Reign of Winter

Summary 03: Land of the White Witches

Chapter One: The Snows of Summer


SESSION THEME

One hundred years had passed and BABA YAGA’s Riders returned to Whitethrone, Irrisen’s capital, to herald her return.  Queen ELVANNA, thirteenth daughter of BABA YAGA, had served her term and the time had come to place a new daughter upon the throne to govern the land of eternal winter.  But BABA YAGA’s Dancing Hut did not appear as expected.  Suddenly, ELVANNA’s Winter Guard stormed through the crowds with orders to capture the Four Riders.  Clearly, something was afoot and the Riders fled the scene.  The four fell ill a week prior and with each passing day, the Riders grew older, rapidly.  BABA YAGA’s ability to suppress the Rider’s aging was being diverted somehow.  They rode south at high speed keeping ELVANNA’s assassins at bay.  When they found the Winter Portal and learned of its purpose, their suspicions had been confirmed.  It was time to initiate an old contingency.
 
Long ago, the Riders were given a chest, their contents, a secret.  Each traveled to the four corners to the world with orders to seek out sanctuary for their precious cargo, hidden away from enemy eyes.  In the event the Riders lose contact with BABA YAGA, the chest’s contents would aid them track down her movements via her Dancing Hut.  Knowing full well that their master favored the way of the barbarian, a simple but loyal folk, the Riders traveled to four tribes.  BLACK MIDNIGHT, Rider by night, left his chest with Elder GUNDAHAR of the Gom Tribe to the South.  The White Rider, BRIGHT MORNING, entrusted her treasure to Warchief SERAK of the Greatskin Tribe to the Far East.  RED SUN, Rider by day, assigned his coffer to Liege SVIENN of the Linnorm Kingdoms to the North.  DIM TWILIGHT, the Blue Rider, gave his safe to SUGUNA of the Hygashiyama Clan to the East.
 
The four guardians were called upon and The Chosen responded.
 
Meanwhile, the Four Riders traveled to one of BABA YAGA’s secret storehouses to retrieve a Plague Doctor’s Mask and a Hair from a Frost Giant’s Beard, two items required to power their master’s Dancing Hut.  But ELVANNA’s Winter Guard had been stalking them all along.  The Riders were ambushed by a contingent of Ice Trolls, Winter Wolves and two powerful White Witches.  The Riders escaped with their lives, but everything magical within the storehouse and on their persons had been Disjunctioned in the attack.  The two Hut keys became useless, dealing a tremendous blow to BABA YAGA and her allies.  The Four scattered in hopes to instill chaos within the Winter Guard’s ranks.
 
Meanwhile, the Horde had finally located the Arctic Crown and the source of the winter pocket.  SHANG-TSUNG scouted the perimeter and found no signs of life.  Still in very poor condition, the Horde approached an igloo to shelter themselves from the extreme winter conditions.  SHANG-TSUNG was the first to enter and marked his territory with a green Glowing Hand, but that did not sit well with those who had claimed this territory.
 
Suddenly, a well placed Magic Stone made contact with UPANIX’ skull as a Sprite-like creature appeared in the blowing snow above.  OTAK stepped forward and disarmed the pest using his whip.  Two more Sprites appeared from behind and shouted.  OTAK made out their Sylvan cries and warned MIYUKI that she had been marked first for extinction.  The first Sprite unleashed a rainbow pattern upon the Horde, but none were impressed as the second failed to Daze MIYUKI.  From the trees near a cave opening, the Talking Stag made an advance, only this time; he was in no mood to converse.  UPANIX closed his fist around the Sprite in front of him, trapping him within.  Suddenly, the central mound of vegetation animated.  TEB Knotten, a Moss Troll, had his sights on the Half-Orc and approached without sinking in the snow.  He jabbed with his Manhunting Spear, but the snowfall had masked OTAK’s true location.  SHANG-TSUNG pin-cushioned the hulking mass with two barbs as MIYUKI failed to add a third.  With two Magic Stones and no sling, HOMMELSTAUB flanked OTAK, touched him in a sensitive spot and froze his flesh.  OTAK failed to ram the plant as KRUSH’s massive club bounced off the diminutive Fey harassing his master.  Escaping the Half-Giants grasp was impossible so the grappled Sprite braced himself as the second failed to Daze UPANIX.  The Great Elk peered into the igloo an attempted to gore the Samurai, but SHANG-TSUNG raised his shield in time.  Suddenly, another Spite-like creature appeared behind SHANG-TSUNG but failed in his sneak attack.  UPANIX simply squeezed.  It was like crushing a tree branch, but he did hear a crack.  TEB’s spear found flesh and OTAK fell, but his triumph was short lived as two arrows thudded into his chest, stopping his black heart.  MIYUKI rushed to OTAK and stopped the bleeding.  HOMMELSTAUB touched KRUSH and put him to sleep.  The ungrappled Sprite failed yet again to distract the Man from the East and feared for the worse.  Meanwhile, the Stag and his voice both failed to penetrate the Archer’s defenses.   UPANIX crushed and the Sprite endured.  SHANG-TSUNG took a step back and put the Stag down as MIYUKI tended to KRUSHHOMMELSTAUB flew over to UPANIX and temporarily Shrunk his Greatsword to the size of a dart.  The Sprite waved his hands in vain as The Half-Giant could not be Dazed.  Enraged at the loss of his companion, FAWFEIN, unleashed his wrath upon SHANG-TSUNG and tickled him.  UPANIX constricted and, POP, his hand soiled in gore.  The Samurai fired at point-blank and left a mark on the ventriloquist.  MIYUKI’s arrows continued to be ineffective as HOMMELSTAUB froze some of UPANIX’ flesh.  The final Sprite moved in and unleashed his own Color Spray, but none fell prey to the figment.  SHANG-TSUNG and FAWFEIN traded blows and the latter dropped.  The battle was tuning in the Horde’s favor as new life flowed in their veins.  UPANIX destroyed the other Sprite as OTAK raised from the dead and joined the others as they all pummeled the Atomie Oracle.  Barley standing, HOMMELSTAUB vanished as a gust of wind, snow and cold erupted from the Halo of Frozen Spires.
 
A Knight on horseback, surrounded by tendrils of cold, dark mist, emerged from the pillar.  It was BLACK MIDNIGHT, and he was early.  The Horde called out to him, but the man slumped in his saddle, a shard of blue ice jutting from his back.  The Black Rider fell to the ground as his Warhorse dissipated into black smoke.  HOMMELSTAUB appeared next to him and attacked.  The Horde quickly disposed of the Fey and turned to their attention to the Warrior.  His helm fell off revealing a vulnerable old man with pale cold skin.  ILLARION Matveius was his name, but was known as BABA YAGA’s Black Rider.  He was most pleased to have run into OTAK of the Gom Tribe, the stoke of luck he had been looking for.  Now dying and his mission in peril, had he found brave and capable adventurers to take up the reigns.
 
He told the Horde of Queen ELVANNA and her plans to claim her mother’s title and all of Golarion as her personal kingdom.  Irrisen, a country to the North, was a land of endless winter created by BABA YAGA’s magic and ELVANNA had found a way to use portals like the one before them to expand the eternal winter.  If uncontested, a new ice age would envelop Golarion.  He then spoke of his mission to find BABA YAGA via her Dancing Hut, rumored to be in Whitethrone, Irrisen’s capital.  When asked about the other riders, BLACK MIDNIGHT had bad news.  Both his brothers, RED SUN and DIM TWILIGHT, have already fallen, but had no knowledge of his sister’s fate.  To make matters worse, the keys needed to operate the Hut were rendered inert and required BLACK MIDNIGHT’s sacrifice to reactivate them.  Once activated and thrown within the Hut’s Master Cauldron, the artifact will journey to its master’s last destination.  More bad news came when asked about the tribal leaders and their condition.  Without BABA YAGA’s influence and her age suppression powers, all will die of rapid aging.  When asked about the items within the frozen chests, BLACK MIDNIGHT had little knowledge, only that they would be essential during their quest.  In the hands of BLACK MIDNIGHT, the items functioned like they did for each tribal leader.
 
The Horde agreed to put an end to the winter, accepted BLACK MIDNIGHT’s quest and his Mantle of Responsibility.  By accepting the Geas, the Horde would be considered favored servants of BABA YAGA.  Such status would help bypass some of the wards and traps within the Hut.  In addition to that, the Mantle would grant them an ounce of BABA YAGA’s power as incentive, but those who would veer away from their duties would be punished.  All held hands and BLACK MIDNIGHT transferred the Mantle to the Horde.  Not only did everyone instantly recover from all wounds and afflictions, UPANIX, OTAK and KRUSH grew in muscle mass.  SHANG-TSUNG became more nimble and MIYUKI became more attractive.  MAIN did not change much at all.
 
OTAK looked to his blank sheet of paper and saw a Map with markings; all clustered together near the center.  SHANG-TSUNG donned his Goggles and was able to distinguish items with magical properties.  UPANIX equipped the Cap but felt no different as MIYUKI peered into the Backpack and found an endless void within.  SHANG-TSUNG looked at the Map and his Goggles revealed texts labeling the markings, but in a foreign language.  The Samurai donned the Cap and the labels appeared in Tian, his native language.
 
The black marking read Map.
The white marking read Cap.
The red marking read Backpack.
The blue marking read Goggles.
The cabin just above read Home.
 
It was clear that their new status had granted the Horde access to the relic’s powers.  After storing much of their gear within the Backpack, the Horde turned to BLACK MIDNIGHT who had unsheathed a dagger.
 
Before slitting his own throat and reactivating a Plague Doctor’s Mask and a Hair of a Frost Giant’s Beard with his own blood, BLACK MIDNIGHT had mentioned that the Pale Tower may be powering this particular Winter Portal.  If the Horde wished to delay Taldor’s fate, they should travel there first before venturing to Whitethrone.  Of course doing so would trap the Horde in Irrisen, months away from home.  The Horde burned the bodies, including BLACK MIDNIGHT’s at his own request, and salvaged anything of use, included a rather large mound of wealth.  Meanwhile, two yellow markings appeared on the Map; a Mask and a HairBABA YAGA’s servants travelled one last time to the High Sentinel Lodge to rest and feast on Elk.  After parting ways with ARGENTEA, the Horde camped out by the Winter Portal and awaited morning, day and dusk, but the other Riders did not come.  Night passed and morning came.  The Horde packed out their trash and crossed into the Land of the White Witches.
 
Once on the other side, the Horde found themselves again amongst the trees, surrounded by a much fiercer cold.  Off in the distance, several miles away, a small township was spotted and the invaders made their advance.  Within the first hour, a storm was on the horizon and a struggle was nearby.  OTAK was the first to respond to the distress call.  A Giant Mantis from Taldor had crossed over and found a meal in the form of a man.  Surrounding the Mantis were four Dog sled teams, two of them unmanned.  A woman called out to OTAK in a foreign language.  When SHANG-TSUNG translated her “Friend or foe” query, OTAK gave the Ranger a thumbs up.  UPANIX advanced just as MIYUKI’s arrow nearly met its mark.  NADYA unsheathed her handaxe and light pick and made a daring advance but failed to pierce the Vermin’s exoskeleton.  Meanwhile, her fellow hunters coward behind their Dogs.  Confused, cold, hungry and freighted, the Mantis desperately defended his prey, but was no match against the Horde.  All had their way with the giant thing, including a strange Spirit-like creature surrounding the Half-Giant, but it was OTAK and SHANG-TSUNG’s blows that fell the beast.
 
NADYA was quick to thank the foreigners in broken common for their timely assistance.  The hunters were returning home to Waldsby with a large shipment of food destined to the folk within the Pale Tower.  When the Horde declared their intentions to rout the Pale Tower, NADYA insisted that they exercise caution.  Such an act would incur the wrath of the White Witches and their Winter Guard.  Her daughter THORA was also being held within the tower serving punishment, and an attack would put her life in danger.  NADYA was hoping to exchange the rather large shipment for a full pardon.  The Horde agreed to keep an eye out for the child and to focus primarily on the two White Witches within, NAZHENA, ELVANNA’s great-great-granddaughter, and her apprentice RADOSEK.  With a blizzard looming, NADYA urged everyone to make camp and wait out the storm before moving forward.
 
NADYA joined her saviors for dinner and discussed a few concerns.  The Horde’s gear was inadequate for Irrisen’s winter conditions and needed to be addressed.  The Winter Guard had become very active as of late, they were searching for someone.  Foreigners would be arrested and interrogated on the spot and Irrisen’s locals, a paranoid folk, wouldn’t hesitate to call the officials.  The Horde would need to find a way to blend in to avoid attracting attention.  The Ranger was curious about the Winter Portal in which the Horde came and claimed to be unaware of its existence.  As a precaution, BABA YAGA’s servants remained discrete.  Both parties retired to their tents after a warm meal.
 
Suddenly, just before lights out, beautiful music filled the air.  It was coming from NADYA’s tent and the Horde went to investigate.  A female Forlarren creature was playing the harp and serenading the males.  NADYA, on the other hand, did not look impressed.  The Fey paused her performance and shifted her attention to the foreigners, interested in meeting their acquaintance.  But the Horde did not like Fey, nor did NADYA.  The Bard was hoping to add their tale to her repertoire but was asked to leave instead.  MIERUL was simply seeking shelter from the storm and was force to find an alternative; her refusal would be met by katana.  The Forlarren, traumatized, gathered her belongings and disappeared into the storm.  Though cruel, NADYA showed no ill will to her saviors, confirming the local’s racist tenancies.
 
Morning came, the storm had passed and both parties continued their journey to Waldsby.  Hypothermia began rearing its ugly head just as a mass to Ravens entered the scene.  NADYA urged that all hide as the animals were in fact agents of the Pale Tower and the Horde’s discovery would be problematical.  Unfortunately, hundreds of birds with twice as many eyes were more than a match against the invaders hiding skills.  The swarm descended and engulfed SHANG-TSUNG.  Both women urged that everyone protect their eyes and to avoid bludgeoning weapons at all costs.  Twas good advice as the Horde made quick work of the Swarm.  A few minor cuts and bruises had been inflicted but no one had lost their eyesight.  The battle’s first star was awarded to UPANIX as his tactics were most effective against the feathered mass.
 
Upon arriving at Waldsby, NADYA directed the Horde to her cabin on the outskirts of town, a town eerily similar to Heldren in many ways.  The Ranger insisted that the Horde make themselves comfortable while she prepared tea and biscuits.  They immediately looked to the wall where three portraits hanged upon it.  Two were of twin boys and the other was her daughter THORA.  But the Horde had already seen her before; she was the Ghost child they encountered in the ice maze back in Taldor.
 
CHALLENGE
XP
Teb Knotten; Moss Troll
200
2 Winter-Touched Sprites
100
The Talking Stag; Elk
100-Lv3
Fawfein; Winter-Touched Atomie
100
Hommelstaub; Winter-Touched Atomie Oracle
150
Trap: Deep Pit; avoided
100
Bonus: Recovered a plague doctor's mask
100
Bonus: Recovered a hair from a Frost Giant's beard
100
Giant Mantis
240
Animated Ice Dragon
160
Session total
1350
Campaign total
5950

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