Reign of Winter (Session 04)
It seems that even once it was destroyed, magic still lingered in the eyes of the malevolent porcelain doll. One eye, the mirror, glowed with divination magic. The other eye, the sapphire, shown with necromancy. The mirror was smashed without question. It seems no one wanted others to be able to spy upon us. As for the sapphire, we noticed the image of a young girl dressed in the same manner as the doll still moving through the ice spears, offering her apologies for whatever wrong she had committed, ever begging to be left alone. I had once read of something similar, wherein the fell Irrisen witches would snatch the very soul out of a person and place it inside an item, usual a gem, thus trapping them forever and preventing them from moving on to Pharasma’s realm. relayed this information to the others and was more than a little horrified that there were some amongst us who were more concerned about the value of the stone than in setting this poor child’s soul free. But regardless, set her free I did, even though it was amidst protest.
I must say, I am growing somewhat concerned about the true natures of some of those I seem to have fallen in with. Do not misunderstand me, I realize that for many, greed and personal gain are their primary, driving goals in this life. I can even, to a degree, understand the desire to better one’s lot in life. But to measure gold against the soul of an innocent – the soul of a child – how can there be any room for discussion at all in that circumstance?
After spending an evening in the clearing, using the doll house as kindling, we moved further along the mountain towards the source of the cold. Our day was mostly uneventful, but that evening a dire weasel stalked us while we made camp. It took a rather large chunk out of the oracle, but we were able to drive it off and the leopard and bear were able to bring it down. Honestly, I’m not sure we needed to kill it. It was simply an animal looking for a meal in the cold. We happened to be the meal that was at hand. Circle of life and all that.
The next day we somewhat stumbled into the moss troll’s lair. Perhaps in the future it might behoove us to send out forward scouts so that we don’t find ourselves stumbling into similar situations unawares. Just a thought, but it might be well worth investigating. In this case, the natural grotto was populated by a winter-touched atomie, a small air elemental, Izoze, the ice mephit, and Teb, the moss troll. But, despite the varied array of enemies gathered against us, what most drew my attention was the swirling, icy vortex spinning in one corner of the stoney cavern. It was fairly pulsing with magic and seemed to be the source of the wintery weather encroaching upon the region.
But, as much as I might have liked to stop and study the portal then and there, we unfortunately had slightly more pressing matters to attend to – namely not dying at the hands of the moss troll and his icy cohorts. It was a rather fierce battle, but in the end we managed to make a good showing and dispatched or captured all but the winter-touched atomie, who turned invisible and fled the area. The troll lay dead, burned nearly to cinders, the air elemental was dispersed, sent back to its home plane, and the ice mephit was unconscious, bound tightly and wounds stabilized so that we could question her at our leisure about what her and Teb’s plans were.
Then we spent a bit of time thoroughly searching the area and examining the frosty vortex. Our search turned up a fair amount of loot, both on the bodies of the slain and in a buried lockbox beneath the moss troll’s sleeping rug.
Much more interesting than the material goods was the body we found frozen in the snow, or at least the apparition that was still lingering over the body. The corpse itself appeared to be an old man wearing a black cloak, his body rent by claw and blades. But the spirit that manifested was much more impressive to behold. Clad in articulated black mail and a magnificent stag helm, there was little question that this was the visage of the Black Rider, one of Baba Yaga’s three chosen, supposedly immortal, heralds.
It seems that the Witch Queen, Elvanna, current ruler of Irrisen, has decided to rebel against her mother, Baba Yaga, and has forcibly refused to cede the throne to her rightfully appointed successor. To this end, she has killed Baba Yaga’s riders, chained the Dancing Hut, and has begun to spread these winter portals across Golarion, perhaps across Toril, and has begun to spread the icy hand of winter across the face of the world.
According to the specter of the Rider, certain events must occur for Baba Yaga to appear and name the new queen of Irrisen. This is what Queen Elvanna is preventing, throwing the natural order of things into chaos. And this is what the Black Rider wishes us to help correct, lest the world suffer an ice age the likes of which has never been seen.
To prevent this, we must travel through the winter portal to Irrisen. There, we must journey to the Pale Tower, which is ruled over by Radosek Pavril, a white witch in the service of Queen Elvanna. Only then do we have a chance to close the portal and stave off the icy doom that faces us. To that end, he has given us a pair of talisman, a lock of frost giant’s hair and a plague doctor’s mask, that he says are keys to finding Baba Yaga. There will, according to the Rider, be more keys and we will be drawn to them.
Lastly, the Black Rider offered us the Mantle of Baba Yaga. He said that it would aid us in our quest. Honestly, he had me simply by saying there was a chance to literally save the world. The opportunity to travel in the fabled Dancing Hut was simply icing on the proverbial cake. But again, I was shown that not all of my companions share the same enthusiasm for actually doing good works. One even suggested that we turn away and leave it to someone else to handle. I find this lack of concern for one’s world and the welfare of one’s fellow man to be particularly odious. After all, evil triumphs when good men sit by and do nothing.
Eventually everyone agreed to take up the Mantle of Baba Yaga, which settled over us in the form of a powerful enchantment. Now it is simply a matter of gathering what provisions we require and moving forward through this truly fascinating portal.