11 Eleasis 1479 DR to 12 Eleasis 1479 DR
Icy beings attack our heroes! One descends the stairs, swinging a maul of ice, while another peers over the railing from the second floor, hurling icicles at the party. After the fight commences, strange flashes of light come from the frozen flames in the fireplaces signaling the appearance of more icy warriors that move to close in on the party’s flanks. As the heroes fell their foes, Aztryd climbs the stairs, skipping back down as she sees three more sturdy ice creatures.
The fight ranges up and down the stairs as the translucent creatures are smashed to pieces, reinforcements continuing to rise from the icy blue flames. Darius examines one of the frozen fires, determining it to be a portal, a rift to the plane of Elemental Chaos. The group beats back the slow tide of invaders, smashing all four of the gates one by one until all that remains are shards of ice and a frost-covered magical maul.
Exploring the rest of the bottom floor, Aztryd finds the frozen remains of a human in the servants’ quarters, while Darius is momentarily confused by a frozen jar of pickled eels in the kitchen. The group decides to barricade themselves in the kitchen (with the larder as a fallback panic room) and rest for the night as best they can in the wintry tower.
After an uneventful but chilly rest, our heroes explore the second floor. Darius rummages through the alchemy lab, finding some equipment that could be salvaged and sold. The party notices a hole in the ceiling, and start to assemble boxes to clamber up to the third floor. Stepping beneath the hole, Astrid finds an invisible plane of force beneath her feet. Darius examines it and determines how to activate the Tenser’s Floating Disk, and everyone rides the elevator to the third floor.
Rising into a new room, the group finds bookcases lined with tomes protected from the frost. As with the earlier bookcases, the subjects tend towards devils (especially Asmodeous) and history (especially ancient Netheril). Exploring the rest of the level, the party discovers the sumptuous master bedroom, lined with frozen silk tapestries. Tearing down some of the wallhangings reveals a not-so-secret door into a study containing another bookcase and a desk.
Wishaste notices a rune engraved on the desk drawer and calls Darius in to examine it. The sorceror is able to deactivate the explosive trap, and finds some papers in the desk, including the journal of the warlock Draigdurroch. Between the journal and the notes, the heroes figure out the following:
“About 30 years ago, a dwarf warlock named Draigdurroch came to the Gray Vale. Draigdurroch was part of a cabal of warlocks, and his particular research dealt with the creation of new types of eldritch pacts. He believed that the Dire Wood contained a particularly potent source of untapped energy—the remains of a failed deity. Thousands of years before the Spellplague, a Netherese city called Karse stood in the area, and the demigod Karsus was its patron. Karsus tried and failed to ascend to full godhood, dying in the process, and his city (along with the rest of the ancient Empire of Netheril) fell not long thereafter. Draigdurroch’s research suggested that the petrified remains of Karsus yet lie beneath the forest’s heart. Draigdurroch hoped that he could tap into the latent energy that Karsus had accumulated and use it to power his new pact. The dwarf warlock built a tower about a mile outside the Dire Wood and began his experiments in earnest.”
He found some measure of success, making contact with scattered fragments of the dead god Karsus, and he attempted to forge an eldritch pact. The final entry in his journal deals with a visit from an emissary of the Fey, warning him not to proceed with this pact. He destroyed the faerie, writing in his journal, “Let them feel the fire of Asmodeus, and soon the fury of Karsus as well. They claim that they will punish me for my actions if I do not heed their warnings. THEY will punish ME? How laughable!”
Another elevator in the study leads through an illusionary ceiling to the roof, where the party finds a pulsing, glowing sapphire gem, beating with the force of the surrounding storm, and scratched with additional runes. Someone has apparently been corrupting this magical jewel. Darius examines the runes, recognizing them as the Barazhad script of the Primordial language, surmising that they’ve twisted the gem and are responsible for the unnatural weather.
When the gem is touched, it summons a large, muscular, white-furred creature, which attacks. The party pushes the tower guardian around the roof, attempting to shove it over the edge of the three-story drop, but can’t seem to quite drop it. Darius, however, is not so lucky, backhanded off the roof to land heavily in a snowbank at the base of the tower, barely conscious. Pais then manages to send the creature off the other side of the same corner to crash heavily on the ground, stories below. Balthen follows, jumping from the tower to land atop the monster, hurting himself in the process, but damaging the foe even more. Enraged, the spirit of winter finally lands two heavy fists on the dwarf, knocking him unconscious, leaving him bleeding in the snow. Aztryd follows Balthen’s example, diving onto the creature and wounding it even further, allowing Darius to stumble around the corner and blast the monster with lightning, destroying it (and the stone up above, linked by magic).
With the guardian dead and the gem shattered, the unnatural weather disperses. The heroes on the ground look up at the tower as the icy covering rumbles and breaks, shedding from the carved devils and collapsing all around them, miraculously missing everyone.
Pais and Wishaste make their way back down to the ground as Darius pours a healing potion down Balthen’s throat, bringing him back to consciousness. Suddenly, a loud, angry female voice echoes around the tower, “Who dares destroy our handiwork?!?” and the heroes find themselves back atop the structure as a dangerously beautiful Fae woman glares at them over the shards of the magical gem, demanding to know why they have killed the tower’s guardian, set in place after the warlock Draigdurroch was snatched away into the Feywild.
The party explains that they had stumbled across the tower and found the invaders from the Elemental Chaos had perverted the gem’s magic, causing unnatural winter. Frowning, the elfin lady sorts through the shattered remains of the jewel, finding evidence of the scratched runes. She leaves the roof, examining the broken portals in the fireplaces, and returns to confront the party.
Introducing herself as the Queen of Air and Darkness, she tells the group that this is not an isolated incident. There have been incursions of the Elemental Chaos across the face of Faerun. She tasks the party to find out how to combat these invasions, preventing more of the Elemental Chaos from leaking into this plane. She tells the heroes that they must take up the investigation, as she must stay at the tower and finish cleaning up the mess (that she seems to blame the party for, to some degree), sealing off the broken portals for good and dealing with the freed Fey magic from the destroyed gem.
The Queen of Air and Darkness recommends the group seek out the Lady Saharel in her ruined tower of Spellgard. Darius, amazingly, accurately recalls that the Lady Saharel is a prophetic spirit, alive in the time of ancient Netheril, who became a lich before the fall of that empire. She will answer one question a mortal being puts to her, and her answers have yet to fail to come true.
XP: 355 (800)
Treasure: Alchemical equipment (250gp), +1 frost maul