Session 20: We’re All Criminals Here
The PCs finally reach the icy cliff after gathering extra supplies from the dead wolf and DAJ. It stands about 80 feet tall, and it is translucent rather than opaque. While deliberating what to do, Joel reaches out and touches the ice with his bare hand. Even though it’s bitterly cold, within seconds the ice begins to melt at his touch. Adriana tries and finds a similar effect, though she barely melts the ice compared to Joel, who apparently burns hotter than normal humans. The PCs decide that Joel will melt ice with his fire powers, and Adriana will use the liquid water to construct stairs up the side of the cliff. Meanwhile, Sarah—attached to them with a rope in case they fall—will follow behind with Pip. The PCs begin to ascend the cliff, and Pip suddenly notices a dragon flying overhead. He neglects to tell the PCs, however, as it is outside 100 yards and thus not “important.”
After about 20 feet of climbing, Sarah and Pip notice that both Adriana and Joel are beginning to become exhausted from the effort. Joel suddenly sits down and refuses to move, forcing Adriana to shuffle past him and begin to make liquid water herself from the surrounding ice. Even so, they barely make any progress, as she too is exhausted. Sarah, frustrated, shouts at Joel to get him to move, while Pip says encouraging words, and they make a few more steps. As Sarah follows behind, she reaches the step which Joel had sat on, and the ice immediately breaks under the feet, causing her to fall back. Pip catches her instantly, and severs the rope connecting her to the others, but Adriana and Joel are still pulled back and they start to fall. Adriana catches herself by freezing her arms into the cliff above a ledge, while Joel swings below her like a pendulum on the rope. Pip drops Sarah safely onto a secure step and flies over to Adriana and Joel to help them, while Sarah furiously shouts at them both. When Adriana retorts and calls her a monster, Sarah sets off and begins to climb the cliff on her own, scaling the side and leaving them behind. Joel manages to unfreeze Adriana with a last bit of strength, freeing her and allowing them to continue making stairs together, with Pip trying to motivate them as they work. Just as they reach the top, Sarah double-times her efforts, crawling over the edge before they can reach it, and leaving her to collapse on the ground while crowing her victory.
Adriana and Joel walk onto the cliff next to her and immediately notice a campsite set up with people watching them curiously. Calling to Pip, Adriana forces him to stay quiet and pretend to be a necklace. The PCs cautiously walk to the camp, which consists of three large fur tents—one white and two of darker fur—and a fire. While most of the people stay sitting on giant tusks curved around the fire, one—a tall Vanir with blond hair—immediately walks over to the PCs, exclaiming loudly and in a high-pitched voice that they should come closer to the warmth, and share their food. Two Vanir and four minotaurs watch them, but say nothing. Joel doesn’t wait to walk over to another Vanir who looks up at him with a steely glare, as Adriana and Sarah try to assess the situation. The Vanir asks them if they were recently sentenced—judging by their clothes, which aren’t made for the cold weather, while this group clearly has been on the planet for some time—and Adriana mentions that they crashed recently. This gains the attention of the angrier Vanir, who looks at Joel more closely. He asks if the PCs have any spare battery packs, and they (truthfully) deny having any, though they have one in Adriana’s console. The PCs notice that each group member has remnants of tech on them, along with furs and other things from the planet. Inside their tents, the PCs can see more tech, though most of it looks incredibly old as compared to what they saw on Loki’s gambit. The minotaurs all lack their nose rings, though the piercings are there. When Adriana accidentally mentions “other humans” the whole group tenses, and many reach casually for their weapons. The PCs can see that the seated Vanir has something like a rifle under his furs. Adriana manages to bluff their way out, with Sarah confirming that they were simply confused following their alleged sentencing to the planet for being murderers. Remarking mockingly about the “commoners”, the seated Vanir—who claims that he was sentenced for killing important people—asks Sarah who owned her. Sarah immediately explodes, but before she can admit that no one owned her, Adriana steps in after hearing Pip whisper that all commoners have always been slaves, saying that she was a house slave (a jester) known for her outbursts and terrible behavior; the blond Vanir points out that she would make a terrible house slave, but he enjoys the PCs all the same. The minotaurs perk up at hearing Sarah called Little Bull, and they invite the PCs to sit with them opposite the Vanir, much to the amusement of the first Vanir, who thinks that these commoners are delightful and insists that he was falsely framed for thievery.
The PCs tell them that they were sentenced for murdering people, but they can tell that the group doesn’t really believe them. The lead minotaur—Ali—introduces the others in the camp: Peristi (or Peri, the “leader” of the Vanir), Oshenic (the angrier of the Vanir), Mequil (the Vanir fiddling with some technology), Behelam (a minotaur), Osi (the older of the minotaurs), and Val (the only female minotaur in the group). He asks to know more about the PCs. Sarah introduces herself by her name, which makes Ali confusedly ask about her name being Little Bull, which was clearly given to her by a minotaur and thus—in their culture—is something that shows a minotaur greatly respected her; when she tries to cover her slip-up by saying that the minotaur might be dead, Ali and Osi point out that she should respect him by using the given name. Adriana gives her name as EE (or double E), and she cuts Joel off before he can give a fake name and calls him Jorel, the the greatest of all the commers. Oshenic, who clearly doesn’t believe the PCs and wants to catch them in a lie (though Joel can tell that he doesn’t want to kill them, but rather wants to use them for some purpose of his own), asks for clarification. The minotaurs, eager for a story, push him for more information as well. Joel begins to tell them a story about the PCs as slaves on the planet Endor, a small forest planet: Adriana and Sarah were house slaves (in the kitchen and for comedic effect, respectively), while Joel worked in the forest. When Joel realized that the commoner slaves (descended from humans and retaining no magical powers) outnumbered their Vanir masters, he organized a revolt. However, his storytelling leaves the minotaurs waiting for more and Oshenic even more suspicious. Sarah jumps in, standing and gesturing their exploits wildly, telling the group about how the slaves brutally fought for their freedom. The minotaurs love the tale, as the Geb are only slightly valued more than commoners, and hearing about the PCs fighting against their cruel Vanir masters is something that strikes close to home for them. As Sarah details her own fight against the Vanir—bragging that she could easily take on three at a time, much the minotaurs’ delight—the Vanir in the group grow more and more horrified at her descriptions of brutal combat. Oshenic, however, looks more and more interested, and he continually asks pointed questions—like about the house crest and surname, as well as number of guards (the minotaurs, luckily, distract from Sarah’s bluffs, as her answers revolving around her kills make them laugh). It’s clear that he is very suspicious of the PCs and doesn’t believe any of their lies, but he keeps his thoughts to himself. After Sarah finishes the story with how Joel rescues her and other trapped slaves in the house, the minotaurs give them some of the meat, which turns out to be mammoth. The group reveals that they too are going to the crashed escape pod, and the PCs decide to travel with them for the time being.
While chatting, they learn that Mequil was sentenced for computer hacking with resulted in the deaths of thousands, while Peri insists that he was framed after working for a politician in the ruling counsel (and that, luckily, Loki arranged for him to end up on this planet, Skiraheim); he brags that Loki would kill to know what was in his head, as he knew many secrets of higher up politicians. Oshenic refuses to devulge any more information beyond his highly desired skill set and murderous past. Ali says that he questioned their place in the war, and indeed why the war against the Synodans was being fought to begin with, and the other minotaurs cite similar reasons for being there. The PCs learn that the planet was meant for rehibilitation, and that those sentenced could either choose to stay in the frozen wasteland until they died, or journey to the golden dome and lose their memories of their past to rejoin Asgardian society by taking a bifrost to Valhalla. The group, having refused to journey to the dome even after being there for hundreds of years, travels around the tundra looking for tech—like battery packs—and scavenging. After some time, they all retire to their tents. The minotaurs offer the PCs a place in their tents, while the Vanirs all go to the white tent, Oshenic commenting about “fleabag commoners.” Adriana offers to clean up, and though it’s clear that Ali disapproves, he leaves them alone. The PCs discuss their situation, deciding to go along with the group until they reach the escape pod, and then they’ll decide what to do from there. Pip tells them more about the prison planet, revealing that many planets like Skiraheim exist in the galaxy, but this one in particular was used by Loki. The PCs decide to stick together, first going to the tent with Osi and Val. Unfortunately, as soon as they open the flap, they see the two fucking and, disgusted, they immediately go to the other tent with Ali and Behelam. The two minotaurs give them furs to use, and the PCs can see that the tents having some internal heating source. The minotaurs fall asleep standing up, after teasing the PCs about being prudes regarding other members of the party having sex around them. While the PCs sleep, a small drone comes into the tent and flies around them, scanning for energy signatures; only Pip notices but, because it isn’t alive and too small (as per Sarah’s earlier instructions on what to warn the PCs about), he says nothing.
The next morning, the PCs wake up to a burst of cold air as Ali leaves the tent. Sarah immediately follows, while Adriana, Joel, and Behelam all grumble and sleep for a few more minutes. Outside, Osi and Val work on making a stew for breakfast, while Peri and Mequil stand around and chat with the group. Oshenic had left hours before to hunt for them. Ali mentions that they will need to go through the spider caves to reach the escape pod before any other looters. When Sarah tenses at the mention of spiders, Mequil comments on her unease; her response confuses the Vanir, when she explains that she has no weapons, since the PCs earlier mentioned that they fought off and killed direwolves. Ali gives her a minotaur dagger—which is more like a small sword for humans. When the others finally come outside, Joel and Behelam take down their tent, while Sarah offers to help Ali with the other tent. When Mequil gives Adriana an expectant glance, she offers to help him with his tent, but he brushes her off and says that he doesn’t help with that; the minotaurs do the work. Angrily, she takes down his tent, and he doesn’t offer any thanks, but instead pulls out what seems to be a coin purse that sucks in all of the tents. As the camp packs up, Oshenic returns with a small wolf over his shoulders, and he throws it onto the ground with a scowl before setting about skinning it and getting meat. The group and the PCs sit together to eat, with Osi telling them stories from old wars between the Aesir and the Vanir, and Oshenic cuts him off rudely, putting out the fire and telling the group to join him in leaving. After Ali snaps at him for his tone, Peri admits to Adriana that tensions are sometimes high, since they are having to travel with minotaurs; he tells her that it’ll be interesting traveling with commoners, of all people. The group continues to walk in the direction of the escapde pod—the smoke still comes up strong from the crash site—until they reach an area where ice and snow turn to rocks and cobwebs.
Oshenic realizes that none of the spiders are visible, and he comments that they’ll likely be walking into a trap. The minotaurs express that it might be safer to walk around, while Mequil complains about interference on his scanning device. Adriana shows him her own device, and he demands that she turns it off. Oshenic tells the minotaurs that they can follow him or they could be cowards, before reaching down to his belt and pressing something which turns him invisible. The minotaurs realize that they must move forward, and they take formation—Osi and Val in the front, the Vanir in the middle, and Ali and Behelam at the back. The PCs follow behind, but before they get far, Adriana mentions that she has a magical artifact which might help them. Pip—to the tune of Darude Sandstorm and pulsing his light—flies out, tells the PCs that he senses no spiders, and is in turn given a modified version of danger sensing instructions. The Vanir are clearly confused by his presence, but they don’t say much before the group sets off again, further into the spider lair.