The snow was falling heavier then any of them could have imagined. The jagged spires of ice and the crevasses opening up to nearly bottomless pits reminded them how far from home they were. However, they hadn’t come this far to fail and using the staff like a divining rod, they set out in the direction it indicated.
It was rough going. They had to double back many times and often had to use rope and stakes to traverse the trail. More then once they came dangerously close to someone falling to their death. Drenla in particular seemed to be a high risk. Nobody could tell for certain but she seemed to be drinking heavily and didn’t seem to have her full wits about her. Rather dangerous considering their path and destination. Gaylord stayed close to her and made certain she didn’t accidently plummet to her doom. There were times he believed she deserved it but they would need her powerful magic to complete their journey.
After a half day journey they arrived within sight of the castle of D’athane. His palace was made of ice and the walls stood over 30 feet tall. D’athane must have struck a deal with the abyss because the walls and towers were manned by four armed ice devils, wielding vicious tridents. The smooth ice walls looked unscalable and the gate was closed and well guarded.
Maribe looked around and discovered a path in the snow leading to a small service door in the back. It had been dug out under the defenses, clearly by the menials of the castle. The lock easily yielded to the party and they found themselves in a storage depot for supplies and equipment. The underground caverns were a maze of tunnels and passages. Drenla pulled out her spellbook to cast a scrying spell to help them determine the best possible passage but in her alcohol induced haze she read the wrong spell and a huge thunderclap reverberated throughout the tunnel. Almost immediately, two ice devils engaged the party, summoned by the sound.
The heroes were ready for the attack and made short work of the first devil. The second one was about to fall when a noise like a thousand little feet descended on the party. Rats, dozens of rats the size of small dogs, covered in white fur with razor sharp teeth surged from every passage and opening. The group was surrounded and mobbed. The rats were smart enough to work in teams to surround and try to pull the heroes to the ground where they were even more deadly.
Silj sized up the situation and new it was dire. He had nearly 10 rats surrounding him. He pulled out the Amulet of Bahamut and prepared to unleash a fiery death on them. He saw that many of his friends would also be impacted by the spell. He made eye contact with Gaylord and Gaylord nodded. It was their only option. Silj lifted the amulet high into the air and yelled out, “Torrin hear my plea, Bahamut bring death upon our enemies”. A rolling ring of fire burst from Silj and killed many of the rats. Maribe, Ithy and Drenla were also scorched but this was the turning point in the battle. However, the impact on the rats was not the only one. The amulet, after releasing it’s fires, began to shake and glow. Small motes of golden light leapt from the amulet and orbited around Silj for a few passes, getting closer and closer to him until they finally merged with his body. In seconds the entire amulet had disappeared into hundreds of points of light, each of which entered into Silj. When the metamorphosis was complete, Silj felt closer to his god then ever and the Fire breath of the Dragon Born, the one trait of his people that had never manifested in him was intact. Silj had always known he was just a late developer. Throughout his life many people had laughed at him when he explained that he was a dragonborn. He couldn’t understand the doubt. Now he knew that nobody would ever misunderstand again.
Drenla, Gaylord and Maribe continued the fight slaying rats by the dozens until the tunnels were once again quite. The party was broken and bleeding but the intense cold and proximity to enemies wouldn’t allow them anything more then a short rest. Exhausted and almost out of healing magic they set out to complete their quest.
They fought through several Ice Devil patrols and guards along the way but the Ice Scepter kept them headed in the right direction. Finally, nearing the end of their physical limits they found the forge.
Standing in front of an anvil made of ice and a forge of intense blue fire stood D’athane. He held an axe in one hand and a glowing hammer in the other. His armor looked like it was made of solid ice scales and his beard looked more like icicles then hair.
He looked at the party for a moment and said, “I know why you are here. You came to destroy the Scepter. I canna not allow it. Tis a matter of Dwarven Pride. Tis a matter of Dwarven honour. Tis a matter of gold......’ He rushed forward with supernatural speed.
Silj was ready, he fired two crossbow bolts into the dwarf before he took 3 steps and the battle was on.
D’athane was not without weapons of his own. He was so fast he attacked twice before anyone else could strike a single blow. He could throw his hammer with unerring accuracy and it hit with an explosion of force. His axe was deadly and sharp and once he was even able to let out a blast of cold magic that was every bit as deadly as Silj’s fire amulet.
After many minutes of combat, D’athane was bleeding from many wounds. The party was out of healing surges. Gaylord fell to the ground unconscious, followed by Maribe. Ithy had been banished and Gaylord and Drenla were in dire straights.
It was just moments away from Maribe’s ultimate demise and D’athane struck. He spun around and swung his axe at Drenla. Shocked by the armor she wore under her robes his blow was deflected and he couldn’t get his follow up move to regain his thrown hammer. He leapt as close as he could get to it. As he reached down to grasp it, Drenla fired a magic missile into his back and it found an opening in his magic armor. D’athane stopped. Stood still and slowly dropped to the ground.
The battle had been won. Bruised and limping, Maribe stumbled up to the forge. She brought the hammer of D’athane down upon the crystal at the end of the scepter and it exploded into light. The dragon claw prongs stretched and reformed into a closed claw and the scepter surged with renewed magic. The light from the shattered shard dimmed revealing a wide, but quickly shrinking portal back to Mount Fenithall.
The party leapt through the portal, back into the primer material plane.
After a short rest they make their way down the mountain and back to Ft. Rinehold. The sky is high and bright in the sky and a warm breeze is blowing. The snows are already melting.
All around you, the people of Runehold are hard at work. Clearing rubble and rebuilding the fort. In just a few more weeks, it will be as if the attack had never happened. Of course the many people killed would always be remembered but the land and the keep would prevail.
Many of the townspeople stopped to shake their hands and thank them for their salvation.
The party got cleaned up, warmed up and got something to eat. Shortly, they are approached by Fuyuks, Norr Bennins assistant. He greeted them warming and thanked them for the wonderful deed.
Fuyuks stayed busy while they were gone, overseeing the reconstruction and staying in touch with people througout the valley. He had several messages for the party.
One from Norr Bennins telling them that Jenna, Jasmine and he arrived safely and Magnimar. They will await word from you. Norr has an apartment their.
Another note written in a harsh handwriting with no care for neatness, just blunt efficiency says.
Many Goblins killed. Hope you are well. Buttercup is fine. In Sandpoint at parent’s home.
Come when you can.
Sandpoint is a town several easy day’s march deeper into the valley. Fuyuk takes notice of this and says, “Sandpoint is pretty popular this time of year. That’s where Baron Flatterly went when the storms got bad and the town was threatened.”
After a brief discussion it was decided that they should visit Sandpoint first. The trip was without incident. All along the road the party saw evidence of fresh growth and melted snow. Farmers were moving quickly to replant their fields, hoping to get a partial crop before the real winter weather hit. They didn’t look desperate, just determined.
Sandpoint was a fairly large town. The gate was guarded but opened and they weren’t stopped upon entry. A few coppers and some streetwise checks later the party was standing outside of a shabby little house. It was old, poorly build and without any finery or fit. It was however, extremely well maintained and immaculately clean.
A wooden shingle was handing from a bronze rod with the emblem of the Brazenhold clan artfully painted upon it.
In front was a recently built hitching post, with a wonderfully wrought water trough. There was even a pavilion like shelter over the hitching post to provide shade and protection. A healthy amount of hay was gathered up for comfort and the entire area looked recently swept.
Tied to the post, with a silk rope, was none other then Buttercup. Her hair looked recently brushed and she looked rather well feed.
Before they could even approach the door, it burst open and Thorian rushed out.... “Stay away from her you cretins” he hollered. He seemed a little embarrassed when he noticed his friends.
He apologized to Maribe for his gruff words and gave her a brief but firm hug. He did the same for Drenla and shook hands with Silj.
Finally he stepped up to Gaylord and looked him in the eyes. Gaylord reached out his hand to shake Thorians but instead of giving him his hand, Thorian slapped a rolled up piece of parchment into Gaylord’s outstretched hand and said, “Explain this.”
Gaylord unrolled the poster and revealed a wanted poster. Upon it was a picture that looked exactly like Gaylord would look if he had shaved off his beard.
The print on the poster stated “Wanted Dead or Alive. Yard Gol was wanted for Desertion, attempted Murder and being a villain and scoundrel. Quenn Iseda is offering Bahumat’s blade as a reward for this bounty.”
Thorian put his fists on his hips and said, “Well?”