A Cold return

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Summary

Adventure: A Cold return
GM: Jono Bean
Session: Winter 813
Night: Monday or Tuesday starting at 6:30pm
Location 39 Sackville Street Grey Lynn.
Level: High Level.
Information: Information from players for Jono.
House Rules: Quickness & Slowness, No 'B' Colleges please

Chart of Seagate - Freetaun

The Party:

  • Toledo Steele played by Craig Harper: human warrior; thief; Renowned hero. Party-leader
  • Viola played by Bridget: back from the darkside but still an assassin & courtier, merely moderately good-looking or adequately stunning (so very understated for an illusionist). She is accompanied by Zephyr, her spirit guide in owl-form
  • Jaundice played by Elaine Harper: 5’8 female fire mage with killer breath; human with a bit of wolven pyromaniac
  • Grendel played by Simon White: 5’9 average build, m. human with heterochromatic eyes; Water/mind mage PACTED to water deity (a nice one). Go-to mage for Empathy, subsequently the MilSci when Sf wasn't in his right body.
  • Michael (the adventurer) played by William: "a simple man making his way in the multiverse", human, excellent assassin, occasionally faceless solarmage. Instantly recognisable, even in a crowd; coincidentally much more sociable than that other Michael Being, although the difference is only perceivable by those who've met both.
  • Keshah played by Mike Haycock: male elf Rune mage assassin, milsci, ranger, philosopher, etc
  • Silverfoam played by Michael Parkinson: m.elf namer(ish); Navigator-Troubadour-Mechanician-Milsci. Amateur courtier (9), philosopher (8 social & material worlds), healer (8 no res.); spy (6); Scribe. Initially the mil sci

Employer & others

Irina. A charming Elven Warlock from Freetaun

Job:

Specific Tasks

  1. To pop-up north, with some cook's apprentices, to collect the salamander hearts [Irina; the Abbot] — DONE
  2. "And if you can bring back the apprentices alive that would be desirable". [Irina] — DONE
  3. Beneath this cover job we were to deliver a package to A Certain Young Lady In Question. [Irina & MATT say yes; Moonshae & Raithe say No!] — Better than DONE
  4. Then, when we come back, we are to tackle the Senator of Decay in the countryside unpleasantly close to the town. [Irina] — DONE
  5. also to investigate the old necromancer’s tower and clear out the treasure there. [Irina] — Held over
  6. "And if you could put stopping the rune-mages from sacrificing in town on the list too." [Irina] — Held over
  7. some packs in the temple of Odin (in the stronghold up north) to be taken even further up north [MATT &/or the Dwarves of Imther; & the Dw Priest of Odin] — DONE
  8. "Come back before the end of winter — I have several things I need you to do [The Fates' priestess] — Outstanding
  9. Drop two spheres down the exposed well of the Old Elven City [Dwarven Priest of Odin] — DONE
  10. Drop the ice-snake's remains in a Far-northern spring to "set its spirit free in the thermals".[Dwarven Priest of Odin] — DONE

ALSO, Not actual "employment", but near-to-future obligations include:
A. Lord of the bats demanded Michael bring back knowledge of what’s going on up north. [DONE]
B. Silverfoam & Grendel WILL be summoned to help the Titans repair their ships when attacked by void cruisers
C. SF was advised "Belili is the one you will need to negotiate with to release Kree".
D. Grendel to try to release the priest of Ike-something (Gr’s Power) trapped in the North. [DONE]
E. Michael, Grendel, & Silverfoam Geased to ourselves to return in the next 4 years with a party to release the Elven Queen. [DONE]

Pay:

Depending on who you talk first;

  • The Coven of Warlocks of Freetaun will result in the creation of some cold & winter based items.
  • 30 Arcane rewards from the Mages of Freetown.
  • Some training may also be given.
  • The Guild has 36,000 sp for the party from Mr Toadswart as he wishes some matters resolved.

Here is the exp chits and loot.

The mission

BACKGROUND: Mercenary bands are forming up north, e.g. two big Sanctuary units falling in for the war effort. There are 6 or 7 reported Drow commanders with high value (500k) on their heads. Likewise, we discovered, quite a few Guild members even a few party-members, although many of these rewards are *supposedly* signing bonuses to the “agent” that hands over the talent.

The (first) employer was “The Abbot”, dressed in Brown with about 18 amulets around his neck, an earthmage in the coven of witches, on behalf of Irina & the coven. It has been prophesied that I will come here & speak to the guild; Toadswart left 3,000 gold shillings to fund the prophesy’s mission. We were nominally employed to escort our cook up north to hunt for salamander hearts [NOT organs from the standard beasts, but perhaps processed constructs, typically lasting a year or so, which are essential to activate powerful items, such as a magical forge]. The abbot advised there were Difficulties in the Viscounty of Westmarch. They think the late Toadswart’s portents have bearing on the current mission, believing it relates to be a woman (picture). The true core of our mission was to find her and deliver a small package to her.

Keshah: “Is she Alive or dead?”
Employer: “She has recently been both those.”

The mages would like to pay in Arcane points 30 per person; also training. A low rank assassin may have embarrassed us by asking enthusiastically about training in that profession. There was a ship in the harbour that will take us to Freetaun on tomorrow morning’s tide, which we agreed was suitable and then split up for research & last minute packing.

Apparently The Senators of Decay (vile specimen of the worst the can be sluiced from the Lunar empire) charmed some Drow units to work for them. A previous party killed some of the SODs, but they left the most dangerous arguably alive and definitely kicking.

The Astrology reading

Nothing that you say will release you
Nothing that you pray would forgive you
Nothing's what your words mean to me

Something that you did will destroy me
Something that you said will stay with me
Long after you're dead and gone

If flesh could crawl, my skin would fall
From off my bones and run away from here
I feel good when things are going wrong
I only listen to the sad, sad songs

As far from the Gods, as heaven is wide
As far from the Gods, as angels can fly

If holy is as holy does
This house will burn straight down to hell
Take it's conscience with it as it falls

Nothing said could change the fact
My trust was blind, you broke the pact
If God's my witness, the Gods must be blind

If flesh could crawl, my skin would fall
From off my bones and run away from here

As far from the Gods, as heaven is wide
As far from the Gods, as angels can fly

I wish, I wish
I wish, I wish

Take it back, I dare you, take it back
No you can't, You should have thought of that
What's inside a man that goes so wrong

Choke on guilt that's far too good for you
Say one word, I'll laugh and bury you
And leave you in the place where you left me


If flesh could crawl, my skin would fall
From off my bones and run away from here

As far from the Gods, as heaven is wide
As far from the Gods, as angels can fly

I wish I could fly, as angels can fly

I wish

THE NORTHERN LIGHTS [Aurora Borealis]: what it does

[Excerpted points from notes; trimmed down shortly]

  • can be magically processed into fabric, “Golden shadows”, that negate the cold.
  • Winter aspect (especially Winter stars) is very useful: better combat results; resist of quarter-damage; etc
  • cast Party magic of all colleges was affected adversely ... e.g., the duration of cast magic was reduced drastically (treat hours as minutes)
  • some spells have side-effects, especially Illusionist, Bardic, Binding, and E&E
  • there was a special rod that Keshah "unofficially borrowed" to cast magic beyond the northern lights & perhaps to get rid of something else.
  • drawing mana is dangerous, one gets overloaded & MUST continue casting
  • the college magic of sea-based creatures (like were-seals, ice otters) functioned normally
  • the Aurora is not a simple boundary, but a fluxing borderland region.
  • Teleporting into or through the borderland is dangerous: Resist or Die! Celestial counterspells help
  • combines dangerously with magical fire (& possible normal fire too)
  • It may be channelled, by the flying whales, not us, and “poured offensively”
  • Concerning the mana rush of the Northern Lights, where one draws mana once but then must cast several times to avoid the internal pressure of the sparking mana — if the 2nd cast is of the same spell it is at minuses, and progressively worse for the 3rd, etc.

Named Individuals

Named individuals that have come up are:

Raithe & Moonshae, Irina of Freetaun, Matt Tumbledown, Maxirus Dwarven Seers, Syrene, Six-Eye Seer, Kitty and Purr, Belili, Richard Valentius Stabilius

1st Frost: [The Guild] that's far too good for you

Warm Clothing

What about Cold weather clothing? Viola took Jaundice to her high-end tailor; and they borrowed “Golden shadows” outfits made from Aurora Borealis in exchange for Salamander hearts. They were also loaned a curious knife for cutting more AB into fabric.

Keshah, Michael, & Grendel visited the ice mages inside the ice-winter-garden orchard, arranging with a dwarf there to buy everyone cold-weather gear in exchange for LUNAR pale ale. Indeed they were given a snow-construct mammoth to carry it with.
The Dwarf: “How do I stop the beer from freezing?”
Keshah: “Keep it by the fire.”
Michael: “Drink it quickly!” [Muttering aloud:] “I never thought I’d have to tell a dwarf that”.

Suitable gifts for people up north would include Partial plate

Lord of the bats had a cranky spaz tracking down Michael, and demanded he brings back knowledge of what’s going on up north.

Rumours & Warnings

Toledo got a weapon spell. Then employing ale-centred research methods at an open-air table outside a decent inn, Toledo met some sailor friends (from the Revenging Whale??) heard

  • rumours of a new island heading into the bay; presumably Drow invasion wave #2 — or an extra-special heavy strike-force?
  • the Sand Emperor is forming an army ... maybe going to take on the Lunar empire.
  • Toledo’s warned that there’s a 15,000 sp reward for Grendel ... probably because he’s a Rank 10-&-a-bit alchemist (see also info from WK ambassador below).
  • Reward for Silverfoam too (see info from WK ambassador)

Suspicious anti-party activity

Later, still drinking with his friends, the hairs on Toledo’s neck bristled as, looking up the street, he saw 3 hobbits leap out theatrically into the street & then leap back into an alley. He exited the venue by some back alleys and foiled a kidnapping attempt on Grendel, who was up a nearby tower with a spyglass to confirm that ship he’d spotted in the harbour was indeed the “Eastwind of Tycho”, The 7-mast cutter belonging Matt Tumbledown.

A little later, Michael noticed he was being tailed
“I’m a rank-4 thief, I’ll try to lose him; If not, I’m a rank-8 assassin”.


Ignored leads: The voice of Argon; Golden Green clasps

“The voice of Argon” is a magic item(?) that is supposed to slay Drow, No further information known.
Keshah: “Does it differentiate between elves & Drow?”

Visiting a discrete jeweller at an undisclosed, very secure location for more trade goods, Michael saw the fabled set of the Golden Green clasps of the emperor. 6 perfectly matched diamonds. They discussed the cities on which the credit would be negotiated; in the meantime he purchased some trinkets worth mere thousands.
Keshah: “They're so valuable, they don’t even mention a price.”
Response: “2.7 million”
Viola: “Aren’t you’re a rank-8 merchant?”
Michael: “That IS the Rank-8 price!”

Further info: from the Western Kingdom's Ambassador & from Kali

Meanwhile, in the late afternoon, the party was Invited to dine with the Ambassador of the Western Kingdom at Alphonse’s. It is totally apparent that Ambassador, clearly appointed for his ability in a crisis rather than any family connections, expects Grendel will work for the WK, rather than the Drow. Similar conviction was voiced over the absent Silverfoam (who apparently has a bounty even higher than the ridiculous amount on Isel Eth).

Later that evening, Kali informed the party-leader that there was late employment of a low-level party to provide security for a meeting on the docks, Pier 16. Quicken Black (a shady “merchant” of Seagate) employed the newbies to guard the meeting between Toledo Steel and Moonshae & Raithe. The Guild rep brought along warned that the last party employed by Freetaun didn’t accede to M&R’s wishes NOT to nobble the SODs (or at least NOT the way that the party intended) even though M&R loaned them items which the party used. Looks like that party upgraded their own mission from highly dangerous to suicidal. Apparently M&R wanted to get a specific favour from the emperor, and intend using the remaining SOD’s head or whatever, to gain that favour.

Attacks on Borovia

Earlier that day, Silverfoam portalled home via Borovia castle to change, pick up essentials, advise family he was going on mission and, obviously, alert other about the Seagate Time’s stop-press news. Since there was not time to evacuate family & dependants off-plane to the Winter Palace and also return to the guild, Plan B was to pack up & stroll without any outward sign of panic through the Great Gate to Kin-Lu ... which had just been shut down, because there had been attacks on it, apparently from the Drow. The Ct & Ctess Palatine (Kree Tajin & Anastasia) were missing, likewise Mayor I. (Leave home for a day & see what happens). After checking with the Commander of the Elven Outpost, one of the key invasion routes into Alfheim, it was deduced that the strategic attack was to prevent Erelhaine reinforcements — always one of Kree’s last lines of defence. Moreover, although the Great Gate could be reopened in 6 hours, it would take 6 days full until stabilised, during which it would be at risk and, if destroyed in that time, it would also destroy much of Borovia town. After distributing food stores between those remaining & the evacuees take to a safe-holding elsewhere (Including the mayor’s family and other possible figures of reprisal in the event of Borovia temporarily falling into wrong hands), Silverfoam returned to Seagate before dawn the next day & reported to the party-leader.

Pre-dawn advice from Moonshae & Raithe

The entire party windwalked to the piers. In the middle of an oblivious guild party (what IS the collective for bunnies?) there were two areas of invisible nothingness which Toledo addressed, welcoming Moonshae & Wraith. The bunnies are startled by the appearance of an innocent-seeming, inoffensive couple in modest attire (Illusions of innocence), but really wearing exquisite armour with a writhing maw on the front. Wearing cold-weather gear (obviously they don’t need it; it’s just a subtle warning to the party). She has a selection of ethereal arrows writhing around Her head.

M&R wanted to come to an understanding: they wished to be kept in the loop on certain activities of interest “including a woman up north that we have some concern for and we do not want her disturbed; we think the consequences will be bad. We fear the consequences of your disturbing the person up north. The woman is busy protecting some mutual friends’ interests. She’s protecting a portal to another realm & if you disturb her she will leave. Those in the area would not be able to draw on the goddess’s power.”

Keshah defused the situation by giving Viola a gentle slap on the back of the head, and we learn more: It is a portal held by a group of priestesses (who are very good at resurrecting).

Can we find someone else to maintain the portal?
“There are some thirty thousand possible ways of solving this problem especially.” [Soul-less Drow??]
Is there a problem dealing with these priestesses?
“There are some skilled [soulless] people that could be suitable [...] Get Toledo Stele a Potion of the Blackness of Time & get him to kill the last Senator”.
And how to we get such a potion?
“Go speak to the priestess of time, the Gwythya of Hel, one is recommended”.
[This is known by some to be a death cult of powerful healing]

M&R confirm that it was The Commander, the really perilous Senator, that survived the previous party.

2nd Frost: Run away from here

(Following notes supplied by Grendel as the regular scribe was distracted) After finishing our discussions with M&R we sail out to the "East Wind of Tycho" as Matt maybe on board and wish to talk to us. We quickly realise that Giant is the primary language of choice with the crew and we are unfortunately lacking in ability in this regard. After is discussion with some crew in Elvish we are lead below to wait in a boardroom for an audience.

During this audience we learn that Matt is not on board but they are willing to provide us with a "lift" to Freetaun in the "East Wind of Tycho" and they will tow our ship behind theirs. (A note on the size of said ship, "The East Wind of Tycho" is huge in the extreme, with a crew made up of giants, dwarves and humans, and is hundreds of feet long and high). We are offered the opportunity of lowering some languages temporarily in return for gaining Giant as a functional language with the possibility of obtaining the language permanently (at some risk). We are also offered training on board the vessel during the voyage.

Keshah and Viola choose to visit an abbey as part of their training Toledo chooses to train in sailor Grendel choose to train in navigator (when not helping Keshah and Viola) Michael chooses to learn some sonnets? Folklore? Some troubadour stuff

The chance of obtaining the giant permanently requires us to have communal bad dreams that are so real you can die from them. We decide to chance things and attempt the trial. This involves avoid ghosts, phantom steads and defeat statue copies of ourselves in a grave yard. Turns out the ghosts are giant undead rabbits, if you can get through the gates in time ad shut them, the rabbits will not enter the grave yard after you. The fight with our copies was extremely difficult, each time they successfully hit you their damage doubles so you need to take them down as quickly as you can). They did not appear to copy one's spell casting ability.

In the Morning of the 3rd, we could speak giant & were warned that the Magical Ship’s Log said that assassins had come aboard. We decided not to tell them we already knew. SF browsed their charts by invitations. We variously trained or amused ourselves, and swapped gossip with the crew.
Junior officer: "One of the islands sank due to Elvish magic or the Elvish Admiral’s doing".
Michael (authoritatively): “The Drow suffered a naval defeat 200 miles inland. I know. I was there.”

5th Frost: Holy is as holy does

Freetaun

After 3 days sailing we reached Freetaun estuary & dropped anchor. The town is known to be about two to three thousand strong. Matt tumbledown materialised to invite the party to lunch later.

FreeTaun now had a wreck in the harbour. The walls were not particularly high but show some damage. When we toddled off to see Irina at the Witches tower, we saw:

  • The town was being paved.
  • Youths & workmen abound, some regarding us inappropriately.
  • Most of the warehouses are also full; no food shortages hereabouts.

There's a large delta of islands at one end of town beyond where we’re headed. We approached the jetty to the Castle where the witches dwell.

At Irina's Court

We were introduced by the messenger and conducted into the gardens (since we’ve already eaten), where there are Three Ladies, an ogre in fine clothes, a giant, and a few other less noticeable hangers-on. To counter the draining effect, we put Jaundice to the fore. Irina is pleased that her allies have helped us come — since they only turn up when the witches have favourable omens.

An old man of about 55, with an apron & nice boots, introduced himself as The Cook & explained the need for two of his apprentices to harvest the hearts from the herds that comes north to cool themselves. Grendel offered to teleport them to a specified point. Simon the cook excuse himself.

The private audience: the REAL mission & helpful info

Irina conducted us to private chambers and SF threw up a Protection from Scrying (which was replaced by a ritually cast one later in the day) also wants to us

  1. To pop-up north, with some cook's apprentices, to collect the salamander hearts.
  2. "And if you can bring back the apprentices alive that would be desirable".
  3. Beneath this cover job we were to deliver a package to a certain "young lady". [We nonchalantly simulated nothing but polite attentiveness]
  4. Then, when we come back, we are to tackle the Senator of Decay in the countryside unpleasantly close to the town.
  5. also to investigate the old necromancer’s tower and clear out the treasure there.
  6. "And if you could put stopping the rune-mages from sacrificing in town on the list too."

The Young Lady In Question and her Chest

  • TYLIQ was a war-bride of one of the Dagen clan
  • Finna is her name [as we discovered much later]
  • The Ivernians from the north sometimes come down to pillage, take slaves, especially young women: those that are sufficiently attractive are taken as "war-brides". [Keshah explained why the Dagen are so powerful & dangerous].
  • Irina also gave TS & SF a “good luck” potion each, which we may return if not used (Guild-member Jennings was killed several times to empower them).
  • Keshah, as rune mage, was given a sash which he put on — There are some very unfriendly rune-mages in the bay doing unpleasant things and it would be disagreeable were he to be confused with them.

Toledo: "What would happen if we gave the chest to the wrong woman?"
Irina: “I don’t know. We've been unable to open it; but I imagine a thief or assassin could"
Keshah: "We’ve got plenty of those amongst us"
Irina: “Oh Bravo! We don’t."

  • Apparently the Dwarves have had warnings not to meddle in the affairs of the priests in the North.

Toledo: “Delivering the chest to the lady won’t be considered meddling in the affairs of the priests?”
Irina: "Oh yes, I suspect so".

The chest & items in were recovered from the Rune Mages who stole them from the necromancers; they were heirlooms of the Name Not-To-Be-Uttered. After the usual Hobbit & Volcano suggestion, Irina explained that she wants the chest gone ... but that she was obliged to turn them over to TYLIQ.
Irina: "We suspect she will be possessed by her ancestral necromancers."

The Cook's advice on hearts & salamanders

We then went to the kitchens: the stoves & ovens were working strongly ... without any firewood thanks to the potato-sized “embers” in a tray. They want about 200. There is a high season when they cool and grow four weeks either side of the solstice. Key advice from the Cook:

  • You want to avoid herdsmen who work for the efreet lords.
  • DON’T kill more than 5 at a time [meaning in the same pulse] because you’ll set of a stampede.
  • The further inside the herd is where the stronger ones are, & they can cast magic; and the full-sized ones can fly.
  • The steam can kill you if you try flying over the herd.
  • A salamander is about the size of a rhinoceros: as they become cooler, they become stonier and nasty ... but less magical.
  • Some are so hot & elemental-like that they are able to be controlled by a fire mage but not a wiccan.
  • There are bridles that the dwarves have: by jumping on its back & climbing up to its neck, the salamander is charmed when you slip the bridle on. And when you’ve trained it, you can slip the bridle off.
  • If you want to know where the herds run, talk to the Dwarves except they tend to kill outside raiders like ... Party: "Us!".
  • The rare ones have good hooves, just bring them back to us & we’ll pay you for them.
  • The eyes are good for potions.
  • The dwarves would trade for rare leathers & furs; dragon-scales; hot-sands; exotic bloods; or for transport south for their merchants to trade. Also "They would pay well for your fire-mage".

Grendel cast a Mind-speech and the party, on alert, returned to the ship: avoiding trouble from a band of wannabe home-guard blatantly following us at about 100 paces behind us.

Lunch appointment with Matt Tumbledown

We touch the appropriate stick and end up in a large room with 60 dwarves dining, which we believe to be Imther Stronghold in the Lunar Empire, or possibly High Castle
Dwarf (who looks about 35, to Jaundice): "Are you a woman? I haven’t seen one of those for 75 years."
Silverfoam: "I think we’ve discovered what really ages men — Women!"

The Dwarves advised that ... "There are some humans who follow Gwillo (who is named after a rock). They will try to kill you. We have seen this."

Titans' advice

We talked to the two titans. They advised:

  • There is a traitor amongst the humans in the Dwarven stronghold.
  • There is creature of elemental ice that preys on the salamanders that is the greatest danger. It will probably kill one or two or you.
  • There is an elemental tipping point. Normally it is a 4 wk period, but may be extended further.
  • Have you talked to Kitty & Purr? [weretiger courtesans]
  • The 2 pesky ones [Moonshae & Raithe] say that returning the item to the woman will be disastrous.
  • The pesky ones' poison is from black basilisks from the plane of Death; it is one of the few things that can get though our aura.
  • The dwarves will not have problems with you; we expect them to hire you to work for them
  • The problems will only happen when the humans commit their treachery.
  • Hot sand comes from the Gatar Depression.
  • We should talk to Cyrene about how to make a Potion Of The Blackness Of Time.
  • They (the necromancers?? ) have some weakness that the Drow know of.

[Michael suggested using water from the head of the Sweetwater as part of the POTBOT & Matt confirmed that if Grendel took it to the Place of Luck, he could make a potion]
"Go the Temple of War; from that place there is a path"

  • Talk to the dwarves: they will know what the six-eyed seer will want. (The Dwarves say the 6ES wants 4 golden forks)

SF & Grendel were informed that they would be employed to help the Titans repair their ships when attacked by void cruisers.
Matt Tumbledown: "It is never inconvenient to be summoned by a titan"

Advice from Weretiger courtesans & from Richard Valentius Stabilius

Kitty & Purr: "Just remember step-step-shuttle"

Richard (in red armour) comes up & introduces himself.

  • "Belili is the one you will need to negotiate with to release Kree."
  • Later he also said that Kree was the prisoner of the S-O-D still at large and Matt admitted he believe that this meant The Commander was controlling Kree. [This alarmed several party-members.]


We were given cut-down amulets and something that will alert the titans when we are in trouble (as Keshah pointed out: “Summoning would be too presumptuous”).

SF changes; Grendel promoted to MilSci

When the titan learnt that our Rank-8 healer, did not resurrect (a traditional habit amongst elves), he said he could help with that. Silverfoam was given a 2-handled tankard, to the murmuring surprise of the Dwarves. He drained it and was almost immediately somewhat bloated & in his chalices ... stripping off his Erelhaine lamellar armour, even the elf-sized under-armour, before it burst with the strain.

The net effect is that Grendel is now the Military Scientist, in borrowed magical Lamellar Armour, and that SF is no longer to be seen amongst the party. However Geld von Schönhausen the resurrecting Healer will be the replacement Namer & will be joining the party as soon as he can find something in his size to wear.

6th Frost: Nothing said could change the facts

Potent Beer

Some of party had quite a lot of Dwarven Beer Michael & Toledo the most; Keshah 5 or 6; Geld merely 4, accidentally drinking all the beers left before Jaundice. Apparently the beer "stoned" one: conferred R15 armour of earth & strength of stone (but can’t have a higher rank defence).
Keshah (the elf): “Can we just have half & half?”
Geld: “What! You’re drinking in a Dwarven Stronghold and you ask for a shandy?”
Toledo: “I think that’s how the Dwarven-Elven War started.”

... So Keshah had a few jars too
Keshah: “Everything translates into Dwarvish ... with enough beers.”

The morning after

A closer look at the dead soldiers left after Jaundice had her bath reveals that they were extremely rare gold-inscribed Elven stock (probably from the Royal cellars); even the empty bottles are worth thousands. After quaffing wine worth tens of thousands, Jaundice now has motes of light dancing about her, especially when she gets within 15’ of Keshah.

Since Geld had “Absolutely Nothing To Wear(!)” (you don’t overcome decades of Elvish self-centred drama after just a single drink), we were taken through to a forge. 6 priests are blessing suits of armour. Geld is dressed in Mithril half-plate: apparently “Geld” was the name of a heroic King that legend said would return — actually von Schönhausen chose it as because it is Dwarven dialect for “Gold” (obviously more respected locally than “Silver”) and Common for “No chance with the wife until I change back”.

Our hosts gave us more on the To-do list (#7): They have some packs in the temple of Odin (in the stronghold up north) that they want us to take even further up north.

What the SOD can do: a fixed chance of "Never"

We asked about the effect that the Senator-Commander has that ensures that one have a fixed chance of Never on any magic, abilities, or attacks. If you are looking at him or he is looking at you, even through Crystals, Waters of vision, etc, then the effect works. He can also butt into our Mindspeech or Telepathy and take control of us that way too.
“Is he actually undead?” — no clear answer to that.

MATT: “We think you should go deliver the package to the young lady”.

Visit the Fates

Michael asked if we should go see MATT’s mothers (the Fates). So we did, travelling to an ice-capped mountain & then to a ruined temple. MT talked to another titan & restrained him long enough for the abomination Keshah to quietly slip into small spaces out of titan sight or reach. To be fair to Keshah, the problem is not so much intrinsic to him but the Demonic items & magic he refuses to give up.

We pass many colonnades and reach a large space. We were welcomed by a beautiful titaness. We explain that we are to take on the last SOD roaming free and we asked for assistance: either to counter-effect its luck-changing power, or perhaps to give us a fixed chance of succeeding.
It was pointed out to us that we might learn something from studying the two re-captured senators, since the three of them can’t affect each other. (NB: The two defeated Senators were not permanently killed, because they can't be, but had been recaptured since the Lunar authorities had control of the place where they materialise whenever they return from Death's domain). We also enquired about the gatekeeper ...
“She is death’s daughter?”
The Fate: “Yes that is why she is important to the priestesses”.

The Fate (speaking to Michael): “I see that Greatness is coming your way in speedos.”
[Editor's note: should read “in spades” (scribe still new to this Dwarven malarkey)]

It was also suggested that it might be linked to Irina’s curse of draining the closest person, which generates personal luck for Irina. “If you remove her curse, then the last of her luck should be sufficient to defeat the senator”.
“How do we do that?”
“Talk to the progeny of death”
There was brief suggestion to Grendel of a recipe starting “Take 2 heads of Basilisk heads...” but it went over the scribe’s head, as so much has been of late.

Even more on the To-do list (#8, but v. important): the Fate said “Come back before the end of winter — I have several things I need you to do”.
When there was a smell of oil being heat, a lot of oil, MATT said we should go, especially Keshah, so we did.

Keshah's new Rod

Matt Tumbledown then advised that there was a rod that would enable Keshah to cast magic beyond the northern lights & perhaps to get rid of something else. We were transported to a room in a place that had 6 entrances; we could hear guards tromping around. Not too far away. The traps were disabled, although with floor-plates it is probably that alarms would go off as soon as we leave. So, with a little jiggery-pokery with illusions, Keshah superimposed an illusion of the Rod where it was, then whisked the real rod away, and we left, even though Matt's teleport functioned abnormally but took us to a failsafe haven.

The Rod: 4 sticks twisted together with gems inside; metal glyphs inlaid in the wood and the sticks blossom to a crystal sphere that shows a specific landscape. The rod allows Bards, Binders, (B)illusionists, & (B)E&Es to cast beyond the northern lights

More advice at Imther Stronghold

Returning to Imther Stronghold, we had one last round of consulting various people-who-ought-to-know:

  • Why were the soulless Drow viable replacements? — When a souled person operates Hel’s gate, they become pacted; but a soulless one won’t become pacted.
  • MT suggests get Grendel to make a Perfume to make us all unscented to dragons, because the previous party's portal will come out at in the den Orm the North Dragon. [We decide to sail, thank you very much. especially as the den has no treasure]
  • Mat gave us the chest, but we were not to open it until out of his range.

Inspecting the Lady's Chest

Keshah & Toledo removed the traps on the box & opened it: felt, then velvet; then a snow globe (imprisons something; but currently full) & cup (doubles rank of magic for Necromancer).

Sailing 24/7 to Chélemby

Thanks to two rank-10 Navigators (one with Rk-20 Mage current; the other with Rk-20 Mage wind), We were capable of sailing 24/7 so, sometime after we had left Freetaun several headlands behind, the admiral "acquired" additional wood from land and the ship was reformed, possibly removing prying Locates, with Grendel's figurehead magic, into a dhow-rigged cutter, and we headed towards Chélemby, flying technically correct but obscure colours.

Having made much of the way to Chélemby in the north, we spotted a Destinian warship on a course that would intercept ours; then 12 winged figures to the north. We lowered our sails when the warship closed & permitted the fliers to land.

Destinian "Assistance" & Debauchery

The captain addressed Michael, advising that he was here to assist Michael: "The Plunging Cutlass at your disposal"; adding "Fine women, would you like to come aboard, we will have fine wines, good meat, and diverting company".
Michael has an unspecified "in" with the Destinians.

The Plunging Cutlass had a crew of about 300, including more than sufficient Marines. At dinner the party used their courtier & spies skills frequently ... as did most of the 24 officers, and there was a lot of discrete scrutinizing from both sides.

  • They talk about the missing Destinian ships in the area.
  • The leader of the marines is especially competent at Spycraft & courtiership; has a truth rune on. Everyone lies to you.
  • One of the Rapiers is a doppelganger
  • The dwarf was ignored and mostly silent; which suited both sides.
  • There was a range of offer for employment for a guild party next session; and one of the ladies had 30 pledged dance-partners at the upcoming Spring Ball.

Michael: “That’s not a dance-card; that’s an invasion.”

Key Info learnt

  • Finna is the name of TYLIQ. The cult operated exclusively for Clan Dagen.
  • The throne of Swenway is no longer magical, hence there is civil unrest & violence, so no agreed-on High King at the moment.

13 Frost: When things are going wrong

Destinians bought slaves/experimental subjects

Jaundice noticed a stowaway on board our ship, who had fled from the Destinians: a short swarthy savage-looking human. He was one of the 8 detainees of the Destinians (sold to them!), an unsuccessful ex-raider, who doesn’t want to go back to the Kingdom of Rogna. He’d been devoid of magic for months.
Toledo (party-leader) "What are you doing with him?"
Geld: "Why choose NOW to start asking her what she’s doing with strange men? What about last week’s bath with 17 attendants and the wine from the Queen’s private reserve?"
Michael: "I don’t think that’s how you retaliate against the Raiders ... sailing north and making off with their men."

Grateful villagers of Enkoelheim

We came across a sinking ship. Both Geld & Grendel rushed to make it unsinking [Grendel won, by stealing the initiative] followed by Wind&water proofing [Geld] on the 3 in the water, and Water proofing all those on still on board [Grendel: less potent, but in a single cast]; Jaundice helped with Cleansing flame. They offered us sheep in return for the aid, but we preferred information (& one sheep, to be promptly roasted ... so as not to offend). We return to their village, Enkoelheim in Gildarr, which has a longhouse with about 40 smaller buildings — all recently reinforced. The village is a Low mana area, with a lot of iron about.

After some confusion, the blacksmiths came forward to translate to & from Common, until we established that many locals speak Dwarvish. As requested, we careened the boat that was wrecked by a creature (a sign of the times?), & dispelled the Shipstrength, the party’s ship-builders helping with the repairs in a mixture of altruism and curiosity.

What Enkoelheim said of the Dagen & Dwarves

  • The dwarves would be interested in food & cloth; and several villagers argued for the privilege to be the guide to take us to the Dwarves (through some canals in land, then up a fjord).
  • The Dagen are involved in a war. They are fighting on the West; doing things in the mountains, fighting the Meglana (who are not holding their own).
  • Also there is trouble in the far north: the bears that live there are coming South ... for the food?

The Trip to the Dwarves

We stayed 3 days. The locals happily loaded about 6 tons of metal goods on board our restructured catamaran, which we promised to take north along with the guides. We were going via the subtle canals (the Durganlake) to the fjord. Normally the trip takes 3 days by canoe, including obligatory portage stages, but we expected to be much faster. There were haunting Squawks on the wind — the sounds of Orm ("He’s a Light sleeper")... also hippogriffs or such in the area, making normal reconnaissance flights ill-advised. To the SW there was some disturbance in the air — possibly weather magic or elementals?. Following sound advice, we avoided the migrating orcs & goblins, and were wary for signs of what was causing them to migrate so far south in such numbers. One area we had to cross at night, at moderate but not excessive speed, because it was enemy controlled.

The Dwarven cities: Furling & HarHekam

We made it to a large walled canyon that had a large stone jetty that we were obviously expected to tie up to; we left the ship. There were 2 sets of steps normal & extra-extra-large. The dwarves came, getting news of the south, while their giant-sized snow simulacra took our goods & the villager’s to the City.

We went up to the gate of Furling. Eventually we left that town, passing through a long tunnel to HarHekam. We travelled on carts (similar to ore-carts, but bigger & more versatile), at one stage changing tracks.

There were many displays of sophisticated Dwarven craft: especially one large chamber with 6 pots of ore being poured (liquid stone! Geld very keen to get a spun-stone mast!). There are ranks of red heart-shaped crystals that the dwarves are using, and spirals of bad air taking the fumes away (the party mechanicians presumed a heat-exchange of some sort too, since Dwarves wouldn’t waste that). There was good lightning here (more red crystals).

We also saw that there were

  • Many thousands of dwarves (HarHekam is far larger than Furling)
  • Small dwarf ponies: long-haired white ponied especially.
  • Hot pools (with seals & walruses in conversation with the dwarves)
  • Lots of fungi growing in such hot pools of water (with fish or snakes moving in it).
  • A forge-slash-temple (of Thor or Odin perhaps), where we were lead & pay offering.
  • Most dwarves in heavy leather (against the high heat).
  • A marble & limestone (beautiful workmanship) area going back, with warm air.
  • An icy crystallised area, where we got on toboggans that went down.

Ultimately we wanted to get Salamander hearts (one of our tasks, remember): we were there to trade with the dwarves for KNOWLEGE on how to do this.

The Info from the Dwarves, especially Balan

  • "These little humans we are fond of".
  • Had "problems" with Blood rune magic from the plane of Brass.
  • Some of the elves "From Across The Sea" are wise beyond their years. The dwarves have been trading with them for many years. [Warning: DON"T call them Drow, they are "Elves FATS"; think of Alfheim as "Elf Lite"]

Following strong hints, Jaundice was introduced; apparently she is really hot here

  • "We like our Fire mages & rune-mages."
  • In the Great Hall, Balan sat with us 200’ from King Inkanar (who’s been on the throne for 600 years & who rules both Dwarven cities).
  • King Inkanar is hard of hearing — we offered to help, if we could, but apparently that’s how his subjects preferred him to be, even if it made him crankier.
  • Balan clearly has influence with the merchants or foundry guild, on some Dwarven council.
  • Food was provided cheese, mushroom, meat, mushrooms, hard scones, mushrooms.
  • There were many armed dwarves, human mercenary-types and a Hill-giant sized troll.

Balan gave us some 7 portions of mushrooms to eat, but only once we have actually been in the cold several days.
Grendel was invited to supper with the Alchemist (who’s avoiding the King), but declined, I think; certainly wasn't kidnapped.

Information & misdirection from Drow guests at HarHekam

We were approached:
Lackey of the Drow: "Do you have a chain for your companion?' [i.e., Keshah the elf, just as well we only have the one] "We have two NICE elves who would like to come & see you."

Two well-dressed Drow women entered: "Greeting Toledo, my name is Jasmine, I think you’ve met my sister Balili." They Knew that we’d come for the hearts. "So many Southerners come to cut the hearts out of living things. Are you interest in an alliance, or swapping information?"
"We are not part of the problem, we are part of the solution."

Jasmine was prepared to help us as it will be to their benefit. The sentient walruses (like sea-folk live in the water) were driving the bears south, with were-seals, ice otters. There has been some escalation with the salamanders (possibly caused by the Guild’s wars in Hell!). Because of the large salamander herd, many dwarves expect a big harvest &/or armed conflict.

Some ruins were freed up & uncovered, where a dark & sinister foe (an old enemy) was revealed. "The dark foe will be out hunting and may be a threat to you. They will want to drink our blood (which is much rare & finer than salamander blood)".
Some griffons were sent north, to spy on them, but they didn’t return.

Jasmine: "It was a place that we ceded to the humans. We have an understanding with the Destinians".
Party member: "Congratulations on understanding a Destinian ..."
Jasmine: "There is nothing to it: dancing, food, women, gold, and having a full dance-card."

The brawl that wasn’t our fault

There are hardy humans & dwarves, with a few hobbits. Half of them are a mercenary group. Balan warned us to try not to incite them in the throne room, to try to keep them calm: "We had some problem 5 years ago with some elves ... problems about the Drow’s business"

It is a dwarf place that owes substantial money to our clan.

The party was clearly about to be assaulted. We had the initiative, but let them go first so that the party's survivors would have the moral high-ground ... which is always so debatable when fighting in a Dwarven King's feasting hall.
The Guy in red "gestured" at Toledo and 3 darts appeared in Toledo's back; doing serious damage (3 pts bleeding) plus interesting poison
The rest charge us; green haze goes over some of the attackers; others are charging (just haven’t reached us). Dropping a ball that turns into a tactically placed 3-hex diameter bonfire covering the Left flank, Geld cast an illusion Counterspell where most of the party were congregating, except Viola who had gently stepped back, where her image wasn't, & prepared.

Pulse-2: the mostly surrounded Toledo multi-struck(and heart runes went off) ; Keshah hit; Geld missed; Jaundice barffed a 48-point Fireball-breath to clear the Right flank ... the big guy in front of her went down; and every one behind did too! ... And many of the survivors further back, in the centre, failed to resist Viola's Flash of Light
And thanks to Grendel's well-placed Forcewall, the group that ran down the Left flank to attack the rest of us from behind fail to get through
The Rk-10 troubadour is permitted to loudly decry, at maximum volume this "Blatant cowardly villainy, Vile Treason in the King's Own hall, Treachery, yada, yada, yada..."
But next pulse, the party leader decided that curing the poison is getting more critical that troubadorish simulated outrage ... but Geld failed an otherwise reasonable chance to neutralise the Rk13 synthetic poison coursing through Toledo; and the surprise double-damage at the end almost killed him (Toledo).

The rest of the tough-boy rent-a-mob run away, and the blinded ones dropped their weapons.

16th Frost: Only listen to the sad, sad songs

Dorax & Simmi of the Town guard

There were about 40 smoking or badly injured opponents remaining. Fortunately, at the far end of the chamber, the smoke from our opponents was diplomatically unnoticed in the general tobacco fug.
The Town-guard turned up: "We were expecting trouble to accompany you."

Dorax, commander of the town guard "You’ve done us a favour ... if you have any more hassles, just let me or the guard know". [or Simmi, his deputy]. He later brought back a chit, when the bodies had been cleared away.

Counsellor Dwert

20 minutes later, a Dwarven leader who had been slowly working their way down the tables, eventually reached our group. "... Understand your going north to assist the others?" Counsellor Dwert had the usual confusion between Michael & Toledo.
Viola: "Just don’t confuse me with Michael or Toledo".
Counsellor Dwert [Dwarf]: "We can tell you’re one of those fine lasses ... we must talk to you about walrus riding".
Viola: "Well that’s an odd name for it".

"You only have to worry about ..." [Part 1]

We told the Counsellor our general intentions (If you don’t trust anyone a bit, how can you tell who’s betrayed you?). Since we were taking re-supplies North to their dwarves, he gave us some advice: that it was fatal to fly over "The Haze" of the herds and that "You only have to worry about Ice whales & the bears." ... Except that the longer we spoke, the more things he found to worry us (mostly in the sense of making us anxious, few of the monsters will grab us & shake us to death — they’re faster than and deadlier than that):

  • Bears (really tough, pull limbs off, etc)
  • Ice whales swim through the ice. Can get very large & eat bears & ships. They’re semi-wise and like elementals. Apparently they have a treasure hoard. They cause creatures’ blood to turn to ice.
  • undead(?) things, which that come out at night have a Dark Queen that apparently ruled the Elven(? Drow? Pre-tears?) City which sunk beneath the ice long ago. [some of this info was from the Cold Room]
  • Sea lions with harpoons
  • Ice giants & Frost giants who have a city far up North
  • Dangerous humans that stay near the thermal pools.
  • I know that the ice dragons don’t like to fly at night.
  • The herd moths, creatures that fly above the herds ... "they come from the place of fire" — Hell? Or ‘just’ the Plane of fire?

Trackers

We asked for a retired tracker to guide us: "They’re trackers ... there are no old trackers, they don’t retire".
[Later] "Actually there a couple of old trackers you could talk to ... they’re 18 years old: they tracked for one year and then retired. We could lend them to you, but it doesn’t matter if they don’t make it back. They’ve already broken too many things."

Information found in the Cold-Room Library

We all went off to the Cold-room, but only the Philosophers entered. Ice cave with runes carved over the walls several feet thick (lit from behind by luminescence snakes within the ice). There was an old Elvish palace that sank beneath the ice. That’s what attracts the creatures and the Queen probably is an undead of some sort.

Information & transformation from the Priest of Odin

Dwarven Priest: "You mean Toledo’s a human, I thought he was ..."
Michael: "The legends make him sound shorter?"

The walruses & hobbits have ice magicks.
"Geld" vouched for the elf [Keshah], since he knew intimately well exactly how troublesome and honourable those people could be.
Dwarves aren’t trackable on the ice the way humans & elves are — "you can use the elves to distract the monsters".
In order to protect us from the Dark Titan, who can especially sense the presence of elves, Keshah drank from the priest’s double-handled cup, of a now-familiar design, & became a dwarf.

In return for the information & help, the priest had some requests (What? more?):

  • There’s a ruined city with a well that breaks through to the surface: The priest had couple of spheres that need to be dropped down the well. [NOT light & dark spheres, we checked ! -- "we're not as thick as we're dwarf looking"]
  • In another box were frozen remains that need to be released into a spring: a very old snake from the cold-room library, now dead. Returning it to the spring will "set its spirit free in the thermals".

In the Odin temple there are 15 smaller shrines, including a shrine to Freya. Jaundice’s human wanted to stay. We got a Stein of Holy water from the Temple of Odin. All of the party now temporarily have +2 WP.

Sailing North

Unfortunately our guide wasn’t so where to go, since we were going via the water rather than the usual overland route, which was too mountainous & cold for our ship. We head South down the water, the turned North. We sailed as fast as was safe 24 hours a day with Grendel (Mage current) & Geld (Mage wind) magically steering the boat. Fortunately Keshah’s sword was held by the navigators, so that they could see as if on a sunny (or overcast) day whenever the moon was above the horizon. We found out later that we’d lost almost 10% of the boat from grinding over submerged ice, etc. NOTE: IF we sail back, we'll have to use Mage current rather than Mage wind, to reduce ice grindage.

27th Frost: Dwarven Base Camp

Ten days later (rather than the usual 3 weeks), we spotted skin huts build up again the cliffs. Also cowled, hobbit-sized figures, some with masks over their bills — friendly were-seals, ice otters out & about. There are jagged bits of ice in the bay & around the huts on the ice shelves. The Dwarven stronghold is on a peninsula, facing North. In the far distance there was a Haze on the Permanent Shelf: where the salamander herd is.

The dwarves raised up a 60’ stone pier (impressive!) that we might unload, especially the supplies (Conversely, they were impressed with the large quantity we brought).
The elder took us to the temple. They had heard from the King that we were coming. They have also had some losses already because 3 killer whales got through The Gap (just N of our current position, the last open bit of water that does not freeze).

What we learnt of the Borderlands & Further North

  • There are now 36 of the party on polar bear sleds (gone for 36 days, they travel about 10 miles a day): The bears are Charmed, but grumpy & need to be fed walruses. And that makes the walruses very grumpy too.
  • The Northern lights generate not a simple boundary, but a fluxing borderland region.
  • Illusionist, E&E (unless sea based, like were-seals, ice otters), Bardic, & Binding do not work beyond the lights.
  • Things that hunt in the borderland, like the were-seals, ice otters out there — but not friendly. And more ...
  • Killer whales go under the ice with their magic & can go over the ice silently as if they are flying ("Shadow fins"). The killer whales magic is unaffected by the northern lights.
  • The killer whales do cast magic, but also have shaped items (teeth & stuff)
  • Sometimes K.W. are also ridden by were-seals, ice otters, who are also spell casters
  • The Elder has a few 16-hour protection potions, but we need to be through the borderlands before the protection wears out. He's short on ingredients for more potions, but received more of one rare ingredient when Grendel handed over 5 lbs of coral. In return, Grendel was advised of a new, personal Obligation: try to release the priest of Ike-something (Gr’s Power) trapped in the North.
  • There is indeed an Old Elvish City up north, that the people of the Lunar empire broke into seeking loot. They brought lions to protect them, and those are the creatures that now hunt people.
  • Above the ice, there are landsharks that come from the Plane of Earth. Unfriendly.
  • The OEC was built on Earth (merely solid land? or perhaps an elemental import?); and there are other "Islands of Earth" up there too, the landsharks are mostly found there.
  • The salamanders roam & cool down on the ice, and they are amongst the storm. The herd is miles wide and the ice melts at the front & the vapour rises and then falls as snow.
  • Blackfinger the Walrus who hunts humanoids. He does not travel alone. "He drives one enemy onto the other" for example, drive the night-hunters from the city across you." He uses were-seals, ice otters and walruses. And, of course. the were-seals, ice otters could have killer whales.
  • The priestesses of Hel have great sway within the area. [Mission objective alert!]

In the technical morning, the Elder & his people get up & pray and then go back to sleep until light dawns.

30th Frost: Something that you did will destroy

A Summoning disaster

Taking the initiative, the party agreed to Grendel’s suggestion that he should use his Bestiary of Fighting Aquatics to Summon one of the killer whales, to see what we’re up against. Preferably after dawn. Well, he *was* MilSci & it *seemed* like a good idea at the time. Several miles from the Dwarven camp, at a strategic position near the water, we took reasonable precautions: Rune warning stones, two Illusionary terrains, a trap of bound ice, Manasight & some Runes of truth, Mind speech, special Ritual fog (Rk 20; 210’diameter x50’ high; but we all had Water-breathing to see through it); Some rune & mind Walls would retard incursions. We also wore the usual buffs against cold & damage including ... compulsory Strength of stone & Armour of earth, Willow healing, Smite, etc. Inside the Fog were 2 innocuous skin-huts, drunken snoring from one, hung fishing nets, and a highly suspicious command pavilion.

Searching the distance with his special spyglass, Geld spotted an ice-flow with 4 Shadow-finned blue humpbacked whales, each with about 75 were-seals, ice otters. Grendel, with Rk-20 Sense danger, felt bad forebodings: he shouted on Mind-speech “RUN!”, then prepared. Geld, happy to flee on command, struck & stowed the pavilion but accidentally ejected a Crystal of Vision, was abandoned in the rush; Viola was also a good girl. However, since Grendel had been MilSci for only a few days, the rest decided to look about for themselves:

  • Toledo saw crenelated ice-walls going up, in the distance, on the Right Flank between us & the Dwarven Base Camp.
  • Michael spied were-seals, ice otters sliding & pitoning over the ice on the Left Flank — making about 10-15 TMR!), with walruses behind.
  • Dwarf Keesh [i.e., like Keshah, but Shorter & Stouter] perceived snow leopards or such moving on the Right mid-centre, probably to cut off any landward retreat.
  • Jaundice, blearily roused (as usual) saw nothing untoward in her strange, rude hut. [Ed: It seems the Scribe has still not forgiven the Firemage for failing to share that Elven Royal Reserve wine with the party]

Then we heard a Trumpet from landward. Michael, from his hidden vantage with 160’ Dark-sight also perceived 2 flying killer whales circling close although deliberately technically out of sight from our presumed position. The black-&-whites had were-seals, ice ice otters on their back and were loosening large barrels. MilSci & Leader Promptly concurred that we must retreat.

Grendel cast & 7 magical doors appeared. Michael did a Treble-damage Sunray & mwa-ha-ha-ed as he scythed through the flanking enemy; then he hauled Jaundice out of the hut. Five seconds later everyone had gone except for Michael who decided to remain behind to us update us on what’s happening. The doors disappeared when Grendel stepped through and all non-Michael party-members were back outside the Dwarven Cities.

Outside HarHekam, briefly

Detect aura & Manasight confirmed that the Whale was still being summoned ... and to Grendel, not the item — which was unfortunate: Were it being summoned to the Bestiary, Grendel could have “posted” it to Pasifika. Diverting the Whale (and the war-were-seals, ice otters on its back) would have been more tactically expedient. And funnier.
Viola: “Do you think the attack force will be going after the Dwarven camp?”
Toledo (Party-leader): “Not if we surprise them first!”

Michael confirmed on plane-wide Mindspeech that the force was headed towards the DBC and flew to warn them ... but reception was bad as most of the words were lost. We decided to create a rune-portal to DBC, using the other end that Keesh had prepared earlier. We took one of Grendel’s attuned portal crystals, so that he could join us later when the whale was sufficiently far from the camp.

While our runemage was ritualising, we updated & reassured the local dwarves. We also asked for some items that might assist us aid their compatriots (potions, siege weaponry, the usual shtick), but all they could provide in time were half-a-dozen chained hobbits and only after Viola had paid their 600sp fine. The hobbits were glad to be retained by her for our mission on a trial basis, given how unpleasant the local legal system had been for them; although there was trepidation when she said there could only be one she could take back to the guild ... until she clarified that “the One” would be hired, and only if he wished to be, and that the remainder would be sent home, not killed! (Well, not by us).

Back at Dwarven Base Camp

The party re-joined Michael via Rune portal, along with the additional staff ...
Viola’s parolee: “Hi! I’m a hobbit; I work for Viola.”
Michael: “Hi there. Now give it back”.

We updated the Dwarves at base camp as to the approaching threat and they walled up the entrances to the underground complex with ice.

Military Tip: Surprising the enemy is advisable, and astounding your allies is essential. Appearing in their stronghold was notable, but we needed to be reassuring too.
Von Schönhausen (obviously wearing a Rune of Truth & Mithril armour): “Our party’s Military Scientist is not here: he’s luring some of the force south. I’m just rank 10. May I now protect your underground base from being scried?”

The Anti-Drawven Assault force

Toledo was sent out the postern gate, Ice-walking through the solid ice to spy & evaluate the enemy:

  • There was an acrid smell from the bay as our ship burned to the waterline, probably with alchemical assistance.
  • Some sets nearby were smouldering: the pattern of ice-shards suggesting a grenade of some sort.
  • A hut further away was burning, & he saw a barrel being pushed off a flying whale.
  • At sea, a 60’ ice castle floating in the bay was heading towards the settlement.
  • White snow-lynxes some 300ft away ... clearly scouting.

A Whale bombarded with distilled Northern Lights

Toledo heard a low boom boom boom coming from direction of the Dwarves stronghold from a very large flying humpback about 300’ high circling round the hill. The Whale wore a lot of seaweed, like a lattice, which held a lot of were-seals, ice otters (& maybe a walrus); also a dark wispy Shadow form that really wasn't hiding anything.

From the Whale, fluxing light poured out of an ice barrel, like the Northern lights itself, washing over the ground. The light seems to be drawn in through the whale or its ice barrel. Our ship’s fire seemed to burn up the light rapidly like flash-paper — or perhaps the light accelerated the magical or alchemical fire. The Northern Lights were supposed to drastically reduce the duration of spells. This was confirmed by the fact the blockading ice ran out (the elderly but good Dwarven ice-mage had to recast)

Springing out of the Tunnels

Our Mindspeech with Grendel was poor (so the miscommunication fault wasn't solely caused by Michael), so we decide to leave the Dwarven tunnels before having Grendel portal back to us. Also it may be easier to do our mission while the Penguin army is distracted by the Dwarven Base Camp.

We were guided to the Water exit: a chamber containing a curtain of warm water flowing upwards: One goes UP to exit through the ice; or DOWN to access the plane of Water. "Ooh a hot bath!" cried ex-elf Geld as he dashed fully clothed & equipped into the flow. The party was waterproofed, so they soon leapt after the spare MilSci. The water got hotter as it approached the surface, but the party tolerated it.

There was an ice barrier to break through, which was easy enough: and the built-up water pressure promptly geysered the party up into the air, which was a bit rough on those not already flying.

Playing with splashed Northern Lights

All around, small pools of Northern Light lay spattered on the ground, glowing like molten fire. We avoided stepping into it, mostly, but it had somehow polluted or supercharged the air. Michael prepared and the Light streamed in through his hands, crackling. He cast a Darkness, and then several more trying to get rid of the excess mana raging through him. Others renewed spells too — even, surprisingly, Toledo. Unfortunately that meant he'd (temporarily?) lost his non-mage magic resistance too. As he quickly discovered.
Toledo: "Being a mage is difficult. How do you guys survive?"

We decided to move South quickly so that Grendel could teleport without passing through an area under the effect of this weird Northern-Lights magic ... especially given the blanks & static noticeable in the Mindspeech communication. No one wants a party-member, even a mind-mage, that's not all there.

1st Snow: Burn straight down

With Toledo temporarily disabled, the Grand old Duke of Grendel decided to March us North Again: several hours of hours of slogging across, or rather through, snow. Back the way we’d just come. Concerning the mana rush of the Northern Lights: one draws mana once but then must cast several times to avoid the internal pressure of the sparking mana — and if the 2nd cast is of the same spell it is at minuses; getting progressively worse for the 3rd, etc.

Eventually we reached the vicinity of the Dwarven Bunker Complex. It was still dark. There was a noisy wind, and further north, beyond the stronghold lay a fire-glow in the hazy sleet. Animal minds were stalking us, sneaking unobserved from downwind. Fortunately we were still on Mindspeech and coordinated without speaking. There were more unfriendly minds down near the water and calm Dwarven minds deep underground. We all heard the thrumping of slowly beating wings: a whale bomber on high to the east. Michael did his customary treble-damage SunRay & Mwa-ha-ha; with confirming yelps from the surviving would-be stalkers, but we wisely decided to get into the air ASAP. He cast on the party, although his first Wings were warped (by the Northern Light), physical clawing into Keesh for 4 points. Since Geld was first in the air (on whim), but flew slowly, he cast Locates on Grendel, Keesh, & Michael — to follow them better and advise on Mindspeech when one was diverting from the others in the low visibility

There was a Boom & Whistle from the northwest. Geld hovered at whim “on overwatch” as the rest of the party took off and flew towards the thrumming whale. He saw large, long barrels hit the ground near the DBC: the 2nd & 3rd were clearly seen to burst apart and from within each a walrus leapt up into Ninja Walrus poses. Disturbing; Alarming; Very Threatening. They swiftly attacked Michael’s image with trained coordination. Geld promptly Windwalked in Keesh’s direction.

On Humpback mountain

Hearing the thrumming beneath him, Michael headed down, and heard casting. Next pulse, he avoided the wall of whale that appeared, landing so heroically in the kelp netting that some intimidated were-seals, ice otters flew off the side. From a couple of blocks of ice, some snow simulacra burst our (traps!). This flying Humpbacked Whale was HUGE: the terrain of his back was of varying height and crowded. Visibility was about 40’. Some walruses look like giants, one at least with wings. Down the sides, were-seals, ice otters were loosening ice-barrels. Michael drank a potion, while Grendel & Keesh both landed safely on the whale’s extensive back.

Two furry Snow-Spiders climbed up the rigging and attacked Keesh for 23pts less armour (& he resisted vs ice). Michael tossed a grenade and anointed Keesh’s weapon with fire. A Snow spider approached Grendel: he hit at it first, but it defended critically. Keesh did a Rk18 Dragonflames (in THEIR Spell enhancement — a pleasant way to discover that effect): double damage, 186 pts. Things are blown away, including part of the whale’s head. Michael discovered that he is getting major advantages from his Winter Stars aspect.

The giant cast giant Javelins of ice at the party: 24 less armour (resisted for half). Geld’s Windwalk disappeared just as he was thinking of counterspelling it & he was in the caught in the Dragonflames but resisted for no effect and whimmed his way onto a remaining part of the head, noticing the Snow spiders re-spinning the missing Whale flesh. Is it perhaps just a giant simulacrum? However since the blubber is still burning, probably not Michael did a “warning” Sunray on the walruses, especially the ice mage. In return Lightning struck Keesh, Grendel, & Michael, but only the last didn’t resist. Other party-members advised that the Dflames had actually shot out half a mile into the Northern Lights. It seemed as if the Sky was on fire ... similar to the effect on our magically or alchemically burnt boat, but much more intense.

Next pulse, while the others violently distract the foes, Geld began preparing the Dispel Magic spell to remove the “Shadow fins” on the humpback (which was the prearranged strategy) expected to be untroubled by the burning blubber, only to discover that the 186 pt Dragon Flames was still raging (an unexpected side-effect of the Lights) and some of the party had to resist again. The whale started banking into the fires, no doubt leaving a thick plume of oily black smoke if only we had any air-visibility.

Abandon Whale; Hello Landshark

Plan B: Abandon whale!
Those in the area of the burning sky again take the Dragonflames’ damage; Life-aspected Geld would have just failed his good, but decidedly not automatic, chance to resist-or-die (Damn those walruses for being mammals!), but Grendel gave him a “reroll” — the Scribe praises this excellent Military quick-thinking.

Soon after, the fire went out, turning to a ball of ice — apparently the whale crashed into the ground. Presumably the first charged item &/or ice-barrel of alchemical stuff exploded, instantly setting off the others in a cascade of destruction. The party reached the ground without further incident: a minor miracle considering how briefly the Wings spells lasted. We also heard 500-odd were-seals, ice otters (near the DBC) singing an indistinct operatic chorus.

Michael & Grendel saw an invisible 30’ landshark, with 6 1-hex smaller versions. Keesh merely was a long shark-like shadow with a pointed sword out the front. Then a rain of blubbery bits (one as large as a cottage) provoked an attack ... as if that wasn’t going to happen anyway. Michael hit it with a “Fatal blow” it that it minimally defended against, threw up an image, and was heroic (to no additional effect). Since the attacking landsharks were now visible, Keesh hit one for 40 and killed it. The master shark (which also had octopus-like tentacles) breathed an extreme bubble of cold that was very damaging and formed a large, thin sphere shell of ice in the area that trapped Grendel, Michael, Keesh, & Viola and the 1-hex sharks. The enclosed party-members need to resist vs Air-special each pulse because it was arduous to aspirate the arresting arctic air. The shark’s snout was still within the sphere, so Michael rushed up and hit it twice, to no effect. The shark breathed in (intending a breath-attack no doubt) but it also inhaled Michael’s prepared fire-dagger ... so it only spluttered harmlessly.

Next pulse, Geld only just hit the landshark from behind [B-A], doing 32 pts, but the shark resisted his weapon’s special effect. The shark pulled out of the ice-sphere and turned on the hovering Geld, who resists an E&E spell but was trapped in a rough mound ice to the waist. Two winged walruses landed nearby, dragging a snow simulacrum. Michael offensively withdrew from a merely 1-hex shark [C attack vs D defence] and rushed the tail of the Great Land Shark, but missed. One of the Winged Walrus rushed up to Michael’s combat, fortunately in a distinctly non-Ninja fashion.

Michael’s attack next pulse got through the walrus’s very thick skin. The Big shark roughly mauled Geld, coincidentally for 32 less armour, hauling Geld out of the ice & flinging him away; Geld, in reply, could only recovers from stun. The other walrus Whirlwind-vortexed Michael, Keesh, & Geld. Geld would have died except Michael very altruistically using a very special, once-only favour to Change Fate, saving Geld from otherwise unavoidable death. As the friendly person in the region capable of resurrection, Scribe Geld heartily nominates Michael for the Smartest Adventurer. <<<<<<< !!

A lighter piece of blubber hit the thin ice sphere, shattering it into sharp shards that damage most sharks and some party-members — except Viola who jumped under a shark. The fighting walrus hit Michael, who killed one of the flying shark entourage. The Master shark made to maul Michael [c-c], missing but breathing (58 pts), which Michael manfully withstood.

Next pulse the walrus fighter behind Michael failed to hit him [c-d]; Michael’s attack also failed [a-a] & the shark responded minimally [d-c]. Keesh was engaged, but concentrated on drinking a healing potion and defending himself successfully [c-d]. Grendel Empathied Michael; Viola snapshot at the walrus mage and distracted it, and Geld dropped a rk19 Counterspell (AirSpec) under the caster.

Next pulse the shark missed Michael [c-c; b-e], who returned the compliment [c-e] and resisted the breath weapon for quarter-damage. Gotta love that Winter Aspect! The sharks & walruses were dealt with quickly.

The all-singing, all-dancing Penguiny Chorus of Evil

Obviously the penguin chorus was working a nefarious Bardick ritual on the DBC, so Michael recast the Wings and led the Charge of the Flight brigade half a league, half a league onward, to relieve the besieged Dwarven refuge. Geld cast some anti-bard Counterspells on the way, using his free actions to raise morale (only 10 pts, including Magic Standard). Potions were imbibed.

Unfortunately Viola without Zippy the Owl, her moral compass, was more rapacious than Silken. Seeing singing, dancing were-seals, ice otters she thoughtlessly wished “Ooh! How delightful, how rare, I want some” and was teleported 500 yards to the focus of the Chorus, who clapped their fins in sync, stunning Viola as if from a Clap of Thunder.

While Michael, the "blindingly obvious Hero" (magic!), sped to an inevitably dramatic entrance, intending to save the maiden Viola in distress. Geld, following, acted as his herald, using a “Speak to Animals” item to Project his voice as loudly & clearly as possible (Rk 10+ Troubadour): “Cease your Evil Rite or else the Slayer of Flying whales will kill you all”.

At this point the chorus was supported by an eloquent giant, swinging a giant hammer, riding over the ridge on a polar bear. <Fade to white>

1st Snow ctd: Fly, as Angels Whales can fly

Keesh stopped to plug his misshapen ears; Michael, Grendel, & Geld decided to turn back — the evil chorus was too numerous & effecting us from too far away for us to suss them out, let alone neutralise them. Unfortunately, despite the Counterspell, Geld failed his resistance.

The remaining party discussed their options. Michael asked Viola to tell the leader “There was a little violence & misunderstanding, but we can get past that. Have I got a deal for you.”
After some back-&-forth, Viola replied: “Four people, 5 minutes, 400 yards west, They’re offering a pass to negotiate with the Queen”
3 winged beings landed there: 1 giant 2 polar bears; also an invisible back-up. The giant was their leader.

Michael negotiated skilfully with the Giant

For someone who really wanted to kill lots of somethings just 20 minutes earlier, Michael had the calm & patience of a masterful merchant.
Michael [in Giant]: “We all want the insides of these salamanders. You want them, we want them, so do the dwarves, and they are the ones that can preserve them best. The best thing for us to do is to make a deal with them, and everybody gets lots of salamanders.”
Gt: “But Dwarves are DEAL BREAKERS”
Michael: “But we offer them something that they don’t have. And YOU get more hearts doing this deal, than if you try to fight them ...
[Several minutes later, Michael is still trying to explain the subtle difference between making a deal with people and enslaving them]
Michael: “... as a partner, a friend, an associate, an ally. You know, like the giant on the other hill that helps you get rid of your enemy in the valley.”
Gt: “You know about THAT? You ARE wise. Oh, but that was NOT me. No, it was someone else. [...] Come & LISTEN to our Bardic music, you WILL be our allies. Give you a MAGIC ITEM for the pretty fiery one [Jaundice], ITEM to Summon DARK TITAN. Must have elves around because Dark Titan kills elves.”

The Deal was made & party-members redeemed

After explaining that the DWARVES were best at processing the Hearts, that THE PARTY had large Iron Pots that could bring back more hearts in better condition than just packing hearts in ice (The Giant’s method), & that by not attacking the party or dwarves the GIANTS would have more & better hearts, there was a breakthrough — although a lot of time was spent explaining what a “pot” was.
Giant: "You give us weapons, we take you to salamanders, you hunt".

Viola & Geld were also ransomed back after more, incredibly patient negotiation. For example:
Giant: “You confuse me with big words like “POT” ... I will take you to my queen.”

Not wanting to deal with someone we thought was leader of an Undead Army, the party hesitated until the Giant’s polar bear stepped forward, to explain:
Bear of very large brain (loudly, in Giantish): “She does not have someone who can speak for her other than the Giant. GIANT is in charge.”
Bear (gruffly, in common): “Stop talking foolish, giant is foolish. I understand. You help defend us from creatures of the night. I understand pie; I understand bigger slice of pie. If you double-cross us, we will eat you.” ... “I want an amulet to keep undead away.”
After more discussion, the deal was done: Michael arranged to take 5 people (bears) south to train as witches and handed over an amulet of jade.

The Grand Alliance flew North

The giant called off the assault on the Dwarven Base Camp. The Ice-fortress and an orderly caravan of 4 whales headed north, towards the huge glowing sphere lights up the sky, in orderly fashion.
Giant: “Do you have philosophers?”
Party: “Yes.”
Giant: “We will put them in barrel at the back”.

Now that we were beyond the Northern Lights, our magic (especially Mindspeech) was lasting normally. Over some 2 hours, the party talked with other members of the Giant’s force including Walruses decked out in clothing that speak Common (because the giant is in charge but doesn’t understand Common). How did he get in charge? “Because he’s big.”

The even Grander Alliance

Michael quickly convinced the expeditionary Dwarves to join with the Giant’s force ... many more hearts split 40/40, with a 20% handler's fee for us. They readily agreed, once they understood what we could do (get rid of effreets, etc). One of the threats to be neutralised is Hobbits: they have very dangerous spears and are known to be ice-mages. Avoiding genocide, Michael clarified how useful it would be to make a deal with the hobbits, whose local knowledge & magic, would enable even more hearts to be harvested.
Bear: “Make the hobbits slaves under our paw”
Michael: “Not slave; allies, friends.”
Bear: “OK they will be friends under our paw.”

Hobbits joined the Northern Co-prosperity Sphere

We flew to a Hobbit locale that lay near some hot-springs — the heat & vapours supporting large areas of strange exotic fungi, much of which was also luminescent. The party mostly avoiding the incoming missile fire. Those hobbits that didn’t flee were reassured by Geld, in their native tongue, that we were here to help and to prevent them being annihilated by the Whale-borne Armada overhead. Or as our super-merchant put it:
Michael: “Would you like to join the Northern Co-prosperity Sphere?”

The Hobbits would join us if we got rid of the undead. They knew ways into the cities, “know there is great treasure there”. Although one had a strong suspicion that this was a honey-trap — how they get rid of outsiders they can’t immediately kill — the hobbits were being sincere. They can also make ice-furnaces to render the hearts quicker.

Side-deal with the Snow tigers

A large white tiger with big teeth came forward ... Michael, invoking racial memories negotiated to bring “elephants” north for the Tigers in exchange for use of the hot pools. Over the next few days the Hobbits & dwarves begin preliminary work. Dwarves, Walruses, humans, hobbits: all “took the Waters” — but not the were-seals, ice otters.

6th Snow: The Sunken City: Elven Queen & Dark Hero

Sharks turned up with were-seals, ice otters on their back and accompanied the whale that ferried us, some hobbits, the giant, and others to the Sunken Elvish City.

The city was 90% covered with ice except for holes with wisps of smoke coming out. We went down and eventually saw two figures in ice in combat: the Elven Queen & the “Dark Hero”. The myth is that the undead shall free them from the ice, the combat resolved, with the Dark hero ruling the city. That would be bad and probably has global implications. There used to be more ice, but the undead have been using Salamander hearts to chip the ice away.

Michael, Geld & Grendel volunteer to sleep, perchance to dream, in the chamber — how the Frozen Queen communicates with her followers. In whispery speech she came to us (in our native languages) and was induced to give advice, such as
When presented by the 4 chests, you should take the 3rd one”.

We asked if there was anything we could do to aid her. She explained:
“My peoples were cursed ... great houses were turned into various beasts [Walruses, bears, etc?] ... Several of my great heroes, their memories would be returned, perhaps, if you defeat all of the undead. The heroes are the ones in porcelain armour.

Naturally, we Geased ourselves to come back within that Elvish century (i.e., in the next 4 years) with a party to release her.

What the Dwarven Priest's Balls do

Keesh did a skilful Ancient Divination on the Priest’s Potent Spheres: When they break it will free ALL beings that are enchanted in the area: everything imprisoned becomes free; everything free becomes imprisoned.

Our first Creature Of The Night (COTN)

Everyone packed up & we headed north. Reports came in of flying creatures of the night to the east. The Giant force (i.e., bears & walruses) wanted to send sharks in to explode, hopefully killing the COTN, since they didn’t bring their penguin catapult. [Scribal marginalia: “Ain’t that the story of my life”]. Party cast Wings & Smite spells on the were-seals, ice otters, which adjusted their goggles and flew off to do their duty. Soon bright explosions flashed in the East.

The Salamander herd & its herders

We carried on northwards. After passing through a snow slurry, the air was suddenly clearer (& much warmer) — the 400 yard slurry was like the thin shell of mist that has been surrounding Geld and his bubble of temperate air. We discovered that we'd flown into the (fatal?) airspace over the herd, and were under attach. A fiery winged 35’ creature beside the whale, attacked Toledo & Jaundice, with surprise. Next pulse, it had initiative on Geld [d-b], wiping all his fatigue & stunning him; meanwhile Toledo flew in from behind ... directly into the Efreet’s tail [d-00, which Toledo Curses foiled down to only b-00]; Jaundice’s Extinguish Fires snuffed the efreet.

The whale landed very quickly while the party recovered and more efreets closed in on us. The efreets become more solid as they land, looking very titan-like in their height & armour: archetypical swords & sandals. Big, Big Swords. Geld broke his one-use time-out timeglass, in order to have a Banishment spell running. Keesh can also Banish ... but only at Range Touch.

Take it back, I dare you

With Counterspells & Fire armours all round, Michael attempted Trade Talks with simulated confidence, but privately uncertain ...
Michael (on Mindspeech): “Negotiation works 9 times out of 10 ... and the last 9 times were successful.”

Talking & casting with Efreets

Keesh stayed with the Whale Armada; the rest of us withdrew with the Afareet (or "Efreets"). They WERE willing to negotiate, primarily through self-interest and mistaken identity — There was some confusion that we were NOT delivering what we’d previously agreed to ... since all Humans look alike, or rather were believed to all be parts of the same entity. Our indisputable differentness was established when Jaundice breathed a large fire-ball. The impressed Afareet nattered amongst themselves (while Grendel had many on Telepathy and Geld could understand their speech): “She is obviously their queen, why is she hiding.” \\ “Let us slay her pets and take her back with us.” \\ “Would that not be rude?”

The Afareet countered with “We can offer you skulduggery. We will summon the undead near us and you can raid their den and bring us back our containers.”
But when we didn’t fall for that trap (especially since we didn’t know where the den was), they took Jaundice (now located) to one side, and made a simulacrum of what the container looked like. They decided to grant her ultra-cunning wish (cunning thanks to Telepathy & Mindspeech), that the Efreets' stolen heart-container would appear 15’ behind her in 2 minutes.
“She is very clever.” \\ “We should take her back to the Plane of Fire as a mate for our Prince.” \\ “Yes he will reward us lots of wishes.”

In return for giving them the chest (indeed Jaundice turned around so it was immediately before them) they offered us the choice of ONE chest out of Four that appeared before us. That, my children, is why you should ALWAYS ask Elvish Queens for advice, if you have the advantage: In the 3rd chest were 3 smaller boxes. The Efreet suggested Jaundice opened them now.

"I wish, I wish"

The boxes contained wishes. Under prompting, Jaundice wished:
1. for a share of the herd.
2. that the Senator of Decay that was formerly known as the Commander to be trapped back in his Lunar Empire place of Confinement
3. that "the priest of Itimanuka who was trapped in this area to appear 15’ behind me"
4. that each Party member is to receive a magic item. (A chorus of party-members yelled “Nooooo!” on Mindspeech, while the Afareet burst out laughing)

The Scribe was in agony as he was suddenly exposed to almost Arctic cold and holding a hand-&-a-half (“I’m NOT that sort of Namer”) homicidal sword that tried to take him over and kill everyone (... because Keshah IS that sort of Binder, I mean rune mage. Apparently everyone’s most valuable item leapt to the next person.

While items were quickly restored, Jaundice considered her final wishes:
5. a Magic Ritual that she could use to travel to the Plane of Fire, dwell there safely, and return back to Alusia. [An Efreet handed Jaundice a gem: “Keep it with you and when you wake up in the morning you will have the knowledge”]

The Stick or the Turnip?

The spokesman Efreet indicates that the “Playing with the Senator” before he was returned was a valid negotiation tactic. So we decide not to be greedy. Estimating we only need about 1000 hearts, Michael said to ask for 1200, so Jaundice asked for 1300, which satisfied the Afareet.
6. “I wish for all the undead within the region of the auroras to be taken to the Plane of Fire, never to return.”

Speaking for the Party, Keesh told the were-seals, ice otters to bring up our pots. After a bout of penguin delirium and giant stupidity, the pots were NOT launched in the catapults (nor even were-seals, ice otters), and everything calmed down apart from a couple of accidental-on-purposed snowball barrages ... The pots are eventually brought forth.

An incidental Efreet demand (“Send us the walrus and the penguin that know how to burn the Northern Lights. We will capture their minds”) prompted us to ask that the priestess gets her soul back. [done]

Jaundice negotiated with the Afareet to teach them her magic, and to learn from them. They offered her many things:
-- Offer the Might hammer of summoning Dark Titans [declined]
-- Offers her Fire-dance ritual [accepted]
-- A magical fiery/airy mount that will find her later, when she returns to Alusia

It took a day to sort things out. Jaundice left with the Afareet, on the condition she was able to send messages back to Alusia. [Agreed: although receiving messages by firebird might not be healthy for the recipient ... or their town.]

8th Snow: Defrosted Elvish City (part-1)

We returned to the City, now the Undead were not a threat, for info for the Quest (perhaps a little light pillaging or pre-rescue of items) discovering there just the queen trapped. Methinks the Dark hero was undead.

We activated the Dwarven Priest’s spheres ... on time delay, since the party had several Rk-10 mechanicians. There was a Flash of light: Steam rose, revealing a huge walled city slightly sunk into the earth. There was excited chattering amongst the elves and hobbits (all ex-walruses & ex-were-seals, ice otters, now released).

GOOD Titan, BAD Titan

A BIG titan turns up and knocked the whale unconscious in a single blow. Michael called out for MATT TUMBELDOWN’s help — but momentarily disappeared [apparently Michael was pulled through the aurora, with the automatic Resist-or-Die (Better it happened to Michael than MATT); abused by Matt for being stupid wrt Aurora; jailed in a large canary cage; reconciled; and returned to us]
... to instantly reappear [Resist-or-Die] with a very large rabbit’s foot (roll 6 times & take the best) that immediately saved his life and disappeared, as the entire party Resisted the Aurora and was teleported by the Dark Titan to terrain of rocks and lots of lava.

Michael called “HELP MATT HELP, I’m no longer in the Aurora”, then threw down a shield and jumped on it (teleporting himself to Adjepbar); the Dark Titan ditto jumped, ditto went to Adjepbar. Matt turns up, collected the shield, & asked us if we wanted to come along. “Yes, thank you”. We turned up & watched DT chasing Michael around the dunes & blue sand patches.
My, how we laughed! Diversion over, Matt headed took us back to Seagate and we portalled in several steps back to the City.

Defrosted Elvish City (reprise)

We enter the old elven city, looking about, and joined the several hundred ex-animals. In summary:

  • The city sank about 700 years ago, after all but essential personnel retreated back through the then-functioning portal to Alfheim
  • The heroes & about 100 residents have all been freed
  • Geld started resurrecting 40 elves: it took the last of his restoratives, about 10 strips of auto-jerky.
  • The big buildings are all still standing, but only the armoury, foodstore, & throne room were preserved. Geld offered to assist with the rebuilding once his people are safe.
  • This elven city is at 0 longitude 75 latitude North
  • We all got rings to return here
  • NB: Celestial Counterspells help resist the Aurora
  • The Dwarves also have a portal near their city to here, and way of going through Hearth magic to other Dwarven strongholds.

We spent 2 days in the city; then a day (the 10th) back to the hobbits, remembering this time to release the ice-snake remains. We spent 5days waiting while the hobbits to refine the hearts, finishing on the Solstice for maximum effect. Three days later we were delivered with the Expeditionary Force & their hearts, to the Dwarven Base Camp stronghold, then portal to the Dwarven Kingdom.

18th Snow: Back with the Dwarves

The dwarves were attacked by a giant squid that wielded weapons made from the masts of ships. Some traders saw a large white ship to the South. We helped establish a relationship between the Dwarven king & the Elvish Queen.

The Dwarves put on a banquet and offered us a suit of Dwarven armour each. We enquired about other things...
Toledo: "Do you have any Drow-killing weapons?"
Dwarven official: "No they’ve all be sold to the Elvish court ... as it happens."

19th Snow: At Dagenborg

  • The Dagen stronghold (Dagen-borg) contains the Gwythya (priestesses of Hel).
  • The stronghold dominates its town & harbour.
  • The Dagen have the two Destinian ships in the harbour.
  • We made a map of said harbour in elegant Elvish to sweeten the pot with the Destinians.
  • Toledo recognised one of the soulless Drow (see adventure ??), a teenager prone to poisoning. A candidate for replacing Finna, which Moonshae & Raithe would like! But she said "sod-off", which is what she also said to M&R.

Return to Chélemby (on 21st Snow)

We purchased 5-tons of lumber at Dagenborg; then discretely changed from a small sloop to a small cog by extracting 10 tons of free-range timber along the way arriving at Destinian-controlled Chélemby two days later.

It took another day to exchange the map for favours with the Destinian Legate/Governor/whatever, then speak to (other) soulless beings. There were a couple of suitable replacements for Finna amongst the Drow there ... once we abandoned the requirement to negotiate under a Rune of Truth .
"Oh yes, their rune mages are much worse than yours. How do you think they lost their souls in the first place?"

24th Snow: Freetown; Imther; Elvish bodies

We landed and confirmed that the secret mission, was complete: Irina’s pledge had been fulfilled, without adverse consequences (so far). Of course they’d already received the salamander hearts by Grendel post.

From Irena’s court, we were conducted to Imther Stronghold. The ersatz Dwarves Keesh & Geld supposedly left the party, and the (once-again) elves SF & Keshah re-joined. Thence Home to Seagate on the afternoon of 25th of Snow.

BUFFS (please add details)

From Grendel:
Cold Resistance Rank 6 protects to -12 degrees, 3 points of cold protection
Water Breathing Rank 13
Water Proofing Rank 7
Bouyancy Rank 7
Mind Shield Rank 13 +36% MR vs Mental Attack + immune to Telepathy

mult images;
Greater heart rune r16 (1 time heal of 11 end)
Willow healing r7 ( when triggered heals 3 end a pulse for 9 pulses)
Rune shield r20 ( + 25% def +5 armour destroys to absorb 1 spec grev)
Rune of truth r6 ( pc x 2 + 12 can see true nature/deceptions, cannot lie)
Smite r20 ( 1 or 4 charges of d+21 save for all when you hit)