Summary: The heroes must travel to the Glacier of the White Worm to remove the effects from a cursed axe. Along the way, they uncover a plot by the demon-cult – the Fraternity of Tharos.
Takes place 4th-9th of Ches (The Claw of Sunsets) in the year 1478DR (The Year of the Dark Circle)
Everyone learned that Urlog’s face had started melting and it caused quite a stir. The old sage, Festus Adamas, was able to diagnose the cause. The ice axe that Urlog had been wielding had cursed him. Some research revealed that the axe was one of the legendary weapons forged long ago for the armies of Skeyva the White Queen. The axe had originally been capable of manifesting power of both cold and fire. The weapon’s magic had somehow gotten out of balance and attuned itself (and its wielder) solely to cold. Urlog had not noticed the effects until the unseasonably warm spring weather had blown in and started melting the axe (and himself). Festus theorized that the curse could be lifted by plunging the axe into the same substance that was used to forge it – the fiery blood of a Remorhaz. These gigantic creatures were capable of generating intense internal heat which they used to burrow through the ice and rock of their artic homes. The nearby Glacier of the White Worm was named for the white remorhazes that roamed it. Festus recommended that the party set out for Fort Frostbite which was stood on the mountainside guarding the glacier and was garrisoned by Adamas soldiers. From there, they could use the Fort as a base of operations while they hunted the glacier for a white worm.
Back in the cold of the mountainside, Urlog’s face felt better. The heroes arrived at Fort Frostbite and found it to be overrun by orcs. The orcs were busy burning human bodies in the courtyard. After defeating the invaders, the party explored the Fort. They discovered that some recent catastrophe had befallen the Fort, and it did not look like the work of the orcs. Everywhere they explored, they found signs of the Fort’s occupants going mad and killing one another. The heroes found one particularly grisly scene: “The blood of six corpses stains the floor of this chamber. Two knights apparently transfixed each other’s hearts with their long swords. A third knight sprawls, his temple sprouting the dagger of a serving woman collapsed atop him, her head crushed by a length of wood. A fourth knight has crumpled behind her, his face choked black and eyes agog. Finally, a great sword pins a lady in fine dress and fur cloak to the floor, each of her hands wrapped around the throat of an infant in swaddling clothes.” Undead ghosts, freshly created from the violence of the act, materialized and attacked the heroes. Afterwards, the party discovered Carnivak’s Black Bag, an artifact that contained the spirit of the dead necromancer of the same name. Carnivak had fancied himself “an artist of death” and the bag was drawn to the carnage. The bag also liked Urlog’s habit of chopping off the body parts from slain opponents and attached itself to him.
Eventually, the group found the Fort’s lone survivor buried under some rubble. He explained that dwarven merchants had arrived a few days ago and had been admitted to the fort to conduct trade. That night, he awoke to the general alarm. When he investigated he found purple clouds of smoke drifting through the air. Whenever the smoke touched someone, that person would froth at the mouth and start attacking his comrades. If none were present, the person would tear at their own flesh until they lay dead. Somehow, the dwarves moved through the gas unaffected and killed any that did not succumb to its influence.
The heroes had not passed anyone on the mountain path leading to the fort, so they assumed the dwarves must have moved out onto the glacier. The player’s suspicions were confirmed when they caught up with them a few days later. The dwarves were holed up in a perfectly-square keep formed by magic. Inside, the heroes rescued the dwarven scholar, Childa Bennings, who along with her father Norbert had been abducted at the Fort. She explained that they had excavated some ruins close to here. She believed that they had found the portal to Bitriarch’s Vault. The vault was supposedly built hundreds of years ago by the famous dwarven engineer Bitriarch, who was a slave of the White Queen. The vault was said to house a weapon so fearsome that even the White Queen feared to use it. In order to open the portal to the vault, the Moonstaff of Skeyva was required to be held before it on the night of a full moon. Her father had written to an associate scholar who owned the headpiece of the staff and requested that the item be delivered to him at the fort. Her abductors had arrived with headpiece. The previous night, they had forced her father to go with them on an expedition through the portal. The remaining dwarves were holding her and the Moonstaff here in case the first party failed to return. Childa knew little about her captors, but a few rooms later the party found some journals that explained more. The first journal belonged to Count Bereg Loroth. In the journal, he revealed that the dwarves were members of the Fraternity of Tharos – a notorious cult of demon-worshipers that were currently infesting Impiltur. The book went on to explain that the purpose of their mission was two-fold. First, they were to field-test the cult’s new “mindfilth” weapon on their rival’s (Count Adamas) soldiers at the fort. Secondly, they were to try to enter Bitriarch’s Vault and retrieve the weapon stored there. The journal went on at length about the incompetence of the expedition’s leader, “Lord” Ablair the corrupter. Bereg was apparently furious about being ordered to lead the first expedition through the portal. The second journal belonged to Rhombik Loroth. The book revealed Rhombik was the son of Count Bereg Loroth. Brilliant but twisted, the notes in his journal detailed the bizarre experiments performed by Rhombik. He was apparently the one that developed the runes to contain the demonic essence distilled in the mindfilth weapon. Bahardim was able to use the journal to reverse-engineer a Mindshell Rune to protect against the effects of the gas. While the group examined the journals, a tipsy Urlog forgot his face was still melted from the curse and tried to romance Childa. Appalled, she turned to Bahardim for solace.
The heroes finally found and confronted Ablair and his dwarven “throne guard.” He was armed with a “filthspewer” weapon which fired the mindfilth poison at the party. During the fight, he ranted about how Bahardim had betrayed him and promised to do some very nasty things to his “girlfriend” (Childa). The heroes won the fight, but as a parting shot Ablair activated a rune which un-summoned the entire keep. The heroes scrambled out of the area as the layers of ice that had collected on the outside of the keep came crashing down upon them and burst open the remaining casks of mindfilth poison in a spectacular eruption.
The disturbance had drawn the attention of a nearby white worm. It emerged through the ice and attacked the party. The heroes managed to slay the beast. Afterwards, Urlog bathed the weapon in the remorhaz-blood which removed the curse and unlocked its full power as the Frostfire Axe.
Meanwhile, the ruckus had attracted the notice of the ancient, white dragon, Moonshadow. From the horizon, he let out a great roar and began descending towards to party. The group began running towards the portal dragging Alkorahil (who insisted he could defeat the dragon) along with them. With Moonshadow closing in fast, they used the Moonstaff to activate the portal and retreated inside.
Moonshadow the ancient White Dragon