Echoes of Ragnarök
EoR Series History
EoR Quest Log
What Lurks Beneath
WLB Quest Log
Queen of Hearts
Feast of Leviathan
Questing in Rhiassa
War of Shadows

 


What Lurks Beneath II
The Soul of the Stone
Side Quest Log

This year our brave adventurers arrived in Cold Springs, the largest city in Rhiassa, and many noticed a path on the way to their starting point that was lined with sticks, many of which were topped by skulls of varying sizes. Our heroes were off to assist Rhiassa in clearing out more of the Cold Springs underground, but they would each have a turn to explore what was at the end of that path later on in the day.

Many of Rhiassa's visitors who were in touch with magical energies, or who had trained their minds to receive such messages, wound up having a very strange dream a few nights before this adventure.

The dream went like this.


You have a dream that you are walking through the town square of a good-sized town. You don't recognize it at first, but see black and red banners hanging from a distant castle.

There are some children playing and as you wander over towards them, you realize they are chanting something. You edge closer, and hear them sing the following:

Baba Yaga came to town.
Tried to burn the schoolhouse down.
The children, they put out the fire.
They barely 'scaped their funeral pyre.
So Baba caught them in a net
and told them, "Young ones, do not fret."
The world, you know, is quite unfair
so let me take you to my lair.

(one of the children suddenly disappears)

I'll keep you safe. I'll feed you treats
until you're big enough to eat,
and when you're plump and fat and round,
in my cauldron you will drown.

(another child blinks out of existence)

From your skins I'll sew a skirt.
I promise you that it won't hurt.

(for the rest of the song, every few words another child disappears)

I'll pull the nails from all your toes
to make some jewelry, I suppose.
Your tongue I'll cut right from your mouth
to wash my cauldron in and out.
Your teeth I'll pull. Your hair I'll weave.
Not one morsel will I leave.
I'll grind your bones to make my bread.
You won't mind 'cause you'll be dead!"

(Only one boy remains. He comes over, looks you in the eyes, and says...)

That is Baba Yaga's tale.
I heard it o'er a pint of ale.
So when the chicken hut appears,
hide your children. Run in fear.

And then he disappears.

You are alone in the town square.

You begin to cry, and wake up, tears still wet on your cheeks.


Some of our heroes may have known that Baba Yaga is a legendary witch who travels the countryside in a magical hut that walks around on giant chicken legs. A few of them might even have known that her hut is often found with rows of sticks topped by skulls leading up to it. What none of them knew was that she had come to Rhiassa to help them in their battle against the trolls and goblins under Cold Springs.

The Hut Entrance

Throughout the day, she cast spells to summon small groups of adventurers away from the main army to come visit her in her hut. They were seemingly randomly chosen, though some were lucky enough to find themselves with friends at their side. They would appear at the base of the path and climb up between the rows of skulls to find a pair of giant orange chicken legs protruding from the base of a wicker hut.

From here, I cannot begin to describe every team's experiences, so I will try to give you an idea of what most of them encountered in their journey into the hut.

Carefully making their way past a pile of old sabers left on the doorstep, and making sure not to touch the rather nasty-looking and very large chicken feet, they began to climb the stairs to enter the hut... when they found themselves accosted by an old lady. She instructed them to leave their weapons outside - no weapons were welcome in her home. Once they had dropped off their weapons they climbed up into the very odd little hut.

Inside the hut was the unmistakable smell of incense and... yeast. The witch was baking bread and she and a boy were going about their daily chores. There was a cot covered in leather, various old chairs and tables, and an assortment of odds and ends.

The old lady told them she had summoned them because she had something they would need in their struggle under the streets of Rhiassa's capitol city, but that shey would have to find it. The item in question was a vial of liquid they would need but she didn't know where it was at the moment. They were welcome to look in her cupboards and closets, and while they were at it, she asked them to find something else she was missing as well.

The Witch and Her Boy

Some of the Realms' best and brightest had a hard time convincing themselves that any good could come of working with this notorious figure, but eventually they all chose to search. Upon further examination, they found nearly everything they might expect to find in a witch's hut. There were bookshelves with books full of lore. There were tiny bones, large bones, skulls, a wasp's nest (empty, thank goodness), candles, tarot cards, rune stones, and more assorted stuff. Search as they might, they could not find the vial of liquid or the other object she was looking for (which varied from group to group).

The boy was not terribly helpful. He did have some dolls and some games strewn about. One of the dolls was a scarecrow, and he would sometimes ask a member of the team "Do you like my doll?" Regardless of their answer, he would tell them "Well he doesn't like you..."

Eventually the old lady found her way over to the table where she had a lump of dough and an old loaf of bread. She asked one of the adventurers to hand her the knife on the bookshelf, and as they pulled it down, they realized it was tied to a cord which went through the back of the bookshelf. As the drew it down, they heard a noise from the lower half of the bookcase, which was an enclosed cupboard. Upon opening the cupboard, they eventually figured out that behind the shelf in that lower cupboard was... well... nothing. They peered through that lower half into blackness where a wall should have been.

A sly grin on the witch's face made them realize she may have been testing them, or perhaps in her advanced age she was just getting forgetful. Either way, it was apparent that the tiny, magical, chicken-legged hut had hidden secrets that they were going to have to explore.

Not having weapons, the old lady suggested they equip themselves with some of the bigger bones that were strewn about the interior of the hut. They weren't exactly finely honed steel but they were better than nothing.

They removed the shelf and found the cupboard easily large enough to crawl through, so after some short discussion of who would be lucky enough to go first, they headed in.

A Trick Bookshelf

The tunnel was relatively long - at least for a tunnel at the back of a cupboard, and after a bit of a crawl they could see a dim opening ahead of them. A few of the lead crawlers were startled by the quick and sudden glimpse of something shimmery and white appearing at the end of the tunnel before they emerged. It looked right at them and then floated away before they could get a good look at it.

Coming out of the tunnel, they were able to stand up and could see in the dim light a number of figures spread around the room.

The white, floating shape, presumably a ghost, was floating away from them on the other side of the room. It clearly had weapons, but usually wasn't that aggressive. Near them to the right was what clearly looked like a skeleton. Standing along the opposite wall was what looked in the dim light like a scarecrow. On the far side of the room were two bound, seated figures in what looked to be a rope circle.

At this point, most teams took a moment to evaluate the situation. Not every team had that luxury, but those that did were able to figure out that there was a fireplace along one wall, there were candles strewn around the room, and the seated and bound figures on the far side of the room were a demon and... something else. The second figure was robed and had what looked like tentacles coming from where its mouth and its hands should have been. Neither one moved, at least not at first.

On the floor in front of the fireplace was a silver dagger, attached by a long silver cord to the wall. The dagger was joined to the wall by what was, on closer inspection, an puzzle wrought out of iron.

Fairly soon, a lot of things started happening. The order in which they happened again would vary from group to group, but the result was generally the same.

Strange Creatures About

The skeleton stood up and advanced at them, swinging bones, of course, as weapons.

The ghost advanced as well, warning them to leave.

As they fought their way into the room, the scarecrow would suddenly jump to life, as if it was being flung about by a huge child's hand, or as a marionette held up by invisible strings. The scarecrow had a dagger in each hand and flailed and danced wildly across the room, oblivious to anything around it.

Once this commotion had begun, the adventurers would hear a voice from across the room asking them for help. It was one of the bound figures, which on closer inspection looked every bit the part of a demon. With a row of black spikes cresting its red, bald head, and clad in red with the firey tabard of a gatekeeper of hell, it pleaded with them to let it go. It claimed that it was a human who had been captured and transformed by the evil witch, Baba Yaga, and that they should help it get free.

The fifth creature was eerily silent and moved little, if at all.

The Bound Creatures

Throughout their time in the room, the scarecrow would rest for a few moments, like a doll momentarily set aside by a child, only to spring to life again randomly - sometimes dancing over to an empty corner of the room, and sometimes spinning its way through the dark right into the heart of the group of adventurers, blades whirring and seemingly unaffected by any weapons they had available to them.

The silver dagger, it turned out, could be used against the ghost, as could magic. One team actually solved the puzzle and took the dagger home with them. Another team solved it, but chose not to risk angering the old witch by stealing something from her.

The skeleton could be beaten down and broken into bits by the bone weapons the players brought with them.

The ghost had the annoying habit of restoring the skeleton to life, or rather, to undeath.

The scarecrow could be affected by fire, but only momentarily. Nothing else really slowed it down and nobody thought to speak to the boy about his doll...

The demon... well, one team made the decision to release the demon and arm it. The results were.. predictable. One team tried to remove it from the closet but Baba Yaga took issue with anyone stealing her demon. They never learned what she wanted with it, but chances are good she was using it for some purpose.

To make a long story short, each team was able to escape with the ingredients they required for the battle against the Trolls & Goblins. The last team found the instructions for how to mix an ointment to apply to anyone who wanted to affect an invulnerable Golem that had been chasing the heroes through the underground. Some of the teams were able to find the extra things Baba Yaga wanted them to look for, and some didn't. Some teams escaped relatively unscathed, while some were wiped out entirely.

After everything had transpired, and our heroes escaped the hut to return to help their friends in the battle that was raging under Cold Springs, one question remained...

Why had Baba Yaga helped the people of Rhiassa, and what harm had she wrought in her travels through that fair countryside?