Chronicles of Khaldun: Crux of Eternity

Revenge of the Giants, Part 17

Moonday, Patchwall 10, 552 CY (50 AN)

Kaseem surveys the wrecked ship while Bezaldooz, Bosabrieln, Peren, Torinn, and Valna, and their companions Geverspike and 254, as well as Torinn’s new shield guardian, trek onto the Frost Spire. The cavern in which they find themselves is spacious, and contains several objects. Several crates and sacks sit by the water’s edge. Upon one of the plateaus in the cavern is a pile of frost giant corpses. The Shields of the Sorrowfell clearly note the planned ambush of several frost giants and their pet owlbear. Bosabrieln addresses them, mocking their poor attempt at stealth before battle is joined. The Shields note that the giants seem spooked, and they are able to make quick work of them with steel and sorcery. They leave one alive for interrogation while Peren sets to work skinning the owlbear. The others search the crates and find a large stash of valuables, which they take. They also find a strange urn sealed with wax that makes a dry, rattling sound as it’s moved; Valna recognizes it as a funerary urn, and recommends against opening it, lest its curse takes hold.

The remaining frost giant, Grannic Bjornson, explains that many of the giants on the island have gone strange. Jarl Grugnurson has gone mad, while many other have become paranoid at the unrest and strange dreams that have gripped them. A contingent of them, hoping to escape the in-fighting, took to the longboats and fled, stranding the others here. This group of giants has been waiting upon the beach to steal a passing ship. He notes they planned on taking the funerary urn back to the homeland for burial. After some deliberation, the Shields agree to keep him alive for cooperating, and Bosabrieln sends him to Kaseem to assist with repairs. Kaseem assures him the frost giant won’t cause any trouble.

The group emerges from the cavern into the cold wastes of the Frost Spire. The clouds overhead reduce visibility, but they note that a plateau rises far to the west while a crevasse sinks to the west. Mountains ring the isle as well as dominating the southwest, and the path south is clear. The weather is abysmal, all blowing winds with snow and sleet, and they will require shelter lest they die of exposure; Bosabrieln can easily solve this problem by casting Mordenkainen’s magnificent mansion when they are done traveling for the day. They decide to trek south, and Peren casts pass without trace and water walk upon them to both hide their passage and speed it across the deep snows.

They head south along the side of the crevasse, with Peren following the tread of several giants. In two hours, they cross eight miles, noting a guard tower in the distance. They’re upon it within another fifteen minutes or so, stealthily creeping to it. Bosabrieln, Geverspike, 254, Valna, and the shield guardian will approach from the front and parley while Bezaldooz, Peren, and Torinn climb the tower around the back to surprise them.

Bosabrieln, riding atop the shield guardian, shouts greeting to the frost giants, but the frost giants appear strange and crazed, saying that the travelers are interlopers, and cannot stand against the might of Suulkar. Bosabrieln knows the name — according to the tales, the Frost Spire was a literal spear of ice thrown during the Dawn War that pins the primordial Suulkar to the bottom of the Sea of Howling Souls. Bezaldooz, Peren, and Torinn take this as their cue to vault atop the guard tower and attack. Peren dashes into combat and then retreats behind a boulder while Torinn wades into the fray. Bezaldooz swiftly conjures two fireballs, killing two of the frost giants instantly. The other three cannot stand before the combined onslaught of eight combatants, and fall quickly. They have only some scattered coins among them, which the Shields divide among themselves.

From atop the tower, the Shields can survey farther and note the crevasse stops to the southeast, allowing passage, while a pass between the mountains continues to the south. They decide to continue south, passing another three miles before Peren’s spells run out and they are forced to proceed through the snows without the benefit of magic. As they march, Peren and Valna spy something against the dim sunlight filtering through the clouds — the large, unmistakable shape of a dragon. They inform the rest of the Shields, and wonder idly about whether such a beast might be allied with the giants on the island. They make another five miles or so before Bosabrieln summons Mordenkainen’s magnificent mansion and they rest for the night.

Everyone is pleased to have access to a warm mansion with a sumptuous feast. Geverspike in particular says he has encountered no mages that are able to conjure wonders such as this, again reiterating that the biomancers of his home are often grotesque little tyrants. Peren finishes preparing the owlbear skin, making coats for himself, Bezaldooz, and Valna, and a stole for Bosabrieln. He eats owlbear meat while the others feast on the repast of the mansion.

The next morning, the Shields set out to the south. After an hour or so, they come upon a cave. Smoke can be seen curling from a chimney of sorts, and the dried corpses of three frost giants, badly burned, are scattered around the entrance. Bezaldooz decides to wait outside and keep watch while the others go inside. A set of stairs leads down into darkness, but the Shields notice a hidden door to their right. Pushing aside what appears to be a large and craftily-hidden ice block, they find a bedroom containing a rather surprised frost giant, dressed as a smith. Bosabrieln parleys, and learns that this is the frost giant Helstaff. Both Gorrick the rune-crafter and Zaelex the ice archon magus have sent troops to kill him, but he has repelled them all. After some prodding, and the promise that the Shields will leave once they’ve learned what he has to tell, he reveals the others covet the frost flame he tends, as they need it for their plans. It can also be used to craft a key to enter the vault with Jarl Grugnurson resides, carrying out his mad plots. Both Gorrick and Zaelex may be found to the east, while the Jarl is to the west, across the mountains.

The Shields thank him before returning to their travels, backtracking to head east. It takes a whole day before they spy a hut in the distance, and they rest for the night in Mordenkainen’s magnificent mansion, agreeing to sojourn to the hut the following morning.

The next morning, they approach the hut. It is carved from ice, tucked into a small canyon. and surrounded by pillars designed to appear as monsters — dragons and remorhazes and other creatures of the cold wastes. They knock, and a frost giant cracks open the massive door. Bosabrieln gives greeting as a traveler asking the frost giant for information about this isle. The frost giant is confused at this, as Bosabrieln acts totally ignorant about the dangers of the isle, but the giant invites them inside. He introduces himself as Gorrick Frostcaller, and among his things, the Shields notice two pieces of sparkling ice that may be the elemental ice Kaseem needs to repair his ship. He laments the fact that the other giants have sinned, breaking into the tombs of their ancestors and otherwise despoiling the sacred spots of this isle. For their trespasses, he tasks the Shields with killing Helstaff and Zaelex and throwing their bodies into the tomb of Jarl Hargaad, found on the isle to the south. Zaelex has a book, the Tome of the Frozen Gate, that gives instructions on how to open the vault in which Jarl Grugnurson hides, while Helstaff has the frost flame to manufacture the key. If the Shields retrieve these, he will assist them in their manufacture. The Shields agree and take their leave.

After some discussion, in which the consensus appears to be to gather the components and potentially betray Gorrick if Bezaldooz can make the key himself, the Shields march east. It is a couple of hours before they arrive at the shores of a clear lake; with Peren’s water walk spell, they simply walk across to the tower in an island in the middle.

The Shields knock, and when there is no answer, they enter. A small vestibule greets them, and when they enter into the next room, they find a room full of pillars with two men made of ice within. They wield warhammers and begin attacking; despite their battle prowess, the Shields manage to make short work of them and begin ascending the tower. Peren arrives on the next floor first, and is met by a spellcaster, also a humanoid made of ice. He opens a hole beneath Peren’s feet, but Peren dodges it and casts a silence spell. Two more elemental humanoids on the roof look down into a skylight and rain down javelins made of ice while the Shields ascend to engage. Without magic, the spellcaster is still a potent foe, but Torinn keeps him engaged while Bezaldooz and Peren ascend to the roof. Without magic, Bezaldooz attacks one by grabbing him and trying to drain his blood while Peren attacks the other, engaging and withdrawing as is his personal style. Once the spellcaster is dispatched, Peren breaks the silence and the Shields make short work of the two remaining elemental men.

Once dispatched, the Shields search the tower, finding valuables as well as a couple of interesting items, identifiable as horseshoes of a zephyr and oil of sharpness. They also find the Tome of the Frozen Gate and another funerary urn.

As Peren cannot enable another crossing of the lake without resting, the Shields decide to again rest in Mordenkainen’s magnificent mansion for the evening. After studying the Tome of the Frozen Gate and determining how best to read it, Bezaldooz thinks he could manufacture the key in Gorrick’s stead.