Shrouded in darkness Shiro sneaks her way closer to the hidden settlement between the cliffs. The gorge reminds her of a dark scar cutting through the landscape, and Shiro senses something unknown and unpleasant rising from below, a sort of poisonous and unseen cloud. She approaches carefully, but feels safe enough with the spirits of the Deep gathered around her. She notices the guards posted by the edge of the ravine and decides to harness the shadows to kill them both before they suspect anything

Face Danger: 8 (6+2 (Shadow)) vs. 6 & 1 = Strong hit! +1 momentum (now at 10)
(I felt this was a fair way to do an assassination – a one time use of Shiro’s ritual from last episode)

Two strangers lie at the feet of Shiro. She is standing at the top of a wooden scaffolding built along the raw cliff side. Far below runs a river towards the sea – hidden in the night, but she can hear it – and both sides of the ravine are connected by wooden beams creating floating gantries upon which small cabins are built. Several people are moving around. What kind of place is this? Where does the sickly sensation originate from? And where is the Warlock? She needs to understand all this a little better before she throws herself into the fray.

Gather Information: 3 (2+1 (Wits)) vs. 2 & 7 = Weak hit! +1 momentum (now at 10); complicate quest/introduce new danger

Ask the Oracle: Settlement Trouble: Wrathful Haunt
(It remains a little unclear how and why, but whatever haunts this place may be someting different than the corruption Shiro sensed from a distance)

Shiro sneaks around in the dark and tries to get a clearer picture. Slowly she moves downwards, towards the rushing river hidden in darkness. The cloak and the spirits allow her to remain unseen, but a sense of unease is building in her body. And then she realises: It is not a natural river running below her – it is something monstrous, something unnatural – the whispering is slippery scales against shingles and rocks!

And there stands the Warlock: Positioned upon the bottom-most gantry across the gorge – maybe ten metres above the creature in the darkness. He is casting a spell and trying to… summon? Control? Exorcise? Whatever is the case, it is from that creature the corrupt miasma emanates. Shiro has just decided to sneak in on the Warlock when a scream sounds above her: The eagle.

Face Danger: 4 (2+2 (Shadow)) vs. 4 & 9 = Miss…
(Using her succes from Shadow-walk (last session) to reroll her Action die and the 9)
New result: 7 (5+2 (Shadow)) vs. 4 & 2 = Strong Hit! +1 momentum (now at 10)

Reach a Milestone: “Prove that the spirits are with us.” (Dangerous) +2 progress (now at 4)
(Shiro is making use of the shadow spirits, and everything is going right for her)

But the bird of prey doesn’t see her, and Shiro manages to close the distance to the Warlock who seems engrossed by his foul arts. It is tempting to use the Gloom to sneak all the way in and plant her axe in the back of his skull. But Shiro needs to teach the local spirits to fear her, and her shadow-walker magic is likely spent by now. Si instead she gambles on putting the fear of the Deep in him, letting out a fierce war cry that will also serve to summon Setara, allowing her to witness the victory.

Secure an Advantage: 6 (4+2 (Iron)) vs. 2 & 8 = Weak hit! +1 momentum (now at 10)
(I could have gotten +1 on a roll with a Strong Hit, but otherwise I didn’t stand to gain a lot from this move. Maybe I should have exhausted my momentum earlier but it wasn’t really relevant)

Shiro makes a dramatic jump down onto the bridge where the Warlock stands and charges him – like a wraith from the shadows – letting out a wild scream. He turns in time to meet her axe attack, and at that same moment his eagle catches on to what is about to happen.

Enter the Fray: 6 (3+3 (Heart)) vs. 4 & 1 = Strong hit! Rank: Warlock & eagle: Formidable (a Mystic is Dangerous, but the eagle raises the rank by one)
+2 momentum (now at 10), win initiative

Using Sunderer in close quarters; ÷1 momentum (now at 9) (must be declared before attack roll)
Strike: 5 (3+2) vs. 8 & 10 = Miss… I burn Momentum to cancel the 8 = Weak Hit (momentum resets at 2); Inflict 3 harm (now at 3); lose initiative

And indeed, the Warlock gets the fright of his life, and he only just barely manages to raise his staff to intercept the axe that thunders down towards his hideous mask. But the eagle dives and spoils Shiro’s chance to deliver a killing blow. She must fight to defend herself.

Clash: 8 (6+2) vs. 3 & 7 = Strong hit! Find opening: +1 harm; inflict 3 harm (now at 6); win initiative

The eagle dives and rakes with its sharp claws, but has bit off more than it can chew and Shiro bashes it aside with her axe – not a killing blow, men now it is warned not to come too close again.

Shiro considers using the advantage to press the attack against the Warlock who is briefly upset by watching his familiar flutter desperately to reach safety. His eyes behind the mask follow the bird, but his hands are moving in the air as if to prepare some magic.

The chieftain’s daughter cannot now for certain, but she hopes Setara has arrived to witness what is about to happen. In order to call on her attention Shiro takes a step backwards and raises her voice: ‘Ironlander! I know not what monstrosity you have called upon, but regardless of whatever power you claim to possess, know that the Gloom will devour it! Time for you to go to the Deep!’

Compel: 6 (4+2 (Iron) vs. 9 & 1 = Weak hit! +1 momentum (now at 3)
(Not from a wish to make him surrender – just to make him fearful in his moment of death)

Shiro lets the Warlock – and Setara – know that the spirits of the Barrier Islands are stronger, even here. Then she throws herself into what she hopes will be the decisive attack.

Strike: 5 (3+2 (Iron)) vs. 7 & 2 = Weak hit! Inflict 2 harm (now at 8), lose initiative

Another series of swipes with her axe pushes the Warlock to retreat. But by now his magic is almost prepared, and in desperation and anger he strikes out with his staff that is humming in his grip and gives off a dim light in the dark ravine.

Clash: 3 (1+2 (Iron)) vs. 4 & 10 = Miss… Pay the Price, lose initiative
Ask the Oracle: likely: harm (unlikely: something about the monster in the gorge). The result is likely (75%) vs. 62… = harm

Endure Harm: 8 (6+2 (Iron)) vs. 3 & 6 = Strong hit! ÷3 health (now at 1)
Embrace the pain: +1 momentum (now at 4), win initiative

A decent attempt by these local spirits and their servant, but Shiro grits her teeth and resists the pain shooting through her body. She dearly wishes that Setara is watching this. And then she swings her axe to deliver the deathblow…

End the Fight: progress 8 vs. (4+7) = Strong hit!

The mask hiding the Warlock’s face is cut in half by a confident and cool blow, in spite of the pain from the foul magic coursing through her body, making it quiver. The eagle cries from its vantage point on a beam, but its wing is displaced, and it doesn’t want any further part of this.

Reach a Milestone: “Prove that the spirits are with us.” (Dangerous) +2 progress (now at 6)
(Because the Ironlander warlock’s magic proved useless)

Ask the Oracle: likely: Did Setara see the fight? The result is likely (75%) vs. 85… = No.
(Argh!)

Shiro look up towards the opening of the ravine where a band of stars reveals itself. but her hope to see an impressed, grateful, and assured Setara is dashed: Instead she sees Setara fighting several of the strangers. And from the depth below the gantry where the Warlock’s broken skull and mask lies in a formless lump a whisper is heard:

‘Blood…’