The adventure begins in the village of Heldren, a small village in Taldor just north of the Border Wood near Qadira.
The sleepy village of Heldren has rarely seen so much excitement or concern. Hunters from the nearby Border Wood speak of unnaturally cold weather at the height of summer that descended on the forest just days ago. Heavy snow followed, and those who returned spoke of an uneasy presence in the woods, as well as new, dangerous predators. No one knows what this event means, but the town's soothsayer, Old Mother Theodora, claims dark times lie ahead.
As if in proof of that dire prophecy, a badly wounded mercenary arrived in town yesterday, claiming to be a bodyguard of Lady Argentea Malassene. He told the village council that the noble woman's escort came under attack by bandits and strange, wintry creatures near the edge of the Border Wood. He alone escaped, and Lady Argentea was dragged away into the forest. Now the towns folk cast fearful eyes toward the snowy forest, worried what else might emerge to threaten their peaceful village.
Entering into town Fjeor looks around for a local tavern to remove the dust from the road, find a meal and more importantly listen to the local rumors of what may be afoot in the locality.
Leaning a little closer to the small black bear by his side he grumbles. "Well, the folks look a bit spooked here Tuum. Best we take some care."
The bear looks up to the sound before snuffling the ground warily.
"Goddess, it's cold. said Hassan aloud as he pulled his thin cloak more tightly around him against the bitter wind. For summer, this sleepy village just across the frontier into Taldor certainly was experiencing some odd weather.
"It's just as the shaman said it would be," the Qadiran traveler thought to himself as he braced himself for another blast of icy wind. "There is something quite wrong here. And they have tasked me with identifying the cause and reporting back. Perhaps it is another Taldor scheme to conquer my homelands?"
The foreigner took some shelter on the front veranda of the local inn, where typically locals would be enjoying the warmth of early summer, but which was deserted today, against the cold. Hassan surveyed the quiet street, seeing only a dwarf wandering the road, with a small black bear at his side. He nodded a greeting at the unusual sight, his eyebrow cocked with curiosity.
At first the Qadirian man raises his hand to his forehead in the traditional greeting of his people, but quickly remembers his place and turns that gesture into an awkward hand wave instead. Speaking with heavily accented Common, he calls out to the dwarf. "Hail Son of Stone, what brings you to this place on such a goddess-forsaken day?"
Brenna walks over to her compatriots, crossing her arms and huffing loudly. "I come south with stories of warm suns, green fields and gold aplenty. Now it feels as if the Crown of the World is coming here to call it home."
With a deep sigh, she looks to the dwarf and Qadiran. "If this keeps up I may just well need to pull my furs free and don them!" Rubbing her hands together to warm them some, she grins a little. "Still, a little cold never hurt. Well, maybe not this far south at least." Letting out a deep-from-the-belly laugh that only an Ulfen can do, she shudders slightly. "Have you two heard of the man they pulled from the forest? He seems most pained I hear."
Fjeor looks up at the voice and seeing the waving man responds. "Greetings to you man of the Sun." He pauses to think as Brenna approaches and speaks before answering in his grumbly voice. "Aye Brenna I had heard. I am returned from observing the forest edge for I wanted to see if there was further change.".
Nodding towards Hassan he continues. "There seems to be quite a few folk here considered strange by the townsfolk, yourself and I included. 'Tis the unnatural cold and mayhaps it has claimed some victims in the last few days. That should prompt a response..." Fjeor finishes with a small grunt while in thought.
The sturdy dwarf seems to remember something and stands a little straighter in his green tinged, neat hide armor. "Oh, pardon. I am Fjeor Stonebreaker and this handsome fellow behind me is Tuum the Black, you can scratch his ears for he likes that. I believe Brenna will wish to say her own honorifics if I have custom correct."
Goddess it's as cold as traveling near Irrisen." Marianna mumblers to herself as she leaves the Inn she has brought a small room in the last couple of months. "I think it's colder then I remember when we were attacked all thsoe years ago, but we were also closer to Irresen so that might be part of the reason we weren't blasted with cold like this."
She comes out to the main street seeing Brenna and Fjeor with a new face. "Greetings Brenna nad Fjeor can you handle the cold? I feel like it's colder then it ever has been these last few months I spendt here. And greetings to you also man of the south, I am Lady Marianna, what brings you to Taldor? I've heard it's not a very pleasent place for one of your kind to be in this country." She says eager to learn more of the southern people.
"Aye, you are correct Fjeor. I am Brenna, daughter of Ylva of Asleifar. Health and happiness to you my new friend."
Turning to look to Lady Marianna, Brenna smiles widely and waves. "Marianna! Good timing! Ja, the cold is sticking worse than an Irriseni Witch's breath. Cayden's mead warm us, I hope it passes soon lest worst things happen. Did you hear, friend, they rescued someone from the forest recently?"
"Aye, I just heard about it at the inn's common room, the rumors are spreading it was a bodyguard to some lady of Taldor. I don't know much about it, but I was on my way over there to see if I could offer any help. Are you going to join me?" Marianna says returning a smile to Brenna.
A young lady approaches the group and extends her hand "i couldnt help overhear that these are indeed some cold times we be having in our fair village, i don't believe we have met. I'm Arya Teppen, Leader of the Village council. Im hearing rumers that there seems to be a unusual pocket of unearthly winter weather that has recently set into nearby Border wood." she thinks for a moment "come to think about it, there was a gentleman from Zimar by the name of Yulnn Oestag that came into town yesterday. Yulnn told the council that he was part of a caravan guard set to escort a noble woman by the name of Lady Argentea Malassene from Zimar to Oppara but the caravan came under attack by some bandits and what he claimed was some strange winter creatures near boarder wood. Unfortunately the noble woman was carried off and Yulnn managed to escape. He is badly wounded, but he has been able to describe the horrific creatures that attacked the noblewoman's party. A native of the far north, Yuln recognized some of the icy creatures that emerged from the forest, and the tales he shared with the council have everyone rightly concerned." She looks around "Heldren is barely large enough to marshal a decent militia to protect the town but we need to investigate these events and rescue Lady Argentea Malassene. You all seems like a finely meshed team, how would you like to help us out?" she smiles at the group
Hassan listens intently to the others talk, bowing slightly as Brenna and then Marianna appear and introduce themselves. "I am Hassan, servant of the Dawnflower, at your service." he bows again, and bends to scratch Tumm's ears as indicated by Fjeor.
To Marianna: "It is true, lady, that my people and yours have had their long-standing differences, which makes being on this side of the border...uncomfortable. I hope my presence does not offend."
To Arya Teppen and the others: "If you think the attacks on this Yuln of the North has some connection to the bitter cold, I would join you to investigate, if you will have me? Can he speak with us? Perhaps we can learn something from a first-hand account?" he smiles, open-handed, showing his sincerity.
Hassan doesn't say it, but rescuing a Taldan noble is not really his concern, but perhaps these allies can help get to the bottom of the reason behind this sudden, untimely onset of winter.
"Hassan, your presence does not offend at least I. Stick near me and none shall harass us. I hope."
Turning to Arya, her eyes going slightly large. "Yuln Oestag? One of my countrymen, then? He must be here same as I: work. The man must have been ambushed as you claim and to claim beasts of the North are in the forest you may well assure yourself is true. Ulfen people do not tell stories for our failures."
Fiddling with her Hex Nail, she nods at the councilwoman's offer.
"I speak for myself alone in this matter, though I hope by my cracked mug these others join me, that I will assist. As Hassan says though, mayhaps we meet this Yuln Oestag?"
|Liam the Wanderer|
Walking up after the others, Liam has done his best to appear inconspicuous, though that's hardly easy, with his fiery orange hair and golden eyes. Nevertheless, he speaks now. "As for myself, I would be happy to assist in this matter." he says, always happy to ingratiate himself with the locals. Staying in people's good graces is difficult for a man of my ancestry, no reason to turn down such an opportunity. Besides, it might even pay.
"Well met Hassan. I think you might be mistaken my heritage, I am varisian not taldan. However I journey to Oppara to be knighted a paladin of Iomedae, since my teachers all heralded from here." She kindly responds.
She listens carefully to what Arya has to say "I will give my aid, such is the code I live by. Nothing is more important then to right a wrong, and kidnapping a noble woman certainly seems that way to me. Did Mr. Oestag give any specifics as to what creatures attack the caravan he was protecting? Ofcourse if he is well enough to speak himself it might be better to hear it directly from him."
"My humblest apologies," says Hassan to Marianna, though its apparent that he doesn't know Varisia from another planet. His knowledge of the world outside his own tribal lands and surrounding environs is limited.
He smiles at Brenna's natural kindness and enthusiasm.
As Liam approaches, the Qadirian's eyes widen in surprise at the Ifrit's appearance. "This one is of elemental descent," he thinks to himself. "This kind is known in the east, but only in stories and tales. Surely there is powerful magic in this one. He bears close watching..." Hassan tries to look away from the ifrit, but only succeeds in being obviously uncomfortable with him.
Fjeor nods towards Brenna. "This town is upon a crossroads luckily all places are easy to find even for the newly arrived. I would hope to speak to this guard also towards a rescue. A noble may have already gotten further information on this blight upon the seasons." he huffs as though remembering to breath to the end of statements.
Has Fjeor heard of this noble before in local context?
Knowledge Local: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (6) + 5 = 11
"It's quite alright Hassan I take no offense, I just wanted to make clarify so we didn't have any mistake later." She responds to Hassan before setting out "Indeed this town is small, the apothecary shouldn't be far from here. So let's get there and see what we can learn from Yuln."
Smiling, Brenna motions for her compatriots to walk towards the Willowbark Apothecary. "Should be right over here, I hope." Finding it in short order, Brenna pauses before the door and takes a deep breath.
"It's been some time since I've seen one of my countrymen. I would ask you all take deep care to not bring dishonor to him. He failed to protect this Lady Argentea, that is dishonor enough. If possible, try to congratulate him for facing down whatever befell him and his charge."
With that, Brenna pushes the door open and steps in.
Brenna pauses, letting Yulnn have his outburst before approaching. "Hail and well met, Yulnn. I am Brenna of Asleifar, one of your countrywomen. The kindly councilors of this town have asked us to look into the most strange of occurrences, that of the winter forcing itself months too early on the forest near here."
Giving the man a small tap on the shoulder, Brenna nods. "We hear tales that beasts from the north have made their way here, beasts that took off with your charge. You did the honorable thing in making it here, Yulnn. Bringing us this news may well rescue your charge and bring honor to you and yours. Please, what did you see?"
Vadim, having traveled down to Heldren as soon as the odd weather was reported, arriving just a couple weeks ago. Since then, he'd naturally found his way to the apothecary where he helped Elder Safander in his work, sharing his knowledge of treatment of frostbite and general medicine techniques, in exchange for a place to stay. The oddities of the unnatural weather were an alluring study for him, and it was obvious to him that such a unique event would be a place to go and be around, whether or not anything came of it. He was lightly dressed despite the cold weather, yet seem unaffected by it.
He was recently tasked with acquiring some more goods from the local tailor-- their most recent victim of the winter attacks, Yulnn Oerstag, has been used up a good amount of their bandages and he'd gone out to gather materials to craft some more. He was surprised when he'd found himself walking into a sudden crowd of misfits. None of them seemed to belong to the same racial or ideological group, thus the obvious answer was they were a bunch of adventurers that had gotten into some trouble and needed some healing. "I would kindly ask that you all do not block the doorway, we have a medical basket-case that needs his bandages changed, and i would like to get back inside to aid in this endeavor." The old man spoke slowly, but clearly and didn't seem to wait as he pushed his way through them as though he owned the place. He didn't, but he was at least helping the elder, so he felt more of a place than them.
"Master Safander, I've retrieved the supplies--" Vadim began to say once he rudely cut into the group's conversation only to see Yulnn defiantly disobeying medical orders he'd been given by them. "Yulnn, please stop trying to get up, you're not well. Stop acting like a toddler ice troll and lay down." He commanded, once again feeling overly comfortable despite being essentially a part-timer worker. Moving to a corner of the area he'd requisitions for his own he began to unload the cotton and strips of cloth he'd obtained, not really caring too much to address the group nor stopping their conversation from proceeding now that he was finally settled.
Stepping aside from the door and pushing the small bear before him Fjeor lets through the burdened man. "Dok" he commands Tuum to watch in dwarven before returning some attention inside. He contemplates seeing what aid he might render but the current bulk of people inside dissuades him for now. Fjeor waits from the edge of the crowd and watches to see if he can learn something new.
The door opens softly, as a heavy set young dwarf pushes in.
By the gods it is not the best of weather out here.
he looks a little startled by the larger group of people here sitting in the room.
A Lady Teppen directed me here to see if I could assist in trying to figure out the attackers along with the group already contacted.
He shrugs his shoulders, and looks around.
The name is Rorgar.
He proffers his hand in the human gesture of a handshake.
And what have we heard from the injured man?
|Liam the Wanderer|
Approaching as near as he can while still giving the priests room to work, Liam nods at Brenna's words. "Greetings, Yulnn, I am Liam Einarsson. My own father once served as you do, as so many of our people do. It is good that you were able to bring us word. Please tell us all you can of these attackers."
"We thought it was just bandits first, outlaws looking for a easy pick. They where no match for us, but then came the cold fey of the north. they appeared among us and the battle turned very quickly. you know our people speak of the winter-touched all the time, but i never expected to meet them so far south.
Lady Marianna listens to the story of the injured guard, this place is full of light "It is indeed strange to see these fey all the way down here, I thought they rarely went farther then the Irresen border. But if there is something the witches want, I'll guess they don't care how far they have to go to get it." She says pausing for a moment, remembering what Brenna said she adds' "You fought bravely against impossible odds, Iomedae values your honor and will watch over you as you get better. One question on my mind, was your lady charge an accomplished spellcaster of some sort?"
"Can't say it was actually impossible odds." Vadim spoke quietly to himself, not really attempting to be heard or interrupt their conversation as he prepared some new bandages for the wounded fighter. "It's a bit of a fallacy to attribute a difficulty to an unknown situation."
The story was intriguing to Hassan. "Winter fey, here? That is most unusual, must be witchcraft for certain. I must learn more about them and how they ended up here."
"Sir," said Hassan after the others had spoken to the injured man. "Tell us more about these fey creatures, if you please? What were they? What did they do to turn the tide of battle against you?"
As Rorgar enters Fjeor nods in greeting and muttering a greeting of name. "Fjeor Stonebreaker." knowing that Rorgar may know somewhat of the curse upon the name, but at his family hadn't been named the despised 'slag'.
With the mention of winter fey he listens intently awaiting a response to Hassan's questions knowing that they were not likely part of the proper order of this warm land.
Knowledge Nature: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (12) + 4 = 16
"Well met, Rorgar. And sir, please do not insult one of my countrymen by scolding him like he is a child." Brenna huffs some before listening in to Yulnn and sighs.
"It is as we fear then. And White Witch? By Cayden's chipped mug, Yulnn, you should consider yourself blessed by the gods to have come away with what few injuries you have."
Looking to Vadim, Brenna raises an eyebrow. "It is fine if he answers a few more questions, yes?"
Lady Marianna ignores the attendent's remark and turns her attion to the other newcomer. "Greetings to you too Rorgar. Iomedae blessed you with good timing, you entered just as he started his story of what happened."
"I really don't like the idea, of a winter witch being this far south. I hope she hasn't brougt any of her whitewolves or trollslaves, that would be disasterious for this region."
"White witches are the nobility of Irrisen, very powerful and for the most part evil by our standards. Many of these witches are believed to descent directly from Baba Yaga, a kind of evil deity, who comes every hundred year to install one of her witch daughters on the Whitethrone throne to rule the country while she takes the previous queen with her to where she comes from." Marianna answers.
Religion: 10 + 5 = 15
Rorgar looks a little taken aback by Brenna's comment.
I did not mean any offence, nor am I used to dealing to much with those outside my homeland.
However, all I have ever heard about them from my homeland is that they are evil.
"Ahh yes, the winter-touched fey. Fey creatures who have sworn themselves to to the white witches of Irrisen. Tiny sprites no taller then the length of your forearm, but be fooled by there small stature. Legend holds they have taken a sliver of ice into there hearts and there touch bears the harsh bite of winter." Yulnn reply's to Hassan. "We where unprepared to fight fey creatures. We never expected to find any fey so we lacked the cold iron weapons they fear." Yulnn continues
"I'll be happy answer anything you would like to know." Yulnn reply's to Brenna
"Lady Marianna speaks truth." Yulnn reply's to Lady Marianna's reply on White Witches.
Yulnn pulls a old looking scroll from his pouch and unrolls it reveling a map. "This is the route the caravan took, it was around here where the attack happened." Marking a X on the location. Please take this and make haste." Yulnn reaches to the side and pulls out a long sword and presents it. "My personal cold iron long sword. Use it well"
Brenna reaches out and takes the sword and map from him, giving him a solemn nod. "We will make haste, friend. You rest well so that you may recover and protect your Lady Argentea soon." Standing up, she turns to those gathered.
"Any other questions for this brave man?"
I have none, but I think we should check with the smithy to see if they happen to have any cold iron which we may need.
He then steps out to go towards the smithy.
|Liam the Wanderer|
Liam shakes his head. "None for him, though I would ask more about these witches from any who know. Where do they draw their power, is it innate? I have myself been called a 'witch' from time to time, having as I do fiery powers from my mother's line."
Liam has no formal magical instruction, not even a point of Knowledge (Arcana). *I* know Witch and Sorcerer are separate classes, but he's a little clueless on the subject.
Standing up and moving closer to the patient with a few rolls of fresh bandages, Vadim looked him over and began to peel off the old layer. "See? He said so himself. He was unprepared to fight them, not that it was impossible. Maybe a bit of divination seemed impractical, but I think you do a disservice to say he and his men may not have been able to handle the situation. That it was, as you say, impossible for them." Vadim offered, flipping it to seem as though she was the one dishonoring him. Honestly, he didn't really care for honor so much as those of this land. After removing the old and bloodied bandages, Vadim began re-wrapping them with surgical precision.
Heal to Tread Deadly Wounds with Blessed Surgery": 1d20 + 12 + 3 ⇒ (16) + 12 + 3 = 31
Result: Yulnn recovers 9 HP
As he worked, it almost seemed as though the bandages themselves were pressed tight when wound around and hung in air as if held by a third and fourth set of hands. It took him less than a minute after he started, and satisfied he stood back from Vadim. His interest still lied with the group that he'd mistakenly called some random adventuring party.
The old man began as a it seemed they were getting ready to move on soon, "On the note of your interest in this matter, i would ask that i may come along. I'm actually from Irrisen, and originally came down here out of intrigue for the pocket of cold. Turning to look over the group, "Besides, you lot seem like the type to break an arm in the middle of a forest and not know how to take care of it. If my knowledge may be of no use to you, surely that would."
"As for your question of witches, they're similar to the divine that pull their power out of worship..." He thought for a moment, addressing the firey haired man, "Maybe not quite accurate. More like a bargain? Regardless, they draw arcane power through an agreement with a greater being."
Torn between listening from the back and following Rorgar's suggestion Fjeor sees with the maps that the expedition will likely leave soon and trots out towards the smithy. "Hrm, a cold iron short spear..." he muses out loud attracting Tuum's attention also.