The Reign Of Winter
Hermann's Tales 11
We arrived back at Waldron as darkness fell. Keeping as stealthy as we could we parked our sleds and overnighted in Nadia’s house. When morning came I felt as right as rain. I did not know if it was due to Benedictus’s healing skills or the power of my newfound ring, but I felt better than I had in ages.
The first day was uneventful, but on the second we were attacked by another murder of crows. A huge flock this time, but one that was no match for my new Burning Hands spell. Scores of crows died from the gout of flames I poured forth, and within moments fully half the flock had fled. The remainder fled soon after, but both Kjell and Giorgio had been blinded by the crows. Benedictus spent some time tending to their eyes, and I assisted him where I could. By the time we made camp for the evening Kjell‘s eyesight had almost fully returned, but it seemed Giorgio’s were of a far more serious nature and would take a few days to recover.
That night we were besieged by more magical fairies. Gremlins, according to Benedictus, were cruel and vindictive creatures that magically stole food and other provisions, gaining pleasure from their victim’s suffering. All I knew was that they were fast little buggers that we couldn’t see, that whisked into the camp and stole almost all our food. To make things worse, it seems they also placed us under some kind of curse that made all food-making spells stop working.
The next morning we found another traveller. Sven Newbborn was a Linnorm mage that was investigating the appearance of the portals, as we were, when he also fell foul of these gremlins. We decided to work together to solve the problem, and during the day we told him all about our mission.
At first I was suspicious of this stranger, as most people we had met so far had been spies or worse. Still, the more I got to know him and the more he told us, the more I trusted him. We could well use his magical knowledge in the weeks ahead, and seemed a solid fellow. I did catch him staring at my ring a few times, but that was only to be expected. My precious ring will no doubt gather stares all the time, so I decided to keep my left hand under my robes when I could. That night, with the gremlins again scurrying about just out of sight, I felt my already hard attitude towards the north’s magical creatures harden still further. Truely, the only good fey is a dead fey.
We set off again towards the nearest village on our route, still some 5 days away. To eke out our meagre remaining 2 days worth of reduced rations Kjell used his northern druidic knowledge to hunt down extra food. This stretched our meals out for almost another whole day, but this would still end us being 2 days short. At our last supper I decided Nadia’s children should have my last portion of food. I could survive a few days going hungry – it wasn’t the first time in my life that things had got sparse, and it would no doubt not be the last. As an adult, I could survive the predations of hunger far better than a child would.
Kjell kept on managing to scare up enough food to keep the children fed, but the rest of us just had to keep notching our belts tighter and tighter. One night we had a scare – one of Nadia’s children had gone to fetch firewood and had not come back. We immediately started searching for Orm, and once again it was Kjell that found his tracks. We found Orm being attacked by a trio of huge wolves, and set ourselves upon them. Sven summoned up some weasels which stopped the wolves getting to Orm, whilst the rest of us just piled in on them and cut them down in short order. When we got back we found that the gremlins had heaped even further injustice upon us – they had made off with Giorgio’s tent.
On the fifth day, near faint with hunger, we approached a village. We sent Nadia ahead to procure food and to drop off her children with a relative. As much as I did not want to involve her on what is almost certainly a suicide mission, I must admit that having her along will make things a lot easier for us. She is, after all, a local. She knows what places are safe, who to talk to and who to avoid, and most importantly speaks Skald, the local language.
When she returned with food we all ate our fill, then all ate again. Even Idrin was impressed by the quantity we consumed. Kjell discovered that food creating spells worked again, so it seems our fey tormentors had tired of their sport and moved on. Once we were again sated we continued on towards Whitehaven, now in a somewhat jubilant mood. Giorgio in particular was happy to have a new tent, one even larger than the one that was stolen from him.
That afternoon we were attacked by Blackguards – possibly from the Pale Tower, possibly from a nearby garrison village. Either way they were a nasty crew. Bowmen with trained eagles, they inflicted serious injury upon us in very short order. Still, we rallied and took cover, I myself facing and eviscerating an eagle, thanks to my draconic claws. I left the Dwarves to take out the archers and instead I helped Giorgio to take down a huge magical wolf. One that he said talked to him. I was soon to have proof that not only was its very large size magical, but it could also try to freeze us with a blast of cold breath. Before he succumbed to the wolf’s freezing breath Giorgio‘s trusty two-hand sword had punished the creature severely, which meant that a combination of Sven’s summonings and my magically enhanced spear were sufficient to put an end to the monster.
I went to lend my help to the Dwarves’ finishing off of the bowmen, but despite all our attempts to end them, one of them escaped into the wilds. Still, he had no weapons and few provisions, so even having gotten away from us it is unlikely he would escape Irrisen’s icy embrace. Benedictus pulsed out a magical heal, which got Giorgio back on his feet and healed up some of the damage the archers had caused me, then we gathered up the loot and travelled onwards Whitehaven.