Joined: 20 Jan 2006
|Posted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 1:02 pm Post subject: Queen of Winter - episode 2
|The minotaur cleric Garrah dooth Kai and his human companion Alan were starting to become concerned. They had been riding in the woods near Caer Callidyr when they had passed two obelisks and suddenly found themselves transported. While much of the wood which surrounded them looked the same as it had a minute earlier, it had also changed in a number of ways. The trees were thicker and their limbs more tangled. The mountain in front of them had suddenly become much larger and more jagged. And, perhaps the most disconcerting change of all was that early morning had suddenly become late evening. Garrah, who had a scholar’s familiarity with the history of the Moonshae Isles, became concerned that the two adventurers had somehow entered the Feywild.
Shortly after passing the obelisks Garrah and Alan came across a fair thatched cottage set in a field of stunted wheat. Light shone from the windows and they talked in low voices about the wisdom of approaching the front door. As they whispered a window opened and an elven face appeared. “Come inside”, this face urged.
Garrah suspicious at first, questioned the elf about his provenance and the nature of this realm. He was both surprised and disturbed by the response. The elf was Chadis, one of a group of adventurers who had entered this – the Queen of Winter’s realm – in an attempt to liberate her human slaves. After a long night of discussion, Alan and Garrah agreed to join Chadis and his companions Mimi, Aodhan and Sariel in their rescue attempt.
Just before dawn the adventurers rose. Chadis and his friends had already freed two slaves, Sertanian and the boy Thurann. These two led the adventurers through the woods towards the base of the Queen of Winter’s massive tower of ice. As they traveled closer to the tower, the woods and the air filled with crows – cawing and flapping.
At the edge of the woods Thurann directed the adventurers’ gaze to a smaller building just before the gates of the tower. This he identified as the gatehouse, and as the place where he and the other slaves had been put to work. Between them Thurann and Sertanian could tell the adventurers that two of the other slaves had been put to work in the kitchen, while another could probably be found in the stables. As Thurann talked a dragon flew high overhead and entered the tower of ice through a portal in its spire. The adventurers grew fearful in its presence. There was some discussion of abandoning the mission, but eventually the adventurers decided to continue.
Hiding behind rocks and in snowdrifts, the adventurers approached the gatehouse cautiously. They headed first for the stables, and spent some time observing these from the shelter of a large rock. The only figure present was an old lady, who was spreading straw across the icy floor.
The adventurers rushed towards the old lady and motioned her to silence. Wide-eyed she stared at them while they explained who they were and what they planned to do. When they had finished she spoke and quietly voiced her gratitude. She explained that she was Zerriksa, a slave, and that she was largely left alone by the Fey who feared she was a witch. She said she had seen two other slaves taken through a door at the base of the ice tower some weeks ago. She described these slaves and Thurann excitedly identified one as his father.
Following Zerriksa the adventurers traveled through the vast stable and out the other side. They followed the base of the tower of ice until they came to a rather plan wooden door. Through a barred window in this door they could see a stone staircase leading down. The adventurers followed this and came to another door. Through this they could see three fey creatures torturing a dwarf on a rack. Another prisoner could be seen slumped in a barred cell. A winged drake hovered above one of the fey.
The door to the cell was locked, but Mimi picked the lock quickly and silently. Moving quickly Mimi and Alan charged into the room, while Chadis, Sariel and Garrah hung back – the first two to provide cover to the others, and Garrah to hide until the combat was at an end.
Hearing the adventurers, the fey turned and drew their weapons. The drake darted across the room above the heads of Mimi and Alan and snapped at the hand of Sariel, stealing the rod he was about to use cast a hex. The drake ducked away quickly, the rod in its mouth. The smallest of the fey also acted quickly. He cast a spell and an icy mist rose from the chamber’s floor, obscuring the creature from the arrows and spells of Chadis, Sariel and Garrah.
The fight which followed was difficult and long. The small fey creature hid behind his larger companions and plagued the adventurers with his magical powers. Even Chadis’ arrows struggled to reach him as he ordered the other fey to jump into the line of fire each time the archer let fly. Alan’s twirling sword kept the fey from moving from their corner, but the drake flew about the room and assaulted the ranged attackers from the air, and even sought out Garrah in his dark corner. Its final opponent though was the boy Thurann, who had spotted his father in a cell and had charged across the chamber to free him. The drake swept down and plucked the boy up in his teeth. This was almost the last thing the drake did however, as the companions finished off its masters and Chadis shot the creature from the air – sending it plunging to the ground and the screaming Thurann spiraling across the floor.
With the creatures dead the adventurers immediately set about freeing the dwarf from the rack. This poor creature had been blinded and tortured and had spent the fight confused and terrified. Once the adventurers explained who they were however, he became calm and compliant. His fellow prisoner was not so lucky, Kartenix, Thurann’s father, had clearly been dead for some weeks. The boy refused to believe his eyes however, and repeatedly begged Garrah to provide healing. When the minotaur refused, the boy burst into loud and noisy tears and it took some time to calm him down again.
The adventurers had now found five of the seven slaves, and knew that the last two had been seen working in the kitchens. Zerriksa led them back through the stables and to the kitchen door, warning the adventurers that the kitchen was the domain of the Dairdurrach, the gatehouse’s tyrannical ruler.
The kitchen door stood open and the adventurers were able to sneak into an alcove inside without being seen. The floor of the kitchen was icy and difficult to walk upon. Hearing a woman’s screams the adventurers charged out of the alcove, leaving Mimi behind as she slipped and fell on the slick surface.
In the kitchen the adventurers could see the two remaining slaves and three crowlike feylings. The feylings had broad, clawed feet which allowed them to move across the ice with ease, and these creatures charged forward to meet their foes. Alerted by the cries and clash of weapons, more of the creatures poured through the doors, accompanied by the cruel looking Dairdurrach.
The Dairdurrach initially hung back, supporting her minions with magic as they tried to gang up on isolated members of the rescue party. Mimi, recovering from her fall, burst into the kitchen and leapt onto the large kitchen table to give herself a secure footing. Able to run once more, she ran along the table ahead of her companions and was swiftly surrounded. The feylings cut her down and were then sent fleeing as Garrah cast a spell and sent a guardian spirit to stand over the fallen rogue.
At this point the Dairdurrach chose to rush forward to rally her minions. She charged into the centre of the fray and opened her mouth, unleashing a torrent of icy cold air which lashed all of the adventurers and sent them stumbling backwards. A combination of blows from the guardian spirit and from Alan and Sariel saw the evil creature fall shortly thereafter.
Garrah’s guardian spirit continued to protect the fallen Mimi and harass the fey, who had massed once again to surround Chadis. Alan finished off the last of the feylings on his side of the room however, and with the assistance of Shariel’s spells and Garrah’s guardian spirit, was able to defeat the fey which surrounded Chadis before they could finish the archer off.
With the Dairdurrach and her minions dead, the final two prisoners rushed to thank their liberators. Garrah noticed that one of these, Jalissa, wore the tattered gowns of a disciple of his own faith. She appeared blind to him though, and clung to Alan as though she feared that the fighter was not real and might vanish at any moment. The other prisoner, Mirtala the cook, was too exhausted to show much emotion, but tears could be seen making wet trails down her bloodied and begrimed cheeks.
My favourite roleplaying memory - "Daisy at Colonus", two drunk cowboys and a pantomime cow in a 'reinterpretation' of Sophocles greatest play.