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.
Eira 6500 XP
Navena 6500 XP
Søngberg 6500 XP