Xanthar The Brave

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Xanthar The Brave: Episode I
The terror in the woods

(please delete this section when you all have edited this. I’m going to write all i can remember from Brynjolf’s point of view, and if the other characters are added late, then we will have a full story for each character. Nick)

Brynjolf ‘Wolfstrider’ Thrainson

Brynjolf realised his mistake when he woke and saw a wolf tattoo before his eyes. He had fallen asleep after his night with Petra, and was now lying in her bedroom, as her father shouted for her to come begin work. He quickly gathered his clothes and leapt out of her window, briefly catching her eye. Brynjolf winked at her as she stirred, before he dropped out of sight. Brynjolf ran back to Finvadur’s Rock, catching the knowing eye of the bridge guards as he marched across. They had their suspicions of why Brynjolf often came home at odd hours of the morning, looking particularly disheveled, but the cause of these late night rendezvous were just flights of fancy on their part.

As Brynjolf walked across the public courtyard, he saw his brother Oskar talking with some goat herds. Having mild flashbacks of the last time goat herds called for a favour from Brynjolf ‘Wolfstrider’, he asked what the problem was. The goatherd Fridh claimed that his goats had been butchered by some unknown wild animal, and he needed the Wolfstrider to investigate. Brynjolf changed into his hunting gear, requested the goat herd donate his butchered goat to the family kitchen (goat was his father’s favourite) and marched with the herd in tow to his goat pens.

When Brynjolf arrived at the pens, he discovered fresh tracks leading into the trees. Tracks of a bare human footprint. Concerned, Brynjolf questioned the goat herd, and his son (Alfie) who was on watch the previous night. However, the goatherd’s son had fallen asleep on his watch, and had heard nothing. Disappointed, he left the goatherd to discipline his son, turned on his heel and marched into the woods.

After a few hours trek, Brynjolf found further tracks in the snow, of a booted human footprint. Now getting quite concerned as to what is was he was tracking, bandits or maybe worse, Brynjolf pressed on quietly. As the noon sun passed overhead, Brynjolf rose over a rise and saw a hulking figure ahead of him. Nocking an arrow, Brynjolf called for the figure to halt. The figure stopped, turned and began shambling toward Brynjolf. Drawing the bow, Brynjolf called again. The man, for he could see that it was a man with peculiar markings on his face, did not change his pace. Brynjolf loosed his arrow, pinning to the ground less than half a foot before the man. He continued on, crunching the arrow into the snow before his feet. Brynjolf nocked, drew and loosed again, this time aiming for the knee of the figure to halt him. The arrow flew straight and true, splitting the man’s kneecap and severing off his lower leg. The man fell to the floor and began crawling towards Brynjolf, who could now see that the entire right half of the man’s face was missing, sheared away in a wound long gone rancid. Brynjolf stood shocked, unable to move as the man grabbed hold of his ankle, raising a knife to stab Brynjolf. Snapped back to his senses, Brynjolf drew his Ceoloth knife and stabbed the halfman through his eye. The halfman convulsed, releasing his grip. Brynjolf backed away and drew his bow, and waited. The halfman convulsed for over 5 minutes, then stopped. Brynjolf tied a rope around his ‘prey’ and dragged it back to Haskar.

Meeting the goat herd at his pens, Brynjolf requisitioned a hand-barrow and pushed the corpse back to the Jarl’s Hall. He instructed the guards to blow a horn to announce his arrival, and was met on the steps by Oskar and half the court. Brynjolf told his story, leaving the court shocked and confused. Oskar ordered a hunting party to explore the woods for any more of these wights. Aveline Dei’Vadam volunteered for the party, as did two strangers in town who claimed to have great knowledge of both the arcane and demons. Concerned that Lawrence would try to usurp his authority, he placed Lawrence in charge of both Aveline and Auric and the party, accompanied by Raif, and several housecarls, went to explore the woods.

When they returned to the glade where Brynjolf had killed the halfman, Lawrence began to question Brynjolf on his experience. Bristling at the audacity of the Preist in questioning the Jarl’s son as an equal, an argument sprouted between the two. Suddenly, the winds began to swirl faster, and in the swirling snow stood a tall, otherworldly figure black as the night sky and with antlers of twisted branches. Its gaze froze the hearts of mortal men and with it came winds to bring the hunting party to their knees. And yet Avaline stood firm, for the might of the Woodland Fey would not overcome her iron will. In a flurry of blinding snow, the creature was gone and the forest was once again calm.

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Aveline Dei’Vadam

Four years. Four long years in this barbaric hell hole.

She’d counted every day since she became a ‘guest’ of these bastards and today would be no different, another notch on the floor boards under her bed to remind her that there was a time before all this.

She looked over at Oleg, his blond hair peeking out from under the furs on the bed that covered him from the harsh cold of early winter. She’d taken to keeping him in her bed, after all, he was special but still so young, so vulnerable to the horrors of the world that she’d witnessed first hand but could still protect him from for at least a few more years, she hoped.

She splashed the water that was left in the basin over her face and rubbed her eyes. The sun was barely up but her day began before most. Aveline pulled off her night dress and began getting dressed. The thick harsh woolen socks itched but they were warm and the trousers and tunic stunk of smoke and sweat from the previous day’s work. It wasn’t like the Xanthar were known for their bath houses…

Moving towards the bed, Aveline finished buckling her belt and lent down, kissing Oleg on his forehead, his little snores barely interrupted as he turned over. She smiled, creeping to the door and closing it softly behind her. Ylsa was already up, stoking the fire in the middle of the great hall. Bidding her good morning, Ylsa assured Aveline she’d look after Oleg for the day once he roused from the bedroom.

The day’s chores always started the same. Out to the armoury to sharpen the blades, clean the shields and ensure the training weapons were all in order for the late morning practice. To say she was essentially a prisoner of war Aveline was afforded a lot of privileges, partly thanks to the Jarl.

Hate is a strong word. Aveline didn’t ‘Hate’ Jarl Thrain. Sure, he was the main reason she was stuck cleaning out the kennels and kept as a prisoner in Haskar but she’d loved him once. Admittedly it had been his advisers who’d forced Thrain into Aveline’s forced stay as the Xanthar’s ‘guest’ but his recent placidity and reluctance to admit his part in Oleg’s birth was less than pleasing.

As she sat, sharping a blade on the wetstone grinder she heard Lisbet’s shrill voice approaching in the distance. It sent chills down Aveline’s spine, the Jarl’s current wife and her were not on the best of terms but at least in the relative privacy of the armoury she didn’t have to hide her distaste of her so much.

A petty back and forth ensued, as Lisbet informed Aveline that she was needed by the Jarl’s side. She quickly obeyed, not wanting to keep the one thing standing between her and her possible execution waiting.

When she arrived she was met with the grim looks of both Raif and Edda guarding the Jarl’s bedroom. Thrain had fallen ill in the recent weeks, being confined to his quarters, if not his bed, for much of the time. Upon entering she had a brief, fevered exchange with the Jarl who gave her a necklace with the symbol of the Xanthar spirit of the warrior, asking her to give it to his son.

Assuming he meant Oleg, Aveline left and found Ylsa and Oleg in the great hall. She asked Ylsa about the spirit and gave the token to Oleg, not wanting to disappoint the Jarl.

She left Oleg with Ylsa and went to continue her chores. Exiting the great hall she saw two new strangers conversing with the merchants from the south. She’d not seen them around before and ships from the south had come in earlier that week. Thinking nothing more of it she went to fill the buckets for the kennels.

As she did so, the two approached her, quite visibly puzzled by the fact that Aveline was obviously not of Xanthar descent. She chatted with them briefly, informing them that she was indeed and Imperial, here against her own free will before Lisbet interrupted and stopped them from conversing any further.

Beckoning them over to the Kennels, the three talked further concerning the Jarl, the war and religious matters. A heated argument with the priest, Lawrence Strauss, caused a commotion, forcing Lisbet to enter the kennels and throw the priest and his strange friend, Auric Madrigal, from the Jarl’s isle.

Not wishing to cause any more trouble Aveline continued about her business. She did intend to seek permission for the Imperial priest and his ‘spirit healer’ friend to see the Jarl but was unable to make any progress with that.

Later in the day the Jarl’s son, Brynjolf ‘Wolfstrider’ Thrainson, returned to the isle having found what he described as an undead abomination, which he dragged into the courtyard on a cart. Aveline confirmed that the abomination must indeed be an undead creature, possibly the work of a necromancer or heathen Xanthar spirit, a ‘briar-folk’.

She volunteered to go on the hunting party to find more of the beasts, which Oskar agreed to, possibly hoping she would perish in the wilderness.

As the party crossed the bridge from the Jarl’s isle they met the two Imperials and Aveline was able to persuade Brynjolf to let them accompany the party, hoping that an Imperial priest would help against the undead abominations if Aveline’s fears were confirmed.

Leaving the village behind the party followed the tracks but were unable to find anymore undead. However, as they approached the site where Brynjolf had slain the first undead a Demon appeared, seemingly from no where. It was a semi-formless beast, seemingly a humanoid shadow creature with giant antlers. While the rest of the party fled in a panic, Aveline stood her ground, sworn to protect Laurence as a servant of the Emperor.

She gazed into the Demon’s eyes, it’s stare like staring into the abyss. It used it’s unholy powers to cause a localised snow storm, throwing Aveline against a tree before fleeing into the darkness.

Seemingly in conjunction with their mysterious arrival, spirits and horrors seem to have awoken in the surrounding woodland. It’s not certain if these outsiders are who they claim to be, especially this ‘priest’ but in order to escape the Xanthar and deliver Oleg to his rightful place in the Empire she’ll have to trust them.

For now at least…

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Xanthar The Brave: Episode II
The night of the howling Oleg

Aveline Dei’Vadam

Upon returning from their night in the woods the party slept, Aveline and Brynjolf retired to the great hall as Auric and Lawrence left for a tavern in town. Brynjolf sat, regaling those around him with his feats of ‘bravery’ as Aveline took her place at Ylsa’s side, inquiring about the demon she had witnessed just hours before.

The next morning the council held a meeting to discuss both the demon and the half men and as Aveline listened in she learned of their fears and proposals of how to deal with the abominations. An heir to the Jarl’s true bloodline, it was said, could keep the spirits at bay.

A hunting party was organised to follow any signs of the demon or its beasts. Laurence had asked the wise women of the council who would know of these creatures whereabouts. It was said that an old witch lived in the Gull clan’s beached boat that lay just outside the city. Aveline, Laurence and Auric ventured to the boat as Brynjolf readied his men (and ‘saw to’ his woman).

The witch informed the three that the spirits had awoken and that they would find them higher up the mountains. She also warned of a strange power that had taken up residence in the beacon tower on the Jarl’s isle.

The three returned to Brynjolf, who would not spare no time to investigate the tower. Instead, they headed out at once, Brynjolf at the head with Aveline, Auric, Laurence, Oleg, Raif and three warriors in tow.

Upon returning to the sight of the demon’s appearance the night before they discovered bare footprints that lead both towards and away from the site as well as a ring of what appeared to be ash marking the exact site the demon had stood when Aveline had faced it. Auric attempted to determine the nature of the circle but was unable to.

The party decided to follow the footprints, leading deeper into the mountains. As they trekked on they soon sensed that they were being watched by an unearthly presence. Auric attempted to lure it out as bait while Brynjolf scouted the surrounding area but their search came up empty.

As they pushed onwards the party soon came to two standing stones that stood at the entrance to a gully. The superstitious amongst the Xanthar warriors were afraid of the symbols that adorned the stones and yet again Auric was unable to use his magical knowledge to read what the symbols meant.

Fearing no evil, Brynjolf and Aveline pushed the group forwards into the gully, lighting torches and leading the way onwards down the dark and eery path. They saw no sign of any life or anything of note for that matter as they ventured deeper into the gully before approaching a cave.

Deciding to go inside and stay together, the group entered only to find a dead end into a submerged passageway with three corpses near the water. As they approached the corpses revealed themselves to be half-men as they began shambling towards the group. Laurence grasped his holy symbol, commanding his god to banish the creatures but only silence answered him.

Dumbstruck at his abandonment Laurence was grabbed by one of the creatures and failed to escape before it tore into him with its rotting teeth. Brynjolf knocked an arrow and let it loose towards the beasts, striking true and hitting the abomination in its festering eye socket. The creature seemed to ignore the hit, continuing its unholy march towards the group.

As the rest of the party rounded the corner Auric attempted to stop the on coming foes with a barrage of tiny missles torn from the very walls of the cave but the monsters kept coming. The Xanthar warriors however did not live up to their legends, turning tail and running as soon as they saw the undead monstrosities.

Aveline, seeing the priest in danger, unslung baby Oleg, handed him straight to Auric and charged into battle, decapitating the half-man who had Laurence in his grip in one fell slash of her sword. Even this onslaught didn’t deter the beast however as it thrashed around, flailing in an attempt to still harm those who disturbed its slumber.

Brynjolf, using quick thinking, lit one of his arrows and fired it at another of the half-men. It struck it dead center mass, igniting the dry peeling flesh in an instant like parchment. The monster seemed to react to the pain instead of shrugging it off like the mortal wounds the others had been inflicted. The fire burned, destroying the beast and turning it to nothing but ash.

Discovering their enemy’s weakness the group retreated, Aveline holding back the foes with her shield and unflinching nerve as Brynjolf fired on them from the fire he had prepared. The forces of darkness fell easily but as the party rested for a moment after the fight was won, Laurence still bleeding and Oleg howling, they all drew the conclusion that this would not be the hardest, nor the last encounter they would have with these fiends…

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