The morning brings the sun to a frozen city. The townsfolk shake the fresh snow off of their backs and starts the day of trade. Dwarves from nearby cities peddle metals and minerals, fish shops are fully stocked with yesterdays catch from Stone Lake, Copper elves from Yod eye you suspiciously, but don’t look armed or hostile. The Illden council meeting is tomorrow and you must decide what is best to do regarding the doppletrog imitating Bishop Milani. The council will be discussing many issues, most notably Illden independance, but the deal with the Thessan representatives is also scheduled to take place following the independence movement. Many representatives from Thessan and Findle are in town and hostilities seem balanced on a knife's edge. The city is abuzz with rumours that the old steward Arundel Shay has returned from his countryside retirement and will be negotiating on behalf of the monarchy.
The Walnut Knot is packed. Every room is filled with road weary travellers and armed mercenaries from across the region. Even the common room has been outfitted with cots and sleeping mats. The Innkeeper apologizes for the inconvenience and his gnomish tavern maid serves you a simple breakfast.
Priestess Icewind fights through the crowd to your table, greeting the travelers warmly and commenting on the pleasant sunny weather.
“I was looking for you! I remember a story you told me of a halfling, I think Tuck was his name? A halfling came into town yesterday. He and his travelling companions purchased a wagon full of goods and quickly left town. I didn’t think it was worth mentioning until I learned that his whole group wore blue cloaks.They left the town going North and couldn’t have gotten far, not in last night’s storm.”
She looks concerned and insists that the party look into this. The town council meeting isn't until tomorrow night. The party agree and head out of town, following the wagons tracks in the fresh snow.
The sun is sinks low in the horizon and a late winter storm blows in from the North. The tracks of the wagon are easy to follow up the mountain path. They stop at an elven hunting lodge. Fresh red blood is sprinkled in the snow near the door.
Judging by the tracks, Dael infers that the wagon has been unloaded and footprints seem to leave in all directions. The cabin's doors and windows are frosted over and a slow creaking can be heard from inside.A bound body is lays huddled in the corner of the wagon. Aravyr Icewind has been savagely beaten and is almost frozen to death. The sun suddenly sinks below the treeline and a line of lit torches surrounds the party. Blue cloaked figures stand ominously in the torchlight. A halfling points to the cabin as the rest of them slowly move in.
A gunshot rings throught the mountains as Dael fires at the cultists and combat ignites into a storm of magic and steel. Rilken and Shalazar dive for cover through an open window in the cabin. Terrible luck effects both sides. The battle goes South when Rilken loses Roar and the party are left bleeding in the snow.
A masked figure robed in blue and green greets the party.
“Salutations. I hope you are well. How is the hatcher of my daughters?” He callously steps over the bleeding corpses of his followers. “I've come for you Rilken. Your father made a strong case on your behalf. The rest of you, gather the slain. They will serve just as well in death. Leave the rest of them. I owed you a favour Felspark. Consider us even.” He points to the cabin before turning and shuffling into the forest.
Illiaph nods in acceptance and watches as they gather the dead.
Rilken’s father's charred, decapitated remains hobble to his wounded son. “You'll be a father Rilken. Praise Vis.” The cultists take Rilken, leaving the rest of the party unconscious in the snow.
A winter storm forces Illiaph to drag his unconscious companions into the cabin. Despite the gore left in the snow outside, the cabin is an even worse sight. Dismembered copper elves hang from the ceiling by creaking chains. Their hands and eyes having been removed in a profane ritual to Vis. Several pieces of parchment with the parties descriptions in elvish are scattered on the floor.
Illiaph does his best to clear the mess and get a fire going. It will be hours before anyone else is conscious.