Reign of Winter

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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