Tomb of Annihilation

Nightmare in the Snow

As night crept in, the five heroes all settled into their comfortable cool beds, unaware that something was watching them from the shadows…

One by one they drifted off to sleep and dreamed…

And awoke in a vast cold wasteland, a completely different environment in which they had left. They began to search the snowy tundra, and found an old icy road, following it, they encountered vicious snow golems and a horrifying snow monster with a massive axe made of bone which they called The Blizzard King. With the aid of a mysterious floating man who laughed warmly in their presence before floating off to the north, they were able to confront and defeat this abominable snowman and his cohorts. Following their jolly savior, they stumbled through the snow and ice. They were off the trail now, and the night was drawing in. Feeling they icy grip of death drawing nigh, and in danger of dying from exposure, up ahead they saw a tall figure, clad in tattered black robes, trailing great iron chains. The figure silently regarded the group, and in a slow stately
motion raised an arm. They realized it was pointing ahead. Following the direction, they could make out a small distant settlement. This silent village was in the middle of nowhere, decorated for a Midwinter Festival but frosted with snow and ice. The town looked to be a typical small settlement of the northern wastes, perhaps more cut off than most, but still well kept. Its isolation was not what distinguished it, however. There was a silence, a grim stillness, more chilling than the winter cold. Snow blanketed every surface. An ages old statue, depicting a noble barbarian warrior, watched blankly from the town center. Cratch seemed abandoned. Yet a single light glimmered from a large hall. Entering, they found a table laden with much-needed food and wine which they eagerly partook, with some rather odd after effects to their constitution.

Sometime later after resting their weary bones, they found themselves in the presence of their benefactor, Bran the Blessed, who aided them but made them choose from the mysterious Deck of Merry Things. Elbeneve found herself summoning a knight (Sir Roger) from an unknown realm. Ferros found himself altered to loving the holiday season (and hating anything that did not share his love for it). Caldur lost all of his material possessions (including his clothes), Galunir became proficient in 3 random skills and Zeon received a healing potion that would replenish the drinker and all of their companions’ hit points.

As they took the last card, Bran the Blessed announced that his task was done, and that they must now travel north to Kije Lake, where “a boy awaits a salvation, and an evil must be faced”. Then, he vanished and the hall was cold and empty. Deciding that they must indeed travel North, they decided to stop at the other large house in town, and found that the house was laden with boobytraps. As they clambered over slippery ice, nail-trodden stairs, and avoided fire and crossbow traps, they finally came in contact with the creator of these traps – a small halfling boy named Caulkin Kellister. Caulkin told them that two weeks ago, another boy had found a magical artifact which he was told by the town elders not to tamper with. The next day, the artifact had gone missing, and so had the boy. It was assumed that the boy had stolen this artifact, and a party of villagers left to find him The next night, all the village had disappeared. Caulkin said that he heard screaming and howling, but stayed hidden in the treehouse next to his parents’ house as whatever evil presence stalked through the town. Now, it seemed, there were evil dwarves known as the Yule Boys, who were ransacking the town and he had to protect himself by boobytrapping his own house. Befriending the small boy, and obtaining some much needed supplies, the party headed north to Kije Lake.

Kiej lake was completely frozen over, and the remnants of a frozen fishing village lay strewn around its circumference. In the center of the lake sat a boy. Walking slowly out to the middle of the lake, they observed him. Frost had gathered on the boy’s hair, on his face and eyes, over his fingers and onto the shards of ice. Once the frost was brushed away from the ice shards they were revealed to be letters. The boy either could not hear you or chose not to respond. But as Caldur attempted to communicate with him, a shadow fell across the lake. A great horned figure filled the eastern sky. From the opposite side of the lake to the west rose a booming howl of a large beast. Leaping over the boathouses in the west was a nightmarish horned figure. Bearing a switch of thorned branches in one hand, and a large sack in the other, this could only be the harbinger of despair at Midwinter, The Krampus.

A battle on the ice ensued, and spells and steel rung in the air. The demonic figure attempted to snatch away the heroes and stuff them in his bag, but only managed to grab Sir Roger. But with the five heroes working together, it was not long before the Krampus lay dead on the ice. The townspeople slowly crawled from the Krampus’ bag as the young boy awoke from his icy slumber. He introduced himself as Serr, and that he was the unfortunate cause of both the appearance of the Krampus as well as the icy chill that had frozen the lake and the nearby village. He seemed unrepentant and the village elders demanded that he be sent away or brought under the tutelage of a more authoritative figure, one who would control the boy’s obsession with magic. The boy’s eyes glowed green as he smirked at the party from within the echoing hall, as Elbeneve recounted that this all seemed like a bad dream. “A dream?” the boy mimicked as his voice grew deeper. “A dream? A dream? A DREAM…. or a NIGHTMARE?” As they watched, the rest of Cratch faded from view as the figure of the boy known as Serr shifted and warped before them, turning into a teenager, then a serious looking young man, then a hardened middle-aged man and finally an old man with a look of vicious wickedness on his furrowed brow. Finally, the old man’s skin began to wither and rot before their eyes and before them rose a horrifying visage of a skeletal face centuries old, his eyes glowing green with malicious hatred…

And then they all woke up.

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mattgordon

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