Level 19

Return to the Glacier of the White Worm

Summary: The war goes poorly for the people of Impiltur. In an act of desperation the heroes return to the Glacier of the White Worm to retrieve a weapon so powerful that even the White Queen feared to use it.
Takes place 30th of Marpenoth (Leaffall) in the year 1479DR (The Year of the Ageless One)

Nearly a year has passed since Tsol assumed leadership of his clan. The war has not gone well for Impiltur. Weakened by years of political corruption and the recent civil war with the demonic armies of the Fraternity of Tharos, the nation is still not powerful enough to resist invading armies of Vaasa. Faced off against overwhelming numbers and resources, only alliances formed with sympathetic neighboring countries and the fact that the enemy is fighting a two-front war has enabled Impilitur to hold out as long as it has. The heroes have pitched in where they can but even their abilities can go only so far to offset the numerical advantage of the enemy. In addition, Vaasa is led by an elite group of Warlock Knights known as the Ironfell Council. This sinister collection of villains use their own formidable abilities to work towards the domination of Impiltur. After the snows of winter melted, Vaasa was able to move up reinforcements and break through the stalemate at the Icehilt River. After breaking through, their armies razed the countryside. Lyrabar, New Sarshel, and the Gray Forest remain the last bastions of resistance in the nation and even these locations are surrounded and under siege. In addition, the enemy was able to secretly field a navy and blockade the coastal cities. The future looks grim for the nation of Impiltur.

Yet some hope remains. Childa Bennings with the help of Bahardim has finally been able to crack the code of Bitriarch’s journal. Inside the journal they find reference to a weapon so powerful that its owner feared to use it. Apparently the weapon could not be destroyed (having been made during the Age of Dreams) so Bitriarch was commissioned to come up with a way to lock the weapon away. The journal mentions that there are three wards that Bitriarch used to limit access to the weapon. The first ward is a portal on the Glacier of the White Worm which must be entered at the precise time using the Moonstaff of Skeyva. Childa now realizes that the information she and her father found in the ruins where they first found mention of Moonstaff was incomplete (the tablet they found was broken). They read the instructions as “When the moon is full, shine the light of its twin through the staff to open the portal.” They thought that the Moonstaff must be used during a full moon and that the light of the twin must mean moonlight (the light of the sun, the twin, reflected off of the moon). Thanks to the translation from the journal she now realizes that the correct instructions are, “When the moon is full of darkness, shine the light of its twin through the staff to open the portal.” She now believes that the Moonstaff must be used on the night of a new moon and that sunlight (produced through magical means) must be directed through the staff in order to open the portal. In addition, the staff must be placed in a specific niche in front of the portal. The length of the staff must be calculated according to a formula Bitriach provided using the alignment of the stars in the night sky. The problem is that Bithiarch’s formula was written before the Spellplague realigned the planets but Childa believes that she can compensate thanks to the Moon Elves considerable research in astronomy. The second ward mentioned in the journal is the White Queen herself as the portal leads directly to the ancient dragon’s lair. The party notes that since then, the White Queen has been overthrown by another ancient white dragon known as Moonshadow and that while he is said to lack her talent for strategy was able to defeat her because he was more physically powerful than her intelligence could overcome.The third ward is said to be a grand vault that Bitriarch plans on constructing in her lair but the journal ends before it goes into detail on the locking mechanism for the vault door. There is no detail on exactly what the weapon is or what it does. However with no better options, the heroes agree to go on a desperate mission to retrieve it. Fortunately the Star Sextant is able to be used to transport them past the enemy siege and directly to the glacier. In fact the Moon Elves are very excited because the planets are in what they call a “perfect alignment” which means that right now they can open a portal to nearly anywhere in the cosmos with no drain on the sextant’s power supply.

The adventurers step through the magical gate of the Star Sextant out into the chilling night air of the glacier. The party finds the niche in front of the portal and places the Moonstaff in it. Saying a swift prayer to his god, Alkorahil calls down the holy radiance of the sun, the light of knowledge, and shines it through crystal on the staff. The portal to Bitriarch’s vault opens and the party steps through. Instead of finding themselves in a dragon’s lair standing outside of a vault door, the adventurers find themselves somewhere else. The scene before them is one of sacrifice. A pretty-looking Frost Giant maiden is tied up to a stake on the precipice of a chasm. A grim vigil of Frost Giant warriors stands watch nearby. It is still night time and dark with no moon to light the night sky. A few well-placed torches light the area, dancing wildly off of the white snow and ice. Steep cliffs flank the chasm. Perhaps a hundred yards in the distance in the opposite direction from the chasm, a fortress is carved into the side of the mountain. The party can see many more Frost Giants manning the battlements of the fortress. As soon as the giants notice the heroes emerging from the portal they begin talking excitedly among themselves in giantish and attack. The maiden easily frees herself from the ropes tying her to the stake and begins casting elemental cold magic to attack the party. None of the party speaks giantish. Tsol drops the name Ijax but none of the giants seem to recognize it and they keep attacking. Alkorahil manages to use his telepathic powers to communicate with the largest of the Frost Giants. Apparently he is chieftain of the clan and it is his daughter that was intended to be tonight’s sacrifice. He thinks that the heroes would make suitable replacement sacrifices which is why the giants are trying to capture them. The conversation is cut short when Smoke kills the Ice Maiden by putting a crossbow bolt through her eye. This causes the chieftain to go berserk and the Frost Giants renew their attack on the party with more vigor. The heroes prevail but in the meantime the gates of the fortress have opened and a horde of more giants are running towards them – quickly covering the distance with their long strides. With the cliffs on both sides and the chasm behind them it looks like the adventurers have nowhere to escape to and will be overrun. However, Alkorahil goes into a kind of trance, moves to a snow drift piled up against one of the cliffs, and uses his flaming sword to melt/cut through the ice. Below it is a man-sized hole into the ground. Alkorahil steps into the hole and is whisked away down an ice slide leading deep into the ice of the glacier. The rest of the party follows him moments before they are attacked by the next wave of Frost Giants. Kriv’s Griffon-mount , Peter, is too large to fit down the hole so the ranger directs him to fly away to safety.
The adventurers find themselves in a series of tunnels that wind through the ice of the glacier. The tunnels are nearly perfectly spherical and wide enough for two people to walk abreast. The floor and ground are slick and difficult to walk on. Party-members that are versed in Dungeoneering and Nature can tell that the tunnels are not natural nor were they carved out using any mining technique. Knowing the lore of the Glacier of the White Worm (making the assumption that they are still at the Glacier of the White Worm) the heroes surmise that the tunnels might have been melted through the ice by the creatures known as Remorhazes. Indeed shortly thereafter, attracted to their vibrations and heat, two of the creatures attack the party. Tsol and Alkorahil realize that the Remorhaz that they encountered on their last trip to the glacier must have been a larva because these worms are much better armored and produce much more heat. During the fight, one of the beasts succeeds in swallowing Madrakkar but he calmly casts a spell that transforms him into pure elemental fire. The heat he produces is even more spicy that the worm can handle and it coughs the mage back up.

After the heroes defeat the monsters they follow the tunnels some more. Shortly thereafter they hear the sounds of mining from up ahead. Smoke scouts out the situation and discovers that just up ahead the ice tunnels connect with tunnels carved into the rock of the mountainside. The inside of the mountainous tunnels are studded with quartz which is being mined by humanoid creatures made up of animate ice. Smoke watches these creatures for a while and notes that their actions are very monotonous – they take no breaks nor seem to talk with each other. He also observes that after they have mined a pile of quartz crystals, the ice-creatures deposit them in barrels that are connected to some type of conveyance mechanism. The mechanism continually lifts the barrels full of crystals up into a chute while at the same time empty barrels connected to the same mechanism come back down the same chute. Smoke also spies Bitriarch’s mark imprinted onto the side of the mechanical contraption confirming that the party is still somewhere on the Glacier of the White Worm. He reports this back to the rest of the party. This causes several of them to question Alkorahil about how he knew where to find the entrance to the ice tunnels. It was awfully helpful that his knowledge enabled the party to evade the Frost Giants and then take them through a quick shortcut that put them right back on track for their quest. Alkorahil admits that during the fight he was visited by a vision of Szass Tam that only he could see and hear (most likely because he is undead). Szass Tam told Alkorahil where the slide was and ordered Alkorahil to enter it. Because Alkorahil was bound by a geas to the infamous necromancer he had no choice but to obey. His oath has now been fulfilled and he is free from his debt to the wizard. The heroes are suspicious of Szass’ motivations because he seems to be helping them but they decide that they really have no choice but to continue onward. Smoke produces several Potions of Mimicry that let the party assume the appearance of the ice-creatures and they are able to move past them without incident. The adventures climb in the barrels of the conveyance mechanism and ride them up. They climb off the device into a small laboratory. Based on the notebooks in the lab they deduce that this lab must have been Bitriach’s but it was more of a back-up retreat and not his main workshop. The adventurers search for any more information regarding the weapon or the vault but find none. They do discover that Bitriarch was fond of puzzles and games to “warm up his mind.” Madrakkar also finds a curious device – a flat, square slate that is divided up into square sections with gridlines. He can tell that the device is magical but is not active and its magic is tied to the next room.

The party exits through the lone door in the room. The next room is massive, made to seem even more so by the fact there doesn’t appear to be anything in it. The walls are made of rock and the room is cut in the shape of a perfect cube. The unadorned walls extend so high that no ceiling to the room can be seen in the dim lighting. Wind can be heard whistling through the upper reaches, perhaps indicating that the room is in a hollowed out portion of one of the mountain peaks. The only item of interest that the party can see is the floor. It consists of perfectly smooth and planed grey tiles that sparkle with crystalline insets – perhaps made of the quartz that was mined in the other room. Upon entering the room, the magical slate in Madrakkar’s hand lights up. A message is dwarvish magically scrolls across the top. Mads pulls out his magical spectacles of reading and translates. Apparently the room contains mines that will explode if anyone steps on them. The device will identify when it is moved close to a mine but only display how many mines it is close too – not their exact proximity or direction. The user must deduce where the mines are using deductive reasoning. The grid on the magical device corresponds with the grid structure of the tiles in the room. Only when all mines are marked on the slate will the door on the far side of the room open (the only other exit). Madrakkar, followed by the rest of the party, begins slowly walking around the room sweeping for mines using the device. About halfway through finding all of the mines in the room, the heroes are attacked by two Mavawhan demons (escapees from the demon civil war perhaps?). Hidden somewhere in the shadows up above, the creatures fly down to dive-bomb the heroes. Alkorahil is blown onto one of the mines by an arctic blast of wind conjured by one of the demons. Explosive shards of crystal shoot straight up from the mine into Alkorahil with rocket speed. His armor protects him but while struggling to regain his composure the other demon falls upon him, raking him with its nasty claws. At first, Alkorahil feels his blood start turning into sludge and then is further alarmed when his entire forearm starts turning to ice. Summoning all of his willpower he counteracts the effects of the wicked magic while his companions slay the demons. Afterwards the rest of the mines are found and the party exits into the next room.
The walls of the next room are made entirely of white quartz and the adventurers realize that they have made it to the famed Crystal Palace of the White Queen. This area of the glacier, that she supposedly walked in often why polymorphed into her human form, is rumored to be where she had most of her opulence and wealth upon display. Indeed, the room is filled with many masterfully crafted ice sculptures, worthy to be on display in any king’s castle. A low fog clings to the floor from the cold of the room. From somewhere underneath the sculptures a magical light shines upward onto them bringing out their brilliant colors. As the party investigates further, they see that many of the sculptures were made using different colors of water, making them even more beautiful. The adventurers note that each sculpture is signed somewhere “Lanaya Sweetwater”, the name of a famous elven sculptor that mysteriously disappeared over 300 years ago. The more streetwise of the party realize that any one of the statues could fetch a rich reward from the right art collector but the adventurers can’t think of a way to transport any of them. Finding nothing else of interest, they move on to the next room.

The next room the party enters is circular and full of mirrors of all shapes and sizes. A dome stretches overhead and is likewise crafted to reflect the images of everything below. Even the chrome floor is polished to a mirror shine. Tsol has a brief flashback of the fight at the Starlight Citadel before pressing onward. As the adventurers explore the room, they find that each mirror is magical and reflects alternate visions of whoever looks into it. One mirror shows Tsol younger versions of himself – as he looked as a baby, a child, and a young man. Another mirror allows Alkorahil to reflect on his greatest failures. Smoke is fascinated by another mirror that shows what he would look like as a female version of himself. As the party explores they find mirrors that show older versions of themselves, fatter versions, and futuristic-looking versions. They see what they would look like as a member of a different race, as a champion of nature, or surround by riches. As Tsol and Barkus pass in front of mirrors that are on opposite sides of the room from one another, there is a brief flash of light from the mirrors and then evil-looking versions of the heroes are found standing in their places. As the dark heroes spring into action to attack, the rest of the party can see the good versions of their allies trapped in the mirrors that they were standing in front of. Indeed Tsol and Barkus find themselves standing in what looks exactly like the same room of mirrors except it is empty of their allies and they can see their allies in the mirror fighting the evil versions of themselves. Then they lose sight of the battle as the mirror begins displaying images of what life was like for their doubles in this dark reflection of their world. Tsol sees visions of himself never escaping the gladiator pits of Thay, being killed then reanimated as a powerful undead mockery of himself, and forced to serve a powerful red-robed lich. Barkus sees visions where he did not resist the effects of Malrite’s ritual, trained in martial arts with the corrupted monks at the Monastery of the Yellow Rose, returned to Nall to capture the villagers, and brought them all before Malrite. Drawing upon his discipline, Barkus meditates upon the situation for a moment. Indeed he can imagine what his life would have been like had he fallen under Malrite’s influence – it is a thought that his kept him awake during many nights already. In so sympathizing with his double, he suddenly finds himself trading places and back on his own world among his allies. Trapped in his own dark realm, in typical Minotaur fashion, Tsol starts hacking away at the mirror with his axe. He strikes it several mighty blows but the magical mirror only slightly cracks under the assault. Meanwhile, the rest of the heroes turn their combined abilities onto Dark Tsol and slay him. with his duplicate gone, the mirror clears up and Tsol finds that he can now step though it and return to his own world. Shortly after that the party discovers a mirror bearing Bitriarch’s mark. When they look into the mirror they can that behind them in the reflection is a giant vault door. Touching the mirror, they find themselves teleported to the outside of Birtiarch’s Vault. DM’s note: The White Queen placed only one “Mirror Darkly” trap in her hall of mirrors but directly opposite was a Mirror of Replication. Normally a Mirror of Replication can’t copy magic items but after hundreds of years with no use it copied the only thing that it could see – the Mirror Darkly.

Looking around, the adventurers find that Bitrirarch’s journal was accurate – the vault is most definitely in what would be described as an ancient white dragon’s lair. Fortunately for them, nobody appears to be home at the moment but they can see signs of recent use. The lair is in a frost-covered cave. The floor is slick with ice and dotted with stalagmites of large ice crystals. Icicles adorn the high ceiling. Masterfully crafted stairs of dwarven-make wind their way up one of the walls. Climbing them the party finds a large exit to the outside world. The cave is embedded into one of the largest peaks on the glacier. Completely unclimbable the only access appears to be by air. The exit is so cleverly constructed to blend in with the glacier that only the most keen of eyes would notice that it was there. Descending back down to the lair, the party finds the dragon’s loot and helps themselves to it. They then return their attention to opening the vault.
The vault door is constructed of solid metal carved into solid rock. Madrakkar can detect power runes of protection on the vault and knows instantly that no spell of his will be able to penetrate it. Above the vault are two large clocks that bear Birtiarch’s mark. They are expertly constructed, still running accurately after over 300 years, and still in perfect time with one another. One of the clocks appears to me a mirror reflection of the other. In between them is an inscription in dwarvish that reads, “I run all day but never tire.” The obvious answer to the riddle being time (because of the clocks), but the heroes also figure out that perhaps it could be a reference to a river or water. The reference to water stirs Madrakkar’s memories of his studies of alchemy at the university especially of an advanced class he took called “atom-ics”. Explaining the concept to the rest of the heroes they realize that the element of water is composed of one Oxygen (O) atom and two Hydrogen (H) atoms. Excitedly the party realizes that the clocks on the wall rotate and if twisted correctly that the roman numeral one’s look like "H"’s. Madrakkar using is genius-level intellect recalls that Oxygen “the O” has 8 of what are called protons and 8 electrons- 2 on an inner ring and 6 on an outer ring. Hydrogen has 1 proton and 1 electron. The adventurers deduce that the “11” on the clocks corresponds to this concept because it has one black dot on it and one red dot on it. The party sets the dial on the inner ring of the vault to “2”, the dial on the outer ring of the vault to “6”, turns the left clock 90 degrees clockwise, and turns the right clock 90 degrees counter-clockwise (so that both clocks show “H” and that the “11’s” are pointed towards the “O”). Smoke with his expert safe-cracking abilities realizes that they are onto something because he can hear the tumblers falling into place but the vault still will not open. Realizing what it is he points out that it is not yet 11 o’clock and that the part will have to wait until the clocks read that time before the vault will open. Uncomfortable with waiting around in a dragon’s lair but unwilling to abandon their quest, the heroes settle down in a nervous vigil to wait for the vault to open.

Shortly after dawn, the heroes are wracked with a wave of dragonfear that immediately precedes the ancient dragon Moonshadow returning to his lair. Momentarily held in awe by the creature’s size and majesty, before anyone can even move, the beast unleashes a magical attack that traps Alkorahil in a block of ice. The attack spurs the rest of the party into action. Something about the dragon (other than its massive power and size) is bugging Kriv and Madrakkar. Madrakkar’s eyes widened in alarm when he suddenly realizes what it is. The shape of the fins and the curvature of the horns are off for a white dragon. Mads is sure that Moonshadow is a half-breed between a white dragon AND a black dragon. He shouts a warning to the rest of the party and his suspicious are confirmed moments later when the dragon unleashes its breath weapon. The heroes that are caught in the blast are subjected to the agonizing pain of frost burn from the cold of the attack and then feel a burning sensation again when the frost from breath weapon melts into acidic droplets. Summoning their courage, the heroes fight back. Madrakkar is able to shield has allies at least partially from the effects of the dragon’s magical cold using his Mass Resist spell. He blasts the dragon with a fireball straight to one of its claws that catches it on fire and causes Moonshadow to roar with pain. Tsol lands a series of vicious strikes that open up several large wounds in the dragon’s hide and damages the dragon’s other claw. Barkus and Smoke pitch in and the combined efforts of the heroes leaves the mighty dragon in a blinded and dazed heap on the ground. Moonshadow throws a small tantrum, thrashing about wildly in pain and anger. He says, “Curse her! Curse the voice! When I first came here her voice was my sweet lullaby. Then nothing for so long. Finally she speaks to me again and tells me why not go out tonight and enjoy the sweet meat of a tender sacrifice. Then I find my sacrifice ruined and return here to find adventurers in my lair. She tricked me! But I’ll show her! Are you afraid of the dark manlings?” With that the dragon summons his magic and cloaks himself in a sphere of absolute darkness. The attacks of the heroes falters. Caught within the sphere and blinded by the magical darkness, Tsol falls as the dragon rips into him with one powerful attack after another. Hearing the sounds of his ally being ripped to pieces, Madrakkar desperately tries to dispel the darkness but he is not able to overcome the magic of the ancient dragon. From up above the party hears a “SCREEE” as Kriv’s Griffon Peter (who bravely followed the dragon back to its lair) flies in from above and joins the fight. Emboldened by the return of his mount, Kriv bravely enters the aura of night and tries to battle the dragon or at least drive it away from Tsol but he too is slain by the dragon’s unrelenting attacks. Alkorahil finally manages to free himself from his prison of ice. Madrakkar calls out that someone must disrupt the dragon’s concentration to cause it to drop the spell or all is lost. Courageously Smoke leaves his hiding place and enters the sphere of darkness. With his drow senses he is much more able to deal with the lack of visibility than the rest of his allies. Although his fingers are numb with cold, Smoke is able to bull’s-eye Moonshadow with a shot the face from his crossbow which momentarily stuns the dragon. Moonshadow’s shield of darkness fails and the heroes renew their attacks. Shortly thereafter Barkus strikes the killing blow on the beast as it bleeds out from its multitude of wounds. The heroes inspect the bodies of Tsol and Kriv and find that they have both perished in the fighting. Peter sadly nudges his master’s hand. Suddenly Alkorahil’s sword, Dark Phoenix, begins to glow with pure radiant light. The entire party can hear its voice in their heads. “I sense that great events are unfolding that will impact the lives of many people. As the former angel of the god of life I may yet be able to the rebirth the souls of those that died so valiantly in service of those lives.” The entire group momentarily sees a large phoenix manifest standing above the bodies of the slain. Kriv and Tsol only know that it is cold, very cold where they were and then they are warm. They sit up as life returns to their bodies and their wounds heal. The light of the sword dims. Alkorahil hears the voice of Dark Phoenix in his head. In a weak and tired voice it tells him that it can never do anything like that again.

Finally at 11AM the door to Bitriarch’s Vault opens. Inside is a large device that vaguely reminds the party of the Start Sextant, due to its size, mechanical nature, and cosmic theme. Madrakkar sense right away that massive magical power running through the device. Miniature representations of the sun, the planet, and the moon can clearly be identified as part of the device’s mechanism and the adventurers note that the moon appears to be in the correct position relative to current events (new moon). The device lays inanimate and the party can see no clear way to turn it on or operate it.
The adventurers investigate the rest of the vault and find that the only other contents are some tapestries lining the walls. The scenes woven into all but one the tapestries all seem to show a common theme – the union of the sun and the moon.
The last tapestry while it does contain images of the sun and the moon seems to depict some central angelic figure. Other creatures in the picture seem to be connected by images of the sun and the moon and then reach out to touch the central figure. Above the figure, planets seem to swirl together in a circle of energy and below the figure several animals seem to watch the angel intently. There is a sudden thrum of energy that the heroes can feel all the way to their bones. The device starts to slowly move and then begins to pick up speed. As the device moves so too do the pictures in the tapestries – seeming to gain speed to their movements at the same rate as the device. Caught at ground zero of a powerful magical effect, all of the heroes black out from the release of magical energy. Just before they black out they think that they can hear the sound of laughter.
The heroes are awoken by Childa’s voice coming through the sending stone asking if they are there. Apparently something miraculous has happened. Inexplicably the moon has moved in front of the sun to form a full solar eclipse. The party stands up to look around and comprehension dawns as they look at the device. Sure enough, the position of the moon on the device has moved to a position that would cause a full solar eclipse in the area. Apparently the weapon has the power to move the orbit of the moon and turn day into night! Alkorahil runs outside the vault and checks the clocks. He sees that the party has been unconscious for about an hour as it is now noon. Patono excitedly breaks into the conversation speaking to the party through the sending stone. The eclipse will allow the elves to use the Star Sextant during the day for as long as the eclipse lasts. Also because of the optimal alignment of the stars right now the elves can open a portal to anywhere that they want. They plan to take advantage of this situation to reposition their forces and launch surprise attacks on strategic enemy positions. Apparently Narijo Coalhand, Vindicator of Strategy for the Ironfell Council, realized the same thing and immediatley ordered his army to assault New Sarshel. Alkorahil reminds everyone of the vision of the future that he saw in the time lab. The battle for New Sarshel and the fate of Impiltur has begun! Patono uses the Star Sextant to open a portal to the party’s location so that they can return to Gray Forest and then be redeployed to battle. The heroes step through the familiar portal generated by the Star Sextant and arrive somewhere unexpected…

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