April 1st, Year 101 (since founding of Ulvfrist)
When Hulm Runolfsson (NPC) informs Dagmar Ivarsdottir (Tammy) that Gudny Ottarsdottir (NPC) has fled into the woods, blaming herself for Dagmar's blindness, Dagmar tells him to get after her, which he does. Leaving the blind Dagmar alone with Adalstein Ulfarsson (SteveR). Adalstein hears the snuffling and snorting sound of a wild animal, and before he can react, it charges him while Dagmar stands there, blind and confused. The boar surprises him, and gores him, causing him to scream in pain, and then turns on Dagmar. It charges her, but she is able to dodge out of the way, and the boar disappears into the foliage.
Dagmar is shocked and surprised when Adalstein speaks to her from less than 1 metre away, and she smells the blood of his wounds on him. He describes the wounds, and fearful of his tainted blood, she tells him to bind his own wounds as best he can. He tears a strip from his shirt and binds them, but they continue to bleed. Dagmar tells him to use a flaming piece of wood to sear [cauterise] the wound, which he does. He falls unconscious momentarily, but recovers within moments, though is sore injured.
Meanwhile, Hulm follows the trail that the upset Gudny has left behind, and finds the girl leaning against a tree. The two talk for several minutes about what happened, and she apologises, Hulm telling her that she was not responsible for Dagmar's going blind. It's a dangerous world that the Norsemen live in, and they all accept the risks. Dagmar will not hold it against her. Calmed down and ready to return, Gudny lets Hulm take her back to the campsite, as he admits to being totally lost. Hulm and Gudny return to the campsite, the young girl none the worse for the wear. Hulm informs Dagmar and Adalstein that he found a stream where they can refill their gourds. In the meantime, he suggests that they rest for the night.
The next morning dawns, bright and crisp, but drizzling. Dagmar is thrilled and pleased to realise that her sight has returned. Gudny goes over to her, and apologises for what happened, but Dagmar tells her to think nothing of it. The party packs their meager belongings and prepares to depart. Hulm says they will have to maintain a good pace; they want to get to Hel's Meadow before nightfall.
As they travel, Hulm asks Dagmar what she knows of the Meadow of the Dead. She tells him what she knows, as well as the tidbit that supposedly "Hel's minions" can also be found there. After some time, Hulm spots the path leading to Shelj Pass, and he points it out to the others.
After a bit, Dagmar spots what appears to be a man and either a cart or wagon ahead of them. The party moves forward cautiously, and find that it is indeed a Norseman with a Norwegian accent and a bear hide canvas canopy covered pull wagon. The man, a trader by profession, introduces himself as Vagn Eskelsson. Dagmar senses something odd about him - and she sees several runes on the cart, as well as one or three on his raised, bare arms. He says he's a trader from Fringoth, a community on the other side of Stelj Pass, selling assorted goods. Gudny asks him if he's got wolf's-head bane, but he says he doesn't, and it is revealed by Adalstein that the Pact has been broken (which Vagn knows about). They talk of Hel's Meadow, and the various rumours surrounding it. Vagn warns them of brigands working in the area near the Stelj Pass. He wishes them the best of luck, offering them the blessings of Meili and Odin, and then hefts his cart in his strong arms and continues towards Ulvfrist.
The player characters continue to travel on, the Hoj becoming closer and the Silvertop Mountains becoming more visible. The weather starts to become colder. As the player characters enter the foggy hills, the image of a skeletal figure appears at the mouth of the rocky area near the meadow, while the howling wind seems to be the sound of souls crying. The image talks in a clacking, haunting voice, and tells them, "Go back! It is not your time of death! Go back!" The image rushes at Dagmar (the only one of the group not terrified), open-mouthed ,as if to swallow her whole. When it rushes through her chest and body, she feels a chill down her whole body, as if a part of her has been taken away.
Hulm inquires if everyone is all right, his voice strained and somewhat fearful. As the characters advance through the dark and ominous terrain, the billowing mist making things seem worse than they are, it seems that they are entering a demonic mouth [actually the two hills at either side of the entrance to Hel's Meadow, structured as a demonic skull and set of jaws]. Once through the "mouth", the mist gives way to reveal a valley below, some 2 to 3 klicks in size, with trees, meadows, and rocky outcroppings. Looking around, Hulm sees what he believes to be bodies, torn apart by some force, and tells the others.
The characters descend down to the valley floor, and Gudny sees the herbs they are looking for and rushes towards them, the others having no choice but to follow. As she gets close to the stand of flowers, the ground erupts on either side and two rotting, skeletal warriors bearing rusty weapons emerge. One slashes at Gudny, but the nimble girl is able to avoid the blow, but she nearly falls. Hulm attacks the one that struck at Gudny, while Adalstein faces the other one. Dagmar helps Gudny up, and the two try to get to the herbs.
While Adalstein and Hulm engage the two undead warriors, another one springs up to block Dagmar and Gudny's path. The fight for Adalstein and Hulm does not go well, the undead warrior striking Hulm four times, inflicting a large amount of damage. Adalstein is struck several times for minimal damage, but his injuries are now more severe (including the reopened wound from where he seared it shut). Hulm manages to damage his undead opponent somewhat hampering it, but Adalstein is unable to harm his foe.
While Dagmar engages the creature that sprang up and is injured, Gudny attempts to reach the plants, only to have another one of the skeletal warriors erupt from the ground in her path. Gudny is scared crazy, and retreats all the way up the path towards the hillside entrance to the meadow, leaving the others below. The party's morale fails, but the group rallies around the strength of will of the Volva and sheer Norse determination. Dagmar decides to sprint for the plants in order to (hopefully) bypass the undead warriors and any more that might spring up. The plan succeeds, but not as she expected... as Adalstein attempts to shield bash his way to try and get between the warriors of Hel and Dagmar, reopening his sear wounds even more. But when she pulls a full plant up from the ground, the image of what Dagmar recognises as the Goddess of the Dead appears before her, even as the skeletal warriors cease moving.
The Goddess demands to know who has taken her plant, and Dagmar fearlessly tells her that it was she, and that she has done so to save a life. When Hel asks whose life, Adalstein attempts to interject, but Hel silences him with a wave of her hand, removing his mouth in the process. Hel demands a price for the life of the Pact Breaker's sister, and Dagmar agrees to pay it - she will fight at the Goddess of the Dead's side during the End Day (Ragnarok), since the Goddess states that if no deal is reached, none of the characters shall leave the Meadow of the Dead alive.
Once the deal is made, there is a flash of (dark) light, and the characters find themselves milling about near the part of the path where the road leads to Stelj Pass. Hulm asks how they escaped their deaths, and Dagmar explains the deal she made with the Goddess of the Dead. Hulm chastises the still silent Adalstein, stating that the community is more important than just one person. His own obligations made him remain with the others and fight, as well as his loyalty to the Volva and the Jarl. He states that he doesn't believe that Adalstein would have made the deal with the Dark Goddess for his sister's life.
Dagmar asks Gudny if she actually has the right plant, since she wasn't sure at the time that she pulled it out of the ground whether it was. The young herbalist confirms that it is. The volva tells the others that it's time to go home, as Amana is waiting... and she pointedly stares at Adalstein, before turning her attention back to the road they need to follow.
As mentioned in this blog journal, the Sunday players had a good time in this session of Yggdrasill. The action and the conflict in this session took various forms, culminating in the battle between the player characters and Hel's minions, a fight that looked like the outcome was going to be severely adverse to the player characters (that means "result in their deaths"). Both players seemed to have a good time as I said; while Tammy's pretty open about stuff like that, spross is pretty tight-lipped about everything, and that includes when he's playing his characters!
That's the other real problem I'm having with the game. While Tammy has a proper understanding of how she should be playing her characters, spross is struggling with the concept of being a Norseman, what it means to be Norse, and how Norsemen deal with life. Frustrating for both Tammy and me, especially because he's almost...emotionless when he plays. But that's just something I have to deal with as I game the system, so we'll see where things go and so forth.
Other than that, I've really enjoyed myself running Yggdrasill. One of the best game acquisitions I've made in the last couple of years, and it's provided me with some truly memorable gaming.