Karameikos

The Road to Fort Doom

After some debate about modes of transport, ‘Shank’s Pony’ is selected and the party sets off for the Barony on foot. Upon entering the Barony, some bored-looking soldiers in a watchtower challenge the group. Memnon’s lordly response snaps them to attention and the Barony is entered without any hindrance.

Several hours later, a small village (Lűndgrad from the battered sign), presents itself as a possible alternative to camping overnight off the main road. Entering the village, the adventurers spy what appears to be a patrol from Fort Doom, heading out along the main road. Lűndgrad consists of around 20 buildings, mainly cob-built hovels, with no inn, store or temple. Many buildings are damaged, with smashed roofs and collapsed walls and signs of… acid damage.

Conversing with the locals quickly reveals that they are terrified of being seen with the adventurers. It’s quickly gleaned that yes, a Black Dragon attacked the village days ago. The party quickly departs, not wishing to cause the villagers any further woes and soon encounters the patrol spotted earlier.

The patrol wears Black Eagle Barony colours and is led by three mounted individuals; the apparent leader, named Wulf, a wizard and a stern-faced, silent woman. Oddly, the foot soldiers are a mixture of human and Bugbear! Confronted with an air of authority exuded by the Heroes, Wulf seems amenable enough and offers to escort the party safely to Fort Doom.

Offer accepted, the group does just that. Ozzie strikes up a dialogue with the wizard, who introduces himself as Rolf, one of Bargle’s apprentices. Conversation with Wulf reveals several things:

Baron Hendricks has forged a deal with the local Bugbears, so they no longer rape the cattle or steal the women in the Barony (although one of the Bugbears seems a little too interested in Memnon..!) instead working for the Baron.

The Black Dragon has struck three or four times over the last few weeks, actually landing on or in Fort Doom and causing destruction.

There’s an alchemist at Fort Doom who has been helpful in treating acid burns sustained during the dragon attacks.

Wulf and Rolf are both fearful of the stern-faced woman.

Mhorgash is currently away from Fort Doom.

Fort doom

The group soon passes the large skull-shaped entrance to the fort proper, built on the rocky rise of Duum Tor (Switch looking for any potential weak points that could be taken advantage of in the future) and make their way through the town wall whilst the Bugbears troop off to their own, separate barracks. Inside is dark and gloomy, with none of the buildings quite looking true, wood warped and edges bulging. The populace seems to either be cocky soldiers or the elderly. There are few able-bodied adults or children present. Wulf recommends a couple of places to stay (and avoid) and it’s agreed he will meet the adventurers in an hour or so to escort them to an audience with the Baron.

Von hendriks

Wulf parts ways with the adventurers at Fort Doom’s main square. Here, a metal statue appears to have been scorched, slumping to one side, the subject’s features have un into now frozen metal globs. A creaking noise draws attention to the gallows opposite, where the childlike body of a Hinn swings in the breeze, a sign marked ‘Thief’ around his neck. The others glance down at Switch uneasily, before setting off for one of the taverns Wulf mentioned.

The hour is passed at the Rising Mist tavern, ‘enjoying’ some bad ale and managing to engage in conversation with the landlord enough to find out that the Dragon purposefully targeted the statue of Baron von Hendricks in the square during its attacks (which the locals quietly find funny) and also attacked the Baron’s residence whilst “gobbing off about something”. It’s obvious the locals here don’t like the Baron but are very fearful of him, or at least of the consequences of speaking out against the Black Eagle Barony. And it looks like the Dragon appears to bear a specific grudge against Hendricks.

Wulf returns and as curfew begins, begins to escort the party to their meeting with the Baron.

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Dragonquest

A ‘mark of judgment’ is made on the forehead of each member of the party by Alfrek Oderbrek. This mark, invisible to the heroes, can be seen by those ‘that will need to see it’ and will ensure punishment if the objective of stopping the Black Dragon is not met within 60 days. Althea is to accompany the group on their quest. Memnon has a quiet word with the elderly elf, saying that her safety cannot be guaranteed and that that he suspects she has abilities that remain, for now; hidden. Althea is cryptic, assuring the Cleric that she can look after herself and will watch out for the members of the party if they in turn watch out for her.

With this accord struck, the heroes regain their possessions and retire to a nearby tavern with Duvenstahl and Althea. There, they discuss their new acquaintance further and what tactics they can employ to stop Falorax. (Tol can’t quite place Althea’s origins. She does not appear to be from either of the two main elven races in Karameikos.) Althea refuses to discuss any powers or abilities she has and asks us to plan tactically as if she were Kathra. With some resignation it’s agreed to try and stop Falorax before locating Kathra’s soul, a decision that appears not to sit too well with Memnon.

Nytdain 19th Thaoumont
The following day, supplies, potions and equipment are purchased (Switch eagerly shows off his new bag of holding to everybody within earshot) before Ozzie summons a flight of magical Eagles for the two stage flight to the Blight Swamp. 75 miles are covered the first day and the camp made that evening remains blissfully undisturbed.

Loshdain 20th Thaumont
In the morning the group decides to visit the nearby settlement of Luln. New fortifications are (as always) being constructed. The party gains an audience with Townsmistress Sascia, who cuts short another appointment to meet with them. However, she clearly sees the Mark of Judgment and abruptly cuts the audience short.

The adventurers call on Sula (whose sight they helped restore months earlier by returning holy artefacts on her behalf to the Blight Swamp). Pleased to see them, Sula recounts how she has resumed trading with the Caymen, but that they stopped coming for trade meetings around the turn of the year. This is roughly the same time as the Eyes of Traldar were scattered by Zirchev. (Have the Caymen regressed to a less civilised state without the influence of the Eye? Have Gatormen risen up as Falorax has become more active, attacking the Caymen..?)

Black dragon

Sula recounts rumours of a Black Dragon attacking the coast, including Fort Doom itself. The Heroes begin to strongly feel their whole trial was set up to maneuver them into being coerced into solving Baron von Hendrick’s Dragon problem. Even Althea muses upon the situation. After some discussion, it’s agreed that trying to face Falorax on his home turf may not be the best plan. And nobody has visited Fort Doom before. It’s time to pay a visit to the Baron in his stronghold at the heart of the Black Eagle Barony!

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The Verdict

Gromdain 16th Thaumont
After an uncomfortable night in Beggar’s way, the Heroes of Dymrak (sans their now-Outlaw Cleric) are taken by guards to determine who will comprise the jury for their trial. After some debate, the following individuals are proposed:

Prosecution:
Sergei Reynald, Lord of Hydell (father of Karina, the deceased Frost Witch)
Mhorgash
Anton Radu (Head of Merchant’s Guild)
Alfrek Oderbrey (Church of Karameikos)
Danya (Wizard’s Guild)

Defence:
Elina Halloran (“Armoured Flower” of the Order of the Griffon)
Lady Oliva (Duke Stefan’s wife)
Ritarmoran Antovich (Lord of verge)
Teldon
(Head of Wizard’s Guild)
Father Nickelnovitch (Church of Halav)

Choosing two jurors each to be removed, the heroes remove Anton Radu and Danya from the prosecution’s choice, and vice versa, Father Nickelnovitch and Lady Olivia are removed. The trial is set to occur in two days time.

Moldain 18th Thaumont
All the jurors are able to attend (a minor miracle in itself). As the trial is about to begin, Justin Karameikos announces that it has been decided that having Baron Von Hendriks as judge in addition to Bargle as prosecutor does not offer enough balance. The Duke has decreed that Justin will act as Judge and the Baron will be the 7th, “impartial” juror. Duvenstahl acts as Advocate for the Heroes. The trial begins.

The prosecution reveals that they knew of Karina’s death, and of the location of her body, through a woman named Althea. Brought to the stand, althea explains that she has close ties to the Reynald family and was ‘bound’ to Karina, knowing of her death at the moment it occurred. Ozzie observes that althea (an old woman, possibly elven, with a large birthmark covering half of her face) is not as old or frail as she may wish to appear. She also has very, very pale skin…

Kardia (an elf with a flying carpet) helped to recover Karina’s body, which was found washed up at the side of a river of meltwater (from the collapse of Ingrid’s glacial ice palace). A ‘wizard and cleric’ (presumably Bargle and Mhorgash…) helped to preserve Karina’s corpse and identify her killers. Sergei Reynald confirms Althea’s story.

Argument and counterargument is made about Karina’s nature as a Frost Witch, how she was no longer human, more of a monster, and trying her best to kill the adventurers. Bargle appears to be trying to speed the trial to an untimely close when Duvenstahl calls a surprise witness; Memnon. As Bargle splutters with indignation, a hooded figure enters the courtroom. Memnon’s face seems to shimmer beneath his hood before he lowers it, deposits his mace on the stand and formally surrenders himself to the authorities.

The Cleric apologises for his absence and explains the duty he felt to ensure Kathra’s remains were safe before handing himself over. The Tiefling draws upon his diplomatic prowess, delivering an impassioned account of the nature of the combat I the halls of the Ice Witch, the death of not one but two of his companions, nearly half their number, in the combat and the intense nature of the situation. He clarifies that Karina was no longer the same daughter that Reynald lost but still expresses regret over her death, and offers to try and bring her back via a raise dead ritual, although he warns that he will not be held to account to Karina’s actions should her soul wish to return and if she should resume her hostile actions.

Bargle and Memnon verbally clash as the Wizard fills the courtroom with biased rhetoric and Justin calls the court to order. Not long after, Justin asks if the accused killed Karina. All the jurors agree. Justin points out that he did not ask if the accused murdered her. On this, the jurors give their verdicts:
Prosecution:
Sergei Reynald: Guilty
Mhorgash: Not Guilty
Alfrek Oderbrey: Guilty

Defence:
Elina Halloran: Not Guilty
Ritarmoran Antovich: Guilty
Teldon: Not Guilty

The Baron delivers a verdict of ‘Guilty of Spontaneous Murder’; which is the overall verdict.

However, due to their previous years of conduct and service for the land, Justin gives the Adventurers a quest to complete, to serve as a penance for Karina’s death. A Black Dragon has been terrorizing land within the Black Eagle Barony in recent weeks. The Heroes are to find it and slay it. The quest is agreed to, and as Court is dismissed, Memnon explains to Baron Von Hendriks the actions of his Black Eagle Baron soldiers in Eltan’s Spring – the arrest of his father and the destruction of his parent’s home. The Baron apologises, assuring Memnon his father will be freed and his parent’s home rebuilt and work allowed to continue once again on the Temple to Halav. (Time will tell….)

The Heroes leave court to begin a briefing on the Dragon’s attacks…

(To Be Continued…)

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The Trial of the Heroes of Winter Haven
(or the butchers of...)

The Trial of the Heroes of Winter Haven ( or The Butchers of ….)

recap:- Bargle has arrested the entire group however only 3, Toll, Switch and Ozzie, go through the portal Bargle creates after they witness the warrant issued by the Duke. The warrant does not state who has been murdered, however the heroes undertake quiet speculation. Memnon leaves the inn, grabs Kathra’s carcass and rides off, now classed as an outlaw and Eltan’s Spring is left vulnerable.

Through the portal the heroes enter what appears to be a dungeon tower. It could be a portal room which has been secured in a tower. Their are guards (some are members of the Elvenguard) in various archways but they cannot see any obvious way out, however some of the archways are barred and there are soldiers are wearing the Dukes Guard uniforms with pole arms and hip swords. The guards on questioning divulge the heroes are in Specularum. Toll knows of secure prisons within the castle which this might be one of. Ozzie wonders why a portal would be kept ins prison. Ozzie annoys the guards by asking questions about why the heroes have been brought here and the fact there is an element of secrecy.

As the they move through one of the archways they meet and old bloke in a loin cloth who is excited to tell the heros to strip. Ozzie gets stroppy about not being given information in relation to why they have been brought to the tower. the guard swipes at him but misses. Ozzie persists and their is some uncertainty amongst the guards however their is whispering amongst them and the word “girl” is mentioned. the Hereoes refuse to disrobe, and switch interrupts by informing the guards the heroes are Lords and should be treat with respect. He also says he wants to speak with someone in authority.

Ozzie starts talking to the gaoler, who gives them options for accommodation. Lords, Knight or Beggars room. switch carries on threatening the treatment of knights and Lords will not be forgotten. the Gaoler laughs and tells them they are criminals and will be treated as criminals. e speaks with lighthearted tone then expresses how he is going to enjoy their stay.

Ozzie tries to find out from the guard where Bargle is and why he didn’t, come through the portal. they don,t know but assume he’s still in Nosht. Ozzie notes their are a number of potential magical auras around which will trigger spells if certain conditions are met.

Switch tries to use his insight to understand if the gaoler is being honest – he is.
He also recalls the legal system which is after arrest you are processed as prisoners then the Duke or someone of significant stature who can try Lords and Knights will decided if the evidence proves the need to go to trial or to dismiss the case for lack of evidence. Representatives will make the argument for and against the accused if upheld a public trial will take place, followed by punishment if accusation is upheld.

After an altercation Ozzie is attacked however his magical shield protects him, but other magics then happen, Ozzie feels a dark magic pull at his mind (though he resists whatever the attack was), and the archway they entered from suddenly bricks up.

3 Elven guards, Gorish the gaoler, 1 black eagle barony and 4 dukes guards all appear a bit nervous as they are expecting a fight. Ollie sits down and starts to get some food out and then decided to light his pipe, after the guards tell him it’s a bad idea. water begins to fall from the ceiling dampening everyone. Ozzie decides to continue to pester the guards however they choose to ignore him, so he returns to Toll and they share the pipe…in the rain how romantic.

Half an hour later a court Wizard arrives, accompanied by Duke Stefan himself! The Duke express his concern at the behaviour of the group. He asks for the other 2 and Switch informs him Kathra has fallen. He shows sincere sorrow at this loss, but then returns his posture and continues to inform them of their judicial system. They get told off like children by a teacher and fall silent. He continues that as a mark of respect for the heroes and their achievements he will inform them that they have been accused of the murder of Karina Reynolds . The group know not of who this is. Toll explains that because Bargle arrested them they were sceptical of the charges. The wizard says nothing but Stefan appears let down by the group.

The group are then processed without much argument. stripped of clothes and weapons and given a linen smock to wear. They drop their clothes and belongings into magical lockers. For 100gp a night they opt for the Knights way. Gorish waves at a brick wall then they realise his hand is within the the wall which denotes the wall is an illusion, maybe there are more!

Basically the Knights Way is a corridor with cells with a bit of straw. off set from each other to make it hard to talk. the door locks seem to be arcane, no keys. Time passes with little happening. The walls have tally marks and nothing more. Another inmate keeps wailing ‘help me!’ and there is manic laughter from further down the corridor.

As they dose their is low level unease in their dreams which is preying on their level of guilt. When the heroes awake they have not slept well. In the morning Gorish brings in Duvenstall who explains he is going to be their advocate. He expresses his sadness at the loss of Kathra. He was approached last evening by a woman in a cloak who told him they were being held prisoner and requested that he act as their advocate.

Accused of killing young girl in cold blood of Karina Reynolds. The body has been retrieved and magical powers will likely be used to estimate the cause of death. The girl was Sir Reynolds of Highdell daughter, if she was an enemy and bested in a fair fight then likley the case will be dropped. The group enter into discussion with Duvenstall in secrecy and explain the circumstances around the coup de grace of a defenceless enemy woman by Switch and then the offing of her by a burly ranger. Duvenstall no longer looks confident.

After a period of time the accused are taken out of the prison. Taken to a room with a stone table in the middle a body is covered by a blanket. At the far end there is a seat with someone in it and a robed figure standing next to it but their face is coverd. There are other people in the room, including a younger version of the Duke who the group assume is the Dukes son. Also a regal looking chap with dark armour and black eagle badge upon it. It is Baron von Hendricks and next to him is Bargle. The Baron begins to speak and open the hearing although he is clearly amused by the whole event. He then passes over the prosecution to Bargle who dramatically removes the cover from the corpse, and although it is badly damaged and broken it does seem to be the girl who was murdered.

Bargle states was approached by a woman who had ties to deceased, and was asked if he could help locate her. He agreed and between them they found the corpse. After a magical examination it is quite apparent the fatal wounds were from the three accused and the fourth who is currently being hunted for the murder.

Duvenstall stands and opens with a defence that the heroes go around dispatching monsters in the line of duty they undertake. Although this woman was obviously at one time human, when she was dispatched she had been turned into a monster and the accused will explain the circumstances themselves.

The Baron asks for the account yet makes mad fun of the situation then Switch calls him Lord which pissess him off as he is a Baron. Switch recounts the tale of the Frost witches in the mountains. The Baron stops them and requests a map to get to the area so this can explored. Switch continues the account of the quest and tells them this girl surrendered but the campaign had to continue and no prisoners could be taken and she had been converted into a frost witch, hence was dispatched.

The Baron stops for a recap and talks of the lands around the area are strangely owned by the party of adventurers hence their expedition into the area was for profitable tai and not lawful re-patriation of the stolen children. The discussion continues with Tol who explains that not all lands were with the group and other lands. Wee interested in our success in the campaign due to the longer winters.

the Baron confers with Bargle about this matter, but he basically discounts it. Ozzie then embarks on the tale of the girls who have been abducted by the frost queen hence the expedition. he explains how the girls are altered by the queen to use for her own purposes. this girl was one of those, and another also was slain by the queen herself which we brought back and had resurrected. 3 other girls have been brought back since the incursion into the Frost queens realm and we did not benefit from this in any way other than to ensure the safety of further abductions.

Bargle denounces that the abductions were actually happening and it is just a rouse. he continues to say these children went williningly and so were the children to be schooled by this Queen. Ozzie you have a school so you understand the process. Ozzie confirms two of the girls are their for tuition which Bargle finds quite intersting.

switch requests a recess – it is declined. Bargel takes two candles and puts one at each end of thE corpses he then recants a speak with dead ritual. max of 3 questions which must be asked by the caster. Spirit may be reluctant to answer but has to answer. Bargle puts a crystal over the girls head and speaks the girls name with additional ritual words.

an image of the girl appears over the corpse and appears to be the girl her eyes open but no pupils. Ozzie tries to explain this is the image they saw Bargle ignores this and asks his questions:

1. Are the people who killed you in this room.?S he indicates Toll and Switch 2. Ozzie asks for a question but after much fumbling Bargle asked if the girl was an affiliate of the Ice god then changes it to queen but explains the heroes should have been more clearer. The answer is no she was not an affiliate of the queen.

3. I was defending my liege in our palace when these invaders broke in. In an attempt to defeNd my liege I was defeated and then those two killed me in cold blood (points at toll and switch) then she disappears.

After much chat Justin the dukes son confirms the case must go to trial even after Tolls attempt to ascertain the girl was not defenceless. Justin appears to have some sympathy for the group hence the need for the trial, as it also appears the Baron is keen to have the group put to death, but even he has to follow protocol.

Duvenstall feins an limp to get words with the group. e thinks it actually went quite well and that he can nominate 5 jurors Bargle another 5 of these 10 their will be 7 picked by the judge, hopefully the judge won’t be the Baron.

Duvenstall shows concern that the group killed the girl in cold blood despite the arguments being given he explains how Kathra would not have allowed this. e then asks why they have’nt raised Kathra? they explain the situation and explain they need to resolve this situation quickly so they can resurrect Kathra before time runs out.

Duvenstall wants to know who is after the death of the party, but also who found the body? Not sure what the best defence would be to have a good number of jury members.

They discuss possible jury members and additional witnesses. Possibly a beastman to talk of how he was subjucated by The Frost Queen.

Duvenstall is concerned because by the word of the law they are guilty and that would have an effect on him, but does not explain why. if they can convince the jury that it was spontaneous murder they would have a reduced sentence.

Ozzie want s to use the facial expressions of the witches to use lethal magic, created concern within the group hence having her offed was the safest option.

the group go back to the cells but opt for the Beggars way so they can talk.=

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Death & Ice

Wolf Kathra glares at Ozzie, then licks his face and bounds at Ingrid, biting her viciously (Natural 20!). Relieved, Tol and Switch break free of their icy restraints and continue the fight against the Freezard. Memnon breaks free too, blasting the Freezard to smithereens with a Lance of Faith. As her blood patters onto the ice, Ingrid snarls and gestures towards her cauldron. A biting cold wind emanates and coalesces into the familiar form of a Cauldron Guardian. With a toss of her mane of dark blue hair, Ingrid vanishes, Kathra momentarily sensing another location as the Witch departs.

The Cauldron Guardian steams over to Memnon, smashing into him with hideous force (Natural 20! 42 damage). The Cleric’s escape tattoo flashes, teleporting him away to land sprawling on the floor. The whole party turns their attention to the Guardian, Switch nimbly darting in with a nasty attack before being blown off his feet in return. Ozzie’s winged horde fails to stop the Guardian from pressing its attack as it heads towards Memnon, who is catching his second wind. Switch gains a degree of revenge by striking the Guardian as it passes him, before Memnon channels the burning essence of his diabolic form to unleash the black wrath of hell on the Guardian, his flaming mace flaring brightly as it solidly connects. As two arrows from Tol thud home, the Guardian begins to lose substance, attacks from Switch and Tol knock chunks from the creature before another blow from Memnon’s flaming mace melts it away.

Pausing to regain their strength and powers, the Heroes of Winterhaven search the chamber and study the site of the portal, finding several thousand GPs worth of silver and platinum coins and a potion of vitality, taken by Switch. Memnon recalls hearing of an Ice Immortal, ‘Stodos’ as Ozzie works to reopen the portal. Shortly, a twinkling shimmer forms into a pillar of light, radiating extreme cold. The adventurers gather round and prepare to follow Ingrid to whatever welcome she has had chance to prepare for them.

Switch and Kathra step through the portal first, appearing on a raised dais in the centre of an elongated chamber. At each end of the chamber are three raised platforms. At one end a young girl floats in mid air, bathed in ice-blue light. At the other end is another girl, floating in a similar manner –and Ingrid. A terrible curse twisting her beautiful features, Ingrid blasts both heroes with an icy maelstrom, freezing them in place. Tol appears, arrows firing, but both shafts miss their target. Ozzie appears next, lobbing a vial of Alchemist’s Fire to better effect. On the other side of the portal, Memnon remains alone, unable to get through due to the dais on the other side being crowded…

Ingrid hurls more ice blasts, freezing Tol in place alongside Switch and Kathra. Ozzie steps off the dais and twists space to draw the Witch closer to the party (Switch makes a face and chunters unhappily at this!). Now able travel through the portal, Memnon appears, fortifying his companions with divine power (Natural 20!), the radiance burning Ingrid’s skin even as the burst of warming blue light fades.

Ingrid has nowhere left to run. With all the players in place, the final showdown begins.

Heroes vs ingrid

Arcane magics and Divine Power flare and flicker in the cavern, as Ozzie, Ingrid and Memnon unleash powerful spells and prayers. Ozzie is bloodied badly, but as Kathra attacks Ingrid in a savage frenzy, Memnon tends to the Wizard’s wounds with a healing word. With radiant energy burning her skin, arrows thudding into her flesh and lightning from a storm pillar crackling along her lithe limbs Ingrid too is bloodied. Gesturing at the dais, the Witch creates a cyclone of flying, razor sharp shards of ice. Kathra bears the full brunt of this and slumps motionless to the cavern floor – the spectre that inhabits her body emerges and hovers close by.

Wraith

With a yell, switch executes a devastating hit and run attack (Natural 20! 49 damage) just before Ozzie’s detonation blows Ingrid off her feet. Memnon tries to heal Kathra, but the energies seem to wash over her and dissipate– leeched by the spectre? Rising to her feet, Ingrid screams in fury and unleashes another ice blast, bloodying Tol and felling Ozzie again. The Witch teleports to the wizard’s side and narrowly misses delivering a fatal coup de grace. Memnon turns the spectre, (natural 20!) pushing it against the cavern wall and consecrates the very ground on which the witch stands. Arrows and a blessed blade for Tol narrowly miss Ingrid, who writhes in the holy ground. Ingrid cries out in anguish to Stodos, willing her dagger to find its mark and, to the horror of the three heroes of Winterhaven still conscious, plunges it into Ozzie’s heart!

Switch and Memnon surge forwards, the Cleric standing protectively over Ozzie’s corpse as the rogue slashes at Ingrid, whose very flesh is burning with radiant fire. Ingrid falls backwards, crashing to the floor. The spectre dashes over and seems to drink in her spirit, as Ingrid wails her anguish to Stodos and dies…

Memnon sadly confirms Ozzie is dead and Tol unsteadily draws his companions’ attention to Kathra. Or rather, her corpse. Kathra’s body is partially decomposed. The valiant Dwarven fighter has been dead for some time and animated only by the mysterious, and now vanished, spectre.

Forcing back their grief, Switch and Memnon work to try and reopen the portal as Tol breaks the children free form their freezing chambers. The ice cavern begins to tremble, cracks forming in the wall. Halav be praised, the portal reappears. Switch quickly searches Ingrid’s corpse, taking a platinum crown and the dagger that used to belong to Ozzie’s mother. The Heroes of Winterhaven depart, taking their fallen comrades and the children with them.

Uncertain as to how the girls may react when they awake, the heroes bind their hands and feet before leaving Ingrid’s chambers. No creatures bar their path and the entire complex seems to be in the process of gradually coming apart.

Emerging back into the valley, the trio avoids the area of thin ice and plod on in the snow to find cover that will allow Memnon to conduct a raise dead ritual on one of the fallen. Six figures approach –snow beasts, glimpsed before now watching the Heroes from the shelter of trees and from behind rocks.
Their apparent leader approaches in a peaceful manner, speaking in dwarven. Despite the language barrier, an understanding is reached and the snow beasts lead the party to their caves, offering them shelter and (raw) food. Memnon conducts a ritual of gentle repose on Kathra, so that she will not decompose any further, allowing time to gather the necessary resources to offer her spirit the chance to come back.

Whilst Switch waits with the fallen and the still unconscious children, Tol and Memnon are led to a ritual cave for an audience with the pale furred leader. The cave is dominated by a blue fire in its centre and a large block of ice encasing the frozen body of a dwarf – Hargan Stonefist deified in a form of ancestor worship?

Pale Fur gifts Memnon and Tol with dwarven armour and shield (both seem to be magical), a pair of giant-sized bracers, made from ivory, steel and precious metals and medallion with a polar bear motif. In return, Memnon gifts his everburning torch and Tol offers his shard of blue crystal.

Retiring to their quarters, Memnon begins the lengthy ritual to bring Ozzie back from the dead. Ozzie’s spirit determines that it wants to return to the corporeal plane and hours later, a tired Tiefing beams as Ozzie stirs, opens his eyes and sits up.

Gromdain 9th Thaumont
By the following morning, the reunion is complete and Ozzie has been brought up to speed on what has transpired. Reunited with his Mother’s dagger, the wizard uses his magics so that Pale Fur and the heroes can converse properly for the first time. Pale Fur thanks the heroes for their service in ridding his people of the Frost Witches. Conversation reveals that Hargan Stonefist helped to ‘educate’ the snow beasts with a “stone of ice” (The Eye of Ice!) which was later stolen by the Witches.

After saying farewell, the heroes use a portal of their own to return with their fallen companion and the still unconscious children, to Knosht. However, Ozzie has little time to relish his homecoming, as it’s not long before he receives word from a grim looking messenger that he needs to pay a visit to his parent’s crypt…

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Assault on the Vale of Frost Pt 2

Kathra and Memnon smash two Chilfos to pieces with hammer blows and a burning column of fire. There’s no time to catch a breather, as two huge Entombed burst from the walls, the ice moving like treacle around them. One Entombed strides fully into the chamber, the second one remains partially in the wall. Each carries an ice-blue skinned young woman, both of whom drop to the floor and position themselves to attack – Frost Witches! Memnon recognises one of them as a young woman who went missing as a child from Eltan’s Spring some years before.

Frost witch

This woman fires a cloud of icicles at Memnon, pinning him in place, as her companion attacks with icy breath. Unimpressed, Kathra makes a smart passing attack o both the second Frost witch and her Entombed. Memnon calls upon the power of Halav to turn the Undead, and his invocation is answered in full (natural 20!) as the Entombed half within the wall is ripped free, hurled across the chamber and dashed against the wall. The other Entombed and its Frost Witch across the cavern are also burnt by the holy power.

Ozzie creates a wall of flame that engulfs both XXX and the turned Entombed. The other huge creature pounds Kathra with a massive fist, but her unbreakable nature allows her to stand fast, albeit immobilised by ice. The remaining Frost Witch casts a spell on Memnon, making the Cleric think he is being pelted by giant hailstones. Fortunately, the Tiefling’s iron discipline stops the imaginary damage from manifesting itself in reality.

In return, Switch deftly backstabs the Witch as Tol’s arrows find their mark (Natural 20!). Shaking off the mental attack, Memnon advances to Kathra’s side, not knowing he now carries a deadly chill about him which injures the fighter. The Cleric’s Divine Glow burns both Entombed and Frost Witch alike (Natural 20!). Kathra knocks chunks from the former, which in return stoops to seize her in a fearsome bear hug, before moving back through the ice wall and into Ingrid’s throne room beyond.

A charred skeleton drops to the puddling cavern floor from the wall of fire, signaling the demise of the Entombed engulfed within. Switch literally dances around the retreating Frost Witch. The Hinn’s rapier, Tol’s arrows and Ozzies’ unsettling, spooky magicks demoralize the Witch to the point where she surrenders, sinking to her knees on the cavern floor. Eager to be after their missing fighter, the Adventurers quickly try to interrogate the witch, but she gives nothing away. Switch and Tol exchange a meaningful glance and decide to finish the Witch off. Seconds later she lies dead on the floor, a collapsing portion of cavern ceiling punctuating her demise.

Memnon shatters the ice covering a doorway to the throne room and the adventurers swiftly enter. All appears much as before, apart from the Entombed dropping Kathra into the blue fires of Ingrid’s cauldron. The witch sits on her raised throne. Tol announces the group’s return with two well placed arrows that find their mark from over 130 feet away! Memnon invokes a shield of faith over all the party and shifts to his diabolic form. Kathra leaps free form the cauldron only to be frozen in place by a scowling Ingrid, stepping from her throne and plucking the arrows free from her icy skin.

Freezards attack from the flanks as the Entombed moves in to attack from the front. Ozzie magicks up a vision of avarice (Freezard Kibbles?) before teleporting away to avoid an icy breath attack. Yet as the wizard rematerialises Ingrid is able to blast him with a terrific burst of power, freezing him in place before slicing the air in front of her with her/his mother’s dagger, teleporting herself to his side and brutally stabbing him in the chest. The wizard drops lifelessly to the floor, crimson flowing from him to quickly cool and congeal on the cavern floor…

Catching a punch from the Entombed’s massive fist with his hand, Memnon employs his quickling boots to cross the chamber so the fallen Wizard is within reach of his healing powers. Switch mirrors Memnon’s advance and Tol races forwards, skidding across the floor to deliver a splintering shot against Ingrid, which hampers her ability to make further attacks. Strangely, Kathra makes no move to support them, instead appearing to argue with herself…

Turning to blast the Entombed to pieces with a well-placed lance of faith, the Cleric heals Ozzie enough for the Wizard to regain consciousness and then expends yet more healing energy to the benefit of all his companions bar Tol, who is just out of reach of the blue glow that knits their wounds yet sears Ingrid’s skin. The Freezards catch up with the action, their combined breath attacks fogging the air as Ozzie teleports again, using his magicks to further muddle Ingrid’s attacks. Burnt by holy power and distracted by Ozzie’s magicks, the Witch falls victim to the visions of avarice (Natural 20!) and cannot resist drawing closer to whatever it is that she sees (Witch Kibbles?).

The Heroes close in on the faltering Frost Witch, who only just manages to weave away from Switch’s attack. Kathra flanks her, raising her warhammer to strike. Yet instead of landing a blow, the fighter, or something inside her (the Spectre?), addresses Ingrid in an unearthly voice, stating that they meet again and that ‘Kathra’ can either fight against the Witch, or for her. Which will it be?

A sudden swirling wind carries Ingrid away from the adventurers and back to her altar, its chill immobilizing Switch and Memnon. An icy vortex appears around her as Ozzie summons a Fire Warrior to do battle, before Kathra, seeming to struggle in order to not strike the Wizard with her warhammer, transforms into a wolf and pins Ozzie to the ground. Tol looks on, unsure as to where his next arrow should be aimed…

(To be continued…)

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Assault on the Vale of Frost Pt 1

As the Eagles soar down into the Vale cue Wagner Memnon spies something moving in and amongst the swirling snow. Mindful of their encounter with the Harpy on their last visit, the adventurers land and dismount (Switch falls flat on his face). Memnon and Tol Flemin enter the glacier, when behind them, ice crystals whirl and coalesce in the air, forming a swarm of icicles and splitting the group. Recovering some dignity, Switch darts back and forth, slashing at the Swarm, before Ozzie’s winged horde rips into it. The Swarm targets the Wizard, but Ozzie’s shield spell prevents him from coming to harm.

One of Kathra’s throwing hammers crunches into the Swarm followed by a well-placed Lance of Faith from Memnon. Tol’s arrows seem to cause the Swarm to lose some of its stability. Hammers, flaming mace, magicks and arrows take their toll, before the swarm swirls down the corridor to where Memnon has advanced to the junction of falling icicles. The Swarm envelops him and Kathra, reasoning the Tiefling’s natural resistance to fire will mostly protect him, lobs a vial of alchemist’s fire at the Swarm, which melts away under the roaring green flames. Memnon is barely singed.

Tol’s arrows shatter the ice covering the portal ahead and begin to chip away at another on the far side of the chamber as Switch darts across the junction, avoiding the falling icicles before… falling flat on his face. The group advances into the chamber (where they met a huge Yeti on their last visit) when the harsh grating of ice on ice heralds the arrival of strange creature resembling a large block of ice, crudely carved in bestial form.

Freezard

This Freezard launches a chill breath attack, but a well-placed storm pillar from Ozzie and a redeeming strike from Switch’s luck blade causes cracks to appear in their strange attacker, before a twin strike from Tol shatters it into chunks. Two more appear, alongside the more familar Chilfos, to the left and right. One Freezard falls to a combination of Divine and Arcane magicks. Kathra trades throwing hammers for ice spears with a Chilfos before moving in to launch a crushing blow, which the Chilfos nimbly blocks, using the shaft of its spear like a staff.

Chilfos

The fire and force of an incendiary detonation from Ozzie blows all of the icy enemies off their feet. As they rise, Switch sneaks up to the Freezard and… backstabs it, shattering it into pieces! Tol’s Blessed Blade shatters one Chilfos and the other continues to hurl ice spears as the battle rages on.

(To be continued…)

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Regroup, Rearm, Return!

Bidding Charasoth farewell, the adventurers retire to Tol’s residence to recover. A decision is soon reached that they need to return sooner than later in order to try and remove the threat Ingrid poses. After all, some of their number are now Lords, with a responsibility to their people.

Memnon cares for Ozzy and Kathra whilst preparing Isha’s body for the raise dead ritual. Tol and Switch seek an audience with Baron Halloran in an exercise that is as much reputation management as rearming. The Baron is unimpressed by the absence of half the party and is obviously more concerned with what are to him, more pressing matters such as Eagle’s Gate and the possibility of international conflict. Nonetheless, he gifts the Heroes a diamond that will cover the material cost of Isha’s resurrection and his niece, Aleena the Armoured Flower, seems more sympathetic to the party’s circumstances. An offer of assistance from some men at arms is also made before Switch and Tol depart.

Irritated by his companions’ account of the Baron’s demeanour towards them, Memnon leaves to seek an audience. Given the late hour, the Baron is unavailable, but the Cleric is met by the Aleena, for once unarmoured and in her nightgown. The conversation doesn’t earn the Cleric any respect, but he at least has the opportunity to express the Heroes of Dymrak’s position from his own point of view, given that Tol seemed to be overly apologetic.

Soladain 7th Thaumont
Early in the morning Memnon begins the raise dead ritual. The others relay a message to in to Father Nikelnevitch at the Traladar temple in Specularum and resupply arms, armour and equipment.

Isha’s spirit decides to return. After the ritual Memnon gently quizzes her about her time in the Vale of Frost. Ingrid had companions in the form of Vladlayna the Harpy, “Corina”, “Nico” and one other trainee girl. Ozzy detects that Isha has a great potential for magic.

Lunadain 8th Thaumont
Isha is left in the care of the local Shrine of Traldar, the offer of men at Arms is politely refused and astride glowing Eagles, the Heroes take to the skies, intending to fly in low so as to enter the Vale of Frost undetected and to take the fight back to Ingrid’s throne room as quickly as possible.

Vale of frost

After several hours, the flight draws near to the Vale and as the Eagles begin to descend, snow clouds roil over the valley, just as they did a couple of days previously…

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Heart of Ice

Exploring further, the adventurers enter a large, impressive chamber, dominated by a throne at its far side. To one side is a work area with many shelves, jars and bottles. A large cauldron burning with blue fire is by the entrance. On the throne sits a beautiful, pale skinned woman, seemingly undisturbed by the cold judging by scant and revealing clothing. As the heroes enter, she lays an ornate dagger on the arm of her throne and bids them welcome. Ozzy and Memnon approach, the Cleric explaining their reason for being here.

Ingrid on throne

The woman assures us that Isha is with her and is safe and that along with the other children she will flourish and gain the powers necessary for the balance of the world. She tell us her story. She is leader of the Frost Witches and once went by the name Ingrid. The Frost Witches’ previous leader attempted to help their ‘sisters in the woods’, broke an ancient pact and was slain. The heroes realise that this was the Hag Esmerelda, slain in their presence by the Historian. The frost Witches once also had sisters in the swamp (Grishenka?). They seek to return the world to its natural state, although Ingrid states she is currently content to maintain this stronghold and its secrecy. The children cannot be seen as they are training and would die if seen.

As Ingrid talks, Ozzy suddenly recognises the dagger – it was his mother’s! And Ingrid is the missing girl from Knosht. Ozzy tries to appeal to Ingrid via her parents, but the Witch says she feels nothing for them and after all, they gained an inn to recompense the loss of their child. Ingrid makes an offer. Swear to not speak of this place and the Heroes of Dymrak may leave in peace. Should they speak of it, their tongues will freeze.

The heroes debate her offer, Tol Flemin exploring the caverns with Ingrid’s blessing, noting that close to her throne is a bound, yeti-like creature, smaller than the beast encountered earlier that day.

Agreeing that they cannot in good conscience strike such a bargain with Hags, the heroes decide to reject Ingrid’s offer. As Tol and switch exit the cavern, Memnon politely states their refusal and intent to leave in peace. Ingrid snarls and undead burst from the cavern walls, huge icy shapes, each with an corpse entombed within. As they lumber forwards to attack, battle is joined!

Entombed

These Entombed undead immobilise the heroes as they strike. Ingrid attacks with blazing beams of energy from her eyes. Arrow and bolts fly, hammers and flaming maces rise and fall and arcane and divine energies sear and arc through the chill air. Ingrid summons an icy beast from her cauldron and the the spectre also appears again, hovering close to the action and hampering the heroes’ ability to revive themselves. At one point, Kathra strikes the cauldron, hoping to perhaps diminish Ingrid’s power and surely enough, the leader of the Frost Witches glares at the Dwarven fighter as she succeeds in making a dent.

The battle is savage. Both Ozzy and Memnon are soon grievously wounded. Entombed explode and melt, the corpses that drive the hulking icy monstrosities flopping lifelessly free. A wall of fire from the wizard and the timely backstabbing of an Entombed by Switch, clear an exit, allowing most of the party to finally escape Ingrid’s throne room, with Tol advancing (!!!) to lay down a withering cover of bow fire.

As flames carpet the floor and flicker against the walls and melt water begins to pool, Ingrid belittles the retreating heroes for daring to disrupt her throne room and chanting, appears to sacrifice the bound creature by her throne. Kathra covers the retreat and is soon the sole member of the party left in the throne room. Before she can leave, she is knocked unconscious by the Cauldron Guardian. The spectre hovers by her for a few moments, before slowly dissipating…

In the other chamber, Switch leads the retreat only to find all the exits blocked with ice. Memnon lingers at the rear of the group, waiting for Kathra to appear before continuing ahead. When she doesn’t join them he calls out to alert his companions before assuming Diabolic form and charging through a portal of ice, shattering it before him.

Memnnon diabolic

Emerging back in the throne room, Memnon scoops up Kathra’s still form. The Cauldron Guardian attacks, knocking the Cleric down and freezing both him and Kathra in place. A hail of arrows and bolts announces Switch and Tols’ return to the fray and Ozzy’s magics push the Cauldron Guardian back, buying enough time for Memnon to break free and rouse a dazed Kathra.

Ingrid reappears with her dagger at Isha’s throat, demanding the heroes’ oath of silence. The Cauldron Guardian strikes Ozzy down. The wizard cries out to Charasoth the Ice Master as he falls whilst terribly; the Cauldron Guardian sweeps up Isha and dashes her fragile form to the cavern floor, dead.

Uttering terrible curses, Tol and Switch pepper the Guardian with bow fire A blast from Ingrid leaves Ozzy fighting for his life before with a swirl of snow and ice, Charasoth appears. Ingrid seems to know the Ice Master and warns against his interference, but Charasoth heeds Memnon’s request to remove the heroes and Isha from this place. Everything goes white before colour comes back into the world and the adventurers find themselves at Threshold, on the shores of the lake. Memnon heals Ozzy and the battered Heroes of Dymrak thank Charasoth for his assistance and begin to consider their next move.

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Cavern Battle

A strange disturbance forms in the air, taking a ghostly humanoid shape and drifting over to the adventurers. Memnon thinks it to be an amalgam of several spirits. Ozzy hails the apparition and as it drifts over to the Wizard and regards him, faces forming and melting into one another, giving it several aspects at a time. Memnon tries to sooth the spectre’s disquiet, but doesn’t appear to succeed.

The apparition seems to offer no threat, so attentions are once more turned to negotiating the junction whilst avoiding the icy spikes of falling stalactites. Tol somersaults across the junction, avoiding the falling ice and keeping his footing on the slick floor as he comes to a stop. As he cautiously investigates the large chamber beyond, the others cross. Switch cartwheels over, Kathra dourly stalks across, shield raised high to fend off the ice, as does Memnon. Ozzy is hit by a falling stalactite and falls to the floor, but isn’t badly hurt. The apparition follows. Regarding it again, Memnon feels that it doesn’t actually want to be soothed –instead it seems to be craving warmth and energy, but it still shows no signs of aggression.

The Tiefling warns his companions about the spectre and Switch scouts further ahead with Tol. The Ranger hears a low snorting ahead, as of some large beast trying and failing to be quiet. Before he can alert his companions to this, the cavern suddenly comes alive with activity, as several jagged icy humanoids appear, as if they’d risen from the floors or out of the walls. The Ice-Men hurl large spears of ice, which reform in their claws from the moisture in the air, ready to hurl again.

Battle is joined as Memnon, Tol and Switch return fire and Ozzy’s winged horde speeds across the cavern. Kathra advances, hammer at the ready, and a huge shaggy beast charges at her flank – a towering Yeti armed with a fearsome club, which strikes home with a terrible thud! Tol is skewered by an ice spear, but is still able to assist Switch. As the Hinn rushes in to ambush the Yeti, Tol’s arrows disrupt its attack of opportunity allowing Switch’s arrows to fire true. A Divine Glow radiates from Memnon, illuminating the chamber, searing foes and giving extra clarity to the strikes of his companions.

More Ice-Men appear and Switch too is speared, before the Yeti unleashes a tremendous roar of pain and frustration, physically pushing Tol, Kathra and Switch back across the cavern. Ozzy counters by creating a zone of illusory treasure, which draws the Yeti and some Ice-Men to it, unable to resist their avarice (for Yeti Kibbles?). Keen for revenge, Kathra advances on the Yeti, but slips and fall on the ice. Switch however, springs to his feet with ease and strikes a fearsome blow against the towering creature. The Yeti howls again, resulting in a wave of cold that affects both Dwarf and Hinn alike.

Memnon runs across the cavern, skidding to a stop by the fallen Kathra and by some minor miracle, keeping his feet. Blue light flares as the Cleric heals both Kathra and Switch and Tol utters a healing word for himself too. Focusing his will Memnon also creates a crackling zone of consecrated ground.

Torn between the pile of illusory Kibbles and the canned meat on offer, the Yeti again smashes its club into a still-prone Kathra, bloodying her once more. Ozzy detonates an incendiary blast that blows the Yeti off its feet and Kathra rises, smiling with savage glee as she lands a brutal strike on the beast. Switch strikes the beast too and Memnon’s solar wrath and consecrated ground burn it. An ice spear strikes the Cleric and his escape tattoo flashes, teleporting him away to cover. The Yeti swings its club at Kathra, who stands her ground and smashes her warhammer into the beast’s head, finally slaying it. But as Kathra pauses to heal herself, the nearby apparition, which has drifted close by throughout the combat, seems to feed on the energy, none of which benefits the fearsome female fighter.

The Ice-Men remain, hurling spear after icy spear. Switch skitters over to one that was blown to the floor by Ozzy’s blast and manages to shatter it into pieces, the flying shards cutting him and the nearby Memnon. A furious exchange of ice spears, bow fire, lances of faith, blessed blades, throwing hemmers and magic energies ensues. Ice-Men are burnt by consecrated ground, lifted into the air and dashed against the cavern floor by magics and rocked by projectile fire and icy shards explode through the air until the Heroes of Dmyrak stand bloodied but triumphant. Ozzy has targeted the spectral apparition with some of his attacks and the spectre fades to an insubstantial mist, leaving the adventurers unsure as to whether or not it may return to haunt them yet again.

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