Episode 87: The Palace of Ice, Part I
The party left the ruins of Amouradiath, set upon their journey into the heart of Winter itself, there to find the Palace of Ice, the seat of Mab’s power over the Unseelie Court. Though they had never been there, the adventurers possessed a map in the form of a poem and the clear intent of purpose, and felt sure that with Yuna’s fey-gifted guidance they would reach the Palace. But after long hours hard travel, heavy snows gathered underfoot, storms obscured their vision, and they seemed no closer to their goal.
Having spent so long in the Feywild, the party was by this point accustomed to its odd, arcane geography, informed more by strength of will than any physicality. So they tried again to push forward, redoubling the focus of their wills. But the very landscape seemed to shift around them; mountain ranges leapt from their left to their right; planes of snow became hills of stone and black ice; dead forests swapped places with frozen lakes. It was as if the Feywild itself was set against them.
The party rested briefly under a rocky overhang. Yuna regarded their bleak surroundings and the dark, moonless night sky which hung low over them, and sudden understanding dawned: the Feywild was set against them. Winter was as much an expression of Mab’s will as Summer was Titania’s; the last stanza of the poem confirmed it. If Mab was under the influence of a Shard of the Heart of Bahamut as the party suspected, then their current surroundings may be nothing less than a physical reflection of the Queen of Winter’s broken psyche.
Turning to the poem again, the party realized a detail that seemed mere doggerel before might hold the key: When Zandilar visited Winter, she did so by moonlight, under the protection of the Moonweaver, an ancient Elven moon goddess. As the night sky was at that moment overcast, the dull grey of raw metal, this presented a problem. But Sirlius had a plan. He goaded Keen into attempting to use his “basically godlike” powers to talk to the Moonweaver and ask her to clear the skies and let the moons shine. To everyone’s surprise, including Keen’s, it worked: the air cleared, the dark clouds parted, and the silvery light of four Fey moons shone down on the party, casting long shadows behind them. For a moment, Keen’s shadow had great dragon’s wings.
The hours of hard march in the bitter cold and driving snows had taken its toll, and the party debated attempting to rest in here in the open wilderness or pushing forward while they had the Weaver’s favour. They decided on the latter and set off again, intent on reaching the Palace of Ice. This time they were successful: a long march later they saw a singular mountain rising up from a wide field of snow like a dormant, frozen volcano. From its caldera rose the massive, twisted Palace of Ice, thousands of feet above the plain. Remembering the whispered advice of Oberon that there existed a secret entrance into the Palace unknown even to Mab, the party made for the foothills at the base of the mountain.
Exhaustion loomed as the cold bit into them, but at long last the party found, a few hundred feet up, a large fissure in the side of the mountain. From its mouth, like magma’s opposite, poured a slow-moving river of liquid ice. Along its edge all but invisible except to those who knew to look for it a rocky path leading into the mountain itself. The party scaled the several hundred feet of the cliff-side and carefully made their way inside, seeking shelter. Ara and Whisper discovered that anyone venturing to within a few feet of the liquid ice’s flow found it radiated a cold so intense that it actually burned the flesh, and its effects could be felt in the tunnel itself; if anything the interior of the mountain was colder than the open expanse of Winter they had just crossed.
Following upriver into the mountain’s interior, the party found the “liquid ice” disappeared under rock and stone, leaving them at a seeming dead end. Ara found a crack in the ice big enough to traverse, and the party pushed through and up into a massive underground chamber of black ice. The river of ice bisected this cavern, descending from another break high up in one wall. On the far side of the cavern, across the forty or so feet of flowing ice, a passageway could just barely be seen leading into darkness.
Already feeling exhausted, the party decided to risk a long rest before venturing further in. Having nothing with which to start a fire, Yuna conjured 40 pounds of pork fat, which the party fashioned into an oversized tallow candle sufficient to stave off the worst of the cold. They collapsed into sleep almost immediately. The party’s rest was uninterrupted except for Keen, whose dreams were once again visited by the voice of Seema, the small girl whose prayers had disturbed him the previous day. Seema said that thanks to “Kiiri’s” intervention, her mother was starting to feel better. Keen mumbled some words of encouragement that seemed to placate the child and felt a mote of his life force returned to him. Magnus too, seemed troubled in his sleep, and awoke unusually tired, even for Magnus.
The party broke camp, distributing hunks of frozen pig fat between them for later use. With Stella’s help, the party made their way over the flowing ice to alight on the far side of the cavern and investigate the passageway. There at the edge of the passageway they found the skeleton of a dwarf frozen into the ice on the ground. One arm was thrust up and out of the ice, the skeletal fingers grasping at the air. Just beyond the poor figure, a sword could be seen glinting in the torchlight.
Lore-Mechanics Status: Intersectional
Feywild Travel Minigame Rating: Trippy
Fantasy Yankee Candle Scent: Baconated
RP Rating: Awesome!