Reign of Winter

Well ... Knock on the Door
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.

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Over the River and Through the Hoofwood
29 Neth, 4713 – Iobaria, The Hoofwood (Rashalka Camp)

In the morning Chieftan Kaag summons the party to his tent where he thanks them for helping in the defense of the clan from the previous night. He escorts them back outside and in a simple but formal ceremony in front of the clan, he present each party member with an amulet which signifies that they are recognized as clan members and “friends of centaurs.” Lastly, he introduces a guide for the party who will lead them to Artrosa, a young Rashalka scout by the name of Erdija

The first day is spent with the party learning about their guide and she about them. She is amazed by the group, as like most of the tribe, they are the first humans she has met and so she enjoys sharing tales. She soon establishes a report with Alabaster.

30 Neth, 4713 – Iobaria, The Hoofwood

As the party progresses through the woods they come upon a clearing. When they get half way across, they notice they are being watched and notice a large armored man sitting on a massive elk. Erdija warns the party that they are being shadowed by a cold rider. As the party passes through the clearing, the rider attacks. Hunter launches a volley of arrows as the rider charges and hits him with two critical strikes. The creature misses with swings of its icy glaive and is hit by the devastating attacks of Ingvar and Svala as he passes through the group and attempts by his elk to gore any members is also unfruitful. Having sustained a large amount of damage and dealing none in return the rider flees back into the forest and leaves the party in peace. The rest of the day is uneventful, but Aiwendil and Hunter keep eyes out in case the rider returns.

1 Kuthona, 4713 – Iobaria, The Hoofwood

Breaking camp, the group proceeds onward and exits the Hoofwood early in the morning. Soon they are on a regular path and by midday they reach the centaur city of Vurnirn. Erdija says she brought the group here because if their stories are only half true, they may need to find some human provisions. The group takes Erdija’s suggestion and decides to wait and rest for a few days, sell and buy goods to replenish their supplies, and to repair armor. Even though the town is built to cater to centaurs, the PCs are able to find some accommodations for humans. Erdija tells the group that although humans are more accepted in town more so than other areas of the Hoofwood, she recommends that they make no references to Artrosa while here as the mere mention of anything related to Baba Yaga could likely get the group expelled.

2-4 Kuthona, 4713 – Iobaria, Vurnirn

Much like the camp, the party are minor celebrities for the time they are in town as long as they don’t cause any problems. In the end they decide to stay three extra days. Ingvar cuts a deal with a local blacksmith and is able to use his forge to create armor and weapons for him and Svala. Tacey acquires some new gear from somewhere in town and since “no on came to look for it, don’t be questioning me about how I got it.”

5-9 Kuthona, 4713 – Iobaria, Deeprun Crevasse

With the party finally geared up and reprovisioned, they depart Vurnirn to begin their actual trek toward Artrosa. Erdija leads them down the steep path which leads down from the top of the cliff down to the rocky floor of the landscar known as the Deeprun Crevasse. They are somewhat surprised to find that parts of the forest has extended to the other side of the large canyon. Here the Crevasse is a mile wide, put Erdija explains that the width varies from a few hundred feet at some points to almost 4 miles wide at its widest point.

Reaching the bottom of the massive ravine, the floor is rocky and enshrouded with an extension of the Hoofwood which has reached the bottom in the vicinity of the village.
Now that the group is headed directly toward Artrosa, Erdija relays the history of Artrosa as has been passed down as lore amongst the centaurs. She also passes along what little she knows of the history of the frost giants, much of which she believes is nothing more than myth to scare young centaur children. One final story she relates is the rumors of a huge white dragon which makes its home within the Deeprun Crevasse near where Artrosa is located.

The boulder-strewn floor of the crevasse makes travel slow and the party moves along at a careful but watchful pace along the river’s edge. As they make their way further and further north, the trees of the Hoofwood give way to the icy tundra ground of the Ice Steppes. The temperature drops and the air becomes filled with fog and haze. The journey up the Crevasse is tiresome as the ground is broken and rock strewn and there are occasional signs of failed past expeditions but all in all the trip is uneventful.

Early in the afternoon of the fifth day, the group breaks into a wide part of the ravine as they come around a bend in the river and get their first glimpse of the imposing sight of Artrosa. Consisting of three massive stone rock statues rising over a half-mile tall, all three statues are that of a semi-nude female each with a hand extended as if warning away any visitors. The three forms all seem to bear the face of the same woman, but depicting her in three stages of womanhood; one maiden, one mother, one crone. Alabaster asks if anyone thinks the statues resemble Baba Yaga in appearance and Erdija replies that very thought is one rumor about the fortress.

The three massive stone rock carvings rise above the floor of the crevasse and catch the late afternoon sun which gives them a glowing appearance in contrast to the shadows at the bottom of the crevasse. As it is late in the day and there is no door discernable at the foot of any of the statues, the group decides to camp overnight and begin their search of the ancient site in the morning.

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Meeting the New Neighbors
27 Neth, 4713 – Iobaria, The Hoofwood

Before the party can make plans, a group of nine frost giant warriors attack the Hut with boulders and massive tree-clubs, certain that Baba Yaga has returned to inflict some calamity upon them. The Hut leaps into action and defends itself from the attack without any prompting from the characters. The battle is swift and vicious outside, but to all those watching inside, they feel very little in terms of shaking or impacts. After a few minutes, the battle is over and nine giants dead in the snow within the confines of a forest-lined clearing.

The PCs exit the Dancing Hut to inspect the carnage. Many of the bodies bear the marks of battle, deep cuts, blood, broken limbs and even some limbs missing. The Hut does not even show a scratch even though the party witnessed at least a dozen impacts by boulders and clubs slammed into the side of the Hut. Examining the nearby woods, and general natural signs, Svala makes a guess they are located in the Eastern part of Iobaria in what she says is the Hoofwood Forest. What little she knows of the legends of Artrosa is that it was located in the East and North from her homelands around Kridorn. She says they should head East until they find some landmarks or otherwise which can give them a clue as to their exact whereabouts and any information regarding Artrosa.

Although dressed for the weather, the party finds the travel slow as they no longer have their sleds from Irrisen. After roughly an hour of trudging through the snow they encounter a large hunting party of centaurs. One of the scouts cautiously approaches and introduces himself as Salkin and states he witnessed the party come out of the Dancing Hut after it destroyed a large band of frost giants. Although mistrust is high when word of Baba Yaga’s Hut is mentioned, the party is able to apply charm (through large amounts of Diplomacy and mead) and eventually win over the trust of the centaur group. They agree to lead the PCs to their camp so they can talk to their Chieftain, Korak Kaag

Not long after the groups depart together, the sun begins to set. Aiwendil senses this is much earlier in the day from what the group is accustom and makes an inquiry with the centaurs who state that this is typical for this time of year. When pressed, the centaurs relate that the date is 27 Neth. The party realizes that somehow not only has the Hut transported them across a vast distance, but across time as well. Alabaster mentions another possibility that time works differently inside the Hut than outside. Either way the party knows it is several months later than when they left. The group sets up camp for the night and there are no encounters.

28 Neth, 4713 – Iobaria, The Hoofwood

Proceeding the next day, the party eventually arrives at the tribes main camp. With very few centaurs ever seeing a human, the party is met with much awe and wonder before they are ushered into the presence of the Cheiftain. Word has reached camp of the PCs arrival in the Hut prior to reaching the camp, leading Korak Kaag to be initially suspicious. He asks the party the typical “Who are you and why are you here in our lands?” type of questions. The party provides answers to all Kaag’s questions and even is able to impress him with some tales of their adventures to date and displays of skills. A feast is ordered in honor of the strange but welcome guests.

Naturally, the PCs ask for aid and information about Artrosa, and although accepting of their tales and allowing the PCs to make camp with them for the night, He is some what reluctant to send any warriors out with the PCs as he is concerned with the information that frost giants roam the area as well. He says he will give them an answer in the morning after conversing with the elders. The PCs are allowed to spend the night (under the watchful eye of three guards) in one of the centaurs’ tents to rest.

29 Neth, 4713 – Iobaria, The Hoofwood (Rushalka Camp)

Several hours into the night, Hunter is standing watch at the tent flap when he notices several strange creatures appear in the darkness and begin to attack the camp. He rouses the party and they spring into action to defend the camp and themselves from a group of andrazku demons. The fighting is brutal and several centaurs are hurt but the carnage would have been much worse if not for the skill of the party who eventually kills off all the demons. When Korak Kaag sees that the party has defended his people he immediately declares any aid he can provide in their hunt for Artrosa. The remainder of the night is peaceful as the camp recuperates and recovers from the attack.

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Flip this House
13 Erastus, 4713 – The Dancing Hut

Once the disorientation wears off, the party questions Zorka on what happened. She explains that with the addition of the keys to the cauldron, the Dancing Hut has teleported to a new location tuned to those keys. She says she knows how the teleport works but does not know where any specific keys are or what location they represent. Alabaster asks if there is a way to find out and she says there might be a book in the library. He asks her if she will fetch the book for him, even going so far as to offer her a small gift for assisting. She agrees and jumps into her hidey hole behind the fireplace. After several minutes she returns with a huge tome that appears to be several hundred pages thick which is titled “Locations and Landmarks, Vol I”. Alabaster is allowed to examine the book, but not to keep it.

Hunter decides to try using the Map Room to determine their location, but notice the door leading to it is gone. When he opens the door which he believes leads outside, he finds that it opens into a seemingly endless hallway in both directions and a door across the hall. Exploring the door across the hall, the party finds a storeroom and warrior guardian who speaks a strange language no one recognizes … at least until Svala realizes he is speaking in ancient Iobarian. They speak with him and discover he is Ratibor the Bold, former Iobarian warlord who is now cursed to stand watch and guard the Dancing Hut from all intruders, indicating the opposite doors leads outside. The party asks Zorka is she knows what the next set of keys are that they need and she says no, but indicates there might be clues inside the hut somewhere.

Unable to leave, the party decides to investigate the hallway and begin by heading left from the cauldron room. They walk for what feels like an hour and lose sight of the doors when they come across a single door on the left. Searching inside they find a dark, bramble-filled room. At first things are quiet and then a large raven flies down from the upper reaches of the room to address the party. He give them a riddle and says they are to face a challenge of strength in the next room. The PCs enter the next room and are attacked by a massive fiendish boar. The group defeats the boar and removes its tusk to provide the answer to the riddle. The raven gives Aiwendil an iron amulet and a clue, “This amulet holds only one of the three clues you seek. It reveals the first ingredient for Baba Yaga’s kettle. Look for this key where time catches up to us all.” As he flies off he gives a final message, “Look for the Mother when the moon is full!” Svala and Alabaster are able to translate the rune as ancient Iobarian for dragon

Leaving the side room, the party travels for another hour or so down the hall until they happen upon a second room, this one much darker than the previous one and it also hasa raven inside to greet the party. Charged to solve another riddle; the challenge of wit, the group enters a dark room filled with chalices sitting atop pedestals. Contemplating their options, Ingvar suddenly steps forward and picks up the chalice which answers the ravens riddle and is rewarded with another amulet and another clue, “You have taken upon yourselves a great burden, for that which you desire, the changeling holds. Know this as well — you will find the Crone only when the moon wanes.” The rune on this amulet translates to gold.

Again the party leaves to proceed further down the hallway only to come to another side room after a seemingly endless walk. This one a small garden of honeysuckle and lilac. A third raven challenges the party with another riddle as the previous two did; the challenge of endurance. After encountering an animated dream, the Svala is able to identify the dreams ‘identity as one of Baba Yaga’s former daughters and her greatest desire is freedom from Baba Yaga in form of vengeance. By providing the answer, Svala gets the ravens amulet and the last piece clue, “So be it. Seek now the Sisters Three who are one: Mother, Maiden, Crone. But know that the Maiden is elusive and may only be caught with the waxing moon.” The rune on the amulet is the symbol for Artrosa.

With the three clues, the group discusses what to do next as they feel they have what they need to begin searching for the keys, either retrace their steps through the huts or press forward further down the hallway. Ultimately, the decision is made to press forward and they continue down the hall in the previous direction. Another hour later, they come to a set of doors which are situated across the hall from each other. Checking the one on their left they find themselves back at the storeroom where they met Ratibor and realize they have made a completed what Alabaster calls an infinity loop.

The group questions Zorka and Ratibor on Artrosa and where to find it. Between the two of them, the PCs determine that Artrosa is another home on Golarion for Baba Yaga when she is not travelling in her Hut. Since the group does not know their exact location, they are not sure how far they are from it, but realize that they should be prepared for a long overland journey. Alabaster then points out the window and says they should be prepared for a fight as a large group of frost giants have surrounded the Hut and are preparing to attack.

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What a Lovely Home You Have
13 Erastus, 4713 – Whitethrone

After a brief discussion, the group decides to get off the main path to hopefully find a quiet, isolated place to properly rest and eat. What they find is dilapidated store front with a Winter Guard barricaded inside. She claims the perytons decimated her patrol and she is seeking protection from all threats in the area. After several minutes of persuading, Ingvar, Vadoma, Svala and Tacey are let in and they discover this is the Winter Wolf Greta, the same guard which on post at the gate when the party snuck into town.

At first she attempts to “put the party under arrest” for violation of the orders to remain out of the market, but sensing hat this may be her only real chance to escape, she eventually asks the party to escort her to safety. While the other three discuss this request, she pulls Ingvar aside for a private conversation. Still thinking that he is a Winter Wolf, she privately asks Ingvar why he was unable to keep their date tells being the cause for the confusion. After some small talk that he is not a wolf but is instead a human, his special cape the other night. He apologizes for any confusion he may have caused and agrees to escort her back to the main gate to the Market Square. Ingvar and Svala split off from the main group to lead Greta back while the remainder of the group presses on to search for the final elemental font.

As Ingavr and Svala are gone, the rest of the party heads to the fire light they saw up ahead back on the main path and do come across and large gathering of drunk merchants sitting around a camp fire attempting to seduce three lovely maidens. Sensing something is not quite right, Aiwnedil begins to question the maidens. Nothing seems out of the ordinary with their responses at first, but he then says something insulting in Sylvan and one of the maidens drops the charade and transforms into a hideous creature; they are in fact baccae.

Almost by shear accident, or is it luck, Alabaster successfully puts the merchants to sleep, denying the baccae then chance to turn them against the party and almost certainly causing innocent deaths. The group struggles with the fight as their primary muscle characters are gone. Tacey takes a pretty severe beating and Aiwendil throws himself into the middle of the conflict as best he can as these creatures’ anti-magic abilities means they almost certainly have to be beaten physically. Hunter tries to stay on the fringes as a bow-type fighter, but eventually is drug into close quarters hand-to-hand fighting as well. This is by far one of the hardest fights the group has had so far, but in time, they do succeed in killing these foul creatures and decide to wait here to rest. recuperate and wait for Svala and Ingvar to return.

Once the married couple returns, the party presses on in search of the final font. Shortly after leaving the abandoned store front, the group stumbles upon a dawn piper sitting up in a tree playing a flute. Before anything happens, Hunter fires off a series of arrows and critically wounds the piper, This fight turns out to be rather uneventful as Hunter’s sneak attack pretty much ends it. With the death of the piper this final font is destroyed and Alabaster tells the group that he can sense that the portal blocking access to the Hut is now down.

The group rushes back to the center of the Square where they originally encountered the portal and find that it is indeed deactivated. They can also see a very irate Nazhena waiting for them. As the party enters the main square, they can see that the the hut is shackled to the ground and surrounded by a host of guards both human and monstrous. Nazhena launches into a ranting monologue about how she will get her revenge on the PCs for all they have done to upset her plans and those of her mother and launches a sleet storm and tries to fly up to get above the coming fray. However Aiwendil brings her down with a stone call spell of his own.

The battle launches into a complete frenzy as winter trolls, guards and Ice golems all attack the party in an effort to keep them away from the Hut. During the fighting the Hut itself actually crushes a couple of defenders as they get too close to its confinement pen. The battle is quite intense but is ultimately brought to a shattering conclusion when Nadya, who has been shadowing the party without their knowledge bursts into the midst of the conflict and personally kills Nazhena for the death of her daughter. With their leader dead, the rest of the defenders in the square are soon dispatched, leaving the PCs in control of Baba Yaga’s Dancing Hut

Mystically, the hut recognizes the aura of the Black Rider’s mantle on the party and allows them to approach and they destroy the shackle holding it in place. The PCs ascend the steps and enter the Hut, however, Nadya is denied entrance as she does not carry the mantle. As she hears the approach of more guards, she slips back into the shadows and seeks to escape back to her uncle’s home.

Once inside the Hut, the party is confronted by Zorka. This strange creature initially hides from party, but eventually recognizes the aura of the Black Rider’s mantle and approaches them cautiously. As a test she tricks them into going into the map room where they are attacked by a huge bone golem. The fight is intense but brief as Svala and Ingvar are able to score key critical hits.

Exploring the Hut, the group quickly realizes that the Hut is much larger inside than outside. Eventually, the group finds the cauldron room and is able to place the two keys they were given into the cauldron which activates the Huts teleportation ability. There is a bright flash and a sense of disorientation and the PCs are no longer in Irrisen.

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This Little Piggy Went to Market
Whitethrone - Day 27
13 Erastus, 4713 – Whitethrone

The party spends the night recuperating from the assault on the clock tower and early the next morning they set out for Market Square. Even though they did a little reconnaissance during the week prepping for Logrivich, they still were not quite sure what to expect beyond the entrance as a thick heavy underbrush had grown up around the entire area. Even though the Winter Guard continually tried to cut it down, the magical nature of the forest enabled it to self heal, growing back almost instantly.

The PCs discover a set of ice trolls guarding the entrance which are easily dispatched. However, they immediately realize that although the Hut is at the center of the Square, it is not without its own defenses, beyond what Queen Elvanna and her proteges have put in place, the group finds a magical energy portal blocking their path to the Hut (it even prevents Aiwendil from flying up and over the trees to get to the Hut). Alabaster realizes that the PCs have discovered a reality siphon and that the entire area is potentially in danger. He knows that there are at least three elemental fonts serving as anchors which need to be destroyed before they will gain access to the Hut. Hunter is able to discern that Lady Nazhena Vasilliovna is trapped beyond the siphon, waiting for the arrival of those who desecrated her home.

Searching the entrance area, Hunter discovers some strange tracks which leads down a partially hidden path. Following the tracks, the PCs discover the first font which takes the form of a unique fountain where water flows up defying gravity even as the snow falls from the sky. The PCs engage in a small conversation with a creature known as a dawn piper who is guardian of the font. He insists that he is here to claim the Dancing Hut as his property. After the discussion breaks down, the piper calls out to a hidden twigjack ally to attack. The combat is quick and vicious with the piper killed and the ally fleeing. With the piper’s defeat the font is destroyed when it implodes.

Although a path leads out of the clearing, Aiwendil flew ahead to investigate and returns with a simple silver necklace. Misunderstanding the meaning, the group back tracks and follows the path in the opposite direction. Following the path leads to a house which is teetering precariously in the branches of a tree within the forest maze. Coordinated efforts between Aiwendil, Ingvar and Hunter leads to the safe rescue of two small children and their injured father before the house collapses.

The group continues to follow the path around the collapsed house and eventually come to another open area. This time the font takes the form of a large floating rock platform which is surrounded by rotating boulders. At the center stands the form of another dawn piper who introduces himself as Ravathiel. Much like the earlier piper, he states his intention to resist the party as he claims the Hut as his own. This time the combat is a but more intense and several of the party members are knocked off the boulders attempting to climb up to piper. He is able to launch a stone call and fireball attacks which inflict some significant damage to the party, but ultimately, they are able to survive the attacks and in time Svala and Ingvar get close enough to gang up against the piper while Hunter hits him with a critical bow shot.

After a very well-timed channels by Vadoma, the group presses on deeper into the maze. Coming around a bend they see what appears to be a campfire up ahead through the falling snow. As they approach, they are set upon by a mated pair of perytons. The attack is vicious and Ingvar takes a solid hit, but manages to withstand the terrible mauling as the party sets upon the creatures. After much blood is shed on both sides, the two beasts are dispatched and Vadoma heals Ingvar. After the brutal struggle the group decides they need to rest and look for a safe place to shelter for a spell. They discover a small narrow path leading deeper into the maze and are faced with a choice, follow the path or head to the fire ahead.

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Hickory Dickory Dock
Whitethrone - Day 26
12 Erastus, 4713 – Whitethrone

After a week of preparations, the PCs decide the best time to attack is shortly after lunch when the guards will be somewhat prone to lethargy from being fed and from boredom of just sitting around the tower. Right before the party leaves, Solvieg asks them for a personal favor; to rescue her former lover who is being held prisoner in the tower by the dragon. Setting out shortly before lunch through town toward the Iron District where the clock tower is located, they arrive in the early afternoon.

As they approach the main ground entrance to the tower, they activate two carytid column guardians. A swift battle ensues, but is quickly dispatched without drawing any attention to the group as entrance is on the back side of the building away from most pedestrian traffic. Once inside the group encounters a couple groups of ice troll guards, one of which is still in the process of eating lunch. Although troublesome, these guards do not prove too difficult and are easily put down. A quick examination of the meal enables the Vadoma and others to determine that the trolls are eating the remains of small humans or children.

The PCs next encounter what appears to be a jail cell where they fight off a wiikiwak and a larger female ice troll who is captain of the guard. Again the fight is intense, but the PCs well coordinated attacks makes short work of the tower’s defenders. The rescue a small group of children being held in the cells who provide information on the occupants of the tower’s upper floors, to include one of their friends who was taken upstairs “by Granny Nan just this morning.” The kids also give incomplete information on “the two dragons”, “the weeping lady who sings”, and “Granny’s ghost”.

The PCs decide that they will send Ten-Penny will escort the kids back to the Shrine as she has the best chance of blending in with the crowd and can keep a low profile while keeping the kids safe. Once that is decided, the PCs proceed up into the top floors of the tower.

On the next floor, the group finds a small room where a child is being held in isolation. Although unharmed, the group is well aware of the child’s fate if they do not act quickly. They discover Granny Nan, a Jadwiga crone witch who immediately attacks to preserve the sanctum of the tower. In a calamity of errors, Aiwendil is hit by a curse by the witch which cause him to fumble his attack and effectively blocks the entrance while stumbling around to retrieve the spears he dropped. This temporarily isolates Svala with Granny Nan and her “ghost”, an attic whisperer. However, she is able to hold off their spells and attacks long enough to attack back and for the others to come to her assistance to finish off the crone.

In the next room over, the PCs are attacks by the tower’s second “dragon”, a large animated iron stove which rumbles and bellows as it attacks Svala, Acting quickly she grabs its two front legs and flips it backwards rendering it more vulnerable to the group’s total attacks and thus are able to beat off this menace as well.

On the next floor up, the party discovers the prisoner; a Chelish opera singer by the name of Bella Belvorica. she explains her blight and thanks the party profusely for her rescue. She indicates the dragon Logrivich is upstairs in the upper clockworks. The party sends her down stairs to protect the child on the floor below and wait for their return.

The final assault is a perfectly timed accident which plays to the party’s benefit. Aiwendil and Hunter approach flying from the outside, invisible. The rest of the party sneak up to a trapdoor entrance from the main clockworks. The dragon had set up a small bag of loose coins on top of the trapdoor as a signal for any intruders to her level. When Svala and the others open the door, the coins jingle which causes the dragon to turn to see who approaches, with plans to use her breath weapon and freeze them.

However, as the dragon turns, Aiwendil unleashes his stone call spell while Hunter lets loose with a burst of arrows, one of which is a massively critical hit (pretty much maxxed out every roll). Enraged, the arrogant dragon turns back and takes flight to see who dares to assault it, allowing the rest of the party to come up the ladder unimpeded. Logrivich let’s loose with its breath weapon wildly in hopes of catching any nearby attackers, but Aiwendil and Hunter are out of range. Even though in flight, the dragon is caught between all attackers and is dispatched quickly, sending its dead body plummeting to the ground.

With the Iron Guard from the tower defeated, the party activates one of the signal falres given to them by the Solveig, and very slowly, they can hear the sounds of local skermishes rising over the sounds of the city; the former Winter Guard is attacking the Queen’s Iron Guard. The party makes haste in collecting any spoils they can gather and then vacating the tower to head back to the Shrine of the Everbloom to make their final push toward Market Square and the Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga.

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Help Me to Help You
Whitethrone - Days 19-25
5-11 Erastus, 4713 – Whitethrone

The PCs set out early in the morning to head into Whitethrone in order to meet up with Ringeir’s resistance contacts and to exchange gear and replenish their supplies. With their newly forged papers, the PCs have little problems getting through the gates and into town. Even though society as a whole is repressed, the city itself is beautiful, if not a bit creepy at times, as compared to other cities in the realms. Ringierr leads the group to The Floes district to a small bathhouse across the street from the Water Palace, a greenhouse and spa for the city’s ruling elite. In the basement he guides them through a concealed door into the sewers and ultimately into a secret church to the goddess Milani, The Shrine of the Everbloom. At the shrine they are introduced to Solveig Ayrdahl, the head cleric of the church and leader of the Winterthrone contingent of the Heralds of Summer’s Return.

She explains the current situation in town with the overthrow of the Iron Guard and being replaced by Elvanna’s Winter Guard. She explains the situation with the Dancing Hut being shackled in the Merchant’s Square and the sudden appearance of a mysterious brambles and thickets which have grown up in town around the hut. She says that currently the Winter Guard are under the direction of Nazhena Vasilliovna and are desperately dealing with the situation with the square with little effect as any brambles cut down during the day are replaced overnight as it seems to be constantly growing. She does however offer a plan to the group which could allow them to gain access to the Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga with little interference from the authorities.

She offers that the Winter Guard commander known as Logrivich is stationed out of a clock tower near the Bone Gate. If the PCs were to kill him or otherwise decommision him, then she could get the former Iron Guard to revolt and provide the PCs with a distraction long enough to get to the Market Square and get to the Hut. The PCs agree with the overall plan but insist on some time to make preparations and trade in some gear and accumulated treasures to lessen the load they are carrying.

All in all, the group scouts out the town for about a week.

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Your Papers Please
Whitethrone - Day 18
4 Erastus, 4713 – Whitethrone – The Howlings

Ringeirr tells the party he will help them acquire papers to explain their presence in Whitethrone, but they will have to help him deliver some food supplies to some one of the resistance houses in town. With not many options, they agree. Ringeiir has the party members disguise themselves as some of his workers as they are delivering three carts of fish to the city. Nadya and Ten-Penny are elected to stay behind in case something goes wrong in order to mount a rescue, if needed. The party agrees to get them a set of papers for them even though they are not entering the city and they set out.

Skirting around the outside of the city walls, they eventually approach the gate to the Howlings district which is little more than a hole in the wall which the White Wolves have opened to come and go as they please. There is a female guard on duty and after a brief exchange and examination of the carts, she allows them to enter without much fanfare. However, before they clear the gate, she guard mistakes Aiwendil for a White Wolf in human form and invites him out for drinks later. Although courteous, he decides to ignore the invite.

Getting through the gate, the party makes their way to a secret safe house where Ringeirr is delivering the fish. At one point the party is challenged by a group of snow goblins out to extort some money from travellers, but Ingvar is able to Intimidate the goblins in leaving as his rimepelt makes the goblins believe that he is a Winter Wolf. Afterwards the group hides among some alleys to avoid the attentions of some mirror men, but ultimately they make it to the house relatively unobserved and make the delivery.

After delivering the fish to the safe house, the PCs begin to make their way back through The Howlings to meet up with Ringeirr’s contact for getting their papers. On the way Ingvar is accosted by two inebriated Winter Wolves who mistake him for one of their companions. Ingvar is able to Bluff his way past them and send them on a wild goose chase.

Afterwards the PCs encounter a man as he is obviously fleeing from someone. The someone turns out to be Winter Wolf in human form who states the man is an escaped slave and should be returned immediately. The PCs recognize that returning the man will result in his death or significant torture so rather bargain for his release. Believing that Ingvar and Aiwendil are both Winter Wolves (due to their rimepelts) the man agrees and leaves the group alone.

Even though the encounter is rather peaceful, it has drawn the attention of two large ice troll guards who begin to move down the street to investigate the commotion. The PCs are able to escape into the cul de sac where their contact is located and get inside before the guards can find and identify them. Once inside they are introduced to Mortiin, scribe and bookkeeper by day, resistance forger by night. After a brief discussion, the group all agrees that the best course is for the papers to pass off the PCs as Jadwiga Tashanna. He also gives them papers for authorization for conducting a gang and gang activities, specifically a stilyagi social gang known as the Winterblight of Taldor. In the case of Tacey, she is identified as the half-orc bodyguard/servant of Nadya (since neither one is present at the time).

With papers in hand, the group departs Mortiin’s home and returns to the relative safety of Ringeirr’s home in The Fishcamps. He tells the PCs that he will bring them to the Hideout of the local resistance leaders who can hopefully given them any further assistance they need and provide them with information regarding the Dancing Hut and the situation in Whitethrone.

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Rescuing Ringeirr
Thronehold - Day 17
3 Erastus, 4713 – The Fishcamps

With the immediate danger to Tacey eliminated, the party gets about to infiltrating the warehouse and dealing with the antagonists in town. The doors to the warehouse are unlocked and easily ripped open by Ingvar. The group proceeds to pick their way though a maze of aisles formed by stack of crates and boxes, coming under near constant attack from bandits, while a single bowman on a balcony peppers them with arrows.

Slowly the party makes their way through the horde of ruffians and thugs and kills the major muscle for the bandit lord, a pair of ogres who answer to the leader of the bandits, Marcian Enixion. Whether he over estimated the ability of his thug band or underestimating the PCs, the leader is cornered and killed in a last ditch effort to escape from the PCs.

A thorough search of the warehouse finds Nadya’s uncle being held in an upstairs office. Just as two guards are about to kill him the PCs burst in and save him before they are able to carry out their plan. With the local thugs defeated, Ringeirr offers the party sanctuary in his home while in the Fishcamps, which they gladly accept.

The rest of the day and night is filled with everyone getting to know the local area as Ringeirr brings them up to speed on events in Whitethrone and the party shares there stories with him. Ringeirr says the first thing the party needs before taking any actions in Whitethrone are papers and he has a contact in The Howlings District which can provide them. He agrees to take you to him tomorrow.

During the course of the evening, Nadya informs her uncle on what all has transpired in Waldsby and the death of her daughter at the hands of the White Witch Nazhena Vasilliovna.
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