It has been some time since I’ve put quill to parchment. In the past couple of ten days much has happened. By some miracle or perhaps curse I survived the remainder of my expedition into the forsaken tomb of Diderius. It was most harrowing. My gaze into the void left my will weak, and Hazirawn’s insidious influence gradually took possession of me. I can see that clearly now. Events came to a head when the sword tried to make me slaughter my own companions. Fortunately, they were able to stop me and take the sword away before I could do any real damage. Pug took possession of the blade and despite my threats and protests he refused to return it to me. In my heart I knew that it was best that I was out of its thrall, but whilst we were in the tomb I could still feel it calling to me. My allies gave me another enchanted blade that was recovered from Diderius’s treasure horde. Unbeknownst to them, it was equally cursed. I discovered this when I attuned myself to the sword and found that I couldn’t put it down. To make matters worse, when I attacked with the blade it drained my own life force as much as my enemies. Consequently, I spent the remainder of my time in the tomb smashing snake men with my shield. Eventually, we found time to rest and Varis removed the curse with one of his prayers. In the end, our mission was only partially successful. I think that our enemy was prevented from using the enchanted pool to divine the future, but the snake men fled the tomb, presumably with their dragon lord captive and the white dragon mask. Hopefully neither the mask nor the dragon lord will be reclaimed by the Cult of the Dragon.
It has been many long days of travel, but I have since returned to Waterdeep. I called in a favour with Bronwyn the Harper mistress. I explained to her that the dark sorceries of the tomb had left me cursed and had sapped my will to live. She guided me to a simple temple of Ilmater the god of suffering. Here I abandoned all material possessions for several days and lived a most plain and humble life. The priests prayed for me and managed to lift the mummy’s curse. They also did what they could to heal me of my madness. Under their care, my memories of the void faded and my natural instincts to survive grew strong within me once more.
When I emerged from their temple I felt like a new man. Hazirawn’s taint and my glimpse into the void were already becoming distant memories, and I was free of the curse of the tomb. As I stepped back into the world, I swore to myself that I would never wield another sword.
With my head clear, and the desire to live strong within me once more, I felt the urge to celebrate. I made my way to the temple of Tempus where I donated much coin and spent several days feasting and brawling. After that I drank my way through the taverns of Waterdeep carousing, and enjoying all the pleasures the City of Splendors had to offer.
My vacation was interrupted when I was called to council with the Lords’ Alliance, and there my companions and I reported on the events that had transpired in the tomb. I turned over all of my magical blades to the council, and in return they granted me an enchanted flail that was capable of wreathing itself in flame. I was most pleased with this trade. The council shared with us its plans. They asked that we head far to the north on an expedition to the Sea of Moving ice where we would search for a sorcerous woman named Maccath the Crimson whom they believed might help us to find a powerful artifact called the Draakhorn. It seems that the cult has come into possession of this artifact, and they are using it to rally dragons of all kind to their cause. We have been told that it is imperative that we recover the horn from the cult. An aide to the Council and self-styled “dragon expert”, Dala Silmerhelve, has told us that Maccath is a member of the Arcane Brotherhood who may have been captured by an ancient white dragon named Arauthator who makes its lair on one of the ice mountains, and finding its nest would be our first objective.
A few more days were spent in Waterdeep preparing for the expedition. Because I have sworn off swords, I purchased a battle axe and hand axe to act as back up weapons. The ship we were to sail up the coast in was a strange vessel. It was a small, light, low draft ship designed to be capable of maneuvering around the ice flows and overtop of small sheets of ice. As we set out, Pug led us in prayers to Valkur, and we attempted to placate Umberlee by throwing coin and other valuables over the side of the ship.
It took us many days to sail up the coast. The weather soon grew icy cold, and I took to wearing bulky furs over my armour to keep from freezing. Eventually, we made our way into the Sea of Moving Ice. I was surprised to discover that tribes of people had managed to make a home for themselves this far north. We knew them only as the “ice hunters,” but they seemed to subsist by hunting the many seals that resided on the ice flows. Our captain mentioned that he had traded with the ice hunters in the past, but we found that on this voyage they avoided us and even fled when we attempted to parlay with them.
I was concerned that finding the correct iceberg in this sea of seemingly infinite ice would be impossible. Then it occurred to me that we could vastly improve our chances of success if we took to the sky where we could survey much more of our surroundings. Soveliss used his magic to fly up into the air, and with the aid of Pug’s telescope we got lucky and set eyes on a strange looking ice flow that fit the description of the one the dragon was said to make its lair in. We set course for the ice flow, but were impeded by a terrible storm that rolled in out of the north. It nearly took out ship, but Valkur was with us and guided us through. The Frostskimmrir crashed through the frozen sea and came to rest in cove carved into the very iceberg we sought. Truly the gods must have been with us.
Here we found several ice hunters also taking shelter from the storm. They had little interest in parlaying and instead retreated up an icy stair carved into the side of the cove. We soon discovered that they had a settlement on the plateau above, and I feared that they must be in league with the dragon if they made their home on its iceberg- assuming this was in fact where a dragon laired. We waited out the storm in the shelter of the cove. By the next day it had passed, unfortunately, the ice stair had been covered with snow and ice to the point where it was of little use, and we would have to either climb or use magical means to reach the top of the plateau.
Berian decided to make the climb. His newly acquired belt of giant strength gave him impressive upper body strength, and he easily scaled the icy cliff, hammering in pitons as he went so that I might climb after him. At the top he was confronted by several of the ice hunters, along with their shaman, Bonecarver. Berian managed to keep them at bay with his words, and he negotiated a deal. Our champion would face their champion in combat, and if we won we would have permission to explore the plateau in search of the sorceress- whom they claimed they had never seen. If their champion won, we would leave immediately and never return.
I was nominated to be the champion for our group. The one rule of the fight was that no magic would be employed, thus I fought with my dwarf-forged battle axe and shield. I suppose that technically my shield was enchanted, but it slipped my mind to mention that detail to the ice hunters. Their champion was a well-built, fur clad warrior armed with spear and shield, named Orcaheart. I didn’t want to underestimate him, but at the same time I would have been greatly shamed if I could not handle the champion of a flea speck settlement in the middle of nowhere. I said my prayers to Tempus and we faced off near the edge of the escarpment.
He was a surprisingly skilled fighter, and made use of some impressive feints and foot work. His fighting techniques were somewhat foreign to me, and a couple of his attacks caught me off guard and got past my shield. I didn’t leave anything to chance, and I made a hard offensive push early in the fight. I got a foot in behind him and hammered my shield into his chest, causing him to trip. Once he was on the ground I hacked at him with my axe. He did an impressive job of defending himself on the ground, for most men would have been promptly killed when put at such a disadvantage. Then suddenly, with great agility, he leapt back to his feet, but by this time I had taken advantage of his prone status to circle around and position myself so that he was between me and the edge of the cliff. He made a series of deft spear thrusts at me. Then I countered. A sweeping slash from my axe grazed his chest and set him off balance. I saw my opening. I rushed him with my shield and shoved him as hard as I could. The force of the impact propelled him backward, and he plummeted off the cliff. I was sure the fall would kill him, but by some miracle he survived. This was probably for the best, as the fight wasn’t intended to be to the death.
The shaman and the ice hunters nearly wept with disappointment when they realized that they had lost the challenge. They stayed true to their word and allowed us to start exploring the plateau. They had constructed their village in the centre of the ice field, but around it were many blocks of ice with individuals frozen inside of them. I presumed that many were victims of the dragon. The ice hunters remained in their village and watched us as we went to each ice block and tried to discern if any of them held the woman we were looking for. For better or worse, none of them did.
Late that afternoon we took a rest in a hut off to the side of the village that must have been designated for visitors. The shaman and some of his hunters brought us food in the form of raw fish and seal meat. It had an odd smell to it, and I didn’t trust our hosts, so I decided to eat only salted herring that I had brought up from the ship. It was probably for the best, as the treacherous shaman had poisoned the meal, which temporarily caused Pug and Belamir to lose consciousness. Soon after the shaman and his guards were in our tent, once again demanding that we leave. I had no use for his dishonour and treachery, and I was ready to lay waste to the entire village when Belimar and Pug came to their senses. Belimar’s head was cooler than mine, or perhaps just clouded with poison. He urged me to stay my hand, and he again attempted a parlay. He and Soveliss discovered that the shaman and his people were incredibly fearful that allowing us to be on the island would bring the wrath of the dragon upon them, and clearly they feared the dragon more than us. We convinced the old shaman to allow us to “help.”
Thus the shaman took us to his hut and showed us to a secret staircase carved into the iceberg. It descended down, and he claimed that it led to a series of caves where the dragon made its lair. He also claimed that the red sorceress was still alive and somewhere in the caves below. We decided to trust him enough to venture below, so down the stairs we went.
Deep inside the ice flow we found a series of ice caves and tunnels. We had been told that there was more than one level, and that the dragon made its lair in the deepest part of the caves. We soon found that the level we were on was infested with the dragon’s minions. Our first encounter was with a hopping horde of man-sized ice toads. The battle with them proved more challenging than expected when Pug’s enchanted cutlass detonated a thunderclap that caused chunks of the ceiling to rain down upon us. I think I was more battered by the falling ice than the biting toad monsters. My flaming flail proved highly effective against the creatures, and it didn’t take us long to slaughter them. Unfortunately, two of them managed to escape down a passageway and may well have warned the dragon of intruders.
Not long after we fought the ice toads we entered into a cavern that housed several chilly kobolds. Pug took advantage of his draconic armour and mask to convince the pathetic and stupid creatures that he had replaced Rezmir the Black, and that he had just arrived to meet with the dragon and the red sorceress. They started to give us some useful information about the complex, but before we could finish speaking with them, we were set on by four ice trolls that may have been looking for us. They certainly weren’t interested in taking orders from Pug.
Soveliss softened up the trolls with a fireball, and then Pug, Belamir and I engaged them in melee while Soveliss slung eldritch bolts. The ice trolls were dangerous foes, but once again my flaming flail proved handy- especially for ensuring that they would stay dead and not regenerate their wounds. I sustained a few wounds from their claws, but we managed to slay them without suffering any casualties of our own. I could now benefit from a rest and some time to check on the severity of my wounds, but I also see the need to press on. If the gods favour us the dragon is either sleeping or away, and we will find the red sorceress without having to deal with its wrath.