Decem Reliquias

Who?

The bedraggled and demoralized group trudge through the Muirn’s pass for over an hour, wary for the escaped Corryn double, and cross over three tiny streams of snowmelt before they realize it’s been the same stream every time. Now alert to this strange phenomenon, they cease their vigil for the specter and pay more attention to their surroundings, marking a spot on the wall to make sure it’s really the same spot and tapping along the wall looking for a concealed exit. Having no luck at this, Broga plops to the ground in hopeless despair moaning about how they never should have come this way and that all is lost. Corryn, Marius, Cathal and Armon stop with him to discuss possible explanations and escape routes. Meanwhile, Tyree continues silently on, the corpse of his faithful Dog slung over his shoulders, still refusing to speak to anyone. Luckily the trap prevents him from getting anywhere, and he passes the group several times as they quibble and argue about what to do next.

Finally fed up with Broga’s whining and recognizing this as a mage’s trick to confuse and disorient the weak minded, Marius takes the lead, blasting Broga with a bit of Hope to get him moving and break the illusion. It seems to work, as they soon emerge onto a plateau with a few sparse trees. The incident puts them on their guard for a nearby, potentially hostile mage, but the frigid air that is the Frostback’s namesake soon drives this from their minds. Although glad of the warm clothes the Avar were so kind to provide them with, the weary lowlanders elect to camp outside the haunted canyon.

The sullen Tyree walks away from the group, and stops at the edge staring off into the tree-covered mountains, listening to the distant, soft hooting of an owl. His fellow Avar, Cathal, follows him, albeit foolishly, and attempts to give what little comfort she can, in her typical, blunt fashion. “He was valiant and fought well. Let us give him a warrior’s burial.” Tyree does not answer at first, seeming to contemplate something for a moment, but does not agree to the gruesome ritual known as the Air Burial. “Go away. He’s not dead,” he simply states, and turns away. Cathal rejoins the rest of the group where Broga’s feeble attempts to build a fire keep getting foiled by the fickle wind. She warns that Tyree is not in his right mind, and that maybe some time alone would be best.

Tyree eventually returns to camp, and, upon seeing Broga’s pathetic attempt at a fire, tears it down and builds it properly, then rolls up into his bag and drifts into a fitful sleep, hoping on the off chance that the whole day was just a bad dream.

The morning arrives far too soon, Tyree’s wish unfortunately not coming to fruition. They shake the frost from their bedrolls, noses, and Dogs, pack up, and follow Cathal’s advice to follow the northern path heading further up into the mountains. The camaraderie from earlier in their journey seeming to have diminished with each parting member of their company, first Azur, then Felayne, and now Dog, leading to an uncomfortable and nearly hostile silence.

They travel on like that for hours, until finally Cathal waves back for them to halt. She doubles back and informs them that the rogue Avar Banur’s lair is just up ahead. According to Azur, he is the one who took his wife and Berchan’s sister, Izot, captive on their ill-fated elopement. If she still lives, that is where they should find her. The excitable boy Berchan insists that they charge in immediately, but cooler heads prevail. Being the stealthiest of the lot, Broga is elected to scout ahead and report back his findings, and is gently reminded that he do a better job than last time.

The dwarf silently climbs the narrow path they’ve been following until it becomes even narrower, and the comforting cliff wall to the right falls away, revealing a deep chasm over which a delicate looking ice bridge spans. Seeing no where else to go, Broga slips, literally, across, to a dark cave entrance on the other side. Only a few feet in, he finds a strange totem wedged into the ground. It seems to be some sort of bird skull adorned with feathers, obviously not left here by any animal. Standing there in the darkness alone, he takes out the unusual and compelling cat statue he looted from a merchant’s stall in Verchiel, closes his eyes and wills it to do something. Anything really. Nothing seems to happen though, so he stashes it back into his coat, still keeping it close. Not willing to scout any further ahead alone, he makes his way carefully back across the bridge and reports his findings.

Tyree recognizes the totem, as does Corryn, having seen similar such items around the sacred animal pit in Redhold. They presume a shaman must be living here with Banur, but get no further in their discussion as they are interrupted by the twang of many arrows leaving bows and whizzing by their heads. Turning their attention to the chasm, they see that on either side of the cave, small alcoves now hold half a dozen Avar archers where before there were none. Tyree and Cathal return fire, having no qualms with killing these very different Avar. Several fall to their death in the skirmish, and, with the mage’s help, the opposing archers are soon summarily defeated.

Almost laughing at the feeble defense, they find the bridge itself their next obstacle. Corryn crosses first with the boy, both being very slight of build and light on their feet, and the pair have no issues. Marius lingers on the southern edge, apprehensive of the height and unsure of the bridge’s structural integrity. He lets Tyree cross first, with Dog’s now quite smelly body still slung over his shoulders. As the big Avar reaches the center of the bridge, a bird flies dangerously close, threatening to knock him off balance, circles back around, and swoops into the cave. Corryn recognizes the bird, and is relieved to see Elorn emerge from the darkness, his owl coming to rest comfortably on his strange, rune-covered antlers. Tyree’s eyes light up at this sight. At last, someone who can revive Dog! Corryn’s relief and Tyree’s excitement are short-lived though, as the man addresses them in a stern voice, stating ominously, “You should not have come here.” A swarm of locusts emerges from the mage’s staff, engulfing Corryn, to the shock and horror of his traveling companions.

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amethyst_marie

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