Trouble At Hag's Hollow by Anaquiin | World Anvil
Marnip 28, 10 ASP

Trouble At Hag's Hollow

by Anaquiin Noquar

I wasn't sure what would happen once we headed into the Claspwood. But we wouldn't find out staying in Winterhaven.
So, it was still early afternoon by the time the four of us set out of Winterhaven to find this Ulzmila. Milon's map, marked with Ulzmila hut and other locations, also had a few game trails the ranger favored when he traveled Claspwood. Vrek had used a few of them himself. We took those, which saved us some time.
It also saved us some trouble.
Twice I saw giant moorsnakes lounging on a tree branch off the trail.
(( Survival: d4: 2 ; d6: 17 ))
Two hours into our trip, I saw kobold tracks as well. Those worried me more than the moorsnakes. The snakes are just predators; they live here. But kobold tracks looked... wrong. Most kobolds walk with a quick gait; not too different from forest goblins. These tracks weren't fast but instead a shuffle.
My gut said 'zombie'. I told the others what I found.
It was a hard choice, but Winterhaven was caught in the teeth of this Blackscour Taint sickness. One zombie was dangerous, very dangerous, but slow. The tracks of this one was slower than most I'd dealt with. We would have to track it down later.
Four hours later we reached the spot marked on the map for Ulzmila's hut. The shadows had gotten longer the closer we got to the clearing. Overhead, elm, fir and other trees were intergrown. Thick. It was a little oppressive, like an old graveyard. I didn't have any experience dealing with hags, but I had plenty with graveyards.

"Feels like a graveyard," Dorl told us in a low voice.
He was a long time, career solider for my family and the House. Graveyards, especially haunted ones, bothered him. He preferred a stand up fight.
"Just walk steady. Don't tense up," I told Dorl and the others. "Even if this Ulzmila has a graveyard here around her clearing, if you walk steady and keep calm, you'll react faster than any undead that springs up."

Dorl and Sogash took my advice. To his credit, so did Vrek.
I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous. In my studies, I'd read about hags. Myths say they're undead. Truth is, they may be Firstborn Fae or very ancient elementals, but they are not undead. We needed to be very careful. Slowly, we slipped past the twisted pines and into the clearing.
(( Perception /Notice : d6 1; d6 1 ))
The clearing was a rough circle. All around the edge, the trees were misshapen, twisted away from the small clearing like they were blown back by a storm. Only in this case, the storm would have started and stopped in this tiny clearing. The knee-high grass was different here. Purple-blue fronds waved in a wind that I didn't quite feel and a gray fog wandered through the clearing.

"Is the wind blowing?" I asked the others in a low voice.
No one replied. We just looked at each other.

We moved ahead a few feet more. This was Ulzmila's place and there wasn't any need to be rude. I looked at the others, who looked at me. Dorl squared his shoulders, but kept quiet with his axe and shield at the ready. Sogash had come into the clearing with bow out with an arrow ready. Vrek had his own sword and dagger out, but stood in a defensive pose. I sighed. That meant I would be doing the talking. Talking? Negotiation? That wasn't my strong suit.
Kiira has always been after me to work on my negotiation skills. So, I called out to the fog asking for permission to enter.
The fog parted, rolled back, like a curtain. It was magical theatrics, probably designed to unsettle us. Funny thing, it was working. Behind the fog was the hag's hut.
It was a squat little hut, not much more than a log and thatch cabin. A small garden plot filled with herbs, and even small vegetables was encased by thin logs to the cabin's right. Wind chimes, at least I thought they were wind chimes, dangled from the front awning. Vrek mumbled something about 'magical fetishes' and he might have been right. More than a few looked like knucklebones from... something.
Very cheery.
A few feet away from the front door was a large cooking pot, really a cauldron, sitting over an open fire in a stone pit. Something boiled inside with plenty of steam. It was green. The liquid, not the steam. Small lights danced in the air around the pot. Could have been fireflies, but it also could've been will-o-the-wisps.
We were suddenly too busy to find out.
Suddenly, the grass was alive! Golems, or at least that was my guess, 'grew' out of the grass fronds around us. Five of them. We, not even thinking, wandered into the middle of them! I yanked my sword free and kept my back to the others.
Sogash fired two quick shots. The first arrow hit but the second missed. Dorl launched himself at the nearest grass golem; he missed. The golem didn't. Fortunately, Dorl got his shield up in time. Vrek had his hands full with two golems coming at him at once. I stepped forward, deep slash at an arm followed by a hard cut down.
(( Fighting d6 4 ; d6 21 ))
Two swipes and the golem drew back a stump, roaring. It already started regrowing it right before my eyes.
I wasn't sure we were going to survive this, so I took a chance and yelled out for the hag.

"Ulzmila! dammit all. Ulzmila! We're here to ask for your help! Winterhaven dying!"

It was a big gamble. Maybe even a stupid idea. It paid off. A woman appeared from behind the hut. She raised a hand, and the golems backed off a few paces.
She was short, maybe five foot four, looked human but I doubt she was really anything of the kind. Black hair with a touch of gray pulled back in three braids. The woman was dressed in a simple cotton dress, blouse, even a worn vest with pockets.
It was Ulzmila the hag.
At least I had her attention.

Continue reading...

  1. Concerning Winterhaven
    Marnip 28, 10 ASP
  2. Lingering Lumber Concerns
    Marnip 28, 10 ASP
  3. Trouble At Hag's Hollow
    Marnip 28, 10 ASP
  4. The Deal
    Marnip 28, 10 ASP