Your younger brother stands in the snowy fields, waving urgently for you to join him. What he wants, you do not know, but you see the snow beneath his feet, the paleness of his face, and notice lack of steam rising from his breath, which should be obvious at even this distance.
He waves urgently, this enemy who wears your brother’s face, but you close your door and return to the fire by the hearth.
A WinterKill is a tormented spirit, seeking the warmth of the living to give it a time of peace. Bound in tragic irony, they are cursed to endure the frozen winds, feeling every bit of it, unable to die of it, while bound to it, unable to leave it behind.
It is said to be able to see a man’s memories, and it will pluck an image of someone close to its victim’s heart out from their mind, and assumes that form as near it can.
Being reliant on such a strategy, they will, by nature, avoid anyone with the Touch in favour of an easier target, as those people who have the Touch can see a WinterKill in its undisguised form, that of a decaying frozen corpse, with deep hollow eyes.
It can’t hide its true nature in full, however, even from dimwits with nary a shadow of the Touch. The paleness of the skin, as though they lack any blood, cannot be hidden, nor can their lack of breath, which should be visible as steam rising in the frozen winds.
The WinterKill is bound to frozen lands, able only to step foot upon frozen ground. As such, they are unable to enter proper shelters from the frozen winds.
They frequently seek out lone travellers, often children if possible, always seeking the easiest victim.
When a victim falls for their bait, the WinterKill will focus their entire will on drawing all the heat out of them, leaving them as a frozen husk, then vanishing for a time, their endless frozen torment abating for a time.
A Winterkill, given a choice, will never attack a person with the Touch, or a group containing a person with the Touch, and will very rarely target a group.
As this is a known fact, and those with the Touch are hard to come by, a simple charm has been devised to simulate the feeling of someone with the Touch in the area, warding them off.
Additionally, WinterKills are often well spotted by travellers, who understand that the being baring down on them cannot possibly be their long lost love. At this point, however, this generally doesn’t change the fact that they are about to become a victim, though it does give them some time to prepare.
A WinterKill attacks by touch. It will reach straight through armour, and quickly leech the warmth from a body. The attack is maintained so long as the touch is held.
Slaying a WinterKill
A WinterKill, being the twisted spirit of a dead mortal, cannot truly be killed in the usual sense, though Arcane and Divine methods exist to destroy spirits completely.
However, banishment methods work just as well, as does magical fire, which gives them the warmth they need, and sends them away for a time.
Apart from that, melting the snow and warming the ground beneath them will cause them great agony, and tear them from where they stand, often sending them great distances away, where they become somebody else’s problem.
Living in the Frozen Lands
When the freezing winds bring the snowfalls, all men know that the WinterKills will be joining them soon, seeking solace at the cost of the living.
The people will keep areas free of snow. Their homes are kept well warm, and their eaves are wide, to keep the casual snowfalls from littering the ground, giving a short distance of unfrosted ground between the house and the roaming grounds of the WinterKills.
When travelling, the people do so in pairs at least, and if possible, they take a MindWard, a charm that tricks the WinterKills into thinking one with the Touch is present, so long as they don’t find out otherwise.
Traders, who must travel these ways, and often in winter, take such protections as well during the night, with blazing fires, and the occassional MindWard charm.
The Touch and MindCharms
The Touched are those rare individuals who are said to be gifted with the second sight, or the third eye. Their talents vary somewhat, some can predict the future, some can tell a sickness by looking at a man, and others can find game in even the most lifeless hunting grounds.
All, however, share the simple talent of knowing what is on a man’s mind, as if able to glimpse his thoughts.
This same ability seems to protect their own minds from a WinterKill’s theft, giving them the ability to see their true form. Such immunity worries the WinterKill enough to send them hunting elsewhere.
Despite their abilities, they often find employment as entertainers, though some others seek out work as bodyguards and spies, or medical assistants.
It is common for the Touched to be present on both sides during political meetings, as protectors of the minds of their masters.
By concentrating for a few minutes, those with the Touch can turn an ordinary stone into a MindCharm. The most popular focus for this a drop of glass.
During Winter, the Touched can make a reasonable income by selling these items, though because some con-artists have sold fakes, most buyers demand some proof that the sellers are actually gifted with the Touch.
A common method of verification is ‘What’s my birthday? What’s my Father’s birthday?’, which is generally difficult enough to establish to ward off sheisters.