Reign of Winter (Session 02)
After our less than stellar showing against the winter-touched sprites, we decided it would be best to camp and rest for a bit. Personally I was simply hoping to shake the chill the little bastard’s arrows had left me with. But it was also a chance to regain a bit of our strength and magics before pressing on to the villain’s lair.
While resting, we were roused by the sound of… babbling. It sounded like someone speaking, but the words came at such a clip as to be almost indecipherable. Curious as to what it was about, we started to move to see from whence the noise was coming, only to be hailed by a human woman boldly making her way into our camp, trusting in her cacophony to somehow keep her safe. The woman, an Ulfen by the name of Asa, and her somewhat begrudging travelling companion, a dwarf named Dran Cragback, had apparently been following our back trail from the village of Heldren. It seems the villagers had less than complete faith in our abilities to find out what had become of Lady Malassene and were continuing to send other would be heroes in our wake.
I suppose that in this case it turned out for the best, as several of our number, including the barbarian, the cleric and the bard seem to have been hit particularly hard by the unnatural cold we are experiencing and have taken ill. So, given the numbers of the enemy we are facing, it is probably good to have whatever extra support we can muster.
As we prepared to set out in the morning, Lana spied a white stag romping its way across the newly minted tundra. Taking it as a potential sign from her deity, Erastil, we decided to set off after the beast and see if there was something more to it than met the eye. Indeed, it turned out there was, but it was none of Old Deadeye’s doing.
Instead, we found that the stag was serving as the steed for a rather mischievous atomie, a deceptive little fey that was looking to have a bit of evil, potentially lethal, fun at our expense. While the oracle was having an extended conversation with the stag, some of us realized there was more to the beast than met the eye… and our new dwarf companion decided that venison sounded delicious. So after the stag caught a lethal chakram to the throat, I color sprayed the fairy and we interrogated it at length.
More or less the atomie confirmed what we already knew about the region from speaking with the sprites previously. There was a moss troll who ran things, a scary mean ice mephit who delights in doing evil, and then some stinky humans living in a small keep they had taken from other stinky humans. Nothing particularly new, but it is always good to independently verify one’s information.
Unlike the sprite, we made no promises to the atomie. It tried to dupe us with magic, but ended up split in twain by the blade of a cold iron long sword. Messy business. But it did give me opportunity to study the anatomy of the diminutive fey. On the whole it made for fascinating research, but the part that was truly extraordinary was that I was able to verify the veracity regarding the supposed myths about the winter-touched fey. The fairy truly did have a sliver of magical ice plunged into its heart. The ice did not seem to impair the function of the fae’s heart in any manner, but it did seem to suffuse it with an aura of supernatural cold. I have managed to harvest the ice sliver and look forward to having a chance to further study the process and effect of this most curious magic.
Deciding we had spent enough time on our side excursion, we began making our way back towards the bandit’s keep. Ahead on the road we spied what looked to be a snowman with a placard hanging about its neck. The placard simply read, “Turn Back”. Of course, that wasn’t going to happen. But perhaps we could have inspected the obvious trap a bit more thoroughly – or at all – before willfully setting it off. But alas, that was not the case. Instead, a certain oracle knocked the snowman’s hat off and set off the sonic burst trap, which signaled an ambush from a trio of bandits on the far side of the frozen river. To complicate matters even further, there were deliberately weakened spots along the ice of the river and a pair of ice elementals waiting to accost those who tried to cross. All in all it made for a nasty bit of business that we were quite lucky to survive.
But survive we did. In fact, much to my own surprise, I was able to even fell one of the bandits with the crossbow I had acquired. It has been some time since I actual directly participated in bloodshed and I find that I have grown no fonder of it in the intervening years. But sometimes needs are as they must and we were given little choice or say in the matter as the bandits were more than happy to kill us had we failed to adequately defend ourselves.
In the end we took one of the bandits, a fellow named Snork, prisoner and managed to glean some additional information from him about the bandits and their redoubt. It seems the keep we had been told of was actually a hunting lodge that they had taken from the Sentinels after said guardians untimely demise. The bandits themselves are led by a necromancer named Rokar and his men, in a bit of vainglory, are known as Rokar’s Raiders. It also seemed they had a new member, a female half-orc by the name of Ten-Penny, and that she wasn’t being treated particularly well – which meant that she might be a point of leverage we could make use of.
We also learned that the troll and the mephit did not stay in the lodge with the raiders, but we off across a bridge “where the winter is coming from” according to our prisoner. But there were likely a few skeletons that Rokar kept around. Nasty business, but not terribly surprising given the zombies we had encountered previously.
Finally it was time to approach the hunting lodge and see what there was to see. It turns out there wasn’t much to the place, but still, given the disparity in our numbers, it was best to take a slow, cautious approach. We scouted, watched, and rested – trying to get a feel for their numbers and their movements over the course of the day. Then, once night fell, it was time to move in and see if we could perhaps make contact with Ten-Penny, thus granting ourselves whatever advantage we could.
But, as they are often want to do, plans crumbled upon contact with the enemy. An unnoticed trap in the snow drew the attention of those inside sooner than we wished. But it turned out well enough, as we captured another of the raiders and made contact with Ten-Penny. It turns out she had no great love for Rokar or his Raiders and was more than happy to help us do away with them.
So, once more into the breach we went. There were a few raiders who hadn’t succumb to the cold themselves that we had to deal with, but many more had taken a chill and were laid up in their sick beds and offered little in the way of resistance. Then it was time to face Rokar himself, or at least that was our hope. We pressed upward to his room on the second floor only to encounter his undead servants. But a pair of skeletons is hardly daunting to such a rugged group. But they did give the necromancer a bit of a head start as he fled towards the bridge and towards the trolls lair. We set out after him, but we will have to see if we manage to catch him or if that will be a battle for another time…