Barred from entry by the magics of the Lich, Thoth Arryn, Velius bid the Lionshields farewell as they crossed into the Court of Cold Harbour. Through the vale between the Gravefrost Peaks and Winterhelm Mountains, they came at last to the village of Rimegarde, west of the river Sileadh, between lochs Marbhan and Cladh. The Infinite Winter had taken a strong hold here. There were no people or animals on any of the forest pathways, and dim light struggled to escape the frost covered windows of the storefronts they passed. Soon, they found the livery where they were to deliver the magical mummers caravan.
Inside, they learned their client, an unnamed halfling, had gone the Pour House, a local tavern on the west side of the village. Setting out to meet him, they stopped first to deliver goods to the local coster, where they received payment and stocked up on potions of warmth and ammunition.
With Jamal in tow, they made their way west, passing the child’s home, Alhazared’s Magickal Menagerie. The band made the decision to see to the halfling before returning Amal Al-Zareef’s son. Al-Zareef, after all, was a suspicious character, most likely involved with the recent troubles in Peron’s homeland. Better to get business out of the way before the pleasures of possible retribution…
The Pour House was a brewery, with a large tap room and furnace. The actual pub was small and intimate. Within, three men sat near a fire, each dressed for battle; another man sat alone, reading from a weathered and waterlogged ledger, curiously with a falcon perched on his shoulder; while, sitting alone in the corner, a beautiful red-tressed woman sat nursing a glass of wine.
The Lionshields took a seat at the woman’s table, but curiosity led Nod toward the man with the falcon.
Asking after the halfling, the woman, proprietor of the brewery, informed them his name was Wilbough Waggins and that he owed her a substantial sum. He had argued with the man reading the ledger, then, as he was leaving, paid a sum of gold to the three men by the fire. She also talked of strange goings on in the area, of how in recent years people had turned up dead near Giantsgrave Mountain, the long dormant volcano that dominated the northern skyline. She told of a group of Thulasian Wizards that were seen there, in and around the caves leading into the mount. Afterward, seasoned adventurers stopped coming to the region, magically barred from entry, and yet, life continued. A struggle, but they were survivng, if not thriving…
Meanwhile, Nod was questioning the man, Captain Tack Wyndstrom. Wyndstrom, it seemed, was most curious about Kari, offering Nod a substantial bit of platinum in exchange for the half-orcs name. Nod refused and, as he pressed the Captain as to the nature of the book he was intently reading, Wyndstrom put it away and excused himself, hurrying out of the Pour House and into the frozen night.
Nod informed the party what had transpired. The woman, Anne Scarlett, told them the man was a local treasure hunter, with a ship ported in Crawfjord. As they talked, they saw the three men rise and follow Wyndstrom outside. Sensing trouble, the Lionshields followed. Peron asked Scarlett to watch Jamal until they returned.
The three ruffians attacked the sea captain, but the Lionshields were quick to intervene. Elrian disabled one attacker with Hideous Laughter, eventually binding and gagging the man. Peron littered another with arrows, dropping him in the street. Kari split the third man’s head in two. The captain took this opportunity to flee, but Nod chased him down, tackling him in the snow. As the Captain scrambled to escape, Nammosi caught him in her Earthen Grasp. Nod took the worn tome from the captain’s pack and found it to be a Captain’s Log from the Sea Wolf, the ship Kari was the lone survivor of.
Kari approached and demanded to know what this was all about, realizing then the resemblance the man had to his former Captain, Wyndhelm Langstrom. Captain Tack was that captain’s son and he said he was searching for the shipwreck and its fabled treasure. Kari said he could join them in their pursuit and Nammosi released the man.
Meanwhile, Peron returned for Jamal only to find Scarlett had left with him. He called out to his compatriots and they all set out to recover the boy, following the taverness’ trail to Alhazared’s.
Nod burst in first, his eyes first falling on a halfling — the same halfling they had met briefly during their confrontation with the Blood Brotherhood, Hellblazers, and Chrononzon in the Abyss — but then I looked toward the merchant’s bar. There Anne Scarlett stood nearby, her charge, Jamal, in the hands of a cloaked figure who was speaking with the shop owner, presumably Amal Al-Zareef himself.
The cloaked man turned. It was Dirk Flisten, the bounty hunter who had absconded with the Ring of Summer Flame. Nod charged. His long history with the scoundrel led him to leave caution to the wind, but Flisten gave the Tabaxi the slip and, dragging Jamal with him, raced into a side room, Nod hot on his tail. The bounty hunter mumbled something as he and Jamal leapt through a mirror. As Nod attempted to follow he crashed headlong into solid glass, following back unceremoniously on his backside.
As the rest of the Lionshields burst into the shop, they saw the confusion and rage on the proprietor’s face.
“What is the meaning of this?” he bellowed.
That’s exactly what the Lionshields wanted to know.
to be continued