While giving time for the others to heal up, Eirik, who heals at a supernatural rate (players note: Ironborn Hero Path!), finds some cart tracks that left Kardan in the direction of Svenor and assumes those tracks belonged to the person who lived in the manor house, likely their cousin Kari. Eirik relays this information to the group, and they decide to split up. Deirik, Eirik, Ygvard, and Kiro will head for Svenor. Boldulf and Sergei will stealthily remain near Kardan to observe how Torvald and his troops respond to this incursion and the burnt manor house. Once Boldulf learns all he can, the plan is for him to use his keen tracking abilities to follow the others and meet them near Svenor.
Deirik, Eirik, Ygvard, and Kiro take off to the South, cleverly avoiding a few Shadow patrols along the way. It doesn't take long before Svenor is in sight. This is practically Deirik and Eirik's home town, as this town is located directly above the Cave of Mjarn, their true home. Memories, both bad and good, wash over them as they approach. The town has certainly changed though, and not for the better. The greatest change is the existence of a large, black obsidian Temple of Izrador right in the heart of the town. This temple confirms for the men that Torvald the Betrayer is likely here.
While Deirik has grown and gained some skills since their last encounter, the fact that Torvald defeated him so handily weighs heavily on his mind. So he turns to the others to discuss their plans, "At this point, I think we should circle around the town, learn its weaknesses, and see if we can stealthily infiltrate it."
Eirik replies, "To what end? If Torvald has made this his home base, it's loaded with orcs, guards, maybe more legates besides Torvald. I know you want to kill Torvald, but I think this is more likely to get US killed."
Ygvard jumps in, "If we're intent on killing Torvald, we need to be smart about it. Right now, he's not only shored up his defenses due to Lianna's.. erm.. death, but now the attack on Kardan..."
Deirik interrupts,"... has led him to send some forces there. Svenor is actually weaker now than it will be when those troops return."
Ygvard response, "All the same, it's still a well fortified town. I'm fine with scouting it out but I will be hesitant to take any further steps."
"I still think we should steal a boat and track down the proof Krogan needs to move against Torvald. Didn't your 'girlfriend' say we should start in Baden's Bluff to track that assassin down?" asks Eirik.
Deirik replies, "She did, but didn't you hear Krogan? He needs us to resolve this mess *now*. Let's go."
Eirik and Ygvard share a look indicating that they're both thinking Krogan never said the word "now," but follow Deirik anyway.
They approach Svenor and go slightly West of town to look over the cliffs hoping they may be able to use the Cave of Mjarn as their point of infiltration. It's been some time since they've seen these cliffs though, and the reality that they're almost 500 feet tall stares them in the face. To go around this, they can go East and steal a boat and approach by water or go West several days to a goat path they recall from their youth.
Ygvard has a more risky proposition, "Feather Fall! I can use it to float us all the way down to the shore."
Kiro's eyes squint in distrust.
Eirik raises an eyebrow as well, "So, you're suggesting we just jump out into midair and then float all the way down."
Ygvard lowers his voice a bit and looks away, "Well... not all the way down. Just, you know, the last part of the fall."
Deirik chimes in, "I'm sorry, just the last part? So we jump..."
Ygvard interrupts, "Two of us jump."
Deirik continues, "TWO of us jump and then you'll cast your magic in midair and we'll float safely to the ground. What about the other two?"
Ygvard responds, "I'll have to cast it on them from the ground once they've fallen close enough for me to do so."
Eirik can't believe his ears, "So, you'll jump with one of us and cast on you and them on your way down, then the other two just jump for it and hope you time it right to catch them before they splat?"
Ygvard nods, "Yes."
Eirik looks at the others, shrugs, and says, "Screw it. Let's do this."
Deirik and Kiro look at Eirik incredulously, but Ygvard smiles and grabs Deirik for the jump. Deirik can barely contain his - skepticism, but goes with it. They leap off the cliffs!
Wind whipping past them, their eyes are barely open, their faces pressed backwards; Ygvard can barely see, but as the ground rapidly approaches he screams out his incantation and manages to catch Deirik and himself in the resulting manifestation. They gently glide to the ground safely. Deirik steps to the side, a little queasy. Ygvard looks up expectantly at Eirik and Kiro.
Eirik looks at Kiro, who has still not gone anywhere near the cliff, "C'mon, Kiro, it's our turn."
Kiro slowly walks towards Eirik, "If I die, I'm going to haunt Ygvard for the rest of his life."
Eirik nods, "I wouldn't have it any other way," they grab hold of each other, "Ok, we go on three. ONE... TWO..."
Eirik grabs hold of Kiro tightly and jumps on two, catching him completely by surprise and preventing any resistence he may have been considering.
Kiro screams out over the roaring wind, "I HATE YOU SO MUCH RIGHT NOW!" Eirik can only grin in response.
Ygvard only has one shot to get it right, cast too soon and the magic will be expended but won't reach them, cast too late and...
Ygvard's reflexes snap him into motion and Eirik and Kiro enter the range of his spell and, while he doesn't need to, he finds himself shouting out the incantation once again! While it was *FAR* closer than he intended it to be, Ygvard does catch Eirik and Kiro before they hit the ground, and they float gently the rest of the way. Now that the four of them are on the shore, they make their way back East towards the Cave of Mjarn.
When they arrive, they find it completely inaccessible from a cave in. Deirik and Eirik begin searching the rubble, moving rocks here and there, trying to find a way through to their old home and a possible way to get into Svenor unseen.
As they continue their search, Eirik happens upon some type of engraving on one of the boulders amidst the pile. As he inspects it, it flashes before his eyes and pain wracks his body as he falls off the rubble and onto the shore. Deirik and Kiro are both close enough that they see the same flash and double over in pain themselves. Ygvard, having been much further away, sees the others writhing around, screaming in pain, and slowly pulls each one away from the source.
Minutes pass and Deirik, Eirik, and Kiro realize they're sitting ducks here and will have to push through the pain. No doubt the activation of that symbol set off alarms up in Svenor. Their heads throbbing, their muscles spasming, they each tap into their willpower to stand and start moving to the West. They realize that to survive this, they'll need to make it to the goat path several days West before Torvald's forces can.
As they consider Torvald's forces, almost as if on cue, the Men notice an osprey dive down from near Svenor and fly over them. Eirik realizes they may be looking at Torvald's, or one of his associates', astirax and has to take his chance. Fighting through the pain, he fires off a shot with his bow and sinks it into the osprey's wing! The osprey veers off over the sea and seems to watch them a bit more before turning back the way it came.
Hours pass before the pain finally fades for Deirik, Eirik, and Kiro, but by then, the drain of that experience is physically wearing on them. They press on though, forcing themselves to march past exhaustion, going without sleep, ever moving forward.
Going at this pace, without sleep, it only takes them a couple days to make it to the goat path. Their arms and legs feel weighted, but they need to reach the top of this path before Torvald does. In their state, if there's *any* opposition waiting for them at the top, they're goners.
After what feels like the longest climb in the history of climbing, Deirik, Eirik, Ygvard, and Kiro finally reach the top...
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