The Laelóng of Lanidaye.

Part 3 – Watcher – 229MoVa


She watched from a nearby wall of ice and rock through the sporadic leaves and branches between her keen eyes and the humans that were travelling through her lands – the one that had been marked by the shadow and the queen. Twisting her neck around she moved away from the rock, her strong neck moving away from the wall of rock and ice as her claws and broad axe-like graft of everfrost that adorned her forelimbs dug into the rock, dirt and ice to secure herself and support her weight. As she moved her body upwards to a crouching position she compressed her body until it was like a coiled spring and released, spreading her forelimbs wide as the framed membranes spread wide and her weight was caught by the wind and she soared higher into the sky as the wind tunnel help carry her higher into the sky quickly – her eyes never leaving the humans and their wagon as they moved onwards.

Creatures scattered in the forest as she revealed herself from her hiding spot, she loved this feeling, the fear, the reverence. She was the mountain itself and those who lived in these rocky outcrops were her subjects, only fit to live her by her good grace. As she soared higher she saw the sun setting on the end of the valley causing the spikes of ice she had created sparkle like jewels through the rift between her rock and snow. Latching onto the tallest rocky peak, digging the ice blade in deep to secure purchase, she watched the humans, they not being aware that they would be dead with the coming sun. A smile formed on her lips, rare for her species but she was an oddity for her kind any way and as long as she was still ruler of these rocky lands she cared not for the wars that happened to the east and west of her, for here she was queen.

Content to watch and plan she climbed to the peak, using her four limbs and he thick and wide tail to give her balance as she gripped into the cold earth. Reaching the peak she sat there and preened her feathers, the yellow sunlight causing her white and blue feathers and scales to glow like the snow that surrounded her as she made sure that she looked her best for the guests she had in her hunting grounds – for the hunt was about to be on and she did not want to disappoint.


The cold wind nipped at her exposed nose and ears as she looked up at the wagon in the distance and sighed with relief. After finding her aunt half eaten by the creatures that came at night she didn’t care about the warnings of the Yuki-onna or even the creature that had been destroying her village – nothing had bothered her, even the cold didn’t bother her half as much as normal. But the things she had seen on her pursuit of the adventures and the wagon had worried her, the creatures big and small, malicious and marvellous all threaded upon everfrost like grim warnings of what travellers in the valley could expect between the valley walls.

That is why she needed to find them, those foreign adventures the one from the same place as Hugh and Jason, her aunt had tons her the night before that they were the only ones that could stop the attacks and had left a single talisman out for their good fortune. Ester was sure that is what had drawn the creatures to her aunt’s room and they had decided to make a spectacle, a statement from her defiance. And now she was racing to them, making up lost ground as they seemed to be moving slower now, whether by choice or not was yet to be determined but it gave her a chance to catch up and ask for help.

Running across the snow was nearly impossible but she moved as quickly as she could, holding her fathers bow with a notched arrow ready to defend herself if anything thought her an easy meal. The talismans and charms draped around her neck should keep most things away or help her natural senses keep her from harm but there was always a cost to such enhancements and she had trouble hearing anything over the wind in the valley. Her heightened senses seemed to be picking up the overwhelming noise of the mountain itself, animals and creatures as well but the wind, groaning trees and cracking twigs – everything was loud.

Surprisingly so she didn’t notice the massive white creature until she nearly bumped into it.

Large thick claws adorned the rear feet and powerful legs, claws and a large blade made of everfrost capped the middle of two large wings that where covered in feathers and scales that made it blend in perfectly to the surrounding snow and frost. A large avian head and sharp beak with Jagged teeth contrasted with the highly intelligent eyes that looked down upon her with amusement and mirth.

Raising her bow she pointed it at the creature who’s beak twisted into the mimicry of a smile. “A brave one to point such a small arrow at the mountain itself” the massive creature said in a chirpy song-like voice. “You get one shot so I’d make it count. But to shoot me results in only your death and not mine little creature” and Ester knew it was true. The creature was as big as the trees, the scales were like metal plates and the volume of feathers made it hard to see where flesh was beneath them. She considered her options and looked towards the wagon, a few hundred feet away, the wind whipped her hair and covered her eyes as it fanned out in the direction of her gaze. A carrying wind she thought. Grabbing one of her talismans, one of luck, she wrapped it around the arrow slowly as the large creature watched her with amusement and curiosity. “I’m afraid to tell you that those talismans don’t work on me little one” the monster said as it moved forward, the everfrost blades biting into the snow and earth giving its massive form purchase. As quick as she could, drawing from her talismans to augment her speed and skill with a bow Ester raised the bow and loosed on a single shot, carrying the talismans with it.

The arrow soared past the creatures head who turned its to watch the arrow fly off into the distance, a breeze pick it up and push it into the wood of the wagon next to the rear door.

“Very clever” the creature said as she turned to look at he girl. “Very clever indeed” it repeated as it lunged upwards grabbing Ester and carried her in her powerful hind claws into the sky, the sudden appearance of a flurry of snow blocking visibility and shrouding the creature and Ester in white as it ascended into the mountain peaks.


Hana stared at the snow as the talisman swung backwards and forwards in the rocking motion of the wagon. She had seen it, she was sure she saw a massive creature fly into the sudden snow flurry and ascend into the sky. As the party arrived around her, and Kyoko gripped her shoulder she realised that she was shaking. Grabbing a quill, a pot of ink and some paper she started to sketch what she thought she saw, but no matter how she tried to describe it with words, or she tried to draw it no one had a clue of what was out there – but they recognised the charm attached to the arrow embedded in the door.

After half an hour the party returned with a bow and reports of the same large scrape like markings in the snow.


The wind was the first sign that something was wrong, no more did it drive down the valley like a surging wave that consumes all in its path, no this wind came from the mountain peaks and with it came a dusting of snow. As the snow flakes shone in the last dying light of the setting sun the break in the mountains ahead revealed their way out of the valley and the party and travellers in Jason’s wagon could not contain their relief. That was until the screaming and shouting could be heard drifting down from the sky above.

The party had just enough time to throw themselves backwards as ice erupted from the ground next to them, sending spears of ice exploding from a rock and impaling trees resulting in a shower of splinters. to rain down on the party. Large, white wings pushed the snow and falling debris towards the party as creature twice the size of the wagon landed in the middle of the road, clutching Ester in one of its claws as it stood on the ground – leaning forward a large blade of everfrost pushing into the ground to steady its bulk and support its weight on the ground.

“Run!” called Ester before she was pushed into the snow by the creature putting its weight down on that leg.

“I was told to expect some heroes from a distant land, but I was expecting more from the tales that I have heard” the creature said in its chirping sing-song voice, “how disappointing” she said as she lifted its rear talon to hold up Ester who appeared to have blacked out. “This human tried to warn you of my presence, tried with all her might to reach you but I think I will keep her alive for a little while – a play thing until I get hungry.” the creature punctuated with a snap of its beak. “Now, lay down your arms and I will make your death swifter, but just as painful”


Areas and places of note

Kunagi Ranges – Cold, narrow and filled with vicious and gruesome warnings from the Laelóng.

Notable NPC Interactions


Kyoko Harimasu
– Kyoko won’t leave the caravan this adventure – more to the point Kuang and Hana wont let her, but she will duck out now and again and fire an arrow at the Laelóng in an attempt to aid the party.

Captain Kuang Ping – Kuang won’t be seen outside of the wagon unless its to usher Kyoko back inside the walls. When he is seen he has his sword drawn and is watching both the skies, the valley walls and Kyoko an attempting to do all of it at the same time.


Sasha (Hana Toshio-Harimasu
) – Hana tries to describe the creature but having not recovered her voice yet she barely manages to describe anything of note.

Having a small mercenary force under his control Teng doesn’t shy from conflict but hates to get involved himself preferring to stand behind his queen whilst her magic whittles down who ever gets in their way.

Jason Keening – Jason just wants to get out of there but trusts the party to be able to hold their own as he manages the wagon and drives it forward and through the valley as quickly as he can. Apart from giving advice to the party i.e. “Run” he focuses on getting the wagon and the people within to safety.

Ester Yurimono – After finding her Aunt killed by the creatures either in spite or by orders by those who have set their sights on the town, Ester hurries off after the party to try an convince them to come back to help the town, little did she realise that she would force their assistance one way or another.


Environment and running the adventure

The Valley – See map(s)


Part 1 – Fight.

So the first part of the encounter is a slog fest with some hindrance or handicaps on my creatures due to holding Ester. The creature moves slowly, half speed, with disadvantage on attack rolls and dex saves as it’s currently carrying a prisoner and because one of its back feet is occupied in its attempt to stay upright in the snow its a bit more clumsy. This however doesn’t restrict some of its abilities which it will use as often as it can. The goal of the creature is to immobilise or cause as many of the player characters to become restrained by the ice or environment so it can savour their death.

The snow it self makes the players move at half speed but wont affect the creature, as its already slow. This evens the Playfield a smidge and grants a small advantage for the creature as it can cause parts of the battlefield to become hazards where they are nearly impossible to cross over. The goal of this round is to shatter the ice that cover the front clawed sections of wing which will cause it to slip over until it puts down Ester. The creature will also throw Ester at a party member that is within 30 feet as a reaction to their action (movement, attack, spell cast) when its at or below 50% health. Once it does this it will leap into the sky and summon spears of everfrost into the mountain peaks nearby creating an avalanche.

Ice Blades

For the purpose of damaging the ice blades they have resistance to all piercing and slashing attacks, take normal damage from Two handed melee weapons (as they take more muscle to wield) but vulnerability from bludgeoning. the blades have AC14 (as the creature needs them for balance, but they are durable) and 40hp. When ever the Laelóng uses its ice breath attack the ice blades heal 1d10hp.

Part 2 – Avalanche.

Round 2 is avoiding a terrain hazard, the avalanche, whilst fending off the creature as it swoops down to try and kill or drown (in snow) the party. It will always move in, attack once then bonus action disengage during this phase whilst sparing its ice breath. After the avalanche begins they party has five rounds until the avalanche his them and the exit/entrance to the valley is 300 feet away. The in party’s goal is to get out of the valley alive whilst the creatures goal is to prevent them from doing so (but not make it impossible). The wagon is back a further 200ft. If the party are caught by the avalanche they have 3 rounds of fighting a against the avalanche with a mixture of either skill and saving throws before being dumped onto the soggy ground at the end of the valley, just past its walls, from up high a battered creature is now furious for being denied it’s prize, but its now un-inhibited and mad gaining some additional combat options.

Swooped

Dexterity contests are in order to avoid the creatures attack. DC is the attack roll vs the Dexterity checks. If you fail then the creature can still miss based on AC but you are knocked prone in your attempt to avoid the attack. If you succeed then you don’t get knocked prone and suffer no damage.

Caught up

If the Avalanche hits a party member a Strength saving throw (DC15) is required immediately or they are taken under, if they succeed they maintain their footing and are considered to be 5ft away from the avalanche.

This taken under by the avalanche are considered to be restrained and suffocating. The Party member can repeat their saving throw at the end of each of their turns in which they at restrained to attempt to surface and break free.

A creature can hold its breath for a number of minutes equal to 1 + its Constitution modifier (minimum of 30 seconds). When a creature runs out of breath or is choking, it can survive for a number of rounds equal to its Constitution modifier (minimum of 1 round).)

Regardless of constitution modifiers after 3 rounds they stop moving through from the avalanche and end up at the mouth of the valley looking at a very angry Laelóng, (mixed between Laniidae which is greek for Shrike and Fēilóng which is Chinese for Wyvern).

Final confrontation

The Laelóng is a terrifying opponent, preferring to attack from the air rather than join its prey on the ground. The first encounter where its fighting with Ester clutched in its claws it wont be able to use its legendary actions, One of its claw attacks and will fight as if its everfrost claws are broken.

The second phase it will make one claw attack and attempt to push (prone) a target then fly away.

The third phase it fights uninhibited and will use its breath weapon when possible. Focusing on hitting as many targets without provoking attacks of opportunity as possible. When this is impossible the Laelóng will heal its claws or move and launch its breath weapon.

Aftermath

As the snow and debris from the mountain settled down upon the wagon Jason and Ester dug heir way into the wagon. After digging and finding that the bindings on the horse had broken some time during the avalanche and the muffled sound of combat ringing out from somewhere above the snow.

The snap of jaws, clash of blade on ice and crash and pop of magic could be heard and even felt metres below the surface. As the people huddling in the wagon listened and waited, shifting some snow around the wagon they were thankful that there were pockets where there was no snow where the branches of a pine held back some of the powder.

After sometime the sounds from outside stopped after a final chorus of battle the silence permeated through the cocoon of ice. “Do you think the creature or the adventures remain?” Asked Ester as she looked out of the hatch where herself and Jason crawled through from the front.

“If I was a betting man I’d wager the creature. I’ve served a long time on these lands and never seen something like it” Jason said as he moved around the wagon. “But those adventures know how to handle themselves so I dare say that they stand victorious”.

The sound of digging came from above, the scrape and scoop of ice and snow from on top of the wagon. After several moments ice started to shift and fall into the pockets as a flickering torch shone light through the snow.

As the shape above created a hole big enough for people to crawl through the unmistakable whinny of Jason’s horse could be heard from above.

“well the old thing lived” Jason remarked as he squeezed his way out of the icy tomb to help dig the wagon out.


Hugh pushed the last of the chairs in under the table and sighed when the chair leg caught on some dried mud. Hugh knelt down with a sigh as he fished out a small knife to try and dislodge some of the caked on dirt to make the cleaning of it easier. Calling it quits he stood up to go get a glass of wine and a broom, it had been a quiet day but the visits from the creatures had lessened since the wagon and adventurers had passed through. As he moved about the kitchen he passed by a bottle of wine that he had nearly forgotten about, nearly except for the price it had cost him.

Reaching for the amber coloured glass he used the same knife to uncork the bottle as he did to scrape the dirt off, after a cursory clean on his shirt of course. Pouring himself a bottle of the rich red liquid he stuffed the cork into the bottle to try and savour the wine and sipped from the permanently chilled liquid.

A small bell chimed signalling that the front door had opened. Looking from the kitchen through where the meals were kept he couldn’t see anyone standing in the door immediately so he placed his glass of wine down on the bench and sheathed his knife on his belt. Moving through the kitchen he called out with only the silence to reply to him. Moving to the front door and checking outside the front door he scratched his stubble as he closed the door behind him. “Must have been the spirits tripping the bell.” he said to himself as he locked the door closed as he decided that he should head to bed as the sun was nearly set.

“The spirits don’t care for trickery these days,” a chilling voice said behind him ,”they serve a new purpose now. My purpose”.

Hugh knew who, or what, was behind him saying the gold words before even turning around and as he did he sank to one knee and bowed. “Queen Yukri, I did not expect you” he stuttered, his nerves and survival instincts kicking in with a heartbeat.

“Nor did I expect you to aid my enemies.” she smirked as she floated to stand in front of the man. “I must have misjudged you for a coward but you appear to have fight within you, enough to stand against the blizzard with but a candle.” she snapped, her calm demeanour changing for a moment making the glass on the windows frost over.

“I don’t care that they killed the Laelóng, the creature was arrogant to say the least” Yukri began as she walked into the dining room and moved a chair out from a table and sat down, winning her body to stop floating.

A Laelóng!” Hugh had heard of these creatures from the woman he followed to Ryokughan, they were cousins of the ancestral dragons that fell from the good graces of the family. He couldn’t believe that those adventurers had bested a creature that was related to the most revered creatures of this land. Gulping he moved into the dining room anxious for the frost maiden to leave his inn. “May I ask what I can help you with?” he stuttered.

“Payment. Payment is due Hugh. I let you and this village keep your lives if you ensured that my army moved through unimpeded and yet I have an army that report that they can’t cross the valley and that the one thing that was keeping the rebellious spirits under control is dead. I heard that you had the opportunity to contain and capture these would be heroes but you let them go.”

Hugh was shaking by this stage, he turned to run but bounced into a mountain of flesh – a man that stood as tall as his doorway. Faster than his eyes could catch cold, frost bitten skin grasped around his neck and pushed him against the wall. “You cant run from a contract Hugh. You bartered for your safety and for peace and yet here we are. A war that you have chosen sides in your inaction and now I will take what I am owed.” Yukri whispered in his ear as she floated just in front of his face.

As the cold lips of the Yuki-onna pressed against his a deep unsettling cold spread through his core. His skin cracked as the excruciating pain began as his life was sucked from his body by the frost maiden. He dropped to the ground like a sack of salted meat and one of his ribs snapped. The shock of a broken bone was nothing to the fatigue and exhaustion that washed over him – but he was alive.

“Thanks for the meal innkeeper. Keep the door unlocked for when I decide to visit again.” Yukri said as the door unlocked and she floated through, the hulking undead man following just behind her. Hugh lay there and shivered, shock and cold radiating through his body. Getting up he slowly crawled towards the desk where he kept a mirror, but everything looked so blurry as if looking through a frosted window. Finding the polished plate he gasped as he saw a shock of white hair had replaced his blonde locks. His eyes had turned older and milky and his face was a maze of wrinkles and rough skin.

Holding his hands in his hair he sobbed.


“We part ways at he next village,” Jason called back to the travellers who rested in the back of the wagon. “It should be a straight shot up through Kirin country to where you are going”

“Thank you for your help, if you are ever in Heavens Reach Castle then you will have a place to stay.” Kyoko said with a smile which was echoed by Hana and Kuang. As they moved down the road the signs of the spirit folk were evident in the camp fires and scraps left behind after them. Wherever the creatures moved the surroundings suffered with burnt wagons, carts and fences to farmland broken through.

The further they moved easterly the fewer the abandoned camps but the more nervous those in the wagon became. The tracks they did find moving forward through farmland and down the road indicated that the pack of creatures was gaining speed. “We will reach the village by midday,” Jason announced as he looked up at the cloud studded sky as they moved down the road, noting a particular patch of trees to the south. “Keep your wits about you though, these lands are not friendly.”

“Jason how long have you been doing this” asked Kuang, a shock for the party as he had been silent for the trip otherwise.

“I’ve lost track of the years now, but this route I have been doing for about seven” he said.

“Seven! You don’t look old enough to be peddling wears for seven years” Kyoko exclaimed.

“I’m half elven, my father was a elven scholar who met my mother when they were travelling.” Jason said with a faint smile “the rest is history”.

A look of confusion graced the faces of the passengers before a period of quiet took over the wagon. After a hour or so of travelling Jason stopped the wagon and looked up “Well, damn.” was all he said.

The part left the wagon and moved to stand next to the old horse. The beast looked surprisingly resilient despite the ordeals it had gone through these past few days. The village ahead of them was a mixture of broken buildings and smoking piles of rubble. Torn cloth, ransacked wagons and skeletons of animals and people littered the streets and yards.

“Well I guess we know where the spirit folk went to in a hurry.” Jason said with an emotionless expression. Moving forward the wagon and its passengers looked nervously around as they moved into the village. Large birds circled the town high in the sky, just below the clouds as they looked for an easy meal, their twin heads squawking at each other as the wagon appeared in their hour of want.

The first specs of rain start to greet those who walk under the clouded skies as the first of the winged creatures descend. The messengers of the Shadow are ready to deliver its message.

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