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.