4th of Ilaint
We walked for more than a day, stopping just outside Kalid’s village. The sheep, riding along the balcony of the Hut, eventually got use to the motion.
Throughout the day, the land starts to rise and the forest thins. In the distance, we see a clearing that is filled by a large camp: several dozen rough hewn huts made of skin stretched over bones. There are over 100 orcs in this nomadic village.
At Kalid’s suggestion, we stop at the outskirts of the village.
We leave the Hut and approach on foot. A group of orcs leaves the village and meets us along the road. They form a line before us and Bragga’s words get us through. They line becomes an escort. They snarl and snort at us as we pass. Bragga’s hair waves without wind, quieting the loudest of the orcs. They snarl and bark at Nadia and Rustan, and even Mellifleur (in her orcish shape), but they’re unsure how to take the small blond blind girl in Bragga’s wake.
We enter the village. The orcish children are hiding behind their parents or peeking at us from the tent’s openings. They take us to see Korak-Kagg. His is the largest of the tents. Two mastodon tusks hold up a canopy archway. The chief’s tent sits in the middle of a crescent of tents, just in front of the communal fire. The lead warrior throws open the tent and bids us enter.
The tent is full of a collection of bizarre goods from many realms: silks, an ottoman, tapestries, rugs, even a shirt hangs as ornamentation. Weapons line racks on one wall. A giant axe stands in a corner. Sitting on a folding stool is large and muscular grey orc. He has a cracked tusk and a mighty overbite. He asks our purpose and Bragga speaks for us. She speaks of the coming of the witches and our quest to find the grandmother.
Their wise woman knew we were coming.
Bragga asks about the Red wizard’s visit. The “Red” hired some of Korak-Kagg’s orcs as soldiers. His scouts say the Red’s party encountered giants shortly after leaving the village. The Red had interest in the three sisters (the statues).
Kalid takes us outside the hut. The orcs are no longer standing around.
We go to the Wise woman’s hut. It’s smaller than the chieftan’s hut, and located just outside the village. It’s directly opposite the clearing where we parked Grandmother’s hut.
Kalid declines to enter.
Inside the hut are five elderly orcs, three are stirring a cauldron. Two others are tending a naked orc who is very pregnant. One steps out to greet us. She shoves the cristal she holds at each of us and grunts at us. Bragga leads the conversation as best she can.
They warn us to beware the wind that walks. It will blow stronger and stronger against us.
They tell Mellifleur that the Prince of Stars seeks her. He will be our guide when we come to the pass. When we walk in the halls of the Queen of air and darkness.
We go back to the edge of the village to wait for this walking wind.
Wanderoot talks to the trees. He learns that the Red and some orcs left a few days ago. He also can’t get any word from the area around the Three sisters as the trees are frightened.
It’s the middle of the night before the wind picks up. Three hulking figures with goat legs and horns, and a human’s torso. They are masoginist demons called Andrascues. They appear and crouch down, looking about when Wanderroot strikes! He smacks them hard.
The lead goat-man speaks telepathically demanding to know where the tree that walk’s women are. And all three goat-men grow. A large voice yellos out in Abassal: come out you come out bitches! Face your doom!
Rustan fires his gun twice at them; hitting both times.
Lidyia prays while Bragga casts a fireball and Nadia shoots her bow. Faufine sneaks quickly away to flank the goat-men. Fortunately, they ignore him until he sneaks up and attacks one of them in the eye! It falls and disappears.
The other two fall more quickly from the combined efforts of the party. And as they fall, they disappear.
The wise women arrive, one of them is holding a newborn orc. They nodd in our direction. The orcish mother steps forward and presents her baby. The baby is featureless. It’s a caul-baby. the baby was born with a caul wrapped around her face. Lidiya removes the caul only to have the wise women take out the newborn’s eye with a lance. The crowd is happy with this. And they depart.
Then the wise women tell us a tale.
Thousands of years ago, before the oldest – the orcs lived elsewhere. And foolish magicians opened portals to bring them forth as slaves. And they poured forth in an endless wave. The orc-gate wars, the humans called them. The orcs would have taken over the world. The ancestors of the red wizards closed those gates. Alone? No. She came. She closed the gates. And she built three statues of her: as a maid, as a mother, and as a crone to watch the gates. And she promised to watch over these gates for ever. There are passages and rooms within these statues that hide her plunder and some of her followers. And the followers are three-who-are one. And now a red man goes there. A place of power and a place of watching.
The gate that goes into the three-who-are-one is at the top of the statues; it changes with the moons. It is said we must go there to find the way in. There will be a guardian within; she should be an ally as she also serves the Babba Yaga. But the Red, the Red wizard will always be an enemy.
The wise women give us a large wooden staff carved with many runes and incantations. It will teach “us” secrets.
They warn us of where we are going, and speak in riddles.
The wise women offer up their son (Kalid) as our guide. He seems resigned to his fate.
The village awakes to screams of joy. Beloved of Grumsha and Ludvik – the baby is celerated at her birth.
Kaild rejoins us with his stuff. He warns us that there is a laborinth around the statues.
We travel (using the Hut) to the Three Sisters, three statues that dominate the landscape. They sit within a maze of branching canyons.
At the feet of the statues, Wanderroot puts us in his bag of holding, makes himself invisible and flies up to the top of the crone. He drops us in a nearby clearing that is dominated by a blackened and twisted tree. It demands one of us as toll. Naturally, we refuse.
The witch-tree does significant damage to the party, hurting Nadia badly, but she suffers far more than us and we destroy her. Beyond her is an opening into the statues.