|Climate/Terrain:||Barovia (Mt. Baratok)|
|Activity Cycle:||Winter nights|
|Movement:||15, Fl 30 (B)|
|Hit Dice:||7+3 (47 hp)|
|No. of Attacks:||1|
|Special Attacks:||Heat drain|
|Special Defenses:||+1 or better weapon to hit|
|Size:||M (5’1” tall)|
Winters in Barovia are not pleasant things. Icy winds blow down from the peaks of the Balinoks carrying heavy snows and bitter cold. But frostbite and avalanche are not the greatest dangers to be found on the slopes of Mount Baratok. For as the days grow short and the nights stretch out, the ice queen Jezra Wagner rises from her seasonal grave.
Jezra is a spectre, and similar to her undead kin in many ways. She retains the appearance of a living woman, save that light passes through her as if she were some manner of projection or image. Although short, just over five feet in height, Jezra is incredibly beautiful. She has fair skin, silver hair, and pale blue eyes that glint like frozen pools. Jezra’s clothes are of the finest manufacture, making it clear to all that she was one of Barovia’s most wealthy nobles.
Jezra is able to speak just as she did in life. Her voice is sweet and melodic, but carries a tone of authority. She knows the language of Barovia but not of any of the surrounding domains, as she died before they came into existence. Jezra is fond of singing, and the haunting beauty of her fine voice conveys the misery and suffering of unlife so clearly that it is said to have driven more than one person to an early grave.
Combat: Like all spectres, Jezra’s primary attack is made with her chilling touch. Most spectres inflict damage with their touch because of the life-sapping energies of the Negative Material Plane. The ice queen’s touch draws its wintery power partly from this source, but also from the manner in which she died. Because of this enhancement, Jezra’s touch inflicts 2-16 (2d8) points of damage, twice that of the normal spectre’s attack.
Jezra does not have the normal level-draining powers of a spectre. Rather, she draws the heat from the bodies of her victims in an attempt to drive off the endless chill that aches in her ghostly bones. Thus, anyone who suffers damage from her touch must make a Saving Throw vs. Death. Failure indicates that the body of the victim has been instantly frozen, transforming it into something not unlike a perfect ice sculpture.
Persons who have been frozen can be revived only by great magical power. A wish or limited wish will be sufficient, but lesser spells will generally fail. By a curious twist of fate, the simulacrum spell can be used to restore a body frozen by Jezra to life.
Those who die by falling prey to Jezra and her heat-draining attack do not rise again as spectres but are simply dead Jezra has no ability to create more undead.
As an undead creature, Jezra is immune to sleep, charm, hold, and all manner of life-affecting spells. She has no physical body, so spells designed to affect solid enemies (like a web) will not hinder her in any way. Similarly, she is immune to poisons, toxins, diseases, paralysis, and the like. Holy water splashed upon Jezra will inflict 2-8 (2d4) points of damage. She can be turned by clerics and paladins, provided that they have attained sufficiently high levels of experience.
Jezra is unusually vulnerable to some magics and utterly immune to others. Any attack which normally inflicts damage with cold or ice has no effect upon her. A raise dead cast upon her requires Jezra to make a Saving Throw vs. Spells or be instantly destroyed.
As a spectre, the light of day is too pure and true for Jezra to bear. Although it does her no harm, she is powerless to attack or defend herself when caught in its rays. Because of this, she hides herself away and strikes only after the sun has gone down.
Habitat/Society: Jezra Wagner died at the age of 27 some 75 years after the domain of Barovia came into Ravenloft. She was well known among the nobility and common folk alike, for she was as kind and loving a woman as anyone was likely to meet in such a dark land. The tale of her accidental death, and the terrible fate that awaited her on the other side, is one of Ravenloft’s most tragic stories.
Jezra’s parents were wealthy boyars, or land owners. Their property was considered to be something of a wilderness holding by most of the gentle folk of Barovia because of its remote location on the slopes of Mount Baratok. This unspoiled land was both a source of joy and wealth to its owners, for a fine vein of silver ran amid the stone. For decades, the Wagner clan has overseen the operation of this mine and been well rewarded for their efforts.
Jezra loved the wild lands of her family’s ancestral estate. She cherished each season for the special gifts that it brought to the land. Indeed, no matter what the month or how harsh the weather, she and her older brother Giorggio could almost always be found exploring the wilderness. Indeed, even after her brother vanished while climbing Mount Baratok, her love of the land remained to console her.
In the spring, she explored the forests, watching as life returned to the land. She would slip quietly up to the nests and lairs of the woodland beasts, marveling at the tenacity that pulled them through the winter. When the wild flowers bloomed, she brought them back to decorate her home.
As spring drifted into summer, she would watch the trees bear sweet fruit and swim in the chilly waters tumbling down from the mountain top. It is said that she could mimic the call of any bird native to the area and that the trushes and finches would come at her call to sing for her.
With fall came a shock of spectacular colors. The countryside of Barovia was afire with orange, red, and yellow foliage. This was the harvest time, and few relished the gifts of nature more than Jezra Wagner.
Winter, however, was the season that she loved the most. With the coming of the first snow, she would dash outside to dance and frolic in its chilling embrace; how ironic, then, that it was the snows of winter that claimed her life.
Jezra’s end came as the winter solstice drew near one year. She and several of her friends were climbing the slopes of Mount Baratok, hoping to reach its summit and look out across the grandeur of the Balinoks. It was their hope to see the distant spire of Mount Nyid, which was said to be visible from the highest reaches of Baratok. Their expedition was ill-fated, however, and doom claimed it before they reached the mountain’s crest. Jezra was the first to hear the rumbling. Indeed, this is probably what saved her from the sudden death that claimed her companions. Shouting a cry of alarm, she forced her body into a narrow fissure as the avalanche swept past her, ripping her companions from their ropes and sending them down to their deaths. Those who were not slain by the long fall were crushed to death by the weight of the snow that fell upon them.
Jezra, perched in a narrow cleft, was unhurt. She found that the crack she had taken shelter in was in fact a small cave that ran some twenty or thirty feet back into the cliff. The avalanche, however, had sealed the entrance behind her. With horror, she realized that she had been entombed alive.
Several time she tried to dig her way out of the dark cave. Each time, she gave up the futile effort as more snow fell to seal the entrance. It was not long before her small stock of provisions ran low. The candles she had stored in her pack were all used up, the air in the cave was becoming sour, and her food was gone. Soon, she knew, she would die. Cold fear began to grip her heart as she grew drowsy with the approach of death.
What happened next might be accredited to many things. Perhaps the air was growing thin and she was beginning to hallucinate as her brain slowly starved for oxygen. Perhaps the forces of evil saw their chance to claim this young innocent for their own and sent some dreadful agent to treat with her.
Whatever the truth, Jezra found herself bathed in a ghostly light. Her arms and legs had grown numb and frozen, the first victims of her frosty prison, and she sadly noted that this light brought no warmth with it. If anything, the temperature in the cave fell even lower.
Her interest aroused, she tried to draw herself back from the brink of death. Whatever this mysterious phenomenon was, she longed to know its cause before she died. Her eye focused on the source of the glow and delight welled up inside her. Giorggio, so long presumed dead, stood before her.
The vision moved forward. Short and stocky, with the same charismatic smile that she herself had, this was indeed the exact image of her brother. He wore the travelling clothes that she had last seen him in, but they were tattered and torn.
She reached out her hand to the shimmering vision, grimacing at the frigid fire in her lungs and hardly able to move her arm. The image of Giorggio knelt before her and looked at her with curious, almost unrecognizing eyes.
“Save me,” was all she could manage to whisper.
“I cannot,” came the reply.
Jezra began to cry, the tears freezing before they could fall from her face. The spirit faded away, leaving her alone and isolated in the darkness of her icy tomb. With her last breath, she cried out for someone, anyone, to save her from death, swearing that she would do anything to keep her existence from ending like this. Then she closed her eyes and felt the bitter cold around her steal the pitiful remains of her body’s warmth.
Somewhere in the darkness of Ravenloft, her pleas were heard. A strange darkness, deeper than the blackness of the cave, seeped out of the soul of the mountain. It coiled around the young woman’s body like an ebony snake. Two pinpoints of red light like eyes smoldered to life, yet drove away none of the darkness. Then, like a cobra striking, the blackness plunged into Jezra’s body.
As the last traces of the shade vanished into the corporeal flesh of the woman, Jezra twitched and her face contorted in agony. Unseen in her tomb, her body thrashed about violently for several seconds and then was forever still.
Gradually, a cold glow filled the cave. Jezra blinked and opened her eyes. She could feel her hands and her feet again. The air no longer choked her. The cold, however, was redoubled. Her flesh seemed to tremble endlessly, and her bones pounded with an arthritic ache. She cried out in agony and rose to her feet.
Her only thought was to somehow escape from this icy darkness; had she looked down, she might have seen her own body, unmoving in death. Instead, she plunged desperately into the rocks and ice blocking her escape, passing through them as if they were but fog to her.
Not realizing that she had died in the frozen cave, Jezra spent the next several days wandering the slopes of Mount Baratok. Although her heart longed to return to her family estate, she delayed while she searched for her brother, not realizing that she had now become an undead creature, as had he. Alas, search as she would, she found no trace of him.
At last, Jezra descended the mountain. She was not far from her home when she happened upon a furrier whom she knew slightly. Normally, she would have passed him by with just a cheerful greeting. For some reason, however, she now found herself fascinated with the rough-looking man. She drew near him, feeling the warmth of his body even across a distance of several yards. Suddenly, an intense desire overcame her. She rushed forward and caught the man up in an ethereal embrace. It is unlikely that he ever saw her coming or knew what was happening to him.
For a brief moment, as the body of the furrier crystallized in her arms, she felt a relief from the agony that throbbed in her bones. With a sigh, she stepped back and almost wept with delight. This sensation faded quickly. The agony returned, but she knew now how to ease it for a tilde at least.
Jezra continued on. She came at last to the home where she had been born and, indeed, where she had lived her entire life. She longed to see her parents again, and imagined to herself their surprise and delight when they learned that their beloved daughter had escaped her companions’ fate and survived such hardship to return home once again.
Locating them was not difficult. Ironically, she found them just as they were learning from a group of hunters that their daughter had been claimed by an avalanche. Jezra longs to go to them, to tell them that she had survived, and that they should not mourn.
Instead, she found her attention drawn to the heat flooding off of their bodies. She could taste it like the aroma of fine food. It called to her, urging her to leave her hiding place and attack. The ache in her bones was enough to drive her mad.
At last, she could stand it no more. She tore herself away from the window and fled, launching herself into the night. By the time the sun rose, she had left no fewer than a dozen people dead. With each frozen corpse Jezra’s pain was lessened, only to return again as biting as it had ever been.
Three long centuries and more have passed since that terrible day. All that time, Jezra has roamed the frozen slopes of Mount Baratok in search of warmth. She does not realize that she died in the cave, believing instead that she is suffering from some strange curse. From time to time, she escapes the agony of her frozen unlife by drawing the heat from a living body and leaving a crystallized corpse in her wake. When she does this, her pain subsides for a number of minutes equal to the level of her victim.
Ecology: As a living thing, Jezra’s influence on the natural world ended long ago. Now, she is a terrible aberration. As an unliving thing, she pollutes the world around her with unnatural death and suffering.
The story of the young girl’s death and transformation is not unknown in the land of Barovia. Indeed, the Vistani sing a song called Regina d’Ghiaccio or The Ice Queen which retells the event almost exactly as it happened. This tragic story is often told as a folk story and is frequently taken to be apocryphal by the scholarly and uneducated alike.
The famous vampire hunter Rudolph Van Richten knows better, having encountered the spectre of Jezra Wagner on at least one occasion. It was his assertion that she might be destroyed by anyone who located her frozen corpse and set it atop a funeral pyre. He attempted to do this himself but found the task beyond him. With remorse, he was forced to abandon his quest to lay this unusual spirit to rest.
Jezra’s unlife is tied to the coming of winter. As soon as the snows end and the first rays of spring begin to warm the earth, she is forced to retreat to the mountain cave where her body lies. Here, her spirit re-enters the frozen corpse and she sleeps until the last leaf of autumn falls. Thus, the sight of living things that she held so dear in life is lost to her forever.
Last Modified: June 10, 2010, 12:04:35 GMT
◆ 1849 ◆