Reign of Winter

I take my windpipe and storm off
Bili meets the group (Session 4)

“I Take My Windpipe, And I Storm Off”
Sunday, 9/7/2014
Prologue:
Our intrepid group was wandering through a snowfield dotted with igloos. As they were investigating their surroundings, they went up a slippery slope towards a fountain of ice. Upon reaching the fountain and walking around it, they realized it was some sort of magical gateway. As they were contemplating what to do, an icy blast knocked them to the ground and a wounded black rider appeared from the portal. The frail old man was identified by Ragnar as The Black Rider, Harbinger of the Ice Queen. Baba Yaga sends The Black Rider every 100 years in preparation of appointing the next Queen of Irissen. He told the party a tale of Ivanna, the current Queen, of her treachery and her desire to freeze the whole of Golarion. He implores the group to continue his mission, as he is fatally wounded. The party agrees, after some debate, and enters the portal.
Erastil preserve us:
What a day this has been. We were making good time today until we reached the snow dunes. Out of nowhere, a giant red mantis-like thing attacked one of the dogsleds. The boys managed to get it away before it could kill any of Nadya’s dogs. Apparently big bugs like dwarven flesh as it then proceeded to bite down on my legs and not let go.
As I was being thrown around stuck in its mandibles, with the boys and Nadya trying desperately to get the thing to let me go, four strangers appeared quite literally out of nowhere. Once they got their bearings, they rushed to our aid. I managed to get out of its jaws and fire off a couple of shots. And that’s when things got worse. A giant wasp swooped in out of nowhere, again straight for the dwarf. The hulking human, an Ulfen I think, and his female friend went after the mantis and pounded it down, as their red friend with a tail threw fire bombs at it and then at the wasp. I for one was grateful their fourth companion was a healer. Those bugs took their toll on me
And of course, Nadya and her men almost start a fight with these strangers just because one of them happens to have a raven as a pet. Superstitious fools. They convinced Nadya that they are not witches or demons (well, the red one does have some demon blood in him, but other than being sarcastic and a bit of a torment, he seems alright).
We hurried to get to the campsite before nightfall and made it as the sun was setting. It gets deathly cold at night these days. More like the winter solstice than Midsummer. I need to figure out what is turning the world into an icebox in the summer. Definitely not natural.
Turns out that these new friends are an adventuring company. Ragnar (the hulking one), Cosmina (the otherworldly one), James (the healer), and Khorzo (the red one with a tail that has a mind of its own) were invited by Nadya to camp with us tonight. As we were getting settled, a blue goat-legged lady entered the snow cave. Cosmina and I were a little wary of her, though she made no threatening moves. She introduced herself as Mierel and Khorzo got really comfy with her. Nadya was all nerves and terrified of insulting Mierel. She played the happy hostess. Nadya was acting like Brother Molinor when the abbot would come visit.
After talking for a while, Khorzo and Mierel wanted some alone time. To each their own, I guess.
The rest of us were relieved when Mierel left. We spent some time talking as a group anf getting to know each other. I haven’t figured out why Nadya was so reluctant to give our new friends more information about the area. I will fill them in later.
Snow and Ice and Bears, oh my:
We continued on our way this morning. Everything was going good, until we rounded a corner and ran into a feeding polar bear. I looked at it, it looked at me. I fired off two arrows in the blink of an eye, both finding their mark, which, unfortunately, only made the bear angry. It charged at me, running over Ragnar as it charged up to bite me. Cosmina stepped up to take it down, and the bear tore her throat out with one bite before it batted at Ragnar. Khorzo threw one of his concoctions at it. It burst into flames and killed the bear. Nadya’s men went to work immediately, skinning and butchering the bear. James got to Cosmina and prayed to his god to help him save her. As he did so, her throat regrew, the blood stopped, and she was able to stand immediately, though a little wobbly at first.
Apparently Cosmina has some angel blood in her. Khorzo picked up what appeared to be part of Cosmina’s trachea and asked if he could use it to make a healing potion. He had said that body parts from an angel would be a powerful component in a healing potion. I had to agree, since he didn’t harm her in obtaining it. Apparently, Cosmina loathed the idea, as she grabbed her windpipe from Khorzo and stormed off. Note to self: Never upset anyone with angelic blood. They are ugly when they are angry.

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Session 3

The 4th day of Erastus, 4714

We have finally managed to rid ourselves of that shrew of a noblewoman. Hardly so much as a thank you to us for rescuing her. Though I generally do not consider myself to have much in the way of pride for my homeland, some of these southern customs are impossible to abide. What purpose does this woman have? What role does she serve that she can be concerned only with the next party and whether her dress will be in the current style? She has no use to society… she and those like her are more like parasites. (Side note; remember to pick up a copy of Shalem Avesta’s “Unfamiliars: A Study in Lesser-Known Bonds.” There are some interesting discussions on creatures bound to the body that I should study.)

Leaving Heldren, we made our way back to the lodge of the local rangers, yet at the pile where we burned the corpses of the bandits we’d fought, we could make out footprints. According to Valin and Ragnar, the prints were human-sized, but they dragged, as though limping or carrying a heavy load. The tracks led towards the bridge over the nearby gorge.

Beside a large oak tree near the bridge, four skeletons rose to attack us. One of the four was wearing a heavier suit of armor, but according to Cosmina, the armor of all of the skeletons was over 200 years old, their weapons and armor corroded beyond use. James, the priest of Sarenrae that we came across the other day, could tell that these were not normal skeletons.

There was little to be said of the battle. My own performance was sub-par, and several of us suffered from missed opportunities. My old friend Ragnar displayed his battle prowess and capability of manipulating that massive sword he carries with uncanny speed, cleaving through one skeleton to strike two others. The heavily armored skeleton was later identified by James as some kind of skeletal champion; a more powerful version of the normally mindless undead. The creature was capable of breathing a cone of icy frost at us, which on its second use dropped James and Valin. A quickly mixed curative extract brought James back to consciousness, who was able to use his divine power to aid the rest of us.

Ragnar utterly destroyed one of the normal skeletons during the battle, his greatsword Blutfang cleaving entirely through the chest cavity, but it was Cosmina who destroyed the skeletal champion, charging forward with her lucern hammer; a large polearm with a spike on one side and a hammer on the other. Afterwards, while we took a few moments to catch our breaths, I managed to come across a bottle on one of the skeletons. A quick taste and I could tell it was a light curative potion. I stored it aside; one never knows when you’ll need some quick healing.

The bridge across the gorge was made only of ropes, and swayed dangerously in the winds blowing through the gorge. As it had taken most of the day to get here, and since human eyes are notoriously bad in the dark, we decided to stay the night at the lodge, all of us succumbing the idea of a fire and a roof over our heads.

The 5th day of Erastus, 4714

We woke with the dawn this morning at the ranger lodge in the middle of the Taldan woods. I am quite sure that the snows deepened by at least another two inches overnight. Even being raised among the people of the Linnorm Kings, snows in the middle of summer are unnatural.

Coming outside, we began to debate methods of crossing the gorge, as none of us could exhibit much confidence in the rope bridge, especially after we spotted one of the ropes having been partially cut. The sabotaged bridge would have dropped us into the whitewaters below for certain. Cosmina began planning to fell the large oak tree, which would certainly cross the gorge. However, the time required to undertake this endeavor might let the snows reach Heldren before we were done. Instead, Valin came up with a plan to secure the bridge, crossing slowly and threading one of our own ropes as support until we were all able to cross.

All of us took our time and crossed the bridge slowly and carefully, making sure not to fall into the icy waters below. Only Ragnar, with his usual display of reckless bravado, decided to show his defiance of any danger and crossed twice as fast as the rest of us. Miraculously, he survived. Maybe next time one my bombs should accidently… no. I must not blow up party members over minor indignations. That would be… wrong.

Once across, we noticed additional tracks leading deeper into the woods. Ragnar followed them for a mile or so, then I noticed something off about one of the trees near him. Suddenly it whipped Ragnar with one of its branch-like arms, covering him a sticky sap. Recognizing the plant-like creature as a frost fir, I reacted faster than usual, bringing my crossbow to bear and killing it with a single precise shot. A second frost fir moved to attack us, but Ragnar rushed forward with a battle cry, Blutfang slicing completely through the creature’s bark-like skin. Knowing that frost fir resin can make tanglefoot bags even more of a inconvenience, I managed to collect enough resin for me to use in a few tanglefoot bags.

Nearby, we could see that the snow showed signs of battle, with blood on the ground. After Valin tasted it (disgusting, as I probably could have used an alchemical process to determine its origin), he was able to say that it was human blood. The trail led to a nearby clearing in the grove. Ragnar went first and got his foot caught in a bear trap (I must say, so far he has a perfect record for finding traps). As he and Valin worked to free his leg, Cosmina reminded us of the story in Heldren of a trapper that had seen a giant weasel and had planned on capturing it. Following the blood led us to the corpse of the trapper who’d been badly chewed up. Cosmina quickly claimed his snowshoes, as she was tired of sinking knee-deep into the snow with every step. The hunter’s journal detailed where else in the woods he’d lain other bear traps, and also made mention of a strange hut with a very creepy doll.

Continuing further down the trail, we could make out the site of a hut on the far side of an ice field. Cosmina spotted multiple bear traps, using sticks to set them off while Valin collected them for future use. The trail led to what might have been a clearing, but several boulder-sized chungs of ice littered the ground.

Then came the disturbing part. Cosmina and Ragnar each claim they spotted a young Ulfen girl among the ice boulders. According to them, the girl, who said her name was Thora, looked terrified, that she missed her mother and she “didn’t want the doll.” We entered the field of the ice boulders, and the ice showed us terrible scenes of a childhood of fear, and the faces of the dead. Valin and Ragnar both succumbed to the terror of this imagery. Both stiffened in fear, and when they were able to move again, Valin raced out of the ice field, climbing a tree on the far side to cover us with his bow. Ragnar… typically… began trying to hack away at everything within sight. Surprisingly though, his massive blows did little more than leave small nicks and chips in the ice.

Once he’d calmed down, the rest of us moved out of the ice field closer to the hut. In the doorway was a small doll that Cosmina said looked like the little girl she’d seen in the ice field, only with mismatched eyes. Ragnar began to say we should leave the doll alone, there was nothing to be done about it. Cosmina wanted the doll destroyed and the hut burned, asking me to do so. Suddenly, I was overwhelmed by the idea that the doll should not be harmed. Looking back at it, I am certain my will was overcome by magic, but at the time it seemed perfectly reasonable.

Cosmina charged the doll, missing and managing to become impaled by ice spikes from the door. Valin fired his bow at the doll, missing, and in retaliation I fired back. In retrospect, I’m glad I missed as well. That would have led to an unpleasant conversation. Ragnar tried to pull Cosmina away from the doll, while she tried to strike the doll again, but stumbled into the hut itself. Ragnar then picked up the doll and threw it into the middle of the ice field. I took a look inside the hut to see if there was anything of note while Cosmina raced back outside after the doll. James jokingly suggested burning the hut down, but once he said it, he followed it up with a bolt of fire to the roof, setting the place on fire.

Cosmina found herself unable to overcome her dread at entering the ice field, and the same thing happened to Valin. With both Ragnar and I tired of the direction of this obsession over the doll, Ragnar threw Cosmina over his shoulder and carried her away from the ice field as we progressed deeper into the woods.

As darkness began to fall, we found a suitable campsite. Just as we arrived, Valin collapsed from exhaustion brought on by the cold, and we could see the beginnings of frostbite in his fingers and toes. I quickly offered a brick of blackfire clay to warm himself and we made camp, making sure the fire was high and warm. Cosmina is about to take first watch, then Ragnar and finally myself. A flattened brick of blackfire clay beneath my bedroll will ensure a night of warmth for me. I see no reason to burden the others with this knowledge. Maybe in the morning…

The 6th day of Erastus, 4714

So apparently last night was rather interesting. Despite Valin and James trying to wake me, I had little interest in watching Ragnar wrestling with a white tiger. I’d seen him do it enough with the hunting dogs back home that it could not hold my attention. I believe I mumbled something along the lines of “wake me if there’s three of them.”

Apparently Ragnar and this tiger went back and forth in controlling their wrestling, until a sniper in the tree shot the tiger. Whether Ragnar or the animal was the target no one could tell. I think I remember taking a casual shot at the sniper with my crossbow, but the warmth of the blackfire clay beckoned me back to sleep. Apparently both the sniper and the tiger managed to escape, a feat which left Ragnar infurated, as he had every intention of turning the tiger into a mount. Should I mention that his chances of domesticating an adult, predatory wild animal for a mount without magical assistance are about the same of him winning Golarion’s most charming man in the world award? Eh, maybe it’s best to let him have his fantasy.

We moved forward that morning, beginning to track down the giant weasel that the hunter had been going after. Ragnar was adamant that he was going to turn this one into a mount (perhaps I should get him a hamster and say it’s a miniature giant). In any event, the tracks and blood led us to the lair of not one giant weasel, but a mated pair.

Ragnar rushed forward, cleaving through both of them, which in turn bit him and Cosmina, wrapping their bodies around the two of them. Valin scampered up a tree to shoot at them, but his footing was weak and he fell out of the tree as he shot, nearly hitting Ragnar in the back (that would have been an amusing post-battle conversation to watch). Ragnar slashed at both again, one of the weasels taking a blow that nearly severed its spine. I quickly tossed a bomb a the creature, finishing it off, while Cosmina cut down the other weasel.

With both weasels dead, Ragnar’s dreams of a war sled pulled by giant rodents went down with blades and up in smoke. While we rested, Ragnar and James began to skin the animals and prepare the meat for rations, just in case it was a while before getting back to civilization. Valin and I argued over something trivial regarding the preparation of the meat, all the while Ragnar and James continued to calmly prepare their barbeque.

Cosmina went off to scout during this time, and spotted small tracks… small enough for a doll. She rushed back to draw our attention to the tracks, and we all followed her. However, the tracks had gone missing. Cosmina insisted she wasn’t going crazy, and after pushing through a light layer of snow was able to reveal the tracks… which led back towards our camp.

Hurrying back, we found the small covering over cooking meat had been collapsed, and the giant weasel heads, which had been put on sticks facing out away from the camp, had been turned to look into the camp. Ragnar and James were instantly infurated that someone had decided to “mess with their barbeque.” Ragnar raged that he was going to kill everything in this forest. If he decides to try then maybe I’ll stop back and check on him in 20-30 years.

Moving deeper into the woods and closer into the heart of this unnatural winter, the trail began to lead us to a clearing with several igloos. However, as we approached, a magical trap was sprung by Ragnar as he walked over it (continuing his perfect trapfinding record). Valin and I managed to stay outside the blast, but James was knocked unconscious. Cosmina quickly healed him with a touch, his wounds closing rapidly. A few seconds later, a tiny arrow imbedded itself in Ragnar’s neck. Had it been larger then we might have had to be concerned for the big guy’s life, but this arrow was only the same size as those fired at us by sprites a few days ago.

A moss troll and another fairie emerged from the snow, while James healed himself Ragnar charged the troll. The faerie tossed a thunderstone at Cosmina, but while she was able to shake off the effects of the loud retort, Ragnar was in the blast radius as well and his eardrums popped, leaving him temporarily deafened. Valin fired at th troll, while James and I were shot by the sprites. The troll’s spear found a home in Ragnar more than once, and Cosmina joined his fight against the troll. The sprites began retreating to the igloos, while I took the opportunity to fire at the faerie, that hovered a good thirty feet above our heads.

Swords and spear flashed back and forth in sunlight reflecting off the snow, some blows finding a home in flesh and staining the snow red. Bolts of fire flew from James’ hand, missing their mark and briefly setting fire to nearby trees, but they were quickly snuffed out by snow and wind. Soon enough the troll is felled by Ragnar’s blows, and I got ready to finish it off permanently with one of my bombs. The faerie, showing a great deal of foolhardy bravery, swooped down and with only the barest of touches drained Ragnar of life and health.

Suddenly, a creature of snow and cloud and wind appeared, kicking up a whirlwind of snow. The air elemental began creating blinding wind while Valin moved up to fire at the troll from, quite literally, point blank range (about twelve inches, maybe fourteen). I followed and dropped a bomb on the troll, engulfing it in fire and ensuring that it didn’t regenerate back to life.

Cosmina tried to attack the air elemental, but missed. While the faerie flew back up out of reach, the air elemental slammed Cosmina with a blow of its own and then moved back up into the air and out of reach, avoiding blows from Ragnar and Cosmina and speeding quickly out of sight. Valin and I both shot the faerie with arrows blanched with cold iron. While James performed his duties as a healer admirably, healing Ragnar of some of the damage that the troll and the faerie had inflicted on him, both Ragnar and Cosmina hurled javelins at the fae, both going wide. The faerie began to fly away, and as it did so the elemental reappared, slamming into Valin and breaking the elven man’s neck as the head twisted grotesquely around. Cosmina and I both missed the elemental with our attacks, but James struck true and sent the elemental back to its home plane.

By the time we reached Valin, there was nothing that we could do for him. His neck had been broken, as had several locations in his spine. We rest now for a few minutes, until we can search the huts and move deeper and further into the heart of this unnatural winter and uncover the reason for its occurrence. In the meantime, we shall burn Valindil with full honors. Though I don’t get close to anyone, I suppose he wasn’t that bad of a person. I worship no god, but I wish his spirit the best on its journey to the Boneyard.

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From the private thoughts of Cosmina Dragomir
Session 2

From the private thoughts of Cosmina Dragomir
Dear Journal,
The road we have traveled has been long and slow due to the snow. The snow is such a curious thing considering it is midsummer. I do wonder what or who is causing it. In all of my seventy nine years I have never seen such a thing and it does worry me. Ragnar has mentioned witches, after Valindil picked up that fetish, and the two of them getting into a disagreement over it. I’m not so sure, but I can’t deny the look on Ragnar’s face or the warning tone in his voice. I have known him for many years and I have learned that he is not one to be dishonest and lead anyone astray. I also noticed that he fully believes what he has said to be true. If that is the case then I wonder what the witches will be like and what kind of journey we have set upon to find out.
Our journey has us along a cold road in search for the Lady Argentia, when we were on the road we also heard rumors of a white stag that a boy was swearing that the beast was talking. I think it’s nonsense and that the boy simply had too much mead. If we come across such a beast I would like to have a look for myself. A while ago Korzo was almost eaten by some beast. I think they called it a Tazlewurm. I saw Ragnar cut the beast down before I even had a chance to help out. I’m not so adept to moving on the snow and ice so I arrived just a bit late. Once the thing was dead Ragnar cut the things heart out and ceremoniously ate it. The others were revolted by this act, but I know Ragnar, and it is best not to point out his manners.
Some moments later we were attacked by some winter fairies. I saw Ragnar cut the first one down and the other’s fled. I had a feeling that we haven’t seen the last of them. It was not long after the fairy’s attack that I noticed that Ragnar’s body stiffened. Neither I nor none of the other members of our party seem to notice the animalistic sound that Ragnar told us.
Looking ahead I see this beautiful white stag approach us. Could this be the stag that the boy on the road mentioned? Ragnar ask the stag if he is the talking stag that we have heard rumors about. The stag replied with yes I am. I took a good and hard look at the beast, only to discern that the rest of my party was being tricked! I walked in front of my companions and told them that they were being tricked, that this was no talking stag. The voice was coming from the beast’s mane. As if on cue winter sprite’s appeared and started attacking! We were outnumbered five to four. What made it more difficult was that the damned things kept disappearing on us. We all took minor hits except for Ragnar.
The fight was not off to a good start until I saw Valindil slay one of them with an arrow off to the left. Then to make matters worse I see the stag spear Ragnar in the gut spewing blood onto the snow. I wince as I see my friend wounded so. Korzo then throws a vial of who knows what at the stag injuring the beast. I am amazed that the beast attacked to begin with until an armored sprite flies out of its mane, casting a spell on Ragnar. I see him shrink to half his size! That doesn’t seem to upset him in the least. I hope that the effects of the spell end soon. Out of the corner of my eye I see a human male approach, I wonder who he is.
The fight continues with a few misses from myself, Korzo, and Valindil on the disappearing reappearing fairy’s. These little guys are really a big annoyance, and difficult to hit. The stag turned to run after Ragnar hurt it. He chases the beast but with a nicely aimed arrow Valindil takes the kill. The armored winter sprite lands on the ice. BOOM!! Most of the ice around him breaks. Khorzo and I are still having difficulty with the fairies. I am hit with a tiny arrow. It does not hurt much, just an annoyance really. With a combination of Ragnar’s sword and Valindil’s bow I see the armored fairy go down. I turn my gaze away when Ragnar rips apart his chest and eats its heart! Someone needs to tell him that it’s rather revolting to watch. I understand that it’s his tradition but still.
With the armored fairy dead (and eaten) it seems that the last of the winter sprites have fled, maybe now we can continue on our way and treat the injured. I did hear one of them mention bandits; I hope we do not run into them. I seem to be mistaken in thinking that the fight is over, because out of the icy river five Ice Elementals appear! The large crack in the ice made by the armored fairy and Ragnar must have angered them. Coming in closer now I see the newcomer run at one of the elementals and shoot a ball of fire at it. It’s good to have some backup, I wonder who he is. I am glad however that he has come, for I cannot move very fast in this snow.
As I am trying to reach my companions at the bank of the river I down a potion to help cure my wounds. As my skin starts to knit itself back together I see Ragnar take a mighty swing and slay the first elemental. However things are still not looking too good for Ragnar. Three more of the things crowd the still half sized Viking. The newcomer who is proving to be useful is able to line himself up so that he blasts the three that are on Ragnar with another blast of fire, luckily he was able to miss Ragnar in his blast. Having almost reached my companion I hastily drop my sword, (which really hasn’t been too helpful in this battle) and reach for my hammer. I then break it over the elemental’s head smashing it into chucks of ice.
As I look over to see how Ragnar and the newcomer are fairing I am shocked to see both of them lying on the ice. I’m horrified to see one of the elementals dragging the newcomer under the ice into the icy water. Ragnar is no longer bleeding and he has grown to full size again! I see Valindil kill the remaining elementals that stayed on land with two well placed arrows. Khorozo helps Ragnar to his feet while I see Ragnar punch the ice so that he may go help the stranger who is being carried off. Korzo comes up with an idea and shoots the water with a grappling arrow and his aim was true, because he not only hit the thing, but killed it as well.
Once we have pulled the newcomer out of the freezing water we learn that his name is James. He is a cleric of a church I’m not familiar with. He is fairly well built, in his early twenties and balding on top. I noticed that when he spies Ragnar that he winces, and is obviously not happy to see him. Come to find out the two of them knew each other back in the day. Ragnar and he were chasing after the same woman. Turns out that she left him in the end, looks like it didn’t work out for either of them. I find it amusing to think of the kind of woman Ragnar would lust after. Oh well, it’s none of my affairs. Anyways James says that he and his church were trying to find out what was going on with the weather and why there is snow. He also tells of the dead man they found. He insists that the man didn’t have any shoes on when he found him. I find that a bit specious, I’m guessing that James didn’t have any shoes for himself. James said that he heard the sounds of battle that drew him to find us. I’m glad that we have a new member in our party, I think he will fit in well. Ragnar and Valindil seemed pleased as well. Korzo I’m not so sure of. I have only known him for a few days now and I’m not so sure of his character, I’ll have to keep a close eye on him. I do wish he would stop calling me a fairy. It’s not my fault I was born with silver hair and eyes. Anyways I digress.
After a bit of walking and after warming up James we came across an abandoned campsite. It is obvious that the people who were here left in quite a rush. With James keen eye he was able to discern that they left only an hour ago. I have a strong feeling that whoever was at this campsite was driven off my bandits. As we make our way out of the campsite Ragnar stops abruptly. He found some trip wires, which were easily enough removed. As we kept walking I was a bit surprised when both Ragnar and Valindil stepped into boot traps. Valindil was able to disable Ragnar’s trap, but had some difficulty in removing his own. After some time they were both freed.
As we continued our journey we came across a rather large two story stone building, with an outhouse. I was able to tell them that the building was the high sentinel lodge. The sentinels guarded the building for many years. No one was suspicious as to how I knew this. The truth is that I didn’t. My demon Lozar who I have had the opportunity of talking with, told me what the building was. He often tells me things, sometimes useful information, sometimes not so much. I hope the rest of my group does not find out about him. I feel his presence all of the time. As we proceeded toward the building Valindil activated a trip wire that sent a crossbow bolt came towards him and hit him in the ankle. Immediately after that an alarm sounded. We all froze and stood still for what seemed like hours.
We waited where we were until after nightfall. Not one of us made a sound, nor did we hear one. It was Valindil who eventually moved first. He positioned himself in the trees, after that we all approached the structure. Valindil was the first to strike the building (after he left the trees) I saw Valindil jump into the building, I didn’t see what happened after that, but he told me that he landed on a person and then killed him before the other two bandits in the room had a chance to do much, but before jumping back out of the window. He also mentioned that they all looked really sick in the room.
I see Ragnar is about to charge the door, but before he is able to do so I walked up to the door and simply open it up. I sometimes think that men just like to barge into things just for the fun of it. As I open the door I was greeted with an arrow that skimmed my hair. Ragnar unfortunately wasn’t as lucky as he took a bolt to the chest. He’s not looking too well; I remember I was concerned for his health. My worries were short lived as James was able to give Ragnar some much needed healing. The battle continues with Ragnar, and I both manage to take down a bandit in the entry way after a miss and receiving some injuries. Khorzo throws a vial of some liquid, killing one of the bandits and wounding another one. At this point we were making good progress as a few more bandits fall.
At one point in the battle one of the bandits knocks down a table to create a barrier between himself and Ragnar in an attempt to keep the large man away from him. Unfortunately this did not bode well for the unlucky bandit. Ragnar ran at the bandit, crushing his skull and splattering his brains all over the wall. I feel sorry for he had a very painful death. I was distracted for a moment when witnessing this barbaric moment when I was assaulted with a flail, taking a grievous wound. The fighting continued for a while longer, our side getting hit but never loosing anyone and the bandits seemed to be dropping like flies. James was a huge help with all of his curing spells. I have a feeling that at least one of us wouldn’t have made it out without his help.
Valindil told me after the fight that the bandits had put up a bed in defense from him. Little good that did for them, Valindil’s arrows hit home clearing that room of bandits. At one point during the battle I was badly wounded. I was shocked when Khorzo grabbed me by the hair spun me around. In that instant my mouth was open and his tail pored some concoction down my throat with his tail. I don’t like that tail of his very much; he keeps using it to pinch my butt. I almost gagged on the mixture, but I should be thanking him because I felt much stronger afterwards.
The battle continues in this fashion for a bit longer until Khorzo kicks down one of the doors (I swear I don’t understand why men insist on kicking down doors) and I see James cast a spell on one of the bandits. I didn’t see what happened inside, I just know that they are now dead. The first floor is almost cleared out by this point. Ragnar kicks one of the last doors askew and I run in the room about to slay the last bandit when my phylactery suddenly starts to tingle. I was confused when this happened until I see the bandit I was about to kill. She was a half orc woman cowering and crying in the corner on the floor, holding up a wooden spoon begging me not to kill her. As I saw her I had to quickly veer my sword to the side so that I wouldn’t harm her.
From what we could tell the battle had finally ended. I spent a few minutes trying to comfort the woman. I learned that her name is Ten Penny. She franticly tried to tell me that she was just the cook, and that she had no idea what was going on. She just wanted to live. As I am talking to her I suddenly feel an intense evil presence. I rush out of the door instructing her to stay put.
Valindil, James, and I are all struck as we look around the building; our eyes eventually lead to the second story. Ragnar tells us that he has found the Lady Argentia, and that he has left her in the cellar until we are able to deal with the leader of this group. Argentia told him about the leader. I don’t suppose she was too pleased with being kept down there. I could hear her protesting. It was however for her safety that she remained where she was. Suddenly I see a human male materialize about twenty feet away from where I was standing. Valindil misses with his bow and Ragnar also misses with a thrown javelin. I sensing pure evil from this person run at him and smite him heavily killing him in a single blow!
Once their leader was dead myself and the rest of the companions search the rest of the building, Khorzo found a few skeletons upstairs and took care of them. He also found a winter sprite locked in a cage. The sprite begged Khorzo and myself for its freedom searing that it would leave and not harm us. We didn’t release it until the morning. I told it that it better not return or else. The thing promised and as it started to fly away Ragnar threw a javelin at it. I had a feeling that something like that might happen; I can’t however control the actions of others.
We spent the night in the building. The Lady Argentia is very rude; I tried to not be around her as much as possible. She just has a personality about her that rubs me the wrong way. I can tell that she believes herself to be of a higher class than the rest of us. I did enjoy talking to Ten Penny, she’s really sweet, she just wound up in the wrong place. She was ecstatic to find that she had something to cook besides horse. Ragnar brought in the Elk from earlier. The next morning we took the Lady back to the town and gave her to the mayor, while she made arrangement to be picked up. She was happy when we gave her back her jewelry box. For the most part she kept her tong in check. I received a note from Ten Penny that she had to leave the human village, she was very grateful for everything that we have done for her. While we were in the village we also stopped by to check on Yuln. I was very pleased to see that most of his injuries were healed. He was sad about losing a few toes. He even joked with Ragnar about keeping is nose, because he is a lady’s man.
We have accomplished much so far, but I know that our journey is far from over. We have however made a good start, and even acquired a new ally along the way. I have a good feeling that if we all stick together and work as a team we will be able to accomplish anything. May Iomede watch over us.
- Cosmina Dragomir

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Session 1
Winter in the Forest
The Chronicle of the Icemane Though I’ve awakened in many an odd and sometimes untenable position after a night of revels at whichever mead hall I happen to find myself in, this was a most curious awakening compared to most. I awoke in a tenebrous chamber, fully girded for battle mind you, pack slung, chain shirt adorned and Blutfang , sword of my fathers, held ready in my hand.. This awakening was met by faces familiar and strange. Firstly the crusader Cosmina, we have met time and again before this day often over food and drink, more often over blood and death. She worships the war god Iomedae, thus we have fair commons between us: we both understand the paths of war and the way of steel. For her aggressive methods though I am surprised she has not converted to a Gorumite as I myself am. To each their own, I suppose. The potioner Khorza (devilborn, as some of our village would call him) was present as well. I have known him for some time. He is…perhaps troubled, is the best way to describe him. He keeps mostly to himself but when he does open to others or go about danger and mischief are likely never far off and he’s always got one of his odd concoctions in hand. In all this places a strange and distasteful wyrd about him. For one raised in the harsh lands of our homeland, it is damn suicidal to rely so heavily on luck and marginal skill with a crossbow and not to ready oneself with a heavy and trusty blade. He should have long since realized that despite his odd visage he is still one of us, he is still Ulfen.

The third in the chamber was unknown to me but Khorza has some connection to him, an elf by name of Valindil. He is curious to me for I do not know his inklings as I do the others. Him I shall have to watch, for there is a fateful if shadowed wyrd about him.
The chambers stone walls reached high and the marks of Gorum, Iomedae, and a third god unknown to me glowed brightly upon the stones. The elf Valindil found the markings of a stone door leading from the chamber but no immediate visible means of opening the passage were apparent. Drawn to it, I laid my hand upon gorum’s symbol as Cosmina followed suit upon Iomedae’s marking. The doors stones began to grind, thus did Valindil touch the third symbol.
With a mill wheel’s grind the passage opened and we passed into a dimly blue lit chamber. Valindil ranged ahead shortly to inspect the light sources: two winged, stony heads, their mouths filled with ghostlight. As we passed the first, it wailed a shrill shriek and attacked us. Cosmina and I fought readily against the beasts as they fell upon us but Khorza and Valindil were frozen, apparently with fright. The beasts alighted upon them most readily, but fell quickly to my and Cosmina’s blades. One dropped a ring of twined silver.
Cosmina informed us after the battle that the beasts had infected Khorza and Valindil with a disease that would see them dead in a day or less, unless we found an antidote for them, thusly were our steps hastened with purpose.
At the end of the passage we came upon a chamber of crystal and stone. Glowing crystals stood at cramped and odd intervals within the chamber, lightining wisps bounding between them and shadows thrown every direction with the vaguest shift in the light.
We all felt the thrum of magic Khorza and I devised a simple plan, he would throw a stone at the first crystal, nad should anything untoward occur, I would drag him back to safety. The stone was hurled and with a thunder to rouse Gorum himself all the crystals of the chamber and those in the hall beyond erupted into a withering hail of shards. It was some time before the rumble and ring quieted.
We passed cautiously through the crystal shard-hall, wary of any remaining magic or other unseen danger. Eventually we came to a room lit like snow at brightest noon. The light was blinding in its radiance. At the epicenter of the light was a hooded brazier of ivory and bronze. Valindil began examining the brazier for any unseen dangers or traps. Khorza opened the brazier’s hood without thought to any danger as Valindil was still enganged in his ministrations. He was lucky in his brashness that his actions did not get us all killed.
As with the entry chamber (as I shall call it) the marks of Iomedae, Gorum and whatever elven diety Valindil honors, adorned the brazier’s inner surface. Strangely, four small cats, little more than striplings, slept soundly within the brazier. Compelled by whatever force ruled that labyrinth we each took one of the four. My own bore a curious blue shade of fur. With a brief passing of time and the dying of the ligh, I made notice of a door concealed within the eastern wall of the chamber. As the last of us passed this portal, the chamber rumbled and fell into a gaping chasm beyond its flagstones, the roof roaring down after.
Beyond the portal we passed into a watery blue cavern. The sounds of water and a soft chiming music filled the air. The place was soothing to the senses, an otherworldly calm took a hold of each of us save for Cosmina. Valindil and Khorza nearly fell to sleep in the soothing radiance of the chamber and I was stricken witless by the calm. Cosmina kept her wits about her and roused us all from our reverie. Focused again we proceeded through the calming passage, a ladder leading down at its terminus.
Valindil entered the chamber before the rest of us. Within this passage was nothing like we had expected to expect. The cavern was forested, with odd plants in the shape of beasts roaming about. Statues of a devil and an angel bounded a flower bed. In all, a curious sight to behold. Amusingly, the topiary cat had taken a liking to Khorza, this was most unnerving to him…I never saw that curious flask he held leave his clamped grip.
As we ranged that chamber, a pool, a pit and a chest beyond came into sight. Those who approached the pit stood motionless, never acting but actively discussing courses of action to cross. When pressed, they would claim wholeheartedly that they did act. Progress here was stilted. Eventually Khorza and Cosmina were drawn to the statues by the flower bed.
Almost instinctually, they each stood before a statue. Khorza before the demon and Cosmina before the angel. Each had spoken something to their statue and the statues reached hands forward. Cosmina and Khorza touched their statues outreached hands and both became as ghosts! They then passed the chasm before the chest and were somehow able to carry the chest back to us. Touching the statues again, they returned to solidity.
Valindil opened the chest and retrieved the items from within. Within were a pair of fur lined boots, a diadem upon a silver chain, light gloves and leather bracers. We entrusted the items to Valindil’s keeping until we could learn more of them. Seeing nothing more of interest in this chamber we climbed a ladder along its west wall hoping to find egress in time to reverse Valindil and Khorza’s conditions, which Cosmina has been suppressing with her abilities.
Rounding a corner in this next chamber was a great sloping incline, smooth on all surfaces and rising nearly fifty feet. Valindil was first to attempt this climb. He did not say what he saw at the top of the climb, only that we must leave quickly; his face was ashen as though the spectre of death had come upon him. Given his condition that was not far from true.
Cosmina climbed the passage next. She stood at its epoch for some time before returning with a cryptic message that the way out is connected to water. Unlike Valindil who nearly fell over himself in his descent, Cosmina returned to us with poise and composure.
I climbed the path next, aided by a grappling line fired by Khorza. It was a difficult climb, but not insurmountable. At the chamber’s peak there stood a stone altar, a gargoyle holding a bowl of water. As I looked into the bowl, whatever bewitching magicks were held within came to life. An image swam to clarity before me; a sight of me, weak and frail, whimpering like a pathetic milksop. If the spell within was meant to sow doubt or fear, then it failed in its intent. I felt only rage, sheer fury at this insult. The caged lightning in the marrow, legacy of my forefathers welled within me, compelling me only to crush that which had caused offense, to destroy that which would besmirch my name! I raised high my fist, the same which had stove in many a fool’s skull before this day and with a thundering descent, shattered the stone bowl. Then I wrapped my arms about the altar and cast it down, avalanching down the slope to be sundered and crushed upon the walls and stone below.
As its shards settled below, the hall still rumbling, a form coalesced from the broken slivers. A shapeless mass oozing malignance. My rage not yet sated and honor not yet satisfied, I drew Blutfang and charged down the passage, heedless of safety. I leapt into the air, Blutfang held high overhead, and roaring crashed upon the beast drawing Blutfang down in a wide vicious arc! Might and rage coalescing within me, my meteoric blow slew the beast, its viscera splattering and coating the hallway like fresh paint. Honor and rage are, for the time, satisfied.
Taking what we could from Cosmina’s statement of a watery exit we returned to the pool in the forest hall. Valindil leapt into the pool without hesitation. I leapt after him and the others followed suit after me.
We passed through the magical pool into a river. Checking ourselves and our equipment, all was in good order save for Khorza and Valindil’s conditions. The cats we had taken in the light chamber had grown; Cosmina’s had gained a radiance, my own grew stocky and strong limbed, Khorzas had a sly mein about it, and Valindil’s was apt to hiding.
Not far from the river was a town. We sought firstly to find aid for Khorza and Valindil, lodging and then to gather information on our new surroundings.
In the town we found a temple to Iomedae. By the looks of them, the clerics minding the temple were novices, though they were haughty. Nonetheless they proved helpful with potions of restoration available to travelers for a fee. Not having the coin to to cover two potions for our allies, we agreed to take up a quest for Iomedae when called upon to do so. Additionally these clerics aided us in identifying the items we discovered earlier: an Amulet of Natural Armor, a Phylactery of Faithfulness, Boots of the Winterlands, Glowing Gloves, and Bracers of Steadiness. We divided the goods as befitting our needs; I took the boots, Cosmina the Phylactery, Khorza took the ring from earlier—which the clerics informed us held off the debilitating effects of diseases—as well as the amulet, Valindil took the bracers, and the gloves we sold to the temple, for they may find better use of them than us.
We stayed in this town a day. While there we heard many strange rumours. People spoke of abnormally cold weather along the roads north and east. Talk of snow and ice in summer. In my home this is nothing to take concern of, For the high climes are ever-frosted as is the bordering realm of Irrisen; but we found we are far south of those familiar climes, in Taldor. We decided to follow the trail of these rumours and took to the roads towards the village at the heart of these rumours, Heldren.
Two days on the roads brought with them a host of new rumours abounding Heldren. We overheard word of a boy seeing talking stag; a hunter swearing tell of a giant white weasel; word of the sentinels of the northern roads neglecting their duties following the abduction of a noblewoman named Argentia. Many such tales abounded the road to Heldren.
We arrived in Heldren late in the second day of travel. We took up residence in the Silver Stoat Tavern. There were no rooms but the inn-keepers (a man and wife whose names I have not yet taken interest to learn, yet their demeanors are as night and day) offer floor space to flop for a few coppers nightly and minor aid in the taverns upkeep. We also learned of the local apothecarion and temple of Erastil.
While eating we overheard more talk of talk of the abduction of Lady Argentia; a farmer spoke of a survivor of that abduction, one of the Lady’s caravan guard named Yuln. They said he was personal protector to the Lady; he came stumbling hideously wounded to town speaking of an ambush by bandits and winter-touched fey. The farmers informed us he was being treated at the apthecarion.
The next morning after aiding the inn kepper and his wife with some minor chores we set out to the apothecarion. As soon as we entered Khorza took to examining the herbs and articles for sale like a fly to shit, seemingly oblivious to our original purpose of gathering more information on the Lady’s caravan ransacking from this Yuln. The apothecary came from the back of the cottage and made straight for Khorza, cross with him for his overly handsy nature with her merchandise. After she had thoroughly chastised him, we inquired of the condition of this Yuln. She informed us that two of us may go back and speak to him for there was not much room. Cosmina and Valindil passed the curtain to the rear to speak with Yuln, who was in heavy recuperation from his injuries. I stood beyond the curtain, listening.
He spoke in heavily accented common, unmistakably the accent was skald; language of my homeland. Cosmina and Valindil were having difficulty gathering any information (for the common tongue is often cumbersome to us of the Linnorn Kingdoms). I entered and spoke at length with bedridden and beleaguered man. By his eyes he was a warrior who had seen much and experienced much. His scars and shattered face a testament to his ordeals of late.
He told me of the attack on the caravan. He spoke of the fey and outlaws working in tandem at the forests edge; how they fell upon the caravan like ravenous winter wolves killing men and horses alike. He spoke of the attackers murdering the helpless ladies in waiting of Lady Argentia and dragging the Lady off into the woods. He swore by the blood of his fathers the Irriseni White Witches are behind the act; for great cold came with the fey and bandits. The frostbite on his hands and face is proof enough of this, for I have seen many a man broken and deformed from the biting ravages of deepest winter.
He told me of his narrow escape and flight from the attackers, and his shame at running from the fight. I assured him of the rightness of his actions. I assured him of the duty he bore as the sole survivor to seek aid, and that his honor was not stained by this act. He then told me wearily of where the attack had occurred along the north roads. He then drifted to sleep and dreams.
We traveled some hours to the site of the attack and his words rang truer with the sight of it. Carts ravaged and overturned, the bodies of horses and men strewn about like flotsam and an unearthly cold permeating the area. We heard a scratching and shuffling from within one of the nearby carts.
Cosmina and I took positions to the sides of the barred cart door. With a thundering clamor I kicked the door in! Out clambered two of the walking dead, frost rimed and wearing the tattered dress of courtesans. Cosmina and I cut them down with ease. We decide to search the site more thoroughly.
Within the cart, we discover a jewelry box containing the Lady’s affectations. We take the jewelry box with us; hopefully we can return it to its proper owner. We find other assorted items in the ravaged site: weapons, leather guard’s armor, shredded courtesan’s clothes.
Near the forest edge, we find a guard frozen solid mid stride, his weapon arm rent from his body lying beside him, sword still in hand. I have seen such before during skirmishes and raids at the Irriseni border. Men froze, made easy prey for ice trolls and other monsters of the Frozen Land.
We followed the furrow trail from the slaughter’s northern end, leading into the woodlands. Along the path we found a chest, which Valindil wasted no time in examining. He discovered an elaborate Boar log trap rigged to the chest. He disarmed the trap deftly. Interestingly, the chest contained no treasure, but beneath the chest was a cache of arms and armor, likely looted from the caravan guards. We left the cache for another time as there was too much buried beneath to carry with any ease.
My boots served me well in the coming trek. I strode easily upon the snow bank as my allies trudged in deep furrows of their own, this easy movement went undetected by a beast hidden below the snow which took quick notice of Khorza’s struggle.
A Tatzlwyrm! I had heard of the beasts but never seen one of them till this day. Lithe and quick, it wasted no time falling upon Khorza and wrapping him in its muscular binds. Try as he might he could not break from its iron grasp and was struck full in the face by its venom breath.
I charged the beast, a warcry upon my lips and Blutfang arcing before me. Blutfang drank deep of the beast’s flank, tearing muscle from bone. I saw fear in its beady eyes as it sought to flee with the easy prey that was Khorza. The first and last mistake any foe ever makes is to turn his back on a warrior.
I drew Blutfang high overhead and struck down with Gorum’s own might, cleaving and severing the beast’s spine in a mighty gout of blood. The tatzlwyrm crashed to the ground, dropping a stunned but still alive Khorza. As the other’s saw to Khorza’s wounds I took what tradition was dictated as right to me. I opened the beast’s chest, prying ribs apart and grasped its heart in hand, tearing it from the dragon’s chest. I bit deep and drank heartily of its lifeblood, for to eat an enemy’s heart is to gain its courage and cunning. The others were taken aback by my action, but it matters not. Tradition is tradition, and it is to be honored.
Perhaps if the crows do not pick the corpse clean before my return through here I shall take what is left to a smith or other artisan and have a trophy made to adorn my armor, in honor of this kill. If not, it is no great loss to me. One kill in a legacy of many; one name in an honor roll of hundreds, thousands, to come. Such is a warrior’s fate.
Beyond the carnage of the tatzlwyrm, we came to notice countless fetishes strung upon the trees. I have seen these markers before; they are witchbrands, markers of the winter-touched and of Witches of Irrisen. Valindil decided to take one into his keeping despite my warnings that such things bring only misfortune to those foolhardy enough to carry them.
Deeper into the wood we were accosted by diminutive fey. I cleft one from the air with an errant swat of Blutfang, shattering its body. Seeing this the others fled as quickly as they has had come upon us. They bore nothing of worth or value and thus we continued on into the frozen woodland.
Such is the beginning of this tale as spoken fully and truthfully from the lips of Jarlsson Ragnar Estridsson known as Ragnar Icemane

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