The Hopes of Karenguuld

Chapter II: Ascent to the Frozen Dome

After taking to the skies, our heroes make their way to the Isle of Udacha. When they reach the island, they find a shocking change has overcome the island. The legend spoke of a beautiful spring land, but the heroes find a floating rock overcome by a deep deep frost. Udacha’s peaks are covered in snow, the forests are frosted, and an icy wall seems to sequester the center of the island.

Despite their rudimentary map, they make a fly-around and find an appropriate place to land. They hitch their steeds to a nearby tree, barely noticing the Pegasus bones littered among their feet. They proceed down a rough trail to Udacha’s interior, quickly coming to a shallow river. After some deliberation, they begin to wade through the chilly water…

Towards the center of the stream, the water accelerates and becomes unbearably swift. A massive waterfowl beast rises from the water, hellbent on making sure our heroes keep it eternal company. The heroes can barely keep their footing, as they are quickly dragged toward the beast’s mouth. Several of them become wedged between the gnashing teeth, but with a few valiant strikes, Artemis and Corvus separate the beast from it’s own jaw. After finishing off some of the beast’s undead minions, the party finally reaches the other shore.

They trek onward. Soon the roughshod trail becomes nearly discernible, but Corvus is able to make out a few footsteps leading in diverging directions. After following one path but becoming hopelessly lost in a dense forest, the group retraces its steps and follows the second. Soon they arrive at the humble cottage of the Lady Malus. She offers them a warm meal of steak tar-tar. They are provided with cots for the night, as well as an updated map.

Lady Malus relays that the previously unexplored interior of the island actually houses a robust village of elite Eladrin, Whitehurst Village. She mentions that they aren’t particularly used to strangers, so our heroes may want to tread lightly. More importantly, she mentions seeing an Eladrin pass by recently carrying a large hammer. Although they were expecting a tiefling, they are able to piece together a few clues and realize that perhaps Swiften is a changeling. Lady Malus heard the visitor was later accused of stealing chickens, and may have fled to the Hamas Peaks behind the village. When the heroes question her desire to live outside the great wall, she mentions that she just prefers to live alone, as she doesn’t always see eye to eye with the villagers. She mentions that she still receives her daily delivery of meat, despite her remote location, and that she harbors no ill-will against the villagers.

As the heroes rise the next morning, they are greeted by a commotion outside. It appears the town guards have arrived with orders to take the visitors to the Baron Kildegaard. This name strikes the party as odd, as they hail from the Region of Kildegaard (their version is much less float-y). After a bit of stamping, pawing, and man-measuring by Artemis and Corvus and a bit of gentle prodding by Baracus, the sergeant tells them that he will give them a few moments to flee, but they’d better not be here when he returns.

The heroes flee back down to the fork in the road. WIth their updated map, they are able to navigate the gnarled pathways of the forest. Soon, they arrive at the towering Wall of the Deep Frost. After feeling around, Corvus finds a hidden door, and they enter the Wall. Inside, they find a stream of cold water, several goblets, and a strange engraving on the wall. They eventually discern that a specific quantity of water will allow them to move forward. Solving the riddle, Corvus and Barakus pour water from the stream into a small goblet and the Wall opens up.

The heroes continue onward along the edge of the forest to avoid detection. They re-emerge just quickly enough to gather some intel from an unsuspecting Emporium owner (Baracus and Katsako had disguised themselves as eladrin) about his missing chickens and learned that the culprits had fled high into the caverns atop Peak Hamas.

The sinewy trails of the icy mountains prove no match for the wilderness-conquering skills of our heroes, and they quickly reach the mouth of a dark cavern.

The cavern is black as night, but our crafty heroes are able to sneak in undetected. To their horror and delight, they see a sleeping band, headlined by a tiefling in robes, who they assume to be their mark, Swiften Banterlock. Unfortunately, he is accompanied by two hyenas and a large cave-troll wielding an enormous hammer. THe party charges across a rickety bridge to assault the sleeping band and recover the legendary mordenkraad.

A vicious battle ensues. The troll leaps up and charges across the small bridge, nearly sending Katsako and Barakus plummeting into a large chasm. Corvus quickly destroys the two hyenas, sending them to the Great Laugher in the Sky. Swiften chastises the group for their foolishness and morphs into a large Frost Dragon, spraying the party with icy blasts. Artemis deftly leaps upon the beasts back and swings wildly at the dragon’s neck. The dragon takes off over the chasm and shakes the fighter off, but Katsako is able to reach out and save Artemis from falling to his doom. Eventually, the party prevails and Swiften crashes back into the cave floor, withering back to a small changeling.

The party discovers that the true power of the mordenkraad came from a small stone in the hilt. Swiften had removed it and was wearing it around his neck. Corvus picked it up and placed it around his, making him feel safe. Unsettlingly safe…

Before they can search around further, the party grows heavy and weary, drifting into a deep sleep. Their next moment of consciousness finds them tied up in the back of a wagon, before they drift off again….

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