FIRE & FROST
Trapped between gnoll vampires and a preternatural mist, the Lionshields found themselves in dire straights, but working in concert they were able to fight their way past the fiends and stay ahead of the mist, passing the unconscious woman between them as they struggled to save her — and themselves — from an icy death.
Once in entrance hall of the cave, they found themselves in the presence of two bloodsuckers — an owlbear and gnoll — but Nod sensing something even more unnatural was transpiring. On a hunch, the Tabaxi withdrew his Lantern of Revealing and as its light spread across the chamber, he saw that the woman they had rescued was no woman at all, but instead the illusory form worn by Auril the Frostmaiden. Nod cried out to Kari, who was carrying the body, and the half-orc tossed her to the ground. HE drew his axe, and with Elrian they began to strike the dark goddess, but all their blows did was reveal her owl form and the battle entered a new level.
Fighting against the damaging mist, and fending off the vampires, became even more disastrous with the Frostmaiden’s arrival into the fray. Thankfully, each was shielded from her first attack against them, saving Elrian’s life for sure, but Raben was not so lucky. He fell dead at their feet.
Kari and Peron were devastating in their assaults on the undead while Nod and Elrian kept the Frostmaiden preoccupied. The Lionshields fought their way back to the surface and faced off with the Icedawn there.
Kari, sorely injured, raced for aid, calling on the dwarves of Axeholm to take up their weapons against her.
Nodnal roused Harbard from his slumber, who curiously asked if Bowen had taken Auril to task yet. Nod replied, “You mean Elrian?” Harbard laughed. “Yes, of course.”
The caster and bard stepped from the Wizard Tent to see Peron and Elrian squaring off with the Winter Goddess, and Kari and the dwarves racing toward them. Then, the Frostmaiden teleported to the half-elf’s side and, using her Touch of Frost, dropped the bladesinger.
The god scowled and turned toward Peron, preparing to march against the Gloom Stalker, but Harbard, looking to turn the tide, as he’d prophesied, sent out a healing wave, raising Elrian up from death’s door.
The half-elf prepared another fireball, but a voice resonated within him. “Magefire,” it said. Elrian drew his bow and notched the magical arrow he had plundered from Frostmaiden’s Cave. Drawing back, he released the shaft in a streak of fiery death. The Winter Goddess was engulfed in flame, consumed by its magical fire. Nothing was left of her but her horns and the blue-black ash that drifted away on the winds of the Infinite Winter.
“Ha Ha,” Nodnal rejoiced. “It turns out whatever thief stile that magic book did us all a favor after all, luring the Frostmaiden out so we could end her for good!”
“Not for good,” Harbard said. “Three times might she rise from death. You will face her again.”
“No matter,” the Tabaxi cried. “It was great luck that book was taken and all this transpired as it did. And the best part is that the thief was me after all.”
The dwarves lifted the bladesinger up in great cheer, carrying him off to Axeholm House where a great celebration ensued. But the Gloom Stalker was not so quick to join them. He went to the place where the Frostmaiden fell and took up her horns. Carrying them back to Harbard’s tent where the elf had deposited Raben’s corpse.
“Can you raise him?” Peron asked.
“Oh absolutely,” the wizard replied. “A cost there will be be, but not one that Crawfjord cannot pay.”
“Good.” Peron tossed the Frostmaiden’s horns on a workbench. “Maybe once you finish with him, you can do something with these. If we’re going to face her again, we could use a weapon against her.”
“Indeed,” Harbard replied, “but first, promised your friend…Elrian… some answers. It’s time to see him off to the Fletcher House.”
Harbard and Peron entered the boisterous dwarven lodge, joining Kari and Nod by the fire. The hall was filled with laughter and singing, as horns of mead were being consumed in great measure. But one was not as joyful as the rest. Harbard’s eyes fell on Elrian Omaleth who stood in the corner, a mead horn, undrunk, in his hands.
The half-elf’s mind was racing with unanswered questions. The mysterious voice that had urged him to draw his bow rather than cast a spell frightened him, not because of what it said or how it knew it was the right response, but because it held implications that struck him at his very core.
to be continued