Reign of Winter

Summary 23: A New Hope

Chapter Four: The Frozen Stars

SHANG-TSUNG fired a cluster shot and his arrows remained in suspended animation five feet within the Freezing Fog.  When YRAX entered the mist and became a blur, the Samurai reached for IMP’s Whistle but opted to validate the Dragon’s existence instead.  After confirming the Mirrored Image in Displacement to be real after being bathed in arctic winds, SHANG-STUNG unsheathed his blade and joined KRUSH, OTAK and UPANIX in melee combat.  The Elder swung with all his might cutting through thick Freezing Fog, tagging mirrors, Ghosts and impenetrable armor.  When he finally pierced the Dragon’s flesh, YRAX unleashed his full fury upon the Samurai.  Two bites, three claws, a tail slap and three wings later, SHANG-TSUNG was about to fall for the first time in years, but the diehard warrior tapped into forgotten reserves and remained conscious.  Staggered, the Elder retreated and partook in several rounds of first aid.  When the Freezing Fog disappeared and YRAX became whole soon after, SHANG-TSUNG found himself in fog yet again.  Feeling more or less whole, the Elder pulled out a Dimension Door Scroll in hopes to take YRAX but surprise, but IvoryglassDimensional Anchor would have none of it.  The Samurai charged through fog, rejoined his ailing Horde and fired his barbs at the clear target.   A second round of Displacement came too little to late as two to four arrows met their mark, the last one stopping the Dragon’s heart.

YRAX’ downfall played out as follows.  Having mirrored his image after the Horde triggered the Alarm, The Dragon erected a Freezing Fog to impede his foes.  When UPANIX opened the doors and SHANG-TSUNG foolishly fired arrows, YRAX entered his freezing sanctuary and Displaced his form to increase his chances of survival.  As the Horde positioned themselves, YRAX unleashed his frightful presence and his mighty breath weapon upon all intruders.  Melee combat followed and with his superior reach, the Dragon landed four blows to the Horde’s one.  The White Dragon had its sights on the troublesome Healer, but the Horde did well to shield the maiden from harm.  YRAX forced both OTAK and SHANG-TSUNG to retreat and began ripping the Half-Giant apart.  When the fog disappeared, YRAX retreated to his chamber, became whole, enveloped the Horde in another Freezing Fog and made vital flyby attacks.  The Dragon managed two more devastating passes whilst avoiding the oversized Half-Orc and unleashed another howling storm.  Frustrated, YRAX continued making destructive passes but twas not enough to fell his foes.  Now under heavy fire, YRAX Displaced his form yet again but the Horde had become immune to the illusion.  When the Dragon failed to swallow the Samurai whole, a holy arrow pierced his black heart and ended YRAX’ reign of tyranny.

The Specimen wasted little time, followed the Samurai’s directions, raged and charged the Freezing Fog.  Once within the Dragons freezing aura and standing before the blurred mass, UPANIX’ greatsword went to work.  Both he and OTAK took turns suffering the Dragon’s wrath and breath whilst the Specimen struck at air more times than not.   Little Dragon blood was shed by his hand but YRAX’ duplicates did not fare as well.  Within seconds, the Dragon was one and the Horde began leaving their mark soon after.  YRAX took to the air when his magical defenses dwindle forcing the Half-Giant to fire arrows.  UPANIX fired eighteen barbs, one of them clipping his own ear when pulling back the bowstring, rendering him deaf until treated.  Though all arrows bounced off Dragon hide, the Specimen endured YRAX’ flyby attacks and kept the beast busy until the cavalry arrived.

The Gom Tribe followed the Half-Giant’s lead into the fog and sniffed their way towards their hated foe.  After a cold snow shower, the Garundi took heavy damage getting into position only to strike at shadows.  Both flanked he beast and supported UPANIX and SHANG-TSUNG in melee.  Shaken, KRUSH landed a lucky blow and OTAK connected hard but suffered critical wounds in the process.  The Half-Orc was ordered to retreat and sought the Paladin’s aid.  Having closed several lacerations and forming a bond with MIYUKI, OTAK charged through a second fog only to join a battle that had been taken to the air.  The Half-Orc fired a Javelin of Lightning, but the bolt was absorbed by some form of resistance.  As YRAX bit hard into Orc flesh, both he and MIYUKI cried out in pain.  Angry, OTAK quaffed a potion, grew to Giant size and stood next to the Samurai Archer to deter Dragon flyby attacks in his Elder’s direction.  Both Giants did their part and gave SHANG-TSUNG the opportunity to end the battle with an arrow.

MIYUKI meanwhile, spent the entire behind the fog, out of harm’s way.  The Paladin followed SHANG-TSUNG’s directions and channeled her positive energy.  If it wasn’t for her efforts, the Horde would have fallen three times over.  When OTAK and SHANG-TSUNG saved themselves from death, each were touched with Healing Hand.  Before reengaging the beast, OTAK was shielded from harm, his future wounds to be shared with the Paladin.  By the time the second fog cloud dissipated YRAX laid lifeless on the ground, the Horde in a victory pose.  Fatigued, in excruciating pain and deaf in some cases, the Horde had been in placed in MIYUKI’s care and all found peace in holding hands.

After taking a breather, YRAX’ room was searched and a small chest containing all sorts of restorative oils had been found.  Once pillaged, the Horde directed their attention to the large metal door set into the rear wall upon a raised platform.  OBEY-MI made the climb a breeze and the Chime of Opening picked the lock.  Beyond the door stood a mountain of coin, gems and exotic wears, all ripe for the picking.  The Ryukzak was called upon and the Dragon’s treasures were stored in its bottomless pit.  Two artifacts stood out more that the others however.  The first was an orb, silver in color, within a clear cubed case, both magical yet unidentifiable.  The second was a Bearskin Rug, glowing yellow through the Ochki, the second breadcrumb left by BABA YAGA.  Having found what they came for, the Horde agreed to locate SARNOK’s tomb before departing Triaxus.

Having explored most of Ivoryglass’ eastern wing, the Horde headed west.  The first chamber they came by was very small, a heavy circular stone plugging a hole in its center.  With the aid of an X-Ray Vision Ring acquired from the treasure trove, SHANG-TSUNG looked through the stone and noticed a strange think liquid churning about in tight quarters.  The discovery was ignored, a wise course of action as the Horde would soon learn that a White Pudding dwelled within, tasked in disposing of Ivoryglass’ waste.  The next chamber, hexagonal in shape, contained a variety of magical and alchemical crafting gear.  Several bodies, preserved by in the complex’ cold air, laid upon a stone table in the room’s center.  Three of the bodies were Triaxian cadavers, whilst the others appeared to be corpses of alien creatures, the building blocks required to create a Carrion Golem.  Still in the early stages of construction, the heap posed no threat and the Horde escaped the room unmolested with a few scrolls and oils in hand.

Three empty and unremarkable prison cells were located further down the hall and the Horde entered the room across from them.  The training hall filled with dummies, ropes, weights and other martial exercise equipment was occupied by a female Triaxian Monk.  CESSEER greeted the alien visitors and ask that the Horde to recount their tale leading them to Ivoryglass.  The Monk was most impressed and overjoyed to learn of YRAX’ defeat as his death meant her freedom.  As she packed her things, CESSEER revealed Ivoyglass’ secrets and dangers.  When asked about SARNOK’s tomb, the Monk had nothing to offer but admitted that no such place existed within the palace.  No longer bound to Ivoryglass and standing before beings with the power to thwart her, CESSEER departed on friendly terms and returned to a home she hadn't seen in decades.

After rummaging through several empty bedrooms, the Horde traveled to the kitchen to grab a bite to eat.  Once there, they stumbled upon the fascinating and partially nude Nereid named VIVEKA, the palace cook.  Unaware the Horde had been invited; the startled Fey began preparing a meal to avoid another lashing.  As OTAK grinded his fangs loathingly, the other Horde members explained the nudist’s new situation.  Upon learning of YRAX’ demise, the Fey jumped into the Specimen’s arms and nearly planted him with a drowning kiss, needless to say, she was thrilled.  Having been enslaved nearly a century, VIVEKA was in dire need of a change in scenery, all she required was her shawl.  Surprisingly enough, the Fey Killers spared the woman and returned the scarf they had found within the vault.  After wrapping herself with the cloth, VIVEKA bid her rescuers farewell, leaving enough foodstuffs to prepare a heroes feast.  After a late night snack, the pool housing YRAX’s pet Akhlut in the eastern wing was wisely avoided and the Horde reentered the Rimekeening Crevasse.

Having ignored three left paths within the glacier leading to Ivoryglass, the Horde opted to explore what they’ve missed.  The first led to a dark cavern.  Sharp icicles hung from the uneven ceiling and thick ice covered much of the walls, the frozen remains of several creatures entombed in one of them.  Amongst those ensnared, a Copper Dragonkin, an Elf four Triaxians and the Adlet warrior SARNOK.  With the Orb of Dragonkind in hand, the Samurai entered the cave and approached the icy prison.  Suddenly, a sticky strand tapped the Elder on the shoulder.  SHANG-TSUNG looked up and his Glowing Hand revealed a Roper beast hanging from the ceiling twenty feet above him.  SHANG-TSUNG, UPANIX and MIYUKI fired their arrows at the aberration and bloodied the thing.  Wanting to protect and bolster its collection, the Roper lunged with six strength draining strands.  Luckily, the Samurai was immune to the toxins and the one-eyed land squid was shot down moments later.  SHANG-TSUNG approached the wall with the Orb but nothing happened.  MIYUKI setup camp and the Horde used fire to melt SARNOK’s grave.  The Canine and his magical gear were extracted and the Horde resumed their raid.

After crossing the Frostworm’s lair unmolested, the second path was followed but turned out to be a dead end.  The third path led the Horde to another cavern rich in glistening crystal and mineral deposits.  Two nearby Carnivorous Crystals honed in on the highly nourishing minerals within the Horde’s gear and approached them slowly.  The crystalline forms were pelted with arrows as they continued their advance.  Once in melee, in minerals had their way with the OTAK, their razor sharp edges tearing him a new one, luckily the wounds did not crystallize.  Both OTAK and KRUSH made quick work of the Crystal to the left whilst the others disabled the other rock.  The Horde chiseled at the natural resources and amassed a small fortune within a few hours work.  With little else to do, the Horde climbed out of the crevasse and out into the howling storm.

A small snow mound was found just outside the Vahara Glacier, a wet black nose protruding from it.  As the Horde approached it, BAKNARLA emerged from the snow, anxious to learn of their findings.  SARNOK’s body was presented and the Adlet was starry eyed.  The Shaman performed a lengthy prayer and acquired SARNOK’s Prophet’s Pectoral, a holy relic worshiped by her people.  The artifact was to be presented to her tribe in hopes to inspire courage and aid them in their upcoming battle against the tyrant White Dragon.  When BAKNARLA was made aware of YRAX’ downfall, the Shaman was elated.  Heroes from beyond the frozen stars had indeed arrived and thwarted YRAX’ reign of terror as foretold.  BAKNARLA insisted that the Horde keep the remainder of SARNOK’s gear as thanks but all agreed to bury the warrior with all his possessions, his Thawing Dragon Bane Longspear as his tombstone.  After giving the Horde a final blessing, BAKNARLA began her journey back home bearing good news and new hope for her people.

Before embarking on the three day expedition back to the Dancing Hut, IMP’ Whistle had been played and a beautiful melody echoed through the wind, but nothing happened.  SHANG-TSUNG blew the thing again, no music and…, no IMP.  Disappointed,  the Horde began their march though severe conditions.  Several hours passed when suddenly, a portal formed before the Horde.  Expecting a foul Demon from the Abyss to step through, all prepared for battle.  The creature beyond unleashed a familiar hearty laugh, twas the mythic Dwarf IMP.  Still deep within a snowstorm, IMP erected a Tiny Hut to shield all from the elements as both parties reacquainted themselves.  After pleasantries, business.  The orb was pulled out of the Ryukzak and IMP smiled.  The artifact couldn't be authenticated at first but was deemed genuine once removed from its protective shell.  Suddenly, the howl of Dragons from miles away were heard, all attracted to the relic’s presence in the hands of non Dragons.  The Silver Orb of Dragonkind was quickly placed within the Chamber of Non Detection and the flying menaces were silenced.  Both parties engaged in negotiation and came to an agreement, the orb and found treasure in exchange for a new arsenal in gear.  IMP traveled the planes with the loot and returned to Triaxus by the time the Horde reached the Dancing Hut.  The Dwarf emptied his sac, made a toast and both parties parted ways until the next whistle blow. As the Horde adjusted to their new arms, wears and trinkets, SHANG-TSUNG traveled to Spurhorn to deliver news of YRAX’ defeat.  The courtesy was not unanimous within the Horde ranks, nor was it approved by the BLACK RIDERS Mantle of Responsibility, but the Elder was as stubborn as a mule.  By the time the Samurai returned from his tree day trip, the mantle had issued the Horde a slap on the wrist, sapping their power a tad to remind them of their responsibilities.  KRUSH had fallen unconscious as a result and both OTAK and SHANG-TSUNG had a spat over the Elder’s shilly-shallying albeit the Samurai’s good intentions.  Like a first-class leader, SHANG-TSUNG surrendered his Headband of Vast Intelligence to awake the beast, a gesture that calmed the storm.  Putting their differences aside, the Horde traveled back to the hut’s garden, entered the gazebo and threw the Bearskin Rug within the Master Cauldron.  Upon opening the birdcage on the table, the Two-Headed Eagle took flight and plunged within the brew.  Suddenly, all went black.

The Horde’s journey within the void was especially long this time around, their bodies stretched out to their limits.  By the time the Horde arrived at their new destination, the Half-Orc had already emptied his belly upon the floor.  The Master Cauldron bubbled and smoked in the center of a cluttered log cabin.  Golden birdcages filled the chamber from floor to ceiling, from every beam, upon every shelf.  Most prisons held the mummified remains of Domovoi, a Gnome-like creature.  A thorough search revealed a pair of magical manacles and a handful of Domovoi still alive within their cages.  The things sat placidly, chewing slowly on tiny bird bones.  The Fey did not respond to questioning but on occasion, they would mutter out a word of two in BABA YAGA’s native language.  SHANG-TSUNG, with the aid of the Kepka, made out the following :

From distant world to distant world, at last now we come home.

Many huts for many tales, but all begin here.  Vasilisa and her little doll.  Little Otik, the forsaken son, come to claim his birthright.  Mmmm…, I want candy.

Grandmother’s breadcrumbs, all snatched up.  What little birds pecked them up?

The sole window to the south displayed a curious sight: that of a bone fence fallen into disrepair and overgrown with thorny vines.  Beyond the grim scene stood tall dark trees and the carcass of a rusted metal wagon stood in a heap off to the side.  The sun however, was shining.  The Karta was consulted revealing a new landmass, the Rider’s markers concentrated in the center of the largest continent.  Using the window as an exit proved impossible and the Horde used the rickety ladder to reach the hut’s loft.  Now looking down upon the Domovoi’s room, the heavily cluttered walkway was navigated in hopes to locate a way out.  With no exits leading outside in sight, the Horde returned down below and opened the door to the east.  The view beyond was distorted, almost portal-like.  SHANG-TSUNG had the Specimen throw one of the Domovoi through the door.  The Fey, offering no resistance, passed through with ease, landed with a thud and then, silence.  Another Domovoi was fetched, tied to a rope and tossed into the void.  The Elder waited a second, yanked and the Fey returned unharmed, still chewing on his bones.  The cold fireplace, without ZORKA’s hidey-hole insignia, was searched revealing yet another portal.  With the option to go left or right, the Horde traveled…, left, and up the chimney.  One by one, the Horde members crossed the threshold and found themselves within a tangled mess.   Suddenly, the thick vines and tendrils of ivy twisting and writhing over every surface of the room amassed into a vast tumor.  The Immense Mandragora looked to the Horde and called out to his mother.
 
CHALLENGE
XP
Yrax; Very Old White Dragon
9600
Bonus: Recovered a Bear Skin Rug
9600
Bonus: Recovered Imp's Silver Orb of Dragonkind
9600
White Pudding; bypassed 4800
Cesseer of Ning; Triaxian Monk; rescued
4800
Viveka; Nereid; rescued
2400
4 Bone Golems
4800
Zavackuul; Roper 4800
Bonus: Recovered Sarnok's remains 4800
2 Carnivorous Crystals 6400-Lv13
Session total 61600
Campaign total
316920

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