In a Certain Realm...

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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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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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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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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S06 Mellifluere's Grove

We traveled to Mellifluere’s grove. The trees tell Wanderroot that the nearby cave has been overtaken by between 1 and 3 trolls. Getting to the cave is tricky, as most of us struggle through the snow, although Wanderroot easily walks atop it.

Once inside we see that there are two bear rugs on the floor (Wanderroot claims to have known them). Sitting there, is a large troll. He’s looking at something shiny.

Between Bragga’s orchish curse and Wanderroot’s massive branches, the Troll is taken unawares. Lidiya calls down the moonlight while Talasine throws vials that explode into firely death upon the troll. Fafine guards our backs and keeps watch outside the cave.

As the others search the cave, a frost fae comes out of the snow and flies towards Wanderroot. The frost fae calls out for Teb and a little stone falls into the cave and explodes.

“Begone. The mistress of ice now owns this place!” A figure appears, made of light and flickering flame. Bragga calls out “Your illusions won’t fool us!”. And we move to engage the ice fae.

A second exploding rock strikes Wanderroot, causing a big chunk of Wanderroot’s shoulder flies off. The fae casts color spray, striking Bragga and Wanderroot.

Bragga’s hair takes on a life of its own, and grabs the winged fae. Wanderroot reaches over and grabs the fae from hBragga’s hair. He tries to put both in the cage on his shoulder. Lidiya turns as the fire dies out and from the back of the frozen troll a red-eye’ed eagle bursts free and flies at us! Rustan takes a shot and it disappears into a small rain of feathers and gore.

Talasine tries to strike the last arrival, but he ducks back into his igloo. Wanderroot reaches into the igloo but can’t quite grab it; his fists bang into the walls and his fist breaks the floor, uncovering a pit trap. The fae comes out of the top of the igloo. Between Bragga’s curse, Rustan’s knife at the end of his rifle, and Wanderroot’s grappling, the fae is at last captured.

After the combat we search the many igloos in the area.
The storm comes from a centralized location; it is surrounded by a ring of sharp spears of ice.

There is a rough path through the ice, but we back off.

Loot

  • Teb has his crazy spear,
  • a wineskin filled with a magical liquid (feather step),
  • a small key,
  • and a tiny divination mirror.
  • The tiny potion taken from the frost fae is a potion of cure moderate wounds.
  • 2 divine scrolls – remove curse, resist energy (fire).
  • The chest in the cave was locked. It contains four more giant skins of potion (feather step), 4 ice quartz (100gp each), a silver didem (300gp), 1 nearly flawless diamond (500gp), jewled necklace (400gp), 3 sapphire rings (75gp ea), gold (2457), silver (3313) and copper (1768).

Wanderroot knocks all the igloos down. Then, we gather and head to the center of the storm. Wanderoot identifies it as an open fae crossroad. As we are watching it, a thrush flies through the crossroads. It lands on Wanderroot’s hand. The thrush stands up. It’s a tiny human wearing a thrush’s cloak. He introduces himself as Dralish of the court of beasts. He’s been sent as a messenger from the court of trees.

The court of trees has planted itself to lend strength to help the local trees. It falls to Wanderroot to deal with this problem of unnatural winter. The court of beasts will do their best to engage the enemy. It seems the shadow court has awoken. In addition to all of this, there is someone waiting on the other side of the portal to talk to Rustan.

Talasine and the thrushling leave to report back on all we have learned thus far. The rest of us take shelter in the cave, building a small fire and trying to stay warm through the night.

Wanderroot takes root in the grove, and Meillifluere steps out.
Lidiya and Meillifluere talk briefly, then Lidiya seeks the warmth of the cave.

During the night, Meillifluere gathers the frost fae and holds court. She condemns the imprisoned fae to death by fire.

29th of Flamerule.

The next day, the storm still rages out from the portal. We gather food and supplies and approach the portal. As we step through there is a brief flash of super-cold! And we step out into night.

We’re in a forest clearing that’s snowed in. The sky is dark, but clear. There is gentle snow falling, but as it approaches the portal, it gains speed and is forced through. As we step through, Lidiya is a wolf. She is luminescent in the moon light with a black silver crescent on her forehead.

In the far distance there is a light beacon. Wanderroot gathers us up and keep us together. He takes hold of Lidiya, and she sneezes – blowing the snow off the path for 50’. Focusing on Lidiya, Wanderroot is able to find and walk along the silver path. Along the way, Rustan finds a cigarette butt.

We are walking throught the forest. Then we’re not. We’re in a plain. In the distance is a woman with her arms spread out. Every pace is a great distance. As we approach the snow, Lidiya burns it away using the light that envelops her. Eventually, we come to a fork in the road. One path goes straight while the left path snakes up a hill. Atop it is the beacon we’d seen earlier.

Atop the hill is a black building with spires and towers. The top-most bulb is emanating the light. Rustan recognizes it. At the crock of the path is a peasant’s house. It’s surrounded by garden, and there’s a goat tied outside it. From inside comes a woman’s laughter.

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S09 Welcome to Villeday

30th of Flamerule

We are in Vilday; it is a mirror image of Heldren.
We spent most of the day resting and resupplying.

We learn the winter witch of the area is named Vasillia Vatona; she is the great great granddaughter of Rustan’s missing witch; Baba Yaga. Vatona’s tower is in the same spot as Meillifleur’s grove relative to Heldrun.

We were discussing our plans of leaving in the morning when a local boy arrives and knocks at the door to warn Nadia that there are soldiers approaching.

Lidiya and Bragga go to Varna’s Assundries to buy supplies and sell goods. Then they visit the local apothecary (after receiving directions, as there are no sign of it). He is badly scarred by fire, and is missing his left arm. After a short discussion, he accepts the tasks we ask of him. Mellifluere is there to cast the spell to make the device. Faufine is left to watch over Wanderroot as he sleeps.

Rustan goes to the smithy to make some bullets. The smith is curious, but lets Rustan do his work.
After spending time at the temple and shopping at the general’s store, Bragga and Lidiya go back to Nadia’s.

Towards the end of the day, there’s a commotion in the town square. Rustan is cleaning up his workspace, when he sees a gathering of soldiers in the town square. The leader is a bearish-looking man, he and two of the soldiers stalk into the local inn. Two other soldiers are coming back from the temple, leading the priest away.

The smith warns Rustan not to get involved. Rustan gathers his things and leaves by the back door. He slowly makes his way around the outside of the village, avoiding the soldiers. He crosses a street when he is spotted. They call for him to halt, but he keeps going. While running, he enters a house by bashing through a door and then puts a chair against the door. He leaps out of the window and climbs a nearby tree and hides atop the snow covered thatch wood.

At Nadia’s house, a boy comes to warn her that the soldiers are coming to the house to find the foreigners. The older woman takes the two boys to the atic. Lidiya takes a moment to clean up and she and Bragga hide. From the attic, she calls to Faufine and send him off to warn Mellifluere. Hopefully the soldiers did not notice.

Faufine finds Mellifluere and warns her. She thanks the alchemist and then leaves. Faufine shrinks her down to a tiny person’s size. The soldiers rush past her, seeking out Rustan, and ignoring her.

In the house, the soldiers demand Nadia’s presence as the Sargent wants to talk to her about the strangers she’s been hiding. The soldiers insist, and after threatening her children, they are let in and they half-assedly search the place. They leave taking Nadia away.

Lidiya and Bragga grab all the gear and retreat to Wanderroot. Eventually Mellifluere, Faufine and Rustan return and Wanderroot wakes up.

The soldiers call out to the villagers and insist everyone come out to the square. Nadia and the priest are both tied up. The party moves to hide behind the White Stoat Inn. We can hear the Sargent talking. Mellifluere walks into their midst and starts talking to them. She successfully charms the Sargent.

Lidiya, Bragga, and Rustan meet up with Nadia as she heads back to her house. And we strategize.

Mellifluere learns who is in the tower and what we might face when we go there. The Sargent is very forward, giving the passwords that he knows.

We meet again at Wanderroot, the party takes up positions and hides. Rustan can kind of see what’s going on. The Sargent has drawn his cold iron sword, looking beyond Mellifluere as she sinks into Wanderroot and he awakes. Rustan decides to wait and see what the soldiers do.

As Lidiya blesses her allies the Sargent calls out to assemble his men.
Bragga quietly curses the Sargent.

Wanderroot is warned the Sargent is an enemy. Wanderroot rears up and digs his branches into the Sargent, turning him away and doing massive damage. The Sargent’s cry for assembly turns into a scream of fear and pain.
Nadia races forward and hits him in the neck with her axe.

Soldiers come out of the inn and call for others. And so, they fight. Bragga and Rustan, Wanderroot and Lidia, all with Nadia’s help, manage to defeat the soldiers, but not without getting hurt.

As Rustan barges in, the innkeeper starts screaming at Rustan to leave. He claims we’ve brought the witch’s wraith down upon the village. Wanderoot takes the mirror out from the back of the bar. Rustan finds crossbow that the innkeeper was hovering, below the bar.

Bragga figures out that the mirror might be a way of informing the witch.

We regroup while Mellifluere goes to talk to Nadia’s domovoy for more information.

Loot

The 6 soldiers all have cold iron long swords, regular daggers, crossbows and bolts, 6 potions of endure elements, 6 chain shirts, 6 light (small) steel shields, and a total of 94 gold pieces amongst them.

The Sargent has a potion of endure elements, two cure light wounds potions, 1 unknown potion, two magical crossbow bolts (faint enchantment +2, screaming), chain shirt, spiked light shield, cold iron longsword (masterwork), light crossbow (masterwork), 30 gold pieces and a little mirror.

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S10 Negotiations and love songs
Well, maybe less love songs than negotiations...

Still in Vilday, we’ve been asked to leave Nadia’s house so that Mellifluere can talk to the domovoy.

The rest of the town are gathering in the inn. Games are played (cards, and even knifing), drinks are drunk and a happy time is had by all.

The old women and men of the village share their tales with Braga.

Before the witches, the village was watched over by (willingly) the wolves. On the night of midsummer’s eve, there were flowers that grew at the foot of the statue. The ladies knew a way to braid the flowers the way the wolves liked and they would ride a pooka to find them. But of course, this is just a story.

At midnight, Bragga goes out and searches around the foot of the statue. Digging the snow clear of the statue’s base, she sees something red. After carefully dusting off the snow, its a series of seven long green stems bearing red daisy-like flowers.

She goes to get Lidiya, who cuts and weaves the flowers into a crown.

Together, they go find Faufine (who was guarding Nadia’s house). He tells us a pooka is a short man who can turn into a pony or a wolf. They trick people to ride them until they fall unconscious. Then they leave you to sleep it off in the town.

We head back to town, away from Nadia’s strangely light-throbbing house. We find Caska back at the Inn. She tells us they still warn people not to go to pony pond. She gives us directions. She says the wolves were known as the Pack of the High Tooth. They would congregate around a high toor. They are very dangerous and now serve the witches.

We go find Rustan. We gear up and head out together.

We go into the forest. The gibous growing moon and her tears lights the night. As we trudge towards Pony pond, Rustan notices that there’s movement in the trees following us. It’s crows – half a dozen smallish crows.

One of the crows lands in the path ahead of us. It calls Lidiya moon maiden and asks about the crown. Lydiya makes him a little crown of string.

As it leads us toward the pond. The crows swarm us trying to get to the crown. They just appear.

They steal the crown (two fight for it), one snags a talisman from Bragga, but none get a button from Rustan.
Lidiya and the others get the crown back and Lidiya mends it.

Having kept hold of the crown, the maid, the witch and the huntmsan continue on.
We hear in the distance the baying of crows. Sore loosers.

The ice is cracked and broken. We see tracks of elk who came and drunk at the pond. Rustan takes a drink from the pond, it’s very refreshing.

Lidiya sings the song Faufine taught her. By the second round, she hears a pony making noises behind her. After a bit of discussion, all three of us climb on the pony.

Bragga ties us on, and the pony shoots off.
Lydia praises him. He’s faster than Selune’s tears, greater than the north wind over the snow. (Bragga plays Pride!) It’s been so long since he’s gotten to exhaust a human and now he has 3!

We ride for over 2 hours, and we’ve circled almost back when he slows down to a trot. And we’re back to Pony Pond. We see our tracks into the pond, but he left no tracks.

He gives us gnarly branch to fend off the wolves. We need to fend them off until they remember the promise. Lidiya offers to sing of summer to them to help them remember. We learn the pooka’s name is Isak.

He agrees to help us. He summons two ice ponies. Maybe they’re magic? No? “Oh god my bits.”
Lydia rids Isak, while the other two ride the ponies makde of ice.

Lidiya casts endure elements on Rustan.
Once we are all three mounted and Isak does a little snort and we are off!

We hear the wolves howling.
Before we can do more than sing of summer, the pack is around us. Shadowing and running with us. In the distance the narrow tall tor of stone comes into sight. And at its base, the whole pack is waiting.

The wolves try and bit us as we run. They miss but keep trying.
Bragga ties herself on with her hair and Rustan bats mightily at the wolves to keep them at bay.

Lidiya changes her song:

Long ago in days of summer
When ice was no more
There was a pact between man and wolf
When flowers bloomed before
Midsommer eve when red flowers bloomed
A maiden maid with a crown
The forest would test her and
A pooka carry her
To the mighty tooth toor
There wolves would listen
And they would remember
The pact that came before
The promise of protection for Vilday
When ice was no more.

The lead wolf howls, changing the timber.
The wolves back off, a few try to bite but no one gets bit.

The howls rise to a fever pitch, then stop. We race ahead and the wolves fade back.
The ice ponies fade and Isak shifts back into a man.

Lidya curtsies. The whole pack is watching with yellow eyes. The alpha male gets up and approaches us. He lowers his head and Bragga has to move Lidya’s arms to place the crown atop the alpha wolf’s head.

The howling begins again. Little pups come out of the cave and try to howl along. The howls resonate around and through us. And we feel that they have accepted the pact. And then it slips into “now get off our land”.

Isak turns and we all climb on and race back to the outskirts of Vilday.
He asks us to wait for him, so we do.

We learn earlier this year that a powerful woman (grandmotherly) honored him by visiting his pond, and she said that three of her riders would follow and they would need a key to follow her. It’s a statuette of Grumsha’s wife (a fertility symbol) – Luthic the cave mother. It’s wrapped in a bright red cloth with embroidered arcane symbols all over it.

Bragga takes it. He says thrice we will need 2 keys; these are the first 2.
Lidiya finds the village priest and re-interates the tale, making him write it down for future generations.

Bragga finds Kashka at Nadia’s house. She starts to tell the tale, and Kashka rushes to the base of the tower where she finds a single bloom that did not quite open. She tells the tale.

As she finishes, Nathander crests the horizon, and the new day begins.
And the door to Nadia’s house opens, and a bleary-eyed Mellifluere steps out.

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S11 Frigid Towers
The Ravens were really a murder waiting to happen

On the mid-summer’s eve Mellifluere interrogates the Domovoy in Nadia’s house. He use to live in the Pale Tower.
In the morning, the priest retells the tale of the mid-summer pact with the wolves. He omits a few things and emboldens others, but the legend is reborn.

Mellifluere has a map on birchbark of the Pale Tower. She also knows the passwords to get between levels and who lives within.

In the dark of the night, patterns of light flow across the sky. We talk briefly; then go to bed.

Mellifluere finds a small crown of deep dark purple flowers deposited on one of Wanderroot’s smaller branches. There is a slight magic about them.

1st of Highsun, 1378 year of the cauldron.

Tonight is a full moon.
Lidiya uses her moonlight script to determine if the adventure into the Pale Tower is weal or woe. There is no answer. She decides this is a good thing.

Nadia and Rustan bring the guard’s dogs to heel. Lidiya and Nadia’s boys play with Nadia’s dogs in the meantime.

Bragga examines the mirror. The mirror is not inherently magical. As she peers deeper into its facets, she finds residual divination magics, but more as a focus (from the exiting of the magic). Some red wizards have spells designed to speak through a specially prepared item. The magic probably required it’s placement in the inn; having been moved should have broken the spell. The priest, once warned, puts it in the basement of the church — and expresses an interest in bricking it up.

Bragga, Mellifluere, and the priest search the town for magic. There’s a magical shield above his hearth. The general store has some magical items (nothing divination-based). There’s more Stuff in the Alchemists’s home. The chapel has some residual magic. The woodcarver has something magical in his house (but, again, it’s not divination).

The priest gives Lidiya a vial of oil that he says will protect her from evil.

We take two sleds to carry everyone. Ellarion comes with us to watch the dogs while we’re away.
We take the cloaks and the helms of the soldiers as well as 100 feet of rope and a grapple. We also take the potion of protection from the elements.

Ellarion wears a suit of studded leather armor.

We head out. It’s a beautiful summer day and the snow is knee-deep. In the sunlight it’s only -10C. It’s not too windy and rather pleasant. There are occasional stops to get up, stretch and shake out the furs.

We dodge the Snare-sisters (trappers that work for the witches), thanks to Wanderroot’s talking to the trees. We avoid the patrols and guards, and pass through grandmother’s gift; a thick stand of birch trees.

We stop some distance from the tower and take cover under the trees. Ellarion takes the dogs a distance away. He says he’ll wait 3 days. As he departs Nadia erases all our tracks within a 60’ radius.

As the sun sets, the crows flow in and out of the aviary.
At the foot of the tower, we can feel the cold radiating out of the ice.

Faufine takes the rope and flies up. He places the grapple and the knotted rope falls down.
Nadia, Rustan, and Wanderroot climb up, while Bragga and Lidiya hold onto Wanderroot.

The aviary is a strange shaped room. Wires run across the room, upon them sit the crows. The room has two crates and several doors. A lattice on the floor glowing with pale blue light is the strangest feature in the room.

Nadia dashes forward, pushing everyone out of the way and starts killing crow after crow, grabbing some with her other hand and chucking them away onto the ice spikes.

Silence returns to the aerie.

Wanderroot ties the door shut. Beyond the door is a priestess of Oriel (maybe).

The store room is long and narrow and its full of stacked crates. There are shelves at head height that are filled with dollhouses. The dollhouses have minor enchantments. Many are filled with crap; a jeweled silver dagger (with the hilt resembling a winter wolf) +1, jade bracelet in the form of a dragon, a gold ring, silver medallion decorated with sapphires, gold signet ring with a seal or noble crest, and three blue quartz crystals.

The crates contain food for the ravens, surplus metal wire, and poultices for the ravens.

The group opens the door and rushes in, but the priestess of Oril is not in her room. The leaf-shaped room holds a bed hard-up against the back corner. There are two windows in this room, and a rather pretty crystal mobile of birds.

There’s a light wooden shield in the corner. A potion (transmutation; unidentified) and a scroll (conjuration;enchant a weapon to grant it the power of returning) in a foot chest that are magical. There’s a pouch of 84gp in the foot chest.

Take wing, soar and fly, let me view the winter sky – the password for the next teleporter.
Wanderroot goes through the teleporter first.

As we all gather in the hall below. There are strange noises coming out of the green house.
Wanderroot is holding the green house door shut. Nadia and Rustan enter the double doors into the hall of mirrors. There is a bright red carpet covering the floor from the double doors to the teleporter further along down the hallway. On either side are two naked silfs, standing guard.

We all shuffle in quietly, close the door behind us and make our way to the teleporter. Fortunately, we are alone in the corridor.

Onward, upward, in a tick, don’t be late – just be quick.
Wanderroot goes first.

The room is dominated by a giant sphere covered in lines and designs. It is transulcent and energies and forces ripple along it. There’s a bubbling caldron in the corner, and beside it is a goat. Standing up on either side of a tressle table is a tall male hummanoid and on the other side is the priestess of Aurel.

Nadia attacks Radosek Pavril screaming “Where’s my daughter!”. Aurel claims her innocence, but it is ignored as Radosek admits to recognizing Wanderroot as the Dryad’s treant. He is surprised that Wanderroot survived. He calls out to the goat—Valstoy protect me! The goat seems unimpressed. He intones over the cauldron, which bubbles madly.

As Wanderroot deals with Aurel, the cauldron overflows with water and the water turns to ice and ice elementals step out of the ice. The ice elementals fight hard, but eventually the party manages to shatter them and kill Radosek. The goat asks for clemency.

Loot

Radosek has an icicle wand, a bandolier with two bulbs of similar potions, a magical scroll, a crystal ring, a blue cloak and an amulet of a steel sphere.

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S12 Leaving the Pale Tower
... in the dust!

Lidiya healed Mellifluere of her wounds.
In searching the other rooms of the tower, Rustan is attacked by an ice statue of Noisima; and he is cursed with an illness that sucks the life from him. Lidiya and Mellifluere rush to his aid, but they end up using a scroll from Bragga. Mellifluere reads from the scroll and heals Rustan.

Bragga learns the little girl was used to power a protection doll that was sent back to the Forgotten Realms and that the goat’s name is Balstoy.

In looting the vault, Wanderroot can’t open the treasure chest. He kicks the chest along the ice floor saying “Hey Rustan, here’s something for you.” Rustan, sitting on the bed – takes a shot at the treasure chest and the lock pops open.

Wanderroot finds a portal that seems to be linked back to Mellifluere’s grove.
Lidiya takes note of where the other five portals are.

  • Two in Faerun (one is in the yearwood)
  • 1 in Karatur
  • 1 in Mastaca
  • 1 in Zakara
  • 1 in the open ocean (near Evermeet).

The key to use the anywhere teleporter is the phrase “Make haste and retreat with the ground beneath my feet”.

Balstoy (the goat) warns us that a shapeshifter came to the tower with a plan to replace Lady Argenta.
The shapeshifter is still here, but permanently in Lady Argenta’s shape.

We go down to the main hall and as we’re preparing to entering the library, a man comes to the door.

The party launches its attack early, shrinking the man at the door, and rushing past to attack the guards in the nearby rooms. It is a free-for-all against the Captain, two guards, two atomi, Frafine (the satyr bard we met along the road). It is a particularly long and hard -fought battle, leaving all of the party injured in some way.

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S13 The Fight to get Out continues
Still in the pale tower, still the same day

We stand in the northern reaches of Faerun, in the high frozen lands of Irisen. Us, the Black riders of Baba yaga, traveled to the pale tower along with Nadia Betzka, a local merchant and hunter to feed her village; we snuck into the pale tower from the top and took out Radnosec, destroying his romantic dinner, and tying up his date for the evening—we looted the lower and gained the allegiance of a goat (Balstoy). We also learn that Thora (Nadia’s missing daughter) had her soul bound to a magical doll. Her mother set that aside and is determined to seek revenge. Going downstairs, we stopped the captain from having sex; defeated her and her partner, 2 atomi, a satyr bard, and numerous guards from the cafeteria.

And then, from the conservatory, we hear the chains holding back the mandragora break.

Lidiya heals Rustan and Nadia while Wanderroot heals himself and then heads into the library.
The doors to the conservatory burst open and a demon potatoe steps forth!

During the fight, the demon potatoe bits Nadia and she becomes poisoned and confused. The potato is quickly mashed, but Nadia’s illness posses a greater problem. Rustan manages to knock her unconscious before she is able to beat her own head in.

Lidiya and Bragga rush forward and start trying to treat the poision. After 4 minutes of treatment, her breathing returns to normal and the foaming at the mouth stops.

Wanderroot and Rustan rush the kitchen.
Wanderoot takes up the knife in the butcher’s block and tosses it into the cafeteria. The cook (a grey-skinned spriggand) screams at them. Wanderroot attacks although Rustan would rather just lock the cook in the kitchen!

Wanderroot make the cook him surrender and puts him in the cage.

Rustan eats a cookie from the kitchen. It’s a white dragon cookie. He says its over-sweet at first but it gets mealy, but he works his way through it.

After some curative magic, Nadia awakes.

Wanderroot keeps looking for the shape changer, from the state of the book in one of the rooms (closed so quickly the page crumpled), we know he left quickly. Eventually one of the dead jumps up and runs towards the teleporter.

Wanderroot warns us! It dodges most of the attacks, but Bragga successfully trips it with her flail and then Wanderroot wallops it. It crawls away. Becoming Lady Argenta. Bragga and Wanderroot kill it. It melts away.

Nadia destroys the two teleporters that go downstairs.

We raid the library and take the books. They deal mostly with history (of the realms in general), as well as one on planes, Algorondian nobility, and a beastiary (covering fae, dragons, and magical beasts of the north).

When we’re ready, we take out the guardian statues near the teleporters. After several misses, we finally take down one.
Bragga is not amused. She lifts off her mask and screams at the remaining statue—shattering it.

We move to the top floor, and sack out for the night. When Mellifluere comes out we discuss the situation with her. Nadia is torn. She wants to stay with us, but Mellifluere worries about Nadia’s children.

Looking outside, the troll has eaten the dogs. We gear up.
“A gathering within the hall, take one, take us all” (think: north)

Wanderroot then Lidiya appears. A soldier appears in the hall, we take him out.

As another soldier enters. Rustan gun-butts him to the face.
We systematically mow through the soldiers. The last guard surrenders.

Rustan removes the dead bodies from the privies and puts the tied-up prisoner in with the priestess.
Lidiya and Nadia, Rustan and Bragga each go up into the opposite wings, and from there up onto the walls, from where we take out the guards and the Troll outside.

As we gather everything and leave, Wanderroot starts pummeling the Pale Tower. Determined to see it reduced to rubble.

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