The longest winter

Going with the Floe

The party:

Elden Spirefield, Half-Elf fighter (played by Matt)
Frank Wyvernstooth, Half-Orc Barbarian (played by Steve)
Loraella Ironcore, Half-Elf Rogue (played by Leanne)
Marellian Ironcore, Half-Elf Cleric/Wizard (played by Dave)
Rayne, Tiefling Rogue/Sorcerer (player absent; played as N.P.C.)

Fuddlemore, Gnome Monk/Sorcerer (N.P.C.)
Algrammar, Human captain of the ‘Merry Rose’ (N.P.C.)

After Algrammar has checked over the boat and given his dire prognosis, Marellian and Frank come up with a cunning plan to repair the Merry Rose: Marellian uses his weaving skill to make a framework up over the holes, and Frank uses his leatherworking skill to cover the framework with skins, which are then caulked to make them water-tight. Algrammar is pleased with these repairs, and is willing to set sail once again.

The wind is once more favourable, and they make good speed. Algrammar steers them through several channels in the Ice floes, always heading in a westerly direction. Frank decides he’d better take up a look-out position, and climbs to the top of the mast, where he perches quite comfortably (much to the disgust of the bird familiars).

Shortly, frank spots thrashing shapes in the water ahead, and calls out to the others below. Marellian spots the shapes, and declares that they are Orcas. However, as they get closer, the Orcas seem much too large; Captain Algrammar goes pale, and declares them to be the ‘Hounds of the deep’, the children of the Sea God.

The ‘Hounds’ have been fighting over the remains of a shipwreck, and disperse as the Merry Rose nears. Loraella spots movement on a piece of flotsam off to one side; someone is still alive! Carefully the boat nears the flotsam, and the survivor is pulled aboard. His name is Jodrel, and his tale is a sad one.

After hearing Jodrel’s tale, The party are understandably keen to drop him off as soon as possible, but captain Algrammar is certain that he is safe for the moment. The Hounds are said to always leave one survivor alive to tell the tale, otherwise these tales would never be told. Until Jodrel sets foot on a landmass, he will be safe. Luckily, the client who ordered all the cargo aboard lives on an iceberg, where he studies the flow of the bergs, and so this will not count as landmass either. With this reassurance, the boat continues onwards.

The rest of the voyage is quite boring for the party, with Frank’s spotting of a large polar bear the only interesting thing to see. Just as the party are starting to regret the voyage, Algrammar lands the boat in the shadow of a large iceberg, telling them they have arrived at their destination.

The party and Jodrel help Algrammar unload the cargo, and Elden uses his experience to make sure the sledges are loaded evenly. Frank, Elden, Jodrel and Fuddlemore each grab a rope, and begin to pull the sledges across the ice to where their client lives.

With the flurries of snow kicked up off the ice, and the constant whiteness, the party do not spot the bear that has been following them until it attacks. Strangely, it seems to be wearing some type of clothing, and is carrying a giant axe. Sadly, the bear does not realise how strong the party is, and is killed quickly. Upon it’s death, it shape changes back to that of a fair haired man. Captain Algrammar is saddened, telling the party that it was in fact a polar were-bear, possibly starving, or just maddened enough to attack when it should have known better. These creatures are usually reclusive and stay well clear of humans.

They trudge onwards once more, as winds howl around them whipping up more snow. Suddenly, there is a slight hissing noise that is impossible to pinpoint. Before they can figure what it is, the ground opens up in a hiss of steam and melting ice. Captain Agrammar falls into the hole and comes face to face with a Remorhaz! It strikes at him, injuring him, before the party can come to his aid. Frank is tempted to jump on it’s back and ride it, but is put off by it’s boiling hot scales. He hits it a couple of times with his axe instead. Elden thrusts his greatsword into the beast, but it is Marellian who takes the kill, much to the surprise of everyone (including Marellian).

After pulling Captain Agrammar out of the hole, he thanks the party for saving his life, and confesses; The cargo is a ransom demand, for Zilrus (the person they are taking the cargo to) has the captain’s wife as hostage. He begs the party that if anything should happen to him they will continue onwards and free his wife. The party aren’t too happy that Agrammar didn’t tell them the truth beforehand, but understand his motives, and agree to his request. They travel onwards.

Shortly, they come to the fortress in the iceberg where Zilrus has made his home. Wandering the perimeter of a lake that steams with heat, they find a bridge that leads inside. Here, waiting for them, is Zilrus. He is glad that they have brought the provisions, but even more pleased they have brought themselves, as he is hungry. He calls his pet frost salamander, and it attacks.

During the fight, Elden strikes against Zilrus, damaging him direly, but is struck by Zilrus’ claws, and paralysed by the freezing venom they contain. Luckily, the rest of the party drive Zilrus off and kill the frost salamander before further harm can come to Elden, and they wait for the poison to wear off, healing themselves before searching the stronghold further.

In the lair of the salamander, they find the corpses of several mangled victims, who appear to have been frozen before death. All have looks of terror on their faces. They also find a room full of crates, with a rowboat nearby. Breaking open the crates they find arctic exploration equipment.

As they continue to explore, Loraella is suddenly alerted to a suspicious cavern ahead. She finds a trigger that would roll a huge shere of ice into the room as soon as they entered. She disarms the trap, and they continue on. Frank looks at the spheres of ice, and is tempted to roll them down the chute into the cavern, but thinks better of it in case they need to escape back through it quickly.

They next come to a room that has a collection of hunting trophies lining the walls. Loraella again becomes aware of a trap in this room: two suits of armour are suspended above them, and would fall onto them if they stepped onto a touch pad. She disarms this trap, but they have spent too long here, and the monsters in the next cavern have become aware of their presence. These Yetis attack, but the confines of the chamber restrict them, while the party work together to defeat them.

Loraella heads south-west, but finds a door of solid ice ahead. They confer, and decide to leave it alone for now, instead exploring the other passage they saw earlier. This leads to Zilrus’ living quarters (where he lurks, invisible, on the ceiling). While loraella and the others explore, Zilrus creaps up on Elden, hatred driving him, and hits Elden with his rod of the icy prison. Elden is covered in a layer of ice a foot thick, while Zilrus escapes once more from the party’s wrath. Luckily, Elden has a ring of warmth, which protects him from the ice, and he is thawed out quickly. He expresses a wish to stamp out Zilrus, and Marellian heals up the party once more, before they head back to the ‘trophy room’.

Zilrus is waiting for their arrival, and casts ice storm at them as soon as they enter the room. They rush him quickly, and batter at him mercilously. He has no answer to their sustained attacks, and is quickly killed. upon his death, the magic that has kept the ice door is broken, and it melts. Walking through, they arrive at a cavern, in which are several coffinlike slabs of ice; similar to that which covered Elden earlier. One of these is Captain Agrammar’s wife. When thawed out, she is found to be alive, but barely. She is exhausted, and traumatised, but Marellian uses his healing skill and his energy surge to help her regain some of her strength. Packing everything up, they begin the trek back to the Merry rose. There, Captain Agrammar loads up once more, and sets sail for the mouth of the river Muskwash, which, according to Fuddlemore, is the closest they can get to by boat to the Frozen forest. In the Frozen forest, he claims, is a settlement of Elves.

to be continued…

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BarryParker

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