A hero is gone
A hero in icy tomb
A hero ice heart
Speaking to Bottellick, Finellior asks, “Can you describe any of the other foes we are likely to encounter?”
“Giants, one their leader is called Nara of the Waste; she was beautiful but don’t let that fool you, she is dangerous and vicious … She waits in the large cavern beyond the next chamber. She keeps a company of huge wolves and other giants. On the upper floor there are devilish gargoyles and the real enemy, a monstrous two-headed dragon named ‘Chillreaver’,” answers the half-elf.
“What type of dragon is it?” presses Finellior
“The mean two-headed kind!” and Bottellick emphasizes his point by making a face and holding up his hands like claws.
“No, I mean what color?”clarifies Fin.
“You put entirely too much importance on color I think … but if it makes you feel better, he’s mostly black and white, more black than white I think and spotted, and the colors shifted, like when his eyes ran from black to icy blue when he captured Buttock,” explains the half-elf.
“How exactly did that happen?” asks Fin.
“We aren’t ’exactly’ sure. They approached the dragon and he seemed to fix him in it’s gaze, first Buttock and then Garth, almost immediately the two of them grabbed Thorin and dragged him to the dragon. That‘s just about when the gargoyles showed up so we were a bit distracted ourselves,” answers Bottellick.
“Did you find out anything about the Seed of Winter?” asks the bard.
“No, not really, it was a small white object floating above the high pedestal … I thought I heard a tinkling, like a glass wind chime. It glowed so brightly it was difficult to look at, and the cold within the chamber was palpable … like a living thing,” interrupts Math Helm.
“Can you take your party to safety?” asks Fin
With a loud “SNAP“ the rope binding Buttock the ogre breaks as the ogre suddenly stands shouting unintelligible obscenities while grabbing and hurling Fin into the pit leading to the first level. Snatching up his dwarf companion, the ogre orders, “Wake-up dwarf! No time to sleep now.”
With a whirling sound the Doctor’s Assistant fires a device he calls ‘the tangler’ as it strikes a wire wraps about the Buttock and his two tied companions setting off a shower of sparks. Grimacing, the ogre struggles lifting the dwarf, Thorin, with one arm and the barbarian warrior, Garth Helm, in the other. Thorin wakes yelling, “Put me down you overgrown tub o’ manure!”
As if on cue Bhenedict charges forward, Buttock quickly tosses Thorin in his direction … The two dwarves collide. Behind Buttock a swirling pattern of colorful lights appear, the light immediately distracts both Buttock and the icy dwarf Thorin. Bhenedict reels back to slam Thorin, Dr. Manne waves him off and their addled opponents turn towards the spinning lights; mindlessly they wander, like moths to a flame until both of them fall into the egress to the first level.
Down below Finellior shouts, as his life quickly passes before his eyes when he sees the ogre and the dwarf falling towards him. Fin had only just a split-second to save himself. The bard was hanging on the rope set by Zed, but now to save himself he had to let go of the rope and let himself fall. Together all three crash hard on the icy ground below. Fin is the first on his feet, and at a dead run, with the ogre close on his tail.
In the chamber above, the remaining heroes, Bhenedict, the Doctor, the Assistant, Lucian, Dell, Sgt. Fury, Bottellick and Math scramble.
“We need to rescue Fin, and pronto!” asserts Bennie.
“Don’t worry about him, we will get him,” offers Bottellick, indicating himself and Math. “They are our problem and we will deal with them if you will help by lowering Garth to the lower level.”
“Can you keep them down there?” Asks Sgt. Fury.
“Not without help, but we can keep them from getting back up here, especially if you cap the top,”suggests Math.
“I could do that with the dead remorhaz,” suggests Dr. Manne.
“Wait till I get Fin,” says Bennie while hefting Garth on to his shoulder with one hand and grabbing the rope with the other, “I’m not coming back without the bard.”
“Before you go, while we gather Fin, ” Sgt. Fury asks Bottellick “can you draw us map of the dragon’s chamber?”
“Yeah sure,” says Bottellick, “You have a quill?”
The Doctor’s Assistant quickly hands the strange half-elf, ink, quill and parchment.
Moving-on, the Lair
After Bhenedict returned with Finellior, the dwarf was uneasy. The rescue had been a hair-raising experience. So much so that Bennie announced,
“We can’t leave this unguarded. We should have killed them while we could. They are getting stronger. We would have been better off fighting Zed, but Fin and I wouldn’t have made it back without his and those other two. I‘m against splitting-up but we just can‘t leave the tunnel unguarded … See if we can make it to the upper level, but don‘t go without me. I‘ll stand guard here until we know what were up against.”
Dell pipes in, “Don’t worry, I’m here there’s nothing going to happen I can’t cover. Cool your heels for a few minutes, we’ll be right back.”
The defining feature of the next chamber is a crevasse splitting the ice in the center of the room. More stalagmites dot the floor, and there appears to be a newly excavated tunnel in the far end of the chamber that is mostly screened by massive stalagmite; the tunnel leads upward a steep rise and out beyond the cavern. Another rough tunnel leads out of the cavern on the right side of the chamber. The rugged crevasse splits the ice in the middle of this cavern the floor of which is gently sloped in the direction of the crevasse from all the other areas of the cavern.
Examining the cavern Dell takes the lead moving forward but as he does, he becomes aware of something within the crevasse as he hears movement from within the gaping crack and then something emerges from it; the creature a large, insectoid with an ape-like build that glares at Dell with all four of its eyes at once. Almost immediately Dell’s jaw goes slack, and his eyes glassy, the halfling changes direction going astray, and falling mindlessly and disappearing into the depths of the crevasse, the monster following behind him.
Sgt. Fury races in seeking to help his fallen friend but no sooner does he enter when a second monster appears. The sergeant proves to be as vulnerable to the confusing power of the monster as the halfling had been, following suit he disappears into the crevasse.
With greater caution, Lucian and the Assistant approach the crevasse both ready to blast any new monsters. Dr. Manne yells, “Those creatures are umber hulks, though strangely altered for the icy environment … They are burrowing creature that can confuse humanoids with their gaze. I would advise keeping your distance.”
Looking down into the deep crack in the ice, Lucian witnesses a battle taking place twenty feet below. The fissure narrows as it deepens, at the bottom the two heroes struggled outnumbered against four umber hulks. Sgt. Fury appeared to be holding his own, all the while yelling things about the glory of Overlook oddly enjoying the battle, but Dell was clearly injured. The warlock didn’t hesitate, raising his hands high he gestures while calling forces seen only by him, summons a molten ring of searing droplets, a rain of white hot metal surrounds Dell in an attempt to dissuade the halfling’s attackers. Keeping his back to the wall, the Assistant joins in by arcing a fist-sized metal globe into the crevasse, the device exploding within the crack upon friend and foe alike but ‘Socrates’ was unconcerned … having centered the explosion upon L.O.G.A.N., the assistant knew he would be protected from the blast by his amazing armor. Without a second thought Socrates throws in a second grenade. Soon the two heroes emerge, Sgt. Fury almost unscathed, carrying Dell who is in much worse shape. They are pursued by the last surviving umber hulk, but it is immediately blasted back into the pit by the Doctor and the others. Fin quickly goes to work on Dell’s injuries, and with the bard’s aid Dell soon recovers from the beating he’d taken in the pit. Undeterred, the bold halfling says, “It was just a scratch. Let’s keep going!”
Nara of the Wastes
Prepared by Bottellick’s quick map the explorers look towards the challenge of the steep incline to the next chamber not fully realizing they were heading into the temporary home of the frost giant clan allied with Chillreaver, the frost giants here are led by Nara of the Wastes, a sacred ice shaper second in power only to the Jarl of her tribe. She didn’t favor her name, modeling her form after all the natural beauty of her icy homeland. Others had long found her to be the perfect vision of winter, an ice princess, but like winter itself her heart was cold, frozen. She was as dangerous a foe as the heroes had ever met.
Hidden beneath her tenebrous shroud, a magical device that allowed her to hide, Nara watched from the vantage point of the ice bridge as the heroes entered her enclave. Two frost giant elite guards waited there with her. They had heard the explosions and the sound of combat coming from the lower cavern occupied by the umber hulks.
Chillreaver had long been an ally of these frost giants when they both lived in the frozen waste lands north of the Elsir Vale. Nara of the Wastes kept her retinue here, and she used a linked portal to travel back to their northern home whenever necessary. As the adventurers climb into the chamber Nara takes a moment to disable the portal while ordering the scouts to attack.
It took several tries for some of the explorers to make it up the slippery rise leading into the giant’s enclave but no one moved on until everyone successfully made the climb. As they gather at the entrance to the enclave the giants attack. Freezing the moisture in the air around their arms the giants cast them down violently towards the invaders, razor sharp shards of icy rain like icy arrows at the heroes, the shards freezing everything they touch slice into Nefelus’s rescuers making progress tedious and difficult.
Still the two boldest members of the party, Dell and Sgt. Fury press forward, deeper into the vast cavern, far larger than any they had previously seen. A slick, steep-sloping ice bridge hangs over a fast-moving stream; the stream’s banks are thick with a white mist. To the west, a platform rises up 30 feet from the floor and is connected to the ice bridge. Unlike in the other caverns, no stalagmites are here. Furs, animal skins, tools, and large weapons are piled in various places near the walls.
Almost immediately Nara splits the party creating a great wall of ice between the sergeant and the halfling and the others. Unimpressed Dell teleports himself to the raised platform immediately attacking the ice princess. The other giants split their own attacks, one attacking Sgt. Fury and the other holding the others at bay at the entrance of the cavern. On the far side of the cavern, across the icy stream huge winter wolves begin to growl in anticipation while white furred yeti use the thick mist and the wolves cries to mask their own approach on the far side of the stream. The yeti leap crossing the stream and thundering in amidst those heroes left behind. They attack, howling and swinging wildly, unfettered. Socrates and the Doctor are tossed through the air and down the slippery entrance to the cavern ending up back in the cavern where they had fought the umber hulks. Two other yeti attack the others one each on Lucian and Finellior. Sgt. Fury activates his rockets flying towards Dell atop the platform.
As he arrives he is surprised to find Dell flanked between Nara and huge spectral wolf, both Dell and Nara were injured but the wolf was unharmed. Quickly the Sergeant lands interposing himself between the wolf and Dell. Immediately the wolf snatches him in his jaws and begins dragging the Fury up the icy bridge pulling him away from Dell Corrin. Down on the ground below, the others regroup. Soon both Lucian and Fin slay their foes, the assistant Socrates kills the third yeti, but the giant above keeps blasting them forcing them to take cover and retreat from the main chamber. The second giant guard rushes to the Nara’s side smashing Dell to the ground with the force of his attack, the cold emanating from the two giants was overwhelming, Dell’s mind began to drift …
Trapped under the portent of impending death
Gripped by icy cold that holds like a vice
I fight and rise through a prison of ice
The Grim Reaper’s so close I smell his breath.
Dell thought he had died, his eyes snapped open clearing thoughts of snow white canaries from his mind’s eye. Energy filling his every pore the halfling pulls himself up, and he darts after dodging the guard’s attack and slicing at and through the giantess’s Achilles tendon with his fading strength. As she collapses on one knee, Dell grabs the silky winter blue hair at her shoulder pulling himself to Nara then swinging himself around her neck and freely through the air the halfling cleanly slits her throat and together they fall.
As Nara dies the massive spirit wolf disappears leaving Sgt. Fury with the two giants. Shoulder mounted cannons whirl and pop, blasting the giant near to ‘Shady’ in turn towards the sergeant and they charge each other, Sgt. Fury wins, the giant dies. The second giant, the one higher on the bridge flees into a higher chamber beyond the great cavern. On the ground below the winter wolves howl and begin to charge the platform but Sgt. Fury waits for them atop the platform at the head of the stair keeping the wolves at bay while Dell ties a rope to the body of Nara lowering it to the ground for the rest of the party. On the ground below, the icy wall had disappeared when Nara died leaving the way clear for the others. Having defeated the giant’s ice princess, Nara of the Wastes, the heroes take a moment atop the high platform of ice within the massive cavern.
Upon the rise the heroes pause, prior to climbing the slippery ice bridge that provided egress from the cavern. The bridge rose ominously towards as of the yet unexplored the halls of the upper level. L.O.G.A.N. who was now calling himself Sgt. Fury paced uneasy, still guarding to the icy natural steps that rose to platform from the far side of the cavern waiting for the others to join him on the platform. Below the huge wolves alternately growled or howled threats of violence, but they kept to the floor of the cavern having already experienced the sting of the Sergeant’s blasters.
As the Doctor‘s Assistant joins the quiet discussion, the Doctor contemplates the linked portal the giant’s had apparently used to travel back to and from parts unknown, idly the doctor musing that his brother Bingus would probably have been able to tell the origins of the portal, and likely he would have been able to activate it. The Doctor didn’t really care and he was glad his traitorous brother wasn’t there, still having not forgiven him for the events that took place at Rivenroar.
While they gather, Finellior busies himself taking account of their latest success, and announces, “We should go get Bhenedict as we are going to need him on the upper level; it is remarkable that we survived this far without him.”
Looking concerned, Lucian says, “I’m not so sure; our friend Shady doesn’t look so well.”
All at once, the others, Doctor Manne, the assistant, Socrates, Fin, and Sgt. Fury look towards Shady … The halfling looks back glassy-eyed, and looking weary, weathered and distinctly ill.
Bravely, Dell Corrin grins back, and struggles saying, “It has been a pleasure, fair thee all well, and Godspeed to you all.”
Then suddenly the halfling falls backwards onto the snowy ground, there on the ice platform where the stream and the rise worked together to splitting the cavern in two, with the heroes on one side and their enemies upon the other at the top of the stair, on top of the ice platform in the middle of the iceberg call Icehome, Shady was dead. The Doctor and the Assistant try in vane to revive him giving testament to this sad fact.
“His eyes are frozen solid, icy,” offers the Assistant.
“But that’s not what killed him,” points out the Doctor, while lightly rapping the halfling’s chest with his knuckles … “His heart is frozen solid. It was pure bravery that kept him going … spontaneous heroism, quite impressive. He determination was outstanding!”
Now that it’s over, I feel no more pain
I don’t have to worry ’bout monsters again’
The ice is all gone; I’m no longer caught
Make use of my fight and the time we have bought
So smile, you’re not dead, your life is not done
And it was you, and not Death, that this day has won.