Entering the beached ship, the party take note of what appear to be the shadows of the crew members, still visible on the walls despite the crew themselves being long since vanished. Kharis, in particular, hears a faint whispering of “Free us…help us”. Steeling themselves, they press on. Apart from the whispers in Kharis’ mind, the ship is silent, save only for the sound of water dripping from the defrosted timbers.
They pass through several empty chambers, eventually finding themselves at the hatch leading down to the ship’s bilges. Descending, they find a striking scene: two more shadows cast upon the far wall, the only two that seem frozen in postures of defence or defiance, and standing between them an elven woman, apparently trapped within a block of solid ice. One outstretched arm protrudes from her freezing prison, an acorn decorated with some form of flowing golden script clutched in her hand.
When they remove the acorn from the elf’s hand, the ice rapidly thaws. The elf herself seems unharmed, although somewhat disoriented.
Once she recovers herself, she is able to to tell the party what she remembers. She is a ranger named Thia, who escaped the clutches of a pirate known as Kylma Myrsky, who operates from an island named Winter. Thia, along with two companions, Isa and Erik, and several freed slaves of the pirates, managed to steal one of Kylma’s ships and escape Winter. Aboard the ship, they found a rosewood box containing a sword, its blade edged with frost.
Several days out at sea, there was a commotion on the ship, screams and sounds of battle. Thia and her companions gathered below to make a stand against their aggressors. She remembers the hatch bursting open, a bright light and a freezing wind, and then nothing more. The box, and the blade it contained, are gone.
On closer inspection of the acorn, the party determine it to be an item used the travel between the physical plane and the Feywyld, probably anchored to a specific location in the Wyld. None of them know the proper ritual to activate it, although they suspect that Aeron, the priest of Corellon, may be able to help them. Thia, keen to discover the fate of her friends, agrees to join the group in their continuing investigations.
The party make a final search of the ship before they leave. In the captain’s cabin they find a map of the waters between Tribute and Winter, marking both shipping routes and what appear to be ley lines. The map has been pinned to the captain’s table by a dagger, which Garrett quickly secrets about his person. They also find a few notes from the Captain’s log (now several weeks old, from before the ship was captured by Kylma Myrsky), and a knocked-over chest containing around 150 gold pieces.
Leaving, the party are concerned about letting the scavengers working on the ship continue with their business, worried that their activities might have consequences for the former crew who’s shadows still seemed trapped there. Taliesen and Kharis negotiate with the leader of the scavengers, and although it almost seems the two groups will come to blows, they eventually negotiate a deal: the party pay the scavengers some gold to wait for two days. In that time, they will keep others away from the ship. When the two days are up, unless the party have returned with news, they will resume their work.
Back in the city, the party visit Aeron, who does indeed know the ritual to activate the acorn, and is happy to perform it, although it will require some preparation. Whilst the priest gathers his fellows to perform the ritual, the party make their own final preparations, before returning to the temple of Corellon.
Aeron has gathered several priests around the sacred tree at the heart of the temple. After much chanting and incense-waving, a portal opens around the base of the tree, and a great blast of cold air washes through into the temple. Aeron looks panicked, shouting that something is resisting him from the other side, and he may not be able to keep the portal open for long.
Taliesin leaps through without hesitation. With perhaps a little more reluctance, the remainder of the party leap into the portal after him.
On the far side, the party find themselves standing in a small stone building on a rocky outcrop. On one side, down several steep cliffs, a plain of ice stretches away as far as the eye can see. On the other, a great fortress of stone and ice rises behind them, built into and around a looming mountain. They do not have much time to take in the view, however, as the more prominent features of their immediate surroundings are a mad-eyed Wilden pointing at them and shouting about intruders, and spiders. Lots of spiders. Little scuttling swarms of spiders. Dog-sized, quick-moving bone spiders. And a very large (although still young) phase spider. Even the Wilden seems to have spiders swarming all over its body.
Waisting no time, Fourteen charges the Wilden and bashes it over the side of one of the cliffs with his shield, dealing significant damage to it. The rest of the party move to engage, with Thia and Garret concentrating on the phase spider and the spider swarm, Fourteen and Taliesin going after the Wilden and the majority of the bone spiders, and Kharis blasting into both groups. Working well as a team, the party brings down their foes, despite the Wilden’s last ditch attempt to smite them with lightning from the heavens.
As the dust (snow?) settles, the party explore their immediate surroundings further. They find a tunnel leading away from the portal and into the mountain below, as well as tracks leading down the cliffs and away. The tracks themselves seem to be from a great mixture of creatures: some horses, some large cats, some stranger things (but they appear to have claws…). The group believe these may be the mounts of the Wyld Hunt, fey of the winter court who hunt sentient creatures across all of the plains of existence. They decide to follow the path into the mountain.
The path leads them to a cave, filled with eight spiderweb cocoons. Breaking open the first reveals Jaessa, the leader of the slaves freed from Kylma’s clutches, battered and terrified but alive. The rest are similarly occupied, account for roughly half of Thia’s companions from the ship.
Jaessa has little more recollection of the raid on the ship than Thia, but she does remember arriving in the Feywyld, and half of the group of slaves being rounded up and ushered away by thin figures armoured in black iron, while she and the others were given to the spiders. The party also spot a thin shaft leading upwards through the roof of the cave.
Garrett ascends the shaft, scouting ahead. He find a tunnel leading to a circular chamber. In the centre is a small fire, with three large, gangly figures with green-grey skin gathered around it muttering in a language Garrett does not understand. Three more passages lead from the chamber. One has a orange glow radiating from it, another seems to have a set of tracks, like those for a mine cart, laid along it, while the third simply stretches away into darkness.
The rest of the party climb the shaft, and Taliesen (in hare form) and Garrett attempt to sneak past the large creatures towards the glowing tunnel. Taliesen makes it past them unobserved, revealing a large chamber with great shaft of fire rising up through it’s centre. Small, robbed humanoids are shoveling bones into the flames from heaping piles to either side of the chamber.
Unfortunately, the large creatures catch sight of Garrett, who stages a tactical withdrawal back down the tunnel towards the rest of the party, three large lumbering forms in hot pursuit…and there we leave our heroes.