Episode 89: The Palace of Ice, Part III
Securing the heavy door, the party decided to risk a short rest in the collapsed chamber. Magnus, true to form, immediately fell to napping and was asleep in moments. As the party bandaged wounds and collected their gear, Sirlius was surprised to see Magnus’s recumbent form first flicker, then vanish completely. Both he and Whisper started, but Ara, Keen, and Yuna were stoic; Magnus had disappeared before. They assumed that somewhere within the cave system was a colony of the Myconids with whom Magnus shared a special bond. And indeed, through the residium binding the party could feel their friend’s presence a long way away but still within the mountain. They debated whether to wait for him to reappear or continue on and trust that they would be reunited. At last they decided to continue their ascent. Ara unbarred the door and together they made their way back into the tunnels.
Magnus awoke in darkness. His consciousness untethered, he expected to be greeted by an overwhelming invitation to joy. Instead he was accosted by a cold, creeping menace. Unlike the Myconids he had encountered previously, communities of travelers and knowledge seekers, these beings declared themselves trapped, prisoners in the Heart of Winter. At first they demanded Magnus join their consciousness, grasping and clawing at his psyche. But Magnus was able to convince the Myconids that he could help them escape instead. They released him, and he found his physical body half-frozen to the wall of a cramped, dark tunnel covered in dimly glowing mushrooms. Gently breaking away the ice encasing one of the large fungal pods, Magnus released a cloud of spores and breathed deeply. The consciousness of his Myconid companions drawn within, he set off.
The tunnels twisted and turned back on themselves in a maze, every surface covered in the bioluminescent fungi. He spent hours wandering, crossing and recrossing his own footsteps more than once, but at last entered a larger open space. To one side, Magnus noted that the fungal growth had shied away from something in a wide circle. Moving closer to investigate, he found the corpse of a muscular elf in Summer garb shackled to the wall with heavy iron manacles, its lower half frozen into the ice. In his hands the warrior still clutched an evil-looking two-headed axe; at the foot of the knight was a skeleton, its spinal column all but severed by a heavy blade. Magnus took in the bizarre tableau, and then decided to pry free the axe, snapping one elven wrist to free it. The axe shimmered, its hilt warming to his touch, Realizing the weapon was magical, Magnus sat cross-legged in the cavern and attuned to the axe, which named itself Summer’s Dance in his mind.
Sensing his friends close by, Magnus set off again, the axe still in his hands. As he walked he cursed Oberon for leading him and his frields into this horrible place.
The party backtracked through the tunnels, which ended at a partial cave-in. Whisper scrambled up the rock and ice and found enough room to belly-crawl her way across. The opening ended abruptly at a short vertical drop into the river of gelatinous ice, a low domed ceiling above. Some fifty feet away a new tunnel sloped sharply up and away from the river. Keen joined Whisper then in the cramped crawlspace, and noted that stalagmites of rock were just breaking the surface of the river, close enough together that one might – if one were lucky – be able to use them to cross.
While Keen watched the river for a pattern to its flow over the rocks, Whisper attempted to scale the vertical wall but slipped, falling past Keen and hitting the river’s edge before scrambling back up to safety. The party devised a plan in which Stella, Yuna’s Coatl companion, would hover above the river holding Keen, who would direct the party’s steps across the river. Whisper cast water walking to assist her friends, and then stepped out onto the rocks. Stella pulled Keen out over the river to direct Whisper but immediately dropped him, and as Whisper scrambled across the burning surface to the far side, Stella swooped to pick up Keen. Sirlius and Ara were next, but received little help as Stella again lost her grip on Keen, who plummeted to the river. They abandoned caution and ran for it, cross the river but taking substantial cold damage. Only Yuna, her celestial aasimar wings shimmering in the dark, crossed the gap without incident. She channeled her divine energy into healing for her friends before they continued, and they set out, finding the banks of the river intersecting another arterial tunnel twisting sharply up and away.
For some hours they travelled, following the twists and turns of the tunnels, scrambling over rocks and up sharp inclines. Their ascent ended in a wide, low cavern from which two routes presented themselves: another natural tunnel cut through the rock to the northwest which seemed to lead in Magnus’s general direction, and a passageway of constructed cut stone similar to the room in which they discovered the body of Dilas am Leathlios. While Keen and Whisper were drawn to the stone passageway, with its promise of civilization (and therefore treasure), in the end the adventurers decided to press on to the northwest. The tunnel continued at a sharp grade for some time before abruptly ending at a vertical shaft. With the remains of stolen climbing gear and a spider climb spell from Sirlius, the party scaled the icy wall of the tube and found themselves in another dark tunnel. From the gloom emerged Magnus, covered in glowing moss and carrying a two-headed great axe.
Reunited between a vertical shaft on the one hand and the cramped labyrinth of tunnels from which Magnus had just emerged on the other, the party turned instead to a large fissure in the wall that opened into another tunnel, and continued on. The steep climb leveled off at the mouth of a massive cavern, its ceiling lost to darkness and the ground dotted with large stalagmites, like fingers of black ice and rock. From the gloom emanated a low, basso moaning. Magnus strode forward to investigate, his light spell spilling into the darkness. His light passed across a figure in the centre of the chamber, a horrible, twisted giant encased to his breastbone in ice. Three arms it had, and two heads, one facing away and one, its awful, singular eye, blinking in the light, staring at Magnus. Instantly the spellblade’s mind was rocked by psychic barbs, and Keen rushed forward to pull him behind a nearby stalagmite out of sight. His back to the rock, Magnus screamed as the bones of his shoulder twisted and cracked, the skin and flesh twisting away from his neck. Keen stared in horror as the flesh and bone pushed through the warrior’s jerkin. The flesh tore, opening one bloody eye and an elongated mouth. The awful face regarded Keen and screamed.
Oberon Popularity Levels: Dropping
Formorian Puzzle Room Rating: Gross
Summer Knights' Raid Status: Not Great
RP Rating: Awesome!