Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Reign of Winter #33: Snorri come back, Tavum is worse! The best defense is an offense. Big bugs and a sarcastic wolf man.

Diary of Zaaz Bloodfortune

My body still entwined with the transformed seer, I could hear the calls of battle outside.  Our need has been powerful and urgent and fast.  What one would expect of a first time and I was starting to consider a second, but slower match.   Still, my eyes strayed towards the door as the screams and explosions sounded. 
“Go,” she said gently. I looked into her eyes to be sure of her meaning.  “The crisis is past and one particular future dissolves to dust. Your friends will need you now.”
Giving her lips one last peck, I extricated myself and dressed quickly. Letting myself out the door, I ran quickly down to the courtyard and out to where my friends fought.   Just in time to catch the end I thought, when suddenly a wild gibbering in my head did come.  Looking up to the sky I did see four new opponents flying above.   Two were just copper dragonkin, but two were a sight that froze one’s soul.   Dracolitches they were and where they flew, men turned to stone statues.   

The battle was now desperate as the defending crossbowmen were largely defeated.  It became clear these things had a limited range of effect so our fight with them became a fight of distance.   Luckily, I can fly fast enough to avoid the fate of the crossbowmen and so moved off enough to stay just within range of my longest spells.   As we fought to take down the opponents, I heard a strange cry of summoning and saw movements in shadow all around.   They did flow to the center of the courtyard and a massive creature came into being.   Some kind of strange bird of gargantuan size.   Fear of some new horror pulled at me, but as quickly as my thoughts fell in  that direction the creature struck at one of the Dracolitches.   I should have know with the flow of shadow that this was another spell of Tauvums, somehow massively overpowered. 

Between this shadow-beast and for the next wave a Tauvum summoned Ankou we manage to hold the keep.  In the fight we managed to save Shatha from being beheaded and managed to kill her attackers.  After we revisit the council to see what they have planned next.  After much arguing the consciences is to attack the enemy camp at dawn.   Two wings of attackers will attempt to draw off the bulk of the enemy generals guard and then we will move in to the attack.   In the night I commune with Grrrr to change my spells readied and between Tauvum and we are able to remove the flesh to stone effect of the Dracolitches from dear Yoska and bring him back to life.   While he makes a fine statue, he makes a much better active participant in our adventure.
Preparation is the key to successful battle and knowing the enemy general’s penchant for cold, we ensure to cast resist cold as we head to battle in the morning.   As we move past the defensive wards, Tauvum and Gretta dimension door into the enemy general’s tent.   Sadobras rides out on Nevrah who has offered to let Sadobras ride her into battle.   Yoska and Dalomar go invisible as well while I fly boldly, perhaps stupidly visible.  As we get close, I see the ruse has worked and many of General Malesinders forces have been drawn off.   I cast a lightening bolt from distance to fix his attention on me.  I had used the handbook of arcane augmentation to imbue the bolt with sickness, yet Malesinder shrugs off the effect. As I get closer, I can see how formidable he seems to be.   Massive and strong with large white wings he stares imperiously up at me.  In his hands he holds a terrible looking blade of blue, a Rime blade seemingly carved from ice.  As I get close, he uses his breath weapon on me and I give silent thanks for Tauvum for his gift of cold resistance.   Behind him the doors to his tent open and Gretta strikes at him with a javelin.  Following up his lover’s attack, Yoska also strikes at the general, but misses.  A black skeleton steps from the tent as well and shoots a searing ray of light at the general, but misses.  Enervation from me also claws at his soul, but I also miss my target.   This general will certainly be no easy prey. 
Or, so I thought.   Dalomar appears having struck a critical hit on the general sending him staggering.   His allies bring two Cuestodaemons to assist him, but before they can have any real effect on the battle Yoska hits with an intensified shocking grasp.   The general is finished and Sadobras and Yoska finish off the two Cuestodaemons.  

Quickly we hack off the general’s head and Tauvum has his strange skeleton take to the air with the head showing the defeat to the remaining battlefield.   Soon, the forces of the general are in route and the day is won.  Gathering the papers and treasure from the general we soon head back to the keep.   Going through the papers we see that this was just a small part of the battles here.  The forces arrayed are quite formidable and this was just one front in a massive invasion. 
The council in the keep rewards us with quite a few items of magic and wealth to thank us for our part in ending the immediate threat.  Additionally, we receive the two headed eagle as promised.   It was decided that Gretta will take the eagle back to the hut and await us there as we head to finish off the Dragon who has started this all.  

The next morning we make all haste towards our destination.   As we travel on borrowed Hippogriffs, we spot an Adlet being threatened by several huge insect creatures we later found are called Ursikka.  The Adlet is quite handsome and covered in downy white fur so of course we have to save it.   Tauvum seems to want to joke a bit with it, but we still move to defend.  Strong opponents the Ursikka were.   One of their attacks consisted of spitting a thick and sticky saliva at us and it was enough to entangle.  Yoska managed tag the three of them with a large fireball and their screams make it clear they didn’t appreciate the attack.   Yoska and Tauvum are soon covered with the spittle and fighting to escape it.  Sadobras moves up to the attack and though he misses Nevrah doesn’t.   Dalomar spring attacks, but the creatures shell is hard to break.  Upset with the attack from Nevrah, the creature she attacked bites Sadobras from his saddle and swallows him in an instant.  Calling forth my evil eye I manage to hex the one swallowing my companion to make it easier to attack in the future.  As I move into position to try to lightning bolt the creature, Yoska manages to shock the creature strongly.   It starts to fall over, apparently killed, yet suddenly regains its strength and starts to fight again.  Some of our mounts are killed by the various attacks and so it looks like we shall fly no further.  Yoska moves in again and strikes at the one that has swallowed Sadobras, bringing it down for good this time.  Dalomar and I strike one of the remaining ones with lightning and sword and wound it greatly.  Again, we manage to take one to the edge of death just to have it surge back to the fight.   Still, now with two of them remaining and both wounded we manage to finish them off. 

Standing after the fight I thank Dalomar for finishing off one about to breath its spit on me.  All of us let out great rollers of steamy breath as we stare at the dead creatures.  Turning to the Adlet, I’m about to ask his name, when Tauvum starts off with, “So, how much are you going to pay us for saving you….”
Somehow, I don’t remember Tauvum being so mercenary.   Frankly, he wasn’t quite this talkative when Snori was here.   Does that mean I’m missing the days when Snori travelled with us?   Gods forbid.  This quest is one enough to tangle one’s mind.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Reign of Winter #32: While the battle raged on Zaaz was...well....I'll let her explain....

Diary of Zaaz Bloodfortune:

I’ve heard it said that the life of a seer is that of confusion, vision, and frustration.   How confused one must be upon learning of their gift.   To see small visions of a future that may come to be.  How frustrating it must be when you tell your visions to others just to have them ignored.   My family name, Bloodfortune, comes from the visions that plague and guide us from time to time.   My mother, Zana, had this gift and it is what caused her to leave the great coven of the South long ago.   It set her footsteps on the path that led to my birth and childhood in the far north.  The prophesy she had that guided us there was one she never doubted for her mother and her mothers mother down through the ages knew the power of this.   So, when the seer Jarilne sent a note that said she had a prophesy I knew not to trifle with fate.
Climbing the long stairs up to her tower I came to her room and knocked upon the door.   Calling me in I opened the door and was greeted by the sight of her lair.   Lair it was for that was all one could call it.   Upon every surface there was some…. Something.  Books, skulls, scrolls, and brick-r-brac lay everywhere.  Smoke hung heavy in the air, touched with the scent of something sweet.  Jarline bade me to close the door and sit with her at a small table.  At first we took tea together as we traded questions.   Her to learn more of my homeland and me to learn more of her world.  We told stories that had us laughing together like old friends.  Alien she might be to me, but the beauty of her words and the light of her eyes attracted me greatly.   Suddenly, intuition hit me, “You aren’t as old as you would have those here believe.”
Shaking her head to deny it, she saw the sureness in my eyes and finally held her hands up in surrender.  Lowering her hands, she chanted a few words and her features seemed to melt and flow.   Her skin became taunt and young, her milky eye cleared.  In moments she seemed to lose fifty years of age.    “The threefold aspect of the crone.   Very helpful to establish the authority of age.  I’ve learned that ones words as a seer are taken with more belief, the more gravitas you carry.   It doesn’t matter that the visions aren’t mine, they are gifts from the gods.  If the words come from a child, they are taken as if from a child.  And you are not as old as you look Zaaz or at least you don’t yet carry well the age you seem to be.”
For a while I talked on my experiences in the pit, the fight for my sanity and the age I had gained.   The anguish of losing my youth, coupled with my realization that the same spell she used could regain me that youth at any time.  The smoke was befuddling my thoughts and the voices in my head murmured constantly, but I knew I had to find out what she had in mind for me.  “So, you mentioned a vision in your note to me, what must the gods tell to me.”
“First, a drink to the gods to honor what they tell us,” and she poured us both a deep draught.  
Holding up my cup I toasted, “To gods and worlds and visions of truth.”   I downed it lustily and leaned forward to hear what she had to say.  I leaned forward and almost fell out of my chair.   The smoke and drink combining to make me quite woozy.
“Zaaz, your companions will face great difficulty in the coming battle and death will stalk your companions.  However, you must not fight with them or you will die.  You must stay here and while away the day while they fight.   It is the only choice.”

Anger rose in me and I tried to stand and leave.   My legs were as supple leather and would not hold me.  Why must fortune always take a hand in my steps.  Anger was quickly replaced with giggles at my plight.   Angry I was that the seer had done this to me, but humor in the sensations rolling over me. My intuition was telling me she had seen a true vision and anger wouldn’t change the course of events.   Coming to my side, she pulled me to my feet.  Calling upon my magic, I cast a cure to clear my head.  Up close I could smell the strange muskiness of her as I held onto her for balance.  Regardless of her intention to hold me here by clouding my mind, I knew she only had my safety at heart and a warning from the gods.  Unable to stop myself I bent forward and gave her a kiss.  Unhooking first her dress, then mine we stepped over to the bed and lay down.  In the distance I could hear a bell ringing, but my mind could only hunger for what it held close.  My companions would fight and perhaps even die, but I would live.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Reign of Winter #31: A dangerous flight to Spurhorn, Commander Pharamol and the dragon legion, impending attack!

Diary of Zaaz Bloodfortune:

Who would imagine me, flying over a battlefield in my skirts, battling to reach safety.  The enemy, camped in a great mass around the keep, shooting magic and rallying troops to intercept us.  This quest leads us down stranger and stranger paths.  Only the revelations about the… fluid nature of reality keep me sane.   What's that you voices… Bahh.. I be sane as one can be in a world where up is down and ducks quack like lions.  Now, where was I in our tale...

Tavum had turned as diffuse as the wind and was floating slowly towards our goal, but I could see more coming to kill us.  Taking out my Wand of Levitation I cast it upon him as he came back to normal.  Towing him along with me, I resumed my flight as he grumbled about the indignity of it all.  Frost Drakes and an obvious spell caster almost upon us, I shushed him and called upon my magic as they entered my range.  I tried to enfeeble the wizard, but his strength of will was too great.  Sadobras charged the group and was into the fray.  Bescaylie and her mount Efrixes swooped and fought, but were badly hurt by a breath weapon.   Calling upon the energies, I turned the air around two of them to a toxic miasma and one of them fell violently upon those watching the battle below.  A bolt of lightning came forth from the wizard, striking Bescaylie with more damage and we could see she was woozy in her saddle.   Sadobras moved up to pressure the spellcaster and struck him.  One of the Drakes moved up and struck at me, while another struck at Sadobras’s Warg.  Before he can fall from the sky, Tavum casts Dimension door to bring us close enough that I can use the wand to levitate the beast.  After a short intense fight, we are ready to start again towards the keep. 

Two dragons spotted headed our way, Yoska yells to Dalomar to search the bodies later as he is examining the spellcaster for loot.  Now with Sadobras, his Warg, and Tavum in tow, I feel like a train of wagons in the sky as we race to safety.

The keep is most impressive.   It’s 30’ falls are covered with ice and soldiers.  Nearly all have crossbows at the ready, as I would expect of those defending against attack from the air.  Bescaylie gives the proper passphrase and we land in the courtyard.  All look at us strangely as they have obviously not seen our kind before.  Dalomar is also quite upset as they insist on taking away his prize, the spellcasters body, before he can remove the various magic items upon it.   Warned not to wander as we may be mistaken for enemies, we are led to small, yet comfortable quarters. 

Being told to stay in one place obviously picks at Tavum’s paties, or Snorri has begun to really rub off on him, as he constantly keeps asking the guards question after question about the teleportation barrier and what happens if one tries to teleport.  He also seems to be trying to give them strange impression of us with odd pronouncements on food requirements and such.   I’m not sure what game he’s up to, but I suppose time will tell.

The next morning, we meet with Commander Pharmamol and his gold dragonkin Amerenth, Samara and her white dragonkin partner Calissus, Zusk and his black dragonkin Harjan, Jarilne and old Seer of the Triaxians, Nevra a blue unbonded dragonkin, Talsune an unbonded copper dragonkin, and Thronull who is the leader of the crossbow legion.  Sticking my foot into my mouth, as is my wont, I begin talking before Bescaylie who had wanted to introduce us first.  Well, I exist to ruffle a few feathers.. Even if these things fly without, so pish on those who wish me to wait my turn.  Over the conference we learn that what we seek is very likely to be at Ivoryglass.  There, but under the watchful eyes of an Elder White Dragon, Yarick. 
I can see they are impressed by our boldness when we state we’ll head there to finish off the dragon.  The council debates and votes to let us try and even Pharamol is agreeable to give us the two headed eagle of his should we succeed.  They only ask that we stay to help our with todays expected raid. 
Shown back to our quarters I begin reading potions and spells for a time and make time to write this.  Soon, the raid will come and who knows its result, so best to get this down to leave a record.   Not that it’s likely many in this strange place will know how to even read it.  Perhaps I’ll take some time while I wait to speak with Jarilne the seer.   Few know more what is real than those who understand nothing is…

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Reign of Winter #30: Back in Baba's hut: cute little garden, alien assholes and merchants, dragonkin and battles on a far off planet called Triaxus!

Diary of Zaaz Bloodfortune

Ready we were to head back to the hut, yet is not hard work justifiably rewarded with some time of leisure? Not for us it seems. Strife seems to follow us at every turn and nothing seems to come easily. Still, hard work seems to have its rewards. My patron has once again rewarded me with more power and spells. New hexes and tricks with which to fight, torture, and begile.

Returning to Hooftown we spread word of the killing of the White Dragon and for three days the drinks flowed like a river. Fun and frolic and pleasures of the flesh were our reward. Three days to repair our equipment and search for more supplies to help on our future journeys. For three days the itching in the back of our minds we did try to ignore, to drown in fine drink, yet the pull would not be ignored. The gaes of the black rider forced us on and ensured us no real time of rest.

Packing up and saying goodbye to new friends we returned to the hut. There a sullen Ratibor greeted us again. Yet soon, that sullen attitude was gone as I had learned the ritual to free him of his servitude. Baba will likely not be happy with me for loosing her doorman, but surely he had served his time. Into the caldron we put the dragon scale and nugget I had retrieved at the cost of years and in moments the hut disappeared.

The room we were standing in had been transformed into a gazebo in a place of strange nature. Clouds in the sky above seemed oddly fake an in the distance walls of glass could be seen. Paths wandered off in arounds ways and a wooded area was to one side. A garden, a small shed, and five greenhouses were close at hand. A tinny muted sound of thunder called our and water began falling on parts of the forest.

The fragrance of the garden was intoxicating and I quickly went over to look. Within was every kind of useful herb and plant a witch could ever want. I had paid good coin for far worse quality than was before me. I knelt down and began cutting a sample to refill my herb pouch. Sadobras moved over to inspect a well he had noticed, while Dalomar launches his strange mechanical owl to scout. Snori flew into the shack and soon the sounds of things being broken comes from within. Eventually, Snori comes out and lets us know of various defoliants and potions within that may or may not be now useable.

Unable to contain his curiosity, Snori moves over to explore a mount of bushes off to one side and is promptly attacked by a giant carnivorous plant. I think I had previously seen a smaller version of the plant eating flies in a swampy area. This thing is certainly much larger. It’s mouth closes on Snori’s leg, holding him in place. Taking a break from my harvesting, I shoot a bolt of lightning at the creature, not much caring if I hit the plant or the troublesome flit. As my lightning had little effect, Dalomar moved up and cut Snori lose. Just as I’m wondering how we’ll finish the creature off, Yoska shows us all a trick he’s recently learned. With a quick chant and gesture, he creates the proper pattern and seems to shimmer with energy. There is a sudden zzzittt sound and becomes a bolt of lightning that strikes through the creature, then once more becoming Yoska. The creature smokes from the bolt, which did well more than my poor attack. Before it can recover, Sadobras and his warg slam into it. Almost simultaneously, Tavum and Gretta strike with arrow and javelin. Seeing Dalomar was ready to strike at it again, I cast a hex of luck upon him. Before he could strike, the green gobbler tried to pull him in. Finally, Yoska manages to slice it in half with his sword. Snori is pulled free of the creature and I cast healing upon those who had been hurt.

Peace once again returned, I went back to my harvesting only to have it interrupted again as Sadobras is attacked by some sort of shambling mound. Making quick work of that, I would have thought that everyone had the sense to leave well enough alone, but of course now. Snori flew into the woods and managed to shoot a Treant. He tries to apologize, but made the mistake of mentioning Baba yaga. Racing back towards us with the angry tree in tow, I call a bolt of lightning down upon it. Yosaka moves up with Gretta and strike at it. Snori moves to attack and gets hit as he tries to harass it. Tavum, studying the tree and its sickly appearance calls forth a healing on it, restoring the trees sanity. Dawnbark, now healed talks with us. Evidently, he had been fooled by Baba who invited him to live in Paradise. A paradise it is in some ways, but one with a light that slowly drives him insane. He won’t help us directly, but he does warn us of moonflowers by the path leading towards a house in the distance.

Once again, I go back to my harvesting and once again Snori is the cause of most trouble. Yes, spirits I know we should tie him up. Dalomar mentions that bubu the owl saw a strange cat on a tree stump in one area. Snori, curious as ever flew over and talked with it. The cat tells him it was the familiar of Yelizaveta, but that her mistress disappeared. Yelizaveta, of course, being the queen before the current queen and child of Baba Yaga. The cat seems to have problems and falls over. Snori investigates and is promptly attacked by a mass of tentecles that fly out of the stump. Dalomar comes up to Snori’s aid and manages to confuse the writhering mass. Sadobras on his ward ride by, striking hard with his lance. Sighing, I stood up from my harvesting, dusted off my knees, and flew over towards the fight. Greeted by the sight of Dalomar held by the neck and Yoska casting a ray of enfeeblement on it, I realize it’s a great chance to try a new spell grrr has granted me. Calling forth magic and energy I draw a circle in the air. Bending the barriers I call forth a Cuestodaemon to do my bidding. Frustratingly though, before it can do more than start to join the fight, Tavum strikes with his bow and it dies.

Having a few moments left on the summoning, I send the Cuestodaemon off towards the house mentioned by the Treant. Going just a little ways down the path it is quickly set upon by Moonflowers. Now, I have long been an admirer of flowers. As a witch, I have certainly dreamed of finding a nice place in my dotage to raise flowers and herbs of all kinds. However, I don’t even want to consider what kind of fertilizer Baba Yaga uses to grow plants like these. Huge and with long reach, a swarm of these mighty plants advanced on us. Yoska blasted the group with a fireball, killing one, but the rest advance. Getting close, the one in the front stopped and with a sudden pulsing blasted the lot of us with very bright light, blinding Yoska. Drawing Emberchill, my sickle of magical ice, I call forth the ice storm within on two of them. Another burst of light and Sadobras is also dazzled while Tavum, Gretta, and I manage to finish off the ones remaining.

Deciding that perhaps a bit more caution is necessary, Dalomar decides to scout out the house. Within, on one side of the entryway he finds a person searching through a room. Opening desk drawers and such he looks innocuous. Strangely enough, while Dalomar saw this person as a strange creature, Snori saw it as a human. The rest of us moved up to see what was happening. Talking a bit with him, he told us he’d like us to meet his master. After calling for his master, Dalomar, seeing him for the twisted being he was, attacked and did minor damage. Calling out again a bit louder, “Denizen of Leng!” we could hear movement elsewhere in the house. Striking at Snori, he was knocked hard. The door in the hallway opens and out steps an old man. The old man waves his hands and soon Gretta is staring fascinated at a pattern that persists in the air. Knowing this can be no ordinary old man I strike with a hex of agony, truly a fearsome magic, but to no effect. The old man seems to be able to resist my power. Sadobras and Dalomar both attack, while the Denizen of Lang casts confusion that seems to effect Gretta. Yoska moves up and looks in the door the old man came out of and starts screaming like a little girl, “Moooooooon Beeaaaaaasstt!”

Wondering to myself, what in the world is a moon beast, I try casting a hex on the original one we encountered, but again to no effect. Snori, strangely effective for once manages to locate several arrows with holy water tips and uses them to kill the original foe. Sadobras also manages to hit the one in the hallway. A Fireball comes out of the room and strikes at all of us while Gretta, shaking off the confusion, manages to charge and push the Denizen into the room with the moon beast. Yoska moves up to support her while Sadobras manages to find enough space to charge. Just as things are starting to look in our favor, the moon beast casts a spell at Gretta, telling the dominated warrior “I am your only true friend. Kill the others!” I manage to cast sleep upon her before she can do much damage to us and soon we’ve managed to kill off the two foes. Looking through their things we find that one had a rather large gem. When looked at closely, it appeared to have a small person inside. Deciding to wait a bit on investigating this, we put the gem away.

We began to explore the house and soon realize that it is just another version of the hut. Upstairs we find the cracked bowl with the hens egg, a pitcher, and cauldron. From the porch windows we can see a strange and different vista. Soon a raven appears to us and tells us that baba has gone on to see her only son, but left breadcrumbs behind, if the breadcrumbs we can find. At our feet he drops a stuffed 2 headed eagle, an iron spur, and a drinking horn. Then he also drops in another pile an elephant tusk, a small hand mirror, and a bearskin rug. Once he drops the items, the raven disappears and once again I curse the vagueness that seems to go hand and hand with being or dealing with witches.

The hut in its current state now fully explored we bring things back to the gem. Breaking it open we are confronted by a very tall, blue, creature of a species we don’t recognize. Introducing himself as Zalvazaraat, he tells us he’s a merchant that travels the various dimensions and offers us the pick of some of his items in thanks for freeing him. Instead, we work a deal with him to sell some of our goods for us at a good price and he gives us a way to call for him should we need to buy or sell more. It won’t be instant, but having our own personal merchant should make the travel a bit easier.

Soon, we all exit the hut and make our way up to high ground, to try to get an idea of where we are. Gretta and I notice that the local plant life is not familiar to us at all. We must have travelled quite a ways I imagine. When we get to the top of the hill we notice the sun is low in the sky, indicating that we are perhaps quite far north. With little warning a red dragon flies overhead and we all prepare for battle. It lands off to the side and we notice someone on top of it. The dragon also seems to wield a halberd. Getting closer we see the rider is actually a dragon-kin. Eventually we are able to communicate and learn that she doesn’t even recognize humans at all. Through our talking we learn that she calls this world Triaxis and that there is a major war going on.

While talking there is mention of the Iron Spur and two headed eagle we received and it takes some luck and diplomancy to bring things back to friendly terms. Luckily Sadobras and Bescaylie get along well and we learn that she and her mount, Efrixis, are looking for reinforcements. Her keep, Spurhorn, one of the outposts of the alliance referred to as the SkyFire Mandate, is under attack by Drakeland forces under General Malacinder, a silver dragonkin, and in dire need of help. Her commander actually has a two headed eagle as well which leads us to believe the clues from the raven have led us to her.

We made arrangements to go with her to the keep the next day after we have had a chance to prepare. Back at the hut, Tavum tells us that Snori is going off for retraining for a few days. The next day we head over to the peak again and cast fly to try to race past the defenders. Unfortunately due to magic being used, a teleport just won’t work. On our way in we are attacked first by a group of Frost Drakes and then by a group of Cuestodaemons. The first group, the Frost Drakes are not too difficult aside from ice blasts. Slumber works quite well and knocks one from the sky. Yoska, Gretta, Sadobras, and Dalomar also rampage through the group. The Cuestodaemons with their ability to dispel the fly spells on us are much more difficult. At one point Tavum falls from the sky, but I manage to catch him. He imbues me with shadow strength to help me carry him. The feeling of the strength is so intoxicating that I almost conteptuaously call agony down upon one and knock him from the fight. Yoska and Gretta taking out one and Efrixes and Biscale turning another into a red mist, we break through the defenders and head on towards the keep….

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Like reading Zaaz’s diary entries? Read the book inspired by the character:

Eli Selig's book Witch in Winter, Pathfinder, Reign of Winter inspired story

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Reign of Winter #29: The keys to the hut secured, Demon worshiping centaur Vsevolod defeated, necklace of bone devil and centaur carcasses for a white dragon!

Diary of Zaaz Bloodfortune

Another chapter of my life is done. As the maiden becomes the mother, as the mother becomes the crone, this journey has seen me enter the midpoint of my life. Though I have often called upon the threefold aspect of the crone, inside I still always felt myself the maiden. I knew with a thought I could banish the trappings of the elderly me and return to what once was, but no more. No, Artrosia has aged me and I will never again know the true innocence of youth.
We started the day with a quick trip back to town, my magic making it the work of a moment. Our goal for the trip was to see what we could learn of the Pit and if any preparation would aid us. In town we asked around and went to see a centaur priest of Abadar, the powerful Procalarenti. Trading some wealth to her to help the poor of the town, in thanks she cast a spell of divination, but with no effect. The gods were silent on what we needed or some magic of the place defied the call for help. Thanking her for trying we went about our business selling our loot and asking after age related spells. Direct to the bar a drink we shared with one of the Centaur Druids. To him I described the battle we had with the bloody centaur priest and learned that it had been a centaur priest of legend and good riddance for his evil. He and I discussed the pit and what I might encounter, but little help he could give besides his best wishes. A curse of age he felt it would be and little that could protect against it.

This is what I learned of the centaur priest:

Born the only son among the children of the high chieftain of the largest clan of Tsolniva centaurs in the Ice Steppes, Vsevolod was destined to succeed his father as ruler of his clan. On Vsevolod's fifteenth birthday, he rode off with a band of warriors under the command of his older sister Myrkara.  The centaurs marched deep into the Ice Steppes to drive back an encroaching horde of frost giants, but during the raid, a violent blizzard drove down from the north, separating the centaurs. Some were fortunate enough to escape, but others became stranded and hopelessly lost­ including Vsevolod.  Days after the blizzard broke, the giants hunted down stragglers and slaughtered them mercilessly. Vsevolod hid among the dead, and when his food ran out he was forced to eat the flesh of his own slain kin. Eventually, even the corpses ran out, and he resigned himself to death. Yet when the spring thaw came, Vsevolod had by some miracle survived.
Almost a year later, Vsevolod found his way back to his clan, though things had changed. His father had died, and without a male heir the leadership of the clan had passed to Myrkara. To protect her new position, Myrkara immediately accused her brother of working with the frost giants to ambush the Tsolniva warband. How else could Vsevolod have survived the winter, if not for the aid of the giants? Myrkara was well spoken, and her eloquent words swayed the clan elders, who sided with their new chieftain. Vsevolod was branded a traitor and kin-slayer and exiled into the wilderness.
Seething with rage at his sister's betrayal-for was it not she who had abandoned him to the blizzard?Vsevolod headed north to where he'd endured his long ordeal, looking for some kind of sign. What he found was a lone frost giant encamped at the site. The giant, a priest of Kostchtchie named Geflaugr, greeted Vsevolod as a brother and said he'd been waiting for the centaur's arrival. Geflaugr invited Vsevolod to share the camp and tell his story, promising that Kostchtchie had great things in store for the exiled centaur.With nothing to lose,Vsevolod shared his tale with the frost giant, and by the end of the night he had become Geflaugr's disciple. If Vsevolod couldn't find acceptance among his own people, then perhaps he would find it with the source of his condemnation.
Vsevolod was adopted into the frost giant tribe, and learned the brutal tenets of his newfound faith. The following spring, Vsevolod led the giants in a savage raid upon his old village. In revenge for his exile, Vsevolod put to the sword those men of his clan who had sided with his sister Myrkara, and any who refused to convert to Kostchtchie's worship, and enslaved the clan's remaining women. But he saved his most savage vengeance for Myrkara herself. Before her eyes, Vsevolod killed her sisters, husband, and children in a bloody sacrifice to his demonic patron. He then entombed his sister in a cave of ice with their bodies. As Myrkara had abandoned Vsevolod to the blizzard and forced him into cannibalism, so would she be buried alive in the ice, forced to eat the corpses of those she had loved most if she wanted to survive.  She screamed "Khaaaaaaaaannnnn!" as he sealed her within the cave.  

When Geflaugr died not long after, Vsevolod was appointed the tribe's war-priest. The centaur became infamous throughout the Ice Steppes for his brutal raids and the bloody sacrifices of both his enemies and his allies, all in the name of Kostchtchie and vengeance. 

Reign of Winter, Mother Maiden Crone, Vsevolad

Returning back to my companions I discussed the task at hand and decided if the task be done, best to be done quickly. Down I flew into the pit, quick as I could, immediately feeling the magic striking at me. First, I could feel myself aging as I went. My body changed as I flew, hips aching as they readied for womanhood, face losing many of the remaining trappings of youth. From the young maiden I grew to the girl on the edge of womanhood. Then a ripping at my mind that I fought and struggled against. I centered myself and focused on my purpose, faster and faster I went down the spiral and to the bottom of this place. There at the bottom I found a single dragon scale, glowing with magic. Fast as I could I grabbed it up, but once again I could feel myself grow older. Gone now all the trappings of the maiden. My bosom grown, my hips ready for a child, my face lush with knowledge of the flesh. A woman ripe and in her power was I. As a part of me processed this change in my body I readied to cast a spell again as I felt the magic once again tearing at my mind. Again I tried to focus my defenses, but this time something ripped lose. Before it could take me away I finished the spell and stepped through the dimension door and back to my companions.

I held up the scale in triumph and then began to scream. The voices in my head I had heard so long screamed for their freedom and I was lost. First one spirit within grabbed control of this shell, then another. Insanity is a word that distills the incomprehensible horror of reality torn to something people can understand. I cannot begin to describe the horrors my spirit experienced. Even now it brings me to the edge of becoming a gibbering wretch. I am simply lucky my companions realized I was not of my right mind. The spirit in control began to call down terrible magic upon my friends and quickly they put me to sleep before I could hurt anyone.

What happened next I describe from my companions accounts. Tavum quickly went off his own way, claiming he could bring back magic that would restore me to my right mind. The rest of us, feeling we were done with Artrosia began the trek back to town. At the bottom of the hill we me Sancho, Don’s companion who was waiting with the rest of his arms and armor. 

 Just as we began the trip, with little notice, we were set upon by the white dragon we had heard resided in these parts. Swooping down he snatched Don from his steed and began to fly back to his lair. Snori, tiny creature he is, was able to grab on to the dragon and ride along with it as it flew off. Yoska let loose a fireball, offset to burn the wing, but though hurt the dragon went on. Dalomar also used his own to follow after to try to track the beast.

Snori worked his way up the dragon to its neck and did something that shows that sometimes insanity can be a benefit. Taking heavy rope he carefully tied two of the items he had shrunk together and tossed them to either side of the dragon’s neck. Releasing the magic, suddenly the dragon found itself carrying not only Don the Paladin and Snori the annoying, but also the heavy and massive carcasses of a Bone Devil and a dead centaur. Unable to keep itself airborne and panicking, the dragon dropped Don and Snori immediately used his shrink spell on him. As the dragon plummeted from the sky, struggling to remove the massive burden from its neck, Snori shot down, grabbed Don, and slowed his fall. The dragon managed to free itself as it crashed, but still sustained much damage. Done with this unexpected turn, the dragon flew off back to its lair, unsuspecting that Dalomar’s Owl still tracked it.

Don thanked Snori and the two headed back to the party, Snori telling Don that he now owes him his middle name. The Owl followed the dragon back to his lair and stashed itself carefully where Dalomar would be able to find him later. The group headed on back to town and there met Tavum who through the use of a scroll of heal was able to bring me back to myself. I was now older and wiser and raw inside my mind from the experience. That night I spent time on reflection and discussion with Grr on all that had happened in the lair of Baba Yaga. I had become much more powerful in my short there and spells were open to me that I would never have imagined being able to cast. Though the lore I had hoped to garner there was minimal at best, perhaps just the experience of her lair was the reward I searched for.
The next morning we gathered our things and said goodbye to Sancho and Don. Though facing a dragon would be a serious temptation for any adventurer, we knew Don simply wasn’t ready yet for the task. Following the path Dalomar’s Owl and set us on, we traveled to the lair. Along the way we needed to skirt a group of Taiga giants. The party of them had captured and hung from a pole a Centaur who, from the colors of his clothing we recognized was probably from the town. Going invisible I flew quietly up to the prisoner. Then, activating my dimension door made good our escape. The Taiga giants searched for our party, but quickly we were away.
At the lair, we retrieved Dalomar’s owl and then made our way into the cave. Cold and craggy, stinking with the fetid stench of dragon and carrion, we made our way in. Snori and Dalomar took the point again, stealthily making their way to the massive cave that held the creature. Still nursing its woulnds from Snori and Yoska, the beast hung in the back of its cave. Springing to the attack, Dalomar let loose at it. Snori, casting dancing lights, signaled to us that the battle was begun. The fear inducing bellow of rage from the beast was more than enough signal by itself, I thought. Moving forward and calling my magic, I spread a circle of ash upon the floor and began to call forth a Cuestodaemon to do my bidding. Dalomar attacked again, but to little effect. Yoska ran forward and summoned light for us to see by. Sadobras and his warg raced forward into the cave, moving like the wind, and let a bullet fly from his sling. Tavum moved forward bringing his arrows to bear as Snori somehow turned his sword into a sword of Dragons Bane. Clawing its way from the pits of another dimension, my Cuestodaemon in its firey malevolence rose from the ground. Ordering it to do battle with the white dragon, I could see its eyes fill with the joy of battle. It raced off to attack. The dragon adjusted its position and blasted Snori and Dalomar with cold. Snori certainly leads a charmed life as he kicked up a stone to take most of the damage. Blasting the Dragon with a lightning bolt from across the cave, it doesn’t seem to harm the beast, the spell not getting through its inate protection. Tavum shoots the dragon again with a fire arrow and then before the dragon knows what is happening Sadobras charges it again. His weapon slams into the dragon skewering it and ending its life. With a cry of rage the Cuestodeamon shoots fire towards the ceiling in frustration at the lack of battle, then fades away as I banish it back to whence it came.

For hours we carved the dragon up, taking pieces to eat and sell. Snori shrank its entire head to bring as trophy and proof of our deeds. Grr did feast upon its flesh till the greedy gut was sleepy and sated. Once done we headed back to town and once again encountered the Taiga giants. Hiding the centaur we approached them and offered to trade them the dragon head for what treasure they carried. The Taiga giants in the area known for being mortal enemy to the dragon, we know they would revel in its death. Still, they were reluctant to trade with us, so I used my charm hexes on them to make them a bit more pliable. In the end, they traded us the gold and a few magic items they carried in exchange for the head, parts of the body, and a promise to keep a box from Snori that they must not open for a year.

Now we are ready to head back to the hut of Baba Yaga and I do not know if we are really any closer to finding her. Battles we have fought, mostly and won. Knowledge and power we have grown, but where is the crone? Where is the witch we are quested to seek. I suspect our journey is not over, merely entering another chapter…..

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Reign of Winter #28: Hired guns, soup's on, shadows, Vsevolod and Svathurim! Bebolith!!!

The diary of Zaaz Bloodfortune

As a witch of the good, I feel I need to try to make the world a better place.   However, the chaos within all things also speaks to me.   The tough part is to try not to listen to those things that, no matter how evil they may be at first glance, seem to make a lot of sense.  For example, currently, the voice of chaos within me tells me that capturing Snori, turning him into a stew, and then serving it to Tauvem is something quite reasonable.   Now, I will certainly admit that I have in the past tried to trick Snori into indulging in a small love potion or two, with the express goal of having a bit of humor while doing some… ahem… research...   That however, has nothing on this latest “joke” of his that may very well get a strange crazy man killed.
We had been about to leave the room when suddenly a man in full, though quite shabby, armor came running in.   Lobbing two vials of holy water at the party he turned to me and asked, “Are you Zaaz?”  Having hit us with nothing damaging, we decided to investigate instead of ending him.   A simple sleep spell and down he went.  When we woke up we found that Snori, on his visit to town with me, had left a note saying that I was a prisoner of Demons and that there was a reward to free me.  In fact, Snori did pay him, once he woke from our spell, a princely 5,000 gold pieces.   For such a fee we received the assistance of a lowly Paladin that has obviously been God touched if you know what I mean.  Of course I didn’t realize quite how crazy he was.   Figuring we could always use more help I offered to pay him a bit to come with us.   Surely, with Snori paying him so much he must be worth it.  Soon enough though it became clear how far below us he is.  Calling himself Don Keehoetee and from Credorn in Iboria, he has no business being in Artrosia.   Truly he must be called by a god in that he managed to navigate the halls filled with powerful creatures and did find us.

Wasting no more time we decided that if he came along he would at least be useful in providing another target… I mean warrior against the horrors ahead.   Dalomar moved forward and into the next room and called us forward to see a strange sight.  In the next room a cauldron stood bubbling and steaming, surrounded by a ring of runes.   The runes read, “Spice is the Variety of Life”.  Beside the cauldron was a table with a stained ladle and six glass jars.  The jars were labeled Delicious, Hagbalm, Witches Kiss, Devils Dung, Dream Spice, and Alacorn root.  I move up beside Dalomar and looked, when suddenly a Mihstu came out of the bubbling mixture.  The thing appeared to be just a white smoke, but it shot tentacles out at us that were decidedly not mist.  As Dalomar moved out of range in a flipping, spinning, jump, the tentacles shot forward to grab me.   Don ran up and swung his rusty sword at the beast, but didn’t seem to cause it any harm.  Soon enough he joined me in my struggle to escape.  Having had enough of this, Yoska moved up and quickly finished it off.
I shook myself and healed minor wounds suffered by Don and I, then looked again at the spices.   The rest thought me crazy, but I knew I needed to try the spices out.  In short order I discovered that by combining the various items one could make a sleep agent, a poison, a healing draught, some other kind of healing, and a last that just made me feel tingly and good all over. 
While I was busy with the cauldron, Dalomar continued to scout and soon enough a group of Shadows burst in to the room to attack us.   This gave me another reason to consider if I should kill Snori.   It seems that the lead shadow took one look at Tauvem and told the other shadows, “Leave that one alone for he seeks Count Renalc.”   If anything can speak for evil character, it would be a Shadow saying to leave you alone. 

We battled the Shadows, but their touch was draining.  Sadobras was hit and lost much of his strength.   The battle raged back and forth with Yoska killing one and Tauvum offering Gretta a ghost touch sword to help.  Their manuvers put three in a line and I was able to use my lighting bolt to good effect.  Yoska was then attacked by the Greater Shadow and almost killed.  We finished them off, but the battle left damages not easy to heal.   A Scroll of Lesser restoration helped to heal Yoska’s strength.  Then, a notion hit me and I gave Gretta some of the witches kiss and devils dung mixture that had made me feel tingly.   It helped restore Gretta some, though not to full strength.
Dalomar went and scouted again, finding a room with Stalactites and Stalagmites.  The ceiling is far above and a cryptic rune is carved in the floor.  It seems to be something to hold a prisoner in.  Decided to check it out later he moved on.  Next, he found a door with a rune in Iobarian that said, “As the seasons of life change, so we must sacrifice the past for the wisdom of our years.”  Going down farther, Dalomar found a Glyph trap on the stair.   Analyzing it he realized it was probably a ritualistic glyph for a croneing ritual.  A glyph that connects to a chain of glyphs to a purpose. 
Moving forward I examined the Glyphs and realized he was correct, it was a croning ritual.   Looking at each, I made the decision to move forward.
Stepping over the first I declared, “I Zaaz Bloodfortune sacrifice my youth to the three that are one.”
Stepping over the next I declared, “I, Zaaz Bloodfortune, sacrifice my fertility to the three that are one.”
Continuing on, I stripped away the pieces of my past and walked the stages of youth, fertility, strength, and life till I got to the end.  Once completed, I felt a great peace within and a connection to Baba.   Though we may be very different and she quite harsh, she still honored the same understanding of life that all Witches should.
My companions followed my example and made their way beyond the trap.  Going past the door at the end, we came into a room that again made me realize the power of Jadranka and her illusions.  A great cornfield spread beyond the door under a dark and moonlit sky.  Dead ravens littered the ground and Jadranka stood before us.   Telling us that she had “Renewed faith in us because of the dreams of the rider that Dalomar had.  She tells us of the Giants, Centaurs, and Demons that had taken over the pit.  She charges us to destroy them and disappears again.
Dalomar scouted forward again and we followed.  Coming to the mangled corpse of a bone devil, Snori used his shrink skill to carry the body with him.  Scared to think of what that little beast will do with it.  On we went to a door almost off its hinges and we found a pair of frost giants standing over the remains of a golem.  Snori, as usual flys over and stabs one before we can stop him forcing the battle to begin.  Yoska, taking advantage of the distraction, runs up and stabs one of the Giants.   Blood runs in a river from its wounds in one of the most massive attacks I’ve yet seen.  Calling down sleep on one I put my hexes to good use.   Sadobras moves up and finishes off the one Yoska wounded, leaving only the sleeping one.  Coordinating our attacks we all hit the sleeping giant at the same time and finish it off. 
Beyond them is a door that we can’t seem to open.  Tauvem and Snori step into the Shadow realm and move through to the other side.  Beyond they saw a massive room with parts distant enough in the darkness to hide what lay there.  Close by though was a Centaur covered in blood.  Some sort of war priest he turned his terrible gaze on Snori and Tauvem and told them, “You should not be here,” and threw a blindness spell at Tauvem.  He shrugged it off, but then was hit by three massive arrows out of the darkness.  Snori healed him a bit and he managed to shadow walk back out the room.  Seeing Tauvem’s condition and knowing Snori was alone, I had a serious moral decision to make.   It would certainly be possible to have confidence in my party member’s ability to escape and evade, take my time healing Tauvem, and then see if Snori was ok.   Or, I could try to get the rest of the party in to help.  

Reign of Winter, Mother Maiden Crone, final battle against Vsevolod and Svathurim for control of Artrosia

A spell I know that blinks one back and forth between the ethereal and material planes was what I cast.  Though Snori may be difficult to deal with, he was travelling with us and had occasionally managed to help.  Stepping through the door I tried to work loose the axe haft that ran through the door handles holding it shut, but my strength was not enough.  Sadobras cast stone shape, removing the stone around the door and allowing Gretta to push the entire thing inwards.  The rest of the party comes in and just in time.  Snori cast dancing lights off in the distant part of the cave and we can see meniers surrounding a pit with some sort of disturbance in the air above it.  This had to be the pit of Eons I said to myself.  Coming towards us from that side of the room was a disturbing site.  Some kind of monsterous Frost Giant/Centaur hybrid with eight legs strode our way.  Thinking through the creatures of the north I had heard of I realized it was a Svathirum. 

I moved forward to get in range of the priest and tried to hit him with an evil eye to little effect.   Sadobras quickly gets hit and goes down.  The Svathirum charges Don, who has moved up to defend me, and I to the ground.  Still judging the war priest the harder opponent I cast a spell of Enervation against him.   It takes effect, yet seems to do little.  Dalomar spring attacks into the room, striking at the Svathirum, damaging it, and somehow bewildering it as well.  Yoska hits the priest with an improved shocking grasp as the Svathirum lets loose a strange attack that leave Gretta encased in ice.  A hit against me and soon I’m also down.  The next thing I know the battle is over and I learn that Sadobras had used his feather token to spring for the tree for cover and maneuver.  Yoska once again saved the day by finishing the creatures off.  After we found a massive pile of gold.  The magic I had hoped for may not be here, but with over 22,000 pieces of gold, perhaps I can buy what I want.
Tired from the battles we decide to rest and regain our spells before we move on.   Jadranka once again appears and again with words of praise.  Of the pit she can tell us little except that we will need to persevere and be strong of body.  Before she leaves I manage to trade a few spells, familiar to familiar, so at least.
Reign of Winter, Pathfinder adventure path, Mother Maiden Crone, battle against the bebilith

In the morning, rested and ready we decided to go back and take on the room with the sealing rune on it first.  Entering in we had no idea what it held back.  Rows and stalagtites and stalagmites dot the floor and ceiling, many strangely have their tops shorn off.  We moved a bit into the room and were attacked by a massive Bebilith spider.  Giving me a quick bite, my flesh began to melt and burn.  With little strength left after the massive bite I know I have to try to end the combat quickly, so I try to cast my most powerful spell, Baleful Polymorph on it.  It manages to resist the power though and so little remains for me except screaming.  I try to move away, but am quickly struck again.   Gretta encases it with ice as healing magic gets cast on me.   The healing magic does little though as I feel so very tired and weak.  Sadobras again try’s to heal me then moves to the attack.   Dalomar strikes it in a critical spot and the beast screams in pain.  Finally Yoska finishes it off.   I fight back and forth against the melting of my flesh.  The release of my threefold aspect bring back some of my constitution, but not enough.   Taking a potion of lesser restoration, I manage to struggle on longer.  In the end it proves to be enough and I manage to live.  Spread around the room we find many items of magic, yet I feel not happiness in the victory.   We struggled and barely won.   What awaits us in the pit of Eons?