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You arrive at a lively winter festival. Hot food skewers are sold alongside candied fruit and cups of warm sake. Loud music wafts through the air while children run underfoot giggling and throwing snowballs. Then you hear screaming from above. When you arrive at the source, you find a frozen man beneath the cherry blossom tree and an old woman in distress.
It looks like he froze to death but if the body is investigated you’ll find he died from hitting his head on a rock, as well as evidence of a struggle. His only possessions are jewellers equipment, plus a small white daffodil in his front pocket. No-one recognizes him—strangers travel into the village for the festival, but they believe his death is a dire omen.
Later that night, a blizzard rolls down from the mountains and you’re invited to shelter in a family’s home. The next morning a peasant boy and his alcoholic father are dead—frozen solid in their hovel of a shelter, near the still-warm embers of a fire…
WHAT’S HAPPENING? The first dead man, with the daffodil, had a wife who is a yuki-onna; a winter-spirit. She looks like a beautiful young woman with long black hair, blue lips, and pale, nearly transparent skin. She leaves no footprints, and when threatened can transform into a cloud of mist or snow. Her breath can freeze, but she can’t tolerate hot water.
Her husband had journeyed down from their mountain cabin, as he did every few years, to sell the gems he cuts. This time he was killed and robbed by three street urchins, who stole his gems and now keep them on their persons. After learning of his death, she returned with a blizzard and froze one murderer and the man with him. She will continue nightly until they are all dead.
The robbers are street children without homes, though one was a teenager caring for his abusive alcoholic father. The group didn’t mean to kill the jeweller, but when he realized one of them was pickpocketing he grew angry and they panicked. He was pushed over as they escaped and hit his head on a rock, killing him.
The thieves eat scraps and have been struggling to survive for months, but they will die soon if the yuki-onna isn’t stopped. If you figure out what’s happening in time and are persuasive, you might be able to remind her of her love for her own children and beg her to show mercy. Otherwise, you could trick her into believing the murderers are dead by returning the gems.
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