After blowing up the Blizzard Sphere using his Spellstorm access, Baern discovers that the rift between the worlds which was stabilized and controlled by the artifact has now become sustained by his own connection to the spellstorm. He tries reaching out to it, but he is unable to access it. Not knowing what else to do, he calls on the Epics’ aid… (cut scene)
Last session the Heroics were at a cliff-hanger, at the beginning of a combat.
We pick up with them again, as two blasts of freezing wind engulf the front ranks, just as they are inspecting the icy sarcophagus in the crypt in front of them.
The ice begins to crack.
From outside the range of their dark-light, arrows fly from the darkness, and two ghostly wolves leap upon them. Ghostly versions of winter-wolves, from whence the frigid blasts came.
Within moments, the icy coffin explodes in chunks and from within an armored barrow-wight emerges, his full plate covered in centuries of rime, twin points of cold blue fire gleaming from deep in his helm, his fullblade swinging in mighty arcs.
Voices from beyond the light utter words in ancient Elven
“Hunters were we, but whom did we hunt?”
Ator notices a plaque affixed at the base of the sarcophagus "Here lies Vaerlan, Twice Cursed, let his whispered name stand as warning.’
As Vaerlan cuts a swath through the party, his overwhelming, inexorable onslaught is cut short by Karash, who interposes his shield to save Halani from the fullblades path. Durgan keeps a wolf occupied while the others concentrate fire on Vaerlan and the other wolf.
The eerie voices continue
“But she was vanished from our sight,
so Curse was our coin”
and the arrows fly again.
Ator remembers Vaerlan’s story. An Eladrin Knight from a time of myth, belonging to the Order of the Silver Hart (now long since disbanded), he was said to have loved Sharaea, even as he was set to guard her for his liege, the Summer Prince, her betrothed. But this love was unrequited. When Sharaea vanished, he was cursed a second time by the vengeful Prince, for aiding her escape.
Halani, hearing this, has a sense of deja vu, and a spatter of recognition of this ancient knight overcomes her. She steps up to him and begs him to see the part of her that is still Sharaea.
“My Lady!” he exclaims as recognition courses through him He staggers to one knee, and his blade halts in mid-air. With great effort he struggles against it’s arc, and the curse which compels him to guard this secret passage.
The hunters call out
“Warders are we now, but whom do we ward?”
The party collectively hold their breath, waiting to see if Vaerlan will resume his assault.
Instead he turns towards the darkness
“Run, while you still can!” he cries as charges the archers still yet concealed from the party.
“We ward Vaerlan!” they cry and arrows plunge into the chinks between his armor. But Vaerlan’s flesh is no mortal flesh and he continues, the two curses upon set against each other, and his love for Sharaea momentarily supreme.
The party runs towards the exit, coming upon the archers, who they make short work of, with Vaerlan’s help.
As the last of the warders and their guardian wolves fall, Vaerlan turns to Halani
“My Lady, my .. love.. I have waited for you.. I give you … all that I have left.” and he falls to the ground, his armor falling apart, revealing a dessicated corpse.
Halani is overcome. Normally reserved, something about this knights story touches her deeply. Perhaps it’s the part of her that is Sharaea, or perhaps it’s the fact that even after millennia, his love was still strong enough to overcome the Prince’s geas.
As her teas touch the knights armor, the grime and frost falls away, revealing pristine plate armor with a polish so bright she can see her reflection in it.
With some reverence, she packs up his equipment while the others loot the cursed hunter’s bodies which they find embedded in the ice walls in the north of the chamber, along with their guardian wolves.
They continue north through the narrow passage for several hours, till they come to an opening that leads on to an icy bridge over an underground river. Below them, a large boat sails up to a shoreline, where upon several eladrin sailors disembark, and go up to an icy wall across the shore. Two large icy doors swing open, and several winter fey emerge, along with a couple of large Firbolgs who wade into the water and start unloading barrels and barrels of cargo from the ship.
The party hangs back, hoping to remain hidden. They contemplate sneaking down to the water and to the shore, but as Halani gets closer, she sees that the wall only reaches half way to the cavern ceiling, and atop it are parapets patrolled by guardsmen. They wait and watch.
A Frost Giant walks between the doors and calls out
“What are you doing? The Prince is waiting for this shipment. " With a disgusted look he raises he hands and ice bubbles up to the surface of the bay making a walk-way to the very side of the boat. Now all the fey can assist the firbolgs, and unloading proceeds at a much greater pace.
The Frost Giant returns to the sheltered area, and the party waits till the boat is unloaded and leaves before venturing across the bridge. The ice is slippery, but they make painstaking progress, and their travelers camouflage helps them blend from sight. They get to the other side without drawing the attention of the guards on the walls. This deep in the Princes demesne, there is little to fear and the guards lack vigilance.
The heroes proceed deeper under the glacier until they come to a place where the passage emerges into a bowl-like cavern. Below them, the icy walls are jagged, and slope towards an uneven floor, stewn with stalagtites and what appears to be icy statues. Knowing the Prince’s reputation, this could be where some of his numerous victims ended up after they’ve been turned to ice. To the left a large archway leads off into a dark tunnel, while in the center of the bowl, a tall spire stretches all the way from floor to the domed ceiling. An icy ramp fully as wide as three frost giants walking abreast curves around the spire and up above the dome.
They have reached the bowels of the Fortress of Frozen Tears itself.
Halani is overcome with a vision of the place as it once was – the Spire before her all agleam with silver, and the branches of an ancient alder tree embracing it, all white in the summer sun.
She consults her dragonmark, but the tug forward is no longer there.
“I guess, as far as Dalastra is concerned, we’re here.” she says.
They slip down the side of the walls, Karash and Durgan lowering Gramaine, in his heavy chain on a rope. The others, slightly more nimbly, make their own way down.
Halani moves to investigate the statues. Ever since her time in Dalastra’s halls, she has wondered about her burgeoning abilities to melt away ice. Seeing the plight of all these people, she cannot help but try to undo the prince’s curse.. She’s never been wholly conscious of how she taps into Sharaea’s Aspect of Summer. Usually , things just happen. This is the first time she’s attempted anything of such magnitude through her own force of will.
She reaches out to one of the statues, the ice worn smooth and indistinct since being discarded here.
A warm tingle begins in her fingertips.
The others keep to the shadows, as sounds of movement — boots crunching on ice, and casual conversation — echo from the large cavernous exit. The unseen creatures continue on their way as Halani continues to concentrate.
The warmth soon becomes a glow, which soon emanates and reflects around the chamber, filling it with light. Tensions increase as risk of discovery increases with each pulse of light. Within moments, Halani is emitting he heat of a midsummer high noon, and the glare of an unclouded day. The ice at her feet has turned to water, and wisps of steam rise from the pool. The statue blurs slowly beneath her hands, and she fears that stopping would leave the victim in a state between ice and flesh.
The light, however, has finally attracted some attention from the dark cavern.
“What’s doing that?” a deep voice rolls into the chamber from beyond their sight, and heavy steps crunch through the ice.
Halani’s hands grip suddenly soft flesh and a confused woman’s face appears as the last of the ice flows away. "What’s the meaning of this? How dare… " the woman, dressed in flowing attire of surpassing quality trails off as she takes in her surroundings. Seeing the others huddled behind statues, and hearing the approaching footsteps of something rather large, she takes her cue, taking a similar position.
Baern enlists Anika, Amata (and Athelia) and Lyneth to improvise a ritual to sever the connection with the Spellstorm sustaining the rift. Amata and Anika analyze the situation and discover that the rift, while initially anchored to the Vale of Long Night in the feywild, is now subject to Planar Drift as expected. Amata also realizes that this effect may be wandering through time as well. It is far too dangerous to allow to continue to exist.
With Anika’s mastery of planar magic at it’s peak, and Amata being a Shard of the Mind of Time, they put their heads together and come up with a plan. It will take a great deal of concentration, and Baern will need to be part of the ritual. They approach the rift, and Anika’s presence prevents them all from being sucked into the chaotic portal. Joining hands, with Baern standing right in the rift itself, Anika unleashes Dimensional Cascade on the connection with the Spellstorm. and it’s connection to the rift is severed. No longer self-sustaining, the rift will slowly collapse in on itself naturally.
Baern collapses, unconscious. Martin revives him with a Cure Serious Wounds, and the Paragons decide to return to Grimnar and get some shut-eye before approaching Galendin.
The Epics try to decide on their next steps. Martin wants to get to the Fortress of Frozen Tears as soon as possible, believing it to be the City of Silver, and the key to revealing what has befallen the Raven Queen (as her last communication with him indicated, when this all started a month ago).
Lyneth suggests that facing him unprepared on his home ground would be fatal. As yet she still doesn’t know the extent of his power over her pact, and fears that he would be able to turn her against them. She advises they meet Quarion first (as they agreed) in Mithrendain, They no doubt need him , since he holds Sharaea’s body (and last quarter of her soul) , and he obviously needs them for whatever he’s planning, as they hold the other three quarters.
The others agree, and Martin acquiesces.