Reign of Winter

Session 1
An Early Frost (Part 1)
The sleepy village of Heldren has rarely seen so much excitement or concern. Hunters from the nearby Border Wood speak of unnaturally cold weather at the height of summer that descended on the forest just a few days ago. Heavy snow followed, and those who returned spoke of an uneasy presence in the woods, as well as new dangerous predators. No one knows what this event means, but the town’s soothsayer, Old Mother Theodora, claims dark times lie ahead.

As if in proof of that dire prophecy, a badly wounded mercenary arrived in town yesterday, claiming to be a bodyguard of Lady Argentea Malassene. He told the village council that the noblewoman’s escort came under attack by bandits and strange, wintery creatures near the edge of the Border Wood. He alone escaped, and Lady Argentea was dragged away into the forest. Now the townsfolk cast fearful eyes toward the snowy forest, worried what else might emerge to threaten their peaceful village.

The dozen or so round tables spaced almost haphazardly around the center of the Heldren’s only tavern, the Silver Stoat, are unusually full for the last morning hour. With the hunters not able to, or too afraid to, go out and ply their trade they have taken to hanging closer to the town. Among the hunters, a few stand out from the rest.

Tobias Alderwood – A young halfling male, long time native to the Heldren area, had recently sold off his families land and headed into town in order to discover the fate of his uncle. He claims that his uncle recently left and has since disappeared without a trace.

Nidhwen – A young elven beauty stood singing on a small platform in the corner. She arrived in town several months ago from her family’s homeland. The girl is a niece of the town’s apothecary, Tessaraea Willowbark. Some of the townsfolk claim that she is unlike any other elf they have ever meet, as she likes to constantly talk.

Six – A tall male covered from head to foot in chainmail armor steps into the tavern. He had been seen a few times around town, but he never says anything and generally keeps to himself. He seemed drawn to the music, and he dropped a gold piece into a small pot at the edge of the platform.

Colt – In an isolated corner of the tavern, a small figure sits alone at a table nursing a large flagon of the local brew. Quite easily the most unique of the bars patrons, the olive-green goblin had been in town less than a month. He has a massive blunderbuss leaning against the table beside him.

Qari – Shrouded in a heavy cloak, a rather vocal sorceress walks into the tavern. Like the goblin, she easily stands out among the masses what with her red and charcoal colored skin and horns. The female ifrit was born in this area, but she never really felt welcome. So, she took to living on her own in an old abandoned building a couple miles to the south of Heldren.

The talk of the town seems to revolve solely around the unseasonably cold weather that has struck the Border Wood. Most suspect that magic is involved, and some even fear that Qadiran agents may play a role in it. Old Man Dansby claims that someone keeps stealing from his fields. His farm lies closest to the Border Wood, where half his crops have died from an icy frost and the rest have been carried off.

The halfling, Toby, was very interested in the nature of the threat to his hometown and began questioning a fellow halfling hunter about the summer snow. It was at that point that Qari arrived in the front door complaining loudly about how cold it was getting. After a brief conversation amongst themselves the two decided to go and speak with the wounded bodyguard.

As the two of them left the tavern, Nidhwen finished her song and moved over to thank the tall chain clad warrior, but the conversation became one sided as Six didn’t seem to want to speak to the young elf. He seemed to become a little frustrated with the bard’s constant question and moved to go outside and headed toward the blacksmith’s shop.

Toby and Qari quickly arrived at Willowbark Apothecary, where the wounded bodyguard was being tended to. Yuln Oerstag, was wrapped in bandages, and the Ulfen mercenary’s nose, fingers and toes have taken on a black hue from serious frostbite. They over heard the tail end of a conversation between the man and Elder Safander, Heldren’s village priest. The priest was going to gather some more healing supplies to tend to the man’s extreme frostbite.

When Toby begins to ask him about the events, he responds with the following.

My ancestors would ridicule my lack of valor for fleeing rather than fighting to the end. But I faced enemies that even the greatest warriors in the Linnorm Kingdoms have faltered against, though I think I killed at least one of them before they dragged Lady Argentea away.

Who attacked you?
We thought they were just bandits at first – outlaws who hide like wolves in the forest. They were no match for us. But then came the cold fey of the north. They appeared among us and the battle turned quickly. My people speak of the winter-touched all the time, but I never expected to meet them this far to the south.

What are the “winter-touched”?
Fey creatures who have sworn themselves to the White Witches of Irrisen, those who stole our lands from us during the Winter War. Tiny sprites no taller than the length of a man’s forearm. But don’t be fooled by their small stature. Legends say they have taken a sliver of ice into their hearts, and their touch bears the harsh bite of winter.

Where did they take Lady Argentea?
Into the forest, back through the ice and snow. Beyond that, I don’t know. I followed as far as I could, but the winter-touched were too many and too hard to fend off in the snow alone. I barely escaped, and rode to seek help here.

Why would they want Lady Argentea?
I don’t know. But if one of the White Witches took her, no good shall come of it. The winter-touched do nothing without the leave of those who placed the ice in their hearts. If they’re here, it’s because a White Witch sent them. And much worse will follow.

How do you fight the winter-touched?
With cold iron and burning flame. Both burn them, and both are weapons they fear.

Following this the effects of the herbs, as well as his own fatigue, left him feeling drained and soon he fell asleep. Toby speculated that they should go to Iskar’s Smithy and see if he had any of this “cold iron”.

Six and Nidhwen also arrived at the smiths at about the same time. Toby then negotiated to purchase a couple +1 cold iron sling bullets. Following that, he spoke with Six about the possibility of him joining in on the expedition to rid this land of the cold. He nodded his agreement and they went to the general stored bought some torches and lamp oil.

It was at this time that they remembered the goblin in the tavern, he had a firearm. If they could convince him to join in of the quest, it is possible that he could produce some of the explosive black powder. As it turned out, Colt was very open to the idea of being paid to make bombs and kill things…so he quickly signed up. He explained briefly that he could make some more black powder but it would cost about 100 pieces of gold. Toby, being rather trusting…but not really “trusting” the little goblin talked with the others about pooling their money to make five broken nail bombs.

The four of them scrapped up enough coin to purchase the seemingly random ingredients from the various store in town. Colt retired to the back corner in the tavern and opened up his kit and spent the next several hours scaring the life out of the other patrons with the constant bangs and chackling. When it was all said and done, he had created five “nail bombs”

Nail Bomb
This waterskin is filled with about a pound each of black powder and broken (or imperfect) nails. The opening has been filled with a bit of oil soaked cloth that is held in place by wax. The nail bomb has a 20 ft. range and explodes with a 5 ft. burst. Those caught in the blast radius must make a reflex save (DC 15) or take 1d6 points of damage. This damage counts as both fire and piercing for purposes of damage reduction.

Weight: 2 lbs.

Word seemed to travel quickly that they were looking to investigate the chilly troubles, and councilor Ionnia Teppen came to speak with them that evening. She thanked them for their bravery and offered them a loan of Yuln’s cold iron longsword. When the subject of payment came up she could only offer up a small purse of 50 gp at this point, but she would see if it was possible to pull together a better reward once they returned successfully.

They rested that night in the only place that was available to them…the Silver Stoat’s floor in front of the fireplace, and in the morning they purchased a couple sets of cold weather clothing from the general store and headed out.

As they traveled, they each noticed the steadily dropping temperature, hovering just above freezing, and a light dusting of snow covers the ground.

Near the forest, the temperature grows noticeably colder. The road ahead is littered with debris and the corpses of slain humans and horses. A carriage stands in the roadway, its team of horses missing or cut free, while another overturned carriage lies sprawled and broken next to the tree line. To the south, more bodies have fallen around what appears to be a statue of ice. A snowy trail leads deeper into the forest

Toby used his ranger training to sneak up to the massacre site and see if any enemies still lingered. Moving up to a small break in the trees near the over-turned carriage, he couldn’t see anything living in the area. Motioning for the others to follow, they began to close in. Toby picked his way through the dead bodies while Six and Qari followed a short distance behind. They all noticed that each body had been stripped of any armor and weapons. Nidhwen moved up beside the carriage and turned an eye toward the ice statue, and let out a squeak of shock. It was not all ice, it had a man inside it.

Unlike the other bodies, this man still possessed his armor, a breastplate emblazoned with Taldan heraldry. However, the body was no longer intact, several pieces had been carved away and now lay scattered about on the ground around it. One of these pieces contained the man’s arm, still grasping a masterwork longsword.

Six then heard some muffled sounds coming from the south. He waved for the others to listen. Colt moved in and taking cover behind a dead horse, discovered that the sounds were coming from the wagon. Six moved closer and saw a spear wedged between the handles holding them closed. When he removed it and kicked the door open, two zombies lurched forward.

Qari moved around and unleashed a bolt of fire at one. The two undead creatures attack Six, but luckily only one managed to hit. Toby then moved in and used his short sword, while Colt blasted it with his blunderbuss. The first zombie then fell, dead once again. Nidhwen began a song to inspire courage in her companions. Six then unleashed a powerful blow and destroyed the fell creature in one swing.

After casting the bodies from the carriage, the adventurers took to searching it. The discovered a jewelry box that the others must have missed. Inside it they found a signet ring, a pair of earrings, a set of pearl bracelets, assorted gold and silver necklaces, and a sapphire pendant.

While this was found Six took to breaking up the ice around the guards’ body and claiming the breast plate for himself. Toby also freed the masterwork longsword, but as it was too big for him, he gave it to Six as well. Qari collected the bodies to the south of the site and gave them a fiery funeral.

It was plain to the meanest pair of eyes that the attackers left here via the trail into the woods.

Join us next week to discover what perils these brave adventurers discover hidden down the cold covered pathway…

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Session 2
An Early Frost (Part 2)
While this was found Six took to breaking up the ice around the guards’ body and claiming the breast plate for himself. Toby also freed the masterwork longsword, but as it was too big for him, he gave it to Six as well. Qari collected the bodies to the south of the site and gave them a fiery funeral.

It was plain to the meanest pair of eyes that the attackers left here via the trail into the woods.

At the edge of the massacre site, an obvious trail leads between a copse of trees and over a snowy plain toward the Border Wood. The heavy snow that covers the trail is littered with numerous overlapping footprints and horse tracks. Thus it is quite plain which direction the raiders went after the attack on Lady Argentea’s carriage.

After collecting up the spoils left behind, our adventurers set off down the snow laden trail.

As it enters the full expanse of the Border Wood, the trail passes through a small clearing among the taller trees before continuing uphill and out of sight. A large chest lies half-buried in the snow, apparently dropped or discarded by those who hastily passed this way.

Toby called for a halt and slowly closed in on the chest. Nidhwen moved up near it to get a better look. Toby pulled out a shovel and attempted to dig it out of the snow. However, as soon as the snow around the chest was disturbed a trap was sprung. Toby, Nidhwen, and Six were all knocked off their feet as a spiked log went sweeping down the trail. Six sustained significant damage from the log and needed to be healed. Toby picked his shovel back up and knocked the chest over. Underneath it, he found a cache of armor and weapons, probably stripped from the guards. In all, they found five sets of leather armor, three sets of studded leather armor, a masterwork chain shirt, two light wooden shields, seven longswords, two spears, a masterwork dagger, and three light crossbows.

Move onward, the snow becomes increasingly deep in this part of the forest, where a windswept gully carves a path through a tree-covered ridge. A soft cascade of snow falls from an overhead branch hissing softly as it strikes the ground.

The snow in the gully before them seemed to be almost as deep as Toby was tall. Six motioned the others to wait so he could scout ahead. As he got about 25 feet further ahead, a blue-white serpentine creature erupted from the snow and attacked him. This creature has the head of a ferocious dragon and two relatively small forearms that end in tiny claws. It managed to bit into the silent warrior and wrapped around him. Colt, Nidhwen, Toby, and Qari all knew they couldn’t reach him in time to assist, so they resorted to ranged attacks. With their combined attacks, the group managed to kill it, though Six was nearly felled by the dragon’s vicious and poisonous bite.

With the arctic serpent dealt with, Six managed to overcome the poison and the allies pushed on through the snowdrift. A little further down the trail they came across another clearing.

Feathered bundles and strange fetishes hang from the lowest branches of the trees in this part of the forest, swaying and shifting in the wind. All are stuck through with small pins holding pieces of leather bound around them.

Toby and Six moved in to more closely examine the bundles. They soon discovered that they were actually frozen corpses of dead crows pinned to the trees. Toby then noticed a tiny glowing light bobbing in a nearby tree. Six noticed another one soon after. As the heroes attention was directed toward these glowing orbs, a trio of winter-touched sprites began casting spells and shooting tiny chilling arrows at the unaware adventurers. While not very big these little fiends manage to deal several good hits on the allies. Nidhwen used her bardic abilities to fascinate one of the tiny fey. Colt used his blunderbuss and Qari used her magic to drop one while Six and Toby handled one each.

Following this battle, our heroes were feeling the effects of the several battles they had encountered in the snow covered forest. They made a camp in the little clearing and set up a watch. As luck would have it, they didn’t have any nocturnal interruptions.

The next day they quickly got ready and continued onward.

A narrow game trail winds its way through the trees and undergrowth here. Hoofprints mark the underlying snow leading in both directions.

Toby noticed a snowy white stag watching quietly a short distance away. As the others came into view, the stag moved forward and began to speak to the adventurers. It wanted to know what they had come into the forest for. Needless to say, the group was taken aback by the talking animal, but it seemed friendly so they attempted to ask it a few questions. As Qari moved in and began to look for magic, the stag charged forward and gored into her.

Surprised by the animal’s sudden attack, the allies rushed to counter. As Six moved in to assist, he suddenly shrunk down to the size of Toby. A few seconds later Toby shrunk as well, ending up at barely half of his normal height. The next spell shrunk Six’s cold iron longsword down to the size of a toothpick. Baffled by the strange magical assault, the others focused on attacking the stag. As the stag fell, a tiny blue-green humanoid appeared and began scream curses at them and attacked in rage. However, the twisted little fey’s spells had no effect on Nidhwen. With the final blow to the creature, it turned into a brittle pile of dirty ice and snow.

Six was extremely perturbed by the creatures spells and bid the other to turn around, so he could pee on the creatures remains. Once both he and Toby returned to normal size they continued onward, however, the cold iron longsword would remain shrunk for a several days.

A human-sized snowman stands in the middle of the trail before a frozen stream. A crude wooden sign leans against it and bears the words “Trespassers Turn Back.”

As they moved further forward the snowman stirred to life and screamed at the party. “Can’t you read? The sign says turn back! Now get lost!” The last few words erupted from the snowman with a sonic burst that damaged all those near it.

A solid sheet of ice extends across this frozen stream, while snow-covered rocks line its banks.

Toby pulled out one of the spears and began to tap the ice as he crossed it, attempting to ensure that it was sturdy enough to support their weight. When he was about halfway across a pair of ice elemental erupted from the ice on either side of him and dealt a terrible pair of blows to him. Toby dropped to the ice, bleeding out from the massive damage he sustained. Six, Colt, Nidhwen, and Qari rushed to his aid with gun, hammer, crossbow, and magic. Colt loaded in his only dragon’s fire cartridge and blasted both of them with its fiery power.

Luckily, the pair of elementals were destroyed before the brave halfling was beyond help. However, it was apparent that they would need to return to town and procure healing items if they wished to continue further.

The trip out was thankfully uneventful, but wounded as they were, they only barely managed to make it out of the forest before night set in. The next day, they drug themselves up and made slow progress back toward the town of Heldren. At about three hours before dark they came within sight of the small town.

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Session 3
An Early Frost (part 3)

Once back at the town, the band of adventurers set in for a good nights rest in the Silver Stoat. The next morning, they set out to get some new items to assist them with handling the wintery denizens that have taken residence in the Border Woods. They ended up selling off almost all of the loot they collected in order to purchase a wand of cure light wounds. Colt also made a few more of his dragon’s breath cartridges. The next morning, they felt fully rested and set off once again to the snow covered woods.

They manage to return to the frozen stream without meeting any new dangers. They used a grapple hook to secure a rope to the other side to assist with crossing. Toby was the first to cross. He managed to make it over, but he cracked open a section of the ice. Next Colt, Qari, and Nidhwen follow, Six almost fell into the frigid water before he managed to reach the other shore.

Meanwhile, Toby and Colt explored the other bank. The goblin spotted a boot sticking up from the snow behind a tree. As they slowly closed in on it, they discovered the cold dead body of Old Man Dansby. He was a farmer from Heldren, and he told the town that when the snow came he lost half his crop and the rest to thieves. Most of the party knew him quite well, so his death shocked them. They pulled his body out of the snow and covered it with rocks, but not before collecting his possessions to aid in their quest (he has no family living in Heldren anymore). He had a composite longbow (+1 str) with 12 arrows, a dagger, a masterwork handaxe, and a pouch containing 14 gp, 25 sp, and 18 cp.

The trail begins to climb a ridge line to the south beneath snow-laden trees. The prints of boots and horses mar the freshly fallen snow of the trail.

Qari tells the other that she heard something from off ahead. Toby blends off into the trees to get a better look. The others fan out to cover him. He spots a bandit and sneaks up on him. Six and Nidhwen move up, but are surprised by three others as the battle ensues. Colt had climbed a tree to get height on them, but when he tried to leap to the next tree, he fell to the ground. Toby gets ganged up on before six can move in and assist. However, three of them are killed. The last one fled off into the woods.

After climbing at least a hundred feet into the hills, the snowy trail finally levels off. In a clearing among the trees, a large wooden lodge overlooks a ravine spanned by a long rope bridge. Smoke rises from the lodge’s two snow-covered chimneys, and a large woodpile is stacked against the outer wall. A small outbuilding stands east of the lodge, and a stone well nearly blanketed by snow is barely recognizable to the north. Several tracks lead southwest toward a detached stable.

Toby tries to go around the back of the house, but he trips a trap and a crossbow bolt flies at him. At the same time, a string of pots and pans fell from its perch on the porch alerting any within earshot to their presence. Six and Colt move up to the nearest door while Qari and Nidhwen take more defensive positions. Six knocked on the door and tried to open it, but it won’t budge. Toby and Colt attempt to climb up on the wood pile and peek through the windows, however they aren’t able to see inside.

At about that time, four bandits come around the building, two to a side, and attack. Toby takes the two on the northern side, while Six moves in to attack the other two. Colt moves closer to use his blunderbuss and Qari and Nidhwen use spell and arrow to keep at distance. Six is overwhelmed by his attackers and collapses. Colt and Nidhwen move to his assistance. Soon after, the bandits are killed.

After healing up a bit, They move around the side of the lodge. They take a peek into the stable.

Twin doors open into this low stable, where five stalls hold three horses and a mix of loose straw. A rack of riding gear hangs on the east wall, and a cast-iron tub sits empty in the corner.

Taking note of the three horses, they agree that they will come in very handy when it comes to making it back to town once they find Lady Argentea.

A wooden roof extends over this wide porch. Double doors provide access to the lodge itself. Two small glass windows are set in the walls to either side of the doors.

As Toby and Six mount the porch, they notice that the left door is slightly ajar. As they push the heavy door the rest of the open, they see a bearskin rug. It dominates the floor of this trophy room, and the heads of several deer have been mounted on the walls. Doors lead north and south, while two hallways go farther east.

Toby leads the way inside and hears a slight noise to the north. He opens the first door of the left.

A large fireplace takes up most of the north wll of this room, its radiant heat providing palpable relief from the cold weather outside. Cabinets and shelves line the remaining wall space, and four windows look out on the wintry landscape surrounding the lodge.

As the halfling opens the door, he discovers a half-orc woman standing over a large pot of bubbling soup. She turns around in fright and backs a step away. Toby does his best to calm her and find out why she’s here. She says her name is Tacey and claims to have been traveling through the woods when the snows came and had to take shelter here. They forced her to work the kitchen. The heroes believe her story and after finding out that there were about 10 to 15 bandits, four of which are sick from the cold, they tell her to stay here and she’ll be safe.

They search several of the other rooms and discover a few chests that they agree to come back to later. They then arrive at the room that Tacey told them the sick ones were in.

Four bed, two chests, and a single table with four chairs occupy this room. Three windows look out to the east, west and south, providing a grand view of the snowy gorge outside the lodge.

The four men in here never really stood a chance. They were naked except for a loin cloth and a short sword each. Qari managed to nail one of them to the far wall with a well placed crossbow bolt. They didn’t linger in this room for very long. The only place left to go was up a flight of stairs to a wooden balcony overlooking the great room.

Toby leads the way up the the top. Six, Colt, Qari, and Nidhwen follow. He opens the door and finds an L-shaped table with many chairs taking up most of the floor space in this loft. A second smaller table sits near the entrance, and several windows look over the snowy grounds of the lodge. In the southwest corner, a large map hangs on the wall opposite another door in the northeast wall.

As soon as the halfling ranger opens the door, a pair of blue flame covered skeleton move in to attack him. The aura that surrounded them inflicted cold damage upon the halfling just for being near them. He retreated and Qari moved in. She unleashed an empowered burning hands spell, and the two skeletons shattered into piles of crumbled bones.

Before they could celebrate her spectacular show of arcane prowess, a potent wave of negative energy poured of the area. Toby, Colt, and Qari all collapses, having been knocked unconscious by the power of the attack. Six quickly moved to cover his allies while Nidhwen moved to use her magic to revive her friends. The cleric lept the stairs and landed on top of Nidhwen. Six gave chase and managed to kill the villain. Nidhwen put the healing wand to good use and soothed the wounds of her fallen allies.

Toby and Six search the man and discovered variety of items; a scroll of animate dead (10 HD), a masterwork suit of studded leather, a dagger, a light crossbow with 10 bolts, a masterwork short sword, a cloak (Qari identified it as a cloak of the yetiand kept it for herself), a masterwork set of thieves tools, a ring of keys, a spell book (containing alarm, chill touch, expeditious retreat, feather fall, identify, locate object, and ray of enfeeblement), a wooden holy symbol (which was identified as belonging to Norgorber) and 15 gp.

Nidhwen moved back up the loft room and searched the closet while her others looked at the items. Dozens of small boxes, bottles, and papers fill this musty storeroom. A small iron cage sits on the top shelf, emanating a flickering light like that of a candle. She finds herself to short to reach the cage, so, Six assists her with pulling it down to the table.

The cage contains a very small and weak looking sprite, similar in nature to the three that they fought in the forest the other day. However, this one can hardly move for the exhaustion that afflicts her. Nidhwen takes pity of the poor fey creature and gives her some of her rations. It seems that the little fey is a runt compared to the rest and was hiding out. She tells her name (Vrixx) and that the “bad man” Rohkar caught her when she snuck inside to get some food a few days ago. He tortured her and used a flaming brand in the shape of the unholy symbol on her tiny back. When she turned, the young elven bard discovered that one of her wings was half gone as well, seemingly melted away. Nidhwen asked for the key so she could let the poor little fey out of the cage.

As this was happening upstairs, Toby and Colt used the key ring to unlock the chests and claim their contents. They found a number of flasks of alchemist’s fire, three oils of magic weapon, a gold ingot, a spyglass, a silver ring, three shards of tiger’s eye, a fine pair of elven leather riding boots, a silver dagger, a leather folio (two scrolls of magic weapon, a scroll of endure elements, and a scroll of unseen servant), a mostly used up healer’s kit (only 5 uses left), a potion of lesser restoration, and a blue quartz (Vrixx claimed that Rohkar took it from her when she was captured). When Toby went back to tell Tacey that all was safe, he discovered that she had bolted.

Having seemingly cleared the lodge, our heroes still have yet to find the missing noble woman. Will they find her in time to keep her from further harm…

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Session 4
The Depths of Winter (part 1)

As our heroes laid down for the night, Nídhwen discovers a locked trap door hidden beneath the large bear skin rug. With only a few moments of work, she managed to disable it and open for her companions. Six volunteered to go down first.

A half-dozen boxes and barrels take up the majority of this underground cellar. A rough blanket lies spread on the floor in the southeast corner next to a bowl of half-eaten food.

A half frozen and disheveled figure of a woman was lying, almost unconscious, on in the blanket. Six managed to rouse her awake and assist her upstairs with the vocal aid of his allies. Once upstairs, she was given fresh hot food and allowed to warm herself in front of the roaring fire. She seemed very arrogant and proud, as only Taldan noble can be, but she was very grateful to her rescuers.

Resting for the remainder of the night, our heroes used the three horses to get the still weakened noble woman back to the safety of the village of Heldren. Thanks to the horses, they barely managed to make the town by nightfall. Councilwoman Ionnia Teppen, saw to it that they received a heroes welcome and their meal was on the town. She also fulfilled her promise and granted each with a small pouch of 50 gold pieces. In the morning Lady Argentea gave them a single purse of 500 gold pieces as an expression of her gratitude.

Toby wanted to know more about why the cold fey were terrorizing this region and the allies set out to return to the snow covered forest. However they were only able to make it to the lodge before the effects of the extreme cold forced them to stop and warm up.

in the morning they make their way to the bridge.

A bridge made of rope and wooden planks spans a narrow ravine. It’s already covered in ice and snow. and it sways alarmingly in the icy winds blowing through the gorge. The turbulent waters of a fast-moving creek surge through a couple of waterfalls far below.

Being the lightest, Toby was tied to a length of rope and proceeded to gently pick his way across. About fifteen feet onto the bridge a strange blue skinned creature flew up from beneath it and belched out a cold of icy shard at the small ranger. Toby slipped and fell over the side of the bridge and slammed into the side of the gorge. As he did, his grip on his short sword dropped and the blade fell into the water below.

Colt hefted his blunderbuss and charged, rather gracefully, onto the bridge and blasted at the malicious creature, while Qari use her magic missiles and Nídhwen used her crossbow. Overwhelmed by the combined attack, the creature retreated.

Six pulled while Toby climbed up. Fearing his sword was lost, they contemplated trying to get it back. Nídhwenasked if the Vrixx would be able to go down for it. She agreed and was successful in looping the rope around the hilt of the weapon. Toby and the others were quite thankful to the little winter-fey and she seemed to smile for the first time since they had meet her, although the smile only lasted for a split second.

Shortly after they cross the bridge, they are jumped by three more of the frosty skeletons, but they don’t last very long. Colt drops two with a single shot. The other is quickly taken down after that.

The rocks and snow along this part of the ridge are stained a reddish brown, and many tracks, both human and animal cross the area.

Toby takes a look at the tracks and discovers a dead body. The body is that of Dryden Kepp, one of Heldren’s more esteemed hunters and his corpse has been mutilated by a large creature that seems similar to a weasel but very much bigger. They locate his bag and discover two magical arrows (Qari identifies them as +1 animal bane), a half-full hip flask of strong applejack, about three days worth of rations, and a journal detailing his efforts to track a “giant weasel”. It mentions that he has placed bear traps at the head of Somir Valley. They also find his short bow although it has been snapped in half and as such is useless.

A cold wind blows through the forest atop the ridge. Heavy snow burdens the boughs of the evergreen trees, but someone has appently cleared the snow from a large patch of ground to dig in the pine-needle-carpeted soil.

As our heroes close to investigate, they are attacked by two frost firs. They manage to deal a fair amount of damage to the allies, but they managed to given them a good pruning before they killed them off.

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Session 5
The Depths of Winter (part 2)

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

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Session 6
The Depths of Winter (part 3)
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.

Moving onward, the trail they were following as it takes a northern swing. The temperature continues to drop the closer they get to the center of the Border Wood. The snow piles get deeper and deeper, until at the edge of the clearing they currently find themselves at, it’s an average of 2 to 4 feet deep and crusted over with a layer of frozen sleet. It looked like nothing has disturbed the snow here for some time.

Four low igloos stand here in the snow. A well-packed trail of large footprints passes between them, heading both north and west.

Heavy snow blows from the northwest obscuring all distance vision. as Six moved carefully into the clearing. He moves toward the first of the igloos to look inside. At that exact moment something slams into the side of Six’s head and the sound of a massive peal of thunder echos from the small object. Six is effectively deaened, but the others managed to fight off the effects.

A moment later a vial of icy blue liquid smashes into Nidhwen’s chest causing her to take cold damage. Then a large moss troll comes running from the barely visible cavern entrance and charges into Six. Colt moves to range and starts blasting at the creature, while Qari uses her fiery magic. Toby is then attacked by several of those tiny icy arrows being shot from winter-touched sprites. As Nidhwen was about to get involved in the combat another sprite leveled a color spray spell at her and she fell into unconsciousness.

Toby could see that the damage being done to the troll wasn’t as effective as it should be as it started regenerating anything that wasn’t fire based. Six was overpowered and fell to the trolls might and it turned his attention to the annoying goblin with the blunderbuss. Toby took the chance to rush to Nidhwen’s side to shake her awake and get the wand of cure light wounds from her pouch. Toby then moved to the fallen warrior and used the wand to bring him around.

For all his might, the troll was having incredible difficulty hitting the small goblin gunslinger. So, by the time it was about to turn its attention toward the fire slinging sorceress, Six was back on his feet with Toby for back up. The troll fell, but due to his regenerative abilities, he keep trying to get back up. At this time the winter-touched atomie, that threw the thunderstone earlier, and the pair of winter-touched sprites began to attack the weaker party members. Eventually the troll was killed and the rest of the party managed to put an end to the other flying cold fey.

The party takes a few moments to use the, now well worn, wand to sooth a few new hurts. They searched the bodies and found a few scrolls , several bottles, a thunderstone, a magical spear, and a key. They then turn their attentions to the igloos. Three of the igloos contain a winter blanket, a pile of furs, and a small wooden chest. They take up most of the floor space in the cramped igloos. A small hole has been cut into the low ceiling to allow smoke to escape, but no fire has been lit. A brief search of the chest reveals that it is empty.

The last igloo’s interior is bare. Several ice blocks extend from the igloo’s interior walls, forming small shelves and recesses. Toby moves in to get a better look and end up falling threw a hidden thatching and into a 20 foot deep pit. With Six’s ear temporarily useless he didn’t hear the halfling cry out , but he did head that way after he saw Nidhwen move away quickly. With nothing really hurt but his pride, the ranger searched the bottom of the pit before using a rope lowered by Six to climb out.

Following this, Nidhwen, Six, and Toby moved to look into the cave entrance.

Two bearskin rugs cover most of the damp floor in this cave, surrounded by crates, barrels, and other supplies. The ceiling rises fifteen feet overhead, where icicles of frozen condensation hang from sharp stalactites.

A thorough search of this area yielded enough supplies for almost a month of common meals and a locked box. Using the key from the troll, they discovered more potions, four blue quartz, a silver diadem, a near flawless diamond, a jeweled necklace, a painting of a city, three sapphire rings, a decorative filigree longsword scabbard, a scrimshaw sculpture of dancing sprites surrounding a piping satyr, 2457 gp, 3313 sp, and 1760 cp.

A bank of quill-like icicles spear outward in a ring seemingly grown from a heavy sheet of ice covering the ground. A second ring of giant icicle-shaped monoliths stand inside the outer ring, surrounding a swirling cylindrical vortex easily ten feet in diameter. Icy winds and driving snow blast from the vortex, creating the wintry weather in the clearing.

While the others are inside, Colt and Qari stand watch near the igloos. Suddenly a surge of wind blasts from the swirling vortex in the ring of icicles, gusting outward in a stinging spray of snow and ice. The sounds of the vortex seem to subside then as a gaunt horseman with curling ram’s horns and wearing coal-black armor lurches through the portal astride a black warhorse, surrounded by tendrils of cold, dark mist. The rider slumps in the saddle, a shard of blue ice jutting from his back. As rider and mount come to a halt in the snow, the horse suddenly dissipates into black smoke, and the horseman falls to the ground with a groan.

Not thinking twice, Qari moved as fast as she could through the thick snow to get to his side. As he sees her, he calls out to her Come please, I have knowledge of great import to share with you. With that the sinister appearance of his form drops away and his true form appears, that of an old human man, exhausted, pale from blood loss, and close to death.

Qari helps he sit up and looks at the shard in his back. It doesn’t take a cleric to know that he isn’t long for this world. She asks for help to heal him, but he informs them that it’ll be no help, for a curse also affects his body.

The following is a list of all he could tell our heroes:

Who are you?

Once I was called Illarion Matveius. Now I am known as Black Midnight. I am Baba Yaga’s Black Rider, harbringer of the Witch Queen’s return.

Who did this to you?

The servant of Queen Elvanna, ruler of Irrisen and betrayer of her own mother.

Why were you attacked?

Something has happened to Baba Yaga. Every hundred years, she returns to Irrisen to place a new daughter on the throne. But Queen Elvanna has other plans, it seems. Baba Yaga has not appeared as planned, and Elvanna intends to slay everyone loyal to her mother. She hunted down those of us who would herald Baba Yaga’s return and slew my associates. I am the last of the Three Riders and a threat to Elvanna’s plans.

What are Elvanna’s plans?

To take Baba Yaga’s place, and claim all of Golarion as her personal kingdom. Irrisen is a land of endless winter, created by Baba Yaga’s magic. Elvanna seeks to cover the entire world in ice and snow, using portals like this one.

How do we close the portal?

You can find its source in the Pale Tower, on the other side, but this portal is but one of many, Through them, Elvanna will spread a new ice age across your world, consuming it for all eternity. Closing this portal might save your kingdom, but Golarion would still be doomed.

What can we do to stop this from happening?

You must find Baba Yaga. Only Baba Yaga can defeat Elvanna. Only the Queen of Witches can undo what her daughter has done.

How do we find Baba Yaga?

You must use her Dancing Hut to follow her. The hut is a powerful artifact that can cross great distances, even travel between worlds. If you can control the hut, it can take you to Baba Yaga.

Where is the Dancing Hut?

Elvanna stole the hut and put it on display in Irrisen’s capital, Whitethrone, as a symbol of her power. You must go through the portal to Irrisen and find the Dancing Hut.

How do we control the hut?

The hut has many keys—objects attuned to the hut—that can take it almost anywhere. I managed to secure two of these keys, but Elvanna stole their power to prevent anyone from using the hut to find her mother. Once they are reactivated, placing the keys in the hut’s cauldron will retrace Baba Yaga’s path.

Feeling weaker and fearing his time is growing short he brushes away other questions. He explains that he is no longer able to carryout his mission and assigns it to them. He then produces the two keys to the Dancing Hut—a lock of white hair from a frost giant’s beard and a plague doctor’s mask. These two objects appear perfectly normal and mundane in every way.

Now that he has said his piece, the rider sits up and looks into the eyes of each of them for a moment. Each of the heroes feels something akin to a connection forming with the rider. Then with a sudden movement, the rider brings a dagger up to his throat and baths the two keys in his life’s blood. Even those that cannot see magic were almost blinded by the power that radiated off both the blood and the two keys. When the light dissipated the rider’s magic robes had melted away like ice in a fire leaving only an old man dressed in a simple black tunic. The two keys glowed silently with magic for a few more moments before they two faded away, their power now restored. Six picked up the man and lowered him into the igloo with the false bottom and collapsed it upon his withered body.

The Black Rider’s worlds seemed to grant each of them a boon, a +2 untyped bonus to one of their ability scores, but it also seemed to carry an effect similar to a geas-like effect to guide them alone the path to fulfill the fallen rider’s mission.

Now that the last of the powerful cold fey had been killed off or scattered, what would our heroes do next; cross over into the land of eternal winter, or return home and forget this entire event ever occurred…

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Session 7
Intermission
Now that the last of the powerful cold fey had been killed off or scattered, what would our heroes do next; cross over into the land of eternal winter, or return home and forget this entire event ever occurred

After a brief discussion among themselves, our heroes decide to return to the town with their spoils with hopes of selling off the items and procuring new weapons, armor and/or magical gear to further assist in their quest.

Once again, the return trip to Heldren is blissfully uninterrupted. The only difficulties the group has relates to the freezing temperatures and their affect on their bodies. However, thanks to the three horses the obtained from the bandits, they managed to make the return trip with only a few minor cases of hypothermia.

They reached the town at sunset and immediately proceeded to the tavern for a drink and a hot meal, that they didn’t have to cook. They met with Councilor Ionnia Teppen first thing and relayed the most recent events. Toby slipped out during the discussion to visit with the temple’s high priest. He thanked the aging priest for the wand and requested that they create a new one for them. The priest agreed and told the halfling that it would be completed by mid afternoon the next day.

By morning, each of them were feeling worlds better. However, the early risers of the group hear the sounds of heavy wagons and horses outside. Looking outside they spot two large wagons and a half-dozen riders. The first wagon looks rather normal with a canvas top with a driver and two horses pulling it. The other is quite different. First, the wagon is huge like a wooden house on wheels. Second, it is being pulled by a single donkey. And lastly, it has no driver nor a place for one to sit.

One look at the wagons and the word gypsies comes to mind. They ride right into the center of town and stop near the well. Three eccentrically dressed women exit the back of the covered wagon and they assist with setting up the wagon. The wagon in question seems to transform before their eyes into a store.

The gypsies have a wide variety of goods to sell. Our heroes go inside and look through their wares. Toby seems to have gotten it into his mind that the gypsies are thieves and want to go and hid the money that they acquired in their quest by burying in the ground behind the apothecaries places. Nidhwen and Six try to calm him down, but sometime during the debate, Toby pulls Six’s mask off. For the first time, most of the group see the numerous injuries that his face has sustained:


  1. numerous slashes to the throat

  2. Burns over his entire scalp, ears, neck, and cheeks

  3. A mutilated nose

  4. A rather deep Glasgow smile

  5. Lack of right eyelids

Six freaks out and dives for the cover of the room to cover his mutilated visage. Toby stands in shock holding the mask before apologizing and handing it back to him. Qari moves to his side and tries to comfort the fighter.

After a few minutes, they continue to shop around Qari starts talking about the odd snow and the mission that they were sent to complete. One of the gypsy girls goes to speak with the caravan’s master. She is gone for a about thirty minutes and when she returns informs them that he would like to meet them, and more importantly, he will grant each of them a single purchase at 1/2 price. This surprises the group, and they each find something they want to buy.

Following this, they are taken to the larger wagon and allowed inside. If the last one was impressive, then the insides of this wagon were beyond belief. It was as if they had be transported into a castle, complete with marble floors and stone walls and far too large to have been contained inside the dimensions of the wagon.

A well dressed kobold butler met them at the door and offered them a seat around a long table. Drink and fresh bread was presented to them by several other kobolds that looked disturbingly identical to the butler. Once they placed the offerings of the table, all but the butler winked out of existence.

A few moments later, a white haired old human entered the room. He introduced himself as the master of the caravan. He listened to their story of the cold fey and the winter portal and the Black Rider with an unreadable face. Once the story was over, he was silent for a several long moments before speaking again. He explained that he had heard tails of other portals to the frost covered land.

Qari and Toby showed him the spellbook and unholy symbol that they found on the human bandit leader. He offered to trade the book and symbol for a minor magical rod that he had. They happily agreed as it would grant some extra fire-power to Qari’s spells. He also offered them some snowshoes that would assist them in moving across the snow when they traveled through the portal.

Following this, he bid them a safe journey and went upstairs. The kobold butler offered them food, but they politely declined and returned to the Silver Stoat tavern to discuss their plans for the upcoming trip into the frozen expanse of Irrisen…

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Session 8
The Land of the White Witches (Part 1)

With the rising of the sun, our group of local heroes had left the village of Heldren, likely for the last time for the foreseeable future. The return trip to the Lodge in the Border wood passed without any more than a few cases of the chills. The next day, they kept moving toward the portal. They had to stop once more before they managed to reach the swirling vortex of wintry power.

PZO9067-Portal.jpg

Each of the took a long look at it and each other, each trying to steel up their nerves for the long road ahead. One by one, they passed through the portal. The trip through wasn’t exactly painful, but it was far from a pleasant. Once they made it to the other side, they each instantly realized that it is significantly colder here that in the Border Wood. Fortunately, they were deposited on a forested hillside. Looking around they could see lights in the distance, likely from a village some miles away. As they each collected their bearings, Colt pointed toward the sky and suggested they hurry, else they be overwhelmed by a coming snow storm.

Using their new snow shoes to good advantage, they made pretty good time. It was just short of an hour later when they started hearing the unmistakable sounds of combat. They moved toward the source and discovered a group of four humans with spears trying to chase off a ravenous giant mantis. The mantis was aggressively defending a prize that it was clutching in its mouth, another human. Reacting quickly, the group moves to assist the humans. The mantis drops his prey and tries to fight off its new attackers, however, it is soon overwhelmed by the more coordinated attacks.

The leader of the humans walks over and introduces herself to the heroes.

My thanks you for your timely assistance with that damned-able creature. My name is Nadya Petska. It’s not often we see foreigners in Irrisen.

She also invites them to share her tent as shelter against the coming storm. Nidhwen uses some magic to ease the wounds of both her friends and the wounded humans. Nadya’s men set about preparing some food for themselves and their rescuers.

A few hours later, the storm hit outside and an unexpected visitor arrived at the camp.

Mierul.jpg

Nidhwen recognized the creature as a forlarren (a product of an unholy union between a fiend and a nymph). She identified herslef as Mierul Ardelain. She claimed to be a traveling minstral and offered to perform in exchange for a meal and the company. Nadya seemed nervous about the visitors presence, but agreed. As they all conversed during the meal, Nidhwen almost gave away their plans, but Mierul seemed to not notice it and she left as the storm passed.

The next morning, Nadya made good on her promise to lead the heroes to the village and they were soon under way. However, about an hour from the town, a large swarm of raven was spotted in the sky. Nadya informed them that they ravens were a minion of the White Witches and begged them to hid. A large white tarp was pulled over the sleds and people, however, Nidhwen was spotted and the swarm moved in to attack. The swarm tore the tarp to shreds and managed to severely claw at Toby’s eyes before Qari and Colt managed to disperse the possessed birds. Nidhwen tried to heal up Toby’s eyes, but it seemed that the extent of his injuries had left him blinded. Hopefully once they reached the village of Waldsby, they would be able to more effectively treat his wounds.

They arrived at the town at nearly noon. The heroes were drawing plenty of attention from the locals. Nadya greeted several residents that were concerned for her safety, but many of the villagers stare and point at the newcomers before whispering concernedly and leading their children away. Nadya’s home is a stout, unassuming cabin on the edge of town. Once there, they were introduced to her twin five-year-old boys (Orm and Mjoli) and an old woman (Kashka) who,looks after them while she’s away. She asks the to make themselves at home while she deals with her merchandise. She gave Nidhwen a almost spent healer’s kit to assist with the halfling’s eyes. However, Colt ended up being the one best able to help the young ranger’s eyes.

As we leave our heroes, I’ll leave you to think about the sight of a Goblin Gunslinger performing a heal check on a set of eyes…

Grinning Goblin: [In a high pitched voice] Now this might sting. More than a little, but less than ‘OH MY GODS MY HAIR IS ON FIRE!’…
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Session 9
The Land of the White Witches (part 2)

With Toby’s eyes feeling loads better thanks in large part to the haphazard healing genius of the gun toting goblin, the allies kicked back and enjoyed the warmth and comfort of Nadya’s modest home. To everyone’s surprise, Six was getting on quite well with Nadya’s twin sons, and he constantly played at arm wrestling with them.

Eventually, Nadya returned from depositing the good in Waldsby’s fortified storehouse. It was at this time that they learned more about the rather young mother and village “VIP” (see her entry for more details).

After their talk, Nadya invited the females of the group to borrow her missing daughter’s room while the men beded down in the living room. With the coming of morning, Each of them discovered that all of their possessions and clothing that was not being worn had been spirited away during the night. A full search of the various cabinets, dressers and chests of the rooms turned up their items, but they were all immaculately cleaned.

Nadya explained to them that she had rescued a Domovoi and it had since adopted her house and family. It was likely that he was responsible for the strange event. Nadya gave each of the adventurers a set of native cold weather gear to help them blend in better with the locals. She also gave Six her pair of Showshoes of Northern PursuitFollowing this, she took them to the various shops and acted as a translator for their purchases.

Toby gets into an intense conversation with Verana Stolya, the owner of Verana’s Sundries. She agreed to sell him a magical belt for a reduced price if he managed to convince one of the Pale Tower’s guard to not court her daughter. Toby agreed and took possession of the potent belt, which seemed to instantly buff up his physique.

Later that evening after they had returned to Nadya’s place, Nidhwen set about to try and speak with the reclusive domovoi. She left him out a gift of warm milk and food and waited. During the middle of the night, she awoke to find him drinking the gift. She discovered that him name was Hatch and that he used to work at the Pale Tower. To her horror, she also learned that the white witch had used Nadya’s daughter, Thora, to create the strange doll they fought with back in the Border Wood. Hatch revealed that he had told the young girl of the witch, but never did he think that she would say those things to her directly. He suddenly sobs and vanishes. In the morning the discover that the house has went unclean, likely for the first time in months.

Nidhwen and Qari relay the stories of the guardian doll to their friends and Nadya. Nadya agrees to go with the heroes and guide them to the Pale Tower once the storm passes. Later that day, the snow stops and the allies got to make preparation to storm the tower.

Toby, Qari, Nidhwen, and Colt head to the White Weasel for some food and drink. During their lunch, Katrina Goltiaeva slips Toby a strange drink which causes him to stand up and loudly proclaim that he doesn’t belong here and that he is returning to Taldor. Qari and Colt rise to give chase on the halfling. Eventually, Toby is wrangled up and secured by a rope by Six.

Wanting to know what happened, they return to the tavern. After a brief and tense conversation with Katrina, her husband, Emil, suddenly attacks Qari with a heavy crossbow. Emil is eventually killed by Six and Colt while Katrina is knocked out. She seems to be a spell caster is tied up before they wake her for interrogation. As it turns out, she was had made a deal with the white witches to put up the big mirror in the tavern to allow them to spy on the town. But in return, the town would gain a tax credit and reduced guard presence. Nadya has her taken to the storehouse until they can determine what to do with her.

An hour or two later, the sounds of dogsleds start coming from the town square. Looking out they discover about a dozen guards moving into the tavern. Then six of them peal off and go door-to-door searching. Nadya and the heroes briefly discuss their course of action. The children are sent upstairs to the loft while the adventurers take a defensive position around the room and windows.

Nadya answers when they pound of the door, but they jerk her from the room and slam her against the wall. A fight immediately starts as the ones inside house take advantage of the windows to fire magic, arrow, and bullets at the guards. Six and Toby move outside to give Nadya support. All in all, the fight is over quickly. The last of the guards seemed to still be inside the tavern, so, they began moving toward it quickly.

As they arrived, they discovered that the tables had been overturned and two of the local girls that cleaned up the floors had been tied up and left barely conscious. Colt and Qari fought from the window with spell and shell. Nidhwen and Nadya used bows from the next one, while Six and Toby moved to the door to charge inside. The battle was intense as the tables made the use of ranged attack more tricky, but eventually, the last five guards were downed with the heroes combined might.

After looking around at the wreckage of the tavern for any more enemies, Six and Toby frees the two girl so that Nidhwen healed them. Nadya looked to her new friends and allies, and asked “When do you want to head to the Pale Tower?

Join us next week to learn their answer.

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Session 10
The Pale Tower (part 1)

After a brief discussion, our heroes decided to make the trip to the Pale Tower in the morning. Nadya informed them that the trip would take about two hours if they used the guards dog sleds to aid their travels.

A little over halfway to the tower, they hear the greeting call of a female voice. Looking off to the side, they spot a crow. Unlike the normal crows this one is about three feet tall with bright green eyes. She talks with them briefly, but end up stealing Qari’s pouch and flying away. Incidentally, this pouch contained the two keys to the Dancing Hut that the Black Rider entrusted them with. Toby and Colt tracked the sneaky creature back to a tunnel and found her nest. Nidhwen identified the bird as a witchcrow, a strange bird that needs magical items to procreate its species. The crow was a formidable foe, but in the end it was no match for our adventurers combined might. Qari reclaimed her pouch while Toby and Six searched the other small tunnels off of the main chamber. Finally they returned to the surface and continued the rest of the way to the tower.

Sharp winds whistle across this stark white plain, stinging the eyes along with the near-blinding rays of the reflected sun. A great eruption of frozen ice rises in the distance—an imposing pale tower crowned with icicles spearing into the sky. Seemingly born of the land itself, an unbroken circular wall of ice guards the tower’s base, with no means of entrance visible. High above, a large gash opens in the tower’s bowl-like crown, ringed in icy spikes and split by a massive plane of ice resembling an inverted crescent moon.
A trampled path of snow, heavily tracked by footprints and sled trails, ends abruptly at an opaque wall of ice. Carvings and ancient glyphs depict only the semblance of a gateway on its surface.

Several guards at the top of the wall demand to know their business. The adventurers pretend to be returning the errant dog sleds to the tower and are let inside.

A massive ice scupture of a dragon dominates this open courtyard, standing with raised wings upon a dais of solid ice. Seven squat shacks sit along the inner wall, with several dogsleds stored outside. Between them, four ice chutes descend from the battlements of the outer wall. To the west a large double door studded with icicles lead inside the Pale Tower itself, just beneath an overhang of sharp icicles dangling from above.

As soon as they enter the courtyard, the dogs are let loose, however, one dog is thrown across the yard as a large ice troll charges at the newcomers. Like all trolls, it is very resilient to damage, but with the proper application of fire magic it is killed for good.

The heroes then begin to search the area. They look in the different kennels for anything of value, and find a large stash of gold pieces. As their attention is diverted, the four guards from the wall uses a series of slides to quickly flank several of the party. They manage to deal several hits before the allies turn the tide and put them down.

Having handled the welcoming committee, our heroes turn their attention to the door. For all the apparent danger that the icicles present, they are harmless and Nidhwen pick the lock on the tower door. As she does this Toby and Six break a pair of large mirror nearby.

Steamy air fills this inner gallery, emanating in lazy wisps from a bubbling pool recessed into the floor of a raised dais surrounded by six pillars of ice. Four foggy mirrors hang from the walls near ice sculptures of helmeted pike-wielding warriors.
Glassy patterns of striated, crystalline ice covers the tile floor in the open alcoves to the north and south, illuminated by a soft, blue light.

Hatch points out the teleport pads and explains that the only way to navigate the levels is by way of pass phrases and special keys. He gives them the ones that he knows and withdraws into the northern stairwell to wait for them. They start to look in other rooms finding another set of stairs and a pair of privies before Six moves on to the doors on the western wall.

As he opens the top door, he is struck by crossbow bolts and five guards rush in to attack them. Six does an excellent job of blocking them from his weaker allies, but several of them move through the other door and attack Toby and Colt. One of them also wakes the water elemental sleeping in the hot springs so it can join the fight. After several of them have been put down, the other doors open up and five more soldier rush to attack. One near the back seems to retreat threw the ice crystal teleporter, however, she reappears seconds later beside Qari and attacks. Little by little the foes are dropped and the room is made safe once again.

Six, Toby, and Colt search the two barracks, but they find little more than empty beds and weapons lockers. Regrouping in the entrance hall, they use wand and spells to heal up the wounds dealt by the guards before turning to look at the icy teleport pads…

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