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Session 1 (Temari)

Played on 2005/11/13

An indecently cold day

Temari sighed. Her warm breath became visible in the cold air as soon as she exhaled. In the desert she had wished for some relief from the oppressive heat, but this sudden change to the other extreme was completely uncalled for. She had woken this morning to find her horse gone. Her best guess was, that the poor thing had gone off in search of heat, when the fire died down. There was little hope for him.

She would have to be more conscious about which ancient riddles she would be following up in the future. "Center of frost" did not sound particularly inviting to her as it was. Then again, if Temari was honest with herself, she did recognise that there was no point in turning back. And, truth be told, she had this vague feeling that on some level, the riddle was connected with the Ritual she had undergone. Curiosity and a sense of duty propelled her, but neither did much to brighten her mood.

Some ways up ahead she could make out a small figure, standing besides a white bear. On his shoulder perched a bird. Tasurn let out a hungry growl, but Temari told him to curb that particular intention. Perhaps this was a friendly being. At any rate he did not look dangerous.

"Halt!", piped the figure angrily, and he trained an arrow upon her. Silently, Temari berated herself. What had seemed to become a chance meeting with a friendly stranger, had turned out to be nothing more but yet another assailant. Courageous little fellow, travelling all the way out here into this incessant cold. Nevertheless, Temari had encountered his type before. She was rather angry that she had allowed this twerp to get the upper hand.

She cast an enlargement upon her and Tasurn, who had by this time flattened his ears and had dropped into a crouch. Events had been frustratingly enough of late! She stroked absent-mindedly through Tasurn's beautiful, black fur and infused the panther with electricity. Tiny arcs of blue lightning crossed over the black fur, and Tasurn let out a low growl. Now she felt like the anonymous archer and herself were on more equal footing once more.

Temari started to walk towards the annoyance. He still was aiming his arrow at her. She wondered why he hadn't yet loosed his first shot. Then she understood: she must be out of the range of his arrows. She stopped, and stood for a moment considering her options. Tasurn looked inquiringly at her, and she remembered she had not travelled to this infuriatingly cold abandoned city to walk straight into an arrow.

The creature, which by now she believed to be a male of one of the smaller Lesser Races, seemed quite angry and very serious about shooting her. Well, as Sarutobi had taught her, she need not look for conflict, it would find her. Still, it was easy enough to turn into a side street here and leave the rugrat to his own devices.

After a moment's consideration, prudence prevailed and Temari decided to avoid a confrontation. After all, it was obvious that this little, little man had few good intentions. Temari turned into an alley to the left. From behind her, she could hear him pipe in anger, followed by the heavy footsteps of his bear. A smile played upon her lips, as she went through one of the abandoned buildings.

Tasurn and Temari made their way to the center of the city, and after a short while they saw a plaza which could, perhaps, have functioned as the heart of the city. Just as Temari was about to set foot on the plaza, a voice piped from a nearby street: "There they are! Halt!".

Temari sighed. She had dispelled the enlargement in order to traverse the various abandoned buildings more easily, and had let the electric charge on Tasurn fizzle out a good while ago. But, first and foremost, she had forgotten about this offensive little fellow. She turned around, and found her hand being enthusiastically shaken by a very cute halfling.

"Nice to meet you, Caitlin," said Temari (deliberately at a slow pace), and she couldn't help but smile. "My name is Temari, and this is my friend, Tasurn."
By this time, a figure upon a horse had ridden closer and extended his hand. "Yriryn, Ma'am." His tone was quite formal, and his armor (adorned with gruesome spikes and sharp ridges) also bespoke of a more serious outlook on life than Caitlin's. This was one serious gnome. One look on his face convinced Temari that Yriryn could be as kind-hearted a fellow and as trustworthy a companion as he (by the looks of him) could be a stout adversary.

And then there was the little man with his bow. Trained once again upon her heart. Yriryn told Urdos (apparently the little, little dwarf's name) that his behaviour seemed somewhat aggressive, and the little fellow lowered his aim.

Just when tensions seemed to relax, a cry for help came from across the square. In his wake, several arrows thudded into the snow. Yriryn dismounted and moved to intercept the pursuers. The dwarf with the high-strung nerves wheeled about, ready to lose an arrow. Of course, the only ones he could've hit had been standing there for some time, except for the Elf.

The battle was swift. The Elf who had come running for help displayed an amazing prowess, single-handedly (and once even in one stroke) finishing a lion's share of the enemies. These turned out to be some strange blue-eyed folk and a blue-eyed wolf. Both of these could puff out a blast of intense cold. After the battle, the Elf introduced himself as Conlae Donn. When asked what his purpose was in thise abandoned city, he replied:
"I'm looking for a temple. Does any of you know what 'a temple' looks like?"

The distrustful dwarf replied he had, and waved in a certain direction. Apparently his nerves had not died down when the skirmish did, because he insisted on bringing up the rear. His behaviour left not enough room to interpret this as anything but wanting to keep an eye and possibly an arrow on these people.

On the way to the temple, the temperature dropped even lower. Although Temari had to wrap herself in her winter blanket to withstand these frightningly cold temperatures, she was glad. The ancient paper she had found with her quarterstaff had clearly stated:

...If you have the courage and the faith
Awe awaits you in the center of the frost

With a shock, Temari recalled the ancient meaning of "awe": (the power to inspire) dread...
Still, there was something to do in the center of the frost and by the little amount of feeling left in her almost-numb fingertips, Temari knew that they were getting closer to that center.

The roof of the temple had long since collapsed, which ment of course that the entire inner area had been oversnowed. Not at all daunted by this, Conlae went to work clearing the snow. Temari chose not to be in the way, except for a simple enlargement charm upon Conlae to allow him to work faster - for a short while.

When the floor was cleared, Yririn started tapping the floor (presumably to find any hidden openings). When he had found a slab which returned a hollow sound, Conlae became enthusiastic about the strange noise it made and started to jump up and down on it. The effects were predictable, but before anyone could inform Conlae of this, he crashed through the floor and disappeared from view. A short while later, he yelled from a lower level that he was alright.

Well, since it seemed like what they had come for, eventually everyone jumped into the hole and slid down an icy slide. They found themselves in a small dungeon complex. A short exploration tour and a trap later, they had found several rooms, which offered no further direction on the quest. As the party proceeded to the next door, a lightning bolt shot from the roof and stung several members. Temari was not hurt much, but this bolt suffered as a decent warning: she should have been standing further to the back. From now on she would keep some more distance.

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