Reign of Winter

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
Heldren - Prelude
16 Sarenith, 4713 – Heldren

Individually, the following PCs arrive in the small town of Heldren near the Border Woods on Taldor’s southern border with Qadira,

Hunter – a ranger from Nirmathas who has been recruited to join the High Sentinels; a group of ranger defenders who live and operate within the Zimar Scrublands region in southern Taldor.

Alabastar Pennywhistle – a bookish wizard who is conducting research into the history of magics used during the Grand Campaign.

Ingvar and Svala – a half-elf married couple. He is a fighter and she is a slayer. They are returning from Zimar to Oppara after he was sent for specialized training before seeking work as a body guard in one of the many noble houses in Oppara. She plans on seeking work in the same household but her mother presently works in the House Malassene as an adviser to the Matriarch of the Family.

Aiwendil and Vadoma – the oddest couple, she is a young oracle and he is an elder middle-aged druid. They are not related but have been close to family for the past 15 years as they travel throughout the north Inner Sea region seeking information and guidance about her divine powers.

The first day is spent largely investigating the small town and its citizens and several rumors are heard.

A – The betrothal of Lady Argentea Malassene to her Qadiran fiance has failed and she is heading home to Oppara. She is expected to pass through Heldren tomorrow.

B – Several local farmers and woodsmen are concerned about an unusual cold spell which seems to have popped up in the nearby woods. Some seem to think this is the doing of Qadira as diversionary attack prior to war.

C – Along with the weather is the sighting of some unusual creatures. The ones which specifically catch the most attention is mention of a talking stag and a giant white weasel.

D – The town statue of “The Lady” is rumored to be the petrified body of a witch that betrayed Taldor during the Grand Campaign. However evidence seems to indicate that the statue pre-dates the war.

E – Many town’s people are happy about quiet gossip that Councillor Teppen and the blacksmith may be starting a romantic relationship.

F – There have been no sightings of High Sentinels in town in almost 3 weeks.

17 Sarenith, 4713 – Heldren

The day starts out normal with the typical rural farm community activities. However, when the entourage for Lady Argentea fails to arrive on time, Hunter and Aiwendil decide to investigate. They head south out of town on the road to Zimar for 2 hours but find nothing before heading back to town.

Vadoma visits with Old Mother Theodora and is somewhat comforted that although sometimes misunderstood, that her oracle powers are meant for good in the world.

Ingvar and Svala lead a second investigation in the afternoon going further south to the junction of the road to Demgazi. Still nothing is found and the group heads back to Heldren for the night.

2100 – As the PCs are all sitting at various tables in the Silver Stoat having their evening meal and listening and partaking in conversations, a frost-bitten Ulfen warrior staggers through the door and collapses atop Alabaster, almost crushing him. He stammers something about the “winter-touched are here.” and then passes out.

He is taken to the Church of Erastil for treatment where he passes in and out of consciousness. During that time he is able to relay that the caravan was ambushed by a group of winter-touched fey and other unidentified attackers. He is the only survivor to get away but he does say he saw Lady Argentea being dragged off into the woods and she was still alive.

The PCs try and rouse the militia and although reluctant to raise a commotion so late at night, the commander agrees to do so.

The PCs are asked to report to Councilor Teppen’s house first thing in the morning.

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I'm Dreaming of a White ... Summer?
The Border Woods - Day 1
18 Sarenith, 4713 – Heldren

The party arrives at Councilor Teppin’s home in the morning. She informs the group that the town council is requesting their aid in investigating the strange attack and disappearance of Lady Argentea. She is authorized to offer a reward of 500gp to find the kidnapped noble and return her safely to Heldren. If she is found dead, then the safe return of her remains and her killers brought to justice. The party members all agree to join forces and carry out the request of the council.

Before they depart town they are able to speak to the survivor who identifies himself as Yuln Oerstag. He imparts all he tells the group about the caravan and how they had stopped for the night to rest when they were ambushed and attacked first by brigands and then joined by winter-touched fey creatures. He was struck from behind and knocked out, but before passing out he saw Lady Argentea being dragged off into the woods. When he woke up, the massacre was over and the attackers had mistaken him for dead and left him behind. He decided that all he could do was make his way to Heldren to warn the village which took him the better part of a day with his injuries and frostbite to his feet and hands. He marks on their map where the attack took place.

0800 – The party gathers their final supplies and gear and departs town.

1030 – The PCs arrive upon the scene of the attack. The temperature has dropped significantly and there is a very light dusting of snow on the ground. As they investigate the surroundings they here moaning sounds coming from inside one of the carriages. Opening the door they are attacked by 3 dead warriors, each transformed into a zombie. The group very quickly and easily dispatches them. After the attack, they discover the frozen body of an Ulfen warrior which has been partially dismembered. They thaw out the body and claim his armor and sword as well as finding a hidden jewelry box which has a few of Lady Argentea’s trinkets…and her signet ring. The group finds a path into the woods and follows it.

1050 – The party enters the Border Woods proper and are clearly now within the boundary of a unseasonal snow storm. The snow is not overly heavy but it is constant and accumulating at a steady rate.

1115 – The party comes upon a small clearing of trees. Near the center is a chest which appears to have been dropped by the attackers. The PCs realize this is a trap and they successfully avoid the trap. They find a hidden cache of weapons and armor. They press on

1140 – As the party makes its way up a slow rise, they spot movement to the side of the path in a deep snowdrift which gives them just enough warning to prevent being surprised by a tatzlwyrm. The battle is short and swift and the party prevails. Afterwards the party decides to rest and Aiwendil takes his daily communion with nature and the others eat.

1300 – The party moves out again

1320 – The party comes upon a copse of trees decorated with dead crows. As they study these, they are set upon by some invisible bowmen. Several members are hit by the arrows which cause no damage but seem to inflict extreme cold damage which they successfully shake off the effects. The party runs off into the woods to get away. However in the process, one of the creatures tries to taunt Ingvar by whispering in his ear “Izoze is going to have fun with you.” Ingvar blindly lashes out and actually catches the creature, a winter-touched sprite, in mid flight. He growls at it and then throws it away, showing he has no fear of its threat.

1400 – As the path cuts through a wide clearing, they happen upon a white stag; and it appears as if the creature is talking to itself. When the creature notices the PCs, he starts a conversation with them. He seems friendly and is asks who they are, why they are in the woods. When they mention High Sentinel Lodge, the stag says he too is seeking that and maybe they could help them find it, drawing closer to the group. Vadoma casts deathwatch and determines there is an extra lifeforce nearby. When she warns the group. the stag attacks along with his rider, an invisible winter-touched atomie. The party quickly defeats the stag and Hunter is able to critically hit and kill the evil fey creature. Hunter skins the stag and begins to wear the skin over his attire.

1430 – The party approaches a frozen stream with a snowman near the bank. There is a sign which is written in red paint (or is it blood?) saying “Trespassers turn back now!” As the party starts to draw closer, to inspect, the snowman seems to call out and yells, " Can’t you read? The sign says turn back. Now go away!" When Svala goes up to check the snowman, it suddenly explodes with a sound burst which catches her, Hunter and Ingvar in the effect. The sound of the explosion arouses three small ice elementals hiding in the frozen creek and they burst from the water and attack. The fight is more vigorous than the earlier attacks but after a brief struggle, the PCs eventually defeat the elementals.

1445 – All the PCs make it across the creek. Alabaster makes an especially glorious image as he runs and slides across on his feet (skateboarder style) before hitting the far bank, tripping and face-plants into a snow bank.

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Little Pig, Little Pig. Let Me In.
The Border Woods - Day 1 (evening)
18 Sarenith, 4713 – The Border Wood

1445 – The party continues along the path after crossing the frozen Wishbone Creek

1515 – As the party moves up a slope approaching a rise in the path they can hear the sound of voices shouting. Stealthily, the party investigates and finds four guards apparently arguing amongst themselves about being stuck with outside patrol duty. Aiwendil, Svala and Hunter sneak through the woods beside the path and get into place to attack. Suddenly a loud crack is heard from the woods and the guards notice Ingvar and the other party members moving along the path and challenge them. When Ingvar states they are headed to the Lodge to see the High Sentinels. One of the guards laughs and says “we took care of those pesky do-gooders and we will take care of you too if you don’t leave.” When the PCs do not withdraw the guards attack. While the party fights back two well-timed critical hits allow the PCs to easily defeat the guards. Before the last guard is killed he makes a reference to someone named “Rohkar at the Lodge.” These guards do not appear to be High Sentinels

1545 – The PCs follow the path until it finally opens out in a large clearing at the edge of Red Run Gorge. Sitting in the center of the clearing is High Sentinel Lodge. When the PCs approach the lodge, they set off a crossbow trap but no one is hit, but it does knock over a ceramic pot, sending a warning to those inside the house. As the rest of the party slowly approaches the cabin, Aiwendil decides to use the outhouse. Hunter is able to look into a side window and see several individuals dressed as the earlier guards.

After rejoining the party Aiwendil tries to Bluff his way into the house by calling out seeking shelter from the storm. Hunter sneaks around the back of the lodge and changes into the cloak of the raiders. The party are confronted by a group of guards which circled around from the front of the lodge (before Hunter made his way to the front). After several attempts by Aiwendil and Ingvar to talk their way in prove unsuccessful the guards attack.

The fight begins in the area between the lodge and the outhouse. Aiwendil, Svala and Ingvar prove to be devastating with their attacks and more guards join the fray from inside the lodge. Eventually Hunter makes his way around the lodge to pepper the guards outside with arrows as the fighters press the attack back into the lodge. Hunter feels as if he is being watched, but does not see anything.

Slowly, the struggle for the lodge makes its way inside as several more sick and weakened raiders join the fray. Eventually, the PCs fight their way inside and the last of the raiders surrender. As the party is about to investigate the upper room on the balcony, they are set upon by several frost skeletons. Backing away from the room the PCs draw the skeleton out onto the balcony where Vadoma channels positive energy which destroys them…and causes Rohkar to give out a cry of frustration revealing his location as he attempted to sneak out unseen.

Seeing that he is outnumbered Rohkar attempts to flee as he turns and flees back up the stairs into his planning room. When the PCs here a window break, Ingvar and Svala race up the stairs and jump out after Rohkar. Svala displays grace and agility by landing on her feet. Ingvar, not so much. Aiwendil and Hunter race back outside and around the lodge to chase after the fleeing brigand. Once more, Hunter and now the others feel the sensation of being watch but do not see anything.

As Rohkar flees toward a rickety rope bridge across the icy gorge, he realizes he will not be able to escape the heroes. In a last bid to save his life, he drops his weapon and offers to surrender and tell all he knows of the plans of the fey invaders. The party accepts his surrender and are leading him back to the lodge to interrogate him when some creature comes flying out of the woods across from the gorge swoops in and blasts Rohkar with a blast of cold, killing him. Hunter takes a blind shot and thinks he hits the creature but it still flies off back across the gorge.

Back inside the lodge, the party finds Lady Argentea locked away in a cellar and a half-orc named Ten-Penny Tacey hiding in the kitchen. The PCs decide to stay the night here to rest and recover and take stock of what they can. The party spends the rest of the evening searching the Lodge. They find a winter-touched sprite that Rohkar was holding prisoner.

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Getting out of the Cold
The Border Woods - Day 2
19 Sarenith, 4713 – High Sentinel Lodge

After spending the night resting and recuperating from the previous day’s struggle, the party makes plans to return Lady Argentea to Heldren. The group interrogates/tortures the captive winter-touched sprite but get very little real information other than they learn the name of the fey leader; Teb Knotten. Examining a large map in the upstairs room, the group realizes there is a “winter portal” deeper into the woods, but the group decides it is important to get Lady Argentea back to Heldren first.

Hunter boards up the lodge and the party secures the two sick prisoners. Ten-Penny Tacey accompanies the group and ensures the prisoners do not run off. The group departs around 0800 to begin the trek back to Heldren. They notice that the snow is slightly heavier than the previous day.

Shortly after crossing back over the Wishbone Creek, Hunter hears some crying near the treeline and discovers a wounded dryad who begs for the parties assistance in removing a twigjack from her home. The group agrees. Aiwendel approaches the house and taunts the creature who blasts him in the face with jagged brambles and twigs before jumping to a nearby thicket to continue the attack. Hunter spots the creature and directs the group’s attacks. The party quickly disposes of the nuisance and returns the dryad to her tree home so she can heal. As a reward she gives the party the creatures treasure. The PCs continue onward.

When the PCs arrive at the site of the hidden stash, they discover another group of bandits pilfering the left behind armor and weapons. Just as it appears the two groups may come to blows, Aiwendel offers to pay the bandits to abandon the spoils. The bandits agree and then move off into the woods. The PCs collect the treasure and move on to the massacre site. At the site, the PCs realize that the winter effect is slowly growing each day. Alabaster does quick calculations as estimates the snow will reach Heldren in just about a week if not stopped.

The PCs arrive back in Heldren to a heroes welcome with Lady Argentea. The group reports their findings to the Council members and Lady Argentea tells the full story of the massacre. The Council pays their reward (500gp split amongst the party) and the Lady also rewards each member of the group (500gp each). She also charters the group to find the winter portal at the heart of the woods and end the danger. She promises to double her reward if they succeed. The PCs also use the time to replenish supplies and selling off some of their found treasure. The rest of the day is spent in celebrations for the safe return of the Lady Argentea Malassene.

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Good job. Now get back out there.
The Border Woods - Day 3
21 Sarenith, 4713 – Heldren

The party finishes their resupply and everyone has acquired cold-weather outfits before heading back to the Lodge to make final preparations for the portal search. Ten-Penny Tacey elects to follow along with the group for the time being and the group accepts. A contingent of militia with carts follow behind the group to collect the bodies of the dead from the massacre site.

When the party reaches the site, they encounter a hungry bear who is seeking food. Rather than attack, they stay hidden down wind of the creature and eventually he wanders off. At about the time he ventures off, the militia arrive and begin collecting the dead to return to Heldren for burial.

The party follows the path back to the Lodge with out any events, but as they approach the Lodge once more, they realize the door is open and the sounds of fighting come from inside. As they carefully investigate, they find a group of Rohkar’s Raiders fighting a group of female warriors. The party intervenes on the side of the female warriors and the raiders are soon wiped out.

The leader of the female group introduces herself and her sisters (literally), a group of hunters who make their living in and around the Border Woods. They say they came to the Lodge seeking information and help from the High Sentinels when they encountered the winter weather. They gained entrance through the broken window upstairs. When the raiders arrived, they attacked the women who in turn defended themselves which is what the party witnessed when they entered. Hunter, as the last known person with any connection to the High Sentinels allows them to use the Lodge until such time as any official Sentinels can return to take control.

The party decides to camp out at the Lodge for one night with plans to depart first thing in the morning, cross the bridge and find the portal. The group decides to let the hunters keep all the spoils from the raiders.

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Ain't she a doll?
The Border Woods - Day 4
22 Sarenith, 4713 – High Sentinel Lodge

After spending the night in the Lodge resting up and preparing for what’s ahead, the party departs early in the morning in search of the portal they know to be across the bridge and deeper into the woods. With the weather getting slowly worse, the first thing they realize is that the wooden bridge across the 50 foot-wide gorge is incredibly icy and dangerous to cross. Aiwendil realizes that the party is being watched but can not determine from where. Tacey, Svala, Vadoma make it across without incident. Aiwendil is in the process of crossing when Izoze and the winter fey attack.

Aiwendil unleashes entangle into the trees and snags one of the sprites but Izoze was already free of the area and invisible. Izoze goes after Hunter since he is the one which wounded her earlier and the sprites go after the women who are separated on the opposite side from the men. Izoze blasts the group with her breath weapon but they manage to save and shake off the effects. As Izoze struggles to claw at Hunter, Alabaster steps forward and blasts the ice mephit with burning hands which seriously injures her. Ingvar manages to hit her with his sword and kills her.

On the far side of the gorge, Aiwendil manages to complete his crossing and helps with killing off the four sprites which are tormenting the group. After the battle is done, the rest of the party is able to complete the crossing of the bridge.

The party is not very far down the path after crossing the bridge when they encounter a group of frost skeletons. They fairly easily defeat these creatures and continue following the path which was laid out on the map in the Lodge. Next they come across a group of walking and talking fir (frost firs) trees in a narrow portion of the path. The trees are agitated and seem lost but are not overly aggressive with the group as they have no open flames displayed. The group is able to negotiate a pass through the trees with a promise “not to use any open flames while on High Ridge.”

After a fairly long trek (almost 2 hours) through the forest with no encounters, they find a partially covered dead body. Quick examination determines that he was killed by a large wild animal and not the frost firs. They recognize the body as that of the farmer from Heldren who was complaining about the giant weasel which was attacking his livestock. Searching his body they find his journal which outlines where he planted traps and discusses a strange hut in a clearing up ahead in the forest.

The party moves out and soon comes upon the place where the traps are laid and are able to easily avoid them. They also find signs of a struggle and determine that the farmer was able to capture the weasel, but was apparently wounded himself in the fight. The weasel appears to have pulled free from the bear traps and has escaped into the woods while the farmer attempted to make his way back to town before dying from his wounds.

Pushing on the party soon comes upon the strange hut. It sits on a small rise which is surrounded by a strange fog-shrouded maze of large ice boulders. As the party works its way through the maze, they encounter the vision of a small girl who keeps screaming about wanting to go home to her mommy before running off into the fog. The only thing they can truly determine is her name is Thora Petska. When the group reaches the end of the maze they trigger a haunt which causes Ingvar to panic and flee. The party is able to tackle him and subdue him until the effect wears off and then they move on to investigate the hut.

Upon reaching the hut the party finds it is empty except for a small doll sitting on a chair. The doll bears a strange but striking resemblance to Thora. After several minutes of trying to figure out the meaning behind the hut and the doll, the party almost resigns itself to giving up. During this period, Hunter and Ten-Penny have an intense interrogation of each other on why the other refuses to enter the hut. It is clear that they do not trust each other.

Eventually, however the doll attempts to charm Alabaster, but fails. In failing to find an ally, it attacks and catches Alabaster and in a fire attack. Through quick thinking and reaction Aiwindil and the half elves are able to pin down and destroy the doll after a brief struggle. After the resting and some discussion within the group, they agree to burn down the hut and the remains of the doll simply because it is all too creepy.

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Along Came a Rider
The Border Woods - Day 4 (afternoon)
22 Sarenith, 4713 – The Border Woods

After burning down the hut and destroying the doll, the party presses forward into the woods along the path. As they depart the hut’s clearing, they find a glyph of warding on the trail. Aiwendil devises a way to set off the magical trap without hurting anyone to prevent any wild creature from suffering if they activate it.

The group continues forward along the path. As they come to a split in the path they discover the a wounded giant weasel. This appears to be the same giant weasel which attacked the dead farmer they discovered earlier. The weasel senses the approach of the PCs and attacks. However the PCs are not the only danger present as a pack of wolves are stalking the wounded beast and also attack. The because of the split in the path and the two series of threats the party is split into two groups. Hunter and Aiwendil focus on the weasel while Svala, Ingvar and Vadoma focus on the wolves. Alabaster sort of gets stuck in no-man’s land and winds up going back and forth between the two conflict areas. After a brief struggle the party manages to defeat both the wolves and the weasel.

The group continues to follow the path and finally come down off the High Ridge and down into the Somir Valley. Hunter notifies the group they are getting closer to their target and soon they come upon a clearing with 4 igloo-styled huts. The group investigates carefully and as stealthily as possible but do not realize they are being watched by an invisible fey oracle. The PCs slowly work their way into the middle of the camp when Ingvar finds 4 sprites inside one of the igloos who try and coax him into coming inside. He avoids entering and warns the party just as Hommelstaub initiates the attack with some thunderstones.

The camp erupts into a blur of action as the fey attack along with an air elemental and giant moss troll. Although the sprites are largely ineffective in damage the few arrows they hit with cause the party to deal with some severe cold damage. The real threats are the oracle, air elemental and the troll who soon begin to pick away and deal some serious damage to the party with Hunter taking a couple of major hits. Vadoma works her way through the melee to try and get close to Hunter to render him aid while Alabaster and Aiwendil deal with the fey and elemental.

Ingvar and Svala are able to quickly deal with the sprites which allows the party to begin to focus on threats one at a time. Soon after the fey oracle is defeated along with the air elemental. Finally the group is able to bring their full might to bear and bring down the troll. After the battle is done the group finds a cave where the fey creatures were storing their spoils and treasures.

After a short respite they approach the portal to study it in hopes of finding a way to shut it down. As they draw near a large black-armored warrior on a massive black charger comes leaping out of the portal. Initially thinking it is another attack, the party soon realize the man is fatally wounded as he collapses to the ground with a thick ice spear through his chest. The manifestation of his horse and weapon fade away. He identifies himself as Black Midnight, one of Baba Yaga’s three heralds. Due to his incredibly weakened state, none of his powers carry any detrimental effects on the characters. Vadoma makes a plea to her god to aid the fallen rider and she does receive a private message in response but there is nothing that can be done to save the rider.

He informs the group the true nature of the threat they face. He tells them that they can deactivate the portal in the Pale Tower of the White Witch Nazhena Vasilliovna in Irrisen. He also tells them the portal is not the true threat as Queen Elvanna has somehow imprisoned her mother, the Witch Queen Baba Yaga in hopes of conquering the entire world and turning into a perpetual frozen winterland, much like Irrisen today. If the PCs are to stop the threat to the world they are going to need to find Baba Yaga and free her in order to stop Queen Elvanna. He says the PCs will need to use Baba Yaga’s Dancing Hut to retrace her steps and rescue her, but Queen Elvanna has captured Baba Yaga’s Dancing Hut in Whitethrone. He says he will give them the means to reactivate and control the hut and follow Baba Yaga if they will “take up his mantle” and agree to rescue her, otherwise they will be left to face the dangers of the Pale Tower and the world on their own. The PCs all agree to take up the quest to save Baba Yaga.

In agreement for accepting the quest, the Black Rider gives the PCs two items: a plague doctor’s mask and a lock from a frost giant’s beard. The rider’s last act is to cut his throat and let his blood pour over the items as Ingvar and Hunter hold them to use his last life essence to reenergize the two keys to the hut. Vadoma attempts a god call to save the Rider’s life, but it seemingly goes unanswered as he dies anyway. As the Black Rider dies, the PCs can feel the two keys now seem to radiate a magical pulse as if alive and they also feel a burst of energy within themselves. The Black Rider fades away and he reverts to his original form; Illarion Matveius, a feeble and elderly old man in a simple black tunic. The PCs give him a proper burial and then make camp for the night in the cave to make plans for their departure for Irrisen.

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Welcome to Irrisen ...
The Hoarwood - Days 5&6
23 Sarenith, 4713 – The Hoarwood

After burying the Black Rider, the party spends the night in the cave by the winter portal in order to rest and heal. Making plans to secure as much gear and treasure as possible, the PCs depart early the next morning and jump through the Winter Portal.

After a brief flash of light with some slight disorientation, the PCs arrive in the midst of a deep thick woods in even more bitterly cold weather. Examination of the natural flora indicates the party is definitely in a different location and they can only surmise they are in Irrisen. They do not have any kind of bearings nor do they have any clues as to their immediate location they decide on a single direction and set off that way. However, they are not gone long before they come upon a group of humans being attacked by a giant mantis. It already has one of the humans in its pincers. It is very clear that the creature is not native to this environment.

The PCs come to the group’s aid and attack the mantis. In doing so the creature drops the person in order to defend itself from the new source of danger. The PCs are able to launch a fairly coordinated attack and easily defeat the giant insect while Vadoma renders healing aid to the injured human who introduces herself Nadya Petska.

She tells the group she is leader of a caravan of food and housewares heading to Waldsby. She recognizes the PCs are not from Irrisen from their dress and questions them. After some further introductions and exchanges, the PCs tell her they are from Taldor and are searching for the Pale Tower. She agrees to lead them to Waldsby and helps the PCs adjust to the climate.

As the caravan continues onward, Hunter eventually makes the connection that the spirit of the little girl they saw at the hut has the same last name as their new guide. He questions her about the girl and she says she does have a daughter named Thora who is being held captive at the Pale Tower by the White Witch. She hopes to use the goods in her caravan to negotiate her release. However after the PCs describe their encounter at the hut, Nadya soon comes to realize what has happened. Her daughter has been killed in order to create the guardian doll the PCs encountered. After a brief display of intense anger, Nadya recomposes herself and vows to aid the PCs any way possible “to defeat that White Witch bitch.”

The rest of the day is spent uneventfully and Nadya tells the PCs more about the land of Irrisen. In exchange the PCs tell stories of their homelands and adventures. As night falls the group makes camp with the caravan. During the evening, the group is approached by Mierul Ardelain. She introduces herself as a traveling bard seeking to rest a spell during the evening meal. The PCs recognize her as a winter-touched forlarren. Nadya has warned the PCs that laws in Irrisen give winter-touched fey special protected status so they do not take any actions and allow Nadya to do all the talking.

The bard inquires if they have seen the Black Rider and Nadya says the caravan has not encountered such a person. When she makes an off-hand comment about some of the strange garb of the PCs, Nadya explains that they are Jadwiga merchant cousins from the border town of Kizobran with their indentured servants. They are headed toward Hoarwood after a small stopover in Waldsby as they are going to open a shop in the regional capital. The bard acknowledges the story and says she has never been to Kizobran but hopes to visit after her stop at the Pale Tower. She has been hired to perform for the guards stationed there. After the party completes their evening meal, the bard sings a song about the destruction and rebirth of Hoarwood as payment for the groups food and time before she continues on her journey.

The next day after breaking camp, the group notices a group of ravens flying up ahead, Nadya states that ravens are often used as White Witch spies and commands everyone to stop and to take cover under some tarps. The group works quickly to do as instructed but the Ingvar is unable to hide stealthily and the ravens swarm to attack the caravan. Aiwendil is able to step out and scatters the birds with a gust of wind and then destroys most of the swarm with a flaming sphere spell. What few birds who manage to avoid the destruction fly off and are not seen again. After breaking down their camouflage, the group presses on toward Waldsby.

There are no further encounters but shortly after noon, the group realizes a storm is building and getting ready to set in. They increase their pace and race ahead in hopes of beating the storm before it hits the area. The caravan reaches Waldsby just as the storm is starting to hit the town and Nadya says the PCs can spend the night at her home to weather the storm.

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... Now Get Out
Waldsby - Days 7 & 8
25 Sarenith, 4713 – Waldsby

The PCs spend the night in tight quarters at Nadya’s house but the bulk of the storm has abated by the next morning and there is only a light snowfall. The party takes the opportunity to investigate the town and find out all they can about their surroundings. The first thing the party notices is that Waldsby is an almost exact duplicate to Heldren in size and layout.

The PCs split up into smaller groups and visit Verana’s Sundries and sell off some items and stock up on winter gear. In trying to sell the painting of Whitethrone, the party is directed to Katrina Goltiaeva at the tavern who is an art collector.

Another group visits the town’s chapel to Pharasma and makes contact with the priest Rolf Holzberg. Although he is not friend with those in the Pale Tower, he can not openly provide the party assistance due to his fear of retaliation against the townfolk.

Some in the group talk to the carpenter Arbagazor Frimbocket. After a few minutes and some shared information Ingvar and Svala are able to deduce that the carpenter in Heldren, Tengezil are indeed twin brothers who had been separated at birth. He had thought his brother dead because that is what those in Whitethrone had told him. Quick examination of his visitors leads him to believe they are planning something which will hinder some plan of the White Witches. Because he now realize they had lied to him from his childhood, he decides to help the PCs. He gives Alabaster a special staff he had been making for one of the Witches but gives it to him instead at a very much reduced cost.

Hunter returns to Nadya’s house and hears items being thrown an smashed. He enters and winds up seeing a small fey creature telekinetically throwing utensils and dishes about. Nadya explains that it is Hatch, a domovoi who serves as the house spirit and was extremely close to Thora. She has just told him about what happened to her and he is upset and feels somehow responsible because he could not protect her. They leave him to his grief. Because he is concerned about how the party may have placed her in danger, he asks to stay at the house with her family for the night and she agrees.

The rest of the PCs eventually make their way to the tavern and sell the painting to Katrina. They buy food and drink and secure rooms. A woodworker enters and tell the group about a yeti running loose in town. Ingvar and Svala go out to investigate but soon learn that it is only Hunter with his cloak on. The return and say they drove the monster off and everyone settles in for the night.

The next morning the party awakes and prepares to head out when they hear tables and chairs being rearranged in the common room. They are met by a large contingent of guards from the Pale Tower who ask them about the Black Rider. At first feigning no knowledge of the Rider, the guards then determine that they are not of Irrisen and are in town illegally without proper papers. It slowly build to a tense standoff. Katrina tries to slip first Ingvar and then Aiwednil some suggestive tea but both are able to withstand its effects or counter them.

Hunter is outside feeding the dogs when he can detect they are agitated by something in town. He investigates and discovers guards posted outside the tavern. He very quickly sneaks around town and comes up from behind the building. He puts up the hood on his cloak so that he looks like a yeti and runs across the town square to cause a distraction.

Just as Hunter creates a distraction outside, a fight commences inside the tavern when Ten-Penny hits a guard with her dagger just after Alabaster has thrown down a challenge. The party starts out outnumbered but they are able to establish a defense to thin the numbers and then turn to an attack to kill off the guards. The guards outside are dealt with in similar fashion as they come to the aid of their partners insides, except for one, a winter wolf who chases after Hunter.

Hunter leads the creature and long run through town before he is caught in an alley behind the chapel. Just as the creature is about to leap to the attack, Nadya jumps it and distracts it for a moment. Hunter puts two arrows into the wolf and it turns back to attack him with his breath weapon and then a vicious bite. Nadya and Hunter fight a desperate battle against the much larger and powerful creature and after a second bite, Hunter falls. The creature is just about to deliver a killing blow when Svala, (who has left the tavern with the battle there completed) jumps in a kills the wolf with a blow to the head.

The priest comes out and renders a small bit of healing aid and says he will take care of the dead bodies if the party will bring them inside the temple.

Even though the battle in the tavern is over, it is clear that the parties presence in town is only going to draw more and more attention and place the populace in danger. The group cleans up as best as possible and then departs with plans to attack the tower as soon as possible. They first need to come up with a plan and heal from the fight.

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Have Fun Storming the Tower
Hoarwood - Day 8
25 Sarenith, 4713 – Hoarwood

After the morning encounter at the White Weasel, the PCs decide they need to head for the Pale Tower as soon as possible to prevent further repercussions against the town. They congregate back at Nadya’s house to make their plans and meet Hatch, a small domovoi house spirit who gives them information for getting around and navigate between floors inside the Pale Tower. The PCs gather up some of the cloaks from the guards to use as disguises and then takes their dog sleds to use as transportation.

During the journey, the PCs are approached by a greater witchcrow named Lytil who asks them for a magic item. Although she is as persuasive as possible, the party ignores her request. Although the bird tries to distract the group and pleads for “a bauble” she does not attack the group and eventually lets them move on without incident. However, before the group arrives, they run into a glacial ooze and after a brief struggle, they dispatch the abomination.

Eventually, the party arrives at the Pale Tower and they conduct some minor reconnaissance before approaching the gate. After a brief interrogation by the guards, they are able to bluff their way into the courtyard, almost immediately upon their entry, a large ice troll comes out demanding one of the dogs for a meal. Given little choice, the party attacks in order to defend the dog pack and this causes a major battle to take place within the courtyard, but with coordination a well timed sleep spell and poor skills from the tower guards, the party is able to defeat the guards and close off the gate to prevent any further roving patrols from entering. They take the only survivor as a prisoner and drag him along with his hands tied and mouth gagged.

Quickly the PCs infiltrate the tower and come into the main entry hall. As they search the area, Hunter stumbles upon the barracks, which triggers a large fight in the main hall, not just with the guards, but with the water elemental which inhabits the large center pool. Both barracks empty but the party is well placed to block their exit or to induce large amounts of damage with spells on the hapless guardians as they pour into the main chamber. It takes time due to the sheer numbers of attackers but eventually the party gains the upper hand and defeats the guards. With the PCs in control of the ground floor, they begin to make plans for ascending to the upper levels.

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