"If we don't study the mistakes of our future we are doomed to repeat them for the first time" - Ken M
Icy wind bites at your skin as you hike up the snow covered trail to the mountain village of Frostpine. As you make your way closer to the town you see a mixture of goats and earth ponies milling about. The townsfolk seem sluggish as they go about their tasks, like they bear a heavy weight on their shoulders. The whole town has a dark, mournful aura.
The snow crunches beneath your feet, already hard and packed enough to not give way. As you enter the town proper, you mostly notice some snow covered huts scattered across the place, but two buildings set themselves apart from the living quarters. Smoke wafts from the chimney of each of the sparsely populated town's homes, save one. A dark gray building that sits towards the south. Inside is completely dark. Above the door rests a wooden plank with a crudely painted rod with a serpent twisted around it.
The second building, however, emits a warm glow, and from this distance you can just barely make out the silhouette of a stallion standing in front of the door. He heads right toward you, and once you get close enough you manage to get a better look. A towering gray earth stallion wearing a bearskin draped over his shoulders. He nods in greeting, stopping when he's near you.
"I suppose you're the three who came for the job," he says. His voice rumbles as he speaks. He turns around and waves his hoof, motioning for you to follow. "Come. Let's get inside where it's warm."
Upuaut wordlessly nods, fur standing on end as the hot-weather dog tries to adapt to the frigid weather. He follows the stallion inside.
As he enters Frostpine, he takes note of the grim atmosphere. "I've seen funerals with more cheer," he comments, slightly uneasy.
He bows in greeting at the large stallion. "We are. Yuenlong, at your service." He follows the stallion into the building, bowing his head slightly to avoid bumping his antlers on the frame.
Rough marches through the snow, shivering along the way. A bit too stubborn in claiming it couldn't be that
cold up the mountain, and they wouldn't take too long with the job.
"Yes, let's. Didn't expect it to be quite so nippy up here."
The stallion leads you inside, where you’re greeted by a warm flame heating the entire building. A minotaur sits in the corner taking a whetstone to a large knife, and doesn’t bother to look up as you enter. “Thank you again for coming,” the stallion says. “Even if it is just a job to you, it still means a lot that someone was even willing to answer.” He sits down at a nearby table and gestures for you to sit as well.
“I’ll try not to take too much of your time explaining. I know how off putting this damned ice is and I grew up here. I can only imagine how it’d be for-” He stops mid sentence, mulling over something in his head as he looks the three of you over, lingering particularly long on Yuenlong and Upuaut. Finally, he clears his throat. “Non locals.”
“Well, I’ll start at the beginning, then. Last month our village was hit with a plague. I personally don’t know the specifics, but it was bad. One of our guards’ relatives happened to fall ill as well, but the local healer said that the only thing she could do was keep everyone quarantined so the rest of the village didn’t get sick too. That the only thing that could even possibly save them was a rare flower that grows through the ice at the summit of the mountain. This wasn’t something she should have told Abraam -the guard I mean- because before the day was out he’d gotten together a band of men to go up into the mountains.”
“To cut it short, we were hit by a blizzard and he didn’t come back. A couple of our men went into the mountains on a search and rescue as well, but they didn’t come back either, and I fear the worst. Getting to the point, the job is to go into the mountains and either bring back our men-” He pauses and looks away. “Or, in the worst case, find out what happened and bring back their bodies.” He rubs his eyes with the back of his hoof. “That’s probably the case, but I hope not. I’m so damned tired of funerals.”
He sighs. “Anyway, if you don’t have gear for climbing then we still have some supplies that you can borrow. If need be, say the word and we’ll happily provide you with the climbing gear, food and water, and a sled in case… Well, in case you have to bring something back down the mountain.”
He listens intently. "So, a search and rescue party, then." He nods. "Tell me more about this flower, should we find it ourselves. What does it look like?"
Rough takes a close seat to the fire, warming herself back up from the biting wind.
"A quarantine? Are you sure you don't want us to find this flower as well?"
"How long has it been since they went missing? I've heard how blizzards can easily cause a pony to get lost, and in this cold I can't see anypony lasting long."
She asks as she checks through her supplies.
"Climbing gear would be very helpful, thank you."
"You need not fret for my own comfort when it comes to this mission. I have taken this mission to test my body against the elements, so that I might get to know the lay of this land better. I will accept any provisions you might provide, but should things grow dire I am fully capable of scavenging."
The Diamond Dog says as he remains standing, only so that he may remain closer to the fire,
"The information the dragon has asked for will be useful. As well, are there any hostile spirits or beasts that live in these mountains that we might encounter when on our journey?"
"Oh, and I will not require climbing gear. I can fly well enough."
"I have weathered sandstorms, the ibis know to seek shelter and not fly. I imagine snowstorms could be just as impassible."
"Crystallofolium. It's a bit of a local myth, but I've seen it once before myself. They only grow this close to winter, so collecting them from the summit of a mountain is reckless. You'd know them when you see them. Light blue, four petaled blooms growing from icy white stalks. The grow in patches">>703631
He drops his head. "Unfortunately," he says. "Everyone who was sick has already passed. If you wish to risk it, then by all means. I'm sure our healer would reward you. They wouldn't help now."
He looks back up at you, and you can tell he's trying his best to keep his composure. "The first party has been gone two weeks. The second a week." >>703632
"That's impressive if it's true." He glances down at his hooves as you mention 'things you might encounter'. After turning it over in his head for several moments, he finally speaks. "Wolves, for one. Bears. And-" He pauses and falls silent.
Rough says at the unfortunate news. Seeing his body language, she feels she may have been a tad harsh.
"That sounds better than a month like I thought. If they found a cave or some kind of shelter around here I believe they're holding on fine."
"Creatures of myth or the supernatural, then? The others I have heard of, but you hesitate. I am one to be wary even of local boogiemen, trickster gods, or cursed lands. Even if the stories prove to be fiction, every tale has some
basis in reality."
Upuaut says, cocking his head towards the stallion,
"Even if you do not believe we might encounter such a thing, or knowing of its existence would cause more harm to us than ignorance, I would like to be as well informed as possible."
"I suppose you're right," he says, touching his chin. "Let's hope we don't run into one of those. Best to err on the side of caution though.">>703637
"Crystallofolium," he parrots, rather enjoying the sound of the word. "Understood."
As he falls silent, Yuenlong looks rather stony yet intrigued, his mind already racing with possibilities. "You suspect something evil afoot on the mountain? I have heard stories of crones and skin-walkers digging their warrens in the deep places of the world…"
"Thanks. And that's what I'm hoping." He sighs and leans against the table, folding his hooves in front of him. "Town this small, you get to know everypony pretty close, y'know? So many of them being there one month and just… Just gone
the next… It's hard.">>703642>>703646
He nods. "I suppose it's best to just say something, then. There is a legend. A dark spirit that lives on the mountain. It's said to possess those who do evil deeds and drive them mad. I don't know anyone who's actually seen it. Nobody that I know has, but it's a story that's been passed down as far as I can remember. A 'local boogieman', as you put it."
He mulls this over. "I see. I do not think it should be taken with a grain of salt. As my canine friend has said, every legend is based on a truth."
"Just how many did you say have gone missing? If possible we should try to account for everyone."
"It is best to err on the side of caution, thank you for the information. Is there any information that you have for us, such as paths not to travel or the like?"
Rough gets up to put a hoof of support on the stallion's shoulder.
"We'll be back before you know it."
"Seven. Four for the initial trek and three for the search party.">>703655
"I'd steer clear of the cave systems. There isn't anything monstrous or anything as far as I know, but best not risk bears. They likely won't be out this close to winter, so as long as you keep to climbing you should be fine. There are two sheer drops you'll need to scale, but besides that it's mostly steep inclines.">>703661
He swallows. "Thank you again. I'm… I'm sorry it had to come to hiring outside help."
"Don't say it like that. There's no shame in outside help."
"Well acknowledged. We'll gear up then, and get ready for the expedition."
He nods, starting to write down everything he says for future reference. "Will we be on our own, or will we have a guide? I imagine it can be easy to get lost up there."
He stands up and brushes himself off. "I knew you were coming, so I already prepared the equipment. I'll just have to go grab it. I can send a guide with you if you'd like." He glanced over to the Minotaur. "Hey, Hugo. You know the mountain pretty well, right? Well enough to act as a guide?"
The minotaur looks up, grunts, nods, and goes back to sharpening his knife. The stallion nods. "Well then, if you need a guide then I'll send Hugo along with you."
"A guide would be helpful with all the snow about. Once you fish the gear out, I'll be ready to go."
Upuaut nods and lets the stallion grab the equipment.>>703674>>703672
"If any of us are to get seperated, whose names am I to call out to the wilderness?"
"We will need all the help we can get," he nods, bowing rather stiffly to Hugo. "I am ready whenever the others are.">>703682
He does a double take. "Oh, of course. Where are my manners." He extends a claw. "Yuenlong. A pleasure to meet you."
"Oh my, how did I forget that. I'm Rough, and you?"
Upuaut nods to both of them, looking slightly puzzled as Yuenlong holds his claw out,
"I am Upuaut,(wep-WA-wet)
let us hope such an occasion doesn't occur."
Hugo stands and slips his knife into a belt sheath. Now that he's standing you can finally get an actual idea of his height. Even without his curved horns he looks like he'd have to duck to avoid the top of the door, and is broad enough that he nearly needs to turn sideways. On his right hip a wood splitting maul hangs from his belt.
The stallion leads you out of the longhouse and around back, stopping at a shed built onto it. From here you can see the freshly turned earth of an icy cemetery in the distance, just beyond a sparsely treed wood. The stallion swings the shed door open and pulls out a sled, on top of which is a backpack and several lengths of rope. "Should have everything you need here," he says. "Just follow me. I'll lead you to the first cliff face, and you can go from there."
It takes nearly twenty minutes of hiking through the snow, but the five of you finally make it. The wind has already picked up some, and the frigid chill even threatens to spike through your clothes. Hugo takes the initiative, grabbing a rope, a harness, an ice axe, a sack of pitons, and a piton hammer.
"Someone take the pack," he says. "The pony will need the special boots." Without saying anything else, he ties the rope for the sled around his waist and walks over to the cliff. After looking it over for a moment, he seems to find a place he's satisfied with, grabs hold of an outcropping with one hand, hooks his hoof into the cliff, and slams the ice axe into the wall.
"Since we know something out there caused the last two parties to get held up, it should. Provided we don't get stupid out there.">>703690
Rough looks on to the graveyard as they gather their supplies, silently making a promise that they'll be sure it won't get bigger today.
Rough follows behind the minotaur to the cliff, doing her best to avoid the wind by using the rest of the party as a shield. When the minotaur says she'll need to wear special boots, she sits back to put them on as she watches him strike the cliff with his axe.
"Are these for the cliff climbing?"
Carrying no gear but his clothing and quiver, Upuaut takes the bag and slings it over his shoulders, waiting for further instruction.
He looks perplexed as Upuaut doesn't return the handshake, rather awkwardly putting his front legs back in front of his body close together like a cat.>>703690
Seeing Hugo start to climb, he takes to the air himself, floating steadily up the cliff face along with (assumedly) everyone else.
[1d10] if you need itRoll #1 10 = 10
Hugo looks over his shoulder and nods. "Spiked boots. Can't get a hold of the rocks if you don't have hands to hold 'em with. Ain't as good as hands is, but they're close.">>703692>>703691
"Put on the harness. Tie the rope to the harness. Hammer one of these-" he pulls a piton out of his small sack and shows you. "Round abouts every body length or so so if ya slip, ya don't fall to yer death. Climb, hammer, repeat.">>703693
You ignore the wind completely, flying up the side of the cliff with no problems. You feel like you could probably fly up and down this part as many times as you want without any issues.
He lazes idly at the top of the cliff while he waits, keeping an eye on his companions in case they slip. While he's there, he takes the time to set up his instrument, idly strumming it as he waits. Occasionally, he glances over the edge of the cliff to see if they need help.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HN6OuVc2NSc
[1d10+2] Inspire, bonus from talentRoll #1 8 + 2 = 10
Upuaut nods looking to the harness and putting it on, tying the rope on and following the minotaur's orders. He begins his ascent.
[1d10+2]Roll #1 5 + 2 = 7
"Alright. Harness, hammer, climb."
Rough repeats as she sets p her harness and ties herself secure, with a little struggle now that she has the spiked boots on before doing all that.
She tests the boots grip by placing on on the rock first, getting a feel for how secure it is and the best way to place it. Once she's confident, she grasps the hammer in her mouth and begins the climbing process.>Scale the cliff [1d10+2]Roll #1 1 + 2 = 3
Your playing is quite inspiring. Even Hugo seems invigorated by the strange, foreign sounding tune.>>703696
You make your way halfway up the cliff with relative ease. The wind licks at your back, threatening to pick up, but slows before it's too much to handle.>>703697
You make it a quarter of the way up the cliff before the wind seems to catch you. The ice cracks as you wobble, and you fall fifteen feet to the ground, landing flat on your back. The fall seems to have caught and twisted your front leg, leaving you with a sharp ache. [temporarily lose climbing gear bonus]
Hugo looks down at you and shakes his head. "I need ta come back down and carry ya?" he shouts down at you.
As he sees Rough Patch slip, he flies down wordlessly and tries to help him climb up, resisting the urge to make a name pun.
[1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
Upuaut doesn't make the mistake of looking down to check on the others, climbing the rest of the way.
[1d10+2]Roll #1 5 + 2 = 7
Rough tries to quickly correct her grip as the ice cracks, failing as she lads hard on her back. The wind is knocked from her lungs, dazed as she stares up into the white cold sky. Her forelegs fall to her sides, glad for the cold now as a sharp spike of pain runs up her leg.
"J-Just a second. I… I can do this."
Rough rolls onto her stomach, getting back onto her hooves, though flinching as she puts weigh back on her injured leg. She steps back to the cliff, and tries to climb again, a little more slowly this time.>Climb [1d10+1]Roll #1 7 + 1 = 8
Hugo pulls himself over the cliff and stretches his back. You see him move to step away from the cliff, but he freezes, seeming to stare at something you can't see from this angle.>>703699
You fly down to help her, but she's already started climbing again. At least now you'll be there to catch her if she falls again.>>703700
You climb your way the rest of the way up the cliff and pull yourself up. Hugo holds his hand out to keep you from moving too far forward, but not so close to the edge that he accidentally pushes you over. Looking up, you see what he's staring at. A massive brown grizzly stands on all fours, pawing at the ground. Luckily she's turned away from you for now.>>703701
You manage to make your way halfway up the cliff. With Yenlong to help guide you you make it up to the top with everyone else.
"Hold. A beast lays ahead. I could provide a distraction elsewhere so that it's attention is lead away while you continue forward."
Upuaut says quietly, pointing to the bear.
"Perhaps a rock thrown in the opposite direction?" Yuenlong suggests, scouting around to see if he can find a safe path around the bear.
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 3 = 3
"Ah, the beast is not one equipped to burrow beneath the ground. I, however, am. I have only to burrow past it and show myself on the opposite side of our travel, then return once it has been distracted long enough."
Rough climbs up to the top, sitting down in the cold snow to help relieve some pressure off her leg. She takes a moment to scrounge through her saddle to mix up something to help ease the twisted pain to not hinder the rest of their trek.>[1d10]
As the others look ahead to the bear, she looks a bit worried since they're cornered at the cliff's edge.
"At least it's not looking at us. Maybe it's looking for something, probably the best we don't try to bother it or distract it."Roll #1 1 = 1
Hugo takes a single step forward and crouches down, drawing his long knife from his belt. "Don't even make sense," he whispers. "Too close to winter. Bear should be hybernatin'." He hums to himself for a moment, scanning the mountain. After a second he nods to the a cliff face on the far end of the shelf, right beside the bear. "Ain't easy to see, but over there's a cave that leads up. Might be able ta sneak past the bear if we're real quiet like," he says. "Safer ta go up the slope past the bear, though. Cave is full'a ice, and new cracks and holes open up and close all the time. Y'all got torches or somethin'? It's dark.">>703988
You don't see any options other than the two Hugo pointed out.>>703990
All it seems to do is sharpen the pain.
The bear continues to scratch the ground. After what seems like a fruitless attempt at whatever it was trying to do, it lets out an annoyed huff and takes a couple of steps forward, continuing to dig at the snow.
He checks his inventory, frowning. "Fie. I could have sworn I packed a lantern…" He shrugs and looks to Hugo apologetically. "If no one else has a light source, I suppose we will have no choice but to move past it. Let us hope it is not hungry."
"My eyes are honed to pierce the night, however, give me a moment to scavenge and I can see what I can do to aid."
Upuaut scans the surrounding area for materials to create a crude torch.
>Survival: spot check rolls +3. Can create and forage for basic supplies like rope, bandages, tents, torches and low-quality meals. Can see far into the distance and can see if dim or night light.
[1d10+3] spotRoll #1 1 + 3 = 4
Rough stands back up, toughing out the pain.
"At least the cold will help keep it from swelling.">>703992
"I have a few mixes that can make fire if we need, though the smoke might be a bit irritating if we're going through a cave."
"H'm. S'pose ya gotta do what ya gotta do. Didn't expect to be goin' through the caves because the idea was to avoid
bears and such.">>703994
"Irritatin's better than bein' torn apart. Maybe we can scare it, though. Best be decidn' quick, afore-">>703993
You dig through the iced over snow, but can't manage to find anything. As the ice breaks, a thin fracture spiders across it and back toward the cliff face, dividing in two halfway across. As it reaches the edge, the ground beneath you rumbles and a huge chunk of ice and rock separates from the cliff, tumbling to the ground below.
The loud boom from the impact startles the bear, and it jumps, swinging its head around. When its eyes find the party it stands up on both its hind legs and bears its fangs and lets out a low, rumbling roar.
"Not to mention it might agitate whatever lives inside. Still, I would rather take my chances with the cave than have to deal with an angry bear."
Upuaut stays low to the ground, continuing to pad at the earth slowly even as the bear turns it's attention.
>Trap: recharge 1; Starting next turn, first enemy to attack is helpless for 2 turns.>Digging a pitfall trap incase the bear starts running towards the group
[1d10]Roll #1 2 = 2
"Alright. Don't blame me if you get thrown into a coughing fit though."
Rough warns. She pulls an empty bottle from her saddle, looking through her other ingredients before mixing together two liquids, then tossing in a pinch of powder to make it light up with a small flame.>Alchemist's Fire [1d10]Roll #1 7 = 7
Hugo nods in agreement. "Bears up in these parts get big, mean, and strong. Don't wanna fight em if I don't have'ta.">>703997
The ice is too thick, and the ground too hard. You manage to dig a small, couple of inch deep pitfall, but nothing that will make any difference. >>703998
The concoction erupts into flames before settling down. Thick, acrid black smoke wafts off of it, just like you'd warned everyone.
Hugo steps in front of everyone and stands up as tall and straight as he can. "Here, here! he yells. "Git. We don't wanna fight ya!"
[1d10] intimdateRoll #1 9 = 9
The bear drops back to the ground and takes a couple of steps towards the party, but freezes when it sees Hugo screaming at it. It doesn't run right away, but it stops moving. Slowly it swings its head towards where Hugo indicated the cave was, almost like it's checking for something.
"Not as planned." He pulls out his guqin, hovering midair as he rests it on his tail, strumming all the strings discordantly in an effort to conjure something to fight by his side if need be.
[1d10] Conjure MinionRoll #1 2 = 2
As Hugo attempts to intimidate the bear, Rough holds up the burning potion. With the awful smoke coming off it, she hopes letting the wind blow it towards the bear may aid in repelling it.>Repel [1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
He curses in his native tongue as he fails to conjure anything, instead playing an inspiring tune to (hopefully) instill his allies with magical fortitude.
[1d10] InspireRoll #1 4 = 4
Upuaut decides to continue forward slowly,
"We cannot stand here forever, the elements will get to us before bear does if we do.">moving
Your music rings out but nothing shows up, and nothing seems to happen. Your last note just dies in the air.>>704002
Hugo slowly steps toward the cave, continuing to stand at his full height. As you hold the potion, the bear gets a sniff of the smoke and takes a step back. It lets out a huff, but otherwise doesn't move.>>704004
As you move toward the cave you can slowly see it come into view. As it sees you make your way toward it, the bear runs forward, right at you, prepared to barrel into you at full force.
[1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
Rough moves slowly with Hugo, legs growing stiff as she keeps her flame held high to help keep the bear repelled. Time pass agonizing slow, but it's relieving that they aren't getting attack. That is until the bear charges for Upuaut.
She shouts, reaching into her saddle and pulling out a crystal vial. She pulls out the cork with her teeth and flings the liquid out at the dog to quickly aid in protection.>Fortify Flesh [1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
As he sees the bear turn aggressive, he springs to action, baring his claws and raking them across the guqin, sending sonic blades slashing at the bear.
[1d10] RangedRoll #1 1 = 1
Upuaut attempts to burrow out of the way, hiding underneath the snow.
[1d10] burrowRoll #1 8 = 8
The throw arcs perfectly, dousing Upuaut in the fortifying liquid. He suddenly feels tougher.>>704007
The sonic blades miss the bear completely, taking a wide arc upward and slashing across the top of the cave. The cave rumbles, and rocks and snow fall from the top, halfway covering it. It looks like to get inside now you'd have to take time to dig it back out.>>704008
Your claws rake at the ground furiously, and you dive into the snow. The bear wings your leg, but otherwise dashes right over you. [-1 hit] It stops just past the hole, looking around in confusion.
Hugo runs towards the bear with his shoulder forward, prepared to tackle the confused bear.
[1d10] SlamRoll #1 5 = 5
He grits his teeth as the entrance collapses, playing another impromptu melody in an effort to summon an ally to his side.
[1d10] Conjure MinionRoll #1 4 = 4
Now in a strategic position, Upuaut digs out a secondary hole, trying to pitfall the bear again.
[1d10] trap while undergroundRoll #1 6 = 6
Rough sets her current flame down in the snow, unsure of what the plan is with the group split in fighting and retreating. She looks over at the now blocked cave after the harsh sound. Whether it's an exit now or something the bear was interesting in, clearing it is a good priority at the moment.
She pulls out another bottle, a smaller one, as she mixes up another concoction to throw into the cave and melt away the fallen ice, while she runs up to it after to buck away the rocks and rubble to clear it.>Alchemist's Fire [Instant due to Revolving Drum] [1d10]>Slam (To Clear rocks) [1d10]Roll #1 2 = 2
/ Roll #2 10 = 10
Hugo slams against the bear, but it doesn't budge. After regaining its bearings, it lashes out a huge paw to swipe him away.
Nothing happens again. The ending of your song is accented only by the howl of the wind.>>704011
You dig a pitfall right under the bear. Nothing happens yet, but if it makes any sudden moves you're pretty sure it's going to fall.>>704012
The chemicals spark and sputter out, but your hooves slam into the rubble, knocking it away completely. Deeper in the cave you see a small shadow move, darting behind the corner.Roll #1 10 = 10
Rough peers into the cave, picking up the flame so she can have light to see.
"Hello? You can come out, the way is clear now."
She calls gently to the shadow, having suspicions on what it is.
>>704013>Trap: recharge 1; Starting next turn, first enemy to attack is helpless for 2 turns.>bear triggers
Upuaut breaches the cold earth, looking to the rest of the party,
"The bear is fallen into my trap, let make haste to leave before it breaks free.">>704014
Upuaut gazes into the cave, his eyes adapted to darkness.>urvival: spot check rolls +3. Can create and forage for basic supplies like rope, bandages, tents, torches and low-quality meals. Can see far into the distance and can see if dim or night light.
[1d10+3] spotRoll #1 10 + 3 = 13
Satisfied as the bear gets trapped, he joins his companions inside the cave, peering about trying to see if he can spot anything in the gloom.
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 4 = 4
The bear drops into the pitfall, digging frantically and fruitlessly against the slippery ice around it. It roars as you approach the cave and tries to dig its way out even harder.>>704014
The shadow slowly peeks around the corner but jerks its head back in upon seeing you.>>704015
Your special eyes see the inside without any problems at all. As the shadow peeks around the corner, you see that it's a small bear cub about half your height.>>704018
You can barely see as far back as the first bend in the cave, but past the first couple of feet everything is shrouded in darkness.
"The creature is a mother, looking for it's child. Let us be off."
Upuaut says, letting Hugo lead the way.
"Ah, so. That explains quite a lot. We should not tarry. The mother will be free before we know it." He follows the rest of the group onwards as best he can, trying his best not to let his nerves show at being surrounded by darkness.
"So that's what she was looking for. Just keeping her cub safe."
Rough comments as they spot the little bear.
"We should probably get out out of here before she crawls out of that pit."
Hugo pulls himself up, rubbing his head. Seeing the bear trapped, he sheaths his knife and runs up in front of the party. "If there's a cub in that cave we'd best git in the opposite direction as fast as we can," he says. "We get too close and she'll tear us apart or die tryin'. C'mon. Let's get up that slant a little piece afore she gets out."
The bear helplessly beats against the sides, trying to hook her claws into the ground enough to pull herself up.
Yuenlong nods and follows closely behind Hugo, keeping a wary eye on the mama bear.
Rough nods, following after Hugo.
Upuaut offers a curt bow to Rough.
"I appreciate the assistance."
before returning to follow Hugo in the opposite direction.
"I'm glad it got to you in time. Didn't think you'd be able to dodge a bear charging right for you."
Hugo turns slips around the bear just enough to grab the sled to pull behind him. Quickly, he walk-runs toward the icy slope leading up the side of the cliff face. It's a little steep, but not so steep you feel like you risk losing your footing. You make it more than halfway up before the bear manages to break herself free, and instead of chasing after you she makes a mad dash for the cave.
Hugo's lips tighten into a thin line and he stares straight ahead, deep in thought. "Still don't make sense," he finally says. "Even if she was lookin' fer her cub, they shouldn't even be up and about. Somethin's got 'em frazzled, and that don't sit right in my stomach.."
He nods pensively, floating down to the ground. "I am no expert, but it is indeed very strange. Very strange indeed. Have you ever seen anything like this before?"
"If the predators of this realm are on edge, it only means there is a danger greater than them."
Rough walks cautiously up the steep, her leg still a little sore.
"Do you think whatever kept the others from returning is what upset the bears?"
He shakes his head. "Not as far as I can recall.">>704030
A shudder visibly runs through his entire body. >>704031
"I'd say that's a good bet. 'Specially if it is a predator more dangerous'n a bear."
The further you make it up the slope, the more the wind picks up. Light snow falls from the sky, quickly picking up into a whipping icy white sheet. As you near the top the snow picks up enough to make it difficult to see more than ten feet in front of you. Almost the moment Hugo leads you onto the shelf, a low, mournful sounding howl echoes across the mountains. Hugo freezes in place.
"Wolves?" he asks worriedly, tensing up at the sound. His eyes dart to and fro, trying to see through the falling snow at whatever might be stalking them.
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 6 = 6
Upuaut's head snaps like a watchdog's, immediately looking around the surrounding area for any more creatures that may prove hostile.
[1d10+3] look, look with your special eyesRoll #1 6 + 3 = 9
Rough holds in place as the howl echoes out. She looks up to Hugo as he does as well.
"Is that a wolf, or something worse?"
She asks, trying to peer through the cold sleet to not be caught offguard.>Perception [1d10]Roll #1 7 = 7
You don't see anything through the snow. The sound doesn't give any indication of where it's coming from, and instead feels like it's all around you. Hugo shakes his head. "That weren't no wolf. I've heard wolves. That was-" he pauses. "Somethin' else." Whatever it was it doesn't seem to be around. "We should keep movin'," Hugo says. "I don't wanna be up here longer than I gotta. That thing didn't sound right. Almost… Hollow."
Upuaut takes an arrow nearly half his body length from his quiver and holds it by the shaft defensively.
"Nor do any of us wish to stay here longer than we have to."
Continuing to follow, as usual.
He feels a chill run down his spine, and not just from the cold. He presses on with the rest of the group, staying quieter than usual.
Rough questions, looking around through the snow.
"How much father is it to the summit? It's getting hard to see ahead, it's going to be tough to see signs of the others."
He leads you across the shelf to another cliff face and stops. This one isn't a sheer drop like the first, but at about an 80 degree angle it's pretty steep. >>704039
"Just a little ways to go. Some more caves up this cliff, then you gotta go around a piece ta climb higher. Maybe another forty, fifty feet." He looks up the cliff. "This one shoulda been pretty easy ta get up, but with the snow the way it is I ain't sure. Should be another cave around here if ya wanna try that instead."
He squints and judges the weather before deciding to take a risk. "It does not look so bad. I will go first." He starts levitating and does his best to fly up the side of the cliff, sticking close to its face so as to be able to see where he's going.
[1d10]Roll #1 6 = 6
Upuaut shuffles with unease,
"My species is much more comfortable in a cave than scaling cliffs…"
"If the bears are all riled that doesn't sound like a good alternative unless we can tell the others went in there."
You fly up the cliff face, guided by the wall. As you near the top the snow picks up even more and the wind blows you against the wall near the top. You don't fall, but you're having trouble making any more progress up. Roll to continue or fly back down.>>704042>>704043
"Best decide quick. Looks like yer friend's already almost up top. Bears are probably still down the mountain, but I can understand bein' a little worried about findin' somethin' else in there."
"I suppose up is the way to go. I doubt they would've stopped without that plant either."
Rough decides, going to climb the cliff to continue to the summit.>Climb [1d10]Roll #1 2 = 2
He pauses to confirm that the rest of the group are climbing before continuing to make his way up the mountain.
[1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
Upuaut remains hesitant, first watching the others start climbing.
You dig your boots into the cliff face, but the slush makes it hard to get any kind of traction and you just slide back down.>>704046
It looks like Rough is trying to follow you up the cliff, but she's having a difficult time of it. You don't manage to make it much closer to the top either.>>704047
Hugo stands back with you, hesitant to climb himself. "Yeah," he says. "I think the dog's got the right idea. Too dangerous to climb in this weather."
He grumbles indistinctly as his efforts prove fruitless. As he sees his companions flounder as well, he gives up and flies back down. "No luck. We will have to take the caves, I suppose." His failure to scale the cliff seems to have soured his mood somewhat.
Rough plops back down into the snow as she slides down off the cliff. She stands up, looking over to the caves.
"Cliffs it looks then. It would be nice to get out of the wind too."
Hugo nods and leads you to a cave a little bit away. "Should be this one," he says. "Leads to a cave near the top. Once we get through there, it should be a straight shot to the summit." He glances over his shoulder at Rough. "You have that light?"
"Yup. Have it right here."
She says, holding the jar up high to help light the cave Hugo points out.
Upuaut leads given his natural darkvision, keeping a wary eye.
[1d10+3] spotRoll #1 10 + 3 = 13
He looks behind cautiously before following his companions into the cave, looking around with curiosity, still on edge from the howl they heard before.
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 9 = 9
The light makes it easier for everyone to see the ground and avoid the many small cracks and crevices that line the floor. Upuaut leads the party through the cave with no problems. When he rounds the last corner, though, he sees two shadows on either side of a campfire. Piled in one corner are what look like rucksacks. A pile of bones sets in the other corner, and across the cave right in front of the mouth, through which he can only see a violent cascade of white, is the body of a griffin lying face down in the snow.
Optimism grows as they come around the corner and see a light. The bones cause worry and hesitation that they might be too late. Spotting the body laying on the floor, Rough quickly rushes over to check to see if they are alive.
He looks grim as he sees the remains, looking to Hugo to gauge his reaction before tentatively approaching the presumably dead griffon, more out of morbid curiosity than anything else.
On edge, the diamond dog draws back his arrow in one paw as if preparing it to fire, holding his other empty hand out as if it was holding a bow.
"I'll stay watch. Do you recognize them, Hugo?"
As you get closer you see the two are earth ponies. Not only are they dead, but large chunks are taken out of their bodies. Some look like cuts, but their stomachs are torn open by what look like jagged bite marks.>>704058
The griffin is indeed dead. He lays on his stomach with his neck craned to look out the cave. A look of anguish still rests on his hollow face. His outstretched talon is frozen in a ring shape, like he was holding something before. >>704059
Hugo swallows and takes a couple of steps forward. Tears fill his eyes as he kneels down beside the two bodies. "Yeah," he says. "These are the three that went with Abraam. They must've hunkered down in here to try and wait out the blizzard."
Repulsed by the body but also intrigued, he examines it closer, looking for anything out of the ordinary that would give hints as to how he died.
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 2 = 2
Rough stops, holding a hoof to her mouth in terror at the sight.
"Dear Celestia, they've been ripped apart."
She takes a step back, standing on the other side of the fire.
"This couldn't be by an animal, could it? This cave doesn't look like a home for anything."
Upuaut stands vigilant as the other three continue to look at the bodies.
"Scavengers, perhaps," he suggests as he continues to examine the griffon corpse. It's like he can't look away.
It doesn't take much observation to tell that his throat has been slashed out. His body seems otherwise undisturbed.>>704062
"Not any animal I've ever seen," Hugo says. "Anythin' on this mountain would've eaten all of 'em. Or at least torn the bodies apart more." He gets up and walks over to the skeletons. "Like these three…" He crouches down and squints through the darkness. You can hear his breath catch in his throat, and he stands back up and stumbles back a couple of steps. "Those clothes. These are the three that went after them.">>704063
A long, low howl like the one you heard earlier bellows from outside. This time you can tell where it's coming from. This time it's close.
His mane bristles and he perks up at the howling, plucking a very specific sequence of notes - B, E, D, E, G - in an effort to summon a spectral ally.
[1d10] Conjure MinionRoll #1 8 = 8
"But what kind of scavengers would live on a mountain like this?">>704065
"Now we know where they were, but not what happened to them."
Rough puts a hoof on Hugo's shoulder to help him through this rough moment.
"You said they were with Abraam, so we didn't see him yet. He might be higher up, possibly waiting out the blizzard safely."
"We cannot linger much longer, I fear the cause of these deaths may soon approach."
A spectral jian with a pale blue aura materializes in front of you, hanging in the air.>>704067
He nods and takes a deep breath through his nose, flaring his nostrils. "Yeah," he says. "If he ain't here he could still be alright." He sighs. "Part'a me thinks it'd be better fer him if he ain't, though. Not sure how ta tell him 'bout what happened." His eyes shoot to the mouth of the cave and he draws his knife when he hears the howl.>>704068
A ghostly chill blows across the back of everyone's neck, like an icy spider crawled up their spine. Hugo shivers and tightens his grip on his knife. Through the furious snow you can just barely make out the silhouette of something vaguely pony shaped moving toward the cave. Something seems off about it. The shadow seems too tall. Too thin.
Two words echo in everyone's mind. A plea. 'Kill me.'
A low, ravenous sounding growl pours into the cave.
Rough tenses up at the chill, standing at alert and suppressing a gasp at the sensation. She sets the fire jar down next to the campfire, looking to the cave as a figure comes into view and growls.
She looks on, frozen in place as the words flow in her head.
He is frozen for a moment as the… thing… shambles into the cave. He almost has to will his fingers to move as he begins to pluck his magical instrument again, using his nails as picks to strum up what he hopes is an inspring melody:
G C C D E D E C G C C D E C B / G C C D E F E D C B G A B C C
The jian stands poised to strike, blade hovering near the entrance to the cave, ready to swing at the figure.Roll #1 1 = 1
Taking note of the bear attack before, Upuaut digs into the ground to hide himself away.
Your sword hovers near the entrance as you strum your strings. Your trembling hand plucks only sour notes, playing a gut wrenching metallic cacophony instead of a song. (-1 to next action.)>>704072
You easily dig away the dirt in the cave and burrow beneath the ground.>>704070
"Abraam," Hugo croaks.
The lumbering shadow steps closer to the mouth. Slowly, the snow parts and you can see the thing standing in front of you. Jagged, broken antlers protrude from its head and shaggy gray fur stained with red lines its whole body. Its face is twisted into a pained grimace, half of which looks like a pale blue earth pony, while the other half looks like that of a feral deer or elk. Jagged teeth line its blood caked mouth. The eye on pony half of its face is a deep black, but the eye on the feral side of its face looks almost normal. It stops to look down at the griffin, before looking back up at the party. A low, hungry growl rumbles from deep inside it as it takes two slow steps towards you. Wisps of icy vapor pass its lips with each breath, and the whole cave suddenly feels colder.
Unaware of the beast that lies above him, Upuaut digs underneath the ground, digging a pitfall to whatever vengeful creature approaches. The sour notes of the magical instrument above unsteadies his paws.
>Trap: recharge 1; Starting next turn, first enemy to attack is helpless for 2 turns.
[1d10-1]Roll #1 4 - 1 = 3
He is frozen in place at the sight of the terrible beast. Hands shaking, he looks around at his companions, unsure of what to do. Seeing them take the offensive, he unsteadily rakes his claws along the guqin in an effort to send a sonic blade at it.
The jian springs to life, swinging at the creature in an uppercut slice.
[1d10] +1 from Conjure Minion, -1 from Inspire critfailRoll #1 3 - 1 = 2
/ Roll #2 9 = 9
Rough takes a step back as the horrid creature enters the cave. She's nearly frozen in terror, and also from the chill of the wind and the eerie aura this beast emanates.
The sub-cave earth is even harder than the dirt you'd tried to dig through outside. You scrape away a tiny bit in front of you, but not nearly enough to have any effect.>>704075
The creature steps out of the way of your sonic blade, almost floating on the frigid cave floor. It had been so focused on everyone else that it hadn't noticed the jian as it slices a huge gash into its shoulder, sending it staggering. Before it falls over, it catches itself on one of its misshapen legs and freezes, standing unnaturally still as ice crackles over the wound. Slowly its head lifts back toward the party. >>704076
Its eyes frantically dart around like a madman's, as if it's unsure of who or what to focus on. Its nostrils flare as it takes in a deep breath and lets out the same hollow, unearthly howl you head before.
Roll perceptionRoll #1 3 = 3
He covers his sensitive ears and cowers as it howls, feeling a sense of dread wash over him as it simply regenerates the injury. He starts backing away from it, seeing it pointless to attack for now, eyes darting to and fro as he tries to formulate an escape plan.
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 4 = 4
Rough's ears lower as the creature howls again, the terror met with confusion as the beast hasn't attacked or done anything yet aside from corner them now. She tries to follow it's eyes to see what it's trying to focus on, hopefully to see and find a way to distract it so they can flee.>Perception [1d10]Roll #1 1 = 1
Clenching his teeth, Upuaut lies on his back in the hole he's dug and holds his right hand out as if holding a bow, taking one of his massive arrows and drawing it back from the imaginary string. He closes his eyes, letting go of the imaginary string with his left paw. The arrow flies from his paw and flings foward into the æther, disappearing from his hole. >>704079
A foreign glyph appears midair in front of Rough Patch, one of Upuaut's arrows emerging from it and flying out at the horror seemingly from nowhere.
>Eye of the Beast: recharge 1, weapon, ranged; Forgo your own vision look through the eyes of your minions or allies. Any foe that they can target, you can fire a bolt through the magic between realms to hit them, regardless of your own location.
[1d10+2] DC-1Roll #1 4 + 2 = 6
Before the beast stands again, you see something sticking from its back, right between its shoulder blades. You can't quite make out what.>>704079
The howl sends your heart into overdrive, making it difficult to focus on anything but the creature's eyes. As if you'd flipped a switch, they lock on you. Baring its fangs, the creature runs at you, preparing to pounce.
The bolt strikes it in the face as it charges Rough, and it lets out a quiet whine.
Hugo shakes himself free from his stunned stupor, locks his jaw, and draws his knife. Digging one hoof into the ground, he whispers a quiet, "I'm sorry." and barrels at the creature.
[1d10]slamRoll #1 5 = 5
/ Roll #2 5 = 5
His eyes narrow as he catches glimpse of the thing in its back. He sends out another sonic wave at it, while commanding the jian to strike at the spot he noticed.
[1d10+1] Minion attack>>704079>>704080
"On its back!" he calls. "There's… something there…"Roll #1 7 = 7
/ Roll #2 10 + 1 = 11
[1d10] PerceptorinoRoll #1 2 = 2
Hearing the arrow strike true as the horror whines, Upuaut hones in on it's position.> Bloodhound: Passive; After making a successful, physical attack against a target you pick up its scent. This target does not benefit from stealth when being attacked by you or attacking you for a number of turns equal to the amount of damage you do. Darkness also does not affect your ability to target.
He attempts again to set a trap, now that he holds a better understanding of the creature's position.>Trap [1d10]Roll #1 1 = 1
Rough nearly jumps back as the rune appears before her, nearly yelping as if it as an attack from the beast until it shoots at it.
"Oh my Celestia…">>704081
Rough's over-driven heart nearly sinks as the creature leaps at her. Some feeling flows back into her frozen and nearly numb legs to act, quickly pulling out a small spare concoction to toss at the creature's face before it leaps.>Alchemist's Fire [Revolving Drum Instant from >>704012] [1d10]
Then she quickly turns on her forehooves, spinning back to deliver a devastating buck to try and knock it back as it does leap.>Slam [Crits 9+] [1d10]Roll #1 6 = 6
/ Roll #2 4 = 4
The wave slams into its shoulder as it scrapes its claw toward Rough, knocking it off balance just before it does any actual damage. Before it can catch its footing, the jian slices into it again, digging an even deeper gash into its stomach and sending it to the floor. In moments icy shards slowly crackle around the wound, sealing it again. It tries to stand back up, but can't seem to right away. Its breathing picks up as it continues to slowly crawl toward Rough.>>704084
You dig under where the creature was
, but Yenlong's strike sends it staggering away. The earth above you gives way, collapsing in on you. Helpless two turns.>>704085
A shrill screech comes from the creature as it's bathed in flames. The stench of burning fur and acrid smoke fills the cave. It doesn't stop it from biting into your leg as your buck misses it by inches. -1 hit.
Hugo's slam barely misses as the creature is pushed out of his way. He moves to stab the creature, but freezes when he sees the thing in its back. Now that it's on the ground at your feet, you can see that a silver dagger etched with strange runes is just barely sticking into its spine. The area around the dagger is blackened and charred, and a constant swirl of icy vapor encircles it as if it's trying to push it out.
He hones in on the dagger, snaking through the air and flying above the creature before swopping in to try and pull it out. He commands his jian to keep attacking, causing what is essentially a flanking attack.
[1d10] Remove dagger
[1d10+1] Jian attackRoll #1 4 = 4
/ Roll #2 5 + 1 = 6
Rough quickly regains her hoofing and gets back from the creature after her failed buck, stumbling as the pain from the bite rockets through her limb once it touches the cave floor.
"Th-That dagger, is that why he's like this?"
She shouts over to Hugo as she pulls out a small vial, drinking it to try and relieve the pain.>Fortify Flesh [1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
You fly at the creature, nearly missing the dagger. As your hand nearly misses the handle, it almost seems to stand up enough to help you get a hold of it, sliding it free from its back. The wound quickly closes up and the creature pulls itself up. Its pupils dilate, and the frantic, maddened look in its eyes seems to dissipate as its face shifts into a hyper-focused, predatory glare. All traces of humanity that were once there seem to be gone now. The jian slices into its shoulder, but instead of taking a bit the wound freezes over as soon as it opens up.>>704088
The earth shifts around you as you manage to unbury yourself a little.>>704089
Your shaking hoof loses grip of the vial, dropping it to the ground. Hugo swallows and shakes his head. "I think it's more the opposite," he manages to get out, before the creature turns on him and gallops at him without a second thought.
[1d10]Roll #1 7 = 7
He curses as removing the dagger only makes things worse. With his newfound weapon, he coils around and tries to shank it right in the throat.
[1d10]Roll #1 7 = 7
Rough looks down at her broken vial, gulping at Hugo's answer. As it turns at him, she reaches into her saddle. Her potions may not be the best in a cave, but the flames are their best bet with this creature. She mixes up a larger jar, making it a more volatile concoction as she tosses it at ht creature's back.>Alchemist's Fire [1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
The rest of the earth falls away, freeing you.>>704092
The creature slams into Hugo and bites deep into his shoulder. Hugo tries to grab onto him, but his fingers can't seem to get a good grip on the creature's frozen skin. While it's distracted, you slam the dagger into the back of its neck and it shrieks again, letting go of Hugo and staggering to the side. The dagger only sticks in just over halfway, but its movements slow. Its eyes find Hugo again, and tears well up in them, freezing on its cheeks as they touch the air around it. Its blood caked mouth curls into a frown as its head creaks back toward Hugo. Like a reluctant puppet on strings controlled by somebody else it shambles toward Hugo, ready to dig its fangs in again. He reaches out to try and grapple it to hold it still for the party.
The flames fall just short, exploding on the ground behind it. As it feels the fire licking at its back legs, it tries to scramble forward a little more.Roll #1 10 = 10
/ Roll #2 7 = 7
Coughing, Upuaut finally clears enough room to breath. He weakly holds out his arms to fire another arrow.>>704092
A foreign glyph appears midair in front of Rough Yeunlong, one of Upuaut's arrows emerging from it and flying out at the horror seemingly from nowhere.
Eye of the Beast [1d10+2] DC-1Roll #1 4 + 2 = 6
Unsure of how to bring down the monster, he keeps his distance from it, plucking out a rousing melody to inspire courage in his allies.
[1d10] InspireRoll #1 8 = 8
Rough stomps her good hoof as she misses her jar toss, but at least it shows fire does fend the creature away.
As it seems to become more docile as Yuenlong embeds the dagger back in, she runs forward at the creature. She lunges out with her hoof, aiming for the dagger to try and slam it in deeper in the beast.>Slam [Crits 9+] [1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
The creature's fangs dig deep into Hugo's arm, forcing him to the ground. He manages to get his hands around it just long enough for Rough to slam the dagger all the way into its neck and through the front of its throat. >>704095
The bolt slams into it, knocking it off of Hugo. Hugo's hand shoots to his arm, covering it and applying pressure as best he can. He's still bleeding out from his shoulder, and weakly tries to stand.
You play an inspiring song, invigorating all of your party members. +1 to all rolls next turn
Slowly, the creature stands up just enough to turn toward the party. Its eyes study all of you, and after a moment it holds its claw out. Tears fall freely from its eyes, and its mouth moves as if it's trying to speak. An icy wind blows through the cave, swirling around its closed claw. The wind carries a single word.
Abraam collapses on the ground with his closed claw outstretched as if to hand you something. He's still breathing, but only barely.Roll #1 7 = 7
The jian hangs over Abraam, poised to strike at Yuenlong's command. The dragon surveys him with suspicion, silently looking to his companions to see what they do.
Hearing the loud thump echo above him, Upuaut burrows up, covered in dirt and clenching an arrow defensively. He gazes upon the beast for the first time and takes a step back,
"This clearly is the work of some evil."
Rough breathes deeply after slamming the dagger deeper into Abram, not moving as she hopes that did the trick. As he turns to the party crying, Rough feels guilt at her action, even despite the monstrous actions.
Looking down at his curled claw, Rough cautiously steps over to open it.
Hugo limps up beside you, holding his shoulder. "Reckon you ain't wrong," he says. "Evil worked on a desperate man." He bows his head and closes his eyes. "We should prob'ly end this 'fore we take the bodies back down the mountain. Y'all heard him.">>704101
The claw easily opens. There, at the center of his palm, is a single blue flower on an icy stalk.
Rough looks down at the icy flower, eyes tearing up.
"He went through all of this… I can't believe it.
She takes off her saddle, searching through it and fetching a container big enough to hold the flower so they can safely carry it down the mountain.
While she does so, she takes out a smaller vial and hands it to Hugo after putting the saddle back on.
"Here, this should help your shoulder.">Fortify Flesh [1d10]
"…Who was Constance?"Roll #1 10 = 10
Upuaut nods solemnly, taking his arrow and walking towards the corrupted creature,
"May your soul travel safely to what's beyond, and may your heart prove weightless."
Upuaut holds one arm up to the twisted monster, notches back an arrow, and fires it into it's jugular.
He nods, looking grim as he takes in the scope of the situation. He looks at the creature that was Abraam with pity. "A terrible curse for one so noble," he reflects. "You will be remembered for your great deeds, Abraam." Seeing Upuaut intending on landing the killing blow, he bows his head and plucks the first few notes of a funeral dirge.
Hugo takes the vial and knocks it back, giving Rough a nod of thanks. His pain seems to ease completely, and he closes his eyes again and takes a deep breath. A watery gleam sparkles at the edges of his eyes as he sees the flower. "The bastard actually managed it." He swallows. "His daughter," he croaks. "Constance was his daughter.">>704104
Your arrow fires straight into his throat. His body twitches once and falls lifeless.>>704105
Hugo bows his head and shudders as he tries to hold back a sob. "Damn right you'll be remembered. I'll make sure of it, Abraam. I'll make sure of it."
Rough wipes her eyes, the tears freezing on her eyelashes.
"He never forgot, even with what happened to him… I'm so sorry it had to be this way."
She says, mostly to Abraam's body.
"Let us hope his soul finds respite in the afterlife. Are we to carry the corpses of the fallen back to the village? I can bear one over my shoulder, or I could bury them here. They are of your fellowship, so it is your choice to make."
Hugo wipes his eyes with the back of his hand. "Just a shame it was too late," he says. He turns to Upuaut. "We can load them onto the sled. That's why we brought it. I'm damn well making sure he gets a proper funeral." He turns to look at the corpses around the fire. "Making sure they all do. We should just have to tie them down. The trip down the mountain should be a little easier than the way up."
Rough fetches the jar to help give them light as they retrieve the fallen villagers.
"He more than deserves it. They all do."
Upuaut nods again, going to Abraam and pulling the arrow from his throat, helping Hugo bring the bodies to the sled in pensive silence.
It takes a little bit, but the four manage to get the bodies loaded onto the sled, including the three skeletons. Now that you get a closer look, you see that the shape the Griffin's hand is in, and his position in the cave makes it look like he was probably the one who stabbed Abraam in the first place. With most of the ponies having bits of them missing, the sled is surprisingly light for having seven on it. Hugo pulls a canvas tarp and some rope out of one of the bags around the campfire and secures the small pile of bodies after covering them up.
As you descend back down the cave and exit, you see the snow has passed and the skies are now clear. As Hugo said, it only takes you an hour to make it back to town, even with the load. As you step within eyeshot of the longhouse window, you see the stallion from earlier staring out, as if waiting for you. At first he looks excited, but then he sees the sled behind Hugo and his face falls. Standing up, he shambles out of the building to meet you.
He stops in front of Hugo, who just gives him a small nod. His eyes well up, and his gaze turns to the sled again. "I was afraid this was the case," he said. "Mortar warned both them and us, but…" His words trail off and he shakes his head. "A fools errand, anyway, going up the mountain in winter. Seven good men, dead from a fool's errand." He sighs and turns back towards the large building. “Anyway,” he says. “I suppose you’ll be wanting payment, as promised. I already have it prepared inside. Hugo. Would you go speak with Cedar about preparing funeral arrangements?”
Hugo nods. Turning to the party, he gives a short, "Thank you." and walks away.