Winter in Hieron 18: Try to Live Normally

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Background[edit | edit source]

Episode description[edit | edit source]

Living Blood of Fire,

As my second reported, and I have confirmed, the first threshold has been sealed. I have walked the remains of that twisted museum myself, through the wing of turned mirrors, under the second sky, past the... chaos. It was chaos there, Fire, nonsense, impossible to comprehend. I reached for a goblet that caught my eye, and when I lifted it, it turned to a leaf. Whatever the star-fiend did there burned more than just wood and brick. It put torch to the real.

I tell you this because there was a new incident. I'm writing from Wharfhurst, a trading post south of the city. The locals—dwarfs, mostly—talk of a tower rising "higher than Hieron itself." I see no such thing, and yet... another threshold is near, I feel it in my blood. We must trust the blood.

Unfortunately, early efforts to find it have gone poorly. One scout dead. The other barely make sense. Rul says that they found a path, but that "it did not want them." Genev says nothing now, but when she first arrived she handed me the goblet from the museum. "Drink," she said. "You need to drink." But it was empty. Once they recover, I will send them again, with fire and rope. As is the way.

Justiciar-Captain Stornras Unblooded

This week on Friends at the Table: Try to Live Normally

You are not the ranger and the woods are not stone, you will neither walk first-path through trees nor will you break them with hammer. You are justiciar—find tainted blood. Track it. It is always as simple as that.

Cold open[edit | edit source]

The sun never rises over Rosemerrow anymore, but in this long dark, the horizon glow of Bri, the second moon of Hieron, has taken on the burden of hopeful light. It creases the distant line, rising up over the hills and trees to the east, over the remote mountains where the orcs hoard knowledge and trinkets, over the lone, slight tower, far away, where a university once stood. You watch these things, Hadrian, from a hill, south of Rosemerrow, and you wait patiently. Are any of the other party members with you, or do you do this alone?

I do this alone. If it wasn't for… if it wasn't for the—I thought about bringing Throndir. [...]

Hadrian, you feel blessed for the first time by this light, because its shine reveals to you those who are precious. Rosana, your wife, a lock or two of pale blonde hair sticking out from under a covering, her full body clearly tired from the travel yet still driven to do what comes next. And there he is, your boy. The voice in your head drops and takes on a playful bass when you see him. Your muscles ache to lift him above your head like you used to, back when your faith was stronger than your arms. Now he is bigger, though, a lanky ten-year-old, and his hair is messier than even its usual scattered mop.

Rosana covers her mouth when she sees you, and then removes her hand and says, "I've told him, best I can, but he—" and before she can finish, there's the sound of metal on rock, and the noise announces the arrival of the wizard Arrell, who clears his throat, and turns his back, east of you. Benjamin shifts his little round glasses. They remind you, suddenly, of Fantasmo's, and his eyes meet yours, looking for an answer. What do you do?

I crouch. I crouch to get to Benjamin's eye level.

Plot[edit | edit source]

Hadrian's goodbye[edit | edit source]

On a hill northeast of Wharfhurst, Hadrian meets with Rosana and Benjamin, who have gotten out of Velas before the Ordennan invasion with the help of Exarch Alyosha, who has arranged for a meeting with Arrell.

Preparations for a journey[edit | edit source]

Adaire says an awkward goodbye to Blake Bromley. Throndir learns to safely feed off the life around him.

Having finished their business in Rosemerrow, the Forest Party has traveled southeast to the small dwarven village of Wharfhurst. Alyosha, who came south not only with Hadrian's family but 100-150 other refugees from Velas, not only believes that the Velas city council's original goal of investigating the tower south of Rosemerrow remains important in spite of the Ordennan invasion, but wants to come with the party. Once a traveling missionary, he was thrust into the role of interim prelate after Lucius's death but feels he isn't doing much good in the position and believes Rosana can lead and protect them in his stead. Hadrian and Ephrim donate the considerable wealth that Fantasmo had when he 'died' to the church for Rosana and the refugees to make use of.

Though their own funds are meager, the group stocks up on supplies for the journey to the Tower of Samol, a trip which they expect to take two weeks, though they do not know what to expect on arrival. Adaire scrounges up some extra cash by spending two weeks selling sleeping poison, marketed as a sleeping aid, which is useful given the effects the eclipse has had on people's circadian rhythm. In addition to rations, Hella gets some bandages and Hadrian buys some arrows for Throndir.

Traveling to the tower[edit | edit source]

The trip goes quickly and smoothly. Hella has a strange vision during a restless night.

Investigating the site[edit | edit source]

The group arrives at a small structure in a clearing. They enter and see what feels like a weird inversion of the Tower of Severea from Eventide Island, including another set of inactive pala-din behind a stone door, which Hella successfully forces open this time.

Traveling down a staircase, the group finds themselves high above a version of the surrounding area cast in greyscale, much as the Mountain Party saw beneath the New Old Museum. Hadrian places the ring of Samothes back on his finger and drops the chain he had been keeping it on since High Sun Day off the edge of the walkway, at which point it seems to tear away part of what they see below them and reveal a city.

Cast[edit | edit source]