The Eternal Winter

Session 9
Nadya, Waldsby

Storm closing in, the party decided to head for the village. Urtusk pulled the sled with food, taken from the troll’s cave. If questioned, the party could pose as traders. Cold was unbearable. Shanka asked the spirits to help herself, Holt, and even the hearty Urtusk endure. Kazimir snuggled in his cloak, and the others already enjoyed Shanka’s divine protection. How could common people survive in this land?

Late afternoon, Urtusk heard dogs barking, and human voices. A hunting party, he said. They were heading in the same direction, just ahead. In twenty minutes, they came into sight. Five humans, who resembled woodsman, with a pair of sleds, each pulled by a pair of dogs. Alarmed to see the well-armed party trailing them, the woodsman quickened their pace. More alarmed when a giant insect stepped out of the woods, grasping one man in its pinchers, shucking him open. The leader, a woman with a long, red braid, ordered her men to protect the sleds and dogs. She stepped up, hacking at the giant mantis with a handaxe.

From a hundred feet away, Kazimir threw a web over them all, while the others rushed to aid the strangers. Tacey and Holt fired crossbolts that missed, but Njaldur struck true with his bow. The mantis broke free of the webbing and grabbed the woman. Urtusk yelled as he cruised through the snow. The insect dropped the woman and lunged twenty feet to bite her Kellid quarry. The barbarian wrenched free of its claws. The monster was quickly killed, slammed by the raging spirits of his ancestors.

The woman spoke Skald, directly to Urtusk, but he shook his head. In common, she said, “Strangers, we mean you no harm.”

Everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Njaldur said in perfect Skald, “We saw you were being attacked, and had no choice but to help you.”

She looked confused, but introduced herself as Nadya Petska, along with her companions: Sven Svenson; and his son, Sven Svensonson; his brother, Jaral; and his other brother, Jaral. She explained they were traders returning from the Land of the Mammoth Lords with food for their village Waldsby. Njaldur explained how they had traveled here through the portal, which puzzled Nadya. He went on to say they were also traders, having a sled of rations. Since the two groups were headed in the same direction they decided to travel together.

The storm approached and though they would not outrun it, Nadya urged them to march on until dusk. When questioned about her knowledge of the Pale Tower, the woman was guarded. When pressed, she said the white witch Nazhena Vasilliovna had imprisoned her daughter, Thora, for some offense. She feared for her safety. Shanka recalled the spirit trapped in the doll.

Camp was made in a stand of fir trees, as the sky churned up darkness and white blindness. Around the fire, they ate well; the party shared their ample food, including meat and vegetables from the south. A feast to the Irrisen folk. Nadya patrolled the area, and returned with an anxious look. “Someone is coming,” she said.

“A merry fire, and friends to share it with,” a figure said, pushing through the firs. She was radiant with pleasant features, but a chill fell over them. The creature’s skin was blue like the winter-touched fey, with horns and ears, and the lower half of a stag.

No one spoke, but room was made for the unexpected guest. She continued. “I am Mierul Ardelain, troubadour to the noble families of Irrisen.” She smiled. “Where I come from, when a name is given, a name is returned.”

Everyone introduced themselves. Mierul seemed interested in Kazimir. He said he had been to White Throne in his travels, to pick up a tea set. She accepted the story that they were all traders. “I see, you have half-orc slaves,” she said.

To break the ice she offered to tell a tale. Njaldur challenged the bard to a duel. Whoever was judged best would win a prize. Njaldur wanted her harp. If she won, she would get one of his magic arrows. She agreed, went first.

Her tale accompanied by her harp was of Queen Velikas. During her reign, silver mines enriched the lands; but a plague among the miners spread as far as the capital cities of Irrisen. A Kellid slave, known as a gifted healer, made a deal with the White Witch Queen. In exchange to save the Queen’s people of the plague, Irrisen would promise to never attack the people of the Mammoth Lords. Queen Velikas agreed. The Kellid with the aid of powerful spirits saved the land, and the Queen true to her word pledged that Irrisen would honor the deal. But, as the Kellid had not asked for her own protection, she was promptly sealed alive in a mine where her tormented soul lives to the this day. At the end, the fey bard’s face transformed into a devil. She screamed in delight. Everyone was quiet. In the midst of the snowstorm, they were all transfixed, consumed by the tale.

Njaldur’s turn. He played his fiddle, starting with a folk tune, before launching into an epic tale of the Linhorm Kings. He plucked and strummed the strings, but its was his singing which earned him the victory. Mierul begrudgingly conceded, at first asking for a rematch, before handing him her harp. She said farewell, limped off, just as the storm was letting up.

Holt kept watch. Uneventful, except he detected something in the distance, a shadow of a shadow. In the morning, Shanka shrouded the group in protection from the elements. Not the locals; they got used to it, or they died.

An early start in the morning. As they were moving along a ridge, Nadya shouted. ""Hide yourselves, eyes in the skies! Get the tarps. Cover the sleds." Something was coming. The sky was black, and moving like a angry storm, thousands of cawing crows. Njaldur asked everyone to huddle together. Over their heads, he tossed a white blanket of illusionary camouflage, and the crows passed over without spotting them.

At midday, they reached the village of Waldsby. Nadya and her people were greeted warmly by the townsfolk. They were curious about the strangers, too. Even more curious was the village. It was nearly identical to Heldren, in the layout, as well as being a logging town.

They passed the burnt frame of a large house. The two Svens made signs of warding as they passed. Shanka asked them who had lived here. Nadya explained it was the home of the last headman and his family. Three years ago, the headman was hung from the clock tower by the White Witch. He was an alleged member of a resistance group known as The Heralds of Summer’s Return. The house was burned down; his wife and children perished in the fire. Shanka with a look of pain and fury, whispered to Urtusk that they would return later to ensure their spirits are at rest.

The clock tower on the town hall had not moved in a century. In Heldren, the clock was in perfect working condition. In other respects, things were eerily similar. In the square, there was a large statue of the woman as though sculpted by the same artist, of the same subject. The locals claimed it was Queen Elvana, but it seemed older than her reign. The inn was called the White Weasel rather than the Silver Stoat.

Nadya excused herself to report to the storehouse manager, Birgit Holorova. She invited the party to stay with her at her home, as the inn in town did not have rooms. They did not have many visitors, except for the soldiers for the White Witch. Kazimir expressed some concern for the people. They might be punished for harboring them.

The innkeeper’s wife hailed them in the square, invited them inside for refreshment. Emil Goltaiaeva, owner of the White Weasel inn, and his wife Katya Goltaiaeva were gracious hosts. They asked many questions, answered few. Njaldur requested ice wine; it was rumored they had a couple bottles. They supped on bark soup and tough, stringy meat. A single log burned in the hearth. A large mirror on the wall opposite the bar reflected on the patrons. Townsfolk came in for their midday meal. The barber of The Beardless Dwarf, Rusilka Sighja Imsdottr and Garthur Kalinin, owner of the sawmill and logging license. Garthur was more interested in Katya, openly flirting with her.

After eating, the party decided to split up. Urtusk and Shanka went to the scene of the fire, Kazimir and Holt went to see the gnome woodworker, while Njaldur and Tacey stayed at the inn to make some friends.

Njaldur bought the last bottle of ice wine, sharing it with Rusilka and Garthur. The dwarf loosened up. Told him about the White Tower, how the White Witch was not there. Her apprentice, Radosek Pavril, was in charge. Recently, guardsmen had been looking for something, but he did not know what. The daughter of Milivsa Stolya, who runs the general store, was seeing one of the guards.

Kazimir was very interested in the gnome’s artwork, which was exceptional, peculiar to find artful pieces in a backwoods village. He explained he was a trader, traveling through, and he purchased a finely-made gameboard with carven pieces. Holt asked the gnome if he was related to Tengezil Frimbocket from his village of Heldren. He told Arbagazor about how in his village there was a gnome woodworker just like him, in his skill, style, and appearance. The gnome broke down. He explained that he had a twin brother, but they had been separated at birth. All these years, he thought his brother was dead. He said he wanted to write a letter that they could give to his brother on their return.

Shanka and Urtusk investigated the ruins of the house. They were observed by an old man who emerged from a simple building next to the cemetery. He watched as Shanka prepared a circle in the ashes. The old man, a priest called Rolf Halzberg, joined her as they chanted a prayer for the lost souls. When silence fell, some relief. As Shanka met his gaze, she promised to avenge these spirits.

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Session 8
Chance Encounters

Duty done, the black rider and his steed dissolved in the driving snow. Nothing, before their eyes, but a heavy, heaving sigh.

The party searched the fey encampment, uncovered Teb Knotten’s cave. Among filthy hides, they found money and weeks of rations. The troll’s cave also served as a shelter to make plans. Tacey and Njaldur fingered the gems, while Holt counted the coin. It was divided up evenly. As for Baba Yaga’s keys, Holt nominated himself and Kazimir to be the keepers. The half-orc stowed the doctor’s mask in his pack, and Kazimir took the lock of hair.

Discussion about pressing on to Irrisen through the Portal, after resting and healing up in the cave. Kazimir explained Irrisen was no place for southern-bred horses. Even his Sorrow would likely perish in the elements. Urtusk saw this as an opportunity rather than a problem. But, the party decided to travel back to Heldren where they could also restock and inform the authorities of their plans. It was around midday by Urtusk’s reckoning, though the sun and the moon might collide in this white blindness. They headed out, hoping to reach the Lodge before evening.

In five hours, they reached the High Sentinel Lodge. Uneventful, but for one random, ill-tempered boar. Holt eagerly set his boar spear against a charge that never came. Kazimir put the beast to sleep; Urtusk put it down with his warhammer. Resourceful, he and Shanka harvested the meat. Willful waste makes woeful want.

Outside the Lodge, fresh bootprints going to and from the woods. Likely, the murderous bandit, Aryuh, they cut loose as bait for the fey guardian of the bridge. She escaped her fate. A stick in the spokes of Justice.

While Tacey fired up the hearth, Urtusk prepared the boar on a spit. Others gathered wood for the cold night ahead. They would leave at daybreak so turned in early. Ever indebted to Abadar, Holt no longer needed sleep. In the night, he could smell his companions, especially the northern savages with well-traveled sweat. Njaldur was a blend of hay and rosin. Kazimir was almost without odor, subtle, but there it was. Tacey smelled a little like mom, but he would never admit that. To pass the time, he counted his steps. From the main room to the galley, to the rear window overlooking the bridge to the game trail. From time to time, he checked out the horses, fearing Aryuh might steal one.

Midnight Caller

Midwatch, he heard glass breaking, soft but clear. He climbed the stairs to the upper room, but saw no one. Only the broken pane, with bits of glass. No rock. Sniffing, he smelt something like feathers and oil. Followed by caw, caw, caw! In the rafters above the main room. Some trick, he did not see anything there, no flicker.

Walking down the stairs, he sensed movement, near the sleeping merchant. Something, rustling in his pack. Baba Yaga’s key, the lock of hair, is pulled out, dragged by something unseen. Holt darted over the furniture to snare the lock, but it escaped his fingertips. The lock jerked up, into the air just out of his reach. Smell was quite strong, fowl odor. Strangely, not one but four identical crows, black with iridescent feathers of blue, appeared, interlocking wings and talons clutched the lock of hair. “Mine, mine now!” The crows croaked in unison, loud enough to wake the others.

“Wake up!” Holt barked, just in case. Kazimir rolled over, rubbing his eyes, and spied the crows. A sharp man, he glanced at them, and as one the crows toppled over on a beam, deep in sleep. The lock of hair hit the floor. The merchant yawned, turned over. Holt snatched up the lock of hair, least the crows awaken.

The others roused themselves and attacked the sleeping crows. Shanka speared one through a wing, and it popped out. With his sword, Njaldur struck another. With two remaining, Urtusk pierced the true crow through the breast with a dagger. Defiant, the birds awoke. “Mine!” the twin crows screamed. Then vanished. Flapping wings could be heard in the rafters.

Suddenly, the lock of hair appeared on the floor as Tacey was coming in. “Don’t let the crow get that lock of hair,” Njaldur said, pointing to the lock of hair on the floor. Holt gripped the hair in his hand. Instinctly, Tacey tried to grab the lock of hair, but couldn’t pick it up. Urtusk seized the moment, but also failed. His fingers passed through it. “Yes, protect the lock from the bird!” Njaldur repeated.

Urtusk blinked, staring at his hand in wonder. “Why, man? it’s not real.”

“I have it,” Holt declared, his spear ready. Too smart, the crow didn’t take the bait. Instead, the bird appeared to the half-orc, perched on the rail, with feathers furrowed, wings arched in agitation. Eyes, locked in amber, stared at the half-orc in vengeance. It smarted, like a pinch, leaving a mark. The crow screamed in fury and flew off, breaking through another pane.

Kazimir sat up, with a look of concern. He said that crows, filthy birds, like that one lived in his country. He spoke with contempt, with looks that spat. Unlike his normally polite manner. Holt had been cursed, he explained. He recommended the party keep their distance from him. But, it should pass by morning.

Holt vowed to remain vigilant. This witch crow coveted the Keys to Baba Yaga’s Dancing Hut, and it may not be the last time they would encounter the bird.

Casual Justice

Just before dawn, a scream in the woods. A woman’s scream, nothing innocent about it. Silence.

After breakfast, Shanka and Holt took time to meditate. The merchant read. The others went out to the woods to investigate the scream. Urtusk was puzzled by the large tracks in the snow, round with claws, that walked upright. From the depth in the snow, it weighed more than a large bear. They led to a shelter, painted with blood.

A defaced prayer book to Abadar was found. Inside the back cover, a list of names had been written. Some were crossed out: “Mom,” “Dad,” “Baby Ricky” and others not crossed out: “Rokar,” “Simon,” “Fiddle Guy.” “Property of Aryuh” was written inside the front cover. Neat. A signed confession. Justice had been served on a plate licked clean.

Holt was appalled. The offensive book was burned.

Shop Local Heldren

Fortunately, the horses were safe. The creature must have been satisfied with serving Justice. The party traveled on to Heldren without incident, other than the brutal cold that piled on Tacey.

Arriving in the village at midday, a crowd stopped working (any excuse) to greet them. All gathered inside the Silver Stoat, where Njaldur told the tale. He sang of the lost hunter, Dryden Kep, who fell to the giant weasel. And as he said this, Urtusk opened a sack and held up the weasel’s head to the amazement of all. The bard skillfully added some pictures with the words, Teb Knobben the troll and the evil fey, Hummelstaub, and the creepy living doll floated before their eyes. Children poked them with broomstick handles.

That fool, Perkin the halfling butcher, offered to escort us back to the portal. He boasted of his past adventures, emboldened by Njaldur’s display. But, Urtusk convinced the barber he was needed in the village, and he scuttled off. Tacey ordered a double, huddled by the fire, and snorted. “Fiddle Guy!”

The party had little time for showing off. But, Holt was impressed with Kazimir. He did well in selling the horses to Sophia at cost. The Church could use more men like him. In addition to food rations, Holt bought snow shoes, Shanka bought ink and paper to make scrolls, and NJaldur bought a wand to make himself useful when fighting. When Njaldur’s mother tried to convince him to stay, Holt told her the bard would be more valuable to the mission in Irrisen than to her on the farm. She agreed, a very agreeable woman.

Didn’t Make the Cut

Xanthippe didn’t show up at the Stoat. She seemed cold, though sparks flew at her forge. Holt stood in the doorway, and Isker excused himself. Xanthippe bent a bit of heated iron. Quick strokes, skillful. Holt could never do that. He tended to flatten and warp with the hammer, where she had this way of drawing it out, like a skillful confession in the hands of a master inquisitor. Holt interrupted her to say he had something important to say. She paused, looked up. Words, randomly failed. He handed her his report for Taxmaster Tarquill. “You’re the only one I trust. Make sure, he gets this. Thanks.”

Offhand Ogre

Traveling back to the Lodge on foot. Slow-going, cold. Not far from the Lodge, their destination, the party heard a voice, stepping on their tail. “Fe, Fi, Foe, Fum. Run, little ones, run! I found your foot prints.”

Something large was coming. Holt, Urtusk, and Shanka stood to meet it, while Kazimir, Njaldur, and Tacey stowed away in the trees. A blue-skinned ogre, Frablorg, sauntered into view. The party waited while he came into range. Holt became inpatient and closed rank, and the ogre chucked a javelin that pierced his chest. In spite of this, the half-orc continued forward, only to be struck hard by the ogre’s club as he came into reach. Holt in position, at last, thrust his boar spear into the ogre’s calf; but it failed, pushed aside by the tough hide. “Ha, Ha,” laughed Frablorg. Urtusk got busy, oiling his sword with magic. Shanka moved forward to heal the reeling Holt.

Njaldur knew what to do. From his outstretched wand, a scorching ray sizzled the ogre. Kazimir stepped up; the ogre fell to the ground, asleep. Urtusk did the rest with his magic weapon. Knee-jerk, he removed the head, dragging it back to the Lodge where he set it on a spike just across from the bridge, a message to any of Frablorg’s friends or family.

Nighty Nyeti Yeti

The Lodge was as they left it this morning. They prepared a meal and settled in for the night. As before, Holt took the entire watch. He made his rounds, making his way to the rear window where he peered out. During the night, Frablorg’s head went missing. But, he did not sense anything.

Later on, he smelled the scent blood near the rear window. As he peered out, a tall creature, about 10 feet tall, stood on the back porch. Holt met the gaze of the creature and with extra effort — at great personal cost — he was able to shake off a creeping paralysis. He retreated to the main room and aroused his companions. They were not pleased, when they found no sign of the creature, though no one ventured outside.

In the morning, they found the tracks on the back porch — exactly like the ones responsible for Aryuh’s demise. It was a yeti, Holt and Njaldur put their thoughts together. Rather than waste time tracking the beast, they decided to press on to the portal. Knowing full well, it would be tracking them. Holt vowed to remain vigilant as this would not be the last time they would encounter this creature. Around the head of the ogre, they found random, giant lizard tracks. Holt and Njaldur recognized them as an local beast, driven to a frenzy by the cold weather.

Nothing hindered their way other than the elements. They reached the fey’s campsite and stared into the edge of the Winter Portal. Each party member held their breath and plunged into the icy bath.

On the other side, they found the weather was clearer — though colder than a witch’s toes. The party found themselves on a mountainside thick with fir trees. In the distance, a small village with smoke rising from chimneys. Not at all what they expected. Except the weather, that was constant.

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Session 7
The Fairy, The Troll, and The Black Rider

As they approached, they tied the horses together, except for Sorrow, who bore Kazimir into the eye of the snow storm. Visibility dropped gradually to less than a horses length between them.

Suddenly they were upon a bramble patch. After a brief search along the edge, they found a path through the brambles, channeling them into a single file line. After a few minutes of slowly plodding through, the path opened into a clearing.

Not far into the clearing, Urtusk came upon an igloo, and suddenly veered off to the right into the storm. Kazimir and Sorrow followed along to keep from losing sight of him.

Holt went first into the igloo Urtusk found, and was hardly surprised to find winter touched fey. He called on Abadar to lend power to his judgements, and sprayed acid at the fey. While he attacked, Holt spotted a pit trap hidden on the floor, which he managed to carefully move around. One of the fey tried to fly past him, but he swatted it out of the air with his morning star.

Outside, Tacey and Njaldur were hesitant to follow, and they bickered about the use of alchemists fire, Njaldur nervous with Tacey so armed at his back, and seemingly careless about his well being from before.

A sudden deafening burst of sound cracked through the air, emitting from an object that struck Shanka. The sound deafened Kazimir and Tracey. Shanka, brushing it off, moved in behind Holt to assist him fighting the fey. Njaldur came near the entrance as well, and dazed one of the fey with a small, quick sigil in the air, and a flash of light.

Tacey wandered into the unseen space beyond the snow, and emerging from it before her she found a tree.

An eagle with glowing red eyes attacked Shanka, it scratched and drew blood with it’s talons.

Urtusk and Kazimir continued looking around the area, finding more igloos.

The tree that Tacey found shifted into the shape of a Troll, which growls and looms towards her. She stumbled backwards in fear, and smacks at Njaldur, trying to get his attention.

A second eagle appeared and clawed at Kazimir.

A giggle sounded through the snow and wind. Urtusk, recognizing the laugh, watched the Troll grow larger before him. As he charged forward despite his smaller size, he saw that the others had grown too, in fact, Urtusk was shrunk by the same fey magic that had days ago shrunk his axe.

Shanka drew a stone dagger and swiped at the remaining fey.

The troll stabbed Kazimir with his spear, who dropped unconscious, bleeding out.

Njaldur spoke out through the snow: “Moss Troll! I read a tale of a long armed troll that lived in a boreal forest. It was afraid of fire since the day the Ulfen archers came to burn it’s home and drive it away- it could regenerate from their swords and arrows, but not the flames.”

Tacey threw a alchemist’s fire at the troll, but missed, splashing Njaldur.

Holt killed the last sprite and ran out to help the others.

The troll stabbed Urtusk, and then snapped its head in to bite on Urtusk’s flesh.

Njaldur grit his teeth and winged an alchemists fire at the troll, connecting and splashing it with flames. Then he shot a gloating grin back at Tacey.

Tacey responded by dashing past him, short sword drawn, towards the troll where she crouched down at the troll’s feet and swiped it’s legs from underneath it with her blade. With a sonorous thud it fell to the snow covered ground.

The fey creature, presumably Hummelstaub, appeared behind Urtusk and stabbed with a tiny frozen blade. The ice cracked, digging into Urtusk’s skin, nearly dropping the shrunken kellid.

Urtusk slashed back in retaliation.

Holt dashed from the igloo, past Tacey and over top of the troll and stabilized Kazimir with an efficient prayer. Shanka approached and lent her healing spirits to mend some of Kazimir’s wounds.

Holt dashed about looking for Hummelstaub, who used a combination of invisibility and an affinity for hiding in a snowstorm to avoid detection. Suddenly a rock cracked into Holt, bursting with ice and slowing the half-orc down.

Njaldur cast an enchantment on his feet that let him walk over the snow. He and Tacey move out to try and find the fey leader.

Holt gives a nice blessing to Njaldur’s bow.

Another freezing rock cracks off of Urtusk finally breaking the considerable constitution of the warrior, who fell into the snow unconscious.

Katja the snow owl, who was circling low over the igloos, spotted Hummelstaub above the nearest igloo.

Kazimir walked Sorrow over to the igloo over which floated Hummelstaub. He stretched and tried to climb up onto the slippery blocks of ice, but slipped and fell, sliding back down. Embarrassed, Kazimir wiggled his fingers in an arcane gesture, and sprayed sheets of fire from them at Hummelstaub, but to little effect.

Hummelstaub giggled and said “Hah! Fire doesn’t work against me!”

Then Njaldur runs into the igloo, aims up, out of the hole in the roof, and fires an arrow directly into Hummelstaub’s body, which falls with a thud onto the roof of the igloo and slides off to land in the snow beside it.

Victorious, they set about exploring the area. Inside a nearby cave they found food and piles of loot. Njaldur’s eyes gleamed at the sight, a song playing faintly in his mind.

They also found a great tree standing out beyond the igloos. Beside it was a massive swirling vortex. Just then, a black rider came through on a black horse. There was a jagged icicle in the back of the rider, and he was slumped in the saddle.

Illarion Matvius, Black Midnight – he was Baba Yaga’s black rider. He fell from his horse, and the group moved in to hear him speak.

“Something has happened to Baba Yaga. Elvanna has other plans, plans to kill Baba Yaga. The Red Rider and the White Rider are slain… as am I. Only Baba Yaga can undo what her daughter has done. You must find the dancing hut… find it and follow Baba Yaga. It is on display in Whitethrone. Take this mask and this lock of giant hair, put them in the cauldron to find her. Do you accept this geas?”

They looked at each other. For a short time they discussed it.

“How can we close this portal?” They asked.

“It is expanding, and it spreads endless winter as it does. If you enter it, it will take you to Irrissen. There, you can close off the portal at its source, the Pale Tower.”

“You’ve chosen well, asking us, the heroes of Heldren. I accept this quest.” The others agreed.

“Then I will turn the mantle of Black Rider to cover you all,” Said the black rider.

Then he drew a blade to his neck and sliced it open. A wave of energy pulsed from him and with it the keys began to glow with a magic radiance. Then the black rider fell dead in the snow.

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Letter from Inquisitor Holt to Taxmaster Tarquill

Taxmaster Tarquill
Temple of Abadar, Zimar

Sir,

Abadar, employ us.

I write you about the Lady Argentea Malassene of Oppara, the bride in breach of contract to the complainant groom.

In serving papers, I did not confiscate the Lady’s jewelry box to be held until the matter is settled by the proper authority. As my report states, the Lady suffered grievously from her kidnappers, and my compassion clouded my judgment. For the record, I also failed to accept the reward she offered, to avoid appearances. The Lady Argentea was asking the Mayor of Heldren to put up the money, and I could not allow this knowing the Lady’s credit is in question. Still, my companions are deserving of compensation and I will personally request remittance in the future on their behalf.

I also must report that I am bound to investigate the matter in Irrisen. Please see my report. Abadar has contracted me. It may take months or longer before I can return to my normal duties. Any penalties you impose may be withheld from my salary.

May Abadar’s blessings compound in your heart and your holdings.

Inquisitor Regnar Holt

P.S. My companions and I discovered a frozen corpse whose purse contained a single piece of the forbidden coin. This is an ill omen. I have confiscated the E******* piece so it will be kept out of circulation, and the remainder will be returned to the next of kin.

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Session 6
The Weasel, and the Doll

They crossed over the bridge leading away from the lodge. Beyond it, a game trail led them through the woods for a mile before they spotted tracks crossing the way.

“Skeletons. Frozen. Like the ones we fought at the lodge,” Said Shanka, kneeling in the snow to inspect them.

A rustling, clattering of ice and bones sounded through the trees- three frozen skeletons trudged through the snow, weapons in hand.

Holt stepped off the trail towards them, a short prayer from him splintered the bones of one of the skeletons, ice scattered from it with a crack.

Urtusk bounded through the snow and swung ferociously with his war hammer. Holt approached from behind him and crushed one with his morning star, causing it to explode in a spray of ice.

Kazimir moved in on Sorrow and tried to strike it with his mace, Sorrow tried to strike with it’s hoof- both missed. Shanka called on the spirits to guide Tacey. Njaldur shot his bow and missed.

The skeletons retaliated with their claws to little effect. Utrusk and Holt missed with their weapons.

Sorrow crushed one with it’s hoof, exploding it. Tacey finished the last one off with an alchemist’s fire, the spirits lending their assistance.

Further along the game trail, they found a body lumped in the snow. Upon inspection, Njaldur identified him as Dryden Kep, the hunter. He was torn to shreds, his skin that wasn’t covered in blackened blood, pale as frozen death.

On Dryden was a bottle of apple jack and two finely crafted arrows. Shanka discerned that the arrows were magic and crafted to slay animals.

Last, they found Dryden’s journal, detailing his tracking of a giant weasel. He laid bear traps at the head of the valley. He also saw a strange hut standing on sticks down in the valley. It was surrounded by ice blocks and inside was a strange doll and nobody else. Finding the situation eerie, Dryden left without investigating. Then the entries abruptly ended.

While Njaldur read the journal out loud, Kazimir was overcome with a strange feeling- like someone walking over his grave.

Shanka was able to call back Dryden’s spirit so that they could speak with him yet.

“It broke out of the bear trap, so I knew it was big, but I didn’t expect it to be so tricky and so ferocious. It fell on me and slashed me to ribbons before I defend myself.”

“What would you like us to do with your body?” Shanka asked.

“I don’t care, i’ll be headed to the fair hunting grounds. Just kill that weasel and take it’s head to Hedren, prove them them I wasn’t just telling tales.”

They agreed and let his spirit go.

Further along the trail, the group was waylaid again, but this time by more frost furs.

Urtusk lept form his horse and threw an axe. The rest made use of alchemist fire, which caused the frost furs to stop and roll on the ground to put out the flames.

Tacey dispatched one with fire, while Holt slashed with his dagger. Tacey let fly with another flask, but missed and struck Njaldur, whose clothes ignited. Njaldur dropped to the ground to put himself out.

Sorrow and Kazimir smashed the last frost fur. They continued along the game trail.

After another mile or so, they found bear traps buried in the snow. Tacey and Njaldur sprung them and loaded them onto the horses.

Down in the valley, they saw a building coming into view through the snow. It appeared to be a shack standing on stilts. Below it, before the party was a scattering of large ice blocks. Holt drew out his spyglass and saw the doll sitting on a chair inside, just as Dryden had described.

As they approached the ice blocks, they heard the wimpering of a little girl. They saw her come out from behind the ice blocks, crying and talking to someone unseen.

“I don’t want your stupid doll! I don’t want to go back to the White Tower!”

As they made to speak with her, she fled behind the ice blocks. Njaldur tried to calm her down and get her to answer some questions, but she did not seem to be listening, or rather, was preoccupied talking to someone else.

Urtusk took a close look at once of the blocks, and suddenly many horrid spirits could be seen inside the ice. He became overcome with fear and went sprinting away through the ice blocks, back the way they had come. Kazimir put him to sleep with a flick of his wrist before he could run far.

Kazimir had heard of the spirits of little children being trapped in dolls as punishment.

Shanka explained that she had heard of such strange occurrences as the little girl between the blocks- haunts, she called them. They were caused by a tragedy in the area.

They discussed that this was strange because the hut and the ice blocks could not have been in the valley for very long, only since the unnatural winter came.

They went up to the hut and Njaldur convinced Tacey to climb up and inside. She attached a hook and a rope to dangle down from the doorway, so that the others could follow. While they talked about what to do, Tacey said she had a creepy feeling and wanted to come back down, so she did. But without her touching it, the hook floated off the ledge and dropped to the ground. Kazimir identified it as a use of the spell Mage Hand.

Tacey climbed back up, and Urtusk and Holt followed. Then, the doll suddenly moved and jerked it’s hand upwards. A burst of ice exploded from the doll, injuring Holt, Urtusk and Tacey.

Kazimir stepped back, down below the hut, but far enough to be able to target the doll, shouting an incantation that forbid the doll from casting a spell.

Urtusk flew into a rage, slashing at the doll with his sword, spirits suddenly seeming to swarm around him, slamming into the doll, killing it.

They found that the doll had a gem eye and a mirror eye. They decided to smash them both for fear they may have trapped in them the spirit of a child, or the mirror may be being used for divination magic to spy on them.

Then they set some alchemist fire to burn down the hut. All of the ice blocks melted away.

They continued on past where the hut was, eventually coming to a sign that read “Turn back before the winter devours you.”

They determined that it was not magic and pressed on, ignoring the warning. To their dismay, past the signs, an explosion of snow erupted around them, hurting Holt, Urtusk and most of the horses.

They traveled another half an hour before the weasel attacked. It was the size of a bear and came bounding through the snow out of the trees. Kazimir put it to sleep.

Urtusk stepped over it and swung his sword into it’s neck. Then he set about skinning it and harvesting it’s meat.

At last they came towards the center of the unnatural winter, where they had seen it’s center on the map from the lodge. A swirling maelstrom of snow came in around them, thickening so much they could not see towards what they walked..

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Session 5
Weal and Woe

After Njaldur and Urtusk tie up Rokhar, Kazimir set about healing Shank and Holt. Rokhar pleaded to them that he was under orders from the Wintertouched Fey.

“Tacey,” Njaldur asks. “What’s with this guy?”

“I just met him. I say we kill him,” Tacey says with a grimace.

They don’t kill him, but take off his cloak, which looks high quality, made entirely of white fur and emanating a magic aura. They gave it to Kazimir, as seemed fitting, after finding that it protected the wearer from the cold, and Kazimir was the only one without a natural resistance. He also seemed to have the finest taste in clothes. Njaldur raisesed his voice to reject, but thought better of it, deciding an Ulfen Warrior was not likely to sport an all white cloak, for the blood that would undoubtably stain it.

They went out into the main hall and moved the bear rug. Rhokar told them that the Lady Argentea was being held beneath it. They found a cell underneath the lodge, where lady Argentea was kept in a dank cell. Down the ladder them climbed to save the damsel.

What they found in the cell was a disheveled looking woman in her late twenties, attractive and confidant despite the state of her apparell and surroundings, which were equally filthy.

“I am Lady Argentea, and I can reward you for rescuing me. I am willing to arrange you a payment of five hundred gold pieces.”

“How about one thousand?” Interceded Njaldur before anyone could accept.

“You don’t have to listen to him,” Spoke Shanka, who was unusually talkative at that moment.

“Now you speak up!” Exclaimed Njaldur as the negotiation fell quickly through his fingers.

They agreed to five hundred gold pieces. Lady Argentea told them of how she was captured. On the way back from her wedding, where she had led her spurned groom to be, she was waylaid by the winter touched fey and Rhokar’s thugs.

Meanwhile, Shanka spoke with Tacey to discovered the story about Njaldur and how Tacey came to be with Rhokar’s bandits. Tacey said that after she was left high and dry by Njaldur, the High Sentinels took her there, and there she stayed until Rhokar came with the Wintertouched fey and killed the High Sentinels.

They went on to explore the rest of the house. Kazimir and Holt went upstairs and found a large map on a table that seemed to be showing the surrounding area, and the snow spreading out from a central point, out in the valley beyond the lodge.

Holt and Kazimir also found a wintertouched fey trapped in a cage in the closet. “Let me out!” it demanded.

Holt responded by demanding information, towering over it and using voice full of violence and anger. “Why did the fey capture Lady Argentea,” he asked.

“I do not know what humans do,” the fey said. “I serve her.”

“Who is ‘her’?” Asked Holt.

“The Queen of the World. Let me out and I’ll put in a good word with her.”

Holt put an end to the evil creatures life with acid.

They went to ask Rokhar what he knew about all that. Searching him, they found a fake spellbook, and a holy symbol of Norgorber, god of secrets, poison and murder. He was pretending to be a necromancer, but was really a worshipper of the worst kind. He also had poisons on his person, and smeared on his blade.

Knowing his secret, Rokhar was more giving with his information. He told them that there was a portal from Irrisen to here, and that winter from spreading from it. He told them that cold iron can be used to fight them, but that fire works better. They had a troll named Teb Knotten, a bunch of little fey, and their leader named Hummelstrub.

They decided to send Kazimir and Holt, along with Lady Argentea and the captured Rokhar back to Heldren. They would deliver Lady Argentea to safety, Rokhar to justice, gather supplies and horses and return to the lodge. Using Kazimir’s magic they would make good time. After much debate to the logistics, and several auguries by Shanka, which returned woe, and weal and woe with regard to their plan, they decided and left for Heldren.

The wind began to howl.

While in Heldren, Kazimir and Holt spoke with the Mayor about the situation. They arranged for Rokhar to be taken with Lady Argentea to Oppara to face justice.

Yuln, the Ulfen mercenary asked them: “Do you have my blade?”

“No,” said Holt. “Njaldur still has it. There are still fey to fell with it.”

“Aye, well, it has changed hands. At least it is in the hands of a Stigrrson. Perhaps his father will buy me another.”

Holt and Kazimir went with Lady Argentea to the Silver Stoat to get a drink. There, Kazimir gave Lady Argentea her tea set as he was been ordered. Holt server her the papers that stated that she must repay her dowry for the marriage to which she did not commit.

They arranged for Njaldur’s share of his reward for the Lady’s rescue to be sent to his mother.

Holt had a romantic moment with Xanthippe, where they coyly admitted feelings for each other and exchanged a kiss in case Holt wouldn’t return soon.

Thereafter, they gathered supplies, including snowshoes from Tengezil, who has created a few more pairs at their earlier request. Then they rode back to the lodge again making good time with Kazimir’s wayfinding magic.

When they return to the lodge, they dispersed the gear. After that, they spent another night to recover and regain their magic allotments. During the night, two blue goblins snuck out from beneath the table in the main hall and were quickly smashed by Urtusk.

In the morning, Njaldur charmed Aryuh into drawing Izoze out of the woods beyond the bridge. Kazimir put Izoze to sleep with his strange magic, and they made quick work of the fey creature with alchemist’s fire and a blade to the neck.

Aryuh was told she could leave and she started to make her way across the bridge. Njaldur raised his bow to put her out of her misery, tumbling from the bridge, but Shanka gave him a stern look.

“She’s clearly an evil person. What about all those people she said she murdered, her parents and young brother?” Njaldur said.

Shanka’s look was the same, reflective like a sheet of ice.

Njaldur sighed and put his bow down. He put his hand in the air with three fingers spread, the sign of the Warriors of the Wicked Way, and Aryuh hurried out of sight, on her own, without weapons, into the unseasonal cold.

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Session 4
Assault on the Lodge

“So, about that sword. I see you’re not using it. I’d certainly get more use out of it, so how about giving it over?” Njaldur looked hopefully at Urtusk, who stared back with his resting furrowed brow.

Urtusk reached out his hand holding a fish hook looted from one of the fey corpses. “Here. This is more your size.”

Njaldur sighed and shook his head.

They continued on through the unnatural snowfall, finding it easy to follow the path, because huge snow drifts had built up on either side of the trail. They gained altitude to the south, and it grew colder with each mile.

Two more hours along, Urtusk and Kazimir began to feel the effects of the cold. They saw smoke in the distance.

After some deliberation, Njaldur decided to sneak ahead to see who was before them. He found a trio discussing the ransoming of a noble woman. “I hope Rokhar let’s us kill her,” One said. They said that they’d rather be here then back at the lodge getting sick, as many of the other bandits were.

The group approached, trying to avoid a fight, but failed. Luckily the bandits appeared to have already been wounded from a previous battle. Njaldur stepped in and charmed the murderous one with a few hand gestures and a wink. She remembered him as an old friend. They took out the other two, leaving just Aryuh to speak.

The bandits were named Aryuh, Bevan and Caldur. They were stationed there to be a lookout for the High Sentinel lodge, which has new ownership. Aryuh didn’t think much of her compaions. She kept referring to her “list”, and how it was ok that Bevan and Caldur died because they were on it.

They revealed that they are working for Rokhar, a necromancer, who was back at the lodge. There was also a creepy flying ice creature named Izoze, Aryuh said. But the person in charge was someone named Teb Knotten.

They agreed to accompany Aryuh back to the lodge. She boasted that after they kill Rokhar, she’d be the leader and they’d be called The Warriors of the Wicked Way. Njaldur gave Kazimir and nod, and he put her to sleep, and they tied her up and carried her on Kazimir’s horse the rest of the way.

After about three hours they came to a spot to camp, not far from the lodge. They rested and made their plan of attack.

As soon as they approached the lodge, Njaldur in the lead, their plan fell apart when Njaldur triped a trap and got shot with an arrow. The mechanism that fired the bolt also set a bundle of pots and pans clanging loudly. Njaldur lept into a snowbank and attempted to hide behind a well, while the rest of the group charged in to flank the front doorway. Aryuh was dropped to the ground.

Bandits started firing arrows from the windows as Holt and Urtusk bashed down the front door. Kazimir began putting the bandits to sleep, one by one. Kazimir and Njaldur started whispering a chant to Urtusk: “Rage, rage, rage.”

Shanka stabbed at the bandits in the windows with her long spear, and Kazimir continued to cast an evil eye and drop bandits into slumber. Njaldur shot arrows with his bow, taking a moment to cast a grease charm into the lodge, on which the bandits begin slipping and cursing.

Once many of the bandits are dropped, a strange incantation came from somewhere inside the lodge. Unnatural energy swirled around the fallen bodies and they began to jerk and twitch awake, rising to their feet again, with a cold emptiness in their eyes. They re-entered the fray and the tide begans to turn against the heroes.

From behind Njaldur he heard a voice “Long time no see, Ruti,” and a bag of potatoes narrowly missed the back of his head.

Tacey?” Says Njaldur, as he pulled out his fiddle. “No time to talk, let’s catch up after the fight.” He turned and faced his audience, a bedlam of bandits and melee clashing in the front room of the lodge. He drew his bow to his fiddle and turnrf back to wink once at Tacey. “This one is called Tacey’s Two step” and he began a rapid song to inspire his companions against the zombies.

Kazimir struck at a zombie and critically wounded it, leaving Shanka to finish it off. An intense cold formed in the room as two frozen skeletons emerged from an upper floor and clattered down into the main hall of the lodge. Urtusk began smashing them indiscriminately from the others.

Kazimir let fly fire from his hands. Hesitant at first, but deciding to join in with Njaldur and his crew, Tacey stabbed her weapon through a window, taking out a zombie. Njaldur stoped his two step and entered into the fray with his longsword drawn. He downed a zombie of his own.

Tacyed moved into the lodge, but slipped on the grease from Njaldur’s spell and fell on her back. “I hate you,” she said with a deadpan expression.

Holt smashed his way through live and rotten flesh alike with his morning star. But when he reached the frozen skeletons, his ferocity was frozen in place, and the skeletons brought him down.

Zombies swarmed on Shanka and she attempted to fight her way inside to protect her companions, and they brought her down as well.

Kazimir was nearly felled as well, but was able to remain standing and fight on.

The source of the necromancy unveiled itself when Rokhar appeared, draining the life from one of his bandit minions to bolster his own. Kazimir noticed that as Rokhar’s cast more spells, he used furtive gestures.

Rokhar attempted to fight, but was slowly overwhelmed as his minions fell. The heroes fought him into a corner and he attempted to escape through a doorway, but Njaldur ran around through a side room to flank him, his bow drawn.

Rokhar surrendered and threw up his hands up. Urtusk and Tacey wanted to kill him, but Njaldur convinced the group to let him live.

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Session 3
Fey and Fury

“Those were wintertouched fey,” Njaldur explained, gesturing to the bodies of the tiny blue creatures.  “It’s said that Baba Yaga once made a deal with them, and each accepted a sliver of ice into it’s heart, turning them evil.  They don’t care much for people, it would seem.”

They continued on through the forest and snow.  They were forced to stop again in the afternoon to rest and regain warmth from their fire.

“Look, if you’re superstitious about that sword not working, I can take it off your hands,” Njaldur jabbed at Urtusk.  The kellid drew a piece of roasted horse meat to his mouth and took a bite.  Njaldur let out a sigh and looked longingly into the fire.

After continuing on, they stopped when Holt spotted a strange lump in the snow before them.  He drew his morning star and closed in to investigate.

From the lump slithered a tiny worm-like dragon- a Tatzelwurm.  Shanka lept forward, anticipating the danger, and stabbed the creature with her long spear.  Kazimir’s eyes seemed to sharpen and focus on the creature, then he gestured his hand, stunning the Tatzelwurm with a flash and crackle of light.  Finally, Urtusk leapt in with his axe and laid it low.  He picked it up and placed it on his shoulders as a trophy.

They continued through the snow.

Before them appeared a pure white stag.  It spoke to them, saying that none had passed through when it was asked of recent travelers.  Holt knew that it was lying and he told it so, which provoked it into attacking, along with an atomie and a familiar sprite, wintertouched fey hiding in the white surrounding them.  The fey flung insults, shrinking Urtusk’s axe with magic.

“Watch out, these miniature sword fighters can shrink you!” Njaldur called to his companions, as he drew out his fiddle and began to play a rapid staccato.

Holt, inspired by Njaldur’s music, landed a solid blow on one of the fey.  The stag charged in to wound Shanka, who withdrew only to be struck down by a tiny fey arrow.  Urtusk swung wildly at the fey, and Holt downed the stag too.  Njaldur stopped his inspiring song, while Kazimir drew his sharp gaze to help fell the final fey.

Their ambushers silenced, the group continued on to find Wishbone Creek frozen over.  A sign held by a snowman before it read “Tresspassers turn back!”  Holt threw an acid splash on it, melting it partially.  

“Can’t you read?! TURN BACK!” Shouted the snow man, as he exploded in a punishing wave of sound that bruised Urtusk.

They decided to rest before attempting to cross the river.  Moving off the path, out into the woods a bit, they made their camp as night fell.  Njaldur took first watch, lasting about half of the two hours before he began to play cards with himself for an hour, joking and singing to himself carelessly.

On Shanka’s shift she was ever vigilant.  She felt the restless spirits on the land, and near by their camp.

Holt’s shift was dreary, as he lamented the lack of profits and prospects in this endeavor.  But his ill accounting was cut short by a mass of icy snow plopping down onto the fire, extinguishing it.  Everyone woke to the sound and clamored for their weapons scrambling out into the camp to find frozen trees attacking Holt.  After a short few moments of clammering around in the dark, the frost firs were destroyed.

On Kazimir’s watch, he was attacked by a giant bee, but with a little help from the others, he was able to put it down safely and without suffering it’s poison sting.

In the morning, the group broke down camp and Njaldur took in the cold morning air, as Holt and Kasmir grumbled their way through their morning rituals.  “Thank the gods I’m a country boy,” sang Njaldur as he played his fiddle along along with breakfast.

They returned to the river and made to cross it.  Urtusk went first and made it safely to the other side.  As Njaldur crossed, the ice swam up from the river, forming into elementals that knocked him back into the freezing water.  

Urtusk draged Njaldur free onto the shore. His body temperature droped rapidly, they were forced to remove Njaldur’s clothes while he failed to land a joke.

Holt smashed an elemental, and Njaldur dazed another.  Urtusk threw a spear and slayed the second.  Then they brought the rest of the group and equipment across the river.

Kazimir drew a rod and gave it a twist, morphing it into a strange tool, and sparking a fire with it to warm Njaldur.

Then, near the side of the path, they found a body frozen and lifeless. He was a local farmer that Njaldur recognized as Old Man Dansby.
 

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Session 2
Harried by Winter

Inside one of the emptied wagons they found some of Lady Argentea’s jewelry.  Inside another, the corpses of three courtiers.  They would have to be seen to proper burials, but Njaldur was more concerned with the jewelry and moving on.

They approached the ice statue in the center of the site.  On closer inspection, it appeared to be an Ulfen Mercenary captain frozen in the ice.  In his hand was a quality sword, which they plucked and gave to Urtusk.  

“This is no axe,” Urtusk replied, but begrudgingly carried it, after being convinced it’s fine make would help it strike true.

They went from the massacre site into the woods, following a clear trail of snow.  The winter came in around them, blowing snow and wind piercing through their clothing better suited for the Taldan summer.  Each hour they traveled their stamina was sapped, and they felt the cold slowing the blood in their veins.

After long they came to a clearing, at the center of which they saw a chest, strangely alone as if dropped in flight.  Njaldur and Urtusk went to investigate, Njaldur’s mind racing with the treasure perhaps therein.

A snap sounded, followed by the whooshing of a giant log adorned with spikes swung across the clearing, hung high from a tree.  Urtusk took the brunt of the trap, allowing Njaldur to stumble safely away.  Then they were free to loot the chest.  Inside they found many mundane weapons and gear, which would be worth at least a day’s work.

They continued on a bit further, but decided to turn back for fear that the cold would prematurely end their quest.  They returned to the clearing, and finally to the massacre site.  There they collected the cold bodies of the three courtier girls and went back to Heldren.

With the money they earned from selling the loot, those that did not already have them bought cold weather gear- thick tunics, coats, cloaks and boots to protect them from the unnatural winter in the wood.

From there they went to the Silver Stoat again to unwind.  They spoke of Irrisen- what Njaldur had heard and what Kasimir had saw in his travels.  Kasimir elaborated on ginger breading.  Njaldur asked about the tea set and how it might all be connected to Lady Argentea’s capture.  No conclusions could be made and they would have to save judgment for when the Lady was found, dead or alive.

Njaldur talked them into visiting Ionnia Teppin, the leader of Heldren’s town council, to request a reward for looking into the disappearance and attack.  Although she was annoyed by the request, and Njaldur’s conscripted diplomatic team fell fast from their negotiations, Ionnia agreed to gather two hundred gold pieces from the townsfolk.

Early the next morning they set out again into the patch of winter past the massacre site.  This time the Kellids did not seem so naturally resistant, and the others struggled as well with the biting winds and snow.  Visibility was low and any ranged combat would be difficult, they knew.

Midway to noon, they stopped to make a fire and regain lost warmth.  They spoke then of mammoths and giant sloths that are native to the far north.

They continued on and after a while Holt spotted feathered bundles hanging from the lowest tree branches around them on the path.  The black feathers swing and shifted in the wind.  On closer inspection, pieces of leather were stuck to them with pins, and the bundles were whole dead crows.

Tiny pin sized arrows leapt from the surrounding wood, and blue, winged fey flew out to waylay them.  The fey threw sprays of color form their tiny hands, disabling Shanka and then Kasimir.  Urtusk threw spears and swung wildly at them, roaring with anger, his attacks bolstered by his rage.  Missing twice with the new sword, he threw it to the ground and drew his axe, trusting it's blade more, however less finely honed.

Kasimir’s owl swooped in to protect it’s master, pecking and scratching at the fey.

Holt killed one with splashes of acid and used his blessing of Abadar to move swiftly across the snow.  

Njaldur stalked through the trees after a third.  Out on his own between the trees visibility was low, and the fey was tiny and hid easily behind bough and trunk.  His cloak blowing dramitcally in the wind, but his sword catching more air and bark than fey, Njaldur managed to do some damage to the fey.  Then Holt arrived, moving much more swiftly, and swinging his morning star true, killing the creature.

The last fey retreated out into the cold and snow, cursing them as it went.  Urtusk fell out of rage into a state of fatigue and Shank and Kasimir regained consciousness.  They were alone again in the cold and snow, surrounded only by trees and the grim crow fetishes.

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Letter from Kazimir to Lady Jana Urvalane in Whitethrone

To Lady Jana Urvalane
Glaming Factory
Bluerime Street, Frosthall
Whitethrone in Irrisen

Lady Jana

Strange tidings on my journey in the south.  First, I must inform you that both Ivan and Petr abandoned me when we were in Nirmathas.  I couldn’t persuade them to finish our task and return to Irrisen; my path included booking passage on a boat on Lake Encarthan headed towards Kerse.  They decided that they liked the taverns and warm weather in Tamran.  Fortunately, my later journey on the waterways was not dangerous.

I am writing to you from a small village called Heldren which is less than a day away from the wedding delivery in Zimar.  Just before I arrived, news came through that Lady Argentea left Zimar unwed and headed back to Oppara.  Furthermore, it was discovered that her party had been attacked; her fate is currently unknown.  A small group of people – including me – is investigating the event.  I will make decisions about the delivery when we learn more.

Also, a strange thing occurred just after we learned of the attack.  A wise woman came into the inn where everyone was discussing the news and she got an opportunity to give a Harrow reading.  Now, we both know that, in the right hands, the readings can provide true omens.  We have both seen the Harrow deck used in this way with great veracity.

This reading was quite something.  First of all, each of the nine cards was placed in the tableau with perfect alignment.  Have you ever heard of such a thing, even in old stories?  Could it have been a sleight of hand trick?  Secondly, many of the cards had what seemed to be obvious connections to people in the room, and these same people are participating in the investigation!  At least five of the cards seemed to point at us, including one for me in the very center position.

In addition, there were two oddities.  The middle of the bottom row held The Mute Hag.  This is a dire omen and – given my mission and the calendar – might indicate the imminent return of Great GrandMother.   The other oddity is about the card that pointed at me in the center.  That position held The Foreign Trader which seems to point to me as that is the role I am fulfilling.  The strange part of that is that Foreign Trader doesn’t seem to actually describe me.  The cards do not make mistakes in a True Reading, though.  Was the old crone giving a True Reading or did she set the deck to try to match what she could see, to try to get our group into action?  Does she have a secret agenda?  Are these people in league trying to rob the delivery or perhaps kidnap the Lady Argentea?  Maybe the reading is True and nothing is amiss, other than the obviously dire predictions.

I don’t seem to have much more news other than that these southern lands are hot and humid.  The humidity is good for the skin, but I am not sure that my owl Katja is enjoying the heat.  She does like the additional quarry, though!  Oh!  There is a building in this small village that boasts gingerbreading.  I didn’t expect to see that so far away from home, even though there are so many hardwood trees in this area.  Veritable forests!


Yours,

Kazimir Velikas

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