There was a bite in the air this morning, a refreshing chill that swirled over Elsa’s skin. When she arrived in town, the city square was awash in conversation. As she shopped, she caught snippets of these discussions. A snowstorm had appeared in Taldor…in the middle of summer…a caravan lost…a noblewoman captured or killed. Those who had heard the tales of Elsa’s icy magics stared her down as she approached their stalls. She did not linger.
Until yesterday she rarely thought of Irrisen anymore. That part of her life was over and done. She had always thought it best not to dwell on the land of winter – she was powerful and beautiful, and there were plenty of places in Golarion where such talents could serve her without returning to her homeland. But first Edan, and now this news. Had the Winter Witches decided to come for her? Did Edan know something she did not? What interest would anyone have tracking down a banished halfbreed half a world away?
She had to know more. If she needed to leave this place, to flee farther south, she should make arrangements now. And if someone intended to kill her, they were gravely mistaken.
She learned that the sole survivor of the caravan was a man by the name of Yuln, and that he was being attended to at the alchemist’s shop in town. Yuln was a strong Ulfen name from the Land of the Linnorm Kings that bordered Irrisen. No doubt that if anyone had been able to survive such an attack that it would be him.
When she arrived, Edan was already there. Dressed in furs and armed with sword and shield, he cut an intimidating figure in the shop. Elsa nodded to him, but didn’t say a word. Now was not the time for blind trust. It was hard to believe his appearance and these events were simply a coincidence. The alchemist bade them to wait until Yuln had awoken from his sleep. As the two sat silently, another pair entered into the shop, also looking for the surviving Ulfen. One seemed to be some sort of hunter or woodsman seeking his prey, a common sight in these parts. The other was a far stranger sort – clad in steel with a firearm at his side, this creature was unlike anything Elsa had seen before. She smiled and nodded to them both as they came in, but could not help sneaking glances at the pistol that the creature carried as they waited. Such weapons were unheard of in the north, and while the tales of entire armies wielding the implements were well-known, that type of power was intriguing to her.
After a time, the four were led behind the counter and into the small room where Yuln was recovering. Elsa approached him, greeting him in his native tongue. His eyes snapped open and he instinctively shouted at her in Ulfen.
“Witch! Winter Witch!” Elsa recoiled and looked around the room for any sort of recognition from the others gathered there. When there was none, she steeled herself, clutching Myrin’s basket more tightly. Yuln apologized, thankfully blaming his wounds for his nonsensical outburst. He told those assembled of his Lady Argenta’s journey and of their ambush by fey. These magical creatures were common in the north and well-known for engaging Irrisen and other nations as allies or mercenaries. Their presence did little to ease Elsa’s fears. Though he was still recovering, Yuln said that he could provide a map for the group, should they be capable of recovering his supplies or learning more of his Lady’s whereabouts. Elsa quickly agreed and breathed a sigh of relief as the others expressed interest as well. It would be good to have fellow travelers in this endeavor. Both for the companionship, as well as for the safety in numbers, should something or someone (Edan?) be hunting her.
The group set off, following the map towards the final resting place of the caravan. The cool breeze gave way to blowing winds, and as they approached their destination, heavy snow began to fall and swirl. Myrin’s ears were on point as he hopped alongside Elsa – it had been a while since she had felt a chill like this before. In the middle of summer, only powerful frost magics could bring such a thing to Taldor. Unease was a rock in Elsa’s stomach as they continued to move forward.
Her fears were only reinforced once they arrived at the caravan site. Snow-covered bodies were scattered about the clearing, one of which was frozen solid. This was indeed the work of fey from the north, and powerful ones at that. What was not explained were creatures that emerged from one of the wagons – reanimated bodies that clutched and clawed at her companions as they investigated the wreckage. Thankfully the creatures were cut down where they stood – fortune had smiled on her that these warriors were with her for the time being.
They continued south, following a set of tracks that had departed from the wreck, leading them to a half-buried chest, perhaps dropped as the attackers fled the scene. Even then, Elsa instinctively whispered a magical word of warning to Edan as he approached the chest, a warning that in the end was warranted. A tripwire triggered a massive log to swing from an overhanging tree as Edan approached the chest, knocking him hard into the cold snow.
Edan needed medical attention, and quickly. The group quickly scanned the caravan one final time before departing back to town, Edan hanging over the back of his horse. As he drifted in and out of consciousness, Edan mumbled about ‘Rokar’s Raiders’ in semi-coherent starts and stops. From what Elsa could gather, they were a local group of mercenaries who were well-known for having necromancers among their ranks. Perhaps the fey were in league with this group, or using them to further the plots of the north.
For now, the four agreed to resupply in town and return to the caravan site. Only time would tell what designs the wintery fey had and why they had brought these snows of summer to Elsa’s new home.