Sunday, May 12, 2013

Return to Partholon: Prologue to Season 3

In the last weeks of autumn, our party returns to Sham from their foray to distant Stonehell, with new guests: Brianne and Morgana. Morgana's tattoos, characteristic of the Kruthar savages, spark some concern among the villagers, but Nylian is quick to assure everyone that the girl is a captive rescued from Kruthar captivity, and that the winter will be spent teaching her how to live among civilized folks. Nylian has a reputation for honesty - brutal honesty, in fact - so no one seems to realize that she is lying through her teeth.

Thus, the young women are able to settle into their winter routine as guests at Ash's townhouse without any hassle. Gradually each learns a bit of the other's language and culture, and lay the foundations of a strong bond between them. Morgana is pleased to have been claimed by a strong warrior, and the party is obviously a powerful war-band, so she hopes to assist Brianne in building strength, status, and renown. Although love between two women is as uncommon among the Kruthar as it is in Partholon, neither culture attaches any serious stigma to it, and they are free to discover whether theirs will be a brief affair or a lasting romance.

Clementine and Bill the Green spend most of the winter in seclusion, working on the means to interweave their magicks and awaken the potential in the alicorn they had recovered from the goblins' lair. Their approachs are very different - Bill spends hours and days pouring through his collection of obscure and arcane tomes, while Clementine spends equal time in meditation seeking inspiration - there is enough common ground between their crafts that they are able to produce results. The spirit of the unicorn has been invited to rest, to lend a measure of its grace into a sacred spear which will be an instrument of healing as well as a weapon against the hordes of Chaos.

Vennet is similarly hard at work through the winter, calling on her spirit guides and giving them generous sacrifices in order to expand her spell-trove. She spends a great deal of money through the winter buying the finest animals and butchering them - and while the spirits feast on the steam of  spilled blood and the smoke of burnt fat, the villagers share in a feast of hot roast meat, and Vennet builds strange totems from the bones. These feasts help to assuage the effect of the famine, and serve as an occasion to retell the old stories and sing the old songs handed down from their Firian ancestors, from before the coming of the Empire. Though the cult of the druids is banned by Imperial law, here in Sham it has taken root once more.

Nylian's father is recovering from his illness, and she devotes herself to helping him regain his former strength. He is pleased with how well she has managed the forge in his absence, and she is freed from the responsibility of overseeing the various specialist smiths who work under her father. Though the Kruthar savages continue to raid through the winter, she is now free to face them toe-to-toe and make them remember why they fear "the hammer girl." She and the Freestone brothers come to be seen by the militia as an elite squad that dives into the thickest fighting and leaps into berserker mobs and always returns with a trio of savage grins.

Ash and his men are likewise a welcome aid to the militia. Long experience has made them a solid fighting unit, but their greater contribution is the ability to inspire and organize the village warriors. With Ash, Spurlock, and Molin each taking charge of a squad of fighters, the barbarian raiders frequently find themselves outflanked, outfoxed, and out of luck. The Kruthar have always preferred to hit hard and carry off supplies, beasts, and victims as quickly as possible, before defenders can organize enough to return substantial losses. More and more, the savages are forced to strike quickly and withdraw immediately to avoid getting mired in a grueling battle. Before the Storm Moon is through, the raids grow less and less frequent, less and less determined, and the villagers of Sham can enjoy a measure of peace at last. 

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