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.
These times have brought together 4 young adults in their “clubhouse” of sorts. Gozak, Kellsguard Teppen, Garret, and Chi’ang meet in the hayloft above Chi’ang’s employer in the town stables. They have since early childhood, been the self appointed towns protectors and trobulemakers at the same time. Calling themselves “My Lady’s Guard” or MLG, after Heldren’s statuette in the town square, they meet each new moon. This time they come bearing information gleaned from the town’s officials (their parents and relatives.)
The first order of business they discuss is that everyone in town says the weather is unseasonably cold for midsummer—it even snowed in the Border Wood! Most suspect magic is involved, and some fear Qadiran agents played a role in it.
As if in proof of that dire prophecy the Old Mother spoke of, a badly wounded mercenary arrived in town yesterday, claiming to be a bodyguard of Lady Argentea Malassene. He told the village council that the noblewoman’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 townsfolk cast fearful eyes toward the snowy forest, worried what else might emerge to threaten their peaceful village.
Kellsguard told that his mother (the councilwoman) spoke of a Taldorn noble, Lady Argentea Malassene has traveled past Heldren on her way from Oppara to Zimar to meet her betrothed. Rumor has it the two didn’t get along and Lady Argentea caused a scandal by calling off the engagement and returning home.
Garret finally spoke and told that A group of rangers in the Border Wood called the High Sentinels usually keep bandit activity curbed. They’re doing a poor job if brigands could attack a well-armed caravan and abduct Lady Argentea.
The MLG decided to take on the mantle of responsibility to help find the Lady and went to speak to the bodyguard. They find that he is being cared for at the town temple. Garret’s grandfather lets them in to speak to Yuln. Yuln Oerstag (LN male human fighter 2), the lone survivor of the attack on Lady Argentea Malassene’s caravan. They find him wrapped in bandages, the Ulfen mercenary’s nose, fingers, and toes have taken on a black hue from serious frostbite, and he is still heavily wounded. Despite the best efforts of Elder Safander, Heldren’s village priest, it will take some time before Yuln is hale and hearty enough to travel again, much less wield a weapon. Despite his obvious pain, however, he waved the MLG closer to speak with them.
Who attacked you? “We thought they were just bandits at first—outlaws who hide like wolves in the forest. They were no match for us. But then came the cold fey of the north. They appeared among us and the battle turned quickly. My people speak of the winter-touched all the time, but I never expected to meet them this far south.”
What are the “winter-touched”? “Fey creatures who have sworn themselves to the White Witches of Irrisen, those who stole our lands from us during the Winter War. Tiny sprites no taller than the length of a man’s forearm. But don’t be fooled by their small stature. Legends say they have taken a sliver of ice into their hearts, and their touch bears the harsh bite of winter.”
Where did they take Lady Argentea? “Into the forest, back through the ice and snow. Beyond that, I don’t know. I followed as far as I could, but the winter-touched were too many and too hard to fend off in the snow alone. I barely escaped, and rode to seek help here.”
Why would they want Lady Argentea? “I don’t know. But if one of the White Witches took her, no good shall come of it. The winter-touched do nothing without the leave of those who placed the ice in their hearts. If they’re here, it’s because a White Witch sent them. And much worse will follow.”
How do you fight the winter-touched? “With cold iron and burning flame. Both burn them, and both are weapons they fear.”
He finished talking with them by saying, “Would that I could go with you,”My ancestors would ridicule my lack of valor for fleeing rather than fighting to the end. But I faced enemies that even the greatest warriors in the Linnorm Kingdoms have faltered against, though I think I slew at least one of them before they dragged Lady Argentea away.
The MLG made haste to the edge of the forest and found the site of the abduction. Near the forest, the temperature grows noticeably colder. The road ahead is littered with debris and the corpses of slain humans and horses. A carriage stands in the roadway, its team of horses missing or cut free, while another overturned carriage lies sprawled and broken next to the tree line. To the south, more bodies have fallen around what appears to be a statue of ice. A snowy trail leads deeper into the forest.
After fighting off some zombies, they encountered a talking white stag. After finding that the stag thought itself still in the north they headed down the trail further.
The snow becomes increasingly deep in this part of the forest, where a windswept gully carves a path through a tree-covered ridge. A soft cascade of snow falls from an overhead branch, hissing softly as it strikes the ground.
They found a trap set for them and a log clobbered the teifling rogue. Then the party crossed an icey stream and were attacked by 2 ice elementals.
Then they found legs and feet of a frozen corpse jutting from a pile of snow. The dead body of Old Man Dansby, a farmer from
Then the trail climbed a ridgeline to the south beneath
snow-laden trees. The prints of boots and horses marred the
freshly fallen snow on the trail. And the MLG’s came face to face with a group of highwaymen left behind to guard against anyone following their trail. After a fierce battle the MLG’s won the day. They knew they were close to the old hideout of the High Sentinels and the rangers log cabin.