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.