Reign of Winter

There's Something Fishy in The Fishcamps
Thronehold - Days 16-17
2 Erastus, 4713 – The Village of Ellsprin

The PCs pack up their sleds and depart Ellsprin and begin their path along the north shore of Glacier Lake toward Whitethrone. The day is largely uneventful but their are a few sightings of fishermen out on the lake in the distance. As the group progresses west they snowfall becomes more constant and the party eventually makes camp to weather the storm overnight.

3 Erastus, 4713 – The Plains to Thronehold

The snows from the nigh before have declined to a light but constant flurries. Shortly after lunch, the group comes upon a double bridge which crosses a double stream. The bridge is being “guarded” by some freshwater merrows who demand a “toll to cross.” Have the group is able to intimidate their way past the creatures but Aiwendil and Tacey are trapped on the near side away from the rest of the group. As Hunter crosses, he notices a dead body under the bridge and demands to have a look at it. The creatures refuse and a fight breaks out. After an intense but brief struggle, the party defeats the foul water-based fiends and discover the corpse of the traveling merchant. They collect his remains and give him a proper burial and then continue on their journey.

By early evening the group reaches the small collection of shacks and make-shift shelters which form The Fishcamps. As they explore the village they get a sense that things are very tense. In fact, the person they are wanting to meet, Nadya’s cousin Ringeirr Malenkov has been arrested for disturbing the peace. Thorugh some diplomatic negotiations and careful searching, the party finds out that he is being held captive in a warehouse down near the docks. by a local group of thugs known simply as the Fishcamps Guards.

When the PCs arrive at the warehouse, they find a small group of these toughs beating a defenseless man outside the warehouse. When the PCs try to intervene to rescue the mugging victim, the thugs try to take out their frustrations on the party and attack in a crowded alleyway. During the course of the attack Tacey tries to come around the bandits backside and come up behind them, but she instead runs headlong into a guard who in turn grapples her and the pair wind up rolling into the lake and fall through the ice. As the struggle on land comes to an end as two “guards” escape into the warehouse, Aiwendil transforms into an octopus and jumps into the water to save Tacey from drowning beneath the frozen surface. Eventually, the group is able to defeat all the ruffians in the alleyway and retrieve Tacey from the waters and get her some warm clothing before she begins to suffer from hyperthrmia.

View
No Moss Grows on Pjallerane's Stone
Thronehold - Days 13-15
30 Sarenith, 4713 – The Plains of Thronehold

Breaking camp the next day, the party soon crosses over into the province of Thronehold. There is no border or distinctive markings so the transition is not clearly defined. However, a few hours into the morning the group comes upon a clearing in a patch of trees which has no snow and is clearly much much warmer. in fact, all the snow in this particular clearing has melted off. Aiwendil, Hunter, The Half-Elves and Vadoma walk in further to investigate while Tacey, Alabaster and Nadya remain with the dog sleds as the sleds can not traverse cleared region, primarily because the melted snow has left the ground too soft to bear the weight of the laden sleds.

As the group ventures further in they discover a small stone with a druidic magical rune cast upon it which seems to be at the center of the clearing. Aiwendil and Hunter speculate that this is the work of the Heralds of Summer’s Return. They spread out hoping to make contact with the person (or persons) responsible, but are unable to finds any more signs or traces of the druid responsible.

They return after a couple of hours and find Alabaster is missing. Tacey and Nadya explain that while the party was gone, they witnessed a snow goblin hunting party track down and kill a large elk. While the party claimed the beast, one of the goblins approached their group with an odd request, Nadya surmised that this was the shamen. He asked that their tribe was facing a possible conflict with two other tribes which were all “Guardians of the Queen” and they needed help in settling the stalemate. Alabaster bravely (or stupidly) volunteered to go. “I did this to keep you lovely ladies from harm’s way.” he would later say (which draws smirks from both Tacey and Nadya, and they begin to tease him by referring to him as “our hero.”) Hunter asks in which direction they went and begins to follow the trail.

As Hunter is making progress he hears and sees Alabaster running frantically toward him. Winded the wizard relates very quickly about the incidents at Pjallerane’s Stone and the attack upon the goblins by the Cold Sister. Both quickly return to where the group and makes immediate preparations to leave. They give the already shrinking clearing a wide birth on the far side away from the Stone and head off closer to Glacier Lake. Alabaster will later mention some form of strange magic radiating from the stone itself, but due to circumstances, he was unable to get close to study it. The rest of the afternoon is uneventful although late in the day, a ominous plume of smoke can be seen rising in the general direction of the Stone.

Late afternoon noon as the party comes upon the ruins of a small village. There are no signs of life as every building appears to have been destroyed and abandoned. The only exception is a walled off chapel near the towns western edge. As they approach, the party sees the building has been damaged like the others, but there appears to be a priest roaming the courtyard grounds. When the party enters, He tells the party to “Hurry along children with the others. You all need to stay together.”

Ingvar and Svala lead the group forward and as they reach the center of the courtyard, a haunt is triggered in which ghostly visions of children scream and cry, pleading to “Save us!” and “Don’t let them take us!” and it appears the chapel is coming under some attack from horrible creatures. With the haunt activated, the priest transforms into its true form of a huecuva and is joined by 2 others which attack the party. Svala and Ingvar are affected by the haunt and initially freeze in their tracks but are able to defend themselves from attack while the rest of the party fights off the and kills the offending undead creatures.

With the immediate threat eliminated, the group explores the remains of the chapel and discover an immaculately stained glass window in front of an overturned alter. Alabaster finds a journal which tells the story of what happened in the village of Ulsgaard. This was a temple to Desna whose priests were charged to protect the town’s children during the Winter War Invasion over 1400 years ago. When the priests tried to barter away the children for their own protection, they were all killed as well as the children. As punishment for their betrayal of faith and vows, Desna cursed the priests by turning them into the undead huecuva and the unbroken window of her holy symbol is a constant reminder of their failings and of the life they rejected.

High Summer, 4713 – The Village of Ulsgaard

The party spends the night and in the course of evening sleep, Vadoma receives a dream vision of butterfly which tells her to cleanse the yard. The next morning she informs the group and they determine that they are being summoned to cleanse the yard of the evil betrayal and doing so will allow the restless spirits of the betrayed children to find peace and rest. Aiwendil communes with his Earth spirits and based on the timing of High Summer, he is granted the spells needed to clear a small spot of ground and plant a new tree in the courtyard. Although it is not a perfect solution, the entire party receives a calm blessing as if the goddess accepts the gesture and the spirits are allowed to calmly pass into the afterlife. The rest of the day is spent very carefully and meticulously dismantling the elaborate stained glass window to deliver this treasure to a proper temple where it can once more serve the Church of Desna as originally intended. The group spends one more night in the village, a very quiet and peaceful night.

1 Erastus, 4713 – The Village of Ulsgaard

The PCs break camp and continue their trek toward Whitethrone. The day is uneventful until they come to the outskirts of another small town called Ellsprin where her cousin lives.
On the extreme outskirts, they come upon a house where there appears to be a dead body laying in the snow of the courtyard. Investigating, they are attacked by a group of winter fey quicklings and a twigjack. The PCs defeat the wicked fey and find out that they were tormenting the a family. The woman of the house gave birth to a faun child after being seduced by a satyr years ago and the fey had used this story as the premise to attack the family and killed the stepfather in their assault and would have done the same to the mother and siblings if not for the timely arrival of the party. Through their efforts, the family is reunited and is able to make peace over what occurred years ago. The faun son decides to stay and protect the family and learn to cope with the “rumors of the village”.

The woman of the house makes friends with Nadya and is able to convince her to leave the boys with her, that way if the White Witch decides to take action against Nadya for the destruction of the Pale Tower, then her cousin’s family can not be used to track down the whereabouts of the children. Although this is not what Nadya originally wanted, the PCs are able to convince her that it is safer for her children and thus the family at large. She agrees to leave the boys with Marget and her family and has a talk with her boys and explains this will be their home for the next few days. Nadya does tell Marget of the names of her cousins which live in town and in case she does not return, then to let them know of what has occurred.

View
We're on the Road to Whitethrone
Hoarwood - Days 9-12
26 Sarenith, 4713 – The Pale Tower

The party rests up overnight and early the next morning decide to leave for Whitethrone rather than rest further and use the Tower as a base of operations. Nadya states she will escort the party to Whitethrone, but she must return to Waldsby to gather her two sons. She knows that if they remain in Waldsby, they will be targeted by the forces of the White Witches and it is best to relocate them. Nadya proclaims, “I will not lose another child to one of those White bitches.” She knows a family cousin in a small village of Ellsprin, in the region of Thronehold who will help with the children and it is one the path to Whitethrone. The party agrees to escort Nadya back to town to secure her family and to make final preparations for a long cross country journey.

Many in Waldsby silently celebrate the parties efforts once they realize the Pale Tower has been defeated. The group is given much assistance by the Blacksmith, Priest and Merchant in making their preparations for the journey and helping to cover their tracks. Shortly after lunch, the party departs from Waldsby, initially heading south, but eventually turning back west once away from town so that any guards trying to track them down will be misled and search in the wrong area. Nadya also leaves notes that the group is headed for the border near Nadzieja Lato when in fact they are going toward Ludovny before they cut north to go around the eastern end of Glacier Lake.

Once again, the party encounters a large raven swarm but are able to defeat the efforts of these creatures and destroys and scatters much of the tiny spies for the witches. As the party approaches the area near the Pale Tower, they can determine that some group, assumed to be guards or trolls, has returned and reclaimed it so they give it a wide berth.

27 Sarenith, 4713 – Hoarwood Forest

During the second day of the journey the group is encounters and are attacked by a pair of giants known as veds. These creatures form a small hunting party but the group is able to defeat them without too much effort and claim the treasure in their trophy sack. After claiming what little treasure the veds carried, the group presses on uneventfully the rest of the day.

Toward the late afternoon the party spots the town of Luvodny in the distance and Nadya directs them to break from the path and head north across the frozen plains. This starts the group heading north and directly for the shores of Glacier Lake and the province of Thronehold.

28 Sarenith, 4713 – Plains of Hoarwood
Early on the third day they come across a cabin along the edge of the woods and are met by a beautiful red-haired woman who introduces herself as Sylja. She enlists the party’s aid in defeated a moss troll who is terrorizing the nearby area. She suspects the creature has killed her husband as he has not been home in several days which is not like him. She offers a great treasure and the use of her cabin as a overnight shelter in return for their assistance. The party agrees and after a quick bite to eat go in search of the troll.

Hunter soon finds tracks that look human in the area where they are directed to look and thinking it might be the woman’s husband, they follow them to a cave. Inside they encounter a large man covered from head to toe by a green mossy growth and realize that the troll is not a troll, but in fact this man. As they approach he attacks just as Aiwendil is mentally assaulted by some unseen entity. Vadoma determines there is an extra lifeform in the area while the rest of the party defends themselves from the green warrior and they soon realize it is Sylja’s husband Finngarth who has been taken over by a mindslaver mold.

This is a desperate struggle as the half-elves and the rest of the realize that any attack they try and deliver to the mold causes the creature to retract only for Finngarth to suffer the damage. After a while the group is able to subdue Finngarth (without killing him — although he does lose a finger) which forces the mold to abandon the body and seek a new host. Even though the fight is long and tedious, the party is finally able to destroy the mold and sets it remains on fire to insure there is no regrowth.

With Finngarth restored to normal the group escorts him home where he is happily reunited with his wife, which the party now discovers is a huldra. She thanks the party and upholds her agreement allowing the party to rest in the warmth of their home overnight. As an additional reward she gives the party a magical bear trap which provides some special magical detections and protections to its owner as a defensive item.

29 Sarenith, 4713 – Plains of Hoarwood

The next morning the group says their goodbyes and departs, but before they depart, Sylja bequeaths a special “gift” to Aiwendil which blesses him with good luck for the next day. The day itself is relatively uneventful (as a result of the blessing?) and the party makes good time. As the party prepares camp at the end of the day, Nadya sends her sons out to collect fire wood. After 30 minutes, Mjoli returns but Orm is missing and the group stops to investigate the disappearance. Aiwendil assumes the form of a falcon and flies off to search for the boy as the party splits into small groups fanning out in the area he was sent to collect wood.

Aiwendil quickly finds the boy with what appears to be a twisted ankle surrounded by a pack of wolves which seem to be stalking him as prey. (Was it skill or a lucky coincidence that he was found so easily?) Aiwendil calls out so that the other party members can find them and moves down to protect the child as the wolves move in for the kill. Rushing to where they are called, the party is able to very quickly defeat what turns out to be boreal wolvfes and rescue Orm. Then party returns to camp with the boy and wood and settle down to rest for the night. As precautions, Hunter places his newly acquired magical bear trap and Aiwendil prepares a special precautionary spell on his pouch which is carrying the key components for the Dancing Hut.

Shortly after midnight, a minor “explosive” poof wakes the group soon followed by the cries and shrieks of surprised Jinkins who who attempting to pilfer Aiwendil’s pouch. As the small creatures flee the camp, a couple of them wander into the bear trap and activate it killing them. With the immediate threat scattered and gone, the party settles back down for the rest of the night to weather the snow fall and cold.

View
Shutting Down the Portal
The Pale Tower - Day 8
25 Sarenith, 4713 – The Pale Tower

After the battle in the aerie, the party realizes that they still have yet to encounter any witch or a portal so they take the teleport back to the previous level. They determine that the other teleporter must go to some level they have yet to discover and make plans to take it. However, they only have a single teleport key and so they devise a manner in which they can all be in contact with the key when it is activated. Using this group method, the entire party is able to teleport to the top level of the Pale Tower.

As the group thaws out from the teleport, they find themselves in a large chamber with a massive energy sphere. The group can see that it is a representation of Golarion and there are strange energy lines which radiate from bright dots. They figure out that these are locations with other winter portals and they are all feeding into a strange web-like pattern across the globe. An attentive Alabaster literally is able to connect the dots and figures out that there is a ley line of magical energy which connects the dot which represents their location in Irrisen with a site in Taldor, assumed to be the portal in the woods that they used to arrive in Irrisen. However, the parties discovery and study is short-lived as they are attacked by Radosek Pavril.

He attacks with his spells and summoned elementals but the party is able to fend off the brunt of the attack. He attempts to flee to the courtyard and animate the large ice dragon statue, but before he is able to succeed with his plan, Vadoma and Aiwendil fly down from the top and interrupt his plans. They are joined by Nadya who has managed to gain entrance to the Tower while the party was exploring the lower levels. Seeing the witch and knowing his ties to the tower, she runs over and kills the Witch in revenge for the death of her child, Thora. With the threat of the witches and guards over for the moment, the group is able to focus on shutting down the Winter Portal.

An investigation of the Lab areas of the tower’s crown level, Alabaster finds some journals left behind by the White Witch Nazhena Vasilliovna which describes the rituals and spells used to activate the Winter Portal. After studying these journals, Alabaster is able to reverse the magics and the Winter Portal is deactivated … trapping the party in Irrisen.

With the threat to Heldren and Taldor eliminated the party is finally able to catch their breath and do a thorough search of the Tower. They also have time to contemplate the next steps before them as they begin to realize that they must carry on with their promise to the Black Rider and reach the Capital of Whitethrone to secure the Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga.

View
How do you Climb an Icicle?
The Pale Tower - Day 8
25 Sarenith, 4713 – The Pale Tower

After some deliberation and a minor rest, the party decides to begin the long assault up the tower. Remembering the passwords which Hatch had provided, the party goes up one at a time in the following order: Aiwendil, Hunter, Ingvar, Svala, Tacey, Vadoma and Alabaster.

Arriving on the second floor, Aiwendil finds himself faced with the forlarren bard the party previously met on their first night in Irrisen, As he arrives, she is entertaining several winter-touched atomie. As they realize that the person arriving is not a guard, they attack Aiwendil attacks and calls forth a flaming sphere to attack the fey creatures. He focuses the sphere on the bard but she is more resilient than anticipated. Hunter arrives and two atomies are killed, but the third uses its invisibility ability and tries to flee. One by one, the PCs materialize and join the fray while Aiwendil transforms into an eagle to try and go after the fleeing fey. Hunter pumps an arrow into the bard and she too turns to flees. As he moves to after her, an angry spriggan from the kitchen blocks his path and the bard flees into a side room.

As Hunter deals with the spriggan, Ingvar goes after the bard and is followed by Svala and they discover the side room is a library. They discover a healed bard and a large Ulfen woman in guard’s attire. Before the sphere dissipates, the Aiwendil causes it to set the book cases on fire and then goes after the last atomie. As he follows the path of the creature, he enters (flies) into a room where he discovers Lady Argentea from Heldren. He stays here and watches over her to make sure she is not injured in the attacks by the fey.

Hunter finally deals with the spriggan and turns in time to see Ten-Penny caught by a reduce person spell by the last atomie which has rematerialized near the second teleporter. He and Ten-Penny kill off the last creature as Ingvar and Svala deal with the other attackers in the library, but not before the Captain is able to drink a potion and unleash a blast of fire breath at Ingvar.

With the attackers dealt with, Aiwendil, Hunter and Svala question Lady Argentea about her presence. Confusion soon gives way to suspicion and the party is able to reveal that it is not the noble lady but is rather a doppleganger which they easily dispatch while Alabaster puts out the fire in the library and discovers three valuable books. The party conducts a thorough search of this level and finds a conservatory across from the library, As they move through the room, a loud shriek goes up and they are attacked by a hungry plant-creature known as a mandragora. Even though the shriek has an initial effect on a few party members, it is not enough to defeat the group and it does not last long against the total might of the party.

The party finds another teleporter in the hall outside the conservatory but they are tired and depleted for spells so they set up a guard and rest for 8 hours to allow their spellcasters to recharge their spells. Once fully healed and rested, they take the teleporter up to the next level which turns out the be an aerie, There are two large swarms of ravens and a humanoid creature on this level which attack as Aiwendil materializes. He counters with a __gust of wind_ which basically eliminates the two swarms as the birds are blown away. With only the controller left, the party slowly arrives and overpowers her and kills her. As it turns out, this creature is a sylph who is a cleric of Gozreh.

View
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.

View
... 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.

View
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.

View
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.

View
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.

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.