Icewind Dale

Session 23
Trespassers of Evermeet

Using the magic items left behind by the absent crew of the Coldhorn, Nevena realizes the ship can be safely moored in place, just off shore, by the Feathered Anchor Token they found. Unfortunately, the small launch boat lashed to the Coldhorn did not escape the Elven magic barrier and so they must swim for land. They learn the fish-scale cap worn by Nevena and the decorative coral-scale armor acquired by Eira allow for underwater breathing and superior swimming. Despite these boons, however, the three escaped prisoners of Salvation spend an exhausting number of hours swimming ashore and back to the ship, carefully carrying the equipment and items they can salvage with each trip.

As the sun is going down, the Trespassers of Evermeet come ashore and find a weathered stone obelisk on the rocky coast’s promontory within sight. The obelisk stands atop a broad plinth. On the plinth stands a forlorn, robed figure. Her back is turned away from them, she faces the sea. Removing her hood, the figure is seen to be a herald of the gods, again in the familiar form of Drielle. She is Myrkul’s emissary and the Trespassers speak with her. She asks why they have come and what they will do, now that they have. The Trespassers insist they are lost and never intended to arrive.

Drielle-the-Herald, seeming deaf to this grievance, restates her own questions, telling them that Salvation has defied the Gods. It seeks to escape their punishment and this realm. Its reckless, selfish actions threaten all of Toril.

Nevena, with knowledge of elven writing, examines an ancient map carved into the wind-scarred granite of the obelisk. She is able to make out the names of three places, two of which bear the names ‘ELION’ (to the northwest) and a place she can only understand to be ‘THE GROVE’ (due southwest). The third site, directly to south, cannot be recognized at all after so much time and wear from the storm-wracked seacoast. Drielle-the-Herald cannot leave the boundary of the plinth and is but an observer here and so the Trespassers head for Elion, as it appears closest according to the map.

Though Nevena is at home in a forest, perhaps never more so than the ancestral woodlands of her own people, the three explorers are running low on food and arrows. Søngberg has not even a weapon to defend himself. As Nevena hunts and forages for food, she encounters signs of corruption—blighted trees and creatures sporting odd tumors and rashes. This makes her think twice about eating from the forest.

Evermeet seems to bear evidence of a large and scattered war of giants against the now absent elves. In places, the very ground is littered with detritus half-buried like great round shields, broken blades, spear heads, or rusted helmets—some as large as a kitchen table. Søngberg, without a weapon, strikes it lucky while searching a field and finds a morningstar, that, thanks to fine elven craftsmanship has lasted the test of time. The item is wrought with caryatids of the elven gods that clutch daggers to form the devices spikes. As he examines his prize, a pair of hulking and demented giants, each horribly disfigured seize upon them. First Eira and then Nevena meet the accursed gaze of these creatures, being distorted and mutated by them. The Trespassers work together to fell one of the giants which is enough to drive away the other in fear.

Soon after the battle, a strange little sprite reveals himself. He is known as ‘Burclover’. He is impressed by the martial prowess and great heroism he has seen against the giant Fomorian invaders. His people are all that remains in the fight against them. He leads them away from Elion, south to show them the massive corpse of the ‘Elf Eater’ that has spread the corruption here. The sprawling pile of pollution with outstretched tentacles laying about the land like wild, miles-long pipes is titanic in size. Since it can be seen from miles off, upon viewing it, none of the three Trespassers desires to get any closer. So Burclover leads them to his Queen in the west.

At Loona’s court the fae are, at first blush, anxious of the three big intruders that arrive with Burclover. They dazzle and confuse Eira and Nevena with their wily magic. Peaceful protestations against this on the part of the Trespassers—in their moments of lucidity amidst the faerie glamour—is enough to call them off. Queen Loona demands heads or ears of slain Fomorians to prove they are serious in the war against the giants. The Trespassers want answers about Salvation and where they should go. Queen Loona claims they should seek Shy Silva who is very old and very wise. Sir Purslane, a sprite-knight of Loona’s court bravely volunteers to go questing with them.

EXP
Eira 6000
Nevena 6000
Søngberg 6000

(Note: Søngberg attunes to Amber Necklace)

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Session 22
The Trackless Sea

With the recalcitrant Nevena strapped to the bowsprit, Søngberg and Eira spend their time on the long ocean journey recuperating from the infirmity of their resurrection. They do not challenge Salvation or Jared’s command of the ship. Søngberg, having been long away from Temples and other clergy, engages the crew of the Coldhorn in religious discussions and prayers. Eira keeps a low profile and eavesdrops on the crew; both of them are interested in learning what the crew knows and more about why this voyage has been undertaken. They each in their own way learn that the pilgrims know only what Jared has told them—and that Jared’s loyalty to Salvation is unfailing.

Nevena, only slightly alive to begin with, suffers horribly in her state. She is given water but is otherwise left in the open air to experience rope-burns, ceaseless and mounting hunger, swollen eyes, delirium, and all the other torturous effects of her deprivation and exposure. The piteous condition of Nevena after two weeks of this ordeal impels Søngberg to convince Jared and the crew to cut her free and bring her below decks. Nevena is a threat to no one at this point, hanging on to her wretched life by a mere thread.

After more than three weeks at sea, a storm comes on, despite the epicenter of calm, mild weather that had always followed the ship across the sea. The crew trusts in Jared’s divine powers to command the weather and grows uneasy over the unexpected bad weather. To make matters more unnerving, a crowd gathers at the bow to examine a strange sight on the horizon. They spy a low, rippling aurora dancing atop the waves; caught in the storm, the ship is advancing fast toward this ribbon of lights. As the crew takes reactive measures against the wind and rain while bracing for the oncoming witchery ahead, Nevena, Eira, and Søngberg are each of them patronized by a deity of Toril. They are treated to visions in which they are alone but for the presence of a god.


Tyr reveals himself to Søngberg, granting him sight beyond sight. Possessed with this True Seeing, the dwarven paladin can never again be fooled by the Angel’s mortal guises. Tyr recedes and Søngberg can see the world as the gods themselves perceive it.

Tempus reveals himself to Eira. With the alacrity of the perfect warrior, he binds Eira in ropes that have fallen from the storm-wracked rigging. He grants her an unfettered gift so that never again can the Angel defeat her by carrying her aloft. Tempus recedes and Eira escapes her bonds unaided.

Finally, Ilmater, moved to great sympathy by the immense suffering of Nevena reveals himself to her. He takes away her pain and brings it upon himself; he suffers in her stead so that she can rest. Ilmater grants her a gift to help her endure the further hardships she must embrace before she again faces her enemy.

As the visions come to an end, Søngberg’s newfound sight reveals an image of Drielle that no other can see. Drielle conducts Søngberg and Eira below decks to be with Nevena. Nevena, so close to death, can also witness Drielle as she has been sent as an emissary of Myrkul. The four friends, united once again beyond all of their deaths, join hands as the ship passes through the aurora. This magic barrier, put in place by the reclusive elves to protect their homeland, has sent away everything save the angel Salvation, its enemies below decks, and the ship itself.


On the other side of the magic aurora, the weather is calm again. From the maindeck, Evermeet can be seen as a misty band on the horizon. Salvation forgoes its human aspect as Shannon and takes flight, heading straight for the island. Drielle issues a warning that once past the barrier, Evermeet’s defenses take the form of guardian beasts and one will be soon upon them. Suddenly Drielle is gone. The tattoo of a great eagle’s cry pierces the silence.

A ‘roc’, one of the magnificent and legendary beasts of Faerûn soars for the ship. Søngberg scrambles to find anything useful against this foe; he searches high and low. Eira and Nevena take up a position off the starboard bow, working together to fire one of the Coldhorn’s ballistae at the creature. They get two shots off before its great talons collide with the deck. Søngberg, for his part, manages to find his armor, Nevena’s bow, and the Hammer Myrnoch. Sundry other items of magic seem to have escaped the teleportation spell of the aurora, but the dwarf has no time to examine them.

Thanks to Søngberg, Myrnoch finds its way back into Eira’s hands and the Gorgon Bow into Nevena’s. These weapons and Søngberg’s miracles are turned against the massive eagle. The beast has a bronze plating formed over its beak, is somewhat heedless of attacks against it, and instead seems intent on shivering the vessel into splinters with its battering-ram face. The Gorgon Bow fails to petrify the creature. Nevena’s elven magic twice fails to ensnare it with a tangle of ropes and rigging. Eira is gathered up in its talons and hurled into the sea so quickly that even her gift from Tempus is not enough to save her. However, Eira thinks fast and drops the hammer rather than risk losing it forever to the sea. Søngberg rushes to snatch up the hammer and fells the creature with a mighty blow moments before the beast can sink the boat entirely. The Coldhorn is damaged but still seaworthy. The three companions gather their trophies and disembark for Evermeet.

EXP
Eira 8000
Nevena 8000
Søngberg 8000

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Session 21.5
Candlemas

The angel touches down amidst the bodies of Eira, Nevena, Ardemis, and Søngberg, resuming its guise as the magnificent beauty known as Shannon of Ten Towns. The blizzard it summoned forth will have masked this secret identity from any in Targos who were attempting to look on from behind the walls. Those who looked up, however, will have seen the angel in flight. They will add their tales to the many rumors already circulating in the area about the appearance of angels in the skies and how it foretells of Lathander’s return.

The Targos gate is opened for Shannon and within, she meets with Jared in a longhouse that is lined with furs and silks and glittering gold cups next to singed incense. She informs her dutiful prelate about the bodies outsides in the snow. She orders them brought in to be laid out before her. He sends his faithful pilgrims out at once, the sudden blizzard already fading away. Shannon explains to Jared that she now has “a more suitable elf” and that the “less savory alternative kept in reserve can be released”.

Thus, Marsible the dark elf is also called forth to Shannon—but only after the bodies of the slain heroes are loaded, along with many supplies, onto a ship. The ship, the Coldhorn, was wrought by men and dwarves, but follows an ancient elven plan uncovered from the Moonshae Isles. Shannon explains to Marsible that everything has unfolded “providentially”, and that with their bargain complete, she may go about her dark business in exultation of Shar in Bryn Shander.

After the orcs exact their steep toll in plunder and slaves upon the people of Ten Towns, they recede from whence they came. The chaotic vacuum the orcs leave in their wake provides Marsible all the leeway she needs to conduct her ritual, awakening old and dormant echoes of the Shadow Weave left behind by the Spellplague


Ineffably, Eira, Nevena, and Søngberg rise from their deaths. They find themselves on the angel Salvation’s vessel, the Coldhorn. It is crewed by its most loyal followers and captained by Jared Frosthonor. Salvation, though still in the guise of Shannon, reveals itself to its three captives and proffers their cooperation. It also reveals their course, they make way for Evermeet (pulled as a sled at present over the northern sea ice). Nevena, as rebellious in her second life as in the first, is having none of this plan. Still only barely alive, the three risen companions can put forth no resistance. Nevena is lashed to the bowsprit like a living elven figurehead. Søngberg prays, Eira schemes.

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Session 21
Salvation

Hearing the warning and alarm from Caer-Konig’s shieldmaid about the attack of the orcs, Søngberg advocates altering course in order to aid the people of Ten Towns. Eira and Nevena are unswayed and convince their dwarf companion to avoid this diversion. Ardemis too is more concerned with settling his own score in Targos than battling orcs. If it is only a raid, they will have wasted much time and effort for very little gain. If it is a larger scale attack, what truly can they offer to a desperate situation?

The people of Bryn Shander already know Eira, Nevena, and Søngberg to be mighty heroes who have slain a dread Ice Hag, buried the troll-father Grendel, and silenced the wailing banshees of the Seldarine Tower. They would surely seek all the help they can get against the orcs of the Great Glacier. Hoping to avoid this pressure, Nevena leads the group to the south around Bryn Shander entirely, stepping warily around human and orc scouts alike. Tracks in the snow reveal that both are out on the prowl.

The proximity of scouts means the drums of war cannot be far behind. They all agree to press on through the night without rest, leaving Bryn Shander in the darkness behind them. A few miles outside of Targos, the weather worsens. Nevena and Søngberg agree this change is supernatural. The wind picks up to a storm’s strength, the temperature falls, and an oncoming snow drives down. Though they reach Targos, the blizzard does not abate. Something at the gate is waiting for them, its mind joins with theirs and speaks into their heads with a voice that is calm, genderless, and eternal,

“Turn back. Leave this place.”

Søngberg and Nevena ask questions of the presence. Through the whipping snow in the torch-lit dimness, only a robed figure can be made out. Their questions are turned aside, again they are asked to leave.

“I’ve seen your kind before. Time and time again. Every fleeing man must be caught. Every secret must be unearthed. Such is the conceit of self-proclaimed seekers of truth. But in the end, you lack the stomach for the agony you’ll bring on yourself.”

Insistent, they beg admittance to Targos. Again. Leave. The robed figure reveals that it is armed with a large sword. Turn back. The obstinate Nevena draws the figure’s ire with her refusals; in reply it surrounds them all in a fearsome cage of light. The figure throws off its robe, revealing itself to be a glorious, celestial angel. Its wings are spattered in blood, it wears a shining mantle, terrific and splendid to behold. It is the Angel Salvation. Nevena wears a stray feather from this being in her very hair. It killed her father. This night, it will kill her as well. The angel’s wrath takes the form of holy fire that issues in a beam from its sword. It ensures them all that their …

“… heroism here will be no more than a chapter in a tale of submission”.

One by one, the angel cuts down Nevena and Søngberg. When Ardemis dares to raise his arcane hand against it, unleashing a bolt of lighting, the angel decrees,

“No weapon formed against me shall prosper.”

Eira makes a final stand against the divine foe, her warrior’s instincts made nearly peerless by the Hammer of Tempus in her hands. She and the angel trade blows as Eira’s life is spared several times over by the unassailable boon of the Battlelord. Frustrated and sensing the power of the hammer, Salvation seizes Eira and carries her aloft, high into the polar gyre of the blizzard. Eira crashes several more blows into the being before it yanks the hammer from her grasp, leaving the woman to plummet, defeated 200 feet down to the hard surface of Faerûn.

Eira Ironvale, wielder of Myrnoch, lies broken and lifeless in the snow.

Nevena, the green elf of the north, enemy of Salvation is dead and run through at Eira’s side.

Beside them both lies Songberg Mountainsun of the Mirabar Mountainsuns.
He too is slain by the sword of Salvation.

EXP
Eira 7500
Nevena 7500
Søngberg 7500


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Session 20
An Unsettling Dream

While recovering in fisherman Jhonen’s home from the harrowing journey back to Ten Towns, Søngberg has a particularly vivid and worrying dream. He is greeted with a vision of Eira succumbing to exposure. Navena is lost to a battle between zombie Reghedmen and Orcs warring over the human settlement while he and Eira’s body drift away, on the sea, under the stars, on a small iceberg. They are led on by an angelic figure shining bright in the sky. Søngberg feels Tyr grow nearer as he shepherds Eira’s frozen body into the unknowable horizon.

Søngberg rouses from his unsettling dream to sounds of Nevena and Jhonen talking of her heroic adventure in the eastern mountains against Grendel and the Seldarine Tower’s ghosts. The elf and the fisherman share his pipe, its smoke intermingling with that of his hearthflame’s. Søngberg prays. The humans Eira and Ardemis shudder in their sleep. The wizard’s pixie familiar Argent keeps her eyes trained on the door all night, knowing how uneasy Nevena is with Jared and the devotees of Lathander. Therefore, that night while everyone else sleeps, her back is turned to the presence that silently creeps in by way of the chimney …

The following day, Nevena goes to a watering hole to drink and gather gossip. She discovers that she, a troll-slayer and banisher of banshees is the only matter of gossip to discuss. Jared arrives to Jhonen’s with a posse of his acolytes and watchmen. He seeks the Malefic-sword and information (the map notes) from the Seldarine Tower; they seize the sword from Dheirgryn who is now retired from evil magic and dread monsters of the wild places. Jared then tracks down Nevena to interview her. At this time, Nevena discovers her notes from the map room have gone missing!


Not wishing to impose any further on generous Jhonen, the adventurers reluctantly agree to take up Jared on his arrangement for them to stay in Easthaven’s ‘House of Dignitaries’. The marvelous beauty Shannon visits them all there, hoping to collect her parchments and inks with the notes from the tower. During this meeting, Ardemis’ previous skepticism about Jared’s miscreant motivations recedes when he learns (from the use of his magic) that Shannon’s mind is entirely not human and unlike anything else he’s ever encountered. Shannon agrees to send over fresh, warm winter gear and other odds and ends before departing.

Nevena, Ardemis, Eira, and perhaps even Søngberg now are all highly suspicious of Jared Frosthonor and wish to know more about what is going on under his watch. Ardemis agrees to use his considerable spell power to learn what he can by spying and scrying. After a week in the warm house, now fully recovered from frostbite and exhaustion, Nevena seeks the Shar-witch Marsible Pinewhisk while Eira, Søngberg, and Ardemis return to Bryn Shander. Marsible is not at home, the locals tell of her “taking that child—and heading west. Looked to be going for some time.” Nevena lets herself in and squats in the drow’s home.


Meanwhile in Bryn Shander, most of the 1,000 Heads Trading Coster’s assets have been seized (including much of Eira and Søngberg’s pay). Ardemis continues his campaign of spell-spying in Bryn Shander. Local gossip indicates strange activity of late, people and wagonloads of stuff moving about back and forth to Targos—which is odd for this cold, dark time of year when the snows are at their deepest. Another week passes, bringing more bad news; the upcoming Candlemas festival has been all but cancelled. It will be overseen now by Sessel Morningmantle instead of Jared, with much of the allocated funding and other stores intended for it retracted.

In Bryn Shander, they decide this news is dire enough that they must rejoin with Nevena to discuss next steps. With possibly Marsible, Rynvah, nearly all their material wealth, and of course Jared all rumored to be in Targos, the group agrees they must head west, there to the shore of Maer Dualdon.

On their way, a shield-maid behind a team of sled-dogs from Caer-Konig races past them on her way to Bryn Shander. “Alarm! Alarm! Orcs attack from the north!” She cries before speeding away into the darkness ahead.

EXP
Eira 700
Nevena 700
Søngberg 700

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Session 19
The Long Cold Dark

Having witnessed the expulsion of the demon Malefic by the mightiest of arcane forces, the explorers spend the somber aftermath of that event in deliberation over their next steps. After weighing concerns regarding Nevena’s candle, the need to find respite back in Ten Towns, and the desire to finish exploring the tower, the group resolves to finish what they have started in the tower in hopes of finding the map of which Shannon had spoken.

The first room uncovered is the royal chamber, containing treasures like a large mirror and a pile of gold coins from Dorn’s Deep. Ardemis and Eira each take a few coins as souvenirs, Dheirgryn takes enough to fill a coffer for himself. Next they enter the final room yet unexplored on the third floor, a temple to Aerdrie Fenya, goddess of the wind. A search here leads to a finely preserved horn wrought with exquisite, knot-like ornamental carvings. The foolhardy Nevena, impulsive as ever, bellows into the horn with her companions standing close by. The ensuing explosion of the mishandled magical artifact explodes in the elf’s face, deafening everyone, blowing a hole into the tower wall, and nearly killing Dheirgryn.

Ardemis, having been in another chamber, is the only one uninjured by the blasting horn. He rushes to the commotion and hastily prevents Nevena from bleeding to death, plucking shards of horn from her neck and face. When the dust settles, Dheirgryn storms off in an injured rage to be away from the reckless elf.

Nevena, Eira, Søngberg, and Ardemis move eventually to finish their exploration of the tower’s final floor. There they encounter a second Shield Guardian not unlike the construct that protected the tower’s main gate. A battle with the deadly automaton in the gloom of Ardemis’ spell-light is nearly joined until Nevena notices at the last moment that it bears a sigil on its chest matching that of the amulet she wears—the one recovered from the Mythal Banshee. A dangerous situation is diffused peacefully as it becomes clear Nevena can command the guardian with her mind; she orders it to stand down and follow her.

Much of this final floor of the tower is a ruin of empty dormitories, great halls, a kitchen, and the like. However the door beyond, that was being protected by the guardian, is home to a ‘false turret’ that bears wondrous, ornate carvings and mosaics along the convex walls and floor. The finely laid stonework tracery that forms the walls reveal a pattern that calls attention to certain stars. The group spends hours here combining their knowledge, wits, and gathered lore to unfurl this room’s secrets until at last they realize this chamber is a map to the fabled elven Isle of Evermeet. During their study, Nevena notices that Ardemis, using the same divination magic he already has employed to scout ahead, has already begun taking notes on this chamber with the scrivener materials provided by Shannon of Ten Towns. Nevena demands he hand over his work, seeking to protect this knowledge which is meant only for elvenkind. Faced with exhaustion, injury, severe cold, and a need for reliance and trust to survive this ordeal, he reluctantly agrees to surrender what he has taken down. As a protest for this seizure, however, Ardemis takes this opportunity to visit Dheirgryn below, who also is angry with Nevena.

With Ardemis gone, so too is his mystic light that enables he and Eira to see inside the dark interior of the tower. She and Søngberg improvise a torch and continue exploring the tower while they wait for everyone’s tempers to cool. The first thing they find, in another turret—its roof broken in and collapsed—is a strange and unnatural bridge of ice leading high into the dark mountainscape. Both judge this obstacle far too dangerous and unpredictable, they turn away. The final turret holds what remains of the elven armory. Among the worn chaos of the armory turret they discover fine elven shields, embossed with fabulous devices depicting their ancient hippogriff knights of old and a bright, sturdy hauberk of elven chainmail. Eira doffs these, securing a shield for Dheirgryn as well.

Satisfied that the tower’s secrets are known, its treasures found, and its evil curses purged, the banshee slayers make ready for Ten Towns; there are no plans to rendevous with the Reghedmen since the long dark has set in. On the way out, the wolf carcass and ’Brandish’s’ ever-dripping sword are given a wide berth, left to rot in the cold dark. As they head back down the mountain, Relserevayne’s phantom can be seen at the gate, sternly observing their departure. Nevena easily finds the trail of blood left behind by Brandish’s blade, but they opt not to follow it. She instead is tempted greatly at the trail indicated by her Candle of Auril, but she is wisely talked down from this venture by the others. They need her.

Indeed, Nevena’s wilderness survival knowledge and Ardemis’ magic is all that keeps them alive for the journey back west in the Stygian darkness of Icewind Dale. In the end, it is an ice fisher who discovers them out on Lac Dineshere—half dead from exhaustion, hunger, dehydration, and frostbite. They are brought in to his warm lodging. They are fed, clothed, and warmed, but dizzy and disoriented in their spare waking moments by the rigors of their quest.

EXP
Eira 700
Nevena 700
Søngberg 700

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Session 18
The Severed Hand, Part 3

Feeling they have earned some semblance of control over the frigid and haunted elven tower with their blood and valor, the explorers retreat to the second floor to rest and recover in the confines of the library. Having seen the Mythal active in the throne room, Ardemis renews his studies of the ancient lore while Søngberg prepares for the consecration of more holy water, a necessity for ridding the throne room of its final ‘flameskull’. Eira, Nevena, and Dheirgryn bandage their wounds and try to stay warm.

With bandages set, the wizard finishes his research into the Mythal and its secrets. As a group, they all head up the stairs once again, this time beyond the Temple of Solonor and into the tower’s fourth and final floor. Encountering an antechamber ajoined with several long corridors, they ignore those and instead head straight away to a pair of flanking doors leading into the ‘fingers’ of the so-called ‘Severed Hand’ tower. Equipped with a warding amulet left behind by the Throne Banshee, Nevena is able to bypass warding runes inscribed on these doors by the ancient elves. They explore two of these turret-structures; one once played host to sorcerers and the other to Seldarine priests. They sift through piles of old vestments, ruined iconography, disheveled maps and broken astrolabes. Among the maps, Nevena hopes to eventually compare the star charts and ley lines uncovered in the kobold caves with what is here. Eira finds literature on dryads that interests her and pieces enough for a working spyglass, assuming a skilled artisan can be found to rework them.

More importantly, they also discover precious silver and diamond dust, rare inks and special parchments, bits of meteorite, and the magic elven candles—the latter of which Nevena impulsively tosses out a window at first sight. Nevena separates from the group, heading out of the tower to fetch the candles; once those are returned everything that is needed is on hand. Ardemis can craft his spell and Søngberg his holy water.

======

With the holy water consecrated, the throne room is again approached, this time with caution and resolve in equal measure. The wily, disembodied abomination has rekindled as expected and once more flys out of reach, tasking Nevena and her arrows with dispatching it. She succeeds, but not before sustaining burns from its fiery eyes. As Søngberg swoops in, exercising the skull for good with his divine draft, an apparition appears attended by the sudden, livid, and azure illumination of Nevena’s Candle of Auril.

The baelnorn Relserevayne1 (rel-SAIR-uh-vain) has been disturbed by this trespass; he takes the form of a phantom and has the look of a majestic elven lord in full regalia. Identifying Nevena as the only elf present, he speaks with her in their vaunted tongue. Nevena asserts they mean no harm, having come only to deal with the evil sword that plagues them. Relserevayne has only warnings for them: that a corrupted elf hunts them to this tower, that this room is a place of great power—and his are not the only eyes that watch it for disturbance—and that should they fail in their enterprise with the sword, he will repay them all for their transgressions here in the Seldarine Tower, where only the dead belong. The elven ghost fades from view, leaving the party alone once more in the throne room.

With the Mythal secured, the group sets about their task. Ardemis is left alone in the throne room with Malefic while Eira and Dheirgryn keep watch from the entrance. Nevena and Songberg take up lookout positions on the floor below, their eyes peeled for signs of the ‘corrupted stalker’ they were warned about. Ardemis will need hours of uninterupted work. During this time, his familiar, the long-hidden Argent appears to fetch for her master, the scrivener’s tools Shannon of Ten Towns provided to Søngberg.

Hours pass, how many it is hard to say as the time-telling sun has been lost to winter’s darkness. Nevena’s keen ears are the first to notice a voice calling out. A ragged figure, attended by a large white wolf approaches the tower. It is the forlorn wreckage of Brandish’s fallen body. The wolf with him is not Bishop, but instead some dire creature of Icewind Dale. Brandish holds his shortsword, wet blood—balefully unfrozen—mars the blade. It drips in a long dotted line, drawing his path down the mountain behind him. After a brief, unsettling parley with—at least the ruined form of their old companion—Nevena and Søngberg and Dheirgryn head to the lowest level of the tower to intercept him.

Seeing him up close, their worst fears are confirmed. The revenant spirit of Istryn Ashbinder has returned, puppeting their dead friend before them. His venegeful glare is so malicious, it paralyzes the stout dwarven paladin with immense fear. Sensing wavering prey, the wolf attacks with a blistering frost that spills out of its mouth and onto all three of them. Their only hope is again with the elven magic and so Nevena traps Brandish within a mystic prison just as they had with the Throne Banshee. Together, the three of them cut down the wolf, leaving Istryn-Brandish behind to bellow his insults and threats. Having had enough of his words, Nevena attempts to slay him with arrows, but gives up after firing enough to fell a dozen men or more. The undead Brandish simply pulls the many arrows from his body, snapping the hafts spitefully as he goes.

They need the might of Tyr, as it was Søngberg who smote Istryn in their first melee. Their foe is not bested, but he is trapped, and so they pause to consider their options with Eira. They agree to surround and overpower Brandish in hand-to-hand combat with Søngberg employing his sacred weapon to finish the deed. As he is unafraid of arrows or even Eira’s hammer, Istryn-Brandish makes a single-minded effort to murder his sworn enemy, the dwarf Søngberg Mountainsun.

======

Brandish’s body is shot by more arrows, his unholy will is strong enough even to resist the gorgon bow’s petrifying power. Eira shatters the bones inside his body. And though Søngberg indeed burns this menace with his holy hammer, it is he that falls first in battle. Dheirgryn is quick to pull the dwarf away from the pernicious bite of Brandish’s ever-bleeding sword just a heartbeat before it can finish him. Her foe distracted while he exults over the fallen paladin, Eira quickly topples him as Argent appears bravely from the ether wielding a lit candle. She plunges it into the undead elf and though her efforts are in vain, they serve as a reminder that fire can cleanse undeath—permanently.

Overcome by grief and rage, and with no better plan, Eira stands over the twice-dead Brandish as her weapon makes a sorrowful mess of her former ally, preventing his regeneration in the short term. This frenzy buys enough time for a hasty bier of kindling and oil to be assembled. The bier is lit, leaving only a smoking and blackened crater of agony behind.

======

The hours remaining before Ardemis finishes his work leave space for the adventurers to collect their thoughts before, at last, the wizard emerges. Ardemis explains that for his efforts, combined here with the energy of the Elven Mythal, he has crafted a mystic scroll capable of a power to alter even the work of the gods above; Ardemis has made a Wish scroll. This could be used to undo the curse upon Rynvah, to expel the vengeful Istryn, to banish Malefic’s evil presence, or any other wonder that could be imagined. If they use it now, they must think carefully on how best to employ it. The wizard recommends a vote.

  • Søngberg’s mind is made up, the evil sword must be dealt with—any other use of the scroll would be selfish in his eyes.
  • Eira thinks the revenant Istryn ought to be banished for good.
  • Dheirgryn agrees with Eira, Istryn represents a clear danger that nearly killed them.
  • Nevena, having handled the sword and been seduced by it, sides with the dwarf.
  • Ardemis, who best understands the scroll’s potential, is reluctant to agree dealing with the sword is a wise choice. He trusts the paladin’s council.

And so, scroll in hand, the wizard from Calimport, friend of Hrothgar, Ardemis Antreri prepares to cast his mighty spell. At the last moment, he hands it over to the dwarven paladin, rueful that the sword has tempted him as well. Ever mistrustful of magic, but certain of his task, the dwarven voice of Søngberg Mountainsun, Hand Of Tyr, Slayer of Grendel resounds from within the Seldarine Tower; the gods listen in at the ‘wisdom’ this mere mortal has to work upon their Creation.

“I wish to remove the power from the entity behind the evil of this sword and all intent thereof. May it never return to harm this world or any other.”

In an epic vortex of eldritch power, the demon Malefic is expunged from the sword and Faerûn entire. The imp Rodney, freed of his bondage, dances in the air triumphantly and out of sight. The sword, exercised of its enchantment, is gifted to Dheirgryn.

1 Relserevayne: Not truly a name, translated from Elven into the common tongue of men, this means ‘My daughter Evayne is dead’

EXP
Eira 3500
Nevena 3900
Songberg 3700

Inspiration Awards
Eira +1 for roleplay
Nevena +1 for leyline/star chart/map connection
Songberg +1 for roleplay

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Session 17
The Severed Hand, Part 2

Weary, injured, and more than a little frightened after their struggle with the undead, the explorers of the Seldarine Tower decide to back-track, investigating the final room of the second floor. To their relief, they find only an empty workshop, silent and untrammeled by ghosts or angry bones. Like the rest of the tower, this chamber’s contents are covered with a mingling of frost and dust that magnify its stillness. Nevena uncovers a single remaining (and mercifully intact) healing potion amidst a wreckage of broken glass and dried stains.

They are about to press on before Ardemis stops everyone, advising they employ one of the recently found elven scrolls. The elves used their scrolls, in an age long past, to govern and police the Frozenfar and this same magic can aid the party here and now. The scrolls are able to locate and bind their enemies; using one, Ardemis cautions that indeed another banshee haunts the room directly above them. Armed with this information, Nevena heads back into the workshop, looking for something to plug her pointed, elven ears. Following her lead, Søngberg finds a store of old candles. They warm the wax with misty exhalations, by rubbing their shaking hands, and with simple magics—making it soft and pliant. They each plug their ears with the wax to ward against a banshee’s greatest threat—it’s harrowing wail.

Proceeding upstairs, they enter a chapel dedicated to the Elven Hunter-God, Solonor Thelandira. More signs of battle with the orcs desecrate the chapel, the floor is littered with arrowheads, broken bones, scraps of cracked leather, moldering rugs and fallen chandeliers. Eagle motifs, carved from marble and basalt, dedicated to Great Solonor are perched high and look down with predatory dispassion. Ardemis indicates the banshee could be on the other side of the wall of this chapel. Their exit leads to an antechamber where they discover a barrier of light and smoke veiling the central chamber of this floor.

Attempts to peer through the gate of fog are fruitless, so Nevena resorts again to her mystic sword for guidance. In a desperate plea, she merges her mind with that of the fiend Malefic, seeking answers to questions about what stands between them and this eerie fog. The elf’s companions are not party to this ‘conversation’, however, and are surprised to see her next simply charge into what they learn is a throne room with a wordless and grim purpose. Still honing in on the banshee, occluded at first in the astral plane, Ardemis unleashes the Magic Circle, trapping the spirit in a mystic prison. A half-dozen more skeletal minions of the creature arise—these appear to be former priests and wizards. Two of the skulls seated on the bony shoulders are wreathed in a spectral, blue inferno. The wax-plugged ears prove to be useful as the banshee’s frustrated wail this time does not cut down its audience. With this, the banshee is impotent, forced to watch the fray from inside its magic prison.

As before, Eira’s hammer pulverizes the skeletons into fragments before she is in turn scorched horribly by rays of fire from the burning skulls. Nevena’s magic bow pierces bone and spirit alike and then she too is cut down by a skeleton trapped along with the banshee. With the elf powerless and dying on the floor, Søngberg rushes over both to save her with his miraculous hands—but also to wrest the fiendish sword from her grasp. The evil of the blade, unable to appeal beyond his faith, burns his flesh even through the glove on his hand. Ardemis unleashes lightning to finish off the flaming skulls. All the while, an unseen aura of heroic virtue, a blessing issuing from Søngberg—and conferred to his allies—is often all that stands between victory and total ruin. Ultimately, the banshee, surrounded and trapped, is the last to be sent screaming back into the abyss. Everyone knows another fight like this will spell their doom. They have pushed themselves too hard; they agree to save their strength again.

Søngberg takes the sword away from Nevena, back into the Chapel of Solonor. Wishing to destroy it somehow, instead he passes out, his psyche overwhelmed by the force of the sword’s will. This spurs an argument over the sword, its effect on all of them, and what is to be done about it. At this, Rodney appears to offer advice, to belittle their fears and delight in their discord. Just when it seems like the argument is at an impasse, Ardemis realizes the Elven Mythal in the throne room holds the key. The magic of the ancient elven spell, strong enough to undo Rynvah’s curse is likely potent enough to destroy the sword or perhaps banish its demonic occupant. Ardemis must return to the library to learn more about the Mythal before this can be attempted.

Time spent arguing and resting reveal that the flaming skulls are restoring themselves somehow! Søngberg dashes into the throne room, dousing one with holy water. The other appears long enough to blast everyone with an explosive ball of fire before shattering a second time to Nevena’s arrows. Eira, badly burned, comes closer than she ever has to death here, saved only by the ministrations of Ardemis who has learned healing practices from the Reghed shamans. The wizard then convinces them the library downstairs remains safe and it holds the secrets for their next steps.

Miles away, at the foot of the mountains, the sun is kissing the horizon goodbye. In the dying light, we see the mastodon of the barbarians crumpled into the snow, its wooly fur encased in hoarfrost and rime. The large black eyes of the noble creature are still and hollow. Massive, bloody paw prints guide the eye to a grisly scene. Aoschere and his men have had their throats torn out, their entrails scattered by some massive beast. The scene is still, quiet enough to give notice to the sound of a man’s footfalls, plodding and crunching in the snow. A dotted line of blood, dripping down onto the white powder, follows beside the solitary footprints leading away from the dead Reghedmen.

EXP:
Eira 4250
Nevena 4250
Søngberg 4250

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Session 16
The Severed Hand, Part 1

Aoschere and a small band of his Reghedmen hunters gather their mastodons, leading Nevena, Eira, Søngberg and their companions back to the foot of the mountains. The hunters, fearing for the safety of these adventurers, state they will wait and camp here for no more than two days time; after that, the long dark will have set in for many months. The party has made this next hike once already, and so their ascent to the ancient refuge of the ‘Severed Hand’ is conducted without undue trouble. The trouble this time, in fact, is not brought by Icewind Dale’s hazards, but by a tense standoff between a pixie and an imp! The wizard Ardemis reveals he has with him a secret familiar—his faerie servant, Argent. So there are now two familiars with the group, Argent and Rodney; each is aware of—and loathsome of—the other.

With the proverbial cat out of the bag, Rodney and the sword are explained. Trusting in Søngberg’s principles, Ardemis listens to the tale of the fiend blade from him, and is encouraged to learn that all gathered wish to dispose of it, they simply are unsure how to go about it ‘correctly’. With this, suspicions between elf and dwarf, human and fae and fiend all seem to grow with the deepening darkness and cold as they climb toward the fortress. Upon their arrival, the first thing noticed is that the wreckage of the guardian construct that protected the old elven stronghold is missing. Only soot-smears in the snow remain to tell the tale that something was once here. The soot smears are investigated further, and it seems as though some beast or collection of animals has been through, disturbing the area. No tracks or drags marks are found, however, and Søngberg guesses that maybe something flying carried off the guardian’s remains.

Inside the tower, the first level is familiar territory, everything is as the group remembers. Before moving up the stairs, Ardemis casts a powerful divination spell, allowing him to see further inside the tower with his mind. He is terse, reporting only that there is a library right above them, and that hopefully answers can be found in there. Before reaching the library, the stairs lead to a workshop that was likely used to outfit the elven hippogryph mounts that trod these halls centuries ago. The room is in ruins, there are signs of ancient battle between orc and elf; their arrows litter the frost-covered floor. Søngberg takes the lead in an investigation, during which a pale elven spirit enters the room by walking through a wall. The spectral dignity of the apparition quickly changes to horror, its face twisting into a wretched mockery of faerie grace as it unleashes a caterwaul from beyond the grave. The fell keen burrows into the souls of Dheirgrin and Søngberg, but they withstand the deathly sound.

The banshee, driven mad at the sight of interlopers, flees. In its wake, awoken by the sound of its scream, a dozen skeletons arise! Even the bones of a hippogryph steed assemble. The ensuing melee will prove the steed has some twisted memory of its elven magic as it blasts lightning from its bone-beak. Here, Ardemis proves his mettle though, and unleashes bolts of his own. Søngberg realizes during all of this chaos, that some manner of evil magic—perhaps the banshee—has lit candles in the room which serve to bolster the undead. Eira and Dheirgin and Søngberg and Navena are surrounded by the bones of the ancient dead and are hacked at mercilessly. But they hack back, scattering the brittle bones and rusted weapons again onto the floor, moving quick to also snuff out the candles. They catch their breath and issue prayers for healing, unsure of what other dangers lay ahead.

Not far away, the library Ardemis spoke of is uncovered. A few hours are spent here resting up and shining magic lights in the darkness. They sift through dust, piles of rubble, and frost-cracked tomes. In the end, Ardemis announces a lucky find of some utilitarian spell scrolls, but noting only mundane lore remains here. Whatever secrets the elves kept of their magic was long ago cherry-picked from this chamber. Disappointed, they press on, despite fear and protest from the wizard.

Daring as ever, Nevena throws open another door. Søngberg, seeing in this room more candles—as yet unlit—charges ahead to deal with them. Nevena follows suit. The banshee reappears and has with it a second! More skeletons arise at the sound of yet another wail. This sound, even louder and more terrific than the one before it, is like a thousand dirges. It is the deep, screeching, moaning echo from the black pit between the stars. It penetrates the bones, thrumming them like tuning forks which very nearly kills Nevena and Eira. Ardemis and Dheirgin have a doorway between them and the wail, so they each fare better. Ardemis, thinking quick on his feet, opens a Dimension Door, placing Eira into the room, right next to Nevena. With only the might of the hammer Myrnoch to keep her alive, Eira smites the banshees, together with Søngberg’s holy energy and the spells from Ardemis’ hands. More bones lay at their feet, the battle is won, but at great cost.

EXP:
Eira 4300
Nevena 4300
Søngberg 4300

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Session 15
Grendel

A strenuous hike back into the Spine of the World sees Eira tumble in the dark and nearly break her arm. The party presses on; Navena the elf—or perhaps the wicked sword, Malefic—has faithfully guided the group to the ancient elven fortress known as the ‘Hand of the Seldarine’. Guarding the ruination of the temple is a sentinel of wood and stone and metal, as old as the structure itself, lichen-grown, silent, and still.

A test shot from Navena’s bow confirms the sentinel is indeed a magical construct and it charges the intruders. Black smoke issues from within the guardian. Taking formation from within the swirl of dark smoke, eight elven effigies arise. They assist the guardian in its defense, breathing choking, blinding vapors and rending flesh with their ashen claws. The guardian swings it massive fists, pounding Eira’s bones.

Eira pounds back, her indomitable hammer ringing through the peaks. For brief moments, she feels the eyes of Tempus upon her glory. However the mountainside fills with even more black smoke, the battle with the sentinel descends into a pure and frantic bedlam. A blind Søngberg clobbers Naf by mistake and then drops his hammer. A blind Dheirgrin collides with Eira, knocking her to the ground. A blind Navena runs Dheirgrin through with her flaming sword by mistake, very nearly killing him.

With focused effort, the temple’s guardians are eventually over-matched. No lives are lost and the construct is no more than a pile of wreckage, its servants are scattered to the harsh, cold winds of the Spine of the World. Søngberg inspects the construct, pausing to consider working a shield from its breastplate, but decides that is a task for different circumstances. Wasting no time, Navena plunges headlong into the tower. A massive greeting hall, a pale shadow of its former glory comprises the first level of the tower. In her initial investigation, Navena springs a glyph trap, a mystic ward left by the elves, and is jolted by forks of lightning as she crosses a threshold. This greeting hall and its office hold only bones of the ancient dead, elves and at least one dwarf. Søngberg, with dwarven pragmatism, takes the adamantine armor found still hugging the long dead dwarven bones. Drielle gives a prayer for the departed soul. Exhausted by the climb to the tower, injured by the sentinel, and certain this place is haunted, the group decides to hold up here and rest. A terrifying night, full of dark dreams and biting cold is spent resting in the desolate shelter of the haunted tower.

Morning eventually comes without incident. Navena, still conflicted about where to go and what should be done, agrees with her companions (and also, the guidance of her new sword, it should be added) to seek the wizard Ardemis elsewhere. Navena leads everyone back toward the tracks she found in search of the Reghedmen of the Great Glacier. A Reghedman scout riding a mastodon, a man named Aoschere, finds them first. Aoschere sees Eira, in her Uthgardt trappings, as the touchstone and treats with her. Drielle, with a spell, is able to help translate. Eira draws skillfully upon her knowledge of the Uthgardt and their barbarian kin, her communication with Aoschere goes as smoothly as possible. Søngberg offers up trade goods as well to grease the wheels even further.

Aoschere will not bring these strange travelers before his chieftan-king so armed, thus Søngberg and Dheirgrin stay behind with all the weapons, including the fiend blade, Malefic taken from Istryn Ashbinder. While the others are away, the imp Rodney—thought dead—reappears and hectors Søngberg and Dheirgrin with snowballs and equally icy jibes.

The wizard Ardemis does appear among the barbarians, acting as translator for an audience with the chieftan-king of the Reghedmen, Hrothgar. Ardemis owes his life to Hrothgar who will not release him without first consulting his omenspeaker. In the meantime, Eira and Navena speak with the wizard about their troubles. Ardemis is unsure anything can be done about Brandish, especially with no body available. As for Rynvah, he says only something exceptionally pure would be needed to fuel a spell that could save her and he is shocked to learn Navena has with her an angel’s feather. He is also amazed to learn these travelers have visited the tower of the Severed Hand and lived to tell the tale, particularly because the Reghedmen believe the dragon Ingistor (‘Blizzardfang’) makes its abode there. But it is agreed they will all venture back there in search of the powerful elven magic to be found within.

However Hrothgar’s terms, it is announced, are that Ardemis will not leave the Reghedmen unless these newcomers can slay the creature Grendel which will soon terrorize his people once the long dark takes over the sky. This elicits a collection of gasps and wry laughter from the barbarians. Søngberg easily convinces his companions that monster-slaying is a righteous cause. Naf and Dheirgrin, hardy warriors of Tempus fear only that their courage might fail and agree to come. Drielle too, reminds everyone that she does not fear death, and is ever-ready for Myrkul’s embrace. Hrothgar orders his best man, Gunferth to lead the monster-slayers to a frozen lake where great Grendel hides from the world above.

A crack in the ice leads below, becoming a tunnel, along the bottom of the lake. The hollowed carapace of a Remorhaz is tromped through, until finally the lair is found. Rodney lazily reports, ‘sure, there’s a troll in here, but it’s dead’. Søngberg is first to descend into the lair, verifying Rodney’s claim. There’s a second, much larger troll in here as well, though. It is very much alive and it flattens Søngberg with a thrown boulder. Grendel is shot with arrows, pounded with hammers, and slashed by swords. Its foul blood spills, burning Dheirgrin and corroding his weapons. Naf meets his doom, rent by Grendel’s claws and tossed like a rag-doll. At last, the creature topples and Søngberg dives aside rather than be caught under it, his flesh and armor alike are burned by the corrosive blood. Navena rushes forward and beheads the ‘unkillable’ Troll-father with her flaming blade, Malefic.

Grendel’s only treasure, it seems, is a massive sword—clearly the work of giants. The great weapon is plunged into the ice of the frozen lake. Søngberg urges Navena to melt it free with her fiery sword. This proves to be a disastrous decision, however. Releasing the giant weapon sunders more ice, the cracks spread and grow with a boom. Frigid water begins to rush the chamber. Everyone immediately flees. Navena is first to escape up to the tunnel, but with considerable difficulty as she is carrying Grendel’s massive head. Dheirgin is next and in his panic, cannot make the climb until he is saved by Navena’s helping hand. Eira follows, scampering up the rope that allowed the initial descent. Søngberg—with the broken body of young Naf—is the last man out, jumping easily up to the tunnel, aided by the magic boots found in the elven tower. Drielle, with her lame leg, knows she cannot escape this peril, however. Her last words are a command for her friends to “RUN!” She and the giant sword and the body of Grendel are lost under the water forever.

EXP
Eira 6500 XP
Navena 6500 XP
Søngberg 6500 XP

Reghedmen Renown
Eira 10
Nevena 10
Søngberg 10

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