The Temple of Cyrus stood before them. The cold air gusted and reminded them that their destiny lay ahead and the people of the valley were quickly running out of time.
Flanking either side of the huge doors stood enormous statues of ice. Their sightless eyes gazed upon the raised stairs and their frozen hands clutched oversized polearms. Silent sentries.
The party hesitated. Everyone knows that statues are bad. The DM wouldn’t have put them here without reason. Panic started to set it. Should they attack? Flee? Did anyone bring a large torch? Silj finally broke the stalemate. He stealthily moved through the snow and crept up against the wall, working his way behind the left most statue.
Gaylord was again impressed by how silently the Kobold moved. He pointed it out to Drenla who quickly reminded him that Silj was a Dragonborn and it wouldn’t do the party any good for him to hear otherwise. Gaylord quietly apologized and continued to examine the doors for any sign of a handle, knocker or other mechanical controls.
Drenla reached into her pouch and pulled out her favorite flask and drank deeply. She put the lid back on and very authoritatively walked up to the door.
The statues did not move.
She pulled some magic dust from her pouch and cast it upon the doors.
The statues remained quite stubborn in their refusal to move.
She started to chant a ritual of protection and mid chant converted it to a ritual of opening. She confused herself and her words trailed off. Her neck suddenly felt tight and she started to sweat. “No need to let the mundanes worry” she thought and quickly added a few obvious words of power to convince the party of her abilities. “Hocus Pocus, wall wa-zoo”.
She turned to Gaylord and said, “the way is clear. You may open it now.”
“Really?” he replied.
“Was is the hocus pocus of the Wall Wa-zoo that made the door safe?” He asked, Drenla did not like the sarcastic tone he was taking.
“Be a dear and don’t question your betters”, she responded. Gesturing at the door.
Gaylord stepped forward to open the door and grabbed Drenla’s hand at the last minute and used it to push open the door. Drenla pulled back, twisted and fell on her bottom in the snow bumping into the right most statue.
With impressive will and stoicism, the statue remained perfectly still.
The doors, however, opened. They were so perfectly weighted and balanced that even the gentle nudge was enough and the swung all the way open without making a sign.
Silj sighed. Amateurs, he thought.
Together the party walked into the temple, prepared for anything. Well, almost everything.
The temple was made entirely of ice. The outside light came through the ice providing an eerie and unnatural light. Along the walls were fountains of water, still flowing despite the intense cold. Above each fountain was a torch of that burned with an otherworldly blue fire that radiated cold.
The room was full of a white and billowy fog that made it impossible to see the far wall. The party stepped further into the room and the mist billowed and cleared.
Across the Temple, stretched out of a raised platform was Cyrus – a Young White Dragon. The dragon’s eyes locked on the intruders and he raised his massive head and reared on his rear legs. “Welcome to the Temple of Cyrus” he growled. “Leave here as worshippers or not at all”.
Maribe stepped forward without a moment’s hesitation and said “Certainly, that’s why I’m here. To worship”. Her tone and the way she clutched her weapon belayed her statement.
Cyrus’s eyes locked on the scepter and he recognized it. “The Scepter of D’anthal. Thank you for bringing it back”. Cyrus lowered his head and charged. All though of parley disappeared when he saw the scepter.
The party started to scatter but they weren’t fast enough. Cyrus opened his mouth and blasted the party with a cone of freezing cold air. Everyone but Silj was caught in the blast.
Just as it impacted the party, the scepter flared and the entire party was left untouched. Cyrus stopped short, stunned. Silj leaped from behind a pillar and launched a deadly dart deep into the dragon’s flanks.
Maribe stepped forward and said, “I worship you” as she cracked the dragon across his forehead. “This is how we worship in the valley” she added.
The dragon lashed out with his wing and sent the pillar and part of the roof tumbling upon Silj.
They traded blows, the dragon breathing again several times and overcoming the protection of the scepter. Spells, arrows and claws took their toll and beaten and broken Cyrus fell to the ground, dead.
The party exhausted and bloodied, barricaded the doors and took the time to rest and recover. When they were ready they searched about for the rift but found no sign of it. They discovered a small trove of gold, several magic items and a bag, decorated with the insignia of the college of magic in Magnimar branded upon it. Inside the bag were a number of shards of ice that radiated cold that could only be directly from the elemental plane of ice.
After much discussion and trial and error, the party discovered small niches above each of the fountains. They inserted a shard of ice and the fire from the blue torch’s melted them away. The water dripped into each fountain freezing it.
Once the final fountain froze a ray of blazing blue light leapt from each fountain and crossed in the center of the room. Maribe stepped forward and raised the scepter into the rays. The crystal in the scepter captured the power of the rays and a rift ripped open before them. Through it they could see a vast plane of ice and snow. The way to the elemental plane of ice was open.
Maribe is not subtle or shy. Without hesitation she leapt through the portal and sunk past her knees in deep snow. The air was so cold that when she exhaled, her breath froze into ice particles and rained down around her.
Around her were Gaylord, Drenla and Silk – buried almost to his waist. “This is no place for a Dragon Born” the kobold muttered. Silj leapt into the air, turned a perfect somersault and landed on Ithy’s back. The bear accepted the rider as if they had planned this. Silj clutched a handful of fur with one hand and held his crossbow at the ready with the other. He was ready to destroy the scepter and return home.
The Scepter pulsed once, almost peacefully and the worst of the cold air seemed to subside. Between the potions of Winterbane and the Scepter, they seemed to be able to survive here. The Scepter then began to twitch, like a compass. Pointing ahead and downward. It clearly wanted them to go in that direction.
They were on a plateau, high on a mountain with more mountains in every direction as far as they could see. Everything was covered with snow and the sky was so bright that they couldn’t open their eyes completely without discomfort. Giant crags of ice, jutted up from the ground and gave the impression of an ancient cave floor with stalagmites reaching for the ceiling. Everywhere they turned the ground looked uneven, dangerous and nearly impassable. The only possible path was in the direction the Scepter pointed.
Before they took a step, the ambush was launched. It seemed that a hunter from the Plane of Ice had recognized their arrival and had moved to intercept them. The hunter was a tall iceling creature covered with white fur and carrying a longbow that was easily 8 feet in length. It fired arrows the length of javelins. With the hunter was 4 great bears that were easily Ithy’s size but covered with white fur and had sharp, ice like barbs sticking up from their backs.
The hunter whistled and the bears charged.
The first one leapt at Silj and tried to grab him. Silj triggered his magic cloak and disappeared before the bear could ensnare him. He reappeared twenty feet up, atop an icy crag and fired his bolt down into the bear’s back.
Unprepared, out of their element and surrounded the party was quickly being overwhelmed. The bears hit with immense power and the hunter’s aim was frighteningly accurate.
Drenla realized that they were fighting a truly powerful foe and she dipped deep into her magic reserves and smashed the bears with a blast of magic that burned them with their ancient enemy fire and pushed them away from the party, giving them time to recover, regroup and counter attack.
A single bear was missed by the blast and it reared up to smash Drenla down. Silk saw the attack and realized that Drenla was in trouble. He holstered his crossbow and drew his shortsword and with a yell to Torrin Redscale he leapt onto the bear’s back. The sudden crushing weight of pseudo-dragonborn threw the ice bear off and Drenla was able to dodge out of the way.
These were defining moments in the battle. The bears were scattered and bloody and never managed to recover. When the fourth bear was finally beaten, the hunter put up his weapons and raised his hands in peace.
He approached the party, without fear or threat and said in the language of giants, “Well fought. I am Hillsgar and I am a hunter. I seek prey, I see that you are not that. You are predators, like Hillsgar. I do not wish to fight you”.
Hillsgar was as good as his word. He helped the party to fashion cloaks from the fur of his bears that would further protect them from the cold. He also told them about the forge of D’anthal that lay down the path at the base of this mountain.
When the party grew tired of his company he bid them farewell and safe passage and disappeared back into the frost.
The forge lay ahead…… The scepter could be destroyed and all would be made right with the world.