Mid-Winter, Hadrer 10th (The Month of Protection), 151 AV in the City of Doors:
After a long rest within the inn, the party grumpily got up late in the evening and ate prior to going out into the City of Doors. Heading to the nearby Sage, Lazlo, they found the accomplished sage was busy with research for another customer. However, his wizened old wife, Orokia, was fully capable of identifying a number of magical items that the group had recovered from their recent adventures after the proper fees had been paid.
In addition, Zoltan asked about how to get to Stygia and the old lady provided that she didn’t know of a portal, but that a trader who frequently went to that level of the Iron Hells was a Tiefling by the name of Melwood, who frequently hung out at Mormmyny’s Tavern outside the grand bazaar. Leon asked about strange pets, suddenly kindling an interest in lightning mephits, and again the knowledgeable woman provided the name of a well known merchant who often frequents the grand bazaar who deals in exotic animals and creatures named Firasaern the Taer. Zoltan asked about who she recommended to find some more exotic or rare texts and the crone recommended Delighti, a Shelzari trader and rumored to be of djinn descent, a collector and seller of the written word.
With that the group did some trading with Orokia and left back to the Goblyn’s Crown to rest up a bit more.
Mid-Winter, Hadrer 11th (The Month of Protection), 151 AV in the City of Doors:
After resting late in the morning, the party decided to head to the Grand Bazaar to try their luck in locating some of the merchants that Orokia had told them about and to look at the wares. Zoltan managed to find the book dealer and in deed found Delighti to have a fine selection. Choosing “Journeys to the Elemental Planes” by Ganest, he devoured the tome in minutes via a spell only to be overcome by a migraine immediately after finishing the reading and barely able to concentrate. Leon found that the traveling merchant Firasarn was indeed in the bazaar at this time being amazed at the various creatures in his cages. Pretty birds, rare plumed creatures, and multi-colored lizards were outside of his tent and inside he had a few of the more rare varieties including an earth mephit. Leon asked the merchant to find a Lightning Mephit and when he found it to leave word at the Goblyn’s Crown.
Later in the afternoon, the group went to Mormmyny’s Tavern. An active tavern full of good music, varied races and customers, the two story structure was packed with wenches, drinkers, and conspirators of all kinds. After a few inquiries, the group was directed to a 2nd floor table where a tiefling was drinking and discussing matters with a few associates. After a few minutes, the associates left and the party approached the tiefling who confirmed he was Melwood. At first Melwood was not willing to provide information on how to access Stygia sensing perhaps an infringement on his trade routes. After time, the group convinced him of their need and he agreed to provide them with where the portal was and the necessary “portal passes” to use it and the return portal in Stygia for a significant price. After the deals were brokered, he indicated that the passes would take a day to prepare and would last only for a month before wearing out (to protect his interests).
The group questioned him regarding specifics of Stygia and he provided them a description. Stygia is a great frozen sea with icebergs frozen in place like mountains; Tantlin is a city carved into one of those great icebergs as are many of the fortresses and lairs of the devils populating the unforgiving and terrible level of the Iron Hells. Melwood indicated that the bitter cold is ever present, with great blizzards frequently blowing about that can bury travellers or winds carrying icy particles that can scour flesh from bones. Inside the great icebergs the conditions are frequently slightly above freezing creating a moist, dripping environment with Ice Devils and Ice Mephits frequently going about refreezing or rebuilding areas to ensure structure is maintained. From the portal on the frozen sea to Tantlin is about two days of travel in snowy and icy conditions.
Melwood also indicated that travel to Stygia was dangerous for those of goodly alignment in that the plane was somewhat sentient and inevitably pointed the devil’s residing on it towards offending presences for their removal, much like a man who has a splinter in an area he can’t see or reach. For this reason, he recommended finding someone who could attend the group and supply an occasional spell to confuse or hide their true natures rather than begin to draw the attention of Stygia itself. When asked about who might be able to provide such a service, the tiefling points to the singer in the tavern.
After meeting with Melwood, a few of the group headed downstairs to watch the singer perform. A gifted lady singer finished her ballad to the delight of the crowd and began to head out of the tavern; catching her before she exited they managed to buy her a drink. She introduced herself as Lilliana and said she indeed knew a person with the magical skills of concealment described by Melwood and said she would drop him a note and have him meet the group at the tavern the next day.
Mid-Winter, Hadrer 12th (The Month of Protection), 151 AV in the City of Doors:
The party returns to Mormmyny’s Tavern and Melwood indeed delivers the portal passes, resembling a couple of poultice bags filled with foul-smelling, ground up contents.
Waiting for a time, the party sees a man enter in chain armor and wearing a tabard with priestly symbols. Hoping this is there contact, the party is surprised to find this man is not, though he bears an uncanny resemblance to the lady singer from the previous day. He introduces himself as Bartholomew. However, he also knows of a “wizard” capable of hiding true natures and says that he will contact this personage and have the meet with the group tomorrow.
Mid-Winter, Hadrer 13th (The Month of Protection), 151 AV in the City of Doors:
The party returns to Mormmyny’s Tavern again. After a bit of time in the establishment, enjoying the sights of the wenches and courtesans, and imbibing a few choice drinks, they are approached by a robed man who introduces himself as Randolph. Discussions begin and agreements are made for Randolph to provide services for a fee and share of loot gained during his services. Though hooded and partially hidden, Zhou Pan and Xaylin perceptively picked up that Randolph resembled the man from the previous day and the woman from two day’s ago, perhaps a brother and sister. After agreements are made, all part company and find their ways back to the Goblyn’s Crown with Randolph eventually showing up dressed in adventuring gear and ready for travel.
Mid-Winter, Hadrer 14th (The Month of Protection), 151 AV into Stygia:
Rising early, the group makes last minute preparations, says there goodbyes to Jadess, and then heads to the portal location. Brandishing the portal passes, a gateway opens and icy winds erupt from the shimmering, magical gate. Travelling quickly through the gate, the party finds themselves coming out of a set of gigantic rib bones appearing to come from some collossal fish that have frozen together and been covered with ice and snow. The bleak icy expanse of Stygia confronts them even as the cold wind makes them shiver. Far off in the distance above the rolling snow dunes and eddies can be seen one of the great icebergs looking like a singular mountain even as a few natural stone pillars that support the ceiling of this vast cavernous underground lake rise up into the clouded vault where they are lost to site. After a few spells are used to reduce the biting cold, the group begins to slowly make their way towards the iceberg city of Tantlin.
Mid-Winter, Hadrer 15th (The Month of Protection), 151 AV in the City of Tantlin, Stygia:
Sleeping overnight in a igloo evidently left by other passers by at the mid-point, the group continues towards Tantlin. Even with protection spells, and shelter, there is some loss of feeling in extremities and concerns with frostbite. The iceberg continues to grow and grow as they get closer until eventually they stand at the foot of the great ice structure. Working their way up the rough and winding roadway carved into the ice, they eventually reach the gates of Tantlin where after a brief discussion with the gate devils are allowed entry, likely due to name dropping of the weapons merchant Burskel, who the group previously determined they should meet due to his extensive knowledge of the Rod of the Elements and its guardian, Ingakka.
Tantlin is a town within the hollowed out interior of the iceberg. Many of the abodes are just carved out of the ice with the inhabitants either not affected by the cold or just used to its embrace. Most structures are built of ice or stone, with a few being built of wood. One such establishment, the devil guards point out, caters to those who need the “warmth of their mothers teed”. It is a finely built woodent structure, painted in alternating stripes of black and white, with a sign with a yin-yang symbol above the words “Polar Opposites”.
Entering within the group finds many of the patrons are merchants or other races, with a few of the diabolic in attendance as well. Approaching the beautiful and busty bartender, the group inquires as to rooms at the establishment only to be startled when she looks at the with glowing red eyes underneath her dark, long eyelashes. After a tense moment, she smiles and begins to take their orders and make arrangements for their stay. She introduces herself as Dominoand welcomes the party to her inn, getting them some drinks and a table by the fireplace and heat stones that make the tavern much warmer than outside. As it is late in the evening, the group takes food and drinks then rapidly heads to their rooms to further shake off the cold of this infernal place and to make sure all their extremities are still there.
Mid-Winter, Hadrer 16th (The Month of Protection), 151 AV in the City of Tantlin, Stygia:
The rooms are pleasant if not a little chilly, though the sound of dripping water from outside is something that takes several of the group time to get used to. Getting up in the morning, the group assembles and casts various spells including those that will disguise their goodly natures. Continuing downstairs, they find several of the patrons they saw last night enjoying breakfast while a few seem to be sleeping off their liquor on the cold floor. Making haste, Xaylin orders a hearty breakfast for everyone and soon their is warm porridge and oven rolls being consumed.
Zoltan refreshes the memory of Leon, Xaylin, and Zhou Pan with their mission: To recover the Rod of the Elements from a powerful being known as Ingakka, an officer during the Divine War in Chardun’s armies. He lairs in Castle Ach-Mor, which is near the city of Tantlin in cold Stygia. Lazlo had provided a contact that he knows in Tantlin; an arms dealer with the name of Burskel who might be able to help if you mentioned you were acquaintances of Lazlo and Orokia.
After getting some directions, the group heads out from the inn to the potential benefactor, Burskel. Finding his place of business to be a large building constructed of stone blocks with large smoke stacks in the back for the forges, Zoltan approaches the door and feels the heat from within. Going inside the smoky interior, the group finds a spacious show room with all manner of weapon racks, cabinets, and display cases filled with weaponry of all sorts, many with a diabolic bent featuring cruel barbs, hooks, or jagged edges. As they look around, they also notice some iron statues brandishing some of the shop wares as well as large tube like holes that go up to the 2nd or 3rd floors in the rooms ceiling. A young tiefling asks them there business and after hearing they wish to speak to Burskel, shrugs and heads out the back door to the forge.
A few seconds later, a bulbous body with a central, unblinking eye, and a large maw filled with daggerlike teeth floats down into the room from one of the tubes in the ceiling. Smaller eyes sprouting from atop the creature wave about as the beholder grins in a fashion that is seems almost unnatural. In a rumbling bass, the creature speaks and introduces himself as Burskel, arms-dealer and weapon collector.
Getting over there initial shock, the party begins discussions with the creature and make sure to mention their dealings with Lazlo. Burskel remarks that he has used Lazlo to help find some interesting items and to research their history. After time, the conversation swings around to how can the party infiltrate Ingakka’s castle, which the beholder indicates would be suicide to try to attack head on. The group suddenly finds themselves in a bargaining session with the wily beholder, with him negotiating that he will help them with a secret entrance if they bring him Ingakka’s swords. This goes back and forth and at the end of the negotiation the party members sign a faustian contract with the beholder, with a forfeiture clause of their very souls should they fail to deliver the swords.
Reaching a deal, the beholder rapidly brings out a chest via telekinesis and provides maps and scrolls of teleport for their return back to his shop and then on to the portal upon completion of the mission. The secret entrance the party learns is to go beneath the frozen layer of the sea and requires a swim into the depths. There is a fissure in the iceberg where water comes in from the sea and travels down a few flow tubes in an underground stream into an underground lake. The beholder points out that their is a guard post to Ingakka’s castle at that underground lake, but it represents a lesser guarded or warded way into the castle and its underground complex.
Mid-Winter, Hadrer 17th (The Month of Protection), 151 AV in the City of Tantlin, Stygia:
The group prepares for going into the icy depths. At breakfast, instead of being joined by Randolph, the group sees the singer woman Lilliana come down the stairs. Concern starts to mount as the spells are needed and Lilliana is incapable of casting. Eventually, Lilliana goes back upstairs and hours later Randolph shows up again, ready for moving things forward. Zoltan and Leon scratch their heads at this odd turn of events and they question Randolph as to his whereabouts. Randolph it appears has a multiple personalities condition that manifests itself; usually he can control who will show up, but under stress there is the occasional changing of self.
Having part of the day spent on this changing situation, the group elects to spend another comfortable night in the Polar Opposites Inn and then see if they can gain entrance tomorrow.
Mid-Winter, Hadrer 18h (The Month of Protection), 151 AV in Stygia:
The group exits Tantlin and travels along the perimeter of the mountain-like iceberg until they locate a place where the ice had been previously broken allowing access to the icy depths. Re-breaking the ice, the group uses magicks to aid their breathing and to fight away the cold while in the depths. Swimming down and around further, they see many large fish schools that flit away from the intruders, and eventually come to a fissure in the icebergs lower levels. As they begin to figure out how to squeeze into the narrow crack, they are beset by sinister, spectral figures that attack from the walls of the iceberg with a deadly touch. Realizing after a bit of combat that fighting underwater is very difficult and definitely favoring the wraiths, the group plunges headlong into the fissure only to find themselves caught in an underground river. This method of travel is not very forgiving as they are bludgeoned by the ice and stone as the water careens through the tunnels resulting in all taking bloody wounds and damaging strikes. Zhou Pan manages to push Xaylin out of the way heroically, only to take the full brunt of one such encounter with a stalagtite resulting in his unconsciousness. Finally, the underground river dumps out into a large cavern within the iceberg mountain itself and the group again suffers from the impact at the bottom of the waterfall. Randolph just manages to tread water with the knocked out Zhou Pan and Xaylin determines that swimming is more difficult with a chicken leg.
Spying the guard post as they manage to get their wits about them, the group finds that the opposite side of the lake has a small patch of ground where they can make camp and dole out some healing. Stalagtites and Stalagmites of ice and columns of stone create enough of an interruption to make a small, discrete camp. Xaylin keeps an eye on things at the guard shack on the opposite shore, roughly 250 yards away, while Leon gets Zhou Pan back to functioning via a potion. Based on the extent of injuries and use of spells to allow travel through the water route, the group decides to make camp and attempt to hide from the distant devil soldiers standing guard across the lake.