Reign of Winter
What the Black Rider told you
The black rider identified himself: “Once I was called Illarion Matveius, now I am known as Black Midnight. I am Baba Yaga’s Black Rider, harbinger of the Witch Queen’s return.”
He recognised Samir as “Kjell’s boy” from the fey-mark on his neck. The rider has a similar fey-mark, but it indicated the moon and darkness rather than the sun. He told you that Samir was marked by Baba Yaga to be the next Red Rider (also known as My Red Sun – the name that the sprite used for Samir when you interrogated him at the village council meeting), but that Kjell took his place. Kjell is now awaiting the start of his service, in Baba Yaga’s domain in the First World, the “Thrice-Tenth Kingdom”. The Black rider does not know how to get there without Baba Yaga’s help.
He told you that the servants of Queen Elvanna, ruler of Irrisen “and betrayer of her own mother” are the ones you have mortally wounded him.
He said that he was attacked because: “Something has happened to Baba Yaga. Every hundred years, she returns to Irrisen to place a new daughter on the throne. But Queen Elvanna has other plans, it seems. Baba Yaga has not appeared as planned and Elvanna intends to slay everyone loyal to her mother. She hunted down those of us who would herald Baba Yaga’s return and slew my associates. I am the last of the current active Three Riders and a threat to Elvanna’s plans.”
Elvanna’s plans are “To take Baba Yaga’s place, and claim all of Golarion as her personal kingdom. Irrisen is a land of endless winter, created by Baba Yaga’s magic. Elvanna seeks to cover the entire world in ice and snow, using portals like [the one in the Border wood]”
To close the portal: “You can find its source in the Pale Tower, on the other side, but this portal is but one of many. Through them, Elvanna will spread a new ice age across your world, comsuming it for all eternity. Closing this portal might save your kingdom [Taldor], but Golarion would still be doomed.”
To stop this from happening: “You must find Baba Yaga. Only Baba Yaga can defeat Elvanna. Only the Queen of Witches can undo what her daughter has done.”
To find Baba Yaga: “You must use her Dancing Hut to follow her. The hut is a powerful artifact that can cross great distances, even travel between worlds. If you can control the hut, it can take you to Baba Yaga. It might lead you to other keys on her trail, but it will eventually get to her.”
“Elvanna stole the hut and put it on display in Irrisen’s capital, Whitethrone, as a symbol of her power. You must go through the portal to Irrisen and find the Dancing Hut.”
To control the hut: “The hut has many keys – objects attuned to the hut – that can take it almost anywhere. I managed to secure two of these keys, but Elvanna stole their power to prevent anyone from using the hut to find her mother. Once they are reacivated placing the keys in the hut’s cauldron will retrace Baby Yaga’s path.”
He asked if you would take on the mantel of the Black Rider, which would protect you from many of the protections Baba Yaga has set (specifically those protecting her dancing hut), and grant you greater power to accomplish your task. You agreed to take on the responsibility and with that he slit his throat, the blood soaking into the two keys and reactivating them. They are a plague-doctor’s mask and a lock of hair from a frost giant’s beard. They now detect as magical. As he died, black mist floated from him to settle into each of you, granting you an instant +2 on any ability score of your choice.
When searching his body you found a black velvet bag with 5000 gp of diamond dust inside it, along with a name on a slip of paper “Oleg Volgson”. Samir also found his dad’s lucky coin.