After having cut down the frost firs, our heroes turned their attention to the large area of disturbed earth. Six and Toby dug into the ground for a time and found something that resembled a huge acorn, easily as big as a watermelon. After a moment of thinking, they realized that this must be a seed from the tree they just killed. Six didn’t want to take any chances of it growing up and hurting people, so he raised his earthbreaker hammer high over his head before bringing it crashing down onto the acorn. A sickening squelch sounded off as the hard outer shell collapsed. They saw what looked like a tiny plant-like infant lying broken in the little seed. Nidhwen almost became sick and retreated away several feet.
Continuing onward, they eventually arrive at a small clearing in the forest.
More than a dozen boulder-sized chunks of ice litter the clearing ahead where a strange hut sits perched on tree trunks atop a raised mound of snow-covered earth.
As they enter the clearing, our heroes notice a shivering young ulfen girl amid the boulders. As they approach the girl she speaks in a panicked voice, “I’m sorry! Don’t hurt me! I never meant to call you names!” She quickly darts away and disappears into the boulders.
Looking around, she is spotted again. This time her voice isn’t panicking, but pleading, “Please don’t keep me here. It’s so cold. I miss my mother.” She immediately winks out on the spot.
She appears yet again, this time with a voice filled with anger, “I don’t want your stupid doll! I want to go home! Take me back!”
Then she seems to have gone for good. They look around the boulder filled clearing before they see her standing in plain sight a short distance away. This time, she is looking directly at they and speaks with a grim realization, “I have to get away! And you should, too, before they see you. Run” With that, she fades from sight and doesn’t reappear.
Our heroes look back and forth between themselves in confusion about the strange apparitions words before they push onward. Moving to the south toward a path that wraps around the mound to the hut, they come to a stop at a large boulder that seems to come to life. Toby, Six, and Colt all see horrifying images of frozen dead manifest inside the transparent ice block. Each of them screams out (in their own way) and turn to run from the clearing. Nidhwen and Qari look at each other in confusion for a moment as whatever was affecting their companions seems to wear off.
Six moves back over tot the icy block and pounds it into pieces with his huge hammer. In the mean time, Toby moves on ahead and climbs up the mound to get a better look at the hut. Eventually the others follow him.
A small hut stands here on four legs, each one a single tree trunk whose gnarled roots resemble the toes of a giant chicken. The hut is constructed of heavy logs with a patchwork roof of shaved bark shingles. Inside the hut’s open doorway, a small figure sits on a carved wooden chair, staring across the clearing at the trail on the other side.
Six climbs inside the hut and attempts to reach for the doll. All at once a glowing orb of ice rises up behind the others and field of extremely cold energy envelopes several of the party. With that the doll strings to life and jumps out the window. The doll lands near Colt and she connects with her tiny frost-riddled knife. Colt freezes in place and seems to have been paralyzed. Toby and Six move in to assist the beleaguered, while Qari and Nidhwen provide magical and ranged support. The doll seems to shrug off much of the damage of the melee and ranged attacks as it levitates away. Qari, however, seems particularly effective with her spells and fiery rays. With the last hit, the glow in the dolls left eye winks out, and the doll collapses to the ground and rolls down to the bottom of the snow mound.
Nidhwen realizes that the small construct is a guardian doll and that the little girl’s soul must have been used to animate it. She explains that to free the trapped spirit, they would need to break the soul focus. This turned out to the the large blue sapphire in the dolls left eye. Six beats on it repeatedly until it breaks into several pieces. Toby picks up the dolls tiny frost covered knife and presents it to Vrixx, saying that it’ll help her protect herself. She seems extremely surprised at first, before giving a slight smile to the “relatively” big halfling in front of her. They move on after patching up a few hurts.
The trail continues through a narrow pass, descending south and east into an icy valley. An unusual pattern of lines is scratched into the fresh snow covering the trail at the edge of the clearing.
Toby and the others move in closer to examine it. The scratches are a warning written in common, ‘Turn back before the winter devours you.’ Toby scoffs at it and kicks at it with his boot. Immediately after, the glyph of warding explodes in an icy burst, hitting many of them. Six gives the halfling ranger a withering look that is mostly lost behind the mask he is wearing, before they move onward.
A cold wind blows through the valley, bringing a spray of sleet and broken ice. The sky ahead rolls with thick, gray clouds and the sun is only a dim glow somewhere in the mist.
As they move into the valley, Toby is jumped by a large white weasel and dropped. The halfling’s allies rush to his aid. Six sees to it that the halfling’s attacker is quickly put down. Nidhwen used the extremely valuable wand of cure light wounds to revive their fallen companion.
With the halfling ranger back on his feet, they continue into the valley. It only takes them a moment to realize that the valley they find themselves in now is the Somir Valley. Dryden Kepp’s journal mentioned that he hid bear traps in this area to try and catch the weasel. Colt seemed extremely good at spotting these traps and the triggered all four of them, thus ensuring the way forward would be safe. However, the cold weather seemed to have an ill effect on some of them again just as an ice mephit breathed a cone of icy shards on them. Six becomes sickened by the attack, but the creature is quickly killed by the party.
Having used many of their spells and also needing to rest to shrug off the effects of the cold, they decided to camp here. watches were set up, but fortunately, nothing happened that night.
As they prepared to set off the next morning, they were ambushed by four small air elementals. For all the damage they did, the elementals were quickly dispatched.
Stay tuned as our heroes continue their journey into the frozen bowels of the Border Wood…