On the title…I couldn’t help it!
Scouting ahead, Kioshi and Zac came upon a fierce blizzard that was approaching the caravan from the north and east. Noticing a side road off the main trail, Ulf and the others, steered down the road coming upon a summer fishing and game spot for the locals. Tall Pine trees, Bearleg Lake and small cabins dotted crescent moon trail as it wrapped around a large wilderness lodge.
But there was no time to take in the scenery. Day had turned to a gray night as winds and snow had begun to overtake the caravan and its followers, even as they unloaded and secured their horses. However, Zac wasn’t about to enter an unknown without caution. He had thought he had seen a strange candlelight with a greenish glow from afar. But getting closer, he no longer saw it.
At first, investigations turned up nothing. Not quite abandoned as trappers had come in and off the road recently. The Scions of Kaijitsu even ran into two of them as they were settling in themselves. Strange but otherwise harmless on the outside, the Scions came in the rest of the way while the trappers either went to sleep or left to try and get more food despite the hellish blizzard outside.
The storm outside grew more intense. Lightning began crackling outside – scaring the horses and shaking the cabin windows. Sheylelu quickly lit a couple hearths downstairs, while Zac investigated upstairs.
Ignoring various moose heads on the walls and the like, he carefully went into several bedrooms looking for anything amiss. An understatement to be sure.
One room Kioshi discovered had a kind large cauldron. With old runes and journals, most of which were illegible. The cauldron itself was empty. In a nearby room, one of the trappers the party had met earlier snored heavily away – seemingly ignorant of Kioshi poking in and around him.
Silently, however, Kioshi tucked away his weapon and began to methodically go through this trapper’s belongings. A whetstone… ah we all have those, he says to himself. Several thundertwigs…perhaps for scaring game and capturing them…A flask of wine, though the smell seemed a bit off…or perhaps it was his nose still recovering from the frostbite.
A pocket where one shouldn’t be…and…what’s this?
Kioshi pulled out a large translucent purple gem, with a strange symbol on top of it. Counting his blessings, he tucked the gem away inside his tunic and quickly scurried downstairs to join the warmth of his friends and a fire.
But before he could make it all the way down – he noticed something rather peculiar. The snoring abruptly stopped.
Kioshi made his way back up the stairs, and the snoring continued – as did the man sleeping away.
Perplexed, Kioshi left the gem underneath the stairwell and raced back up the stairs to see if the gem and the snoring man were somehow connected. As if to answer his own question. They were. But he didn’t have much time to mull that over.
Going back downstairs, a thunderous pounding of the double oak doors shattered the relative quiet of the lodge. Outside, the other trapper that had gone out to look for more game began screaming to be let in.
Arianna, and others, opened the door to find the man’s face torn in anguish, the lines of his face dark with soot from ash and his brow newly cut.
“One of the cabins,” he exclaimed. “It’s on fire! There are people in trouble back there! I had to warn you!”
Zac and the others quickly began to gather their gear and head outside to confront the flames… but as Zac turned to walk outside, the trapper distorted and changed, extending an arm wreathed in sickly green flame and wailing. He was no trapper at all. But a horror of
nightmares long past. A witch hag that had died in rage and was reborn – into a Witchfire!
Her sister hag wasn’t far behind – dropping small pyrotechnics and bolts of fire everywhere to confuse and divide those inside the lodge. They summoned Wil-O-Wisps to attack their prey from behind!
And as if they all needed another challenge – the semi-supernatural storm raging outside – spawned two undead polar bears – as they charged out of the white darkness and through the front door!
Ameiko, Sandru and the others quickly put out the flames on both the cabins and two of the supply wagons – before joining everyone at the lodge to deal with the assault. In the end, the Witchfire’s grew too confident, and eventually were overpowered.
A long and burning horror of a night had just begun. With the caravan frightened and stopped by fierce weather, they hunkered down, lit hearth fires, and posted guards so a scant few that could go to sleep, could.
Dawn would take forever to come… and Ameiko knew it.