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Bheurs, were known by many names, sometimes specified as bheur hags but also referred to as blue hags, white hags and winter hags. The wicked witches of winter were cold-hearted ice queens said to bring the season's cold, but it was possible the sadistic fey were simply drawn to the frost.
Bheurs appeared as wrinkled beldams, gaunt as if they had survived hard times by subsisting on inedible matter. Fittingly, they had pallid, blue-white skin like they had died of hypothermia and pale hair as white as snow. The flesh surrounding their muted eyes was dark as if it was bruised and their voices were like howling winter winds. They were known to wear ragged, grey-blue shawls and often carried gnarled, wooden staffs taller than themselves, the gray bark contrasting against the dry blood that typically stained their hands. They were also once reported to have the ability to disguise themselves as ordinary crones.
Winter hags were creatures of cruel depravity that lived for the pleasure of bringing icy doom to as many people as they could. They considered selfish actions justified by unrelentingly circumstances, normally the overpowering cold, especially enticing. Using their mastery of cold weather, they spread misery and despair to communities during winter seasons with intent to create enough desperation to instill a miserly mindset.
The pitiful attempts of unprepared mortals to survive, such as eating leather in place of actual food, their suffering and the suffering they brought to others, such as by murdering people or defiling the sacred for resources, and their eventual deaths were all delightful to a bheur. The sweetest part of such times for bheur hags were when the selfish acts were committed unnecessarily, like when individuals hoarded more resources than then could possibly use, and the conniving crones loved planting such excessive ideas.
Bheur hags had magical control over the cold; their touch inflicted raw frost that was especially painful to beings of fire and they could blast their enemies aside with rime. They could create cones of cold and were known to create chains of permafrost and curse even those normally resistant to the cold to suffer from its effects. They themselves were often surrounded by snow and wind and moved unhampered by icy terrain and unseen through bitter blizzards.
Bheurs were powerful but had a weakness in the form of their staves. While not magical in themselves, their graystaffs, also called staffs of frost, served as their foci to help unleash their inner power and could be ridden like flying broomsticks. Without graystaffs to augment their power, bheur were far less dangerous. Graystaffs wouldn't work for non-bheurs, but if lost or destroyed, bheur hags would have to leave the Prime Material Plane in order to create new ones, a process that took a year and a day. Bheur hags were also vulnerable to acid and electricity but strangely resistant to fire.
A favorite feast for bheur hags was the frozen corpses of their victims, and often times in battle they would stop to devour them, stripping them of their meat and leaving only their bones. The sight of such savagery was known to inflict numerous conditions for various periods of time, ranging from blindness, catatonia, psychotic breaks, babbling fits and extreme fear.
They were reported to have the power to increase in size, if only for ten minutes each day.
A bheur's first move in combat was often to use a spell like cone of cold able to hurt multiple foes at once in order to evaluate the opposing sides' defense against cold. Those that seemed vulnerable were blasted by similar attacks, those who seemed to resist were cursed, and those immune were subjected to spells like ice storm that inflicted other forms of pain or simple melee attacks. The consumption of their enemies was generally performed once they were fully in the throes of battle.
Still, bheur hags were intelligent and concerned with their own survival and so fled when confronted with dangerous enemies. Instead, blue hags ambushed their enemies using the environmental advantage they received in their local terrain, particularly when dealing with enemies that proved dangerous in the past. Spellcasters possessing electric or acidic spells in particular, were threats that bheurs were hesitant to confront. They attacked lone travelers, created restraining permafrost and lured enemies into unavoidable deadfalls and dangerous snowdrifts.
Despite being chaotic crones with deadly magic, the rightfully feared bheurs were occasionally sought out for their wisdom or prophecies. They were likely lone wanderers, having little to no space for community or kinship in their cold hearts. Nevertheless, they were sometimes accompanied by mounted ice archons or avariel guards, or found working with orglashes to deceive and devour others.
When they established lairs, the more powerful bheur hags, such as grandmas and aunties, had greater power within them, such as the ability to create small, blinding blizzards. Regions inhabited by such hags were known to suffer from frequent, unpredictable snowstorms and small avalanches. The trails nearby were twisting and turned back on themselves and bodies preserved by the bitter cold occasionally broke through their icy coffins as zombies or had their spirits return as specters.
Bheurs resided in winter lands like frosty forests and preferred snowy mountains, particularly their peaks. They were commonly found in Auril's realm within the Deep Wilds as well as on the isolated outskirts of Rashemen to the point they were considered unique to the region.
They favored the taste of human flesh but would eat any practically any humanoid, livestock, or fish, often freezing them first.
At the approach of each winter, the Rashemaar prepared diligently to face the winter out of fear of the bheur. Every year, just before Tarsakh, veteran hathrans were sent to battle a bheur hag, not necessarily to kill her, but simply drive her away from the land. If they succeeded it was seen as an omen that spring's warmth would soon return, but if they failed then spring was delayed for several more weeks in Rashemen in favor of harsh winter.
Rumors and LegendsEdit
Much of the truth behind bheurs was shrouded in myth, partially because of their habit of leaving no witnesses. Their occasional alliances with orglashes was a point of contention, but some tales said that she snuck through unlocked entrances to steal away children and the unsuspecting. While likely untrue, the cautionary tales kept children in line and reminded people to close their windows.
A common legend in Rashemen and surrounding lands suggested that there was only one bheur alive, because no more than one was ever seen at a time. This was, in fact, false, and it was far more likely that it was because of their solitary behavior.
In all stories regarding the bheur, she was inevitably defeated, but those involving high-ranking wychlaran detailed epic clashes between the two resulting in spring coming early. Both the stories and the Witches themselves purported that the bheur, while malicious and dangerous, was a necessary evil. As a force of nature, the bheur served the purpose of bringing winter, and was fought when she began acting arbitrarily or cruelly.
Notable Bheur HagsEdit
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- ↑ 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 Wizards RPG Team (2016). Volo's Guide to Monsters. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 52–62.160. ISBN 978-0786966011.
- ↑ 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 2.22 2.23 2.24 Richard Baker, Matt Forbeck, Sean K. Reynolds (May 2003). Unapproachable East. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 63. ISBN 0-7869-2881-6.
- ↑ 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 Jon Pickens ed. (November 1996). Monstrous Compendium Annual Volume Three. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 98. ISBN 0786904496.
- ↑ 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 Brian R. James (September 2008). “Realmslore: Hall of the Frostmaiden”. In Chris Youngs ed. Dragon #367 (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 61–62.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Anthony Pryor (1995). Spellbound (Monstrous Compendium). (TSR, Inc), p. 8. ISBN 978-0786901395.