The arduous trek through the Shimmerglens was one that the party was not wont to take often again.
Too close to the spirit realms, too touched by the unreal lights of the spectres, even the magical Variel felt uneasy in the realm, and for the first time in the woods, felt a fear he could not place. Moagh winced through the wet air, attempting to ignore the sickly warmth, and the strange cries in the distance. Memories of home he tried to shake off.
Dmitri clutched the holy symbol of Sarenrae he had worn for so long the edges were slightly chipped where his thumbs curled too tightly and he muttered prayers under his breath hoping his mistress would find them safe passage through this strange land.
Geth, reflecting on his reunion with Abadar, couldn’t understand the water here – it did not act like ocean or sea water, it seemed to have a life of its own, animated by what he knew must be the evil fairies that dwelt beyond his vision. He would be happy to be far, far away – he had heard these lands were enchanted, full of…
…seductive sprites and temptations that priests like himself need stay far from. But this place was…this place was corrupted, by what he knew not, but it seemed as if the mischievious soul of nature had its heart not only broken by torn out of its chest and put on display.
The whispers he heard from the side of the road were not welcoming but drove all pleasure of life from his soul.
Jessail kept his eyes on the road, but could not stop himself from seeing the hanging bodies of children.
Up ahead, skeletal figures blocked their path. Yap, the small pixie who had requested help for his dear Myriana, began to cower in fear. Variel’s unease of the place was quickly replaced by a now nearly lustful desire to strike back at this hand – these figures represented an opportunity – he knew how to deal with foes.
From his fingers leapt fire, and the skeletal fingers collapsed in an explosion of stale blood, and weeping cries – yet, these were not man, or demi-human, but trees whose sap had become stale blood. What the party had thought were fingers were curled up, tangled bark, now nothing but cinders.
Variel looked at the party – then drew his cloak’s hood tighter around his head, hiding his own apprehensions. Deeper then, into the fey. Hopefully, this blasted pixie, Variel considered, isn’t leading us to our doom.
Past a galley beached by the side of the road, past spiders who had poisoned themselve at the side of the road, beyond a pool with a light enchantment which showed bizarre briefs of the future, Yap led the party to a clearing.
“She is in there.”
“Well, ugh, let’s get this over with, yeah?” Moagh belched and strode in, followed by his fellow veterans.
And the sky, which had taken a break from the torrential rains, darkened. They were in Whitewillow. And Whitewillow was black as night.
“Sooooo….the murderers of Lamatar Bayden have come to DIE,” cried the creature which rose from the depths of the swamps. Sinews and muscles shown through the reflected green spectral light – whatever death that had torn Myriana from this world might have made her grotesque and obscene, her command and charisma left them all sure, she must have been one of the most beautiful creatures to observe in the light.
“We are not murderers,” Geth replied. Behind him, Variel turned his eyes away.
“We have come to help you, your friend brought us here,” Geth continued.
She wailed, she screamed, and she recanted a tale which dispelled one of the many mysteries which had stalked the heroes. She and the Commander of Fort Rannick had been lovers – but she knew not what happened to him, only that the Kreeg Ogres had taken him. Her boney finger stretched out, the only light in the dark glen.
“Hook Mountain. He is in Hook Mountain.”
“Alive?” Dmitri asked.
“He is in Hook Mountain. Bring him to me. If he is slain, bring something that I can pull his spirit to me. If not, I will make sure your people burn like my heart, I will see your wives gnash their teeth and your children feast on their own entrails.”
Then she was gone, and the darkness lifted. The dark shadows that fell through the slats of the great swamp trees provided again a trifle of light to make their way towards Hook Mountain.
And to Hook Mountain the party, after a stay in the Inn at Turtleback Ferry, went.
The rains, the incessant rains, finally changed – the cold of winter began to slowly make its way known, and as the party ascended the Ogre trails which led upwards, turned to sleet, then snow, then merely ice.
“Are you all right?” Geth asked of the shivering Variel, whose eyes seemed to burn a crimson hatred of the weather, as his fingers played through his expanding spellbook – if he did not have a spell that could change the weather, he thought, perhaps he could cast a cloud of death at it.
“What was it you saw in your mirror?” Dmitri asked Variel.“What enemies can we expect?”
“Nothing I can’t handle,” Variel responded, shaking himself free – he hated it when the clerics cornered him, as they always seemed to do. A minute later, he had an opportunity to prove it.
6 Stone Giants, which stuck out like sore thumbs from the snow drifts around them, seemed to be contemplating something. In a warmer climate, the party might not have noticed them as they seemed carved from the rock itself, but out here, they were the only rocks not covered in powder.
“Well, Variel?” Geth said, lightly goaded the elf.
“Mmmmm,” Variel answered and ruffled through his pockets, pulling out a gem. Pulling the party back to safety, he mumbled an ancient incantation over the gem. Then he set the gem on light breeze and weaving his fingers, he sailed it to the group of giants and let it fall to the ground. At the same time, he, himself, collapsed to the ground, lifeless.
The giants finally noticed the gem, and one brave soul picked up the strange treasure. Immediately, he stiffened up, as Variel’s soul transferred from gem to the creature. He stiffened then began to strike out at the other giants, who responded to the violence in kind and threw him careening down the mountain. Another giant, recognizing the ancient curses that Thassalonians had often left behind them, kicked the ruby as far as he could away.
Variel returned to his body.
“Well, I got rid of two of them,” he said. The party looked at him with a mixture of astonishment and surprise. Shortly, the giants began to head up the mountain. Behind them, the party followed, up, up into the cold, the storm.
Finally, the giants walked past a pair of ogre sentries into a cave which was bellowing foul, foul smoke.
“This is it, then,” said Moagh, whose military fork seemed to reflect the dwarf’s own blood lust. The party entered, ogres collapese on them, and ogres fell. and fell. and fell.
Each member of the party receives 6,240 experience points.