*This is the DM’s account of the events taking place between the seventeenth and eighteenth sessions.
Afternoon of 1st Forever Sky through afternoon of 5th Forever Sky
As the light, fluffy, flakes of snow slowing start falling, the party decides to leave Tempest Mi. It’s late in the morning by the time you pay the stablemaster for the horses and saddle up. From the looks you receive from the local folk it’s probably not a minute to soon. The glancing looks over their shoulders, the quite whispers, the staring at you from across the street, it’s all starting to unnerve you. Not that you have done anything wrong but just the fact that you being watched because some of you are — different. Sure you could confront them but it isn’t worth the time it would take to explain to the city guards what happened, and even then you’re not sure exactly what the outcome might be. Sure a day or two in jail normally might not matter but you would rather not lose those days because of peoples predigests. It’s just best to pay for the supplies you need and move on, hopefully to be forgotten and left alone.
The funniest thing about this situation is that you are trying to save their worthless lives and save their way of living for future generations but yet they look upon you as an outcast, a beggar, or something to be brushed into the city sewers. All of the blood, the sweat, the sacrifice that you have made so far in your journey, and to be looked upon by the locals as nothing more than a vagrant makes you question your place in this world. A world that has suddenly gone mad with the possibilities of war, a war between the races, a war between the gods, or even a war between men. If you could just yell those possibilities in the faces of the men that stand before you questioning your loyalties, then maybe they would treat you as you rightfully deserve.
But to sit down and explain things to people, to explain the horrors that you have seen, to explain the evil that you have faced, to explain the complex details of their pitiful lives coming to an end because you didn’t complete your mission – takes time. Time which you don’t have at the moment. What you do know is that you are at least a day or two behind your enemy, and more likely four or five days. Days you can’t spend talking to the citizens or sitting in jail because of something stupid. Time which you can’t take to get them to understand that the next time you arrive in their town you should be treated as a hero not as an outsider.
These are all things you think about as the solid wooden doors to the entrance to Tempest Mi close behind you with a thud. Ahead of you lies an ever growing expanse of ice and snow, the likes of which you have not seen before. The thin covering of clouds slightly hides the brightness of the sun as it starts its assent in the sky and allows the new days arrival of snow to fall all around you. This snowy blanket prevents you from seeing far off into the horizon, which might be a good thing in the long run since you know the length of the journey you have before you reach Farstone.
After traveling for several hours you quickly realize that this place could be a deathtrap for those not prepared or caught without the proper equipment. The wind quickens it pace across the flat tundra and burns into your exposed skin like a knife. Although it’s late spring the weather has yet to change for the better as far north as you are, and hardly a sight can be seen that anything has started its yearly plum. Whatever road or path might be present is covered by layers of ice from the long winter and you’re sure that you have veered from that many miles ago.
As night falls you camp in a bundle of trees, not only to get out of the whipping wind but for your needs to supply a fire with kindle. As usual you spend the time to magically hide the light of the fire, as exposed as you are in these plains it could be seen for miles. Nightly watches are secured and camp setup towards the opening of the trees. Luckily, the gods watch over you, after sundown a large deer-like creature stumbles towards your thicket of trees, probably trying to secure some warmth from the blistering wind. It is quickly ambushed and killed, which will sustain your food needs for several days. Studying the animal, you see budding horns and a thick, grayish, winter coat as its large black eyes stare into the frozen blackness of the night. You remember hearing stories of such creatures, creatures of the north, creatures that are similar to others — yet different. Different because of where they live and the environment they live within. Thinking about it you remember that this creature is called an elk, almost like a deer but different. At least you think it’s called an elk.
The next morning you start to think about the events that unfolded last night, you’re starting to wonder about what you might encounter along your path that might be very different in this frozen place. As you pack up your supplies for your journey you see a lot of stuff that you have never needed before, indeed the supplies that you had just three days ago where totally different than those that lay before you now. You are most likely going to see and experience events, people and creatures that will be as different as the supplies that are needed for this place. As you think about it you’re sure that any people you meet will most likely have different traditions, different outlooks, and different feelings about things than those from Duntroon. Of course they would, they have been treated to a completely different environment and therefore they would have changed, just like the elk changed from the deer.
As you travel throughout the day you think about all of the things that could be different, but you also realize that no matter where you go there will be things that are the same as well— good and evil and their various shades. You weren’t able to find out much about Farstone before you left; a single building in the middle of nowhere, presumably for miners that have traveled to the mountains in search of diamonds. More than likely, commoner without many skills and even less arcane abilities, assuming that the cultist didn’t kill them all off under the direction of Botlashanin –whoever or whatever that might be. Surely, the kingdom would have some kind of guards in this place, at least to keep the peace –right. Really as far north as this, in the middle of nowhere, and if so, which kingdom? And even if a kingdom did send guards, it would probably be old men or young boys on a detail like this. You know in your heart that these cultists have a desperate mission, and if need be, wouldn’t give a second thought about destroying Farstone and everyone within it. Thoughts like this make you quicken your pace, even faster than before.
The next day and a half goes by with nothing but conversations about the events before you and the direction that should be taken to stop the evil plans. Time is spent reviewing the information that you have learned and trying to put all of the pieces of the puzzle together. The sun has finally peeked itself out from behind the clouds to glisten the snow all around you when you see off in the far distance the tops of the mountains. The Reach, as these mountains are known, get their name because of the immense size and scope of this range. Even from the far distance you gaze upon them you can see the white tipped peaks breaking through the blue of the horizon, even the clouds bow before their greatness. Although it will be at least another day before you arrive at their base the sight of them strengthens your resolve. You study the map that you found in the belly of the undead beast and realize that you must travel to the most northern point of these mountains and after a quick glance around you head off in that general direction.
The next day as you approach the mountains, you are enlightened not to see any smoke billowing up on the horizon; this would most surely be a sign of Farstone’s demise. As you make your way across the frozen tundra throughout the day the mountains start to loom larger and larger before you. Suddenly off to the northeast you make out the faint outline of a tower rising into the sky, north of the last huge peak of the impenetrable wall of mountains. This tower sits atop a hilly rise with a steep cliff face on its sides; whoever built it at least had the sense to put it in a very defensible position. Later in the afternoon you are close enough to see that this tower is in itself massive in size, raising a hundred or more feet into the air. It only looks tiny compared to the earthly mass you have seen for the last several days and only when you approach closer do you realize the towers true size. It appears to be square in shape and made from a dark stone, although the stone could just be weathered instead. At the very top you see a dark red wooden structure; most assuredly a lookout platform. It’s not hard to comprehend the fact that if anyone is stationed at the top your arrival surely hasn’t gone unnoticed.
As the next two hours go by, you approach even closer to the immense tower. During this time you have noticed the comings and goings of several birds from the tower pinnacle. You assume they are working with whoever is inside – probably as some kind of scouts. Maybe this place isn’t totally defenseless after all and maybe they actually know what they are doing. After the long journey of the day you get to the base of the hill knowing that only one last steep uphill walk is all that is left to perform and you urge your mounts towards completing this last part of the trip.
Within the hour your mounts have ascended up the sloped pathway to the base of the tower. As you crest over the steep hill to a somewhat flat plateau you see the tower stands not alone. The base of this tower rises up from within a huge stone building. Probably a hundred and fifty feet on a side, this one story building completely surrounds the base of the tower which seems to rise right out of the center of this structure. On the top of this building you see the weathered remains of many familiar flags. Almost like a coronation of disorganization they are strung up in various ways without any purpose or design, yet this sight fills you feel pride. These flags, almost diffidently, flap in the wind —almost like they are straining to show you their splendor and designs. And in this moment, in the frozen tundra of the northern end of the world, there is immense beauty from the simplest of things…