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Rime of the Frostmaiden: Keothakan’s Secret

A year ago, you were scouting out the Ten-Trail pass when you noticed a young lad struggling alone through the bitter cold. Obviously unprepared for the rigors of his journey, the lad had collapsed by the time you got to him. Hoisting his slender frame on your shoulders, you carried him across the mountains back to Wyrmdoom Crag, but by the time you arrived home, the lad was dead.

You took the lad to your clan’s healer, asking if anything could be done to save him, knowing the answer would be no. But fate intervened. During your absence, another young lad, this one from Ten Towns, had found his way to Wyrmdoom Crag. After being invited to stay, he had betrayed the clan’s trust by attempting to steal one of their most sacred objects. He had been sentenced to die the very day you arrived.

The healer consulted with your tribe’s chieftan and a decision was reached. The criminal’s sentence would be commuted–instead of facing death, his body would serve as a vessel to reincarnate the lad who had perished in the snow. The ritual was cast, and a change came over the criminal’s face. He looked first scared, and then relieved. He said his name was Raoul. He thanked you for saving him in the pass.

Weeks went by, and you became a friend to Raoul, who began studying with the clan healer and learning the ways of the druid. But the more you both spoke with Raoul, the clearer it became that the lad had no memory of his death in the snow, and in fact had no inkling that he was no longer quite the same person he used to be. Normally, the healer told you, a reincarnated soul remembers its past life as distinct from its present one, but in Raoul’s case he retained all the memories of his life up until you met him and somehow integrated them with his new form, believing that this was the body he was born to. The criminal’s life and memories seem to have been completely erased.

Now that his druidic training is done, you have traveled with Raoul to Ten Towns to help him start a new life among his own kind. But you have never told him of what truly happened in the pass, or the sacrifice of the lad whose body he now inhabits. In part out of shame, because you did not have the strength to save him. But also because the healer warned you that Raoul’s integration might have been his mind’s attempt to protect him from the trauma of reincarnation. If he were ever to discover the truth, you worry it might break him.

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