Reign of Winter

Summary 13: The Maiden Beckons

Chapter Three: Maiden, Mother, Crone



With Artrosa in their sights and a waxing moon showing the night prior, The Horde b-lined for the Maiden.  The statue’s base revealed no entry points but it had been suggested, by the centaur ERDIJA, that one may need to climb to enter BABA YAGA’s wonder.  Looking at the mile high construct, OTAK insisted that the Owl fly up to authenticate the rumor.  MIYUKI and ZAPADA bonded for a moment and the Snow Owl reached for the heavens soon after.  The Bird returned with the answer they sought moments later, a door had been spotted just behind the Maiden’s head.  ZAPADA was then given the order to scout out the other two statues, but no doors were found.  Having confirmed their hunches, the Horde began their dangerous ascent.

With rope and a grappling hook, the task wasn’t overly difficult, but fatigue, the fear of extreme heights and falling to one’s death was of more concern.  A slow and steady pace whilst stopping to rest at ledges proved to be an invaluable strategy.  Twas only when they got half way when things got tense.  SHANG-TSUNG, OTAK and UPANIX suddenly felt an electrical surge coursing through their bodies, a small glowing orb appearing before each of them.  Luckily, the boys maintained their hold upon the rock face.  As the Horde readied themselves to defend against the dreaded Will-o’-Wips, the things electrocuted their victims once more.  Unable to fight effectively, the warriors began making their way to a nearby ledge.  MIYUKI opted to grasp her holy symbol and flood the area with positive energy causing minor relief to burns.  The Wisps vanished as the Horde got closer to the ledge.  Suddenly, the Healer screamed in excruciating pain as all three Wisps appeared around her.  Fortunately, she too did not let go of the rope.  All males but OTAK made to the ledge and both SHANG-TSUNG and KRUSH made an attempt to deter their foes.  OTAK remained to defend MIYUKI but failed to make a significant dent.  The distraction allowed the Paladin to reach the ledge safety whilst the Wisps concentrated their efforts upon the vulnerable Half-Orc.  But as soon as the Gom Tribesman reunited with his allies, the Wisps no longer had the advantage and the lights were extinguished with relative ease.

The Horde arrived to the top safely by dusk.  Exhausted, they took a moment to recuperate when suddenly; the huge tree dominating the mesa began moving.  The willow tree’s trunk, upon closer inspection, resembled that of a nude woman.  A long tendril sprung out from the Witch Tree and pointed to a disemboweled centaur next to her.  In exchange for safe passage within Artrosa, the plant demanded she be presented with a sacrifice, something warm, living and bloody.  Though she’d appreciate the sentiment, sacrificing one of their own was not necessary; but if left waiting, she’d select a sacrifice of her choosing.  While the Horde pondered over a response, the tree shifted her attention to OTAK, favoring Orc flesh above all else.  The plant humored the Horde by answering a simple query but quickly returned to the subject of her sacrifice.  The Horde’s refusal to comply suited the weed just fine, granting her the right to choose.  Four tendrils began reaching for OTAK as UPANIX reacted first.  Tired, the Specimen advanced prompting the Witch Tree to react.  UPANIX was slammed hard and held into place as the tendril coiled around him.  The Half-Giant was slapped again when the he reached for a dagger, and to make matters worse, the weapon failed to penetrate.  KRUSH charged and too found himself entangled in a vine, his club dealing a minor wound.  OTAK followed suit and rammed the tree hard as the Archers engaged in target practice.  The tree failed to maintain its hold upon UPANIX, but KRUSH was going nowhere, so he thought.  At the expense of a might blow via skull ram, the Witch Tree move closer to the edge and released the Dinosaur, letting him fall some one hundred feet, landing upon a protrusion.  UPANIX, meanwhile dodged a tendril and struck the tree.  OTAK on the other hand found himself intertwined.  After a devastating cluster shot, the tree wanted one last taste before embarking her journey to the afterlife.  She pulled the Half-Orc in and began peeling away at his flesh with all four tendrils, coating her wooden body with his viscera.  The orgy ended soon after and the Horde began piecing OTAK back together.

As MIYUKI was administering first aid, OTAK rushed over to the ledge.  SHANG-TSUNG told him that KRUSH had returned to the earth and to let him go, but was surprised that a stroke of luck had kept him alive.  Once reunited, the Paladin was drained of her healing powers as SHANG-TSUNG impounded the tree’s treasure hoard.  With more wounds to close and all on the verge of exhaustion, a tent was pitched and all got some shut eye.  Morning broke and MIYUKI was up and about looking for her Owl.  Meanwhile, SHANG-TSUNG and UPANIX had another rough night; the latter more so.  The Half-Giant moped over to the Paladin seeking a remedy from his affliction but was advised to get more sleep.  The Samurai used the Ochki to Identify several items whilst accusing MIYUKI of being a lousy master.  One must love their familiar unconditionally, said the Elder as he stroked FATALITY. A statement that prompted MAIN to fondle his Orc master.   The Healer simply rolled her eyes and walked away.  It was assumed that the Bird was chasing mice, or perhaps contacting a Witch spy.  Either way, the Horde ceased wasting time and opened the door.

A dark winding tunnel, dug out from basalt, stood before them.  With no Dwarves in sight, the Horde simply ascertained they were going downwards.  Motifs reflecting the season of spring had been carved upon the walls, new life, verdant growing things and blooming flowers.  On occasion, the image of young nude woman, tangled in a field of blossoming wildflowers could be seen.  Dim lighting was provided by countless pale pebbles imbedded within the rock, all emanating a violet glow, reminiscent of the light at dawn.  After traveling several hundreds of paces, the path led the Horde to a large chamber.  To the south east, another tunnel continued on.  Amongst the thousands of chiseled wildflowers upon the walls, four life-sized nude women, all encircled by pinecones, had been carved into the rock.  To the north, the figure is washing her hair.  To the east, the figure sat staring upwards to a crescent moon.  To the south, a figure was picking a bouquet of flowers and to the west, the figure pointed to a triangular knot-shaped symbol.  The two-headed Giant in the room’s center, however, garnered the most attention.  Both heads were in a heated dispute, contemplating whether or not twas wise to allow the outsiders to pass through here unmolested.  Suddenly, the Witch apprentice went silent and both GURRA and GURRA gazed upon the Horde.  Unwilling to repeat the same mistake, GURRAGURRA let out a battle cry.  SHANG-TSUNG and MIYUKI silenced the Ettin’s howl with clustered and rapid shots whilst OTAK and UPANIX inflicted more pain in close quarter combat.  GURRA looked oddly to the Samurai and GURRA number two undressed OTAK with her eyes, but both Sleep hexes failed.  Six seconds passed and the Ettin was put down, their reward, a minor potion.  With nothing more to see, the Horde progressed.

A door to the right revealed itself one hundred feet down the southern tunnel, a nude maiden depicted upon it.  With the option to continue further down the corridor, the Horde forcefully opened the door to reveal yet another tunnel, and they followed it.  The path led to a natural cavern, warm and humid, stinking of stagnant water.  Lumpy masses of fungus littered the knee high marshland as wisps of water vapor hovered above the surface.  To the south, another tunnel was noticed and the Horde scaled the wall to reach it.  One of the masses was inspected revealing a decomposing heard animal.  Suddenly, the air was filled with music worthy of a soothing lullaby.

SHANG-TSUNG, OTAK and KRUSH all fell victim to the melody and entered the dream world.  Meanwhile, a huge Tendriculos, and then another, rose from the waters, seeking fresh meat.  Weary and unable to fly in a rage, UPANIX travelled though the rough terrain and got closer to the vile plants.  MIYUKI rushed over to OTAK and delivered a sturdy kick to the sternum, awakening him.  The masses approached the Specimen and harassed him with teeth and tentacle, producing several lacerations.  The Satyr PORYPHANES entered the scene through the southern tunnel and filled the area in Unholy Blight, OTAK suffering most of the blunt.  The Half-Orc crawled over to the Samurai and belted him in the gut.  SHANG-TSUNG awoke, rose and impaled the evil Fey with an arrow.  UPANIX moved into position at the expense of a vicious bite and severed a tendril as MIYUKI weakened the left Tendriculos further with her barbs.  The plants, regenerating, continued their painful assault upon the Half-Giant but failed to pin him.  The Satyr meanwhile, sent forth waves of Fear towards the gathered Horde members.  SHANG-TSUNG fought off the impulse to run and tagged the Fey with two precise missiles; OTAK on the other hand, proceeded to the nearest exit in a panic.  UPANIX, standing his ground, unleashed a mighty whirlwind attack, cutting both fungi.  MIYUKI countered her foe’s regenerative abilities with another rapid assault.  The plants took up flanking positions but failed to entangle the bloodied Specimen.  On the verge of death, PORYPHANES Suggested that the Samurai check up on his Orc friend.  After hard consideration, SHANG-TSUNG refused and fired an arrow at the Fey, a Tendriculos, and at KRUSH.  The first target fell to the ground, the second shrieked and the third felt nothing as the arrow bounced off thick hide.  SHANG-TSUNG continued spreading out his attacks as MIYUKI preferred concentrating on one target.  OTAK continued his retreat as UPANIX showed how winning was done by taking the hits and moving forward.  When UPANIX fell, MIYUKI rushed over to lay a healing hand once both plants were down.  But when one returned to life, the Paladin was swallowed hole to bath in volatile acidic juices.  Several tedious rounds of battle followed and the plants fell to Alchemist Fire.

OTAK found himself cowering next to the fallen Ettin and disbelieved the surrounding Ghosts moments later.  The Half-Orc reunited with his brethren and MIYUKI touched those in need.  The Ochki Identified the Satyr’s amulet as one to be of Mighty Fists, a relic most useful around KRUSH’s neck.  Still complaining about his lack of sleep and feeling no different after consuming a restorative elixir, UPANIX convinced the others he was under some sort of CurseMIYUKI took possession of the party’s only Remove Curse scroll and successfully exorcized the Witchdaughter’s Nightmare.  Now feeling much better, the Specimen was finally on the long road to recovery.  A thorough search revealed nothing within the marsh and the Horde progressed southward.  After bypassing a bull corpse within the tunnel, the Horde found themselves in another large chamber.  A series of head-high partitions fashioned from cloth panels stretched over wooden frames took up the cavern’s center.  The construct housed three separate sleeping chambers, two of them well maintained.  Three exit points were located, two tunnels, one to the east, one to the west, and another door depicting a nude woman to the south.  After a hard fought battle, The Horde saw wisdom in making use of the bedchambers to rest.  MIYUKI began channeling energy only to witness something she did not expect.  The area was filled with necrotic energy, producing vile tears upon everyone’s flesh.  Looking at her hands in disbelief, the Paladin was told not to do that again.  Fearing the chamber was unsafe; the Horde reconsidered their need for sleep and faced off with the door.  Showing resiliency, OTAK pulled out the battering ram from the Ryukzak and converted the door to firewood.  The tunnel beyond led to a room enveloped in bright Daylight.  Squinting their eyes, another door was spotted to the east and a tunnel to the west.  It was clear that BABA YAGA had led them into a mess of a maze, but with Glowing Hands and the concept of processing doors first, the Horde took great care in leaving bread crumbs.  With no danger in sight, the Horde made their way to the door, when suddenly…

 
CHALLENGE
XP
3 Will-o'-Wisps
1600-Lv8
Witch Tree
2400
Gurragurra; Ettin Witch
1200
Poryphanes; Satyr
600
2 Tendriculos
1200
Session total
4800
Campaign total
57280

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