Reign of Winter
A young mother of three, rebellious, and wilderness-savvy widow.
Nadya stands only 5-1/2 feet tall. She wears her vibrant red hair in three braids, two short braids framing her pale face, and a third, longer braid hanging down her back. Her slight build belies the inner strength with which she draws her favorite longbow and weathers the harsh conditions of Irrisen’s wilds. Nadya usually dresses in soft leathers laced tight and lined with fur to ward off the cold. When traveling, she dons her armor for protection, along with a white fur cloak and matching hat to make herself less visible in the snow. Her quiver is always full, and she carries a handaxe and pick to defend herself against the many dangers of the wilderness.
Only 26 years old, Nadya Petska has already experienced a lifetime’s worth of tragedy and hardship. Widowed 2 years ago when her husband Hjalnek fell to a greedy ice troll in the Hoarwood Forest, Nadya harbors a grudge against the White Witches of Irrisen and their monstrous allies. Since her husband’s death, she has struggled to care for their three children—a 7-year-old daughter, Thora, and twin 5-year-old sons, Orm and Mjoli. The task is made even more challenging, however, because Nadya must provide for her family, which forces her to rely on friends to look after her children while she travels. Shortly after her husband’s death, Nadya took up his trade as a food merchant and importer for the eastern reaches of the Hoarwood, including her home village of Waldsby. Hjalnek had taught her many things about survival and travel in the wilds, allowing her to carry on his work and succeed despite the challenges that she faces. As a result, many people in Hoarwood rely on her business, including the local Jadwiga aristocracy, who use Nadya’s provisions to supplement the food they import for themselves from Whitethrone and outside Irrisen.
About a year ago, Nadya established peaceful contact with a friendly tribe of Kellids near Irrisen’s border with the Realm of the Mammoth Lords, trading with them for grain, raw meat, livestock, leather goods, and furs. Nadya’s dogsleds make frequent, multi-week runs through the forest and the tundra of eastern Hoarwood so she can barter with the Kellids and restock the village storehouses. Because of her boldness and the invaluable service she provides, Nadya has become a trusted name in Waldsby. Unfortunately, she still struggles to win inf luence with the White Witch Nazhena Vasilliovna, who rules the region from her Pale Tower. Nadya supplies the Pale Tower in addition to Waldsby, but the witch’s guards routinely commandeer Nadya’s shipments rather than pay a fair price for them. In exchange, the peasants of Waldsby receive a little less harassment when the soldiers visit the village. Although she resents Nazhena’s sense of entitlement, Nadya has come to view this arrangement as a necessary food “tax”—one that earns her the continued freedom to look after the well-being of her friends and family.
Unfortunately, another tragedy has recently befallen Nadya. While she was away on a trade run, Nazhena and her guards visited Waldsby. Nadya’s daughter, Thora, encountered Nazhena and inadvertently insulted the witch. In a fit of pique, Nazhena had the girl hauled off to the Pale Tower to punish her for her insolence. When Nadya returned and learned of her daughter’s capture, she hurried to the tower to plead for the girl’s return. Nazhena agreed to release Thora only if Nadya could provide her with a new shipment of food, larger than ever before—supplies which Nazhena would need to provision her forces on the other side of the winter portal. Nadya hastened to fulfill this bargain, trading almost everything she had to secure enough food from the Mammoth Lords to meet Nazhena’s price. When the PCs encounter Nadya, she’s on her way back to negotiate for Thora’s release.