of his bannermen. Laguza provides supplies to smaller settlements in the area, all of whom are very willing to accept whatever aid they can receive. The villages also receive Asgardey∂a well, though some town leaders require them to jump through a few extra hoops before allowing them to establish their churches.

Greunthrn notices the local slave trade has dried up and recognizes just how big his family’s role had been in maintaining that ugly economy. Through some unknown means, the slave compound he was from has been razed to the ground. Apparently, his home is ripe for new leadership. Greunthrn is widely recognized as a member of the primary slave trade family; but this reputation is tempered by the holy symbol of Heimdall he bears, the presence of Vali’s bannermen, and his new reputation as a member of Asgardey∂a, heroes of the land.

VII

In the months following the Thing, along with supporting Asgardey∂a’s efforts, Laguza continues being an envoy between giants and the races of men. Most of her support has been from the stone and frost giants. They already know her as “Little Giant” and this has become a term of endearment in giant communities. Her respect has grown such that she is called upon to settle disputes within and between giant communities. And through the trust she has established with Vali’s ruling body, Laguza aids those communities in assimilating into the larger world of Haettrland, where they had before been largely shunned.

VIII

Vyshka remains in isolation for weeks and, eventually, loneliness seeps into her meditative state — a perplexing development for a hardened hermit. She decides to seek out the Elves of Oneshkaiea. Sister Exebba and Xeta are mildly surprised to see Vyshka but welcome her efforts to re-establish ties. When Vyshka seeks out Marlaena, however, things don’t go to plan. She suggests to Marlaena that they have a lot in common, a long-buried pain from loss and grief. She even confesses her recent longing for death, hoping to forge a bond between them. But Marlaena says: “We don’t have that much in common, Vyshka, and it wasn’t buried pain that kept us distant. It was my guilt. The soldiers who killed your family were my brothers. I didn’t know what you’d do if you found out. For what it’s worth, I’m sorry about it.” Stunned speechless, Vyshka fled.

Kinnae, once like a little sister to Vyshka, embraced her old friend as she sobbed icy tears of grief and betrayal. Vyshka remained with Kinnae for about a week. She assisted the elven forger and learned a bit but mostly just enjoyed their companionship. Over time, she realized that she’d been blind to the value and rarity of loyal friends and sought out her former companions, bearing gifts.

First, she found Laguza, upon whom she bestowed two bronze statues that she’d forged herself with Kinnae’s guidance: Laguza in her original size, and another in giant size. Laguza accepted these gifts readily, with genuine thanks.

Then, Vyshka sought out Belnirith and gave her small bronze sculptures of her familiars, Asja and Viggo. Belnirith was genuinely touched — so much so that Vyshka struggled to accept the heartfelt thanks. They exchanged a couple of wry face-saving barbs before Vyshka sought out the Asgardeydan men.

Vyshka steeled herself for her interaction with Greunthrn, whom she’d so recently rebuffed when he requested her help. Humbly, she offered him a pendant with a heart-healing spell within. She told him that she knew he carried deep emotional pain and had hand-crafted this potion to help him feel whole again. He could use it when he felt ready. Astonished, Greunthrn barely had time to mutter his thanks before she dashed away to find Hrafn.

By the time she located him back in Blüstrom, and after years of celibacy, Vyshka was ready to give her former comrade a gift she knew he’d enjoy…

THE END.

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