April 24th, Year 101
Horik Vagnsson tells the player characters that he'll explain everything when the characters travel wwith them to their encampment. He leads the characters towards the woods. Hulm Runolfsson (NPC) states that they're not going to Hedefalder. Horik says this is correct, and he and the others will understand why when they arrive at where they're going.
Horik, Magnik Knutsson, and Hrildr Alfsdottir lead the player characters to the encampment of the folk from Hedefalder. There are seven other Norse men and women there, but no sign of a Jarl. Adalstein Ulfarsson (SteveR), Dagmar Ivarsdottir (Tammy), Ronja Magnisdottir (NPC), Gerda Herildasdottir (NPC), and Hulm are introduced all around and meet Hauk Thorgrimmsson, the chief hirdman of Hedfalder. Hulm and Dagmar notice that one of the other hirdmen, Asfrid Hodursdottir, carries a bow, and deduce correctly that she is scout. Once the player characters are comfortably settled after accepting Grimmsson's hospitality, the big hirdman explains that the community of Hedefalder has come under attack by the hundehoveder, the dog-headed warriors who live in the Silvertop Mountains. Their most recent attack resulted in the death of Garik Hordsson, Jarl of Hedefalder, and the disappearance of his son, Olev Gariksson. He requests the player characters' help in recovering the boy, stating that since the player characters have come on a trade mission, helping them to find Olev would help cement the ties with the Hedefalder folk. When the player characters question whether the hundehoveder took him, Ingmar Gariksson, Olev's 10-year-old brother and apprentice skald, says the dog heads took him, as he saw them do it. Dagmar asks if any of them have tried talking to the creatures, but Asfrid says vehemently that they've been trying to kill the Hedefalder folk and take their goods and belongings, so they're not trying to talk to the dog heads, just kill them back. When asked why they would take Olev Gariksson, another of the Hedefalder folk, Sven Trigsson, says that perhaps for food, slavery, or worse. Asfrid points out that oddly enough, they're headed for the depths of the forest, and not for the mountains where they dwell. Dagmar suggests that perhaps they're under the influence of someone else, and Ingmar says that his Master, Knut, told him a saga when he was eight years old of how the spawn of Loki created the hundehoveder as a joke that went awry. Adalstein asks how many of the hundehoveder there are, and Horik says they've killed hundreds over the years. They attack in packs of between five and ten, and when asked Ingmar says he thinks there were four of them that took his brother; he's not sure, as he was a bit busy, and that they were very fast. When Dagmar asks if they were faster than wargs, Ingmar says he doesn't know what a warg is. Dagmar explains about the attack by the bandits with their huge, feral wolves, but the folk of Hedefalder know nothing of them at all. Hulm states this is interesting, since it means the bandits don't frequent the Hedefalder side of the pass, and that implies that they were specifically after the player characters and their charges. Hauk says that is enough talk for the night; they must rise with the sun, and go after the creatures.
As the rest of the characters move off to prepare for sleep, Hauk Thorgrimmsson takes Dagmar Ivarsdottir aside. He talks to her about Gerda and Ronja, and urges her not to let the two girls go with them tomorrow, instead sending them to Hedefalder with the rest of his people. Dagmar agrees to this, as she's worried about her apprentice and Ronja. Ronja, who has been listening to them, steps out from behind a tree and tells them that she *is* coming with them. She wants to help them out. And it's beneath her to not do so as Magni Hrolfsson's daughter. Hauk acquiesces to her, and the satisfied Ronja leaves. Hauk then asks Dagmar about Adalstein Ulfarsson, as he's too quiet; will he undertake the task? What side is he on? Dagmar doesn't lie to him, but omits everything to do with the curse, but Hauk realises that she doesn't trust Adalstein. She's giving him a chance to redeem himself for his failure to provide protection at certain times of need. And, she adds, that's why Ronja also has her and Hulm to protect her. Hauk is not happy, but he bids her a good night's rest.
The next morning, Dagmar is woken up before cock's crow by an angry Gerda. She hears that she's being sent off to Hedefalder, but she wants to go with Dagmar after the jarl's son. She sees right through Dagmar's excuses, and convinces the volva to take her with them. Ronja has come over and is listening to them. When Gerda asks why Ronja is being allowed to go, Dagmar says that Ronja gave her word as the Jarl's daughter to help find Olev, and that in order to become Jarl herself, her word has to be good.
While everyone is getting ready for the task at hand, Dagmar takes the time (with Ronja and Gerda in attendance) to cast the bones and see what is to come. She gets images of the dog heads, lots of blood, two Norse bodies with bad wounds (but she can't recognise who they are), and Gerda screaming. She comes back to her senses shivering, and soaked with sweat. As the pack their belongings, Gerda suggests that perhaps when they return to Ulvfrist, she should learn some martial skills. Dagmar says this is always a good idea, learning to fight, because one must at times, but Gerda says she never wants to kill animals...ever again.
The player characters assemble for the hunt, and learn that the Hedefalder contingent have decided to send Hauk, Asfrid, Horik and another, Sigurd Aricsson, with them. While Hauk is in command of the hirdmen, Asfrid will be their leader. Before the group sets off, Hauk tells all of the others to return back to Hedefalder. They will see them there when they come back successful from their hunt.
Asfrid Hodursdottir leads the way, accompanied by Hulm, whom she teaches the signs of what they're tracking as they travel. Dagmar asks Sigurd about how the dog heads fight, and he tells her they are savage, but can fight with weapons, as well as their savage teeth and claws. Adalstein asks what their weaknesses are, but Sigurd says that he's survived combat with them through his prowess and skill, and the gods smiling down on him. Besides, he laughs, he is fated to die in bed with his wife. Then he adds that if the dog heads have killed Olev, he'll take as many of the dog heads as he can in the boy's name.
After several hours of travel, with Asfrid and Hulm tracking the dog heads, the scout informs the others that they've found the creatures. They're just beyond the bushes nearby, in a small clearing. The player characters peer through and see that there are a group of dog heads, including a large specimen (likely the Alpha of the group). Adalstein spots there are five of them in the clearing (including the Alpha) and three others acting as guards. They are armed with (relative) short swords, but the Alpha has a large sword. They can see that Olev still lives, chained to a tree (and that he seems docile). Dagmar uses her vision abilities, and sees that the chain and the key at the Alpha's side are based on dvergar magic! She also sees a similar aura around one of the people in her own group - Gerda! She realises that her apprentice is indeed very special, perhaps even half-dvergar.
Even as the player characters watch, the dog heads sharp sense of smell alerts them to the characters' presence. The three guard hundehoveder charge towards the characters' location, and Horik, Sigurd, and Hauk race forward to intercept them, their blood singing. Dagmar draws Gerda close to her, but both she and Adalstein notice that Ronja is nowhere to be seen; the girl has acted impulsively again. Hulm, Asfrid, and Adalstein charge into the clearing to deal with the other creatures, Hulm noticing that one of them is also missing, and while he and Adalstein are worried about the girl, they have their hands full with the creatures. There is a scream (obviously Ronja) and some sounds that might be combative in nature, and Dagmar and Gerda head in that direction, since they also don't want to draw attention to themselves as they try and go to the rescue of both Ronja and Olev Gariksson.
The fight in the clearing does not go well for the characters, as Hulm and Adalstein seem to have underestimated the creatures. The Alpha hangs back until his underlings require his help, and though Hulm is able to kill one of the creatures, he suffers a terrible leg wound (that leaves him with a permanent injury and limp) and nearly dies of blood loss. Asfrid stands and defends him, but she is also cut down in the end, and thus Adalstein finds himself against the Alpha dog head. He is no match for the savagery of the creature, and in a brave display of fighting, Adalstein's armour is shredded, his shield shattered, and the hundehoveder guts him, embedding his sword through the Norseman, and Adalstein breathes his last.
Elsewhere, Dagmar and Gerda cautiously work their way to where young Ronja is confronting one of the hundehoveder guards, backed up against the nearest tree. Telling Gerda to stay back, Dagmar attacks the creature, turning its attention away from Magni's daughter, and manages to wound the creature. She is injured by the creature, but the battle takes a surprising turn, as Ronja impales the creature on her spear from behind, the Gods obviously being behind her sheer determination and strike, and the dog head's menacing look as it regards Dagmar dies on its face in a look of surprise and agony. The creature drops dead.
Dagmar, Gerda, and Ronja arrive in the clearing to the aftermath of the scene of carnage. Asfrid is barely alive, her body covered in wounds and one of her arms seriously hacked up. Hauk Thorgrimmsson is lying atop the body of the Alpha hundehoveder, his axe buried in its head, but the creature's sword protruding through his spine. There is no sign of Horik or Sigurd. Hulm has managed to survive the attack, just barely, but he is in bad shape. She uses her seidr magic, and manages to heal him. Dagmar turns her attention to Asfrid, and is able to keep her among the living. Both Ronja and Gerda are horrified at the outcome of the fight, but Dagmar tells them that this is what battle is truly like - and that Norsemen welcome death in such glorious combat. They are able to free Olev, with Gerda managing to disperse the dvergar shackles using the key in the Alpha's possession. Dagmar suggests that her apprentice think of a key turning in a lock, and when she does so, the dvergar chains dissipate and vbanish.
Roughly some eleven days later, the survivors of the hunt for the hundehoveder are resting in Hedefalder. The people are grateful for the return of Olev Gariksson, now the new Jarl of the town, though they are devastated by the losses suffered during the rescue (both Horik and Sigurd were killed during their initial fight with the three dog head guards). All of the bodies, including that of Adalstein Ulfarsson, have been brought to the town, and arrangements are made for Dagmar, Hulm, Ronja, and Gerda to take the body back to Ulvfrist for proper funeral rites.
The relationship between the two jarls' children, Ronja Magnisdottir and Olev Gariksson, seems to be developing in a positive manner, the two obviously somewhat attracted to one another, but they are both still young and Olev, now thrust unwillingly into a position of power, with those around him vying for his attention, has more than enough things on his mind.
The folk of Hedefalder are eager to establish trade relations with the people of Ulvfrist, much to the pleasure of all concerned, but especially Ronja. Arrangements are made to set up the delegation of representatives from Hedefalder to accompany the Dagmar, Hulm, and the others as well as the body of Adalstein Ulfarsson back to Ulvfrist. But as they prepare for the trip back to Ulvfrist, Dagmar can't help but wonder what the death of Adalstein means insofar as the Broken Pact is concerned...
I don't really have anything to add here that I didn't put in the previous post.
It was an enjoyable session of Yggdsrasill, and I have to say that this game has been one of my better purchases I've made RPG-wise the last few years. The scenario shook out a bit differently than I had expected, I think, but when truth comes down to it, the character death that occurred in this session wasn't a surprise, and made the scenario a bit better for it.
In the meantime, I'm looking forward to running... something, next Sunday afternoon. Should be interesting.