Drenla rushes over to the man tied and gagged in the corner. She quickly but gently unties him and checks him for injuries.
After a brief but thorough exam she helps him to his feet and you get your first real look at him. He is old for a human, his skin is nearly transparent with age but the fire in his eyes belies his physical appearance. He is wearing dark green robes and has several belts laden with alchemic gear and potion bottles.
Drenla introduces him as Norr Bennins, a master mage and alchemist of no small skill. He is also an antiquity dealer and a faculty member of the academy of magic that she attended.
Norr waves her off and says, “That is all in the past. Now I am but a simple mage traveling the realm looking to use my knowledge and powers to do some good before I cross into the realm of the Raven Queen.”
Thorian steps up, the top of his head coming up to Norr’s Sternum. “Where’s our gold? We brought the load of copper through this mess. Now it’s time to get paid. We ain’t no charity organization.”
Norr looks confused and then realizes what Thorian is talking about. “I don’t need the copper anymore. I had hoped to create a magical box that would contain the ice shard. Now I fear it is too late.”
“I don’t know anything about no magical box. We were asked to bring a load of copper and you would pay us 50 gold each on delivery. We did our part. On my honor, I will be paid.”
Norr looks around for help, but decided that a few gold coins wasn’t worth challenging a dwarf’s honor over so he digs into his pouch and pulls out a number of 50 gold piece emeralds and hands them out to each PC (Take 50 gold for the completion of the quest from the first game). Thorian drops his in his pouch and walks back to the group. Clearly happy that his business is complete. No carrying a bit about the useless load of copper out in the courtyard.
“Now maybe we can talk about the disaster that has struck the entire Valley and is threatening thousands of lives and the potential stability of the prime material plane?”, Norr asked.
“OK with me” says Thorian, clearly looking happy as a clam about his 50 gold piece Emerald.
Drenla steps forward, “What do you mean?”, she asked.
Norr Bennins gestures for Maribe to hand him the staff. Maribe looks a little puzzled but he assures her he will give it right back. He turns the staff and shows them the tip of it. Nobody had a chance to look at it very closely over the last few minutes of intense combat. The end is tipped with a four taloned dragon’s claw made of metal so white that it looks like ice. The tips of the four claws are at the cardinal points and pointed inward. Hovering between them in mid air is a small, perfect crystal of ice. It radiates light and intense cold.
“This” he says “is the problem. A few weeks ago when the snow began I was concerned. It seemed to be centered around Mount Fenithall in the northern range.”
A little geography: The valley you are in is surround by the end of a continent spanning mountain range. Cut in the range is a plateau of vibrant lands, fresh lakes and rich minerals. It’s resources and the fact that it is easily defendable made it very attractive for a number of large settlements to spring up. Over 5,000 humans, Elves, dwarves and others make their homes among the towns and keeps in the valley. A single wide pass allows the occupants access to the lowlands. This pass is known as Duran’s Break and is the home of a military keep known as Duran’s Point. Duran’s Point is garrisoned by a draft of 10% of the militia of each town within the valley. Duran’s point is the only way in and out of the valley (Over land). The valley depends on farming to feed the population and the freakish winter is quickly depleting the people’s food supply.
“A number of mercenaries that I hired and myself went to Fenithall to investigate. About half way up the mountain the weather was so bad we decided to turn back. That’s when we came across a caravan heading down the mountain. The caravan was made up of Goblins. “
Thorian sits up straight in his chair at this point in the story.
“But they weren’t like any goblins we had ever seen before. They had blue skin and their hair was more like animal fur. They radiated cold. We attacked the caravan and wiped them out. We found this staff.” He hefts the ice staff and hands it back to Maribe.
“We also found some books”. Fuyuk pulls the papers that he had saved from the library out and hands them to Norr. Norr nods in appreciation.
“It took me a while to translate these but I think I have it. You see, someone known as Cyrus has come across to the Prime Material plane from the Elemental Plane of Ice. He is having a temple built here and the ice Scepter is the key to bringing some of his realm with him. It seems that this Cyrus has found a way to thin the barrier between the two realms and the forces of the plane of Ice are coming through the barrier. That is what is causing this weather and I believe it will continue and most likely get worse.
The entire balance of the Prime Material Plane is at risk. I am not sure what will happen but the most likely outcomes are either the beginning of a new ice age or the masters of the Elemental Plane of Fire will have to get involved to rebalance power. Either way, countless innocent lives will be lost. I do not think the rift between the planes is big enough to spell disaster for the entire world but I can’t begin to understand the damage that a change in weather to this magnitude will have.
Of course the people of the Valley won’t survive long if we don’t do something. The snow has already made it impossible to get through Duran’s Break. If we don’t do something soon, famine and disease will set in and good people will start to die.
I believe that something on top on Fenithall mountain and this scepter are key to understanding and stopping this freakish winter. Time is of the essence. The people of the Valley need your help. Already many are running out of food.
Thorian looks over at Norr, a tear in his eye. “Goblins have destroyed my home, they won’t destroy the valley. I will help. Duran’s Break may be the only way out of the Valley but we still have hope. I know of a dwarven hold deep in the mountains. I will travel to them and see if they can provide food for the people and shelter for as many as they can hold. It won’t save them all but it may buy us some time.
Norr thanks the dwarf and wishes him god’s speed.
Jenna looks distraught. She turns to the party. “This can’t be. Can you do something to help? I have been among these people for my whole life. Sure some of them don’t deserve salvation but most do. Now I know why the Baron ran off. He must have horded away what he could and sought shelter. He left his wife and family here to die. What a terrible man.”
Silj recalls the name Cyrus. In the prophecy of Thorrin Redscale, which Silj knows by heart, Cyrus is mentioned. The prophecy doesn’t say much but it eludes to The reign of Cyrus must be stopped before it can begin else the destiny of Thorrin Redscale will never come to pass. Later it speaks that the slayer of Cyrus will go on to ensure the memory of Thorrin Redscale will remain and allow him to return to the people when they most need him.
What questions do you have for Norr Bennins? Will you travel to Mount Fenithall and break the ice age or try to escape through Duran’s Break and escape, leaving many to die?