In the freezing forests of northwestern Ul-Takra the adventurers desperately huddled together for warmth and long-deprived slumber, but the wind and sleet were relentless and uncaring. Only the shaggy-haired Nari found any sleep.
Now in their company was the diminutive, terrified form of the pirate-ship prisoner, Sigrid, who claimed to be of noble birth and the daughter of Uthcroft Thorgerson, a prominent lord of Renstake and not unknown to the knight, Cale. She begged to be returned to her family and ensured a reward must be at stake.
Morning brought some respite from the harsh conditions and our beleaguered heroes discussed whether to break camp immediately and set off for Seyoke or stay awhile and rest. Further recuperation was decided upon and the group went in search of a better camp.
Umbar broke from the others and cut his own path, one that was bisected by foreign footprints on his return. Close inspection indicated fellow Nari but the tracks disappeared at a small creek and Umbar’s quarry remained a mystery… though not for long.
The eccentric illusionist I’aeia was, at the time, trying in vain to commune with nature but his endeavours were thwarted by a Nari intrusion. A white ranger, bow drawn and arrow cocked, hailed the magician and called him to surrender, an act which I’aeia felt unnecessary. The short-lived conversation was somewhat resolved when the arrow found itself embedded in I’aeia’s belly, but the mage’s heartfelt whimpers of agony were heard by Cale and Vetch and the distant Umbar, who all made haste to join the dispute.
Cale was struck down mid-stride from a second ranger’s arrow and collapsed into blood-smeared snow. Vetch collapsed in sympathy. Umbar, approaching alone from the west, did his best to dissolve the tense situation but found the Nari rangers uncharacteristically hostile. Even when he pleaded that he and his companions were only in the area to aid the Nari (casting forth the pirate captain’s decapitated head as proof of their benevolent intentions) the rangers remained wary.
A’ari, who had been sleeping in the original campsite for the duration of the fray, was stirred by the elder of the rangers, but met the Nari’s pointed spear with nought but a prayer and a display of the Mathuin holy sigil. This bought some reprieve from the Nari enmity and the adventurers were permitted to tell their tale and render aid to their injured. Ultimately the Nari were convinced and decided to bring the party of misfits to their community, Seyoke.
The short journey to the Nari village was interrupted by a gigantic, and thankfully distant, frost giant. The ground trembled beneath the behemoth’s stride and a few moments of silent terror passed between the traveling party but eventually the giant moved on.
In the battle-hardened village of Seyoke the group were treated at first as prisoners, but once the local elders had been informed of the situation and shown the pirate map of other Nari settlements as proof, the party were grudgingly accepted as guests.
For two days the adventurers made themselves at home in Seyoke, resting, recuperating and consolidating the experiences of a frantic week past. Here they also made the acquaintance of a jovial, brash and corpulent magician called Aaaz. Aaaz had travelled to Seyoke with a Satyr friend and long since overstayed his welcome as a visiting ornithologist.
As the Nari reception towards the foreigners grew frostier by the day, it was decided to take leave of Seyoke and head south for Pincers Cove. The elders were taking upon themselves the matter of alerting the other Nari tribes of impending Tanarikin attacks, but asked if the party could investigate the source of the antagonism that seemed to stem from Renstake. Umbar, though hurt by the xenophobic reception of the Seyoke, agreed to the request.
Three days of southward travel passed uneventfully and a rejuvenated band of adventurers were soon in the presence of the Reinstihl mansion once more. I’aeia had insisted on returning to the corrupted manor and completing the mission for the villagers of Pincers Cove (purely for monetary reasons in his case), but the others were largely in agreement. Vetch the Kobold had reached the end of his tether many days prior however and decided that his days of adventuring were behind him. He was charged with escorting Sigrid to the village and hastily departed from the estate.
Before entering the manorhouse the group paid a visit to Daysun the Nari farmer. The Nari was elated to see the adventurers and Cale was similarly delighted to find his draughthorse Firemane in Daysun’s care. Ciders were shared before the heroes ventured forth to the mansion to complete that what was begun a week passed.
Great care was taken as the group re-entered the evil ruin, for a despicable presence still pervaded the dilapidated corridors and weather-torn rooms. After some minor ransacking of their own in the mansions study and library, the party’s attention was drawn to the approach of a horse-drawn cart through the gate at the front of the Reinstihl estate. It was Magidar, a merchant of Pincers Cove and a member of the villages council which hired the adventurers to clear the mansion. He was understandably nervous in the presence of the house but said he had merely come to investigate the apparent disappearance of the group. Satisfied in his discovery he made haste to leave the place. Curious as to the merchant’s true intention, A’ari cast a spell upon the man to reveal his purpose, and found a wicked aura about him. Confused, but with urgent matters before them, the group continued through the manor.In a large living room a sinister painting depicting a pair of sleeping young girls instilled a disquieting sense of fear into the group. Umbar fired a flaming arrow into the painting and the missile seemed to merge with the picture, striking into a chair within the painting itself. One of the girls woke, smiled and ran from the frame. When A’ari approached, invoking a Mathuin mantra to exorcise the picture of demons, the second girl reached forth and attacked. The adventurers drew blades and spellbooks and fended for their lives against the malicious spirit as it poured forth from the painting and took on corporeal form. Now accustomed to attacking as a unit, the adventurers soon prevailed over the demonchild, and shortly after the battle found a trigger for a secret staircase that plunged into the dark cellar.