10 Kuthona, 4713 – Iobaria, Artrosa
As the party awakens they are met with a loud cry of a dragon off in the distance. As they stir and gear up a massive white dragon flies into view and Erdija whispers amongst the group that it is Sjohvor, the dragon she had warned them about earlier. The party begins to prepare for battle when they notice the creature is not coming back toward them but rather is flying off toward the west, away from them. Erdija suggests the party get inside Artrosa as quickly as possible before the dragon returns to investigate their presence. She will watch and guard the campsite for one week before returning to her tribe.
After a brief discussion the group recalls the cryptic messages from the ravens in the Hut and determine that they should climb the “Maiden” statue in order to search for a door on top or along the sides. Hunter climbs to the top and discovers a small grove of trees at the top and summons the rest of the party to climb up. Working in pairs, Aiwendil and Vadoma; Ingvar and Svala. The first groups ascend the statue with no major incidents. The last group is Tacey and Alabaster. As they reach the top, Alabaster slips and falls, almost dragging Tacey over the side with him. However, she is able to brace herself and prevent them both going over (with the help of a hero point) and plummeting to their death.
Arriving at the top, the party is confronted by a large guardian tree who protects the entrance to the compound. It demands a blood sacrifice in order to allow entrance to its doorway. After a brief negotiation, the group is eventually able to convince the guardian to pose a riddle rather than impose a demand for blood sacrifice.
Midnight, Morning Bright Sun—
Spoke thee with but one
Accursed now you be
For he befell the wrath
Of two times seven
Oh tell me, who is he?
Vadoma answers, “The Black Rider.” The tree calls that he needs his real name which causes Svala to respond with his true name of “Illarion Matveius.” Reluctantly, the tree acquiesces and allows the party to enter.
Once inside, the heroes find a long descending staircase. Following it down they come upon an ettin giantess witch who is having an argument between the two different personalities of the heads, each blaming the other for the intruders in the compound. At first the party believes it is referring to them, but later discover that others are present who do not belong here. Inb order to not make the same mistake twice, the ettin attacks, but after a brief struggle, the players defeat the giant witch.
Having spent the bulk of the morning ascending to the top of Artrosa, the party breaks for lunch before continuing their search of Artrosa. The PCs press onward and the first room they come upon has a satyr and a massive plant which Aiwendil identifies as a tendriculos. The satyr greets the party and introduces himself as Poryphanes.
Using his guile and natural charms, the satyr negotiates with the party to help him complete a task from Baba Yaga which binds him to the complex. In exchange for their help, he agrees to pass along the information he knows of “this statue.” The party asks what it would take to complete his task and he states that he must feed 100 life forms to the tendriculous and that he is currently 19 lives short. Understanding that if they refuse, he will attempt to feed them to the plant, the party agrees to help him. Aiwendil “summons” 19 small creatures which are in turn captured and fed to the giant plant. With their bargain complete, the satyr provides information on all locations and a general description of room occupants of the rooms in the statue. When pressed for details on capabilities of the occupants, and information regarding the other statues, he states that was not part of the bargain and then leaves with a cackle. After he leaves, the party decides to make haste and depart as well before the plant needs to feed again.
Following the information provided by the satyr, the group comes upon a room which was described as “the home of the coven.” Inside they find a large cavernous area which has been subdivided into separate rooms by leather and hide curtains (some of which might actually be human skin). Aiwendil assumes rat form and explores the area. He comes upon a beautiful maiden in the largest of the rooms. Suspecting something odd, he inspects the maiden and notices the unholy symbol of Mestama. He attacks (from behind) which accidently sets some of the hides on fire. Enraged by the attack, the maiden drops her disguise and is exposed as a large annis hag named Caigreal. The party comes together quickly and soon overcomes the large monsterous beast. Rather than wait for the rest of the coven to arrive, the party quickly gathers what they can and exits.
Next the group comes into a small grotto area which has a bright column of light coming from a hole in the floor. As the party makes its way through the relatively empty, but bright room, they come under attack from several tiny lurkers in the light. Still in rat form, Aiwendil is able to cover the hole which brings the room into complete darkness and is they are easily able to dispatch the creatures as the darkness hinders their powers.
The party next discovers the room that Poryphanes described as “where my bitch wife resides.” The room is thoroughly disgusting with blood and gore everywhere and a center pool of blood which appears to have two freshly killed frost giant corpses floating at the edges. As they begin to explore the area around the blood pool, the party is attacked by Kyrisjana, a depraved nymph who unleashes some significant damage on the fighters, with the bulk going to Svala. It takes a major group effort before she is overcome and killed by the party.
Taking a short respite to recuperate and heal, the party presses onward following the satyr’s directions and comes upon the “home of Artrosa’s Warden.” Hunter is the first one in the room and finds another beautiful maiden standing in the center along with a large bull. As she beckons him forward he fires off an arrow which hits the maiden in the stomach. She gives him a look of disgust and then disappears, leaving the party alone to deal with the bull, which transforms into a gorgon and charges to attack. Ingvar absorbs two blocks of the beast to halt the charge and the party is able to gang up on it and put it down after much effort as it is heavily resistant to much of their damage.
Again, after yet another heal session, and with a potential enemy now roaming the halls, the PCs decide to press on toward the next room which the satyr described only as the “Test of the Maidens”. The room is simply adorned with three small bowls on pedestals. After some examination of the items and of the images on the wall, Alabaster is able to deduce this is a ritual room and deciphers the proper order and placement of the ritual items in the bowls. With the riddle solved, the group is easily able to exit the room down a long corridor.
Thirty yards down the corridor, the group notices that the mosaic pattern on wall changes.