It was late at night, but the town of Harken was awake and celebrating after the rebel militia retook the Iron Keep, restoring it as Harken Keep. Reports came back saying that some of the Iron Circle brigands, as well as a cleric and a mage, had escaped into the night. However Nazin Redthorn was dead and the Iron Circle was broken. Indeed it was time to celebrate.
Then Dar Gremath’s lieutenant, Kathrid, appeared in town with a message for the adventurers. She recounted how a spy had been caught and a message intercepted. The spy Rennis was found with a letter from Lord Vannyk with a bit more information about the task that had been given to Jixin. It mentioned the need to meet with a man named Armos and to convince or perhaps blackmail him in order to gain control of Vestopalk, and that this would enable Vannyk to control the Cairngorn Peaks and the entire western portion of the Vale.
Attack of the Tiefling
The next day celebrations continued. The adventurers were in the local tavern eating and drinking with some townspeople when heavy footsteps were heard outside the door. The doors swung wide as a heavily armored tiefling stepped inside. “You think you can defeat the Iron Circle and stop ”/campaign/nentir-vale-and-beyond-cmd/wikis/lord-vannyk" class=“wiki-page-link”>Lord Vannyk? Here is what we do to those who oppose us!" With that he opened a burlap sack and out rolled the head of Dar Gremath. The townspeople cowered as the adventurers each stood up and prepared to fight. “We will not be cowed by the likes of you,” spoke Amarac. “Ye’ve made a grievous mistake ye fool!” growled Berend.
Even though fully rested the party was unprepared for the battle that was upon them. Lividius the tiefling attacked with burning fire, then disappeared the next moment only to reappear elsewhere. The battle raged through the tavern as the townspeople ran out, one of them too slow and cut down by the licking flames of Lividius’s aura. None of the party was unaffected, and Amarac fell in the middle of the room. The heroes did not relent though. Finally they drew blood from Lividius, though he laughed. Eldan, bleeding considerably, was quite displeased with their situation. He lined up a careful attack, aided by Malagar’s darkfire, and landed a well placed blade in Lividius. However realizing his dangerous position, and not knowing whether Lividius would fall or destroy them all, he made his way out the door. Malagar followed up Eldan’s blade with two arrows. Lividius was more stunned than he would have imagined by Eldan’s shot and was too slow to react to Malagar’s. Malagar’s first arrow went straight between his eyes and only moments later Lividius was fallen on his face, dead (875XP).
Malagar was enraged by Eldan’s cowardice though. Without a moment’s hesitation he spun and let his second shot go, slicing the edge of Eldan’s leg. “What’d you do that for?!?” yelled Eldan.
“Finish the tiefling and tend to Amarac,” Lia whispered to Berend. She walked quickly to the door as Malagar reached Eldan.
“You cowardly insect! You would run away and leave us to die!” Malagar growled.
Eldan replied, “What? I was just getting cover. You see this blood on me? I stuck that bastard good and was just making sure I’d last long enough to do it again!”
Malagar’s anger did not subside immediately, but he did hesitate. Lia spoke to Malagar, “Enough. You heard him, he was not going to abandon us.” She looked back to Eldan, giving him a quick look that told Eldan everything. She knew he was lying, but she would say nothing. She did not approve of his attempt to escape, but the cohesion of their party was too important to risk.
Amarac arose in a few minutes time thanks to Berend’s tending. He searched through Levidius’s body and other than his weapons found a letter from Lord Vannyk. It spoke of his charge to destroy the “so-called heroes” to stop them from their interference. Moreover it told Lividius to go to Winterhaven once his task was complete. There was where the next phase of Lord Vannyk’s plan would take place.
The Snow Falls
Something else of great note happened after Lividius dropped dead to the ground. No one noticed it immediately with all of the commotion, but soon the few stray flakes of snow that fell from the sky grew into a real snowfall. This was the middle of summer and snow was falling. The temperature slowly began to drop as well. The people of Harken quickly grew worried. No one could explain what was happening, though clearly some strong magic was behind it.
Baron Stockmer came to the heroes with several of his top aids and advisers. They told the heroes that they would provide horses and basic supplies, and a substantial discount on any other supplies they might need. They asked if the heroes would find out what was happening with the weather. If it got much worse there would be serious problems for crops. Lia responded saying that of course they would find out what was happening and find a way to put an end to it. They must to go Fallcrest though, both to report to Warden Markelhay and to discover what Jixin had been sent to do. Since this weather was likely Lord Vannyk’s doing, they should be able to get answers to all their questions in the same pursuit.
So the heroes set out less than an hour after their battle and quickly made their way back to Fallcrest.
Lord Vannyk’s Plan and Armos
Upon arriving in Fallcrest our heroes met with Warden Markelhay to tell them of their success in Harkenwold and of their plan to find Armos Kamroth and find out what he was supposed to do for Vannyk. Markelhay knew Armos as a wealthy and smart merchant, but had no idea what Vannyk would want with him. He did know that the Vestopolk that was mentioned in one of the intercepts was an adult green dragon living in the Cairngorm Peaks. Moreover the dragon had recently widened his hunting grounds to Winterhaven. Additionally, a tribe of kobolds called the Greenscales was attempting to side with him.
The team went to Armos’s house and knocked on the door. Armos was very suspicious at first. In fact it soon came out that he knew well that none in the party was Jixin. However it also was the case that he was quite unhappy about being pushed around and threatened by Vannyk. Amarac apologized for the group’s threatening behavior, explaining how threatened they themselves felt by Vannyk’s plans and attempts on their lives. Eventually Armos explained that Vannyk knew his secret, that he was a cleric of Tiamat. Vannyk wanted him to use his powers to control Vestopolk so that the dragon would do his bidding.
Panic in Fallcrest
As their discussion was happening, the team began to hear a commotion outside. They went out to see what was happening. Warden Markelhay was explaining the need to take foodstuffs and begin rationing given the unnatural winter should Fallcrest have any hope of surviving. The merchants were unhappy with this and the people were all very scared. Some of the more nefarious elements were likely seeing the panic and an opportunity to cause trouble or make some thefts and leave.
As the team tried to figure out how to calm the crowd, bolster the position of the Lord Warden, and figure out some compromise between the parties, the winds picked up and Malagar noticed a boat sailing through the air above their heads. He got the attention of the rest of the party. Amarac suggested that everyone should get inside while they investigated. The question of what to do about rationing and the like could be sorted out later. This was a strangely fortunate event, as a riot could have broken out any second.
The Undead Airship
As the people fled in all directions the ship landed in the snow. Skeletons and zombies came over the sides waving their weapons wildly as a voice came from the dragon masthead, “Return the Ice Scepter to the ”/campaign/nentir-vale-and-beyond-cmd/wikis/Winter%20King/new" class=“create-wiki-page-link”>Winter King or this will be and endless winter!"
No one had any idea what the thing was talking about, but people would be slaughtered if the undead were not stopped. The heroes arranged themselves and engaged the enemy. Several fell quickly, but many were not so easily felled. One civilian was cut down by a charging skeleton. As the battle raged and Berend put himself in the middle to protect the people, Eldan danced around sticking and tossing daggers, Malagar circled to find the best shots and Lia attempted to slow or incapacitate those attacking the front line. Several undead got around and almost knocked her out, but with some clever tactics and the aid of Amarac she held them off. In the end only 2 civilians had perished and the undead were no more.
The ship repeated its command for someone to bring forth and return the Ice Scepter. Some people, including the Lord Warden, came forward to discuss the most recent events. “Has anyone here any knowledge of this Ice Scepter?” he shouted. No one came forward. Several townspeople did offer some knowledge of the Winter King. It was said that many years ago he had been a warlord king. One winter his forces decimated several others, taking advantage of the cold. Some believed he was granted some great power, others than he was cursed, but soon after his forces were nowhere to be found. There were rumors that a cairn of the Winter King was located somewhere in the Cairngorn Peaks.
Lia and Malagar both spotted a very uncomfortable looking young man trying to sneak out of the crowd. Eldan took their cue and got to him before he’d gotten far. “What do you know?” he asked, dagger at the man’s side.
The man dropped to his knees apologizing, “I didn’t know. I was lost in the Peaks, my fellows all killed, and I came upon a fortress in the mountain snow. I took… this… from inside.” He slowly drew a scepter from his jacket. “I thought maybe I could sell it. I had no idea it would cause any harm, or that it was why the strange winter had come.”
Markelhay was gravely concerned, but now had some reason to hope. “If you bring this scepter back, the winter will end. You have aided the Vale before, will you do so again and save us from starvation?”
Eldan and Malagar were both very skeptical, but Lia, Berend, and Amarac all agreed that they must do something or all the people in the Vale would suffer greatly. “This man will come with us and guide us so we can return the scepter. What is your name?”
“M-Markos,” the man stuttered. Lia could see through his manner though, and knew he had some ability.
Malagar fell in step beside Lia as she stepped towards the ship, Marko in tow. Eldan held back. “This thing looks way too dangerous. And how will we get back? This doesn’t seem worth it,” he whispered to his comrades.
Would they go at all, Eldan stay behind while the others went? A decision would have to be made soon.