The Alliance: To IceHome
“What’s wrong with you? You haven’t been listening. Run Away!”
Our pristine world is born into mourn;
We rise to find night’s black eye pon the sun,
Wanting of love to find lover gone.
The conclusion of all of the words is grief.
In our homesteads joy is now naive
Look to the sky, the signs don’t deceive.
Our towns and homes massed security
But we are out-witted by outsiders proclivities,
Funeral dirges ring out mocking stupidity.
To feel the ache of crushed walls when the raid’s over.
Within our castles built to last forever:
Two-timed fools wander thinking only of weather.
When danger is looming and Armageddon’s upon us!
The Alliance – The Journey to IceHome
“I am familiar with the devices,” starts the Doctor.
“Of course they were made by a gnome, Kwalish, book wormy, some say paranoid, Lobster-obsessed gnome with a knack for invention. Personally I think he was brilliant. He lived over 400 years ago. He was employed within a sultanate and worked out of a fortified workshop he had built for himself there. I hear it can still to be found high on an inaccessible rocky pillar located off the coast several hundred yards from the mainland. Legend says, a narrow arch once spanned the gap between the cliffs and the pillar, but even if that was true it crumbled into the ocean centuries ago. I’m sure the upper works would also be much weathered … locals call the place ‘The Arm of Kwalish’. And of course they say it is filled with traps and guardians designed by the inventor who stored any number of his other intriguing but generally less known works … Given what I’ve heard of these devices, I would suggest dividing ourselves based on our talents and relative intelligence. Certainly, I can pilot one vessel and I will bring Lucian in my apparatus, my assistant should pilot a second and he will need to bring the construct L.O.G.A.N.,” suggests Doctor Manne.
“I could pilot one too," suggests Finellior, “Bennie would you like to come with me?”
“Naw, I can take care of myself, dwarves are natural born pilots … and I don’t like Dell’s chances, he can come with me, he’s not Bairdyn but he is a halfling,” answers Bhenedict.
“Are we going to be able to talk to each other while we are underwater?” asks Finellior.
“I will be able to speak to the Doctor,” responds the assistant while snickering to himself and tinkering with the controls of one of the vessels.
Within their mechanical lobsters they exit the chamber submerging and traveling through a lit tunnel crawling until the floor falls away and they suddenly begin sinking into the darkness of the deeper sea. One of the submersibles, the assistant’s, quickly sprouts bright glowing eyes. The others flay about in their apparatuses, growing and losing legs, snapping pincers, and zigzagging about in jerky backward jolts … the lobster carrying Bhenedict and Dell settles upside down on the ocean floor where it pathetically wiggles. Within Dr. Manne’s vessel a voice jolts the Doctor and Lucian … the sound of the assistant’s voice explaining the controls. Somehow he had rigged the two vessels so they could communicate with each other.
“I will go assist the others,” offers the assistant.
After the assistant helps Bhenedict right his vessel they organize in a line on the bottom of the ocean and they begin the long march to the iceberg. True to Bejam’s words each of the vessels are equipped with a homing arrow that automatically points to the iceberg. So it didn’t appear that finding the iceberg would be a problem; the challenge was going to be mastering the controls of mechanized lobsters and avoiding detection.
Leaving the safety of Nefelus behind, they begin their journey under the sea, navigating slowly on the ocean floor. After the mast the vessels lights, they dim them and proceed with the Doctor’s assistant leading the way.
Almost innately the assistant understood the controls, he fully grasped most mechanisms, it was a talent. He was already playing with his vehicle’s pinchers and joyfully sharing his discoveries with the Doctor via a simple communications device he had put in place. For his own part, the Doctor didn’t really need much encouragement, he found the controls simple enough … He was a gnome afterall. Alone in his apparatus, Finellior found that he was easily able to manage, only feeling slightly disgruntled that he didn’t have anyone to share his successes with. At one point, once he’d gotten a feel for the controls and found them overly simplistic to use, he started getting overconfident and began dozing off and started to veer off course but was brought back to alertness by a slight tapping on his hull by the arm of the doctor’s assistant’s machine. Bhenedict and Dell, however, were having more serious problems. Dell was calling out suggestions that almost inevitably went wrong. From outside staring through portholes, Fin did his best to keep them on course, he had never seen the dwarf look more worried. Taking advantage of there slowness, the assistant shut-off his lobster’s lights entirely and told the Doctor he would be right back, then the assistant’s lobster ship disappeared with a sudden jolt. The assistant began to swim his lobster quickly backward while rising toward the surface, much faster than the others knew how to follow. He spun the unit’s eye stalks backward, which made the navigation easy and free flowing. Rising quickly his vehicle’s eye stalks broke the surface. Spying a sahuagin patrol, the assistant freezes as thoughts of escape fill his mind.
Setting his unit into a slow descent, the lobster ship begins slowly sinking back into the depths until the assistant finds himself surrounded by giant artic sharks scanning the ocean. The sharks look as dangerous as can be, and each was easily much larger than the apparatus itself. Thinking quickly the assistant retracts the legs, eyes stalks and pinchers, sealing the portholes, running blind, praying that the sharks will ignore a sinking box. Tense moment pass slowly as the pressure increases until after an intermittable amount of time the apparatus settles surprisingly gently and sideways. Cautiously the assistant opens the portholes, outside things are dark, save for some dim lights in the distance. Estactically, the assistant engages the legs and returns to the party of crawling lobster ships. As he approaches the other vehicles he utilizes his ship’s tail to dance about the line of vessels while he excitedly tells the Doctor about the patrols above.
Learning from the assistant’s new mastery of the apparatus the Doctor quickly matches his assistant’s success, the Doctor begins swimming his ship too, and his thoughts drift back to the tales he had heard regarding Kwalish’s devices … The gnome designer Kwalish had been fixated on mimicking living things mechanically, that being the common quirk that was present in all his creations; therefore, it seemed obvious that these ‘lobsters’ would be built to travel backwards, and doing so made them easier to operate. Having figured that out, the Doctor found everything about the apparatus coming easier; joining Fin he began helping to guide Bhenedict correctly. Inside the craft, Benedict knew his every failure threatened the mission, and he understood the gavity of the situation, so he struggled mightily with the controls … A task as difficult as any battle he had ever engaged in. Bennie decided to stop listening to Dell, his constant suggestions weren’t helping, instead he focused upon his own instincts and goal at hand. He might not be able to swim around backwards, but he could manage crawling and he was determined to do so in the right direction.
With the assistant scouting their way and keeping a sharp eye out for sahuagin patrols, the group avoids detection and in just less than 3 hours they spot the iceberg known as Icehome in the water above.
As the emissaries propel their ships through the depths, the massive shadow of the iceberg called Icehome takes form in the water ahead. As they see the underbelly of the massive iceberg—they know immediately they’ve just reached their destination. Within the nearing iceberg, they spy a hole in the bottom of the iceberg, an underwater tunnel. They maneuver their craft towards the narrow passage in a single file, as they do the tunnel starts to climb until eventually, a pale blue light surrounds them. For safety’s sake, they allow Bhenedict to lead the way. The dwarf crawls his ship forward slowly until he realizes that he is about to break the surface. Ahead large chunks of ice bob at the surface at the point where the passage emerges in open air. Bhenedict navigates past the ice floes bringing the craft to the surface.
He finds that they are entering an icy cavern dotted with stalactites and snow. Within the cavern, a number of blue-skinned sahuagin appear more than happy to greet him in the traditional customs of their people as they threaten with their weapons. Some of the sahuagin throw icy tridents at the ship. Struggling with the controls, Bhenedict rushes to move his apparatus into the cavern so the other will have room to enter; all the while, Dell yells in the back of the lobster insisting that Bennie opens the lid to allow the halfling an opportunity to attack and Dell gets his way. As Bennie proceeds making room the second vessel, the Doctor’s assistant enters the cavern opening the shell even before he fully grounds the vessel. With the shell of the first ship open, Dell again surrounds his body with arcane lightning and charges after the sahuagin within the cavern. Dell is followed by L.O.G.A.N. the construct launching from that vessel, flying through the air while simultaneously emitting blasts of energy from shoulder mounted cannons. Benedict parks his craft and joins the fray to taunt the sahuagin to draw combatants to him shouting insult laced threats.
“Drop yer rusted garbage and die ye fish-faced, lard brained, toad lickin’ snot rags!”
The battle is almost over before the others can disembark from their lobsters. The Doctor doesn’t even have time to exit, but he does take the opportunity to practice with the apparatuses pincher grabbing one of the surviving sahuagin and snipping its head off. While the Doctor practices, Dell chases down the final retreating sahuagin, their priest as he tries the escape to a second chamber. As Dell gains ground, the priest stops fast allowing the halfling to slide past as his feet slip upon the ice. As Dell slides past the priest, he blasts the halfling with a freezing blast slowing Dell’s recovery further and turns back towards the other summoning the image of an icy jawed shark in the air and sending it to attack L.O.G.A.N. The priest’s actions delay the priest’s escape long enough that Bhenedict catches-up and plows into the blood-thristy sahuagin shield first toppling him, and then the dwarf brings his warhammer down hard enough to insure the priest never rises.
When the priest defeated, Bhenedict pauses to take stock of their situation and offers, “We have but 24 hours to deal with this place, we’ve got no good footing, were freezing and I guarantee things will get worse before better. I’d like to get there afore I freeze to death, I’m sure you agree? Dell will carry this elemental prismatic thing; he tells me he can use it. That Bejam fellow said its suppose to turn one elemental power to another protecting he who carries it. Well so far, Dell’s been leading off most fights anyhow. We’ve also got this solace bole ritual thing, I’m guessing the Doctor can put this to use iffin we need it and we will. It’s supposed to bring us to the hollow of some big tree trunk, like the Ever-tree. While were there, time suppose to pass really slow given us a chance to rest. Any arguments so far? … No, good, then let’s get to it, times-a-wasting and I’m not getting any younger or warmer standing here.”
Together they move forward slowly, minding their footing as they make their way through the dimly lit chamber, the thinner members of their crew already shivering from the bitter cold. Exiting the entrance chamber they come to a choice of two rough natural stairs. At the rear of the party the Doctor proceeds forward, he alone staying within one of the apparatuses while the others travel on foot.
Once again Dell takes lead opting to take the stairway on the left, Bhenedict follows close behind. The natural stair ascends up into a expansive cavern. Like the entry cavern, the floor there dotted with stalagmites. Across the new cavern, Dell spots a ledge rising about 10 feet off the ground directly ahead of him. While Dell considers the climb, thinking it looks slick, he notices something moving behind one of the stalagmites near him . . . something big.
The remorhaz strikes with little warning skittering across the ice at great speed snapping with vicious mandibles while clawing at the halfling. Dell retreats so quickly he stumbles and topples backward down the stair, the monster giving pursuit, trampling over the dwarf in its rush … The monster’s body filling the stairway. Finellior races up the second stairway, hoping to flank the monster, as he enters the upper cavern he notices to the extreme right side of the cavern, another ledge offers a similar climb as the near ledge next to a tunnel that heads out of the new cavern in that direction of the far ledge. At the other end of the beast the dwarf becomes aware of heat emanating from the monster but with both his armor and the elemental ring protecting him; Bhenedict is unconcerned. .
As the monster advances the heat is so great that even sealed within his apparatus the Doctor can fill the metal warming at the monsters approach, fearing for his vessel the Doctor throws the lobster into reverse backing off. Bhenedict responds attacking the monster successfully halting the remorhaz at the base of the stairs. L.O.G.A.N.’s armor lights the monster with tight twin beams of red light that focus on the monster’s head in warning. The monster pays no heed, perhaps not fully recognizing the nature of the aiming mechanism.
From the rear of the party, Lucian launches an acid orb to distract the monster, the orb explodes on the remorhaz causing little real damage. At the rear of the monster Finellior attacks, but the monster ignores his attack. Having regained his footing, Dell retraces Fin’s path up the second stairway, looking to join Fin’s attack. Back at the base of the stairs, the monster strikes at Bhenedict getting only a mouthful full of shield for its trouble, it rips the shield away with one savage jerk leaving the dwarf exposed, immediately it pulls back in preparation of another attack. ‘VHOOM ‘ … L.O.G.A.N. attacks, blasting fire from twin shoulder mounted cannons, exploding at the monster’s head … Head smoking, the remorhaz retreats backward several steps almost trampling Dell again, the halfling teleports to escape appearing on the raised section of the chamber, but Fin finds himself pinned between the monster and the wall. Fin begins to burn due to the proximity of the monster, the creature heat overcoming him.
Angry and too stupid to run the monster follows through on it’s original attack, it head whipping forward like a snake and snapping up Bhenedict within its mandibles raising him high like an obscene snack. The monster shallows the dwarf in one gulp. Fin tries to help but finds there is nothing he can do trapped as he was. Then the Doctor acts, fixing the monster in place with a spell, summoning the spirits of the remorhaz victims. The spirits reach up through the ice grasping at the monster’s many legs. With the monster trapped, the Doctor blasts the monster with a wave of pure necromantic force. The monster convulses once mightily and as a second great convulsion begins it spews the dwarf forcefully outward projecting Bhenedict through the air, down the stairs until the dwarf slams into the Doctor sprawling both of them on the ice. The dwarf is damaged but alive, and choking. Both them coated with foul-smelling stomach acids and half digested offerings. The remorhaz collapses, dead.
Alone upon the ledge, Dell discovers that the remorhaz had apparently been kept happy by a steady diet of would be heroes. Upon the ledge the halfling finds the remains of sailors and their remaining gear, including several sets of spiked ice shoes. Digging through the debris, Dell also finds a set of fine leather boots that seem out of place and a small wooden box.