Sunday, Erastus (July) 21 through Starday, Erastus (July) 27, 4713 AR
This week was spent in Zimar resting and preparing for the journey through the portal.
Atsur had lodgings with his temple, while Variel was able to lodge with his wizard teacher, Eudonius Ardeth. Ajla and Zenskar found lodging in the Gnome quarter at an inn called the Dancing Sprite. Arkath and Jesserett found a decent inn called the Monk’s Rest in the city’s foreign quarter. Atsur and Variel purchased magic weapons and other minor magical gear, while Jesserett invested in a necklace of magical fireballs that she could throw. Ajla acquired some items that enhanced her spell-casting capabilities.
Sunday, Erastus (July) 28, 4713 AR
The party set out for the portal today. The weather continued to hold. Whatever enchantment the Black Rider had used on the portal was stabilizing the weather and preventing the winter from spreading.
A few miles outside of Heldren the party came across a farmer who pleaded for their help. Some type of ooze creature had come out of the Border Wood and started destroying his cattle. The party agreed to help. When they got to the farm they discovered a gray ooze that attacked them. The creature was resistant to fire and cold, but Atsur’s sword and Arkath’s eagles successfully dispatched the creature. The party then successfully made their way to Heldren where they stayed for the night and said their farewells to the villagers.
Moonday, Erastus (July) 29, 4713 AR
The party began the two day journey to the portal. There was no sign of any new creatures coming through the portal and the party successfully reached the High Sentinel Lodge where they rested for the evening.
Toilday, Erastus (July) 30, 4713 AR
The party reached the portal uneventfully as night was falling. After a brief debate, they decided to go through the portal and use the cover of darkness to their advantage. On the other side of the portal, they discovered that the geography of their new location eerily mirrored the land they had just left. There were enough subtle differences to tell the party that they had indeed been transported. Arkath, Jesserett, and Variel were able to determine that the party had arrived in Irrisen. More specifically they were in the Hoarwood Forest, which was part of the southeastern province of Irrisen, known as Hoarwood. The party found an abandoned cave (very similar to the troll cave back in Taldor) where they rested the night.
Wealday, Erastus (July) 31, 4713 AR
Jesserett used the Black Rider’s compulsion to determine which trail the party should follow. This route took them to this region’s version of the High Sentinel lodge—a dilapidated woodcutters’ hut. The party feared a trap and camped outdoors. Arkath summoned a fire elemental to heat up a rock for warmth and cooking and the night passed uneventfully.
Oathday, Arodus (August) 1, 4713 AR
The next day, the weather was beginning to worsen about midday, and Ajla predicted that a blizzard was on the way. Arkath was then able to determine that the party was near a village called Waldsby on the northeastern fringes of the Hoarwood Forest. The party trudged on, but by late afternoon it became apparent that they would not reach Waldsby ahead of the storm. They finally emerged from the forest on the main road to Waldsby and encountered a caravan that was being attacked by a giant praying mantis that had apparently come through the portal from Taldor. After the beast was dispatched (mainly by Arkath’s eagles), the caravan leader introduced herself as Nadya Petska, a local merchant and hunter from Waldsby. She was on her way back to Waldsby and knew of a place where the party could shelter from the storm.
Once safely ensconced from the storm, she inquired as to what a party of southerners was doing in Irrisen. Atsur in particular stood out as a foreigner because of his armor and mannerisms. She revealed that the local Baroness, Nazhena Vasilliovna, had kidnapped Nadya’s young daughter Thora and was holding here at the regional fortress known as the Pale Tower. Thora had apparently insulted Nazhena on her last visit to the village a little over a month ago. Nadya was returning with expensive steaks from the Realm of the Mammoth Lords in hopes of exchanging the luxury items for her daughter. Jesserett and Ajla, quickly reasoned out that Thora was the spirit of the guardian doll that the party had encountered back in Taldor. Nadya was distressed to learn that Thora may have already been killed and used as an evil guardian. She asked the party to help her storm the tower and either rescue her daughter or take vengeance on Nazhena and her followers. In turn, the party revealed their real reason for being in Irrisen—to shut down the winter portal. Nadya told them that this explained why a troll with some fey had passed through Waldsby in the past month. In addition, patrols from the Pale Tower were scouring the Hoarwood countryside looking for someone or something, which Nadya inferred was the Black Rider.
At this point, a wandering Forlarren entertainer named Mierul approached the camp seeking shelter. Although she did not radiate evil, it became clear that she was a supporter of the White Witches’ regime. She taunted Nadya about her daughter. She also took a dislike to the party, even though Nadya seemed to have successfully convinced the fey that they were mercenaries. The party passed an uncomfortable night.
Fireday, Arodus (August) 2, 4713 AR
The weather had cleared by the morning, and Mierul bid the company farewell. Nadya led the party towards Waldsby, but they encountered a swarm of ravens along the way. Nadya told the party that swarms of ravens roamed the skies of Irrisen serving as spies for the White Witches. She did not want ravens reporting the presence of strangers in the region, so she tried to hide the party under a tarpaulin. The keen-eyed ravens, however, spotted Arkath and descended to attack. Arkath was badly wounded, but luckily avoided being blinded by the foul birds. One of Nadya’s guards, a local named Bill, was not so lucky. Arkath did manage to summon an air elemental, which swept the swarm away and prevented any of them from escaping to report.
Upon reaching the village, Nadya warned the party to keep a low profile. Many of the townsfolk, while not evil, would not welcome the party. They saw any outsiders as a potential threat that would bring the wrath of the Pale Tower upon Waldsby. The party was again struck by the way this region of Irrisen mirrored the land of Taldor from which they had just come. Waldsby itself was a mirror image of Heldren, but where Heldren had been vibrant and full of life, Waldsby was dilapidated and somnolent. Ajal was shocked when she saw a gnome who looked just like her uncle. She learned that he too was a Frimbocket. Nadya took Bill to the local surgeon, a gold-toothed Dwarf named Rusilka, and then led the party to her modest abode.
At Nadya’s house the party had a warm meal and met Nadya’s two remaining sons Orm and Mjoli (ages 8 and 9 respectively) and their nanny Kashka. Orm took an immediate fascination with the Snow Elf Arkath, while Mjoli attached himself to Jesserett, whom he hoped would teach him magic. The party also discovered that the house was under the protection of diminutive fey spirit named Hatch. It seems that Hatch had lived in the Pale Tower but had been beaten and left to die after he pulled a prank on Nazhena. Nadya had come across the poor creature in the snow and nursed it back to health. Now Hatch was fiercely devoted to Nadya and her family, Jesserett and Ajla also sensed it knew more about little Thora’s kidnapping than he let on, but when pressed, he turned invisible and refused to speak with the party further.
Jesserett, Ajla, Arkath, and Variel accompanied Nadya to deliver the steaks to the local White Witch representative, and unpleasant woman named Birgit Horlova. Birgit taunted Nadya about her daughter and also insulted the party, whom she appeared to believe were simply mercenaries. The party did learn that Nazhena had been summoned to Whitethrone (the capital of Irrisen) and that the Pale Tower was temporarily under the command of Nazhena’s lover and apprentice, a Taldan expatriate named Radosek Pavril. Furthermore, the tower was staffed by a skeleton crew of guards as many were still out in the countryside (presumably searching for the Black Rider).
Meanwhile, Atsur visited the local blacksmith Iziamir Polovar, who agreed to work on his armor to make it more like Irriseni armor than armor that would be worn by a southerner. On his way back to Nadya’s, Atsur was approached by Rusilka who convinced the paladin to join him for a drink at the local tavern, the “White Weasel.” Inside, the barkeep Emil was hostile to Atsur and made it plain that outsiders were not welcomed in Waldsby. His wife Katrina was friendlier than Emil and even brewed some tea for Atsur. The paladin was suspicious, but he drank the tea anyway. It was laced with some sort of substance, but Atsur resisted the effects. When Katrina saw this, she became hostile and demanded that Atsur take his party and leave town before the White Witches found them. Atsur then returned to Nadya’s and informed the party what had happened.
Starday, Arodus (August) 3, 4713 AR
The next morning, breakfast was interrupted by a pounding of the door. Krow had warned the party of an approach by 6 guards from the Pale Tower, so they had time to hide. The guards demanded that Nadya and her mercenaries come to the White Weasel for questioning. She tried to convince the guards that the mercenaries had already left town, but they did not believe her. At this point, one of the guards spotted Variel, who bluffed that he was a fellow merchant who had been having breakfast with Nadya to discuss business. The guards let Variel go, but moved to take Nadya into custody. Jesserett then appeared and claimed to a cousin visiting Nadya from Dammartorp. The guards were confused and hustled the two women over to the inn.
Variel then met up with Arkath, Ajla, and Atsur to plan how to rescue the two women. Meanwhile, Jess and Nadya were confronted by Sergeant Volan Sertane from the Pale Tower. Emil and Katrina were there as well, along with 6 more guardsmen. He planned to turn the two women over to Radosek, but not before implementing his own extreme interrogation methods. Jesserett then pulled one of her fireball missiles and took out 5 of the 6 guards.
The rest of the party saw the front door of the inn explode and decided to move in. While they took out the 6 guards on the outside of the inn (mainly with the help of Arkath’s eagles and Variel’s sleep magic), Jess and Nadya fought Volan, Emil, Katrina, and the remaining guard. Nadya killed the guard and severely wounded Volan, while Jess battled Katrina and Emil to a standoff. At this point Atsur finally got into the inn and he and Nadya quickly dispatched Volan. Jess was wounded by a crossbow bolt from Emil and then put to sleep by Katrina. Nadya then buried her axe in Katrina’s skull, which caused Emil to surrender. Atsur, however, showed the innkeeper no mercy as a violator of the laws of hospitality to travelers. He and Nadya then carried Jess outside along with the bodies of Emil, Katrina, and Volan. The party looted the bodies, finding a few magic items and a little money. As the inn burned to the ground, the party retreated to Nadya’s cabin to plan their next move.