From a Distance
The tower seemed simply surrounded by trees and far away, but as the party broke into the clearing they found the third tower to be in incredible disrepair. It was using friction to keep from falling into what was once a sea cavern below, now a massive salty grotto. Within the group learned of the giant predilection to treat people on the surface as creatures of dream, essentially not real, and only to be respected in terms of another stone giant’s property. They found various overlarge spyglasses in varying states of disrepair and a lift that rocketed the majority of them to the top of the tower. A few nearly died, the lifts were not made for the diminutive weight of humanoids. It was worth it however, the party was able to glimpse many things, including a tourism map and in the distance what seemed to be another island behind the shores of Alvo, previously unknown and as yet still unexplored. Using pieces of a few giant spyglasses they then slid down the side of the tower to get back to the bottom and avoid the extreme shaking manner of the lift. Back at the bottom they realized they were able to access a basement of sorts, a hatch that lead to a disabled lift hanging out from the bottom. On it was the body of what they would learn was a Sea Elf, or Merfolk, a young man named Hikara.
was perhaps the most interesting find in the tower. After he was healed and given time to gather himself, there was much he was able to tell the party, haltingly, in broken elvish. He was from Tria, a City-State under the ocean. There, they had no anti-dragon barrier. They were under the thumb of Imperious Envious III—a dragon. Frigidine the Ice Queen was not the only one, and this Imperious had green scales and had breath like poison. Were there other dragons, other cities?
There Would Be Time
later for any further details, as the party came upon the northern jungles, and many pairs of yellow eyes. They had learned that Alvo was likely where Displacer Beasts lived, and it seemed that they would be able to verify such claims and hopefully find the pet that was declared missing on the bounty boards back home. As they entered the wooded region, they did eventually come across the creatures as well as Lady Moxia, a gaudy pink ribbon around her neck. A meek attempt at fighting her and her cohorts lead the group to decide that she wasn’t worth the trouble. They took her ribbon, having fallen off when she was struck by Kaho’s magic, and continued toward the northwestern tower that had been frozen shut by Frigidine.
the tower would be harder to approach than just the ice that surrounded it. In a full circumference around it was a gorge of stone skewers. With them were the wooden posts that denoted where a suspension bridge would have been once. But as the party contemplated what they should do next, they were approached by a gold-furred canine, arcane etchings like tattoos on its skin. It barked at them, blinking from one spot to the next. When the attempt to pet it was made it seemed to back off, but always turned to face them and bark. It wanted them to follow.
The Flumph in the Cave
was an unexpected turn of events. It was strange in appearance, stranger than anything any of them had seen, but it was also badly wounded, possibly on the verge of death. It was given potion fruit and Mele’one ministrated her tribal medicine to patch up the terrible wound, and the effort did not go unrewarded. The Flumph was alive, well enough to float, as it did, and speak into the minds of the party, as it also did. It had wandered away from the safety of its home, fearful of creatures below that were invasive and powerful. But it was a dutiful Flumph, and wished to show the party an underground entrance to the tower if they so wished for the knowledge.
The Way Down
was dark and strange the path littered with strangely shaped boulders and stones, a number of them with old broken weapons nearby. Eventually they were lead along the precipice of a great gorge. Off in the distance they were able to make out lights on a bridge of natural stone that connected to a cylinder of stone not unlike the make of the tower. Within that light, five figures, one of them in heavy black iron armor with a skull enveloped in flame for its head. On its back was a massive fullblade that in elvish read “Liberation”. The party realized that contending with this group was inevitable.
The Disposition of Blink Dogs
could easily be compared to that of a righteous paladin, believing in a fair even fight even if it meant their own death. So, even if the adventurers had wanted to try and sneak up on the menagerie of undead that now clearly stood ahead of them, the Blink Dog that the Flumph had told them did not mind being known as Fishbiter or a Dragonborn name that only Mele’one used, was going to change that plan. It was discovered that the one at the center, with his burning skull, was Geist, a name that appeared on a list of those who were on the original council of Un alongside Strahd von Zarovich. Long life, or unlife in this case, seemed to be part and parcel with the title, yet while Strahd languished within the city, here was one of his allies deep in the earth. The Wights that stood with him did not like the appearance of the group, demanding their death. Geist allowed one to stay behind, to test their mettle as combatants.
It Would Not Be So Simple
as that of course. While Geist and the other three backed away into black portals and left the single Wight, he was not so alone. He summoned to him a squad of undead lizardmen, looking freshly killed no more than some days ago. They populated the dangerous stone bridge leading up to the Wight and he stood in the back taking shots at the party with his crossbow. But a judicious use of sword and sorcery fell the undead minions, and the final blow was struck by Mele’one and the purifying moonfire she could summon even in what Altonlochar called the Underdark. The Wight’s name was Sigmund.
It Took an Elvish Hand
to open the doors at the end of the bridge, leaving Francesca the only one who could complete the task. A strange thing considering the construction was not itself of Elf design. But it nevertheless allowed the party ingress, and after that, there was nowhere to go but up.
Never Was there a Winter
on the island that the Wallbound and Dragonborn alike called home, though they had to suffer the occasional ice shower from Frigidine. Here, inside the tower that was covered in her ice it was absolutely frigid. This did not however distract from the interesting scene that spread out before them. A stellar map of the Whirl and its orbiting bodies, the great entrance emblazoned with the ashes of a dragon, a burning, familiar rune in a great glass egg upheld by an ancient dragon skull, and all of it wrapped in a staircase that spiraled upward into the next floor.
The Sum of All Effort
was to unlock the secrets in this frigid place. The party would split up shortly as they finally found the other missing person, Councilwoman Clover Eredhes. Sour and Imperious, she seemed to have a history with Westree’s family and the Half-Orc would sooner have died of frostbite in that tower than lift a hand to help her. Kaho joined him, feeling belittled by the woman’s dismissive attitude. Mele’one alternatively wished to understand more about the fire opal that held the rune that caused fire. Amidst all of this, Clover wasn’t even corporeal. On the second floor she was suspended in a giant bottle, in a fluid that apparently kept her mortal body alive and was protected by a nefarious neck-snapping trap that the party managed to evade, only to find themselves surrounded by deranged spirits. They were once also preserved in the bottle Clover was in, and hundreds of years of separation from their eradicated bodies while haunting the tower that was the site of the murder of countless of their kind left them with only so much control. It was at least enough to allow the party to solve a quick puzzle to unlock the lifts in the room. But which lead where? On a whim they selected the correct one that took them to the top of the tower.
back at the bottom of the tower, Mele’one was playing with the devices that littered the room as Westree toppled boulders that they learned were the ancient corpses of stone giants. The stellar map looked like it could be activated, a few exposed gears sticking out of its base, and it looked as if there was a siphoning device attached to the glass egg that surrounded the Ild Rune. It seemed to be mostly deactivated, likely the power source of things like the map. Mele’one had learned however that by drawing the rune in this place would cause the fire opal to face it and strike that surface with a ray of fire. Eventually, she used this new feature to melt the stone doors until all that was left was the draconic ice that held the tower. In its current form, the Ild rune was not powerful enough to melt that.
Around Them Were Giants
or more specifically the statues of themselves the stone giants created. Four of them held a ceiling up over the top of the tower, wind whipping through the open area. A single set of stairs slipped around to the top of this ceiling, whereupon sat a grand telescope. A plaque on the dragon skull had mentioned that for the Ild to awaken it must gaze upon itself. The Wallborn name for the sun was Ild strangely. In spite of this serendipity the two at the top simply used it to their advantage, using cranks and gears to align the telescope with the sun.
Winter Made Way
for the warmth that thrummed forth from the Ild rune. The glass egg filled with fire, and melted away the dragon’s ice, freeing those that inhabited the tower. As Francesca and Hayes made their way back down, Clover had convinced the others that there was no point in staying on the first floor, which very nearly got Kaho killed, not perceptive enough to evade the neck-snapper that had never been properly disabled. That was left to Mele’one who spied the trap’s gearbox, breaking it with a sling. There was one last task: Get Clover out of the jar. The spirits had begun to lose control and attacked the party, also nearly killing Kaho. They seemed trapped with the statues of elves in that room, as the party escaping to the first floor was enough to exit the radius of their ghostly wrath.
There Were Complications
to their discovery. The Ild Rune was powered and they had a potential weapon to fight Frigidine, but they could get nowhere near it. It had to be activated if they were to leave with it, but they didn’t have the final piece of the puzzle. In the meantime, the solution that had covered Clover was removed and her spirit restored. She was a whole person again, it looked like there was one bounty that would be turned in successfully. Then, as the party mused on how to handle the rune, a voice floated in, serpentine and unfamiliar.
Ssezerak, Friend of the Softmans
was the owner of the voice, a Lizardfolk hunter with a pack behind him. He suggested that the dragon’s breath could quell the Ild rune long enough that it could be taken away. Frigidine was as much a threat to him and his people, he wanted to see her taken from the sky, and so offered to watch after the tower so that the party might leave and return with that which they needed to abscond with the rune. Though the likes of Hayes had misgivings as to the motivations of these creatures, none could come to any other conclusion. If nothing else, they would know who to look for first if the rune was gone when they returned. With that however, the drow’s time with them was over. He had assisted in a few ways and certainly stayed until they found what they were looking for, and as he had said, he’d found what he wanted already. Duty fulfilled, he took out a brass doorknob, inserted it into nothing, and walked through the door that created.
Night Approached Again
leaving the party to their second night on the island. They sought out the quiet cave they’d tended to the Flumph in as a fairly safe and dry spot to start camp. Some foraging was done, food was made by Francesca with surprising expertise, and Mele’one met a quiet dryad as most of the others turned in for the night. The Dryad, Sprigg, was saved by the old High Druid who sacrificed her arm so that Sprigg would have a tree for her spirit to inhabit. She spoke kindly to Mele’one and of that which she owed the druid. She asked the young Dragonborn of herself and listened with intent, then presented her with gauntlets made of what seemed to be a lacquered wood but were as pliable as animal skin. Then Sprigg gave Mele’one her final gift, a message about the future from the High Druid, something told to the Dryad to make sure it would only be spoken at the right time. She then set upon Mele’one with a single piece of fruit, and told her to give it to the old druid. “She’ll know what it means.” Then, as the conversation was over, Mele’one left, surprised to discover that Francesca was waiting with a plate for her as well.
Rising With the Sun
made sure that there would be ample time to march across the island and return to the ship. They were able to avoid the Displacer Forest, but by going through the center of the island the party instead found the graveyard that the southwestern tower had spoken of. There they were able to see exhumed caskets and old corpses that seemed badly mutated, sitting in line with what they knew of Alvo’s history. But then peeled through the air a roar of ten thousand voices. The “Rage of the Giants” that they’d been warned about. An effluvial mess of giant flesh that bubbled and popped with countless sharp mouths all over it. Kaho took one look at the beast and ran. The whole party followed after him.
It Was Unstoppable
Whole trees were thrown at it, ice and dozens of animals all smashed in its wake. Outrunning it seemed simply impossible. Where their successes lay seemed in spells, but it wasn’t enough. The corrupt giant corpse seemed implacable. They could see the beach, the ship waiting for them, and like that the earth beneath their feet began to overturn, uprooted by giant hands ready to smash them asunder. But then the unthinkable happened, Frigidine herself swooped in, incensed by the appearance of the giant, grabbing it in her jaws before landing. The party was saved by the Ice Queen, of all things. As they made their mad dash for freedom she breathed a gout of ice that solidified the corrupt body in totality, then smashed it in half with her jaws. She did not stop there however. As the ship began to feverishly set sail she ran up to the shoreline, freezing the ice and whipping it with her massive tail, sending volleys of it toward the ship. Miraculously, only two sailors died that day.
Alvo Existed then in the Past and Future
for the group. While their adventure to find the Ild stone was over, they would have to return when they had the proper tools to take it. Until then, they had to return to a city that had begun to change in the week that they were gone…