Friday, May 8, 2020

Snow Time Like the Present

A couple weeks before Thanksgiving break, Joe Jordan (who you may remember as the speedy fellow who ran for help during the fight at the Burn) offered an all-expense-paid ski trip. Well, almost all expenses, as they needed to buy their own plane tickets. The resort, as it turns out, is owned by Joe's grandpa, Horace "Horse" Jordan, and was shut down due to damage from terrible weather and possibly a bit of sabotage.

The group moved into one of the large, luxurious cabins just off the slopes, then Joe took them on a tour of the place, pointing out a rival resort, just on the other side of a valley, and showing them were the various equipment for skiing was kept. As they headed over to the main lodge for an amazing Thanksgiving dinner, they saw a large, angry-looking man, looming over Horse, who didn't look particularly upset. The man was screaming screaming something about how "he'll be sorry!" - but when he saw the others approaching, he stopped short, then stamped away in the snow.

Over dinner, Horace explained the various troubles he'd faced, and admitted that the slopes were do for a complete overhaul, and he'd been putting it off. The ski lift was out of commission, and there was some damage to a number of safety rails. He warned them to avoid hiking in the nearby valley, as heavy snowfall resulted in the death of a guest earlier in the season - the snow around trees is very soft, and it's possible to tip over into the soft snow, get a load of snow dumped from the branches above, and suffocate. Not a great way to go.

After dinner, James took a look at the ski-lift, and found some scratches near the door, as if it had been forced. He wasn't able to fix it - Horace mentioned he was waiting on a part for it.

That night, they set up watches, just in case the saboteur returned. Will dreamed of a train full of people, all enjoying their vacations. As the train passed through a tunnel, it suddenly slammed to a stop! Looking around, you realize the train car in front of you is covered in a thick layer of ice... and the people inside aren't moving. Will snapped awake, just as Alistair caught sight of a hulking creature, and chased it away. It took off through the valley, towards the other resort.

The next morning, the group went hiking, following the creature's footprints. They followed it all the way to the other resort - where they found the bloody corpse of the owner. Blood coated everything except a single book... Alistair later read through it, and found not only a ritual for summoning an ice-demon, but it's name: Bralgronnith.

About that time, RC showed up, presumably having taken a slightly later flight. He joined in searching the immediate area. Suddenly, they heard a scream, and ran back to find a woman pointing at the corpse; the police were called, and the students allowed to leave. They took a little more time, and found a raven's feather near the faintest traces of a chalk circle.

Back at the resort, they blew off a little steam; James did some amazing ski tricks, wowing the group with his prowess and complicated (though possibly accidental) flips and jumps. They also contacted the priest of the little Catholic church in town, and after a bit of back-and-forth, the priest admitted that he donated a few drops of blood to the "pious woman with brilliant blue eyes" that visited him. Realizing what he had done, he nearly had a breakdown...

Alistair collected the various ingredients for the banishing ritual - 22 strands each of blonde, brunette, and red hair; a pine-cone; and a bunch of human saliva. Once again, they set watches, and once again, it was Alistair who saw movement on the ski slope. This time, Priya and James slept quite a bit heavier, and took a little longer to wake up, but they managed to stumble out of bed to face the creature. This time, however, the creature wasn't a hulking ice-demon, but a woman with striking blue eyes! She laughed, and in the blink of an eye, transformed! The ice demon, meanwhile, dropped down from the roof, grinning at them.

RC rushed the shape-changer, only to realize that it was immune to his twin bats; he skipped out of the way, heading back for the ice demon, where James was gearing up for a fight. Alistair and Priya started casting the banishment ritual, while Will went toe-to-toe with the shape-changer. In fact, he realized it was the same shape changer from years before, that was released from a chalk circle!

The ritual completed, creating a tear  and sucking the ice demon into it. The shape-changer laughed, and reached out to grab hold and get a free ride back to... wherever it was going... but Will swung his axe, chopping the creature open from jaw to tail. Its laughter died with it; after a few moments, it shriveled up, falling into ash. Alistair made sure to call the priest and tell him the evil was dealt with.

Sunday, the students headed home, and finals were not long after. James and Ed impressed Joe Jordan quite a bit; for the next semester, he'll be a contact for them. Priya, meanwhile, managed to get herself banned from Walmart...

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