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.