Paths of Fog and Shadow Episode 2 Feb 2023

Rubbing their sleep out of their eyes our adventures start out from the gracious nomads. Adira and Mort check up on the woman who was seriously ill and see she is stabilized and will probably recover in 4 or 5 months.
They trek for another 2 weeks, with snow now in inches rather than feet, as their pack animals lumber on in this vast wilderness. Somewhere in the end of February, Tha’pop the ever vigilant Elf spots 2 lumbering beasts in the horizon (perception ob6, success). Tha’pop asks Mook about those animals and Mook says they are arctic lions.
Arctic lions hunt in packs, about twice the size of african lions and have a bulbous tail with spikes. Tha’pop asks Mook if has encountered them and what to do if one does. Mook says as a shepherd he had one approach his flock. Tha’pop listens as Mook says,”I cut one goat leg so it couldn’t run, and ran like hell with the rest of the herd.”
Tha’pop doesn’t see them the next day and keeps a lookout. A week later, Tha’pop sees a couple more and they are closer. He tells the group they should probably find some defensible ground if the lions get hungry. Mook says there is a hollow of some rock croppings, and trees up ahead, he knows of from times past. The group makes it there, and Mook ears perk up, Party makes perception checks (ob. 3) and smell smoke and hear some animals. Mook starts off for a small rise about 500 paces off, while the others watch. Mook lays on his stomach and belly climbs to the lip. About 5 minutes later, Mook belly climbs back down and comes back to the group. He says one word, “Bandits”.
Dro, Adira, and Mort want to see for themselves and slither up the slope. Peeking over the ridge they see a slight decline and about 100 paces away 4 nomad tents. There are people on their knees crying it seems, and another body prone on the ground. On a log are 3 rough looking men eating mutton legs and laughing, while a 4th is standing and dangling a child by her foot back and forth. The bandit standing is waving a knife as he swings the child.
The group makes it back quietly to Tha’pop and they decide to intervene. Tha’pop recommends he go to the other side of the depression the tents are in to surround them and the other 3 to shoot from this side. They agree and give Tha’pop the count of 200 to get in place.Mook, not a fighter, stays with the animals and just watches from behind. In place the battle ensues. Mort stands up and the signal is given. The bandits never even saw what happened next. Taking their time and winning the maneuver off hold vrs hold, and using aim shots. 3 of the 4 arrows thud in completely surprised bandits as they keel over dead. Mort cussing at missing his target, reloads as the others do as well. The second volley has the single bandit stunned and ducking for cover, but losing the maneuver again, another 3 arrows pepper his body as he drops. Mort is pissed again as he misses, muttering. Not being a patient one, Dro the dwarf drops his arbeques and charges down the slope with his ax in hand, while the other three stay in position. Dogs yelping and the tent flap opens and out pops out 2 more bandits. They were surprised to see their comrades with arrows sticking out of them, take a look around and sprint for their horses. Already notches and ready, the group wins the maneuver again. The 5 bandit drops with an arrow before reaching the horse. The 6th reaches the horse and gets 1 arrow, as getting ready to mount the horse. He begins to swing his leg over and never heard the dwarf swing his axe.
Stunned the nomads are in grief, shock and fear.
Mook is called over and settles the nomads down, telling them this group is not bandits. The dead nomad is the chief elder. Tha’pop asks where the men of this tribe are? Mook asks and answers, “The Hunt”. After a while and the nomads settle down, they offer 2 of the bandit horses to the group for thanks. Mort using scavenging searches the bandits and finds nothing of value.
The party goes back to their camp to prepare for the night.
During the night Dro passes the standard test for perception higher than the rest of the group and this happens.
{Waking up in the night, you see and hear the fire embers crackle as your vision then sees the great expanse of the heavens above. The stars majestically cascading across the sky. Your eyes scan the sleeping pack animals and you count bodies, missing one. Getting on your elbow you notice its Mook that is missing. With the full moon up, it’s easy to see far upon the plains. You see a figure far off walking away from the camp, and you decide to investigate.
Silently walking and keeping sight of Mook, you see him enter a small glade of trees devoid of leaves, and sprinkled with icicles. Moving up on Mook, you hear a chanting and sounds of anguish from ahead. You peer ahead and see Mook sprawled on the ground, before an altar of some kind. The altar is made of stone, very simple and there is an offering of bread upon it. You first think Mook is in danger, and then realize he is praying prostrate before the altar. His chants are in tongues you don’t recognize, and the cheerful Mook you have come to know is crying and in anguish. You slowly back up and go back to the camp. Keeping one eye open you see Mook return about 2 hours later and go to sleep. In the morning Mook is his normal cheerful, helpful self. }
Next day Dro approaches Mook and asks what he is turmoil about. Mook looks at him and just smiles. During the 2 months traveling Mook does share his story. Mook raised in this wilderness has a sister who married another tribesman and he became a bandit and abused her. Mook ran away with his sister who had a girl child and ran to the kingdom of men. Being naive, they had no place to go and knew no one. A group approached them and gave them lodging and food for free. They were happy for a week and started to look for work. Another group came to the house and told them to pay the rent and for the food and nothing was free. Mook told them he had no money and they said they both had to pay. So they took Mook’s sister away to work and Mook started working slave labor every day. Mook was told his sister was kidnapped later and he wouldn’t see her again. Mook told his childhood stories to other workers and one day he found himself in front of Griz. Griz listened and said he could get his sister back and his niece, but it would cost a lot.Elated to have this promise, Mook said he would do anything to see his sister again.
The party upon hearing this sad story, silently thought…what a naive, simple man he is.
The first of March the party came upon a canyon lip. The canyon was vast and about a mile wide. In the canyon they all gasped in unison, and even Tha’pop was in wonderment. In the canyon were millions of Woolly Mammoths heading down the canyon.( think buffalo herds of America in 1700s). Millions of Mammoths as far as you could see marching down the canyon. Mook looked and said, “The hunt”. On the far side of the canyon lip nomad hunting parties and other predators could be seen picking off single or old Mammoths. Mook said, they would have to wait as long as it took till the herd left to cross.
On the first day of waiting at the canyon lip Tha’pop did a perception (ob 3 success) and the rest of the party was preoccupied doing something else. This is what Tha’pop witnessed.
{Watching the Mammoth herd from the canyon lip, you get into a tranquil trance watching this great migration, that few peoples outside of the tribes have ever witnessed. Miles upon miles of Mammoths in one giant herd heading NorthEast to their spring and summer grounds.
Pausing from this you Look up in the blue sky and see a hole open up becoming bigger, and the stars shining through this hole. The clouds whir around the hole as if it were a water spout in a pond, and you watch as a white comet, white as snow, falls from the hole, as the hole closes behind the comet plummeting to earth. The comet races down towards the earth like a meteor and its destination is the Woolly Mammoth herd below
The white blistering comet falls faster than you can imagine, and then a cloud forms around the comet of some sorts, and then a large boom (sounding like a sonic boom) echoes in the canyon below. The white clouds turn into wings, and this comet slows as its trajectory changes and arches, now racing above the herd. 2 massive claws erupt from the cloud, emitting tendrils of smoke, reaching down and scooping up 2 massive Mammoths, as if there were fish in an eagle’s talons. The wings and Mammoths speed away to the heavens, and the only thing left is the echo of the boom down the canyon walls}
The group approached Tha’pop and said, what was that boom? Tha’pop described what he saw and said, “ I believe it was a white dragon. The first Ive ever seen”. The next day the mammoths were gone and the party ventured forth.
First of March sometime, Mook said, this is the place. It may take a while to find the hole I fell in as a child. Dro rubbing his hands together and with treasurewise asked to help. Together they started to search the area. Dro did so well on his roll that he fell in the hole, where Mook had many years ago. Mook stared down at Dro in the hole, yep, that’s it.
While the party was setting up camp and preparing the descent into the opening of the tomb, Tha pop was circling the camp in larger circles just getting his bearings. Using his perception (ob 6 success) he spots in the far distance, 2 dwarves camping out. Tha’pop finds them rather similar to the 2 dwarves he spotted 2 months ago. He tells Mort first when he gets back to camp and they decide the dwarves need to be dealt with.
Rest of the party, not including Mook, are told about the dwarves. Many questions arise. Who are the dwarves? Is it too much of a coincidence the same dwarves spotted 2 months ago are here also? Are there more? Are they in league with Mook somehow? Will they steal whatever treasure they find? Will they kill Mook up top and wait for the others to appear? They come to an agreement. Tomorrow night there will be a full moon

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