Reign of Winter

Into the Somir Valley

Mystery of the Black Rider

Moonday, Erastus (July) 15, 4713 AR
Tensions ran high in Heldren the previous week as the suspicious members of the Taldan Phalanx had begun to see traitors and troublemakers in every corner of the village. First, there was an active hunt for worshippers of Sarenrae, which Atsur defused with his diplomacy. Then Elvarol believed local rumors that the village wise woman Theodora was a winter witch after she miraculously healed Jake Strawn (the boy who had fallen into a creek while chasing a white stag). Elvarol and his men confronted her and were facing off against angry villagers who supported the old woman when Jesserett and Atsur stepped in and calmed things down.

The weather finally cleared and the party set off for Somir Valley. They were ambushed by Vrixx, 2 of his sprite buddies, and a spell-casting atomie as they attempted to cross Timber Creek. Atsur gained his vengeance upon Vrixx by cutting the hapless sprite in two. Arkath’s eagles were again instrumental in bringing down the annoying flying pests. The party then made it to the High Sentinel lodge where they rested for the evening.

Toilday, Erastus (July) 16, 4713 AR
The weather took a turn for the worse as a fierce storm (but not quite a blizzard) blew through the region. This allowed the party an extra day to rest and recuperate.

Wealday, Erastus (July) 17, 4713 AR
When the party reached the entrance of Somir Valley, they saw that the entire valley was socked in by a fierce blizzard. Before they could enter, however, a Moss Troll loomed out of the dimness and attacked. It had a huge magical spear and managed to wound Atsur severely before Jesserett took it out with fire attacks from her magical wand. The magical spear resized to fit any wielder, so Ajla took it as hers. The party found a magical potion that allowed users to move across rough terrain normally for a short time as well as key, some money, and a small mirror that seemed to be a receiver for scrying magic.

Once in the valley, the party got lost in the worsening weather. They were saved by Zenskar’s sharp sense of smell. They found the portal and determined that it could only be shout from the other side. The party also found the Troll’s treasure, which included stocks of food that appeared meant to feed an invading army. As the party debated what to do, a black rider with a blue shard of ice sticking out of his back came through the portal. He claimed to be Illarion Matveius, also known as Black Midnight. He was one of the three heralds of Baba Yaga that announced the Witch Queen’s return to Irrisen every 100 years. Apparently, something had gone wrong this time, as when the riders appeared on Golarion this time they were ambushed and hunted by the current queen Elvanna. Illarion told the party that Baba Yaga had suspected that some sort of treachery was afoot from her wayward daughter and she took steps to leave a path that her riders could follow in the event of Elvanna’s betrayal. Illarion had 2 keys (a lock of Frost Giant hair and a plague doctor’s mask) that were keys to taking Baba Yaga’s hut to Baba Yaga’s last known destination, but before he could get into the Hut, he was ambushed. Queen Elvanna’s agents pierced him with a magical shard of ice that was draining the rider of his essence and he would soon be dead. He fled through the portal to Taldor, hoping to find someone to take up his mantle.

Jesserett and Ajla were accepting of this story, Atsur was skeptical, and Arkath and V were noncommittal. Upon further questioning, Illarion revealed that this portal was but one of many that Elvanna had opened throughout Golarion. She planned to spread Irrisen’s unnatural winter to all of Golarion. With Baba Yaga out of the way, nothing but the three heralds stood in Elvanna’s way. The portal of Taldor was attached at its other end to a small frontier province in Irrisen known as Hoarwood. It was near a village called Waldsby. The local White Witch was named Nazhena Vasilliovna and she controlled this portal from her fortress, a place known as the White Tower.

Illarion claimed that he could pass on his mantle of power, which would be recognized by others who opposed Elvanna as well as allow entrance to and use of the Dancing Hut. This latter was Baba Yaga’s famous abode, which also served a vehicle that transported her throughout the planes. Atsur agonized over what to do, as he did not want to willingly help a powerful evil being such as Baba Yaga; failure to act, however, would possibly doom the whole world. In the end he reluctantly Illarion’s “bargain,” along with Jesserett, Ajla, and Arkath. V refused to listen to the Black Rider. The party then watched in horror as Illarion slit his throat and used his lifeblood to infuse a potent magic that granted the 4 who agreed to take up his mantle great power to find Baba Yaga, but at the same time put them under a powerful compulsion to not stop until the mission was accomplished. Ajla and Atsur gained great physical strength, while Arkath and Jesserett grew in force of personality.

The party then camped near the portal and decided to return to Heldren to report their progress. From there, they would go to the large city of Zimar to purchase equipment and resources that would help them as they eventually went through the portal into Irrisen.

Oathday, Erastus (July) 18, 4713 AR
As the party made it to the Sentinel lodge, the weather let out one last gasp with a blizzard. As the Black Rider had promised, once the blizzard abated the weather began to recede as his power shrunk the portal. This of course was only temporary. If left unchecked the portal would return to its normal size, and indeed continue to grow.

Fireday, Erastus (July) 19, 4713 AR
As you came out of the forest on your journey back to Heldren, you were delighted to see that the winter weather had lost its grip outside the forest. The interior of the forest, however, continued in its icy grip. The party arrived back in Heldren to a hero’s welcome, brining with them improving weather. You all quietly explained to Elvarol and the town leadership that this victory was only temporary. With your assurance that the party planned to hunt out the source of the portal and close it permanently, the town and Elvarol paid out their promised rewards. This along with the money from items found in the troll lair gave the party a pool of money with which to equip themselves for a foray into Irrisen. The party decided to set out for Zimar, where the selection of magical items and equipment would be better.

Starday, Erastus (July) 20, 4713 AR
Zimar was only a day’s journey to the east. Accompanied by the returning Taldan Phalanx, you did not encounter any problems on the road. The weather continued to be pleasant and the farther away from the Border Wood you went, the more it became like typical summer weather. Now you have arrived in Zimar.

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