Reign of Winter

Summary 24: Mother Russia

Chapter Five: Rasputin Must Die


SESSION THEME

Having been separated from its mother for months, the childish OTESANEK became upset when the Horde denied it knowledge about her whereabouts.  What the aberration really wanted however was to be fed, right now.  OTESANEK pointed to KRUSH and demanded that he be surrendered and de-shelled.  SHANG-STUNG warned the Mandragora that the Dinosaur was poisonous and would more than likely leave a bad aftertaste.  Immune to toxins, the plant was willing to take the chance and told the Elder not to concern himself.  Unwilling to part with the beast, the Horde offered to fetch the thing a snack.  Losing patience, Little OTIK made a counterproposal and was willing to settle for OTAK on a spit instead.  When the Elder refused for a second time, OTESANEK let out a terrible shriek potent enough to shatter stone.  Nauseated by the blast, SHANG-TSUNG took a moment to compose himself.  Suddenly, the ground became alive and the vegetation managed to wrap itself around the Gom tribesmen.  Meanwhile, OTESANEK tenderized the Half-Orc with a bite and two vines.  The first nearly sheared him in twine but the vine was redirected thanks to MIYUKI’s divine interference.  UPANIX sprung in and out danger and cut a gaping hole in the shambling mound.  Grappled in its maw, OTAK reached for his whip and gave the child a lashing.  KRUSH moved into position, got slapped for his efforts, and clubbed the thing in the midsection.  Wanting to suffer with the Half-Orc, MIYUKI shielding OTAK from harm.  Four holy arrows found their mark soon after and nearly returned the mass to the earth.  The Mandragora released his meal and sent the Elder flying into wall and to the ground with an awesome blow.  Both UPANIX and OTAK took offense and pummeled the thing until it stopped moving.  The room’s plant life slowly released their hold and withered away moments after Little OTIK’s defeat.  The Samurai picked himself up, called out to the medic and MIYUKI restored life to those beaten.

A thorough search of the room unraveled another Javelin of Lightning, a hidden door to the east and a cupboard filled with soiled clothing.  SHANG-TSUNG dug through the cloths and found a distortion leading to another chamber.  The Horde watched their Elder walk into the closet and others followed his lead.  The bedchamber beyond was dark and dimly lit by a candle on a nearby table.  The Horde began their search when suddenly, MIYUKI was complaining about a sudden headache.  Everyone readied their weapons and both UPANIX and SHANG-TSUNG noticed that no one was casting a shadow.  The Elder however was able to pinpoint several shades floating about.  The Horde’s detached shadows pounced upon their real selves and touched them with their frigid claws.  The Horde retaliated but their incorporeal selves proved elusive, weaving in and out of view.  Having survived their master’s wrath, the Shadow Demons withdrew through the floorboards and did not return.  The Horde let the dust settle and approached the Candle of Shadowcalling in hopes to produce a shadow, but alas, none appeared.  The search continued and several potions found in a locked chest had been claimed as a consolation prize.  The heavy curtains blocking the room’s window were pulled open revealing a sunlit pasture outside.  Blinding bright light flooded the room from end to end and still, no shadows.  Having found nothing else of interest, the Horde climbed up the fireplace to the south.

A dozen or so coffins dominated the chamber beyond.  Loud music filled the air, coming from a strange looking construct in the south-western corner.  The view outside the eastern windows was that of a devastated snow covered village flanked by a frozen river, trees and a colossal construct on wheels.  Sitting in front of the door leading out was a vile looking Demon donning a fur cloak and hat.  A scythe in one hand, a deck of cards in the other and a white smoking stick in his mouth.  Suddenly, MIYUKI dropped to her knees and cried out in excruciating pain, like the time the Horde faced off with Witchdaughter’s Nightmare.  The Coffin Man greeted the Horde but SHANG-TSUNG took offense and readied his arrows.  UPANIX however gave the outsider an ultimatum; silence the music or die.  The Thanadaemon pointed to the wooden flower music box and the sound stopped.  A small lever attached the construct lifted freeing a rotating black disk.  The thing labeled “God Save the Tsar” hovered to the side and another disk labeled “Mother Russia” took its place.  The disk began to rotate and the lever made contact filling the room with a new spirited sound.  A big admirer of music, the Coffin Man asked the Horde if the mood had improved.  All looked to the screaming Paladin and decreed that the evil be purged.  The Coffin Man was met by three holy arrows, a club, a ram and greatsword.  Surprisingly enough, BABA YAGA’s alleged cousin survived the attack, barely, and Teleported away to safety.  SHANG-STUNG silenced the anthem with an adamantine arrow and the Horde helped themselves to the Coffin Man’s powerful treasures.  A barrel in the north-eastern corner was pried open revealing a portal, the fireplace to the south, bearing ZORKA’s insignia, too revealed another way out.  In dire need of fresh air, MIYUKI suggested the Horde exit through the door to the east.

The door led outside the Dancing Hut, the carcass of a small village in the distance.  The smog-like air reeked of something similar to Alchemist Fire, only stronger.  With no yellow markers on the Karta, the Horde headed towards the village in hopes to find answers and signs of life.  As they traveled the snow covered surface, KRUSH felt something below his paw.  Suddenly, the ground underneath him erupted in flame and shards of metal, the latter piercing through everyone’s skin.  The snow rose some twenty feet in the air alarming two Russian Mortar Troops hiding behind collapsed buildings.  Fifty unarmored men prepared for battle and the Horde charged.  OTAK stepped on another devastating land mine, heard a loud noise and noticed two metallic balls in the air headed towards them.  The mortar shells touched down and created two new craters within the Horde’s proximity.  A dozen or so men with exotic looking crossbows fired repeatedly in all directions, the miniature bolts piecing through armor and skin.  Another dozen men behind them launched metallic projectiles by hand, the things destroying everything within thirty feet.  To make matters worse, several soldiers were spotted mounting the colossal construct, barking out orders in BABA YAGA’s language.  By the time the smoke cleared, the Horde was suffering from third degree burns and their bodies, infused with all kinds of metal.  Having suffered half of OTAK’s damage, MIYUKI’s broken body was scooped up by OBEY-MI and the Horde retreated to the Dancing Hut to rethink their strategy.  MAIN wanted to stick around but followed suite when the Troops began to give chase.  Fearful of the Dancing Hut, the Troops returned to their sanctuary after successfully driving off the enemy Horde forces.

Wanting nothing to do with… THAT, the Horde preferred to explore the hut further.  First things first, the music box playing “God Save the Tsar” was disabled yet again.  Secondly, MIYUKI expended all she could muster to close wounds and extracted all metal staving off infection.  Finally, the doctor ordered eight hours of bed rest and the Horde complied.  The sun began setting by the time the Horde woke up and all felt refreshed and unhampered by the Mantle’s reprimand.  The Horde stepped into the fireplace and found themselves within the shadow room.  Someone or something had shut the curtain and the rag was moved aside to reveal a sunset.  OTAK stood before the candle and demanded the thing to return his shadow.  As the light flickered mockingly, the Half-Orc smashed the wax to pulp only to watch it reform moments later.  The cupboard portal was ignored and the Horde walked through the door to the east.  The chamber beyond was littered with a hundred or so skulls, a flame burning within each.  Crucified on a table to the east was a tattered doll similar to the one found in the Border Wood back in Taldor.  Suddenly, the skulls began clacking their jaws menacingly.  Those who listened carefully detected a constant refrain amongst the chittering skulls :

Vasilisa… Vasilisa… Vasilisa…

A search revealed two new portals, again within a cold fireplace and the other at the bottom of a whisky barrel.  The creepy doll was not equipped with a mirror but one of the eyes had been replaced with a valuable gem.  Playing it safe, everything was left in its place and the Horde climbed up the chimney.

Gingerbread and candy formed the walls within the next chamber.  The room featured stick candy furniture, a ribbon candy cabinet, licorice curtains, a cupcake table and glazed sugar brittle windows.  Sleeping on the floor near the eastern door was a Domovoi, the one SHANG-STUNG threw through a portal the day prior.  Tossing and turning, the Fey Gnome was clearly experiencing the effects of a Nightmare.  All those who stepped inside were given a Suggestion, to help themselves to a treat, an offer the Gom Tribe couldn’t refuse.  The other members resisted the urge and watched in horror as both OTAK and KRUSH consumed the rotten maggot-ridden filth beneath the sugary glaze.  On par with the tribe menu back in Garund, OTAK and KRUSH continued filling their bellies whilst suppressing the potent sleeping agent within the bonbons.  Meanwhile, MIYUKI began getting a headache; twas not due to the Half-Orc’s foul appetite, but thanks to a pair of Invisible Bogeymen with cruel intentions.  BRONISLAV and MITYA sent chills within the room but were deflected by the Paladin’s Aura of Courage.  The Bogeymen sent a pair of Phantasmal Killers in the Samurai’s direction and attempted to pincer the Specimen; their efforts squandered.  Unable to sneak attack the Half-Giant and incapable of spooking the Elder’s resolve, the Fey fell quickly to arrows and a whirlwind attack.  As for the Barbarians from the south, their banquet ceased after five or six servings; well after the battle had ended. A search of the room revealed three portal exit points and a very useful Cauldron of plenty.  The Horde stepped into the cabinet and found themselves in a new room.

The Horde now found themselves within an unkempt wooden cottage consumed by the forest surrounding it.  Trees jutted up through the dirt floor and bursted through the thatch ceiling above, their dead leaves scattered all about.  Bright sunlight, filtered by a forest canopy, streamed through a single window to the west.  One by one, the Mirror of Life Trapping in disguise absorbed and imprisoned all those who gazed upon the window; the only one to resist the charm was the maiden MIYUKI.  Alone and surrounded by the Horde’s gear left behind, the Paladin frantically sought out her missing friends.  Looking through the window, she noticed her confused and naked allies scattered throughout the forest.  Unable to get their attention by banging on the window, the Paladin was forced to doubled her efforts when she spotted a huge spider-like creature stalking them.  The Paladin slammed into the mirror and cracked it on her third attempt.  Doing so unleashed a sudden gust of force sending the Paladin to the floor, her head in absolute agony due to an overwhelming evil close by.  One by one, the Barbarians were freed from imprisonment, as was the captured Derghodaemon and his summoned Creeping Doom.  Within seconds, the cabin was filled with millions of tiny centipedes, the swarm overwhelming every surface.  As the Horde fought the swarm’s distraction and scrambled to find a weapon and the Swarm Bane Clasp, the Derghodaemon ripped and rended at the Specimen’s exposed and unprotected flesh.  Meanwhile, the swarm climbed in every nook and cranny and injected their paralyzing venom with their tiny mandibles; luckily the toxins lacked potency.  MIYUKI entered a divine rage and pelted the foul spider with three arrows, all bathed in radiant light, the attack’s effectiveness on par with that of a Hygashiyamian cluster shot.  Having found the Clasp, UPANIX endured another assault and was stripped down to the bone.  The Horde counterstriked and it was SHANG-TSUNG’s one and only arrow that fell the vulnerable beast.  MIYUKI felt much better soon after but the Swarm forced her to channel energy to keep her allies afloat.  With the only means to exterminate the Swarm, UPANIX spent an entire minute swatting at the bugs and coated the ground with empty shells.  Having survived the painful and embarrassing ordeal, the Horde dug out their belongings and reequipped themselves.  Meanwhile, MIYUKI had touched the Specimen half a dozen times, as did MAIN, to regrow his skin and restore his lost vitality.  The Horde left the mess via the fireplace only to reenter a room they’ve already visited.  The hour that followed was spent mapping out the Hut’s current configuration and no new rooms were found.  With nowhere else to go, the Horde quickly came to the conclusion that their destiny would lead them back to their version of Hell, Mother Russia.  After a short rest, the Horde awaited morning and reluctantly went back outside.

The once peaceful and now ruined village of Akuvskaya stood before them, a dozen gaping craters from infernal weapons separating it from them.  The air still reeked of death, disease and despair but all appeared calm and quiet as before.  SHANG-TSUNG summoned OBEY-MI and took to the air to scout out his surroundings.  Trees were seen as far as the eye could see in nearly all directions.  To the east, another village fallen from grace was spotted roughly a full day’s march from their current position.  Wanting nothing to do with the village before them, the Horde left the Dancing Hut behind, entered the forest and headed east.  The air within the wood was clean and fresh, but in the far off distance, for hours on end, the sound of hundreds of Thunderstones and an occasional explosion could be heard.  Two more hours passed and the smell of tainted air came into play.  Within seconds, seventy-five men strong were spotted approaching the Horde’s position and both sides, aware of each other, prepared for battle.  Using the trees as heavy cover, the Russian forces mobilized into three separate man swarms, fired their infernal crossbows and launched their dirty bombs.  The metal storm slammed hard upon the Horde albeit the trees providing some protection.  SHANG-TSUNG retaliated with a Chain Lightning Scroll, the primary bolt hitting its target to the right, the after shock searing the Troop in the center.  The Paladin fired her primitive missiles and managed to down a soldier or two.  UPANIX however, charged the nearest Troop, a daring maneuver to say the least, one the Russians have never witnessed before.  With the Clasp around his neck, the Half-Giant swung his blade dealing heavy casualties.  OTAK and KRUSH followed suit and charged another Troop, metal pellets bouncing off Dinosaur hide and penetrating sweet soft Orc flesh.  Unable to fully benefit from advanced weaponry, two of the Troops retaliated with the blades at the end of their repeating crossbows, a strategy far less effective.  The third Troop however continued to shower the battlefield with mass destruction.  Enraged, UPANIX laid waste to his Troop with one swift stroke and charged the other.  Both the Gom tribe and the Horde’s arrows continued having little effect but both Troops were forced into melee.  Face to face against the Horde resulted the eventual demise of the Russian forces, a handful of soldiers running for their lives.

After a soothing bath of positive energy, the dead soldiers and their gear were gathered into two piles, the former set ablaze to avoid a Zombie apocalypse.  Rummaging through the spoils, nothing appeared magical in nature, save for one of the gas masks.  The weapons were indeed strange…, and complicated.  Fashioned metal bolts stacked together, dirty bombs the size of one’s fist, bladed crossbows without the springing mechanism, smaller versions similar to hand crossbows, small boxes of weed sticks wrapped in paper, tiny fire boxes, all of it, alien.  The only thing protecting the soldiers from harm was a thin layer of cloth, nothing a sword slash couldn’t handle.  Their trail rations were very different but on par with those found in various markets back home on Golarion.  Several items stood out more than the others however, fourteen Ryukzaks, eleven Ochkis, two Kartas and half a dozen Kepkas.  All visually identical to the Rider’s treasures in every way, only far less wondrous and non-magical.  As the Horde tried to make sense of everything, MIYUKI began complaining of a headache, an frequent ailment as of late.  She turned to the fire and spotted a bearded middle-aged man donning a black Monk’s robe, his arms crossed and his gaze, stern.  The man smiled sinisterly and demanded that the Horde explain their presence in broken common.
 
CHALLENGE
XP
Otesanek; Immense Mandragora
12800
Trap: Candle of Shadowcalling; triggered
3200
The Coffin Man; Thanadaemon; bypassed
6400
Trap: Land Mines; triggered 6400
2 Russian Mortar Troops; bypassed
9600
Trap: Captivating Confections; triggered
4800
Bronislav & Mitya; Bogeymen
4800
Trap: Mirror of Lifetrapping 4800
Derghodaemon 4800
3 Russian Machine Gun Troops 12800
Session total 70400
Campaign total
387320

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