Episode 90: The Palace of Ice, Part IV
With Sirlius’s sphere of darkness enveloping the Fomorian’s baleful eye, Keen was able to safely bring Magnus back to the party. The party debated whether to push on through this cavern or turn back to seek a place to rest. Yuna sent Stella, still in her couatl form, to scout the cavern. From high above Stella found that the cavern was roughly circular, with the Fomorian frozen in place at its centre in a giant column of ice. While the south-facing side was covered in darkness, she found a second giant’s head facing the north, keeping watch over a second passageway.
The adventurers decided to try and sneak their way past the giant sentry, but Magnus’s horrid, screaming deformity presented a problem. Yuna tried magic to both remove curses and dispel magic but could not affect it. Sirlius inspected it closely and thought that perhaps restoration magic might be effective, but Yuna would have to rest before she could attempt it. Instead, Magnus stuffed strips of blanket into the screaming mouth, bloodying his fingers in the attempt, and secured it in place with a belt cinched about his neck. Whisper cast Pass Without Trace on her friends, and they quietly made their way though the cavern, darting from cover to cover behind massive stalagmites.
As they passed through the halfway point, they found disguising their passing became more difficult as cover became more sparse. Magnus, leading the party by some distance to keep the Fomorian’s attention on himself, stumbled and fell, causing the gag about his neck to become dislodged. Yuna rushed forward to help and both were sure to be seen by the giant, but Keen reacted with a force of will backed by the growing power of Creation inside him, and instead of being discovered Magnus fell such that the blanket was driven further into the horrible mouth, muffling its screaming. Sirlius stepped out and cast Darkness on the northern face of the Fomorian, and the party bolted for the exit.
A final, brutally cold climb up the interior of the mountain followed, before at last the party broke through a fissure in the ice into a long, dark passageway. Its cut stone walls and vaulted ceiling extended into darkness east and west. Exhausted and without magical reserves, the party looked for signs of how to proceed. Yuna suggested they consult the poem Zandilar Danced Summerwise, the “map” of the Feywild that leads to the heart of Winter. The third stanza of the poem began, “Can you get there by Candlelight? / Yes, there and back again,” which led her to wonder if a literal candle might be required. Magnus lit one of his, and as the tiny flame cast long, dancing shadows across the stone the party found the passageway now led not east-west but north-south. Muttering curses and frustration at the Feywild and its bizarre, unreliable geography, they followed the passage north.
It was at this point that Keen began talking to himself. Or rather, talking out loud to a presence the others could not detect: Seema, the young girl who had prayed to Bahamut but received Keen’s answer instead. Seema told Keen – whom she now called “Kiiri” – that she had used the power he lent her to heal her mother. This made her very happy, but when the villagers discovered what had happened they accused Seema of dealing with demons. They attacked her and her mother. Seema hid in the basement of an apparently abandoned and desanctified temple. Hidden beneath an altar covered in old blood, she found a ceremonial knife. Seema told Keen she took the knife and with it killed the villager who had attacked them. She said it was easy. Keen, unsure of how to respond, told Seema “Well, no more killing unless I say so.” Seema asked him to lend her more power to help “fix” her mother but he refused, telling her to seek the power on her own. Seema agreed, and as her voice faded from Keen’s awareness, vowed to undertake a trial to prove her strength to Kiiri.
At last the passageway ended at a stone arch before a huge cavern. Some 500 feet across, it housed a carefully tended and manicured statue garden. A stone walkway clear of ice and snow wound its way through the space, light by glittering twilight from shafts high overhead. They walked the path through strange, icy flora around connected pools of gelatinous ice and over foot bridges of stone. The “statues,” as Magnus feared, were clearly people, once alive but now frozen in place. Each had been captured in a pose of battle and arranged in artful tableau to set their dead eyes' expressions of terror at a large pair of double doors at the northernmost end of the garden. The party approached the doors. They were not locked, but overhead a placard greeted them with the ambiguous message “Welcome, eternal friends of Winter.”
Magnus and Whisper were both fascinated by the plant life in this place. Whisper was sorely tempted to pluck a flower of living ice, or perhaps leave a gift to augment the garden, but Ara warned her in no uncertain terms that such an action, to take or leave a gift, would imply an indebtedness between her and her host – in this case, Mab, the Queen of Winter. Such an obligation would be very unwelcome and most probably lethal.
After inspecting the doors carefully for traps, Keen pushed through into a short connecting passage leading to another large cavern. Unlike the statue garden, this space was unadorned but for free-flowing pools and rivulets of gelatinous ice. The natural cavernous walls extended in a rough circle, terminating at a large stone ramp before a masonry wall constructed of heavy stone. Inspecting the wall closely, Sirlius and Magnus discovered a keyhole cut into the stone itself.
Meanwhile, Whisper, Yuna and Stella inspected the pools of gelatinous ice. By flying high overhead Stella was able to get a clear view of the pools, and noted they were dotted with coin, gems, weapons, and bones; it would seem that all those not destined for the statue garden met a less celebrated end at the bottom of the ice. Stella also noted the glint of an oversized golden key in the centremost pool.
Keen, Whisper and Magnus fashioned a sort of fishing pole out of a 10-foot pole, a length of rope and small iron pot, with which they attempted to retrieve the key. They were nearly successful in pulling the key to the surface, but at that moment a massive shape rose from the pool, the gelatinous ice revealing its shape as a dracolich – an undead draconic skeleton animating the ice. It spread its huge wings and rose above the pool, dragging a surprised Magnus dangling from the end of the pole…
Feywild Bullshit Level: 90%
Child Life Skills Rating: Homicidal
Puzzles Solved: 3
RP Rating: Awesome!