Times were hard as we made our way to Whitethrone. This quest had come upon us unexpectedly, and as such we found ourselves unprepared in a land far from Taldor with an unnatural climate and dire landscape. Though I had spent much of my life in the woods, I was in no way ready for the frozen wastes of Irrisen. This was an entirely different kind of wilderness and it was a nearly fatal mistake to leave Waldsby in such haste.
We trekked for 7 days across the flat, empty plains with Nadya as our guide. For several days, we feared we would be lost entirely as we made our way over the vast expanse of whiteness with essentially no landmarks to speak of. How Nadya managed to keep us on course is not clear, but I have to assume she was doing so using the sun and stars. Otherwise the Ulfen people of Irresen have some supernatural means of orientation.
On day 4 I spotted some falcons high over head, which suggested trouble may be coming our way as it seemed out of place for several birds of prey to be out in this seeming void. Trouble did indeed find us when we came upon Irresen archers who fired upon us as Selene called for parlay. Fenn immediately halved their numbers with a fiery blast while Nesteruk and Selene drew their blades and closed the gap. To protect my comrades from arrows, I laid down an eerie mist that obscured us. Unbeknownst to me, a wolf had crept up behind us and was preying on Fenn and Nadya. With the mist in the way, none of us could tell what was happening. Hearing the commotion, Nesteruk pushed a slain soldier from his blade and grabbed me as he ran back through the mist. When we cleared the other side, I saw my friend Fenn bleeding in the snow and Nadya crawling into the mist to escape the wolf, which had evidently felt Fenn’s fire judging by the char marks. I quickly joined Nadya in the snow when the creature turned to me with its icy breath. Even mighty Nesteruk, still weakened by his curse, was brought down by the savagery of the creature.
It seemed that once again all was lost when the mist faded and out strode Selene like a wrathful angel. With blood still dripping from her longsword forming a trail in the snow like rose buds with each step, she paused briefly to size up the situation before taking the fight to the fiend. Nadya aided her with her bow while I stabilized Nesteruk and moved to help Fenn. Fearlessly, Selene pushed her shield into the wolf’s maw and buried her longsword in its thick hide putting an end to the melee. Without stopping to catch her breath, she set to work laying healing hands on our allies. She was glorious that day and yet moved earnestly on to the next task seemingly without need for accolades or celebration. Twice now she has pulled us from the brink of doom, a debt I vow to repay.
In the days that followed Nesteruk stepped up as well in a way we had not yet seen. He seemed almost at home in the wilderness, even one as foreign as this. Though the curse he bore sapped his stamina, he was ever the survivalist; hunting, skinning, and field dressing our food. We had run out of rations at this point and the thought of starvation was beginning to enter our minds. As luck or providence would have it, we stumbled upon an elk from the Realm of the Mammoth Lords. Nesteruk circled around behind it to force it into the rest of us while Fenn crippled it with magical weakness. We had enough meat for what we hoped would be the remaining several days of the trip.
On our last day before arriving at Whitethrone, we found ourselves in the ruins of a village long since razed. To our surprise there remained a temple to Desna still managed by 2 priests. They beckoned us into the temple and Selene acquiesced when she did not seem to detect anything amiss. However, nothing in this land seems to be as it appears. Upon entering the courtyard, we could feel a supernatural presence so powerful that even I heard the screams of children in my mind. Having some experience with haunts I moved back toward the priests. My suspicions were confirmed upon touching one as they changed before my eyes into undead monstrosities, twisted creatures that were spawned when the priests themselves undoubtedly performed some blasphemous act against Desna. They stood no chance against the conviction of Selene who stood by my side and shielded me from their diseased claws. Nesteruk and Fenn took care of them in seconds and Selene set to work trying to cleanse the temple. Unfortunately, we were incapable of consecrating a site of such profanity, so Selene vowed to return at some later time to see to the task.
Before we made camp, she attempted to leave a message in loose stones to any other potential travelers warning them of the dangers of the temple. This task too was unsuccessful due to stones being rearranged when she turned her back. She seemed to think it was the desecrated site itself perpetrating the act, but I could feel that it was my own hauntlings causing the mischief. Whatever they were, they seemed to revel in these kinds of pranks. Fenn knew but so far appeared to have kept my secret. My anxiety grew as we approached Whitethrone. The hauntlings had always been much harder to control amongst groups of people which is why I was so comfortable in the relative solitude provided by the woods of the Deep Green. Now we would be entering a city of thousands, something I had not done in over a decade. It was time I came clean before I compromised our entire endeavor.