After the week of celebration of Beodar’s life, everyone splits up for some downtime. Aldeberon makes a Limited Wish scroll. Tarl train for his 16th level as cleric. (Go, High Priest Tarl!) Approximately 6 weeks of time passes in total.
Jet goes to Dr. Derro to get Shui repaired (she was damaged in Atlantis, breaking free of the docks), but he wants to have her for one day a week in perpetuity. Jet doesn’t like that idea. She believes Shui is psionically connected to her (Jet), and Dr. Derro is a psionic and a crystal savant. There is no way Jet is going to give an evil jerk (who by the way wants “his” crystal back and has a reason to specifically dislike Jet) regular access to her mind. Nope. So she heads to the psionicist guild (Guild of the Mind) and spends 5 weeks there trying to repaid Shui. Some of the damage is apparently fixed but not all of it.
Maximus keeps an eye on Jet while she is at the Guild of the Mind. After that he heads to to the World Serpent Inn to frolic with Struva in her suite. After 18 hours or so, Maximus takes a nap, and wakes up to the sound of someone pounding on the door. The bed is bloody and one of his swords – the left side one – is missing. He grabs the other sword, and puts on his pants and boots (editorial note – I love an experienced adventurer) and goes to answer the door. On the way, he sees Struva dead on the floor, impaled on his missing sword. He checks and she appears to have been dead for a little while.
He goes to the door and opens it. There are two Valkyrie there and he implores them to help Struva. They are shocked. The senior one says “How could we not know our sister is dead?” and sends the junior one for Brunehilde, the leader of the Valkyrie. Maximus’ Detect Magic suggests that Struva was outlined with Fairie Fire. He also thinks there is something odd about the moose head on the wall. He notices with his Detect Magic that his cheetah fetish has some new, necromantic enchantment one it. He takes it off to examine it further and the remaining Valkyrie yells “Blasphemer. You are in league with Hel” and attacks him. He knocks her unconscious, and puts on the necklace from Struva, and starts calling for Odin.
There is a noise in the hall? and he sees Fred, one of the gnomes running the bar, and pulls him into the room. Fred is horrified/terrified. No one is supposed to be able to be killed inside the World Serpent Inn. Maximus demands that the gnome get a list of all the people in the bar. Fred runs away.
A squad of Valkyrie show up. The lieutenant, Hilga, says the cheetah fetish is a symbol of Hel. She send the rest of the squad outside and asks him to allow himself to be taken into custody. He refuses. She offers to share his fate – whatever that might be – if he will go quietly with them. He refuses again and they fight. He takes her down to 2 hit points in a single round, and she gets one hit on him. His small wound burns, and she says that only happens when she wounds a minion of Hel. Maximus then uses a Teleport Stone (from Aldeberon) to take him and Struva’s body to his bungalow in Greyhawk. He calls Aldeberon, and Aldeberon calls the rest of us. Al itemizes Struva’s body.
Jet Shape Changes into a Nordic looking woman (like the rest of the Valkyrie) and Anatoli makes the rest of the group also look like Valkyrie. The sky is beginning to look stormy so we hurry up and leave. We go back to The World Serpent Inn to do more investigating. Jet goes to the front bar and sees Fred. She demands the key to Struva’s room and Fred passes it over. She also demands the list of names. He says he is workiing on it. We all head for Struva’s room.
The door is locked but the key works. We see that Hilga is now dead – with six wounds instead of the five that Maximus gave her. Jet tries Sensitivity to Psychic Impression, and sees (from Struva’s perspective) Maximus kill Struva, then Maximus wake up and see Struva’s body, and Maximus fight Hilga, and the unconscious woman wake up to see the dead body of Hilga and run away, and some psychic event when the cheetah fetish activates.
Fred brings us a list of people who had rooms and a list of people who various waiters remembered seeing. The room next to Struva’s was rented to Barry Bintawanty, even though it looked like Fandrel – a guy that Maximus knows.
We head to Celene to ask our old friend Thyvar to use the Eye of Thera to see what happened in the past. Normally, you can’t scry in the World Serpent Inn, but then normally you can’t kill people either. Tarl uses the Eye to find the correct room (and we see that the room is now filled with Valkyrie), and then Thyvar uses the Eye to go back into the past and see Maximus kill Struva, fight Hilga and leave, and come back – fully dressed and clean – and kill Hilga.
Al Identifies the cheetah fetish item. It was created by at least a 9th level cleric of Hel. We look over the names of people who entered the World Serpent Inn under the protection of Hel / Hela. There are three names – Marquesas, Claveron, and Janaea. The skies are getting stormy again, so we head to the University of New Critwall to find a sage who can tell us something about the Nordic pantheon and Hel. There is a librarian, Veejay (sound of theme music from Indianna Jones), who specializes in old Oeridian Artifacts. He suggests that Hela might be collecting Valkyries, since she is bitter about only getting the dregs that don’t go to Valhalla. Tarl also picks up some cold iron, since that is effective against some members of that pantheon. Storm clouds are gathering here too, so we leave for the World Serpent’s Inn.
In the front room, we run into Marquesas, who apparently just got badly beaten by some Valkyrie – another thing that is not supposed to happen here. They are also looking for information about Struva’s death. We hear the Valkyries calling, so we head to the main bar. The room is empty! which we have never seen before. The squad of Valkyrie come in, lead by Strega. Strega says Maximus must go into custody. Maximus refuses. Tarl asks if he could assume a bond for Maximus, assuring that he would return. He offers a World Serpent’s Inn coin of his own god – Moradin – as surety and gives his word as a High Priest of Moradin that Maximus will show up. Strega accepts the coin and Tarl’s word.
Maximus speaks up. He says he did not kill Struva. He has always taken responsibility for his kills so if he says he didn’t kill Struva, then he didn’t kill Struva. He picks a fight with Strega, saying he will prove he did not kill Struva. He attacks with the maces of Cold Obsidian, intending to hurt but not kill Strega. He gets in one round of combat. Tarl uses a symbol of Persuasion to prevent the combat but it does not affect Maximus or Strega. Aldeberon uses a Wall of Force to separate Maximus and Ground Zero from Strega and the rest of the Valkyries (That 21 Intelligence really came through there!) and succeeds. However, Maximus is enraged and uses the maces of Cold Obsidian to take down the Wall of Force and attack Strega again. This time, Strega dies, even though Maximus did not intend to kill her. The rest of the squad back off, chanting.
Maximus is devastated. He has killed a Valkyrie – one of Struva’s sisters. How can this be?
Aldeberon uses an Elixir of Life, which just barely restores Strega to life, but not consciousness. Maximus picks up Strega’s body and takes it to the Big O – Odin’s nudie bar. The Big O is empty. Baldur comes in. He says that Odin is away, looking for his missing grandson. He suggests that Maximus’ anger fueld the maces of Cold Obsidian and that the maces are eating Maximus’ soul. Perhaps Loki is behind this, trying to change Loki’s fate? We put Strega in one of the chairs, and then bring out Struva and put her in another chair. Baldur frowns and says that body is not Struva. Tarl’s True Sight on the body reveal a normal person.
We head back to Struva’s room. Tarl now says, this room is now in Niffelheim, Hel’s realm. We go in and exame the moose head. Tarl taps it with cold iron. It turns into a dark elf – of the race of Svartelfar – named Malkeith. Malkeith says Struva was kidnapped and a human substitute killed. Anatoli notices that Veejay is listening outside in the hallway. Apparently, he followed us from the University Library. Tarl’s True Sight (which was not enought to penetrate Malkeith’s moosehead disguise) also can’t see anything about Veejay.
We decide to follow the trail of the kidnappers from the door of the kitchen which leads on the grounds of Niffelheim. Veejay decides to go too. We ride on Aldeberon’s Disks, except for Maximus who is on the ground tracking the four sets of prints (three smaller and one much larger and heavier). His tracking skills avoid a huge pit trap (antlion?) and later another trap (mechanical spike trap) and eventually the tracks split up. 2 of them (one very large and one smaller) lead us to a set of small camps (3 camps of firbolg, 2 camps of verbeeg, one camp of Fomorians) and a central encampment of Norse giants. Anatoli scouts (invisible, wraith form) and sees two women who look like Struva and Hilga walking around free, but in armor with Hel’s insignia.
We decide to backtrack and find where the other tracks lead. There is a good sized walled keep, manned by many Svartalfar guards. We go in (Invisibility 10 ft radius, Aldeberon’s Discs, Aldeberon’s Force Sculpture (protecting us from above and from the side, but resting on one disc, so that we can jump off the disc and go to the ground if we need to get off/out/away) over the walls and find a quiet corner. Jet Summons Stonedar, to take us to the basement of the castle, guessing that is where they would keep the prisoners.
Stonedar takes us to the basement, but is sent away when he reaches it, due to protections on the keep against elemental incursions. We examine the dungeon to find xorn, black dragon, shadow dragon, various other creatures, a blond guy hung in mid air, a brunette woman chained to kneel on the floor, with her hands bound inside a metal block, and Struva.
All the cells are protected by three glyphs (Paralysis, Death, and something else). Tarl uses ? to see them and Nolzur’s pigments to obscure them on Struva’s cell. Anatoli uses Nolzur’s Pigments to get through the locks, because they are solid and not pickable. Maximus comes into Struva’s cell, revives her with a potion of healing and says, “My name is Maximus and I am here to rescue you.”
Jet thinks that is funny, so she persuades Tarl (after a lot of arguing – she finally has to remind him that Odin was looking for someone) to use a Detect Alignment on the other humans in the cell blocks. The guy is chaotic good and the woman is chaotic evil. We free the chaotic good guy, and Jet gets to say. “My name is Jet and I am here to rescue you.” Nobody else thought it was funny, though. His name is Magni and he is Odin’s grandson. Jet persuades him to help us find the missing Valkyrie Hilga. Score one for Jet!
Veejay gives Struva a sword and she rides a disc with him. Maximus and Magni sneak up and kill the guards to the Dungeon. Anatoli disguises us as Svartafar guards escorting prisoners. Struva thinks she can feel Hilda in a particular direction, so we head up there and kill some torturers mutilating Hilda.
Magni thinks he has done his job helping us and it is now time to go berserk and find/destroy Malkeith – whose castle this apparently is. He starts beating his way down through the floor. We can’t teleport or plane shift away from this room, so we decide to fight out way out of the castle. Passwall and Stone Shape do not create openings in the outer wall. Jet tries Animate Rock to make a hole in the wall. It does not pierce the thickness of the wall, but does give Jet a 12 ft tall stone golem to lead our charge out the front door. Tarl uses ? to animate a statue of Malkeith to also draw fire, and our two stone critters lead the way.
We fight out way out (druid spells are great for taking down castles) and hide underneath a Hemisphere of Force until the castle stops falling on our heads. Magni comes and clears the rubble off of us. Magni is too big to take with us, so Jet decides to stay with him until his berserker rage goes away and his normal intelligence returns. Tarl takes the rest of Ground Zero and Veejay and Struva and Hilga back to Bloodhaven. A squad of Valkyries riding pegasi show up and take their sisters back.
When Magni is back to normal, Jet asks him how he got kidnapped. He says he took a drink that a pretty lady handed him. She asks him if he can get home from here. He says yes. She knows he would be embarassed if he actually did get rescured by a girl, so she says goodbye and moves to the Elemental Plane of Earth, and then back to Caer LaForce.
Maximus goes to the Shrine of Ehlanna and meditates for a while.