Here are the questions posed before our last journey some four weeks ago:
Why are you here? What can you accomplish in your quest to thwart the goals of the Dragon Cult? Where is Maccath? What of the Ice Toads and their leader, Marfulb? What about the Arcane Brotherhood and their treasures and tomes? They would be a worthy ally in your struggles against the Dragon Cult! Was Kug’ruk correct? Is there actually no escape from Oyaviggaton, the Island of Eternity?
Before descending into the heart of the iceberg, Kug’ruk had peered into his seeing bones and foretold that though our heroes were about to attack the dragon, “many others will die – and death awaits for the People of the Ice, and Kug’ruk … his days are nearly done.”
While pondering answers, we sat to work on some roast birds delivered by Valeriya. Washed down with beer and plunged with taters, we filled our bellies and set to the mission at hand.
Discussion. The group struggled for direction. Should they head for the surface and the possibility of rest and healing, or should they follow the dragon’s bloody trail in haste, with hopes of cornering and finishing the wyrm before it escaped or worse, had time to heal.
Slowly, cautiously, our group set out to follow the bloody retreat of the dragon. A few ice trolls emerged from the fog and attacked – but were quickly slain or driven off by our deadly company of heroes. Working their way onward through the fog, they explored the first chamber on the right of the great outer ring hallway. Frozen giants! Several frost giants, a couple of fire giants, and even a dead and frozen cloud giant stood as still guardians.
The next chamber, this one on the left, revealed a great ice staircase, tightly spiraling and steeply ascending upwards. At the base were various piles of furs and baskets of frozen fish and icy meats. Among the furs, an aged crone of the Ice Hunter clan coughed and sputtered, seemingly at the edge of death. Our heroes, eagerly hunting the wounded dragon, moved on.
Brokk remained in the form of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. His giant claws scraped and scrabbled on the icy floors, while the improvised crampons helped the rest of the team move forward, although slowly.
The next chamber contained supplies that the villagers provide for Arauthator and his minions were stored here—mostly dried and frozen fish, whale, seal, walrus, and giant squid, plus furs to be fashioned into protective clothing. Fish organs, shells, bones, soft stone, and other sundries are stored in smaller quantities, along with a few seemingly inexplicable items, including a single steel gauntlet, a silver brooch containing a cameo, the brass hilt of a dueling knife, and a decorative belt buckle… Coils of rope as well as some pulleys lay against the far wall.
In the next room, an open shaft in the floor led downward into darkness. The bloody trail lead down and away – the dragon’s path. More conversation. Tan Meng dropped a light stone. The stone fell 75 or 80 feet and bounced down an icy slope and into deep fog. Nobody was excited to pursue the dragon down that hole. The group discussed what to do.
Consensus settled on pushing ahead and exploring the caverns further. All began to depart the shaft chamber but as Brokk, in giant T-Rex form made his way cautiously around the great hole in the cavern floor, the wall beside him and the floor beneath him gave way and he plummeted downward and into darkness. Luckily, the icy sides of the pit softened his fall. He crashed onto an ice shelf, and then tumbled yet again down a steep slope and into deep fog – near the light stone that Tan Meng had thrown earlier. He was badly injured, but still had 8 hit points. Around him, a giant empty dark chamber echoed with the sounds of his fall. In the distance, a deep rumbling growl echoed in return.
Quickly our group of heroes set to work on a plan of rescue. There was brief discussion about whether or not to follow – but just as fast they decided that was folly. Terredon dropped the Polymorph spell on Brokk, returning him to his native human form. Valeriya and Raynard lowered a rope. Brokk heard heavy wings and a rushing of air like a gale screaming toward him. He grabbed the rope and his friends began to quickly haul him up. Just as he was about to clear the roof of the chamber, Arauthator cut loose with icy breath doing 68 points of damage. The hanging barbarian failed his save and was instantly frozen – near death but not quite there yet.
His compatriots heaved him into the chamber above while the deep rumbling laughter of Arauthator echoed up from below. A bit of Tan Meng’s healing hands thawed Brokk enough to move again. And, after a few rounds of discussion about how none were interested in descending to take on the dragon, all agreed to move forward and explore, hoping to find Maccath and her promised arrows of dragon slaying and ring of protection if nothing else.
Across the great hallway beyond our heroes found a great chamber filled with the trophies of Arauthator’s victories. Among the creatures frozen here in death were two remorhazes, a trio of behirs, five abominable yetis, and a giant squid of jaw-dropping size. A complete longship with sail raised lay on its side. Also in the room, a pile of frozen corpses.
Further down the great hall the other direction, our heroes passed through a great unused chamber into a lit chamber beyond. In the center stood an incongruous sight. There was a large shelter, seemingly built of scraps, and in the style of the tents used by the desert nomads of Calimshan, some two thousand miles to the south. The hut or house was made from huge tapestries and carpets draped across a frame of whale ribs, and standing 8 feet tall, 20 feet wide, and 30 feet long. The bottoms of the walls drape down onto the ground leaving no gaps.
Pushing inside, Valeriya saw that the interior of the shelter was surprisingly warm thanks to a small stove and simple lamps burning aromatic whale oil. Carpets, heaped on the floor in thick layers, and tapestries from every culture in Faerun hung suspended from a sturdy frame of whale ribs. Books and scrolls were stacked neatly on tables and reading stands made of hide and whalebone. The only furnishings in the shelter not made from these natural materials were the carpets and tapestries, and a portable writing desk that appeared to have been taken from a sailing ship. Seated at this writing desk was a female tiefling wearing a blazing crimson cloak over tailored furs. The cloak was fastened with a silver-and-ivory brooch bearing a design reminiscent of a stylized, branching tree— the symbol of the Arcane Brotherhood. Two kobold attendants stood nearby, glancing nervously between you all and the tiefling. After a few moments, the tiefling looked up with only mild interest and said, “ah… still alive I see?”
Long conversations with Maccath followed. According to her, departure seems hopeless without killing or driving the Arauthator away. She did give the party her two arrows of dragon slaying, which went into the safe keeping of Himo. She also loaned a ring of protection from cold – in case you’re brave or foolish enough to get close enough to the dragon to where you might need it. Maccath also confided that there are some rare books in the Scriptorium owned by the Arcane Brotherhood. She cautioned against reading or even perusing them – but did say that The Brotherhood would be immeasurably grateful for their return. Our heroes inquired about resting and she encouraged them to seek shelter elsewhere – perhaps in the longboat in the trophy hall – but she warned against touching any of the treasure stored there. Arauthator has an uncanny sense when it comes to even a single copper piece of his treasure.
Our heroes also learned that the ice toads were actually an ancient and wise race of the northern seas and that their leader, one Marfulb, is perhaps oldest and wisest among them. The giant toad, along with the help of others, has been working on recording the histories of these parts and of Arauthator and other noteworthy events for decades if not centuries. The Arcane Brotherhood would find such information valuable to say the least.
Off our heroes went to find this Marfulb and discuss such things. Sure enough, about a dozen giant toads with thick, mottled white hides were at work in their lair, scribing strange writing into the ice of the walls, or onto weathered parchment and stone tablets. A few toads worked to transfer parchments and tablets into and out of floor-to-ceiling cubbyholes cut into the ice along the entire southern wall. After some tense initial negotiations and some heartfelt apologies for accidentally slaying and wounding some of the aged creatures, our heroes convinced Marfulb that they meant no harm. This was a great relief to the toad who had set her assistants to work copying their great “library” for fear it might be harmed or even destroyed at the hands of the “invaders” – our heroes.
In addition to stories and accounts about Arauthator—his treasures, mating habits, and epic battles with frost giants and other monsters—the information amassed by the ice toads includes exhaustive details on the ever-changing Sea of Moving Ice, the weather north of the Spine of the World, and the culture of the elusive Ice Hunters. However, their impressive collection of information and catalogs is massive – the scrolls alone would consume more than one heavy cart’s capacity.
Our heroes decided to gain some rest – and rest they did in the leaning longboat. Hours later, all were restored.
Ready to move forward again, everyone was feeling a bit itchy. They decided to explore a bit more of the subterranean caverns. Off the storage chamber, between the ascending stair and the descending shaft to Arauthator’s lair, was a passage that our heroes has earlier passed up. It turns out it lead to some kind of refuse pit. Kobolds, evidently, had thrown their waste in this room for decades. Across the filth lay another passage and this lead into a room with several kobolds – who soon were running about in panic and alarm.
The rain of deadly fire and arrows dropped the little creatures in their tracks.
And that is where our tale of some weeks ago ended.
Now, we resume. Everyone is healed. Spells are restored. Can you escape the Island of Eternity?