Sunday, September 25, 2016

Deeper in the Icy Murk

     Having survived a morning ambush by the Draci, thanks in part to some opportune potion administering by McFall, the party finds themselves in possession of just the warm bodies they need to make the trade with The Bloodroot. After patching themselves up and finishing breakfast, they load the unconscious and badly wounded Draci onto the canoes and head back over to the tangle. They find the Tanglemen waiting and are led once more into the heart of the island. There they make a trade with the Dark, sentient willow, who once more asks Cawyn to rid the Murk of the threat at its center. Snap and Boggs are returned and the party quickly makes their exit.

     Deciding for the moment to take Grimms at his word, they move on after a short rest, expecting that their strange, warlock paladin partner will return at a time of his choosing - if the bog doesn't get him first.

     Rowing deeper into the murk, they are met with intermittent snowfall and heavy fog. It quickly grows evident that without Snap's aid, they may very well have lost their way. Hours later, with arms and backs sore from the constant rowing, the spy a clump of trees. Drawing a little closer, Snap points out the wreck for what it is - an older model airship, Cloudrunner class, mostly sunk in the murk but with it's prow and nose jutting from the frozen waters. Dry, leafless vines cover its decking and it's main mast and rigging hang tangled over the bow. Similar vegetation surrounds the wreck like a thorny skirt.

     They are about to move on, when they spy something of interest dangling at a strange, upward slant from the broken mast. After closer inspection with the spyglass, they determine it can be little else but Arquonite, caught in the rotted remains of a bit of old sailcloth and rope. A pretty prize for the men able to retrieve it. But after some more consideration, they opt to leave it alone until their return trip, judging that it would be difficult to carry the arquonite at the moment, as they don't have enough gold to render the material inert. Marking out a better map of the location, they continue on.

     During an afternoon lunch on some huge floating logs, Cawyn has the opportunity to return Snap's medallion. He mentions that it could only have been the Old God's that allowed him to find it. Snap tells Cawyn a little of his past, revealing that he was once a soldier for the royal armies of Manawyn in the South. That the medallion was a symbol of his Griffon unit. He hints at a personal tragedy that led him to lose himself here in the Murk. Cawyn observes that perhaps the Huntress and Summoner have not given up on him. Snap is very grateful. He pledges himself to seeing them all out of the Murk safely and offers to return the money. Cawyn refuses the money but otherwise accepts the young ranger's pledge.

     Throughout the day's journey, the ice and cold have been getting thicker and stronger. Snap mentions that this is the worst he's seen it, and it seems the deeper they get into the murk, the colder and worse it becomes. There are signs of vegetation and animals perishing in the unnatural cold.

     When they reach a largish, lake, they find only a few thin channels of unfrozen water leading across. In the middle of the frozen expanse, they spy something on the ice, Cloth perhaps? and maybe the remnants of a fire ring? Calder attempts to crawl out of the boat and across the thinnish ice but falls in. Eventually they chop a channel for the canoes and everyone manages to get on the ice. Calder changes into dry clothes and they approach the campsite.

     They find a wool cloak frozen to the ice and covered in frost. From the tracks and the blood signs, they deem that a battle of some kind took place between one and two weeks ago. They find the snapped head of a Draci javelin buried in the ice. Harrick wipes away the snow and frost and sees a body floating beneath the ice. Carefully hacking a hole, they drag the blue-skinned Neran clear of the lake and examine him. He appears middle-aged and small statured and wears leather armor. A fine sheathed dagger and a pouch of gold and jewels are at his belt, and an empty quiver is strapped to his back. He wears several cheap medallions, like those bought at any village fair, and one finer medallion that shows a hammer, a feather and a scroll. It is unfamiliar.

     A brief discussion leads them to the conclusion that this man was likely part of the first group after the Church's reward. After Cawyn says a blessing over the dead, they return to their boats and head on.

     It isn't long before they reach the shores of the missionary island. They find signs of the ice being hacked away, again within the last two weeks. They also find two canoes in the snow-covered bushes. Booted tracks lead up the trail, along with several faint traces of Draci clawed toes. Stowing their own canoes they head up the trail.

     The camp lies in a clearing amidst a copse of mixed pine and bare birch and willow trees. A five foot willow switch fence encircles the three mud brick buildings with thatched roofs. The gate has been knocked off the hinges. A few animal bones lie about the snowy yard but there is no sign of habitation beyond the small birds and animals of the murk. They spread out, checking what looks like a goat and pig pen, and a storage shed robbed of grain and meat.

     When they check the main building, they find the two main doors slightly ajar. Harrick is deft enough to notice a string leading from the top of the door. When Calder takes a moment to inspect it, they find a crude but effective crossbow trap. Standing back, they push open the doors and two bolts embed themselves in the snowy dirt. Within the building, they see a largish room with a fire pit in its center and some broken furnishings spread around the walls. What is most evident however is a huge mound of partially translucent blue ice. In its center Calder and Harrick can both see a large, humanoid figure. It looks to be a man of Hodra descent, fully armored and with a sword sheathed at his back. Everything is encased in a foot of thick ice, but the sword glints strangely to Calder's eye.

     As Cawyn is making his careful way through the back door of the building, and Snap, Boggs and McFall search outside, an icy blue glow begins to emanate from the warrior's black eyes. Calder and Harrick only have a moment to register surprise before the mound of ice comes to life, huge, ice sheathed limbs flex and the beast looks at them through it;s protective, icy shell.

No comments:

Post a Comment