“Aren’t you cold?” Tara asked.
“Not really,” Asoka remarked. He was dressed in his usual green tunic, with short sleeves, and open-toed sandals. He kicked some nearby snow absentmindedly.
Tara shook her head. “Elves …” she muttered softly under her breath, which she could see wisp into a cloud of fog in the air.
“Half-elf, only” he retorted cheerfully to the whisper, which a full-blooded human wouldn’t hear.
Tara drew her cloak around her closer. It covered her breast plate and pauldrons, which covered her shirt, which covered her under-clothing; she was dressed in layers, and thick boots and sensible trousers, and still shivering a bit against the stinging, intermittent wind.
We never get winters like this back home, she thought. As she trudged through the snow, only ankle-deep, she moved between the pines and a few skeletal birch trees. Asoka followed her lightly; as she plodded forth in a strait line, his path went in arcs, trailing behind her, rushing ahead of her to scout, stopping occasionally. He crafted a snowball in his bare hands, smiling, and looked at the back of Tara’s helmeted head. He thought much better of it, and threw it instead at a nearby tree trunk, where it dissolved into powder. They both continued north.
They had long since left the deer carcass, the ritual offering the locals insisted they perform before entering the Rimetalon’s woods in the Frost Pines. Quickly the wind’s sting became a sharp bite. Though vigilant, Tara put her head down, drawing a cloth over her mouth to block the cold with a gloved hand.
“Surely you feel this, half-elf?” she called ahead to Asoka. He was indeed rubbing his arms now, and his hands together, as if suddenly crossing some personal threshold into a chill.
“Perhaps I should have brought something warmer,” he remarked, shivering. Snow fell at an angle, driven through the air against them.
“You think? I’m not carrying you back if you should die of exposure, you know –”
Asoka held up a hand; he had been looking around, and as his gaze fixed into the distance, he drew his bow and notched an arrow. Tara, the clanking of her armor muffled by her layers, came crunching through the snow, straining to see or hear what the archer had spotted.
There was a stand of birch trees. She could hear no footsteps in the wind, but saw the subtle glacial movement of a stalking thing in the distance, huge and white. Prowling on all fours, wings tight against its back, and feathery tail held above the ground, it seemed to tread with total silence through the snow. It turned its head towards them, and they met a gaze like the colorless face of a barn owl, sharp beak and terrible eyes black as night staring back at them.
It made no sound, and did not move, watching.
A gust of wind howled through the trees, and against the cold Tara blinked. In that instant, the beast was airborne, silently, and she drew up her shield as a vortex of icy dragons-breath rushed blasting towards them. She saw Asoka dodge out of the way, and as the attack ended, rose from her crouch behind her shield, hammer drawn. Asoka was letting fly arrows at the monster, who had come down to land, snapping and clawing at the dodging archer.
Good, you can hold your own, Tara thought, charging in. Because I’m not carrying you back if you die.
As she closed the distance the beast drew back its head, and let cry a shrieking terrible roar of battle and malice.
Pathfinder RPG Stat Block:
Ice Heart Owl, Rimetalon
NE Huge dragon (cold, evil)
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft. low-light vision, scent; Perception +17
AC 22, touch 10, flat-footed 20 (+2 Dex, +12 natural, -2 size)
hp 75 (6d10+42)
Fort +12, Ref +7, Will +5
Immune sleep, paralysis, cold
Weakness vulnerable to fire
Speed 30 ft., fly 60 ft. (average)
Melee 2 claws +13 (2d6+11 plus grab), bite +13 (2d6+11)
Special Attacks breath weapon (30-ft. cone, 6d6 cold damage, Reflex DC 20 for half, usable every 1d4 rounds)
Space 15 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
Str 28, Dex 15, Con 24, Int 16, Wis 17, Cha 12
Base Atk +6; CMB +13 (+17 grapple); CMD 25 (29 vs. trip)
Feats Alertness, Combat Expertise, Improved Disarm
Skills Fly +11, Knowledge (geography) +11, Knowledge (history) +11, Knowledge (nature) +11, Perception +17, Sense Motive +14, Stealth +13; Racial Modifiers +4 Fly, +4 on all Knowledge skills, +4 Perception, +8 Stealth (+12 in snowy areas)
Languages Draconic, Sylvan
SQ child of winter, ice heart curse, owl’s silence, snow sight, snowy presence
Child of Winter (Ex): The Ice Heart Owl gains the constant benefit of endure elements, but only against cold temperatures. It can move across regular snow without penalty, and heavy snow costs it only 2 squares of movement instead of 4. It can move across icy surfaces without penalty, and never needs to make Acrobatics checks to run or charge on ice. The Ice Heart Owl leaves no trail in ice or snow, and cannot be tracked (it may choose to leave a trail if it so desires). During winter months, it gains a +2 insight bonus on Initiative checks and Reflex saving throws.
Ice Heart Curse (Su): While this ability is in effect, the Ice Heart Owl has both the cold and evil subtypes, and cannot shift from an evil alignment. In addition, once per day it can use a special variation on its breath weapon, which functions like the spell animate dead (caster level 8th). It typically uses this on prey it has hunted and killed, and the creature also has the cold and evil subtypes and deals an additional 1d6 cold damage with its attacks. The undead break apart into snow if slain.
Owl’s Silence (Ex): Though incredibly large, the Ice Heart Owl makes no sound as it flies. While flying, the Ice Heart Owl cannot be heard or detected with sound-based Perception checks or other senses unless the Ice Heart Owl chooses to make noise. This ability does not prevent it from being seen.
Snow Sight (Ex): The Ice Heart Owl can see through falling snow and sleet without taking any penalties on Perception checks as long as there is enough light to allow it to see normally.
Snowy Presence (Su): When the Ice Heart Owl is present, the temperature is 20 degrees colder than normal. In addition it will always be snowing (or occasionally a snowstorm or blizzard; see Weather in the CRB). This affect extends out to a range of 500 feet.
Environment cold forests (the Frost Pines)
Organization solitary or with minions (2d6 icy zombies or 1d4 icy zombie owlbears)
Once a noble, intellectual guardian of the pine forest, this ancient creature somehow became corrupted. Locals say it was once an owl-like creature, likely a giant owl or possibly a unique owlbear, which became exposed to evil magic. Some say it dabbled in necromancy in a foolish attempt to resurrect a lost friend, while others say it was infected by the magic of a powerful white dragon sorcerer, or both. Whatever the reason, today the beast known once as Rimetalon is the Ice Heart Owl, a monster with a cursed icy cruel heart, filled with hatred for living things. It drives wildlife from its forest with snowstorms and preys on those who dare enter its territory, leaving the Frost Pines to be a supernaturally cold place year-round.
Its constant patrols for victims means no one escapes without a tribute, usually a freshly slaughtered deer. Although the locals strictly prepare this sacrifice to a degree of superstitious ritual, in truth the Ice Heart Owl only cares about the meal, and not its preparation.
Victims it has killed will sometimes be brought back as icy zombies or skeletons, which shamble through the woods in search of any prey to haul back to its master. Often these are owlbears that challenge it for territory (and lose), or hunters, trappers, and other humanoids.
The Ice Heart Owl has white fur and feathers that allows it to hide in snowy areas, and is at home on ice, snow, and even near-freezing water. It stands 20 feet tall and has a 30-foot wingspan, and weights about 700 pounds.