Welcome to the end of the week where this week we visit the attacked and desolated (desecrated even!) town before the Kunagi ranges. This week we find the party unwelcomed into a town where there is no hostility present, just a overwhelming sense of dread and misfortune that seems to permeate through the walls of the buildings and into the very core of the people that call the shell of a village home. But enough cheery thoughts, lets roll on with the adventure!
The Inn of no Vacancies
Moving forward was slower going since the attack from the Onikage and undead wolves but they were finally seeing less and less snow settling on the ground as they progressed further east and towards the Kugani Ranges.
“About half a day ahead we should reach a village, they are not part of any family but they usually have an Inn to stay at and are normally friendly to strangers and those who need help” Kuang announced as he finished drinking from his water skin. “And I hope they have some supplies for us as that river was a quite some distance back”.
The ground descended slowly which made the the walk some what easier and soon they found a well worn path that head off towards two peaks at either side of the ranges that created a valley between them, a highway for travel that was frequented by merchants and the like so finding a ride through should be easy. Not more than a mile after joining the road they heard the sound of approaching horses and a wagon approached them heading towards the ranges.
After some discussion the party and Kyoko, Kuang and Hana jumped on and for the first time in what felt like days they were able to rest up and relax as they marvelled at the views of nature. Still descending towards the valley the grass was green and littered with specs of snow with infrequent trees dotting the landscape. Strange elk-like creatures walked through the lands here but the long fox-like tail that trailed behind them spoke of something more mystical than the mundane elks that the party would encounter back in Faerun. Pointing out something odd one of the parties noticed a few deep furrows in the land, like something had dug up a large patch of grass, earth and dirt in a straight line heading in the direction that they were going. Kuang nor the merchant Jason Keening, who happened to also be from Faerun, knew what had caused them or could even make a wild guess.
As the sun began its descent and the afternoon was well on its way the horses of the wagon slowed down as Jason urged them to slow with repeated ‘woo’s’. “You, uh, lot. You better see this.” he called back towards the party and as they climbed out of the comfortable wagon – much to the protest of their bodies – The village up ahead looked as if it had been through a war, or an attack of some sort. Continuing on their way but having the party ready for combat they saw that the people were not lost and were walking around fine but they shied away from the visitors and even the children did not run out to greet them.
“Normally this village is happy to see my wagon, excited even. I don’t understand what could be the cause of this but these are good people.” Jason said as he moved his wagon over to the inn. A few houses either side of the road looked like they were in the midst of repair and there was a chill to the town that was unlike the meadows a few hours before.
Walking into the inn a nervous and skittish man stood up abruptly from behind a desk “Welcome to the Will’o’wisp inn” he said before a long pause, “We don’t have much room at the moment so I would suggest travelling until the next Village on the other side of the valley” the man said to the party, his posture and demeanour changing as Jason walked in.
After a few moments of talking to Jason quietly and the exchange between Jason and the inn-keep ‘yeah, not good Jason, were’ empty here but I cant take you. I cant risk it‘ were overheard Jason clasped him on the shoulder and walked to the party.
“Well we can get some supplies here but that’s about all we can do unfortunately. As you heard the man, they don’t have rooms for us” Jason smiled but his heart wasn’t in it before he walked back to his wagon to fetch a few supplies to go about his business.
Kyoko puts on a brave face but the loss of her crew, the afflicted and Siu have taken a toll on the normally bright young lady. She seems to agree with most suggestions without any deeper thought’s of the consequences of such action’s. Her change in demeanour is quite obvious to those around her and to those who have known her for some time.
Captain Kuang Ping
Kuang is always alert and seems to only confide and trust Kyoko of late, even shying away from discussing plans or thoughts with the party. Despite being grateful of those who protected and aided in the protection of Kyoko he has started to become suspicious at the number of omens and bad luck that seems to follow them around.
Sasha (Hana Toshio-Harimasu)
Quiet but helpful Hana cooks and makes sure everyone is comfortable. She spends most of her time with Kyoko and is constantly writing in what ever she can get her hands on so she can communicate with her cousin or the party.
One of the Villagers who was willing to talk to the party as they approached her store that sells predominantly hand-crafts and some minor blessed talismans that her aunt creates.
After the party show interest in her wares, or not, she reveals that these are the last of the talismans her aunt would be making as the villagers wont let her make any more. She specialises in warding talismans that keep the spirits and fey-folk away but according to the deal made with the Toshio Yuki-onna spirit all such wards and talismans were banned in the village until further notice to avoid the queens wrath. She explains that her house was the first one to be destroyed by the wind, but she seems a bit uncertain about this
Hugh is not native to Ryokughan and came over on a trading vessel chasing his then love of his life. Older and more jaded now he doesn’t chase beauties any more and instead runs the local inn at the village before the Kugani Ranges take hold and travellers decide to run the gauntlet between the towering peaks.
Nervous and more cowardly than the average mouse Hugh is susceptible to intimidation, persuasion by force or any form of deception – probably how he found himself running an inn at the edge of civilisation – but he fears the safety of others more than his own. He believes that to die with blood on your hands by any means will leave a debt upon his soul and in doing so he wont be able to pass on, cursed to wander the world as a vengeful spirit who prays on those braver than he was in life.
A seasoned merchant in Ryokughan, Jason travels across the main roads within the central area of the continent taking wares from one city to the next bringing back his profits to get items from port cities to take them inland for resale.
Well versed in the land and handy with a sword and bow he doesn’t shy away from conflict but is highly superstitious and based on what he has seen and gone through no one can blame him. Although able to defend himself he would rather barter for a peaceful approach and keeps a bunch of oddities and trinkets behind his seat at the wagon for the fey and spirits that would request a trade – his life or something of value.
Jason revealed more about his past, about how he had lost his father early in his life, a mercenary fighting for gold and glory whilst his mother had worked hard to give him the opportunities in life and now he was selling wares on a distant land so that he could provide a comfortable life for his mother who lived in Shuimu.
Environment and running the adventure
The small village on the road through to the ranges is dwarfed by the Kunagi ranges to the east and the valley between the mountains is long enough that it takes the fastest of horses a day to travel through. Snow-capped, cold and desolate the ranges themselves are home to wandering spirits and creature’s that would love nothing more than to catch a party unaware.
Rumours from the villagers would speak of a shadow that has come over the mountains, a creeping entity of malice that seems to bode all that travel ill in their journeys but no one has seen, heard or experienced anything other than the normal creatures and spirits of the lands.
The road heads due east and to the south east of the village there is the campsite for this weeks adventure, well part of it – but more on that tomorrow – and further south is one of the only fresh water sources for days travel, except for the well that froze solid mysteriously a few weeks back.
If the party ask around town they would eventually find someone who would explain that the Yuki-onna betrothed to the Toshio family visited a few weeks back and after commanding them to swear allegiance to them and allow passage to spirts and fey-folk, which was refused, one night they woke up to the sound of their homes and businesses being torn apart by a roaring wind, the cold set in freezing their well and stopping the hot spring that kept the town warm and well supplied with water. The day after the queen returned and this time made the same request, noting that freak storms were seen on the horizon but she may be able to spare the village from another visitation. This time they accepted and removed the wards that kept out malicious spirits and fey-folk. From that night onwards, about a week ago, each night they would wake up to find their doors open and food stuffs, or items, missing and two nights ago some visitors to the inn were taken in the middle of the night – their screams woke up the town as they were dragged into the dark. The villagers are terrified at what the Toshio Yuki-onna will do to them next time and, more importantly, don’t want the violence to escalate. So in order to make sure it doesn’t happen they are stopping all visitors from staying in the village for their own safety.
The villagers don’t know where they go, or what they are doing but every night they are visited and each morning something else is missing with tracks covered in the snow.
If the party investigate the houses or buildings that were damaged during the storm they will find one house who is much less repaired than the others which appears to have deep cuts or abrasions in the side of the house like swords or daggers or axes cut in perfectly straight lines to damage part of the roof and wall.
Saying goodnight to the party Kuang went to his own tent while Kyoko and Hana went to separate tent leaving the party and Jason to organise watch rotation for the night – just in case the night and light from the fire brings the creatures that hunt in the dark.
It wasn’t until after the moon reached the cusp of its travels across the night sky that the first signs of something amiss appeared. A vibration through the ground that the person on watch noticed first before waking the others. Gathering around the firelight heartbeats turned into the vibrations continued and gradually increased as the moonlight shone across the plains catching movement across the plains like a drift of snow moving in a straight direction – but the light from the fire, distance and how the moonlight trickled through clouds above made it difficult to see what was going on. Soon though the ground began to shake with such ferocity that lose stones, the utensils used to cook dinner and even the doors on the wagon began to shake and bounce in place as the vibrations turned from a little tremor to a thunderous cacophony.
As the party went back to back around the fire a gust of wind rushed past them all but extinguishing the fire as dozens if not hundreds of white shapes darted towards them from the darkness from the direction of the village. Thundering hooves, broad antlers and glowing white coats meshed together to form a wave of flesh as the crashes around the party, forming a wide berth around the tents as if it was a boulder in the path of a raging river. The tall fox-tailed elks madly rushed around the camp, pushing each other to avoid the camp but also driven by fear or madness to stampede past the party in a blur of white fur, broad antlers and the thunderous explosion of noise that their hooves on chilled soil created.
After a minute the last of the stragglers ran past and into the distance, the plain flattened in a straight path that was easily sixty feet white and went on for as far as the moonlight and the parties vision could see. Looking in the direction they came from the party could see them continuing to stampede into the distance until the moonlight no longer revealed the beasts in their frantic pace to get to where they were going, or away from where they were leaving.
The rest of the night went fine with the party and those on watch who had a quieter duty, albeit more alert and potentially spooked, and by the mornings first rays of light the full devastation of land was revealed. Several dead or dying Elk were found scattered across the hills, gored and crushed by their own kin as they stampeded which Jason, Kuang and Kyoko aided in their passing to end their suffering where possible. Looking in the direction they had come from it was plain to see that the source of their stampede lay back towards the village some way and the party would need to make a decision to investigate or move on and through the pass.
It’s a relatively easy part of the adventure, build up the tension for the party with the increasing temp of the vibrations, then the cacophony of sound, then the faint movement at the edge of vision before the wave of white furred flesh breaks around them – the creatures themselves are not malicious by any meaning of the word but they are affected by the charms to some degree and treat the tents and camp as if to enter it or go near the charms would be a worse fate than potential goring or crushing.
The glimmer stag is an elk like creature from the Kunagi Ranges which typically has white or light grey fur, large antlers for the males and shorter sharper ones for the females and a long bushy fox like tail.
Herbivorous by nature but territorial by temperament these creatures are not any when it comes to fighting especially when feeling threatened, cornered or in the mating in season.
They attack with a goring charge and stamping hooves which bruise and lacerate their targets.
Appearing something like a serpentine, winged and scaled vulture, the Voltrix is a flying scavenger the size of a large dog with a beaked reptilian head, bat like wings ending in gripping hook like claws which they use to grip and cut into their food, cutting and ripping open skin and middle to expose softer tissues like organs and fat.
Whilst not aggressive they generally are encountered when they are feasting with their heads buried into a carcass or corpse. This brings us to their nature, they are quick to startle and have a habit to leap and scratch in their desperate attempt to escape from what ever has startled them, this can leave the person with nasty infections or worse due to the lack of hygiene that these reptilian birds display.
After the stampede the party may find wounded or lost Glimmer stags who are frightened and alone who may attack the party out of fear. They would start with 2d6 less hp but are ferocious despite being wounded. However if they can they will retreat and rush on past the party of there is an opening.
The Voltrix is likely to be found if there is a dead Glimmer Stag or something else in the parties journey. Its gorging on organs sees its head buried in the body which when startled it will wrench out before launching itself at the nearest creatures before flying off. Its not a solitary creature but will fight other Voltrix’s for food which can lead to several of the creature feeding in the one corpse which can be a bit of a surprise for the party when several startle and lash out in fear.
It’s up to you, or the dice rolls whether or not we have an encounter this week – but the intent of the week is to have the party questioning what happened to the village and also, to start thinking about what that means for them and their trek through the pass – because it wont be a piece of cake.
Well thanks for joining me in the week that is building up anticipation and tension for this weeks adventure, well it’s an adventure that spans the length of a month but really that is yet to be seen. Don’t forget to come back each day this week to stay up to date with the adventure and the next steps forward, we are back to a 3 week cycle and the 4th being our end of month wrap-up so make sure you don’t miss a beat and, as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe