The Reign Of Winter
Hermann's Tales 6
With my skin still tingling, we stepped through the portal into a land covered in – you guessed it – ice and snow. Continuing northward we came across a battle, one being fought between several desperate villagers and a giant mantis. Our party waded into the affray, scoring a few telling blows before the mantis picked up the two dwarves, one in each claw. A Giant mantis, indeed.
Whilst the dwarves struggled to free themselves the rest of us rained death upon the beast, with Giorgio dealing it a mighty blow, staggering it long enough for the dwarves to free themselves, and together we all defeated it.
Nadia, the leader of the group we saved, invited us to stay with her in the nearby village, to which we agreed. Retrieving the lock box from where we had dropped it we went with her through the snowscape.
As we travelled she told us about Irrisen. Irrisen is a terrible land. Cruel snows, freezing winds, downtrodden peasants, you name it. Ruled by an evil winter witch, with lots of nasty guards just waiting to kill any dissenters. I get the feeling that if there is a nasty act that can be done, it is being done somewhere in Irrisen. She warned us to hide the fact we were outsiders, as spies were ever present, and any stray words could bring the enforcers down on us. The whole village would happily turn on us if they knew what we were, whether due to wanting to avoid the ire of their rulers or due to a misplaced hope of protection and advancement of their status. A storm was gathering all afternoon, which as far as I was concerned was just a case of ‘the ever-present heavy snowfall and general bad weather just got a bit worse’. The storm fully hit as light faded, so we made camp for the night.
No sooner had we set up camp than a stranger approached. A fairly beautiful woman only slightly marred by her being half-goat in appearance. It turned out she was a bard, at which point Giorgio became very interested, and started wooing her with tales of our exploits, and boasts about how we were going to kill the witches! I couldn’t believe he was risking us all like this, but it seemed we were powerless to stop him. Soon the bard excused herself and left, but I could not shake the feeling that her brief presence amongst us was going to be bad news.
In the morning my fears were realised when we spotted a large flock of crows – a murder of crows, according to Benedictus – approaching from the direction in which the pale tower lay. We took shelter as best we could, hiding under white sheets that would disguise us as snow, but the creatures spotted several of us and swooped to the attack.
When they hit the party, I flung the sheet away and started clawing at as many crows as I could reach. Seeing I was doing minimal damage I swapped to using my club, and just one sweep of that was enough to make the crows scatter and leave. There was one other thing of note, however, in that sometime during the night my skin had become quite scaly. It seems my transformation into a dragon continues, with this current surge due to taking up the mantle of the Black Rider. Still, as long as I can continue serve Sarenrae’s will, I will accept this further evidence of the curse that plagues me. On the plus side, at least my skin has stopped tingling.
We got to the village without further upset, whereupon we all disguised ourselves as peasants. Strange when you think about it, but just a short time ago I would have felt totally at home in peasant garb. Now, due to my scaly skin, I look the most out of place doing so. I resolved to keep my hood up whenever possible, and to start looking into ways to hide my condition from outsiders.
Oh, and I need to purchase about 30 more crossbow bolts as well. Heh.