Reign of Winter

Treasure Listing

 
Type
Item
Identified ?
Value
Artifact Baba Yaga's Besom Yes N/A
Artifact Baba Yaga's Mortar & Pestle Yes N/A
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Summary 31: Death Before Life
Chapter Six: The Witch Queen's Revenge
CHALLENGE
XP
6 Advanced Gugs
19200
Advanced Venerable Quickwood
25600
Baba Yaga's Witch Doll
25600
Advanced Khala
38400
Bonus: Bypassed the Matryoshka Doll's thrid layer
38400
3 Advanced Ice Devils 25600
Hazard: Frost Worm Tunnel 19200
6 Advanced Elder Elementals 38400
Advanced Plasma Ooze; bypassed 25600
Session total
256000
Campaign total
1176720
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Summary 30: Power Struggle
Chapter Six: The Witch Queen's Revenge
CHALLENGE
XP
Queen Bremagyr; Advanced Winterwight
38400
Advanced Warsworn
25600
4 Advanced Shira Divs
25600
Namequil; Advanced Sepid Div
12800
Bonus: Bypassed the Matryoshka Doll's second layer
38400-Lv16
Session total
140800
Campaign total
920720
View
Summary 29: The Fate of Baba Yaga
Chapter Six: The Witch Queen's Revenge

SESSION THEME

The Russian felt generous showing the Horde the front door, but no one was going anywhere.  The Archers fired their holy arrows but RASPUTIN fared well as his Entropic Shield and Unholy Aura deflected a handful of the more dangerous missiles.  The Mad Monk sent out another wave of pleasure and watched both half-breads drop their weapons in utter ecstasy.   With the flick of a wrist, RASPUTIN summoned a column of divine fire and Flamestruck those who refused his charity.  OTAK and UPANIX just smiled as the Archers struggled to concentrate.  MIYUKI channeled energy to sooth everyone’s burns as SHANG-TSUNG took a moment to get in touch with his inner chi.  Undamaged since his last assault and wanting to capitalize, the Mad Monk bathed the Horde in a ruthless Firestorm.  On fire, OTAK dropped, rolled over to his net and extinguished the flames in the process whilst UPANIX picked up his greatsword.  Having reacquired all motor function, the Archers fired their barbs with intentions to end the battle; but alas, the way of the Samurai was not enough to drop the Oracle.  Bloodied, RASPUTIN closed all of his wounds with mere touch and dealt a heavy blow to his opponents.  Another rapid column of unholy flames descended upon the usurpers and rather than shield herself from harm, MIYUKI stumbled into the flames. Having also felt SHANG-TSUNG suffering, the sudden pain rushed to the Maiden’s heart and stopped it.  Critically injured and having felt his link with the Healer sever, SHANG-TSUNG ordered an expeditious retreat but the OTAK would have none of it.  The Half-Orc threw his net, entangled RASPUTIN and UPANIX initiated a tug of war.  Well beyond his prime, the Mad Monk failed to stand his ground against the perfect Specimen and watched his Anti-Life Shell shatter when reeled in.  SHANG-TSUNG delayed his action to strike the Oracle as he struggled to cast a spell, a charm that fizzled away due to a lack of concentration. With no room for error, OTAK grabbed hold, UPANIX hacked away and SHANG-TSUNG made certain to compromise the Mad Monk’s divine gestures.  RASPUTIN was a mere Flamestrike away from total victory but was denied on two more occasions before his termination.  Having died twice in a span of three minutes, RASPUTIN’s stitched soul decreed that the man suffer death for a third time.  The Ghost’s ectoplasmic strands, many of them snapping under the stress, pulled the corpse back to its feat.   Raised from the Dead, weakened, bloodied and low on resources, all RASPUTIN needed was the benefit of a preempted strike, but all he could muster was a verbal curse.  With a readied arrow, SHANG-TSUNG put an arrow through his chest whilst both OTAK and UPANIX delivered a power attack.  The Mad Monk’s lifeless body hit the copper floor and his unstitched soul was all that remained.  The Ghost screamed, looked to the heavens and imploded leaving his cold vessel behind; RASPUTIN had expended his nine lives.

Whilst the World Engine calmed itself, the Horde checked up on their fallen ally.  Her broken body was cold and no longer in a state of Regeneration; as they feared, MIYUKI had died due to heart failure.  The Horde granted the Maiden, and not some imposter who failed to revert to its original form, a minute of silence before pondering their next course of action.  SHANG-TSUNG investigated the two flanking onion towers and recovered three magical candles in the first.  The second housed several weakened Russian Soldiers, obvious cattle for the Brothers Three.  Wanting to end their suffering SHANG-TSUNG sheathed his healing wand and reached for his arrows.  Meanwhile, OTAK watched over the Maiden with a theory in mind.  He too had acquired knowledge about Tombstone Fairies through GUNDAHAR’s stories back home.  POLINA’s Dance Macabre had the ability to Raise the Dead, but only to those with the stain of evil.  Though the idea made the Half-Orc’s stomach turn, the chance of reuniting with a dear friend and confirming recent suspicions was worth the risk.  The Healer was carried to the graveyard where POLINA was dealing with half a dozen fallen Soldiers.  Both she and OTAK exchanged pleasantries in Sylvain and a deal was struck to perform the Dance Macabre in exchange for an hour’s labor digging graves.  MIYUKI was placed on ground, surrounded by polished skulls and etched runes.  POLINA began dancing eerily, her motions producing necrotic energies within the circle of death.  Suddenly, the skeletal claws of countless dead sprouted out of the ground, groped the Maiden and rose her off the ground.  Wanting to join its brothers and participate in the dark ritual, MAIN was swatted away by POLINA’s oversized shovel.  After transferring their unlife, the hands released the corpse and left the Healer in suspended animation.  Ten minutes passed and MIYUKI returned to the earth, OTAK meanwhile, had his fingers crossed.  Placing a hand to rouse her, OTAK felt MIYUKI grab hold, her eyes opening soon after.  Seeing what had just taken place here, the Paladin was devastated, both she and OTAK knowing full well what her Resurrection entailed.  Both downplayed the situation and returned to the monastery after a plutonic embrace.

Meanwhile, after acquiring RASPUTIN’s gear, SHANG-TSUNG studied the World Engine components within the presbytery and deemed them safe to tamper with.  Both he and UPANIX made strategic strikes against the technology and disabled the devices surrounding the copper plate.  Doing so also disabled the Forbidding and Unholy Aura’s tasked in vexing those who’d interfere.  The main components within the apse however remained powered, all connected by strange cables.  The wires scaled the ceiling and spiraled upward within the monastery’s main onion tower.  The Samurai entered the apse and the room countered with a Prismatic Spray, an indigo beam of light passing though the Elder’s chest.  For a moment, SHANG-TSUNG felt his sanity leave him but maintained grasp of it through greater resolve.  Wanting no part of that, the Samurai backed off and summoned a War Horse from his Tan Bag of Tricks.  The animal was ordered to charge in and that he did, right into a green Prismatic Ray.  The poison reached the Steed’s heart within seconds and turned it to paste.  After falling dead on the stone floor, a red beam set the corpse on fire and a yellow one disintegrated what was left soon after.  Baffled, it was decided to consult an expert in the matter, Doctor Viktor MILOSLAV.  The Horde reunited at the monastery’s entrance and the lot of them fetched the physicist after recovering from their wounds.

With RASPUTIN out of the way, MILOSLAV was more than willing to comply with the Horde’s request.  Within minutes, the purple lightning ceased and the apse was safe for all to enter.  With no further delay, the final tower was ascended whilst avoiding the unpowered wires.  The room above was similar to the other two towers, dark due to boarded up windows.  The shelf running the tower’s circumference just below the windows had dozens of wooden dolls on display, each connected to one another with ropy strands.  The one in the center, bearing the image of an old crone, was larger than the others and glowed gold through the Ochki; t’was BABA YAGA’s Matryoshka Doll prison featured in the Elder’s Vision.  The World Engine’s power source was unplugged and rescued from enemy hands.  The artifact was cold to the touch and the thing pulled its holder, SHANG-TSUNG, in a westerly direction.  When the Horde exited the monastery, a loud noise echoed in the air and the forest erupted as the Dancing Hut bursted though the trees.  The construct pranced excitingly across the muddy expanse and breached the prison’s outer wall to rejoin with its long lost master.  By the time both were reunited, the Doll was quite warm to the touch as it urged the Horde to enter her mythic familiar.  After stepping through the coffin room’s fireplace, the Horde found themselves in the candle chamber.  The Doll produced a gust of cold wind to disable the Candle of Shadowcalling and directed all to step in the room’s cupboard.  Ignoring the caged Domovoi picking at their bones, the Horde climbed the latter and proceeded through the ceiling’s trap door.

The portal opened atop a gneiss bolder at the bottom of a warm grotto surrounded by sheer rock cliffs and fissures.  The hot sun above shined down upon an impressive waterfall spilling into a pool of clear water.  The Doll pulled towards a colossal gnarled tree a little ways east but the Horde required rest and prepared to make camp.  Suddenly, the Doll unleashed a sudden cold snap causing discomfort to the Samurai.  Reading the gesture as a sign of impatience, the Elder reconsidered and led his Horde to the elder tree.  Unimpressed with taking orders from a stupid doll, OTAK then picked up the stink of Fey at the tree’s base.  Suddenly, a strange plant like creature left the sanctuary her home to greet the visitors.  VIGLIV, a Norn and mentor to BABA YAGA welcomed the Horde to Grandmother’s Cauldron, the root of her Dancing Hut; a place where the Witch Queen made her past and where her future would be decided.  To free BABA YAGA and end Golarion’s winter, one had to seek out the fundamental essences of her being; her fate, her power, her death, her life and her blood.  If her daughter ELVANNA were to acquire the components mentioned, she’d have great power over her mother and the means to destroy the Old Crone once and for all.  That being said, VIGLIV extracted a golden thread from her head and placed BABA YAGA’s fate in the Horde’s hands.  Declaring their quest had begun, the Norn used its Tree Stride ability to become one with the elder tree.

Suddenly, the waters at the fall’s base showed signs of life.  Emerging from the pool was an ugly boar-like creature with short antlers, its bullish body covered in spines.  The thing producing a natural stench aura advanced and blew forth a cloud of poison gas.  All save MIYUKI tolerated the enzymes as the Healer appeared quite green.  The Paladin turned to the forest and emptied her bowels prompting the Samurai to misfire.  OTAK assumed Giant form and awaited the beast at the pool’s edge whilst UPANIX showed some athletic skill and jumped on a nearby rock.  Both the Specimen and the Catoblepas traded round-houses whilst SHANG-TSUNG hit the aberration in a sensitive spot with an arrow.  The creature stumbled as a result, fell over and stopped moving via yet another heart attack.  As it sank to the bottom, a pool of the creature’s blood was all that remained.  As MIYUKI fought off the poison and nausea, VIGLIV reappeared and congratulated the Horde on their victory.  The Norn had SHANG-TSUNG twine BABA YAGA’s Thread of Fate around the Matryoshka Doll and asked that he bathe the toy in the poison blood of the beast.  Having fought off the poison’s effects by doing so, the Samurai witnessed the glowing thread slice through and split open the Doll’s first layer revealing a smaller version of the thing.  Suddenly, the dead layer erupted in a blast of mythical energy healing all wounds, removing all ailments and granting everyone the benefits of a full night’s.  Aside from feeling perfect, the Horde also felt more resistant to attack, a small reward to those who remained faithful to the cause.  With new found vigor, MIYUKI Raised KRUSH from the Dead and countered the after effects with a pair of Restorations.

The Norn confirmed to the Horde that they’d passed the first test, but others remained.  A symbol of the Crone’s power was to be reclaimed next.  The Demonlord KOSTCHTCHIE and the Witch Queens of Irrisen were not BABA YAGA’s first attempts to elevate some mortal to supreme power.  There was another before them, a great Warrior named BREMAGYR.  She was made into a Queen to rule over her empire of Vashliq nearly a millennia ago, but when the empress refused to do honor upon BABA YAGA, the Queen of Witches laid BREMAGYR and all her kingdom low in a night.  Never had the sun risen or set over the crumbled ruins, a lesson to all who’d seek BABA YAGA’s power but refuse her obedience.  Now a Shadow of the Queen she once was, BREMAGYR was Cursed to forever haunt her iron fortress of Vashliq, which was cast down by BABA YAGA and brought inside her Dancing Hut.  That being said, deep within BREMAGYR’s tortured soul lied some vestige of BABA YAGA’s power and only in her destruction would the Horde acquire the power they sought.  With BABA YAGA’s guidance, the Horde was to travel to the Canyon of the Drakes and enter the lost fortress of Vashliq; once the power recovered, the Horde was to return to the pool.  The Doll suddenly pulled in a north westerly direction, but SHANG-TSUNG was more interested in a shopping spree.  The Elder reached for IMP’s Whistle and was rewarded with a sudden blast of cold from the Doll.  The Elder rolled his eyes, holstered the instrument and led the march north west.

After playing a game of hot and cold, the Horde was led to a cliff face rising in a series of natural ledges rimed with ice.  SHANG-TSUNG summoned OBEY-MI and scouted the path above.  A cave entrance was noticed, as were half a dozen vile Rift Drakes and the Samurai returned to his allies with the Dragons hot on his tail.  The Horde rained their arrows at the swarm and critically injured the head War Bird when suddenly; the Drakes appeared uneasy and broke off their attack leaving the wall of ice uncontested.  True to their nature, both KRUSH and OTAK refused a trip via broomstick and ascended the rock face by foot.  Once reunited, the Horde entered the cave and followed it to a wall made of canvas.  A Rhinoceros was pull out of the Tan Bag of Tricks and commanded to charge the cloth.  The room beyond appeared to be large luxurious tent supported by a dozens of sturdy teak poles.  Despite the two silver braziers giving off warmth, the tent’s interior was uncomfortably cold, its walls whipping and snapping against gusts of icy wind.  Sitting upon a throne of cushions and being pampered by a handful of wenches was the Sepid Div NAMEQUIL.  Decked out in rich finery and jewelry, the Outsider greeted the Horde and offered them anything they desired before embarking on their quest to seek out BABA YAGA’s power.  MIYUKI however was in agony fighting off the overwhelming evil surrounding the Horde’s hosts.  The Maiden stepped outside to witness the chaos firsthand whilst the others dined.  NAMEQUIL recounted BREMAGYR’s tale in greater detail.  BABA YAGA gave BREMAGYR her empire and demanded only her fealty in return, but the empress became drunk on the power of her newly won realm and believed t’was by her might it had been established.  BREMAGYR spurned BABA YAGA and threatened to turn the might of her empire against her if she ever returned.  BABA YAGA called upon the might of the cosmos, struck BREMAGYR down and wrested her capital from its very foundation to be place in this void.  BREMAGYR’s soul was captured and imprisoned within her fortress, to watch her empire slowly decay into nothing, just as her power has.  NAMEQUIL’s role was simple, he was sent here, by BABA YAGA, to watch Vashliq’s destruction and observe Queen BREMAGYR howl her rage at the void.  Once the deed done, he’d return to report on the soul-rending anguish that occurred here.  Plans changed however as the Queen’s cruel fate was to be put to an end and her crown, a symbol of power, to be returned here; only then can the Horde be shown back to Grandmother’s Cauldron with their prize.  Thanking himself for not attacking the noble Giant, SHANG-TSUNG led the Horde outside the tent to witness the Crone’s idea of punishment.

The broken plane of Vashliq floated atop a swirling vortex of annihilation, eating away at the barren and unfertile soil under a freezing cold downpour.  A broken fortress stood at the base of a mountain nearly a mile away, both on the verge of total collapse over the cliff’s edge.  A wall of thick iron blocked access to the keep and SHANG-TSUNG took to the air in search for a solution.  The fortress’ interior had been flooded to the very top of the wall denying access to the keep’s lower levels, floating within the dark murky pools, the bodies of countless dead.  A bridge in sufficient repair was available for the Horde to exploit; the path leading to a set of double doors, one slightly ajar.  KRUSH and OTAK made use of a Rope of Climbing whilst the others employed flight.  During their accent, the Horde was met by a squadron of Baykoks.  Armed with longbows, the Undead commenced their aerial assault when suddenly; BABA YAGA’s presence spooked the Archers forcing them to withdraw.  The main doors opened to a grand entry hall, the breached ceiling supported by stone columns.  Anything of worth had been consumed by rust, mold and grime and the floor was covered in water waist high.  Another set of double doors stood slightly ajar at the other end of the chamber and the Samurai hovered over to investigate.  Suddenly, six rancid-smelling mounds resembling half-melted men rose from the murk and took offense to the Horde’s presence.

Acting as BREMAGYR’s last line of defense, the six Omox Demons launched their sticky strands of acidic slime at the Elder, entangled him and forced him to fly over to his medic.  Both OTAK and UPANIX entered the waters to do battle whilst the Paladin, suffering from the Demon’s overwhelming evil, laid a healing hand upon SHANG-TSUNG.  Using their liquid leap ability, the Half-Giant found himself surrounded in slime, all six clawing at the Specimen twice, each.  By the time they had their way with him; UPANIX had lost nearly half of his life force.  The Half-Giant unleashed a mighty whirlwind attack whilst both Archer fired their holy arrows.  Meanwhile, a large black mound began rising down the corridor.  OTAK vitally struck a foe and found himself surrounded by the Omox.  The Half-Orc stomached seven acidic claws and lost half of his blood supply but managed to repost against three of the creatures before counterstriking.  UPANIX downed the first, MIYUKI the second and smote the evil upon another whilst SHANG-TSUNG downed a third.  Having fully formed, the Dark Matter Entropic Ooze began its advance whilst the remaining Omox Demon traded blows with OTAK.  After dispatching the filth, the immobile ooze was targeted next.  The mindless blob managed but one massive strike upon the Half-Giant, draining a fourth of his life essence in the process, but fell with relative ease.

MIYUKI summoned several healing burst to mend burnt flesh and the Horde crossed to the other side of the waters.  SHANG-TSUNG was the first to enter the next chamber and came face to face with their quarry.  Sitting upon a rusted throne was a Lich-like creature donning a golden crown.  Queen BREMAGYR stood, pointed to the Elder with a skeletal hand and whispered BABA YAGA’s name in utter hatred.
 
CHALLENGE
XP
Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin; Human Oracle
25600
Trap: The World Engine; disabled
9600
Bonus: Recovered Baba Yaga's Matryoshka Doll Prison
38400-Lv15
Advanced Catoblepas
6400
Bonus: Bypassed the Matryoshka Doll's first layer
38400
6 Advanced Rift Drakes; avoided
12800
10 Advanced Baykoks; avoided
25600
6 Advanced Omox Demons
38400
Advanced Dark Matter Entropic Ooze
12800
Session total
204400
Campaign total
779920
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Summary 28: Grudge Match
Chapter Five: Rasputin Must Die
Acting first, SERAFINA was tasked in luring the Horde back to the Dancing Hut in hopes to grant her lover RASPUTIN precious time to restore his Earthbound World Anchors, eliminate the treacherous Victor MILOSLAV and bolster his defenses.  Her convincing guise failed however, as did her attempt to vanquish the interlopers.  The fake BABA YAGA was the first to fall albeit devastating KRUSH’s spirit with a snake bite and Enervating SHANG-TSUNG’s soul.  As she fell lifeless upon the floor, her true form was revealed, that of a beautiful demonic woman pierced by a dozen holy arrows.
 
As the Brothers Three watched above in Bat form, a conflict was inevitable when SERAFINA summoned their aid.  Channeling their fear, hate and suffering, the three Anti-Christs targeted the overwhelming good within the Horde’s ranks.  MIYUKI fell quickly and the Vampires began ravaging the Horde’s humanity with their claws.  The Brothers proved to be force to be reckoned with, each with the ability to swiftly close their own wounds before mounting a counterstrike against whirlwinds, rapid fire and dazing assaults.  The one who had Dominated OTAK fell first but the other two had their revenge brining a swift end to both half-breads with corrupt claws and waves of negative energy.  But in all the excitement, The Brothers Two forgot about the Artrosa Ring mentioned in their scouting report. When MIYUKI arose and channeled healing energies to the living, both she and SHANG-TSUNG had their foes pincered and rained down their holy arrows sending the spawn back to hell.

MIYUKI was the first to act amongst the Horde and swiftly laid a healing hand upon herself, channeled divine energies to harm her Anti-Paladins aggressors and took a cautious step towards her allies.  Meanwhile, OTAK had put himself between both extremist parties but t’would not be enough to deter the Brothers Three from executing their horrific plan.  Ignoring the Half-Orcs goading attempts, the Vampire swarm dug their unholy claws and rended the Paladin’s holy flesh, sending her to the bloodstained floor.  By the time the Artrosa Ring had restored the Maiden back to consciousness, the situation was grim; two of three Brothers still remained and both OTAK and UPANIX had died.  Overwhelmed with sadness, regret and hatred, MIYUKI swiftly mended some of her wounds and sent forth a soothing wave to heal all those still alive.  After taking another gut-wrenching claw attack and closing a mere portion of the wound, the Healer took a step back, put three arrows in her opponent’s chest and ended the Nosferatu’s reign of terror.

Having witnessed MIYUKI’s initial demise, OTAK put himself between the Maiden and her aggressors whilst KRUSH maneuvered himself into flanking position.  Unable to neither daze nor goad the Anti-Paladins, OTAK and KRUSH were helpless as they watched the Healer fall, albeit landing a few blows beforehand.  Overwhelmed with despair and weakened, OTAK continued to pummel the Brothers Three but suddenly felt compelled to stay out of harm’s way.  Dominated, OTAK deemed it wise to walk over to the main entrance and watched the battle from a safe distance.  When UPANIX and SHANG-TSUNG disabled his controller, OTAK and KRUSH pursued the Brothers Two.  By the time OTAK reentered melee, UPANIX had become a corpse and the Brother’s claws began incinerating the Half-Human’s kind soul with glee.  After trading several blows, OTAK’s heart gave out when the adrenaline ceased after three unholy claws and a wave of negative energy, his demise leaving poor KRUSH dazed and confused.

After sending a few missiles to one of the Vampires, SHANG-TSUNG allowed his half-bread allies to pummel the Undead foes whilst he focused on eliminating the fake BABA YAGASERAFINA fell relatively quickly but not before robbing much of the Elder’s fading life-force.  Enervated and Crushed with Despair, the Samurai targeted OTAK’s puppet master next as the Dominated OTAK fled the battle scene.  After dropping the first Vampire, OTAK was able to reengage; UPANIX however, had collapsed to the ground and showed no signs of life.  SHANG-TSUNG pulled a Tiger out from his Tan Bag of Tricks and both they and Brother number three faced off in mortal combat.  When OTAK fell, the Elder feared the Horde had met their match, but MIYUKI had other plans.  The regenerated Healer filled the room with positive energy and both she and SHANG-TSUNG, with KRUSH and the Tiger’s aid, smote the remaining Brothers in timely fashion to stave off extinction.

Lastly but not least, UPANIX charged the Vampire masses and executed his whirlwind attacks.  Sadly, the Specimen’s blade met heavy resistance whilst his foe’s claws against humanity left cancers all over his Giant body.  When OTAK withdrew, both UPANIX and SHANG-TSUNG focused their efforts upon the one who bewitched him.  With greater numbers and able to repair injuries with a mere touch, the Brothers made minced meat out of the soul melee combatant forcing the Acadian to dip into his reserves.  After defeating the first of tree Nosferatu, UPANIX was the second to fall, his body damaged beyond repair.  As the adrenaline faded, the Specimen let out a final breath and then, nothing.
 
The battle had been won but the Horde had suffered heavy casualties.  Still Crushed with Despair, the Elder thought about ending his own life but instead mourned the loss of dear friends.  MIYUKI however was in an uproar; the Maiden sought out several oversized wooden splinters and stabbed the Anti-Paladins repeatedly.  Both she and MAIN grabbed OTAK’s hands and began dragging his carcass outside.  The party withdrew to a nearby building and got some rest albeit being haunted by gruesome nightmares.  By nightfall, the Maiden had been granted her deity’s full support and put her hands of life to work.  OTAK was Raised from the Dead first, his body weakened from the stress, but alive.  After a five minute coma, MIYUKI then transferred some of her life into the Specimen before blacking out for an hour or so.  Drained of life but conscious, the Healer made certain to make the Horde whole and combat ready.  UPANIX’ strength was restored and both OTAK and SHANG-TSUNG had been Restored some of their life-force.  With plenty of time remaining within their twenty-four hour window, the Horde opted to take a long rest and to charge the monastery at dawn.
 
The nap proved invigorating as all regained an ounce of life.  MIYUKI offered life to both SHANG-TSUNG and OTAK but was told to use the restorative touch upon herself.  Clumsy, or perhaps just stubborn, the Maiden had accidently touched her allies on both attempts.  Like a casualty of war, the prison was in ruin and silent, the stink of smoke was in the air as a mist hovered above the snow covered penal complex.  The Horde reentered the monastery albeit their presence being Forbidden.  Like before, all save MIYUKI cringed in pain but t’was nothing a wave of healing couldn’t handle.  The two towers at the nave’s end were ignored and the Horde approached the makeshift barricade.  Suddenly, RASPUTIN’s Projected Image walked through the stacked pews and engaged in parley.  An arrow was fired at the man but passed through him like in prior engagements.  The Mad Monk made a final offer to save the Horde’s lives, leave or become a statistic in Earth’s First World War’s records.  He knew all about BLACK MIDNIGHT’s Mantle of Responsibility and offered to remove his mother’s treacherous Curse in return for their compliance.  On Earth, the Horde would have been kings, having access to anything they desired.  The offer fell upon deaf ears however as the Horde considered the BABA YAGA’s Geas a blessing and an honor, not to mention that RASPUTIN’s death would bring about great satisfaction.  That being said, RASPUTIN began making divine gestures when suddenly, the lower section of the wall behind him was thrusted violently via Telekinesis; the pews slamming into the Horde and littering the grounds before a disturbing site.  Lined up behind the collapsed wall stood the Horde’s Detached Shadows and behind them, the three snipers encountered in the ruined monastery’s sole onion tower had taken position in front of RASPUTIN’s Levitated and real body.  Also of note were the coils of insulated wires snaked forth from mechanical cylinders and batteries standing in the apse beyond, their ends terminating in rows of strange machines arranged like technological standing stones along the walls of the chapel’s presbytery.  Between the two, the copper-plated floor under RASPUTIN pulsed with engraved runes that writhed like tortured living things.  The area filled with otherworldly purple lightning produced by the World Engine coruscated around the Mad Monk; that same energy leaking through his eyes and teeth.  Those able to read RASPUTIN’s lips would have been able make out single word, “DIE”.
 
The Detached Shadows reacted first and produced twenty Shadow Evocation missiles, all destined for SHANG-TSUNG.  After watching the Horde struggle for position, the Shadows fired another twenty-five missiles at the Samurai before withdrawing through the floor and out of site.  They bided their time and pounced SHANG-TSUNG at the opportune moment.  When the Elder suffered defeat for the first time in decades, the Shadows targeted the Healer, sending another round of missiles and pouncing on her with cold claws and fangs.  By the time the Horde had dealt with the Snipers however, the Shadows were compelled, as their final mission, to provide RASPUTIN with cover.  One by one the Shadows were cut down and forced back to their place of origin, a development that brought a sigh of relief to those who had lost them nearly a week ago.
 
With exotic heavy crossbows in hand, the Snipers were next in the battle chain.  All opted to execute their reputable stranger shot, each firing a single round at SHANG-TSUNG.  The bolts penetrated his Celestial Armor, punctured his lungs and filled them with blood.  When the Samurai fell prone for cover after barely surviving another round from the firing squad, the Snipers sent their armor piercing bullets into MIYUKI.  When OTAK intervened and netted one of their numbers, the three had no choice but pump the Half-Orc with iron.  Unable to fight effectively in melee, the half-breads made their unlives difficult, more so when it was suggested that SHANG-TSUNG concentrate fire on the Gunslingers.  The Snipers stood little chance against muscle and precision but made a valiant effort in putting holes in the Oracle’s foes.

UPANIX was the first from the Horde to act and battled through the pews to get into position after suffering sudden strength loss.  The Specimen charged the Snipers but slammed into an invisible barrier hedging out all life.  Furious, the Half-Giant made use of his longspear and made whirlwind attacks against the Snipers with his superior reach.  Slowly but surely, both half-breads wore down the Gunslingers as RASPUTIN’s immobile form unleashed devastation through his Projected Image.  When the Snipers were no more, UPANIX went to work on the Shadows whilst OTAK was recovering from an orgasm.  With a Ghost Touch longsword in hand, the Mad Monk’s last line of defense fell quickly giving the archers ample room to target the Oracle. 

With SHANG-TSUNG as the clear target, MIYUKI was quick the shield the Elder from future harm.  Suddenly, the Maiden found herself within Maze; luckily, with ZAPADA’s aid, the Paladin found an Exit in record time.  By the time she reunited with her allies, the Samurai was in dire need of healing.  MIYUKI spent the next minute or so healing herself and channeling healing waves to counter effect the missiles, claws, Firestorms, Blade Barriers, sudden destructive forces and the sharing of SHANG-TSUNG’s wounds.  When only RASPUTIN remained, the evil causing her pain lessoned but remained present.  With that in mind, MYUIKI asked ERASTIL to aid her smite the evil and battled RASPUTIN’s Unholy Aura and Entropic Shield with her divine arrows.   Unable to deal massive damage to all targets, RASPUTIN endured several rounds of missiles before falling.

Weakened due to Blasphemy OTAK and KRUSH followed UPANIX’ lead through difficult terrain.  With his skull ram raised, the Half-Orc had his sights on RASPUTIN but the Mad Monk’s Anti-Life Shell was not anticipated.  Annoyed, the ram slammed into a Sniper and OTAK fetched his net.  After ensnaring a Sniper and dragging the thing out of position, the undead was forced to endure the Barbarian’s wrath.  Having been ignored early on in the battle, OTAK had the Sniper’s complete attention.  After enduring a dozen or so bullets, a Firestorm and Stormbolts, OTAK left his allies and his fallen animal companion after succumbing to Waves of Ecstasy.  Unable to function properly, the Half-Orc opted to stay out of harm’s way to allow his orgasm to pass.

The Horde’s presence was Blasphemy and RASPUTIN made it known by sending out a wave of pain that sapped everyone but MIYUKI’s strength through his Projected Image.  When SHANG-TSUNG initiated a counterstrike, The Oracle used a Moment of Prescience to deflect is devastating Manyshot whilst one of two arrows that followed met his Entropic Shield.  After putting MIYUKI in a simple Maze, RASPUTIN unleashed his arsenal in the form of two Firestorms, Stormbolts, Waves of Ecstasy, a Blade Barrier and two attempts at Destroying both SHANG-TSUNG and MIYUKI.  Whenever the wounds began piling on the Mad Monk would simply swiftly lay a swift healing hand upon himself.  At one point, RASPUTIN had the luxury of Healing all his wounds mid-battle.  Making certain the Samurai suffered every round and thus causing pain to MIYUKI, RASPUTIN failed to effectively counter effect the Maiden’s positive energy.  With his peons out of the picture, the Mad Monk was in tough against four Horde members in fair condition.  All attempts to turn the Horde against each other as a last resort did not go as planned and arrow deflection was clearly not the Oracle’s forte.  Eleven arrows to the chest later, RASPUTIN experienced death for a fifth time.

Acting out of turn, SHANG-TSUNG was force to act last.  By the time the Samurai pulled back his bow string, the Elder was sapped of strength, staggered and bloodied.  He fired at his arch nemesis and his arrow met all sorts of magical defenses.  Getting nowhere with his missiles and sustaining heavy damage, including a brief moment of unconsciousness, SHANG-TSUNG fell down prone behind several pews and made liberal use of a healing wand.  Thanks to MIYUKI’s divine shield and her channeled energy, The Elder’s suffering was lessoned giving him the resolve to make a last stand.  After aiding in the disposal of the Snipers and reuniting with his Shadow, SHANG-TSUNG’s holy adamantine arrows found a new purpose long overdue, to bring Grigori Yefimovich RASPUTIN to his knees.  Both he and MIYUKI pin-cushioned the Oracle and sent him to the copper floor to drown in a pool of his own blood.  The purple lightning subsided and calmed the World Engine after losing contact with its attuned focus.

Though all save KRUSH survived the epic battle, all suffered greatly to retain the status of BABA YAGA’s favored.  Whilst everyone took a moment to breathe, OTAK produced excrement and tossed it on RASPUTIN’s cassock.  Weakened, wounded and fatigued, The Horde approached the body with the Rope of Climbing in hopes to extract the Russian carcass from his Anti-Life Shell.  Suddenly, the ghostly form of RASPUTIN began rising from the corpse, the two forms linked by ethereal-like strands.  As RASPUTIN’s stitched soul rose to the air, the strands pulled his body off the ground and closed all wounds inflicted upon it.  When brought back to his feet, the Mad Monk’s eyes opened completing his miraculous Resurrection.  After rejoining with his World Engine, RASPUTIN’s fate was again in dispute.  The Horde’s demise t’would be a daunting task however; depleted of his most potent powers, a victory would be nothing short of a Miracle.
 
CHALLENGE
XP
Serafina; Advanced Erodaemon
4800
The Brothers Three; Human Nosferatu Anti-Paladins
19200
5 Detached Shadows
6400
3 Advanced Pale Snipers
9600
Session total
40000
Campaign total
575520
View
Summary 27: Rebirth of the Akuvskaya Monastery
Chapter Five: Rasputin Must Die

SESSION THEME

Repairing OTAK’s injuries took a toll on the Healer’s reserves forcing the Horde back to the Dancing Hut to rest and reunite with dear friends.  After a few drinks and a warm Golarian meal, SHANG-STUNG spent the eve piecing the torn blueprint found within RASPUTIN’s home.  Once made whole, the Samurai consulted the Hut’s library to compliment the knowledge he had acquired over his lengthy lifespan, in hopes to familiarize himself with advanced physics.  The document’s engineering components remained a mystery but with the Ochki’s aid, the Elder discovered arcane marks and theories intertwined within the alien technology.  Burying himself in books and scrolls, SHANG-TSUNG recognized the arcane formulae as some form of plane travelling.  Having noticed the others had fallen asleep, the Samurai followed suit opting to rejoice his findings at sunrise.

Morning came and SHANG-TSUNG’s discovery fell mostly upon deaf ears.  After first and second breakfast, the Rope of Climbing had been summoned and used as a Dinosaur leash; KRUSH was going to prison.  The Horde arrived at the Russian camp unmolested but was halted at the main gate.  The corporal on duty glanced at MIYUKI’s mid-section and then at KRUSH, his exotic hand crossbow pointing right at the animal.  The Horde explained that they’ve crossed paths with the thing and figured RASPUTIN would be impressed with their find.  The soldier however disagreed and fired a round, the bolt bouncing off hide armor.  Suddenly all in attendance were enthralled.  The corporal looked to the tower above and ordered another demonstration.  The soldier above mounted the dual heavy crossbow above, took aim and fired four dozen or so heavy bolts within a span of six seconds.  Once the smoke clear and the racket subsided, KRUSH appeared undamaged, surrounded by mangled shells.  A round of applause followed and the Horde was granted entry without further delay.

Ignoring the occasional glance from several Russian soldiers, the Horde reluctantly made their way to the Headless Cossack encampment.  Before entering, SHANG-TSUNG revealed a secret he had held back for days.  The Elder urged that all be weary of the Lantern Goat, the creep that haunted his dreams ever since first contact.  A pair of Headless Cossacks intercepted the Horde at the gates and motioned that they’d advanced far enough.  Suddenly from behind tents, two other Cossacks emerged, both OTAK and KRUSH’s Detached Shadows fading into the ground near them.  Curious, the three soldiers posted in a nearby tower watched on as tensions between both parties intensified.  Uncomfortable with the presence of headless monstrosities, the soldiers put their paper rubles on their fellow countrymen.  The battle that ensued was heavily one-sided and within a mere minute, six Heavy War Steeds had been freed to brave the surrounding marshland.  Aside from a lucky scimitar blow to the arm, reducing the Half-Giant’s strength to that of a mere man, the Horde had put on a good show in front of their peers.  UPANIX, OTAK and KRUSH approached the Goat and its unnerving aura.  OTAK was shaking in his boots whilst both UPANIX and KRUSH ran off in a panic and buried themselves in the snow.  The Archers made sure to keep their distance and fired their barbs; meanwhile OTAK swung his ram as hard as he could.  Unable to mount a proper defense, the animal stopped moving after a dozen arrows and two crushing blows.  OTAK dislodged one of the horns as a trophy whilst SHANG-TSUNG tossed the lantern against the watchtower with glee.  Fearing the Elder had doomed them all, everyone hit the deck as the lantern shattered to pieces.  The thing did indeed erupted in blinding necrotic light; luckily, pain and fire did not follow.  By the time the arcane energies subsided, the ghostly image of a hunched back man with an artificial leg remained.  The soul closed his eyes, looked up to the heavens and began fading away.  SHANG-TSUNG pulled out the man’s leg with intentions of returning it but t’was too late, the World Anchor inventor had reached the afterlife.  Similar to the phenomenon IMP experienced when the Horde smashed the fake Silver Orb o f Dragonkind, it was presumed that the man’s Trapped Soul was now available questioning.  Having some knowledge about Tombstone Fairies, MIYUKI was certain POLINA would be able to perform a Dance Macabre to restore the man back to life, an option she disapproved of.  When OTAK suggested that the man be Reincarnated into a lesser form of life via a scroll, the Paladin offered to Raise the Dead with a gesture of ultimate mercy.  After a small debate, the Horde agreed to execute the Maiden’s plan within the ruined barracks where the man was last seen.

The charred cripple was revisited and the corpse was primed for the delicate procedure.  MIYUKI closed her eyes, placed her glowing divine hands on the man’s chest and collapsed under the stress of life transference.  The burnt carcass suddenly gasped for air and the new man took a few moments to compose himself.  Wanting to know what had happened to him, the man’s inquiries were quickly dismissed as the Horde’s mission was made top priority.  When asked about RASPUTIN and the World Anchors, Doctor Viktor MILOSLAV had all the right answers.  The inventor had been hired, or more like given an ultimatum, to help conceive the supposed planer devices.  Unable to comprehend the Mad Monk’s mystical contribution to the project, the final product that ensued had still been labeled as one of the Doctor’s greatest accomplishments.  When activated, the Earthbound World Anchors produced a sudden electrical storm in the vicinity and opened several planer rifts above the church.  The TESLA coils harnessed the phenomenon’s violet energies and unleashed it upon the Akuvskaya Monastery.  The cathedral erupted in a blast of arcane energy reducing it and the surrounding buildings to rubble.  The coils stabilized soon after and remained active ever since.  Tough the experiment appeared to be a total failure, MILOSLAV learned that the trial had in fact produced the desired effect; the monastery was no longer of this world.  The discovery of these facts was detrimental to the Doctor’s health however.  RASPUTIN had his chaplains, the Brothers Three, escort the good Doctor to a secluded building to indulge in the act of cannibalism.  Betrayed and drained of life, MILOSLAV’s last vision was that of a sickly looking Goat bearing an odd lantern.  That being said, both parties came to an agreement, MILOSLAV would deactivate the Earthbound World Anchors and in exchange, the Horde would offer the mad scientist and his family asylum.  In theory, the recalibration procedure was believed to reverse the transposition.  When asked about his missing leg, SHANG-TSUNG pulled the thing out from the Ryukzak and returned the damage construct.  Meanwhile, weakened and pale, MIYUKI had recovered from her recent ordeal and healed the Doctor’s wounds.  Amazed, MILOSLAV deemed the Maiden’s extraordinary powers to be on par with those demonstrated by RASPUTIN.  Still wanting nothing to do with religion, the scientist donned a military uniform to mask his identity and accompanied the Golarian task force.

One by one, the TESLA coiled watchtowers were ascended to perform “routine maintenance”.  SHANG-TSUNG handed over the blueprints beforehand to facilitate the Doctor’s task and supervised his efforts; both to defend him and deter foul play.  The Samurai was told not to interfere however as a false move would result in the death of all atop the tower, not to mention the potential scar the backlash would cause to the Earth.  When the first tower “malfunctioned” the other three compensated to maintain the monastery’s spectral animation.  After powering down towers two and three, the final tower, now generating enough energy to power a small country, was successfully deactivated.  As predicted, the very same phenomenon described by the good Doctor had reoccurred in dramatic fashion; only this time, when lightning struck, sections of the church had been pulled back from RASPUTIN’s pocket dimension between Earth and the First World’s Thrice-Tenth Kingdom.  The cataclysmic event struck fear within the hearts of all Russians present and all opted to make an expeditious retreat, leaving the restored Akuvskaya Monastery more or less uncontested.  Having upheld his end of the bargain, t’was time for the Horde to deliver, RASPUTIN was a dead man.

The mad scientist was suggested to stay out of sights as the Horde confronted those who had responded to the catastrophic failure.  A woman hiding behind a full suite of spiked hide armor, flanked by three large horrendous World-Warped Polar Bears, all stood before the monastery’s front façade in hopes to defend its occupants.  SHANG-TSUNG pulled a Siberian Lion from his Tan Bag of Tricks and ordered his allies to prepare for battle.  Standing well within the projected danger zone was the young hemophiliac ALEXEI ROMANOV, the boy gazing upon the church with his eyes wide open in wonder.  ANASTASIA, the boy’s sister, was close by as well but appeared lost in thought; both took a step back when the ensuing battle began.  An easy victory was forecasted but a slight bump was hit when OTAK entered the monastery’s primary defense mechanism.  Decorated upon the front wall was a crucified Russian soldier, one that suddenly sprung to unlife.  The translucent being approached OTAK, pointed at him from a distance and all watched in horror as the Half-Orc dropped to the ground in a heap.  Suddenly, OTAK’s translucent and drained body took the soldier’s place upon the cross, unable to escape.  To make matter worse, a tear in the space time continuum appeared nearby and a Headless Cossack mounted upon a Nightmarish Steed entered the fray, hovering in mid air out of reach.  Having acquired intelligence about his foes, Commander POLKOVNIK Lavrenti unholstered his firearm with the intent to disable the Samurai’s fire power.  To everyone’s surprise, ALEXEI approached the battlefield, declared his allegiance to his friend Lord RASPUTIN and bathed the Horde in unholy flame.  By the time the smoke cleared, the young boy had been replaced by a mighty Gorynych, a huge three-headed Dragon.  Meanwhile, ANASTASIA screamed in terror having learned of her brother’s true intensions and ran off in a panic.  Whilst both UPANIX and KRUSH faced off with the Bear Hunter and her aberrations, SHANG-TSUNG fired adamantine at the cross hoping it would free his ally; but alas the barbs did nothing but cause insignificant damage to the structure.  POLKOVNIK took three of MIYUKI’s arrows to the chest but managed to fire a single shot at the Samurai and disarmed him.  OTAK failed to escape his bonds and felt his life force fade, but the Half-Orc would be shown mercy as The Crucified Soldier replaced his body with that of SHANG-TSUNG.  With OTAK back in the battle, he, KRUSH and UPANIX continued their assault in the front lines whilst creeping closer towards the Undead menace.  SHANG-TSUNG used every ounce of his resolve and escaped the Soldier’s grasp; meanwhile, the Gorynych RADIMIR used his superior reach and combat reflexes to bite anything and everything within range or moving.  The Paladin pin-cushioned POLKOVNIK but the attack did not prevent the Gunslinger from denying OTAK his skull ram.  With swords in hand, the half breeds found themselves flanking the Soldier after putting a Bear down, a gambit that paid off as OTAK remained conscious after the The Crucified Soldier pointed at him.  SHANG-TSUNG had his Lion fetched his bow and fired a single missile at the evil Undead.  POLKOVNIK retaliated to the threat and sent the Samurai’s bow flying whilst stomaching another round of MIYUKI’s arrows.  RADIMIR breathed fire upon the Archers and reduced the Lion to ashes.  The Bear Hunter charged the Elder but her spear failed to penetrate the Samurai’s Celestial Chained MailOTAK and UPANIX went to work flaying incorporeal flesh whilst KRUSH kept the Dire Bears at bay.  Threatened, The Crucified Soldier pointed to UPANIX and sent him to the ethereal penalty box.  MIYUKI had ZAPPADA fetch SHANG-TSUNG’s bow but the Samurai lost grasp of it again after firing off a round at the Undead soldier.  Annoyed at POLKOVNIK’s gritty utility shots, MIYUKI continued pelting the fast healing Dullahan.  Unharmed, RADIMIR punished all those within reach whilst the Bear Hunter stabbed the Elder in the leg.  After escaping the cross, UPANIX and the others concentrated their efforts on The Crucified Soldier.  When the thing ceased to exist moments later, the wind had turned in the Horde’s favor.  Commander POLKOVNIK was disposed off first, followed by RADIMIR.  Surprisingly enough, the weakest foe endured the longest, but The Bear Hunter stood little chance against her infuriated opponents.

MAIN led the search for valuables and several trinkets had been recovered within the blood-stained battlefield.  ANASTASIA was confronted and threatened for consorting with Dragons; the hysterical girl however declared a plea of innocence clamming she had no idea the boy was malevolent.  Unable to remember anything at all, she couldn’t even confirm she ever had a brother.  The Horde deemed her story genuine and suggested that she reunite with MILOSLAV at the prison’s frontier.  When The Crucified Soldier was exorcised, the cross on the wall had disappeared revealing a set of double doors leading inside the monastery.  When opened, all got the sense that none were welcome, the chambers within consumed by an Unholy Aura.  Admission was forbidden and those who insisted on trespassing would be punished accordingly.  As the Horde entered the nave, their bodies were wracked with pain, MIYUKI however was able to tolerate some of the abjuration‘s effects and suffered less than the others.  SHANG-TSUNG looked to the Paladin and accused her once more to being a fraud and reminded the Maiden that the ice she walked upon was very thin.  After a brief rebuttal, the Horde made themselves familiar with their surroundings.  Dozens of thick wooden pews had been piled at the other end of the transept obscuring the alter beyond, violet arcane energies flashing through the mess.  The same energy lined the walls, windows and all breaches due to structural collapse, rendering all evacuation routes unsafe.  The piercing echoes of squeaking bats complemented the presence of saintly statues of cold white marble perched high above in recessed alcoves, their lifeless eyes streaming blood and their stone faces bathed in dim purple light.  Struggling to stand next to one of the sculptures was an old crone claiming to be none other than BABA YAGA.  Clearly distracted as of late, RASPUTIN’s grasp on his mother had weakened, giving the Queen of Witches a chance to escape. The battle against her son that ensued was hard fought but BABA YAGA had prevailed.  She thanked her selected Horde for heeding her call and insisted they help the old lady back to her Dancing Hut.  Though her tale appeared plausible, her rescue was far too easy, too convenient and downright unfulfilling.  MIYUKI kindly offered her services as a Human crutch but OTAK however, remained unconvinced.  The Half-Orc had BABA YAGA shout out the name of her Hut’s House Spirit to test the Witch’s authenticity, when suddenly, BABA YAGA’s demeanor changed.  Amused with the riddle, SERAFINA, RASPUTIN’s lover in disguise, was more than content in dealing with the Horde here and now.  The Erodaemon looked to the ceiling as thousands of bats swarmed around the Healer.  Meanwhile, SERAFINA unleashed a wave of Crushing Despair and Enervated the Half-Orc for his lack of faith.  Saddened by the charm, both SHANG-TSUNG and OTAK watched helplessly as the bats formed into three vampiric forms around the Paladin, each of them scratching for blood.  Not only did the overwhelmingly evil presence around her cause her pain, MIYUKI’s overwhelming good and humanity had been smitten by The Brothers Three.  Now bloodied and broken, the Maiden looked and cried out to her allies in hopes they’d save her from certain death.
 
CHALLENGE
XP
6 Headless Siberian Cossacks
4800
Dusha Koza; Advanced Lantern Goat
4800-Lv14
Bonus: Revived Viktor Miloslav
9600
Bonus: Returned the Akuvskaya Monastery to Earth
19200
Bonus: Cleared the Prison of all Russian troops
19200
The Crucified Soldier
9600
The Bear Hunter; Human Barbarian 6400
3 World-Warped Polar Bears 2400
Radimir; Gorynych 12800
Polkovnik Lavrenti; Dullahan Gunslinger 9600
Session total
98400
Campaign total
535520
View
Summary 26: Clueless
Chapter Five: Rasputin Must Die
Surrounded in rusted metal barbs, the Stone Golems slammed hard upon the half breeds and tore gaping holes, blood pouring out of each like a well.  Those wounds closed quickly and everyone’s dry flaky skin regained moisture with MIYUKI’s sudden blast of positive energy.  Meanwhile, the Horde made quick work of the constructs and scattered granite all about the former baptismal chamber.  As they checked the conditions of their weapons and their wounds, the Horde was greeted by another RASPUTIN Astral Projection.  Wanting to stir the pot, the Mad Monk had words for the variant Paladin.  He called MIYUKI by the name given to her by NATHAREN, her Half-Elf custodian, and decreed that the maiden’s true name had been lost.  Visibly distraught, MIYUKI endured more verbal attacks and was accused of keeping a great secret; one NATHAREN had knowledge of but kept in the dark.  RASPUTIN sensed darkness within the former child and questioned her true intentions.  Shocked, the Paladin remained silent and RASPUTIN insisted that SHANG-TSUNG fire a single arrow at the Healer.  The Samurai readied a missile, fought off the Oracle’s Domination and watched his arrow pass through the amused illusion.  Clearly RASPUTIN’s foes were in denial but the Mad Monk wanted the Horde to learn the truth.  The Oracle vanished after sending the Elder a Murderous Command and SHANG-STUNG obeyed.  His arrow hit MIYUKI square in the back, the thing passing though her soft innards.  Suddenly, the missile’s radiant glow flashed violently causing even more pain, honing in on something sinister within the Paladin’s soul.  As MIYUKI struggled to pull the weapon out and closed the hole with a swift healing hand, SHANG-TSUNG came to his senses and demanded an explanation.  With his bow raised, the Elder accused the maiden of being another or perhaps the same Doppelganger they met in Artrosa; MIYUKI started crying, unable to answer.  Looking towards OTAK, MIYUKI insisted she was the same girl they had met back in Heldren so many months ago.  The theory of her being Queen ELVANNA in disguise was quickly rejected and the Horde was content pretending the whole incident never happened.  Only time would tell if RASPUTIN’s seed of doubt would pay off.

Having scouted out the rubble below, the Horde ascended the soul onion tower and engaged the three Pale Snipers within.  Looking out narrow window slits with exotic heavy crossbows in hand, the Undead clearly were not in the mood for small talk.  The Horde was ordered to leave and a warning shot was fired at their feet when they refused to comply.  To avoid unwanted attention, the Horde opted to return to their posts.

In search for clues and none available thus far, SHANG-TSUNG had his sights on RASPUTIN’s home yet again, only this time, he would not enter alone.  Wanting to wait until dark to mask their approach, the Horde returned to the barracks to mingle with the peons.  OTAK prepared to shield MIYUKI from Russian testosterone but to all’s surprise, he complex was lifeless.  What used to be fifty strong was reduced to half a dozen men strapped to beds, their skin paled and an aura of disease and despair surrounding them.  Each was punctured twice at the wrist, fresh blood dripping from the holes.  The Paladin stated t’was the work of Vampires, feeding off the living and keeping them barely alive for seconds and thirds.  With a six hour wait unit nightfall, the Horde braved the stink and posed as appetizers in hopes to take the spawn by surprise if it felt the urge to dine.  After an uneventful power nap, the Horde unstrapped themselves, dove into the shadows and made their way to RASPUTIN’s.

Three Spectral Searchlights were in the vicinity and the Horde timed their movements to avoid detection.  OTAK used the Chime of Opening to disable the door’s lock and the Horde entered the forbidden library.  Clearly the Mad Monk had anticipated the plot and greeting the Horde at the door.  With BABA YAGA’s prison in one hand and a white flag in the other, RASPUTIN offered the Matryoshka Doll in hopes to avoid further conflict.  He placed the toy upon a nearby table and vanished hoping that his family and the Horde could get along.  Suddenly, the doll began hovering, dark twisted energies surrounding it.  The thing unfastened revealing three smaller dolls within.  Once all opened, four ROMANOV souls escaped from their respective cages sought out revenge against anyone within reach.  All clearly from noble decent, the three young women and boy had slit throats and several bleeding holes upon their bodies.  Eerily similar to the Witchdaughter’s Nightmare, the figments phased in and out of space time and twitched about, their eyes wide open in fury.  Their mere presence hit a nerve and MIYUKI entered a divine rage, wanting nothing more than to dispel the overwhelming evil within the chamber.  She targeted one of the women and nearly ended the noblewoman’s suffering.  SHANG-TSUNG’s arrows proved less effective as both OTAK and UPANIX charged the masses.  Waves of Confusion erupted all about the room but the Paladin’s Aura of Resolve was potent enough to negate the effects.  Meanwhile, the Samurai felt the urge to fall into a Deep Slumber, but the Elder was not tired.  The remaining souls however had a bone to pick with the Half-Giant, their touch infecting the Specimen’s flesh in necrotic boils.  Crying and in obvious pain, MIYUKI continued her onslaught downing the first Animate Dream and crippling another as she smote evil.  Another charm was resisted and both OTAK and UPANIX were subjected to a corrupting touch.  The Horde retaliated and brought a swift end to the ROMANOV children and returned the Paladin to a civil state.

Though MIYUKI was feeling much better, the Paladin sensed more evil within the home.  After mending a few wounds, a door to the right was opened and quickly closed after gazing within the chamber beyond.  Eight Ghost-like nobles, each with an elongated arm, had another Ghost-like noblewoman surrounded and within their grasps, entangled.  Unresponsive and dealt a fatal would to the head, the Horde left the poor damsel in distress to avoid an altercation with her Specter captors.  Having not alarmed the undead to their presence, the Horde deemed it safe to search the home’s final chamber.
 
The bedroom beyond was clear of foes and traps…  A Blessed Book had been Identified and pillaged for coin but the Cloak of Etherealness hanging on the wall proved far more interesting.  The room was turned upside down, their search revealing complex and exotic documentation.  A notebook belonging to a Nikola TESLA had been found, many of the pages depicting the massive coils atop the four main watchtowers.  Another detailed document produced by a Viktor MILOSLAV had also been discovered nearby.  Arcane formulae and components had been noticed on the later but the two works worthy of Earth’s Nobel Prize was far beyond the Horde’s comprehension.  Though SHANG-STUNG tried extremely hard to understand and appreciate the scientist’s accomplishments, OTAK was far less enthralled and tore the blueprints asunder.  Having arrived at an impasse, the Elder gathered the shredded documents and led the Horde to the building with a presumed Demon.

As the Horde approached the ruined building, MIYUKI’s head began pounding, clearly, whatever OTAK had spotted the day prior was surly still within.  Wanting a better idea what the Horde was up against, it was decided that UPANIX make use of their new trinket.  It was also believed that the Cloak of Etherealness would perhaps prove useful against RASPUTIN’s Astral Projection.  The Specimen donned the cloth and attempted to leave the material plane.  What had not been explained however was that the process inflicted a burring pain throughout the entirety of his body, a pain that wouldn’t cease.  Albeit his melting flesh, UPANIX truly believed to have travelled where no Barbarian has gone before, but the cursed Cloak of Immolation was in fact incinerating the Half-Giant alive.  The stink of burnt hair and flesh filling the air and the Specimen’s scream alarmed a contingent of Russian troops, each carrying a bucket of water.  Sadly, the water had no effect as the ordeal compelled several troops to empty their stomachs at the horrific sight.  Unable to remove the second cursed item to cross the Specimen, MIYUKI put herself in harm’s way to make UPANIX more comfortable with her soothing touch.  Luckily, the Gods would it have it that UPANIX be shown mercy as the Paladin’s healing hand removed RASPUTIN’s curse and rendered the cloak worthless.  Amazed the man had survived; the troops shook the human torch’s hand and left with a story to tell their future grandchildren.  When the coast was clear, UPANIX cursed both RASPUTIN and the Gods controlling his destiny.

After being made whole and treated for third degree burns, UPANIX led the charge within the ruined barracks and he and the Horde laid waste to the Meladaemon and his three Baykok riflists.  The Outsider’s Waves of Fatigue and moisture siphoning Horrid Wilting had been proved to be a nuisance at best, but the Demon stood little chance against pure rage.  T’was clear that the thing was scavenging for a meal amongst the countless charred bodies strapped to beds.  One of the bodies however, had a strange constructed leg; more than likely the very man POLINA saw conceiving the Anchors of the World.  But alas, the man was very much dead and his soul lost; not even MIYUKI’s gift of life was potent enough to restore him.  SHANG-TSUNG confiscated the man's prosthetic as a consolation prize, perhaps to make use of it at a later time.  Having hit yet another wall, the Horde travelled to the prison’s eastern wing in dire need of answers.

SHANG-TSUNG returned to the building where MIYUKI was struck by lightning, the one dominated by an overgrown tree.  Keeping his distance, the Samurai used a charge of his Speak with Plants wand in hopes to converse with the mad Lightning Treant.  With strict orders to defend his building from intruders, the weed offered nothing but warnings to stay away.  Feeding off the energies produced by the nearby TESLA coil, channeled lightning would be granted to those who’d test the plant’s resolve.  Having caught the thing’s drift, the Horde traveled a little ways south to the next building.

The chapel and the building directly east of it had one thing in common, both were damaged beyond repair.  The haphazard pile of burnt timbers resembling a mound of charred and tangled bones offered nothing but broken dreams and disappointment.  Though the building behind it was in far better condition, the horrific scene within would forever leave a mental scar that would never heal.  Eviscerated bodies strung up in barbed wire, their flesh stretched out to expose raw muscle and their disemboweled entrails draped like limp clotheslines dominated the gore filled hospice.  The creature within performing macabre surgery composed of foreign limbs, gnarled braches and barbed wire applauded the Horde for their timely arrival.  Equipped with sadistic tools and donning a quilt of flayed flesh interlaced with tangled nerves, the Interlocutor Kyton was in need of spare parts.  Having gone mad and breaking ties with RASPUTIN, the Kyton ordered the Horde’s unconditional surrender.  UPANIX took offense and cut one of the things arms off.  The melee that ensued was short lived but the Specimen suffered greatly before its conclusion.  The Half-Giant walked into four razor sharp claws, each slicing cleanly into vital areas, both sets rending through enough flesh to fabricate a dress.  Verging on unconsciousness after having lost twenty or so pounds of body mass and fluids, both MIYUKI and MAIN were quick to restore the big man back to Half-Giant status.  Meanwhile, the building was briefly searched revealing nothing of interest.  Suddenly, someone not within the Horde’s ranks, sneezed.  Peering into a nearby closet had revealed two stowaways, a hemophiliac boy and a lethargic young woman suffering from amnesia.  The boy ALEXEI explained to the Elder that he was protecting…, hiding his sister ANASTASIA from anyone believed to be affiliated with Russia’s Bolshevik Government.  As the boy rambled on, the Horde noticed something peculiar; the lad was the splitting image of one of the Animate Dreams encountered in RASPUTIN’s home.  And though she wasn’t an exact match, ANASTASIA resembled the other three figments and the lone woman entrapped by the noble Specters.  When questioned about RASPUTIN, ALEXEI confirmed the man to be an old friend of the family but was assassinated some months ago.  When the Horde decreed the boy’s statement to be false, ALEXEI wasn’t all that surprised that the Mad Monk was still around.  RASPUTIN had been presumed dead nearly half a dozen times already.   Rumored to have unnatural and mystical powers, RASPUTIN was labeled as one of Earth’s most wanted.  Unaware of the Mad Monk’s actual whereabouts, ALEXEI and ANASTASIA were dismissed and both retreated back to their hiding spot.

Still with no leads to follow, the Horde reluctantly agreed to head towards the undead encampment next.  The thought of Headless Cossacks and a decrepit Goat was appalling to most, more so in the Half-Orc’s eyes.  With the argument to leave no stone unturned, OTAK offered to make second contact with the mustard gas in hopes to learn more about its occupants.  With his net in hand, the Gom tribesman jumped the fence and into certain death.  As the fumes began dissolving Orc flesh, OTAK’s net failed to snag one of the staggering mounds.  The slow recovery that ensued allowed a dozen or so Trench Zombies to converge onto OTAK’s position, all slamming into whatever was left of the Half-Orc.  By the time OTAK exited the mist with a Trench Zombie in haul, both he and the Undead had much in common…, physically.  Still amongst the living, barely, OTAK looked to the Paladin to make him feel better.
 
CHALLENGE
XP
2 Stone Golems
6400
4 Romanov Souls; Advanced Animate Dreams
6400
Advanced Meladaemon
4800
3 Baykok Riflists
4800
Advanced Interlocutor Kyton
6400
Trench Zombie
600
Session total
29400
Campaign total
437120
View
Summary 25: Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin
Chapter Five: Rasputin Must Die
SHANG-TSUNG assumed the man had appeared to avenge his fallen troops, but alas, twas not the case.  In fact, the Mad Monk labeled the soldiers as mere insects, nothing more than cannon fodder to help him achieve his goal.  The man known as Grigori Yefimovich RASPUTIN thought it courteous to inform the Horde that their grueling mission had finally come to an end.  The search for his mother, BABA YAGA, no longer served any purpose as the Queen of Witches’ had officially expired after fourteen overdue centuries.  Having acquired knowledge on the Horde’s personnel, RASPUTIN called out to all by name and suggested that they return home via the Dancing Hut and cherish whatever life that remained.  When asked to elaborate BABA YAGA further, RASPUTIN refused to comply and insisted that they not intervene in family affairs.  The Mad Monk however, did confirm ELVANNA to be his half-sister, but the man had little interest in her ambitions; a distant planet slowly freezing over was of no concern to him.  Simply put, things change and people are forced to adapt, a reality the Horde had faced and a reality Golarion was to embrace.  RASPUTIN’s rant fell upon deaf ears however and the Samurai tried to shut him up with an arrow.
 
RASPUTIN stood his ground, smiled and let the missile pass through his Astral Projection.  The man calmly asked the Horde to stop and both OTAK and KRUSH agreed that violence was not the answer.  UPANIX however did not like the mention of his broken Warchief’s evident demise, ignored the Monk’s compulsion, entered a frenzy and charged, his greatsword unphasing the laughing illusion.  RASPUTIN waved his hand and warned the Horde that Earth, this god forsaken land, would be their final resting place if they persisted.  The Mad Monk vanished into thin air, but not before arming a dozen or so Fragment Grenades within the pile of spoils via Telekinesis.  Suddenly, the spoils erupted in a grand explosion of fire and metal harming all but the Specimen.  To make matters worse, the burning pile of soldiers animated and the Fiery Corpse Orgy unleashed a painful shriek, sundering brain matter to all those within earshot.  Finally, the Horde’s Detached Shadow’s came into play and pounced upon their real selves, their cold claws and fangs causing discomfort.  Forbidden from attacking, both OTAK and KRUSH took up a defensive posture as the others focused on their shades.  All shadows within reach clawed once and the injured yet whole Shadow Horde retreated into the ground below.  Meanwhile, the Corpse Orgy slammed the Half-Giant hard three times and ignited the Specimen aflame, the smell of burning living tissue and hair for all to relish.  UPANIX countered with three sword swipes of his own and that coupled with half a dozen precise missiles, the flaming aberration was silenced for good.  UPANIX rolled on the ground to put out the flames and MIYUKI made certain that all felt comfortable.  The Horde watched the soldiers burn to ashes and only then did they pursue their journey eastwardly, neglecting RASPUTIN’s counsel.
 
After a few hours’ march, daylight began diminishing but the Horde opted to stay their course without stopping.  Suddenly, OTAK heard a loud noise to the north, the sound of trampling trees.  The Horde deviated and soon noticed the Dancing Hut crashing through the forest excitingly at high speed, the thing squawking at every mile.  Unable to catch up with the construct, the Horde opted to follow its path of destruction, also leading east.  Darkness fell by the time both parties reunited, the Hut at a standstill near the forest limits.  A short walk further from there revealed a vast open area and a fortified structure a thousand yards away.  Obscured by darkness, glimpses of the structure were lit by several spot lights rotating atop towers.  With fatigue creeping in, getting rest was a good enough excuse to delay pondering the Horde’s next move.  The Dancing Hut keeled before BABA YAGA’s favored and granted the Horde sanctuary for the night.  Before retiring however, SHANG-STUNG knocked upon the mantle within the coffin chamber and offered the House Spirit ZORKA an olive branch in hopes to acquire her insight on the Horde’s current predicament.  Sadly, the bridge between her and the Fey Killers had burned long ago back in Whitethrone as the call went unanswered.

Morning came and SHANG-TSUNG awoke next to the skeletal remains of a small cat.  Fearing the worst, the Elder searched high and low for FATALITY and breathed a sigh of relief after finding the Migrus inside a coffin feasting on the remains of a bird.  Rather than charge the fireplace, the Elder disregarded ZORKA’s gift and walked outside.  The Hut had in fact stopped at the edge of a nightmarish landscape.  The forest ended abruptly at a muddy field riddled with snow rimmed craters and punctuated by gnarled trees.  Twisted coils of barbed wire, and deep trenches surrounded a ruined yet fortified keep in the distance.  Beyond a high stone fence, cracked and blackened onion domes hinted of a ruined temple reaching for the stormy sky.  Eerie gray shadows danced and writhed across the dusky landscape, giving it the appearance of a maggot-riddled corpse.  The Samurai reached for his spyglass to observe the mess from a different perspective.  Three pairs of strange metallic caterpillar-like constructs made their rounds defending the complex.  Flanking each were a pair of headless horseman.  The six trenches within view were all occupied by two dozen soldiers each.  Eleven towers housing four or five soldiers each were spotted, all equipped with a spotlight and a massive double crossbow.  A huge metal coil stood atop the towers in the keep’s four corners, strange purple arcane energies surrounding them.  The situation was grim at best and the Horde began brainstorming.  OTAK voted against him playing a prisoner outright and many scenarios involving OBEY-MI and a single Invisibility Potion were rejected as well.  Having done wonders impersonating the Winter Guard back home, the Horde opted to make use of their salvaged Russian uniforms.

With tailored adjustments to make, the Horde returned to the Hut but was halted by a familiar voice.  RASPUTIN stood sinisterly before all, flanked by SHANG-TSUNG and MIYUKI’s Detached Shadows.  Unimpressed with the Horde’s lack of compliance, the Mad Monk offered to join in their silly game of hot and cold.  RASPUTIN decreed that the Horde was very cold, so cold that they’d need to warm up.  Suddenly, a controlled Firestorm came into existence and immolated all those who defied the Oracle.  The Archers fired their barbs but the Shadows anticipated their counterpart’s maneuvers and sank into the ground to safety and like before, the arrows fired at RASPUTIN had no effect.  The Mad Monk mocked his adversaries a final time, claiming the Horde would never find him, and vanished to the hole he came from.  With tensions slightly elevated within the Horde ranks.  UPANIX reentered the Dancing Hut and politely requested an audience with ZORKA.  With both SHANG-TSUNG and OTAK not present within the room and the soothing sound of the Half-Giant’s silver tongue, the House Spirit finally left the sanctuary of her hidey-hole.  Having been in hiding for weeks, the cleanliness of the coffin room in which she appeared was not at all to her standards and felt compelled to sweep.  Peeking outside, ZORKA spotted the Fey Killers and was quick to lock the door and close the shutters.  The house maid however offered very little in the information department.  She confirmed that BABA YAGA had a son but the child was abandoned long ago.  As for the Hut’s current configuration, twas one the Fey had never seen.  Finally, when asked about the Hut’s sudden urge to flee, ZORKA had two logical explanations; either the Hut was attacked or the thing heeded its master’s call.  With nothing else to provide, nor tidy, the Fey tipped over a jar to keep busy and asked that UPANIX perform a secret knock the next time he visits, a Fey Killer warning of sorts.

Fearing they’ve missed something, the Horde returned to the ruined village in hopes to make a gold marker appear on the Karta.  The path of destruction was followed to the point of origin and all was as before, save an inch or two of new powder.  The area where the Hut appeared was relatively undisturbed; no evidence leaning towards an attack was found and thus bolstered the theory that BABA YAGA was near.  Disguised and without Ankylosaurus, the Horde followed a path to the south and entered the village.  Devastated by war, all that remained was a handful of peasant home carcasses.  The two buildings facing the Hut however housed four dozen Russian soldiers.  One of them standing guard took a puff of his smoke stick and saluted his fellow troops in disguise.  The Horde returned the gesture and noticed the man staring and smiling at MIYUKI.  The man approached the maiden and launched a lousy pick-up line.  Offended, the Specimen stepped between them and readied Pain and Misery.  The man, his eyes glazed over, took a step back and both parties engaged in small talk.  Impressed with the Horde’s excellent American accent, the man revealed that RASPUTIN had given strict orders to watch over the Hut on Chicken legs that appeared several days ago.  The man boasted that they were successful at halting a small task force from within, but the Hut ran off soon after nearly two days ago.  Now they await new orders, but until then, they are to stay put.  The man returned to his post after blowing the maiden a kiss and the Horde left the troops to deal with Siberia’s winter chill.  The Horde reunited with KRUSH and returned to the Dancing Hut.

With the Akuvskaya Prison Camp in their sights, the Horde left KRUSH behind and made their advance.  Timing their march just right to avoid the surrounding patrols, the Horde arrived at the keep’s southern entrance unmolested.  Faced with twenty or so soldiers at the gate, both parties saluted and the Horde was given access to the grounds no questions asked.  As they crossed the threshold, the soldiers began hooting and whistling when the beautiful MIYUKI walked by.  Though some existed, women soldiers were at a premium, but twas clear that the maiden was the main attraction, or distraction.  The two buildings to the west, one whole, the other in cinders and the four buildings to the east were all ignored, the Horde favoring passing through another gate to the north.  A lot was happening in the area beyond.  The corpse of a religious temple of sorts dominated the scene, is charred bricks still smoldering like dying embers, fresh flames still flickered eerily across its crumbled surface.  Six buildings lines the western wall, the first reeking of fuel, the next three in utter ruin and the two to the north east in good repair.  Directly to the east, beyond a barbed wire fence, a dozen tents had been erected.  Staked to the ground and standing guard within the settlement was a foul looking Goat with an eerie lantern around its neck.  Several decapitated horsemen, their heads hanging from ropes, made their rounds within the area as well.  Four other buildings, two of them still serviceable, lined the eastern wall.  Wanting nothing to do with the Undead encampment, the Horde circled the fallen temple to the left and spotted something to the north.  A tall fence surrounded a prison yard filled with a brownish-yellow fog, ill-defined shapes shuffling slowly within the murk.  SHANG-TSUNG approached the home-like structure to the north-west first when suddenly; a soldier atop a nearby tower had fired a warning shot at the Elder’s feet.  After inhaling smoke from his cancer stick, the man pointed to the next building.  Surrounded by three-hundred plus men, the Horde complied and found themselves with the barracks.  Now amongst four dozen or so soldiers, some of them half-dressed, others eating, resting and playing games; many heads turned to the sole woman.  The Horde left the small ruckus that ensued and traveled to the west.  An old stone building sat buried in snow on the other side of the complex, its wooden door hanging ajar.  An old tree, lightning-scarred and twisted, jutted through the roof, its drooping branches hanging like a curtain over the entrance.  As the Horde approached it, the soldiers above jeered and laughed quietly.  Suddenly, the tree branches rose to the air, attracted the arcane energies surrounding the coil installed atop the north-eastern tower, and Called Lighting upon the Paladin.  Amused and impressed the woman survived, the soldiers pointed the way to the barracks.

The Horde assembled outside the garrison and agreed to let SHANG-TSUNG enter the forbidden house unseen.  Invisible, the Samurai melted the lock with acid and entered the residence unnoticed.  The Elder traversed the kitchen and entered the library.  Sitting on the couch near the far wall, a strange looking toy in hand, was RASPUTIN himself.  The Mad Monk looked to the Invisible SHANG-TSUNG and cursed him for violating his home.  The Samurai fired a cluster shot but the Mad Monk was yet again not real.  BABA YAGA had chosen her allies well, their no-nonsense way about them, driven by hate and rage.  RASPUTIN penetrated the Samurai’s resolve and gave the Elder an opportunity to prove his superior marksmanship.  Dominated, SHANG-TSUNG was ordered to step outside and to shoot one of the snipers above.  RASPUTIN’s Astral Project vanished and SHANG-TSUNG’s missile struck the soldier square in the shoulder.  The family man had survived the blow at first but the thirty foot drop broke his spine and shattered his skull.  Noticed by many, a soldier in the norther guard tower began cranking a strange construct filling the air with an alarming sound, only then had SHANG-TSUNG gained control of his mind.  Surrounded by utter chaos, the Elder called out to the Horde, jumped over a barbed wire fence and into mustard gas.  The corrosive fumes began searing flesh, replacing burnt tissue with necrotic boils, the Elders innards turning to paste, a stunt he should have passed on.  Now sensing more or less faint life signs, the Trench Zombies within honed in on the Samurai’s position but watched the Tian make an expeditious retreat.  Covered in mustard and pustules, SHANG-TSUNG darted to a nearby hot spring.  Ancient stone arches enshrining weatherworn statues of veiled women and saintly men framed the steaming natural spring, but the three floating bodies within rose a red flag.  Though the sight was disturbing, more so was the fact that the Horde hadn’t assembled to make a stand.  With hostiles in all directions, both OTAK and MIYUKI came to the conclusion that doing so would have resulted in a Total Party Kill.  The Samurai mounted OBEY-MI and made a daring escape.  Meanwhile, MIYUKI made certain to erect a shield around her Elder from a distance and asked the Half-Orc to hold her tightly.  Hundreds of bullets filled the sky, many of them finding wrinkled flesh.  Down below, the maiden held back her screams as holes began opening all over her body.  Luckily, the troops didn’t give chase and the Animated Tank within range failed to lock on its target with a thundering six pound shell.  SHANG-TSUNG returned to the Dancing Hut in more or less one piece, entered without knocking forcing ZORKA back to her hidey hole and reached for his healing wand.

After having fully regenerated, MIYUKI noticed several soldiers carrying the deceased to the cemetery to the north-west.  A small and strange creature took possession of the corpse and begun digging a grave with an oversized shovel.  The remaining Horde members paid a visit and made their acquaintance with the evil Tombstone Fairy know as POLINA.  Both parties got along great the moment OTAK spoke to the thing in her native Sylvain language.  In the process of unearthing bones to make certain they were still in their rightful place, the Fey was questioned about BABA YAGAPOLINA was overjoyed to learn that the Horde and Little Grandmother were friends and wished that they free her from the one who wished to take her throne.  Clearly talking about RASPUTIN, POLINA believed the man to be in the church-but-not-a-church, far, far away, between here and the land she came from, the Thrice-Tenth Kingdom.  The Fey pointed to the corner towers and ranted about the one who built the Anchors of the World.  Both RASPUTIN and a hunchback man with a mustache and an artificial leg had overseen their construction.  Once completed, the man was taken to one of the buildings to the south, flanked by a pair of Headless Cossacks and a lantern Goat.  All save the man left the building before it burnt down several weeks ago.  When asked if Little Grandmother was a bad person, the evil Fey had nothing but good things to say about the Horde’s employer.  Having acquired some useful tidbits, the former Fey Fillers left the Fairy in peace and rejoined with the fugitive.

Back at the Dancing Hut, SHANG-TSUNG summoned the library in hopes to find answers.  Two hours passed and the Elder deemed the book collection useless.  The records mentioned nothing of Earth, nor did they detail BABA YAGA’s family line.  The Samurai did however learn a thing or two about RASPUTIN’s potent Astral Projection spell.  Virtually unsolvable, the Horde would need to locate his true self in suspended animation.  Once reunited with the Horde, a second attempt to infiltrate the compound garnered the most votes.  Having blown his cover however, it was suggested that SHANG-TSUNG get a haircut and a close shave.  Forty-four year in the making, both his hair and beard had been toned way down, the same magically falling off of FATALITY.  Now rocking a new look, the Horde returned to prison with two things in mind; first and foremost, kill RASPUTIN, BABA YAGA’s rescue coming in second.

Breaching the walls went as smooth as the first albeit the extra ground forces.  The Horde traveled to the building POLINA pointed at when suddenly, MIYUKI was suffering from massive headache.  Looking through what appeared to be a window, a vile Jackal Demon was spotted feasting upon the remains of a charred corpse.  Wishing to avoid attracting unnecessary attention at that very moment, the Horde opted to peruse the temple grounds.  Many watched in fear, curious to see what would come to pass, as the Horde entered the wreckage through the eastern wing.  The smoldering embers instantly intensified the moment they stepped in, causing extreme heat and heavy smoke.  All but SHANG-TSUNG endured the discomfort as the Elder entered some sort of trance.  As the others attempted to snap him out of it, the Ochki had granted the Samurai a special vision.  An old crone found herself within the restored monastery, face to face with the Mad Monk surrounded by strange and unstable machines.  Suddenly, the machinery pulsing with mythic energies converged upon RASPUTIN and struck the woman, entangling her with purple lightning.  From behind, a White Witch entered the fray and channeled magicks of her own, the crone’s shadowy form crouching helplessly in the darkness.  The piercing blue eyes of a hundred RASPUTINS filled the air, and the woman’s tortured screams echoed and faded as the crone found herself confined within strange nesting dolls.  As the vision faded, a smile parted the lips of RASPUTIN’s many images.  SHANG-STUNG collapsed but only for a moment as the heat and smoke lessoned.  The Elder shared his pivotal find with his allies, the Matryoshka Doll being the toy held by RASPUTIN within his home the day prior.  Hoping to learn more, the Horde traveled to the west wing.  Two marble statues of shrouded women, their forms wrapped in rusted barbed wire, flanked a dry baptismal font in the next room.  Suddenly, after filling the font with water, stigmata wounds appeared on the stone statues; fresh blood streamed from their eyes and the wounds where prongs of barbed wire rested upon their bodies.  Blood began streaming out of all those within the room, their bodies suffering Horrid Wilting.  To make matters worse, as the Horde watched their flesh flake away, they noticed the barbed Stone Golems spring to life, both expressing malicious intent.
 
CHALLENGE
XP
Fiery Corpse Orgy
9600
Russian Soldier
400
Hazard: Mustard Gas
2400
Hazard: Electrified Barbed Wire Fence 1600
Polina: Tombstone Fairy; befriended
1600
Haunt: Lady of Sorrows
4800
Session total 20400
Campaign total
407720
View
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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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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