The longest winter

A time gain on the Plain

Heading South

The Party

Elden Spirefield (player missing, played as N.P.C.)
Frank Wyvernstooth (played by Steve)
Loraella Ironcore (played by Leanne)
Marellian Ironcore (played by Dave)
Rayne (played by Amanda)
Arissa Stowe (N.P.C.)

The party stand around in the cavern, wondering who has taken General Ironcore’s war desk, and what type of creature lies dead on the floor. Frank offers to give someone a boost up to see if they can climb the vertical tunnel. After a boost up they all realise the tunnel is too slick-sided for climbing. Marellian asks for quiet so he can scribe his spider climb scroll into his spellbook, explaining that if he manages to copy it first, he can cast the scroll on one of them, allowing them to traverse the climb easily. Frank fancies playing spider, so Marellian casts the spell on him. After a bit of wandering around on the ceiling to get used to the feeling, frank shoots up the tunnel. He arrives at the top to find himself inside a rather large and well built Igloo. It looks like several people were here for quite some time, but cleaned up after themselves, leaving nothing behind. Just for the hell of it, frank skitters around over the ceiling of the Igloo for a while, before a faint call from below reminds him that he’d better throw a rope down to help the others up.

After the rest of the party have been pulled up the rope (some easier than others), Frank shows them the tracks he found leading out into the snow of the Plain of Soot. There are several sets of rather large, three-toed creature tracks, that end in a place where snow has been swept away as if by large wings. Marellian declares that these creatures must be a species previously unknown to science, as nobody has any idea what sort of creature would make such tracks. Sadly, as none of the party has any means of flight, they are unable to follow where these creatures went, although Marellian does send his owl familiar off to see if it can find anything of note. While they wait for the owl to return, the party decide to rest in the Igloo and prepare themselves for a long trek southwards to where there should be an old ruined watchtower.

Marellian’s Owl returns with no sign of the creatures they were hoping for, but it does reveal that the Igloo is some ways south of where the paths out of the Sundered Valley come up. They estimate that by coming up this way they have shaved a day’s travel time off their journey. Fed, fortified and well rested, the party set out in a (nearly) southwards direction, following the clifftop of the Sundered Valley. The Plain of Soot itself seems to run off eastwards for a few hundred miles, so keeping the valley edge in sight would prevent them losing their bearings and wandering around aimlessly.

After some time walking, the party are ambushed by a pack of Abominable Snowmen, who were camouflaged in the snow. Marellian casts burning hands, burning the first Yeti, but it seems unafraid of the flames and continues to attack. Rayne calls upon her Abyssal heritage, and grows claws, with which she hits the second Yeti. Elden misses with his club, and yet again bemoans the loss of his greatsword, as the Yeti deals him a mighty blow in return. Frank and Loraella chip in, before a second burning hands spell from Marellian causes one of the Yetis to flee. Rayne uses her sorcerous powers to summon a Fire Beetle, and it’s bite burns a Yeti, causing it to flee as well. Elden attempts to hit, but even a touch of destiny provided by Arissa fails to help him enough, while Rayne hits a Yeti with her Abyssal claws again. The third Yeti runs, but one remains, taking hits from Frank and Loraella, before a second touch of destiny allows Elden to finally hit, and Rayne’s claws finish it off. Frank skins the Yeti corpse after Marellian and he discuss the magical properties of Yeti fur in protecting against cold. Arissa asks Frank if he will make her fur mittens and boots from the Yeti hide.

As they continue their trudge southwards, they keep an eye out in case of more attacks, but the Yetis seem to have been driven off by their defences earlier. Instead, their Sharp eyes spy a lone figure, mounted on an Elk, headed towards them from across the Plain. As it gets closer, Marellian hails it, bringing it to them. Marellian then notices that the Elk is in fact undead, and the rider upon it is sheathed in an icy armour. glowing red eyes stare at him , and a dusty voice says; “You are brave to cross the Plain of Soot, Mortals. foolish, but Brave.”
For some reason, this seems comical to Frank, but the others are wary of this strange figure. Marellian explains that they are on their way to see the ‘gnomies’, to which it nods it’s head. It explains;“Your quest meets with my queen’s favour. The Darkness within your town is not destroyed, but grows anew. As does that which you faced in the Dwarven stronghold. The children of the Corruptor must not be allowed to roam free, or else all my Queen has done to preserve this land will be for naught.”
The party are confused, having been brought up to believe that the Queen of the Ice was evil and wished to destroy all life. The knight of Ice shakes his head; “How quickly you mortals forget. Once there were four Godesses, each resposible for a season. The sun God sought to destroy the seasons, wishing to keep his reign constant throughout the year. He had fallen under the sway of the Corruptor, and was vanquishing other Gods in order to bring this to pass. My Queen did what she did to prevent him from destroying all the Gods. If she had not, you would all be under the heavy hand of a singular, mad God.”
The party ask how they can destroy the Corruptor’s children, but the Knight of Ice explains he cannot answer that question, for it would allow the Corruptor free reign in the mortal realms. What little he has given them is not enough to ‘break the rules’ regarding immortal intervention. He wishes them well, and vanishes in a flurry of snow and ice.

After a short discussion regarding what they have just heard, the Party head southwards again. It is not long before their sharp eyes make out a huge bulk moving slowly across the plain, leaving a wide trail of thick ice behind it. This monstrosity is a Glacier Toad, one of the Ice’s most enormous creations. Wisely, the party decide to try and creep away without attracting it’s attention, but Marellian is not very good at sneaking away, and it begins to head towards them. Frank shouts for them to run, as it’s ponderous bulk should be unable to keep up, so run they do. Luckily, Frank’s guess proves correct, and they outdistance it, arriving at the Shieldwall Hills safely. Elden is exhausted by the long run; possibly an effect of his energy drain from the wraith in the caverns the night before. Arissa supports him as they walk slowly south, looking around them for a place to rest.

Pretty shortly, Loraella and Rayne, scouting around, each find a hole in the side of hills. Frank and Marellian think the two holes are connected, so one goes to each hole. Frank bellows into one hole while Marellian listens at the other. Sadly, all Marellian can hear is a hissing sound, as he disturbs a Cryo-Hydra. Luckily, he is able to call for help before it emerges fully from it’s den, and Rayne grows her Abyssal claws once more as she steps in to help. Elden rushes in at the sign of battle, but is badly bitten by two of the Hydra’s heads. Marellian uses up his last Flaming hands spell on it, while Frank takes a raging leap, and gives it a good solid hit. Elden, bleeding heavily, manages one last swing of his club, and luckily kills the beast before it is able to hurt him further. Marellian gives him first aid, before the party enter the Hydra’s lair to see what treasures may be contained in it.

After assuring the rest of the party that the Hydra is a solitary beast, Frank and Marellian usher them all into the Hydra’s lair. There, amongst the regular items, they find a pitted Longsword, which they give to Elden. There are also a set of Bracelets and a ring. Marellian is able to determine that the bracelets are greater bracers of archery (which Loraella takes), but is unable to identify the ring, so he pockets it for later study.

With the Hydra’s lair explored, the party decide to look in the other hole. There, they are attacked by a couple of Derro. Marellian tries to talk to the Derro, but they are far to insane and haughty to talk to ‘abovesiders’, so he resorts to using his wand of magic missiles on them. Rayne summons a large black dog to attack, and the Derro are easily despatched. Before they can explore further, another pair of Derro charge at them, but they too are quickly cut down. Finally, they reach the lair of a Hag, who rakes Frank with her dirty nails, before Marellian uses his wand again. Sadly, this seems to be the end of his grandfather’s wand, as it starts to smoke and turns black. Luckily, Elden with his new sword, Frank and Rayne flank the hag, while Loraella uses her new bracers to feather it with arrows. The Hag soons succumbs to it’s wounds, leaving the party to hunt it’s chambers for more loot. Among the spoils are several magic items, which Marellian examines. He is able to determine that there is a set of studded leather armour +2 (which Frank takes), but is unsure regarding a magic cloak and staff. He tells the others he needs to cast an identify spell on the other items, but he has no spells left for the day. Luckily, the ruined watchtower is not too far ahead, and they decide that it would be a better place to rest than a cold cave.

When they get to the watchtower, they are pleased to see that one part of it remains in a fit state for habitation. Upon entering, they see that someone has been here recently; firewood has been stacked up, the place is clean, and there is a table and chair that have been dusted. In one corner is what appears to have been a sleeping pallet, but the bedclothes have been shredded by some angry creature. Also scattered around are several pieces of paper; these have also been shredded, and some are badly singed by fire. Picking up the pieces, and finding some that are still legible, the party are finaly able to read part of The Shredded Journal .

To be continued…

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