Icewind Dale

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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