Deirik, Eirik, Ygvard, and Boldulf, alongside their friends Kiro the hobgoblin and Sergei the (horse-sized) wolf, return to Alucard and report to Lord Krogan what has occurred in Rulla. They also show him the dagger they removed from the well.
Ygvard mentions, "The dagger's hilt is empty, but it must've contained some type of poison or chemical that would not only kill the townspeople, but turn them all into Fell. I don't recognize the substance though."
Deirik quickly interjects, his hatred plain on his face, "I'm sure it's NO COINCIDENCE that this happened in the town just beyond the border you share with Torvald."
Krogan thinks it over for a moment, "I'll need more proof than a shared border to act against Torvald. In the meantime, we need to go clear that town before they spread further and kill more of my people."
With that, the Men of Mjarn accompany Lord Krogan and a large contingent of his orcs and hobgoblins to Rulla to eradicate the Fell menace. It takes little time at all, and, once cleared, the town is picked clean by the Men and the army of any goods of any worth. Afterwards, they all return back to Alucard just in time for Winter to set in.
For this Winter, the Men of Mjarn once again spend it in Alucard, save one of them. Again, they take this time to address needs, advancements, training, and relationships.
Eirik returns to his smithy in Alucard. The ore that Lord Krogan had traded for the previous Winter arrived this past Summer. With it in hand, he begins work on a greatsword for himself. Not just any greatsword though, he plans to spend most of the Winter working on this specific greatsword such that the balance is perfect, the edges are razor-sharp, and it's perfectly molded and shaped in each intricate detail to be a masterpiece. He also continues his mentoring relationship with his apprentice, Valgard, who's gaining in expertise such that he can handle much of the additional work (vardatch and dagger repair for the local forces) on his own. By the end of the Winter, Eirik's masterwork greatsword is complete.
Deirik once again finds Lyra waiting for him in Alucard. They pick up where they left off, both in training as a Nephilim and in their personal relationship. Lyra continues to show him the tricks of the trade and help Deirik learn where his weaknesses are so he can address them. They also spend more and more of their non-training time together. Deirik brings up the situation in Rulla and the dagger they found with the interesting engraving on it. Lyra doesn't recognize the engraving herself, but tells Deirik that if he's looking for an assassin, Baden's Bluff is a good place to start. Towards the end of the Winter, Lyra starts to feel sick more often than not and can't train as often. By Winter's end, she takes her leave to return to her home, which Deirik learns is in the large city of Baden's Bluff, on the central southern shores of the Sea of Pelluria. Deirik also finds that as the Winter has progressed, he has gained the ability to see in the dark! However, it has come at the cost of his skin becoming a little more pale, and his presence slightly unsettling to other humans.
Boldulf heads back out to the wilds surrounding Alucard. He remakes contact with the local wolf packs, and works once again with them to the point that they consider him their leader when he's present. Continuing to pursue his animal ken instead of staying with his family and the people of Alucard once again costs Boldulf a bit of his humanity to the beast within him.
Ygvard departs Alucard shortly before the Be'neeya river freezes over and makes his way to Highwall, the City of The Shadow. Here is where Izrador's great tower-temple, Theros Obsidia, is located, and where Legates who have proven themselves worthy are brought forth for training and deeper induction into the Shadow's Church. Ygvard spends his time in study, discussion, and practice of rites and rituals. Having brought the hollow dagger from Rulla with him, he also takes some time to approach a local alchemist named Kord who, unfortunately, has no insights to give on the substance but asks he be allowed to keep some to continue his study, to which Ygvard agrees. At the end of the Winter, shortly before he returns to Alucard, Ygvard is ceremonially provided his own Astirax. He chooses for his astirax to inhabit the body of a large grass cat (think mountain lion) and names it "Jaga."
At the very end of Winter, Lord Krogan takes Eirik's new masterwork greatsword, as well as the masterwork bastard sword that Deirik claimed from Voldash, and disappears with them for a few days. Upon his return, he gathers the Men and says, "Your swords are now magically enhanced. You can likely feel that already."
Eirik replies, "Won't that make us a target though? Won't every astirax within a few miles of us come to track us down?"
Lord Krogan points at Ygvard's new astirax, Jaga, "Do you see him sniffing around your swords? Does he seem alerted in any way? No, these swords are imbued with Legate magic. The astirax doesn't sense this type. If they did, we'd all be chasing our own tails."
Satisfied with this explanation, Eirik and Deirik gratefully accept Lord Krogan's gift. With their newly honed arms, armor, skills, and abilities, the Men are now ready to face another year and the challenges it brings.
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