In a Certain Realm...

S04 - The Plan is in place
But there's nothing to do but wait

Evening of the 27th of Flamerule.

The plan in place, there is nothing to do but wait. Lidiya starts to shiver violently from the cold, but the others seem unaffected. The snow and trees make for good cover, but it is several hours before one of the bandits emerges from the lodge. He tries to relieve himself at the edge of the porch, but his compatriots insist he go to the outhouse. Complaining, he retreats within and then comes back outside with a lantern. He trudges through the snow to the outhouse.

Bragea steps into his view as he approaches the outhouse, first hexing him and then charming him. Both seem to have worked as he is surprised. When he returns from the outhouse, he greets them like long-lost friends.

He leads the two women into the lodge. Unfortunately, the presence of the strangers in the lodge is quickly questioned, and even Bragea’s charming ways cannot smooth-over the strangeness of the situation. The women are joined by their compatriots and a brutal fight breaks out between the bandits and the party. Five sickened bandits at first join the frey, then (the survivors) retreat back to their sickroom. Skeletons made of ice and snow come down the stairs from above, freezing the floorboards upon which they walk. Talasine’s fire packets make quick work of them.

As the skeletons melt away, a whispering fills the room. A bandit’s eyes fade into his skull, leaving black holes behind. He dies with a shudder. Then the dead rise up. Between Private Rustan and Wanderroot, there are more dead than living on the ground floor, and while outnumbered, the party continues to fight on. Wanderoot is able to capture the dark priest who caused the magic, and while he is injured, he continues to cast. With the help of more packets form Talasine and holy water from Lidiya, the zombies burn and fall. But as the party gains the upperhand, the dark priest calls for Cyric and dark flame covers the undead. The zombies are stronger now, and the party weakens.

As the tide turns, a half-orc female comes out of the kitchen with a cleaver in her hands. Bragea tries to convince her to slay the zombies. With the new woman`s help, the party is able to overcome the undead, and win the day. But in the final throws of combat, Wanderoot falls and Mellifluere is dumped unceremoniously to the ground.

As quiet descends on the lodge, the party officially meets “10-penny” (a the female 1/2 orc) that the bandits called for during hte combat. She claims innocence and names herself Tasy. She says the bandits grabbed her in the forest before they took the lodge. Then they took the pretty lady from Algoron and locked her up with the survivors in the cellar.

Talasine and Rustan break through the barricaded door to the sickroom. Rustan insists they put on pants, then he ties the remaining bandits up. Once the surviving bandits are safely bound, he goes upstairs seeking potions. While Lydia tried to explain what these things usually look like, Talasine identifies what he brings down as poisons.

Once Mellifleure is placed comfortably in the nearby room, Lidiya goes down the stairs below the trap door to find Lady Argenta and three others, including Warden Eol, her brother. They are alive, but not well. Eol was badly beaten. Between the Lady’s potions and access to the Warden’s hidden stash of healing implements, Lidiya is able to bring everyone back to full health.

The Lady feeds Mellifleure a healing potion. She awakens.
Mellifleur grips Wanderroot’s trunk and starts singing.

The Lady gives Lidiya healing potions to treat the rangers.
Rustan and Talasine take care of the survivors at the Lady’s order.

The Lady shrinks him down by 2/3rds. She points at Tasy and demands she get a pot with earth. Once this is gathered, the Lady pots Wanderroot and puts him in a window well.

Warden Eol awakens and Lidiya tells her brother the tale. He tells us where the stash is located. There’s a glass wand with many notches as well as a couple of vials.

And in the distance the fleeing bandit is attacked by a giant eagle, and dies.

Looting

  • Rokar’s sword is magical (radiating enchantment). A short cleaver-like short sword.
  • Masterwork studded leather.
  • Dagger
  • Light crossbow
  • Magnificent fur cloak (white, magical) Radiating abjuration.
  • A scroll case; filled with wizard spells: Alarm, chill touch, expeditious retreat, feather fall, identify, locate object, ray of enfeeblement.
  • 15 gp
  • Keys
  • On the top floor, when we open the store room: There’s a small iron cage with a frost fae inside.
  • We find Rokar’s stash. 3 scrolls: of animate dead profane powers to Jergle.
  • A small lock box. When opened it contains 25pp, 150gp, 180sp, and a blue quartz ice crystal.
  • A small crate of 10 little clay flasks and 3 vials. Talasine identifies them as fire and magical (conjuration) healing.
  • A spyglass

We spend the night in the lodge and eat well.
The next day we discuss our future plans.

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S03 - Screaming snowmen and more snow!
Tiny fae hate crows. Makes you wonder...

27th of Flamerule, 1392DR — evening

After the fight, with two captured frost fae, the party examines their loot. The frost fae had diminutive swords, bows, arrows, and a small tiny gemstone (quartz, worth 14 gp). There is also the contents of the overturned trunk: 5 sets of leather armour, 3 sets of studded leather armour, 1 chain shirt of finest Elven quality (masterwork), 2 light wooden shields with the symbols of Algorond, 7 longswords (with scabbards and belts), 2 spears, 1 short dagger (a maiden’s dagger – light and nicely decorated (masterwork)), 3 light crossbows, and 25 bolts.

Bragea takes the nice knife, the crossbow, and bolts.
Rustan takes the chain shirt.
Lidiya takes the two spears (one for Mellifleur).

When Mellifluere arrives, the fae tell her they are from the north country – Ireson. It’s the land of the ice witches (the Duthran). They rule with ice and snow. Bragea remembers her master once met with some colleges and they spoke of a plot to conquer Rashaman, but they were thwarted by the Ithran, the masked witches who rule Rashaman. A collogue suggested to create an alliance with the Duthran who were pushed out of Rashaman.

One of the fae is named Pym, and the other is named Shor (f). The one who died was named Vossi. They came all the way from Ireson as part of a glorious expedition, following their master: Isos, not Teb. Isor is a maiden who froze the Captain with her breath. Teb Knotten(a troll) thinks he’s the leader of the expedition because he’s big and strong and kind-of smart. Isos is in charge of the bandits (which they say number about 12, or 15, or 50).

After Mellifluere tries to convince them to talk, they talk amongst themselves (in the jar) and Mellifluere listens in. They know that Teb and the fae went back to the portal to guard it (back in Mellifluere’s grove), and that the bandits and their prisoner were going to the warden’s lodge. The bandits are sick. They also mention Teb’s lackey, an atomi named Homelstob. They consider him a traitor because she serves Teb and not Isos. They mentioned another atomi (who just got winter in his heart) that is wandering around aimlessly; named Faufine.

The leader of the bandits they call a dark prayer – he does magic. Isos seems to be an ice mefit (at best guess with its blue skins ice wings, and cold breath).
Mellifluere steps back into the tree and Wanderroot wakes up.

The party heads back out into the frost-ridden forest. Eventually they come across a clearing with six little fetish bundles. They are written in rhyme and frost. They are pierced with tiny arrows. These were the crows the tiny fae killed. Wanderroot plucks them from where they’re tied and puts them on the ground. The snow soon covers them.

Moving on, over hill and through dale, the party arrive at a frozen river that crosses their path.

Rustan takes a few moments to study the river. It’s about 25’ in width and there are a few spots where the ice darker than elsewhere which shows that it’s thinner. There’s also a snowman that’s assembled with a broken spear and leather cap hanging jauntily off his head. He has a sign in Aglorandan. The sign says “Tresspassers. Turn back.” It’s on the same side of the river as the party. When Wanderroot goes over to examine the snowman, it screams “can’t you read!” and the snow explodes into Wanderroot’s face, and the sound of the explosion echoes.

Bragea hears someone coming. Bragea, Wanderroot and Rustan take up positions while Talisane and Lidiya wander back up the path to act as bait. The three bandits that show up are scruffy and wearing several layers of clothes (both the guard’s tabbards and Lady Argenta’s guard’s clothing). They sneak up to the river bank and cock their bows.

Fortunately Private Rustan’s weapon and Bragea’s crossbow combined with Wanderroot’s raw strength make quick work of the surprised bandits. The survivors give up. The bandit tells the party that there are 11 bandits remaining. His leader is Rokar. He tells us the Lady is in the basement with a couple of wardens. He draws us a map and admits that 5 are sick, and staying in the back bedroom. There’s a kitchen in which 10-penny Tasey cooks (she’s a 1/2 orc).

On the bandits were 3 bucklers, 3 short swords, 3 short bows (Talasine takes one), 24gp, 15sp.

As the party walks away, Private Rustan deals with the bandit quickly. The going is not easy. Their toes are starting to tingle. Lidiya and Bragea are carried by Wanderroot once they start to complain about the cold. Talasine shivers and starts to sniffle.

The lodge is a heavy-timber building with small windows and heavy and thick doors. The party carefully skirts the edge of the clearing, and come out at the edge of the trees, closest to the gorge beyond the lodge. The gorge is 50’ deep and spanned by a slippery bridge, covered with ice.

About 1/2 way across, a voice calls out for the party to stop. A blue female with wings alights on the other side of the bridge. Lidiya manages to convince her that they are bandits who saw more people coming and they had fae with them. Because of the wind, the mefit can’t hear the whole story – so she motions the group across and lands on the other side to talk. The group crosses, and they continue with their “story”.

Mellifluere brings forth a golden eagle, it comes down from the sky, and brutally attacks the mephit again, and again. Lidiya dodges out of the way of combat while Bragea hexes the mephit with the evil eye. Talasine steps forward and throws her bag of sticky stuff at the mephit. The mephit is entangled but is not glued to the floor. Mephit tries to fly away, but is gummed up. She tries to scream or yell, and a bubble forms in the gunk and trails out at Lidiya. She exclaims her godesses name and the frost that suddenly covered her breastplate falls away. Rustan throws another gunk packet at Mephit. Her wings are entangled and she falls to the ground, where she is glued in-place. He draws his sword and approaches quickly. Talasine’s final throw coats the mephit in a potion that catches fire! The Mephit melts quickly, her hat falling to the ground.

The party gathers and Lidiya blesses them, for next they will attack the lodge!

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S02 - The hunt for Lady
Winter snows, undead, and frost fae!

Awake in the early pre-dawn, Lidiya goes for a walk towards something she sees sparkling beyond the edge of her vision. There, in the hollow between two tree roots, she finds a glowing pool. She collects the water in a clear jug from nearby. As she empties the hollow, she sees the skull of a tiny woodland animal, cracked and caved in and filled with mud. It looks like a black sun!

27th of Flamerule, 1378 DR

Private Rustam Boleslav Larionvich is awake just after dawn and sees a rider slumped over his unsaddled horse. As the rider falls, Private Rustam rushes to help him. The rider is familiar as he was visiting the local inn just last night, and Private Rustan recognizes him as one of Lady Argenta Massene’s soldiers. He is badly frostbitten. A few people join Rustam and carry him to the inn.

A few townsfolk fetches Lidiya. Together, she and Bragea visit the inn. Bragea remembers the soldier’s name as Yoen, a mercenary from Rashaman.

Yoen awakes only briefly. In his moment of lucidity, he claims the group of winter fae attacked the Lady’s party near the border wood, along the road heading west, back towards larger settlements. Many of his group were frozen, and Yoen even saw one of his friends shattered. He found the horse when he stumbled away from the fight. Locals identify it as Old Man Dansby’s horse.

The apothecary, Tessaraea, is called out to help. She arrives and is upset that there’s nothing to do. She looks exhausted, and is untalkative despite Lidiya’s best attempts.

A runner is sent to the nearest garrison to tell them what is happening. Another is sent to look in on Old Man Dansby.

Mellifluere goes out and starts singing to the trees. It takes some time. But when she’s done she’s spoken to the evergreens. The deciduous trees are either asleep or too sleepy to respond. A satyr reports that his friend (an atomi) has become cold-hearted. He warns of the cold and of a talking white stag. No one’s seen the wardens much, but there’s movement around their lodge. Winter seems to have set in around Mellifluere’s grove.

Lidiya’s siblings say goodbye, each giving her tokens of good luck. Private Rustan gathers his equipment, and Bragea makes final preparations at her hut. Wanderoot, tired of waiting, starts out ahead of us. At the last minute, Talasine joins the party. She is determined to see Mellifluere’s grove returned to her.

The party cut through the woods, walking briskly towards the Yearwood. Heldrun is a delve cleared of forest and the Yerewood crowns the nearby dale.

As we approach the bend in the road, the Lady’s carriages are overturned and off the road. The horses are missing, but for one, dead and still hitched to its cart. There are 5 bodies strewn about. There is also a dusting of snow on everything here as well as covering the forest floor. A man made of ice has his arms raised and stands in the clearing, just off the side of the road.

The contents of the carriages are spilled over the clearing and the road. The chests are open, and their contents (mostly clothing) are blowing in the wind. The dead bodies are the soldiers and drivers of the Lady’s party. The frozen person was the captain of Lady Argenta’s entourage.

As we approach the snow, the temperature drops significantly. Bragea finds lingering magics (frost and necromancy).

Wanderroot talks to the trees. The trees say the Lady’s entourage was attacked by archers and their retreat was blocked by ice (which caused one carriage to flip on its side). The soldiers were defending themselves and the woman (probably the Lady) was using magic. Then winter came. Frost fae with arrows of ice and numbing cold. The trees grew sleepy. One small ice fae with bat wings and a breath of ice and frost froze the human in the centre of the clearing. He did something else to the Lady and the others grabbed her, stuffed things in her mouth and tied her hands. They took the women and killed her men. And then a man came (shudder) one of the bandits. He said words. Unnatural words. They left. The bandits dragged one women off into the trees. The trees are very hard to speak with as they are torpid, trailing off before they can finish their thoughts.

Lidiya is trying to find a survivor among the dead, but is having no luck. As she approaches the carriage that’s overturned, there’s a loud knock. Lidiya calls for Bragea who calls out to those inside the carriage, and there is a knock again. Wanderroot right’s the cart. The door’s been wedged shut with a spear. Once the door is freed, one of the lady’s in waiting stumbles out. As Lidiya reaches to help her, she sees the woman’s throat has been cut. Wanderroot grabs the woman’s arm and holds her back from attacking.

Bragea yells out “Necromancy! The Dead! The Dead!” as a warning to the others, then, focusing on the dead woman she hisses “Miss!”; hexing the woman. Talasine is cautious, she draws her sword and tries to engage the dead lady in waiting and the other undead in the cart, but misses. Lidiya grabs the pouch of sparkling water she’d found that morning, and tries to squirt the undead with it. She misses more than she hits, but where the water touches the undead, their skin boils away and their limbs weaken.

Wanderroot, in confusion for being soaked by Lidia’s waterskin tells her “Thank you. But now I am not thirsty”. His mighty limbs make short work of the undead, slapping them away and pushing them down into the ground.

A priest of Calemvor visited the village last year and insisted Lidiya learn the following rhyme:
“Bones and skulls use staves and maces
For rotting flesh use axe and sickles!”

As the dead lady-in-waiting exits the cart, a dead soldier, missing an eye, stumbles out behind her. Bragea and Talasine try to attack and push the undead back, but have little luck.

Wanderroot manages to kill the dead lady in waiting and push the dead soldier back into the cart, then holds the door shut.

As Private Rustan arrives, he looks at the group in confusion. He flanks the group with a long knife attached to the end of his weapon. He takes the fallen spear and locks the undead back in the cart. Bragea runs around and bars the door on the other side.

Wanderroot turns the carriage on its side again, and the group makes a barrier around it with snow. Rustam lights the fire with his contraption (his lighter) and leftover wood and the other bodies are added to the blaze. Wanderroot doesn’t appreciate the fire, but after some discussion manages to accept it. He insists the group stay until the fire is almost out.

Lidiya sings a hymn to bring the dead safely to their eternal rest. There’s a moment of panic when the undead break through the carriage, weakened by the fire, but the undead quickly fall to the fire’s damage.

As the group piles snow on top they find slag of silver and gold. There’s a sapphire that’s also come out unscathed. About 50gp of gold (melted into electrum). Eventually the fire is extinguished to Wanderroot’s satisfaction.

Bragea takes the Captain’s sword (a master-work). And Lidiya dons the good captain’s breastplate. Unfortunately, when they move the Captain closer to the fire to thaw they learn he’s been turned to ice and snow. He melts away into water.

The group heads into the woods, towards the Ranger’s lodge. Along the way we pass one of the Lady’s trunks half-buried in the snow. Bragea goes to check it out. Rustan sees a trap – a giant log hanging over it, wired to kill any who try to open it. We hide, he wraps the rope with a rag and lights the rag with his “lighter”.

We hide along the edges of the clearing. Wanderroot takes root close to the tree (but out of the way of the log). The fire burns through the rope and the tree trunk smashes the chest, knocking it over. Wanderroot signals the others that something is coming.

Eventually, out of the forest come three tiny delicate women with pale blue skin. Two land atop the log and one lands on the chest.

Lidiya sings a song (softly), covering her allies with the Moon’s blessing. Rustan uses his powerful weapon to kill one of the tiny creatues, and wound another. Talasine takes out a vial from her bandoleer. She uncorks it, adds something to it and throws it. It starts to glow as it sails. It hits the ground and explodes. Bragea throws curses at them with recless abandon while Wanderoot grabs one and slams it into the log.

As one tiny fae tries to run away, Lidiya raises her hand and from it comes a moonbeam, knocking the fae unconscious. Talasine’s potions trap the last one against the tree. Wanderroot borrows a jar from Talasine and puts both fae inside.

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S01 - Welcome to Heldren
Where characters gather and introductions are made ...

26 Flamerule, 313

It began in the spring of the year 313 after the Good Peace, although everyone agreed the weather was more winter-like than it should be. The small and sleepy village of Heldren first welcomed a runway slave from Thay. It was Lidiya who was brave enough to befriend the stranger Bragea; but then Lidiya was in the habit of trying to befriend everyone. Bragea seemed more comfortable around children than adults, avoiding religious gatherings and only attending festivals at their periphery (unless Lidiya dragged her forward). By the time Mellifluere showed up, Bragea was almost considered a regular – performing odd jobs and building her lodgings at the edge of the wood. That she talked often and loudly to her mask was just one more oddity about the newcomer.

Lidiya’s youngest brother Pess woke her one cool spring morning. He claimed to have seen a tree waive at him. After confirming that Pess had indeed waved back, Lidiya got him to show her where the tree was. Together they raced through the tiny village and to the edge of the forest. She woke Bragea with a yell and told her that her brother “Pest” had seen a tree-man. Bragea, being Bragea was overjoyed. Lidiya and Bragea had been looking for a tree-man on and off since Bragea’s arrival in Heldren. She marched right up to the tree and knocked on it. It didn’t respond. They all tried talking to it – but it remained silent. It wasn’t tall and majestic, the way Lidiya thought such things should be, but it also wasn’t a tree that was familiar to any of them.

As they contemplated what to do next, a slim young woman in a fine cloak made of leaves came up behind them. Her soft voice started them as she greeted them shyly. She came from the Court of Trees to speak to the emissary of the Witch Queen. Lyida, recognizing neither name, decided that she should come speak to Theodora, Lidiya and Pess’ mother. Pess ran off to find her, while Lidiya took Melliflueres arm and guided her back to the village. Mellifluere’s arm was made of the smoothest of wood. She had no fingernails, no hair on her arm. Her eyes were two well-shaped pieces of amber in a finely grained wooden face.

Pess found Theodora delivering stout to the local inn (the Silver Stoat). Deep in conversation with Meander Garimos (the innkeeper), they were startled by Mellifluere’s appearance. After a brief discussion, retelling Mellifluere’s purpose, a horn sounded in the distance. As people gawked two carts and a dozen or so outriders came into the village green. A woman in courtly robes dismounted the cart and came to the inn to ask if the Lady Argenta Malassene, apprentice to the Symbol and emissary of the royal court could set up in the commons. The locals agreed (how could they not) and the lady bowed, turned and with dramatic waves of her hands caused the carts to disassemble and reform into a small cottage. Fortunately, the horses and soldiers both were well warned and out of the way of the magical deconstruction and reassembly, and so suffered no harm.

Mellifluere and any member of town with a touch of power were invited to meet the Lady after she had rested from her journey. Most of us stayed in the courtyard outside the inn (where tables were arranged and a few locals were waiting for the midday stew to be served). It made for a fine show. When the Lady Argenta’s hand maidens signalled she was ready, Lidiya, Mellifluere, Bragea and Tessaraea (the local apothecary) went to the cottage. They were guided to a small central room with its own hearth, where chairs were quickly arranged.

The Lady received our introductions, and listened to Mellifluere’s sad tale.

Mellifluere is a dryad. She lived in a grove deep in the forest. One day, while talking to a Leshe (a tree shepherd), she felt a sudden and encompassing pain so great she could barely move. The Leshe picked her up and raced to her grove. There they saw two humans and a grouping of trolls with battle axes. They cut down her tree, leaving herself felled. The Leshe put her gently down and tried to defend her tree, but it was to no avail and he was badly injured in the battle.

The humans carried with them a sickle made of ice and a cauldron. The cauldron was bubbling atop a fire, and a swarm of fire bees came out of it. They shrunk Mellifluere’s tree and took it with them, departing through a rent in reality into the realm of shadow. The trolls followed them. Somehow, Mellifluere managed to crawl her way to the Leshe and together they saved each other. They went to the Court of Trees with their tale, but even here in Heldren, we had already heard of a dryad’s fall; so it was with mixed emotions that we learned the dryad did not die.

The Lady Argenta recorded the dialogue of the conversation using a magical pen that transcribed everything; and we were dismissed as she needed time to consider the events as they were told. Tessaraea was deeply moved by Mellifluere’s tale, so much so that she was brought to tears. As we depart, Tessaraea insists on helping Mellifluere seek revenge.

We are invited on the morrow to go to visit a local point of power with the Lady Argenta. It is a strange proposal and one no one feels they can refuse.

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