Reign of Winter

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

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