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  #151  
Old Sep 1st, 2022, 12:46 AM
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Orwinton 'Oar' Grinstyrwi
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"I will speak to the world for now, Norsu. Save your words for the dirges and oration when we arrive to the burial grounds," Oar says to the mammoth before changing his intonation so that he is now clearly seeking consultation. "At some point we will need to climb up the hills a bit to approach the cave. If you don't object or no of any reason not to, we could do that now to put distance between ourselves and the distractions of the large human hive of Easthaven. What is your wish for how our funeral procession proceeds?"

Oar does not want to dismiss wise counsel from Norsu, but he clearly wants to convey his preference of avoiding Easthaven. A large mammoth might be frightening to a small village, but Oar feels that a large town like Easthaven, with a garrison of soldiers and boatloads of fishermen who might have sailed the seas once as harpoonists, might see Norsu as a walking meat wagon, ready to be speared, skinned and smoked.


 


 


 
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Old Sep 5th, 2022, 11:53 AM
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At the Frost Giant Burial GroundsOar, you stand on frozen Lac Dinneshere, facing the cliffs. You see the three cave openings, each one higher than the one to the right of it, and the southmost opening where the frozen river joins the ice lake. You have arrived here, avoiding the town of Easthaven by taking a wide sweep around it toward the mountains. You and the party left Easthaven in a hurry, on axe beaks. With the remnant of the angry goddess's rage still smashed in the harbor and the owlface cleric scheduled to descend, you barely made it out alive. You're not interested in providing that town with a mammoth roast or a goliath sacrifice. This is a solitary trek. With the exception of the yeti tyke, and a few travelers in the dark seen at a distance, you run into no one else on your way to the caves.

You stand here with Norsu. Norsu is an animal and a person, in that weird half-space that awakened creatures inhabit. He stands here in the dark facing the caves with all the trust he's put in you: trust to enter a human town, trust to move the giant's bones, trust to come here to this place. You took one rest in the lee of a rise, not sleeping really but recovering strength. He smells familiar to you now. He doesn't know what he's going to do.

The wind whistles and creates the strange tones you remember from when you were here before, tones you now know are caused by the pipes in one of those icy chambers, each one a column with a giant frozen inside. You can remember all of it: the drawings on the wall, the frozen skeletons under the icy, the hot spring. Norsu knows none of this. Who knows what goes on in a mammoth's mind, an awakened mammoth, who has to the bones in this chest the dumb loyalty of a mount and also the deep connection of a friend.

As you stand here, listening to the wind whistle, you may imagine you here, mixed in with the icy tones, the voice of the giant calling as he did before: "Norsu! Norsuuuu!"

He doesn't hear it though. He blows through his trunk and shakes his ears. "I don't know this place," he says, his voice a deep rumble under you. "Tell me, where we must go."


OOCI am not sure what Norsu would do in this situation. It seems like he has three options. To return to the lodge and perhaps take one of the Dougan's Hole teenagers (or several) as a rider. To go out on the glacier and live as a mammoth. Or to follow Garagai into the ice and possibly be reunited with him beyond the veil, to canter icy plains in Jotunheim and serve Thrym forever. If you want me to decide, I will, but if you want some narrative control here, I'm happy for you to have it. You can roll for it, or you can just say what he will do, if you know. As long as the bones get buried in the hot spring, this ties up the Garagai quest from chapter 4.
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  #153  
Old Sep 5th, 2022, 05:19 PM
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The journey after they left behind the baby yeti had begun as many of Oar's best and worst days in his life had begun ... with a drinking song.

He was a bit surprised that Norsu knew the song, though it made sense because the mammoth was adapting it for mammothian anatomy.

The seitzben's connected to the ... kniescheibe! The kniescheibe's connected to the ... schienbein! The schienbein's connected to the ... wadenbein! and so forth, and each time Norsu introduced a new bone into the song, he would dig his tusk into the ground and spray out snow over Oar. For a creature who had wanted Oar to be their voice, he was certainly voicey when they were left alone. But that was fine with Oar, the atmosphere was jovial, celebratory ... it was, the wake before the funeral. Perhaps that is the way with giants and mammoths. Or at least with this mammoth.

But the song changed as they went on, and Oar Initial perception = 20began to have an inkling that Norsu was trying to tell him something with this song.

He thought about this, and found himself thinking all the way up to the summit of the cave, where they could hear the giant's voice and where Oar could hear Norsu's voice, so confident brassy, bossy, and gloriously shaggy in all other instances, meekly ask to be led forward.

As they climbed, Norsu began to talk about mammoth anatomy. About standing vigil over other mammoths who had died. Oar wasn't sure if these were recollections of Norsu's life before he had been awoken, or some memory that every mammoth carries with them from birth...after all, if you know where to find the burial grounds without ever being told, then surely you know what do once you get there. As Oar pondered this, he found Norsu, a bit frustrated, repeating himself, asking--well, demanding really, welcome back gloriously shaggy boss-elephant--if Oar understood how the skinning must be done.

The skinning? Oar was almost on the verge of asking, Full awareness perception roll =13before he realized what his prodigious gut had caught onto with the song, but what his mind and heart had refused to accept.

As he began to walk himself through the logistics of the how, what--and why???--he heard Norsu speaking to him once more. Apparently it would be, this was known (it should have been known and realized the moment they set off--or at least any true mammoth rider would have known), but it would be after one day. After Norsu held private vigil, as a mammoth would. First he would mourn as a mammoth. Then as a companion of battle, life, and death.

That day went quickly. Oar, huddled at the entrance, set a small fire and tried to sleep, remembering the adventures and horrors he and the full group of companions had encountered here when they had arrived what seemed like a lifetime ago at these caves. Oar had barely finished reminiscing when Norsu summoned him to the back chambers, near the spring.

It would be, Norsu said as if it shouldn't need saying, a quick blow. A blow any giant could do ... or any other creature Deception = 9 in hiding the bone maul so as not to anger Norsuwho had stolen a giant's bone.

Oar didn't know if Norsu knew that his customized maul was the thigh bone of the mammoth's former companion. To be fair, Oar didn't know if it was that particular giant's thigh bone. But he always thought it could have been, and he had been too much of a coward to ask, or hide it particularly well, apparently.

So, was it gratitude or resentment that met Oar's gaze when he stared into Norsu's eyes to confirm what he should do, to ask permission and forgiveness? Oar couldn't tell. He suspected that maybe it was indifference. For Norsu, it was perhaps less important who delivered him than the deliverance itself.

"I'll do my best. I'll do it as an honor," he said, offering up something to the terrible gap of Norsu's silent, expectant ceremony.

If Norsu responded, Oar didn't hear.

"I'll bury you with this bone," he added.

If Norsu responded--or cared--Oar didn't hear.

Sensing that nothing he could say held any importance next to the task he had been called on, Oar closed his eyes, bowed, and Athletics/Nature/Medicine average =12 for killing blowswung down into the softest part of Norsu's head, the very spot that Norsu had delicately suggested Oar scratch at one point as they had traveled around the lake.

Norsu responded with his eyes bulging, not from pain, not from anger, but--Oar thought--from disappointment to see that he was still in this world, with an incompetent soldier in front of him instead of a glorious host of giants.

"Now, Norsu, now!" Oar yelled with a desperate and peculiar rage, more shame and compassion than anger, asenters rage and begins reckless attacks in rapid succession he swung recklessly, at least twice that he could later recall, but perhaps more.

There must have been something in divine intervention from the giants and their gods, because Oar certainly would never attribute it to his technique. When Oar realized that Norsu had fallen, his eyes closed in what Oar thought was an expression of peace, he realized that moss and lichen--ambrosia for a mammoth perhaps--had surrounded Norsu's body in circular range about the length of his body, and from this lichen there were snow lemmings emerging, surrounding Norsu's body and standing alert on their hind legs. Oar watched in wonder, hearing and registering nothing else in the cave until suddenly he was aware of the patter of small feet retreating back into the holes of the lichen, and the drip of blood from his maul onto the ice.

Three days later, Oar had realized it was all true. The brustwirbel was connected to the lendenwirbel, and so forth and so forth. Norsu's song had been an instruction book for skinning and removing the fur, the meat, the bones. All he had to do was follow the song.

True,Survival =9; looks like there should be something he doesn't understand, so going with what to do with the trunk there had been some guesswork. The little hook in the middle of the song. What do we do with the funkyrussel? What do we do with the funkyrussel? What do we do with the funkyrussel? After he's gone away? Wrap it up like a funkyropen, tie it to the mast like a funkyropen, sling some stones like it's a funkyshmoken after he's gone away?

So, Oar didn't know what to do with the trunk. He just suspected there were endless ridiculous options...and that it wasn't something that was buried with a warrior-mammoth.

Four days later, Oar had boiled and bleached the bones. He placed them at the edge of the spring, along with Bone-R and the bones they had brought with them for the lodge.

He didn't know if the vigil should begin then, or after the bones were placed into the spring, so he decided to begin the count at that point, spending the night beside them, and spending the day harvesting and drying the meat and the fur so that neither would spoil.

On the 11th day, Oar had packed the dried meat and the fur back into the chest that they had taken. Only then did he realize that Norsu had remarked on their journey how they had dragged a path in the snow, a path, which Norsu remarked, was deep and wide enough that even a measly soldier might be able to drag a similar chest back through it. That that soldier could bring a whole load of food back into town and become a hero to all the snotty soldier children. Oar had laughed when Norsu had said that, thinking himself on the side of mammoths and giants, not realizing that Norsu was both insulting him and instructing him. Or perhaps, just offering peace?

With his return trip ready and his vigil of 7 nights finished, Oar began tipping the bones into the spring, beginning with Bone-R.

Norsu hadn't instructed him to say anything; or if he had, Oar couldn't recall where it might have been in any of the songs.

So, even though he might have looked ridiculous with a dried trunk wrapped around his body, he said all the prayers he would with all the reverence and belief as if he was a goliath committing one of his own into the open crater of their mountain. And he said them all silently, so as not to unwittingly spoil or offend the customs of a mammoth, a giant and their companionship, of which he would never share.

After all, he would always be a "soldier," but he was one who would do everything he could to deliver Norsu with honor. For the shaggy boss' sake, Nat 20 on wisdom/grief roll if a nat 20 trumps disadvantage; if not, then he's at a 13; so hoping his actions are accepted with the 20, but passing it off to GM resolution either way if it is 20 or a 13he hoped a soldier was capable of that.




 


 


 
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  #154  
Old Sep 10th, 2022, 03:55 AM
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For NorsuDeath is visceral. For all the imagery and metaphor, for all the rituals and ceremonies, in the end death is of the body, both the struggle and the finish. What Norsu asks you to do, Oar, goes beyond what anyone should rightly ask a friend, let alone what one should ask a new acquaintance that one regularly calls "a soldier."

No forgiveness is needed, about the blow or the weapon. The thigh bone was found here in the cave, where Garagai's spirit called Norsu to bring his bones. His bones were found, intact, in the lodge, brought here on the sled, now deep in the water of the hot spring. You have to crash the ice open over the place where the giant skeletons lie. Norsu could have flung himself into this water, put himself under the ice. A mercy to you. But he wanted it this way, so you got through it. Gritty. This is no metaphor. The meat and bones of death.

When you put the giant into the water, the cries for Norsu slow, and stop. When you put the mammoth into the water, you have to smash open the ice again, because it's been days, but the bones fall down, mixing together. There are no other mammoth bones in the hot spring.

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This all takes a long time: vigils, preparations, butchering. The cave becomes your cave. The hag is a memory, like a shadow on the wall. The water weird is vanquished. The harpies' nests are empty. You are here longer than you have been anywhere in Ten Towns. You are here longer than you were with the others who left Bryn Shander with you: Tru, Haela, Falfen, Bander, and Ziusudra. You now know every note of the strange pipes in the chamber with the pillar. When you sleep you dream: a mammoth, Norsu, and a mammoth rider, Garagai, thundering over the tundra, the mammoth's trumpet blending with the druid's wild cry.

When you wake up from one of these dreams, the mammoth trunk around your waist is glowing with magic.

When it's all over, and you're ready to leave, you pull your sled out of the cave on the frozen river, and as you contemplate your path, you see a light bloom in the west. Over the lake, past Kelvin's Cairn and the Dwarven Valley, you see it. Past the woods around Maer Dualdon, almost to the Sea of Moving Ice, but you see it, like the light of dawn in the wrong place, a glowing smudge on the horizon.

Then -- what's that? -- you hear something close, a gravely whisper above you and to the north. A broken stick, the crunch of a foot on snow. And you realize: the bolt hole where you once lit a fire? Someone is there. Maybe more than one someone. The cave is not empty any longer.
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Old Sep 10th, 2022, 08:01 PM
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Oar had scraped and boiled, bleached and gutted concentrating on the process and trusting that there would be plenty of time to think about what this all meant on the long return journey.

But now, the guardian of untold riches--a fur coat that could make a small village rich from trade and dried meat to hopefully secure two towns through the winter--Oar felt a new responsibility on him to deliver and defend it from whatever he might encounter, including these strange voices.

Leaving the chest with the meat and the fur at the edge of the burial spring, Oar advances to the bolt hole, sliding over the ice and grappling up to the passageway.

He hoped it would be another group of lost fishermen or maybe the druid with the wolves, the one who seemed to find a common language with Falfen. He hoped it wouldn't be anyone or anything that would provoke a fight--but if so, he was prepared, a nearly naked guy with a long, hair-tufted whip and a regular maul that was still quite capable of breaking bones and bashing heads.



 


 


 
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Old Sep 12th, 2022, 03:42 AM
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At the Cave EntranceThe frozen river, where you emerge, is at lake level. The bolt hole is about ten feet up. It's an easy climb for you, so you can pull yourself up with little effort. It's also easy to tell, from the sounds, that there's at least one someone and possibly more someones up there to get busted. But, how do you approach this bust? Do you stealth, trying to keep your approach silent? Or do you try to swing up there so fast that they'll be taken unawares?


OOCYou can roll either Stealth or Athletics depending on how you want to surprise them. If you don't want to surprise them, you can do that too! Let me know how you approach and I'll tell you what you see up there.
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Old Sep 14th, 2022, 12:01 AM
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There had been enough surprises for the day, the sun of course being the greatest one.

Logically, the simplest explanation would be that the burial/submersion ceremony had led to this. Cause. Effect.

And that, too, was a bit of surprise. Oar had liked Norsu, but he hadn't suspected that the creature's ascension would cause the skies to open.

Amid all this mystery, one thing was clear--the light had to be an auspicious sign. Who was Oar to reject that? So, assuming the day would be full only of beneficence, he gave out a: "Yoo-hoo!" and walked toward the bolt hole.




 


 


 
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Old Sep 14th, 2022, 03:21 PM
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Into the CaveThe smudge of sunlight persists in the northwest, leaking weak light into the rest of the sky like a dawn that halts at the horizon. You leave the sled on the frozen river, and pull yourself up to the opening of the tunnel to investigate. When you holler "Yoo-hoo!" the noises in the cave ahead of you stop, but for a small crackle of a fire. You travel About 20 feet -- there's a map a few posts up.down the tunnel in darkness, then into the opening where orange light flickers on the floor.

No one is here.

The fire crackles, there's a small animal skinned and spitted over it, and a pile of wood next to it. Against the wall you see a few packs, and there are small bedrolls spread out around the fire. You can't see fully into the alcove beyond the place where the walls narrow, but what you can see of it is no more than what you remember before -- animal refuse and scattered bones. Your call echoes through the space but there's no answer.
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Old Sep 15th, 2022, 12:33 AM
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Orwinton 'Oar' Grinstyrwi
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Oar takes a position at the entrance to the opening of the cavernous (well, certainly cavernous to dwarves, he thinks) room and listens for a sound that he has studied--the sound of an invisible dwarf displacing the air around them as they move closer.

If he hears this sound, and if it is coming in the front of him, Oar will pound around the cavern entrance, attempting to collapse rubble, snow, and ice over the entryway in order to trap the invisible dwarves inside the bolt hole.

If he doesn't recognize this sound, then he will call out.

"I'm not going to do anything to you. The worst thing I might do is try to eat some of the food you've left for me. If you're stranded here, I can take you back to the towns. If you're where you want to be, and don't want to be bothered ... I get that. But did you know if you stepped outside for a quick glance, you can see some sun off in the distance? That's worth breaking any type of spiritual seclusion, isn't it?"




 


 


 
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Old Sep 17th, 2022, 12:45 AM
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In the CavernInvisible dwarves! You hear it -- unmistakable. Not so much the sound of them moving closer -- more the sound of them just existing. Displacing air. Breathing in and out. Sinking slightly into the ice where their little boots landed, as they are trying to be imperceptible. But you percept it all right. You hear... four of it.

WHAM!

You slam your maul into the cavern ceiling, bringing down a shower of icy stones. Again you bang on the tunnel, trying to create a barrier that will trap them inside.

OOCI get that he's trying to collapse the entrance of the cavern, but is he standing inside the cavern, trying to smash it closed with him in there, or is he standing in the tunnel, trying to smash down the entrance to the cavern ahead of him, with him outside it. Either way, please roll an attack, and then Initiative. The icy tunnel has an AC 12 to damage it, and depending on how high he rolls, and the damage roll, we'll see how much ice he can dislodge.
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Old Sep 17th, 2022, 01:58 AM
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Oar is never, ever, ever in his life going to underestimate librarians. Not after what useful skills they gave him.

Standing outside the entrance, he smashes his maul above the entry, 15 to hit for 9dmg / 13 to hit for 11dmgtrying to collapse the entrance with a tumble of ice and stone.




 


 


 
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Old Sep 17th, 2022, 09:43 AM
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In the CavernsWhacking at the ice that rimes all of these caverns, blown in off the lake on the bitter wind, you scrape down enough to create something of a barrier in the entrance to the cave. It's not an insurmountable barrier, but you feel confident it will take whatever is in there a bit of time and shoveling to leave this cavern. Inside the cavern you hear nothing, and see no movement as the shards of ice fall between you and the rodent on the small fire, piling up in the entrance.


OOCThe dark blue is Oar, the light blue is the ice pile he's made.

[/fieldset]
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Old Sep 17th, 2022, 01:56 PM
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Oar tries to imagine if he were on the other side of the cave collapse.

But then he realizes that he can't imagine that--not as a dwarf at least. And being dwarves, it was possible they relished being trapped behind a door that they would get to mine their way through. Well, let happiness shower down on them then.

"You can be invisible all you want!" Oar shouts, "The rocks and the ice don't care! And you should probably give me a reason to care before I bury you deeper," he continues as he backs up and thwacks his maul again to add debris onto the pile. "That's for stealing food from the villagers!" he shouts. Thwack! "And that's for trying to take over Ten Towns with some fantasy dragon of iron and woo-woo gems!" Thwack!




 


 


 
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Old Sep 21st, 2022, 07:54 PM
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Outside the Cavern
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Oar, you pound away with your maul -- crack! crack! -- until you've shattered and broken most of the ice that lined this tunnel. Some comes away from the stone in splinters, and some comes in satisfying sheets. It falls to the tunnel floor, breaking and shattering, noisy. You make this broken-up barrier between these dwarves and their exit, as you taunt them from the tunnel. Having finished bringing down the ice, you feel confident that if they were to try to escape the tunnel coming toward you, you would definitely see movement, as they would have to navigate the icy debris. You hear nothing from them, and see no movement in the cave.

OOCSorry that this isn't much progress from the last post. As I understand it, he's scraping ice off the ceiling and walls. But when you say "cavern collapse" it makes me wonder -- are you trying to create a cave-in of the actual rock walls of this tunnel and cave? I thought you were not, since that would be very dangerous for him and his maul. If you help me understand the objective here, maybe I can help.
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Last edited by lostcheerio; Sep 21st, 2022 at 07:58 PM.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2022, 12:41 AM
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Orwinton 'Oar' Grinstyrwi
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Art commission @ThePsysquatch


Seeing little effect on the cave-in, and fearful the dwarves might have taken a back tunnel exit that they had already prepared, Oar races back to the chest of meat and fur and begins to haul it down toward the lake and onto the path that was cleared when he and Norsu ventured here 11 days ago.




 


 


 
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