Returning to Ravenna from the remains of Giant’s Fall, the party decided to pass through Twisted Grove, to see if the volcanic destruction made its way that far out, and to relate the fate of Giant’s Fall and possibly that of the High Priestess of Melora. While there was no lava, there was certainly plenty of ash, and a green dragon roosting on the roof of Melora’s temple. The party took on the dragon, knowing it was evil and desiring to protect anyone still left within the temple. The dragon’s acid took its toll on the group, and it was by cunning, not might, that they were able to overcome their foe, retrieving its head as proof of their deed and any useful parts for sale or food. They found the temple within abandoned, with no clue left as to the whereabouts of the temple’s priestesses or rangers. Saddened, the party made their way back to Ravenna, where they spotted more skeletal marauders harrassing the guard. Destroying them easily, although one of the guards perished, the party were able to return to Prince Yulian, report what they had seen, and told him that they believed their mission was complete, and that he should not have any further troubles from the region.
Returning to the camp, Rogan had a few choice words for Krav about reputation, and about the necessity of keeping contact with the camp about developments of the nature they had faced. However, if they were willing to do so, he had a new assignment for them: an ‘eccentric’ patron had forwarded a request for a group that could find the Temple of Ahn Ata’ar and retrieve the Lost Scrolls. The group accepted the mission, because it didn’t sound all that difficult, it would get them away from the area surrounding Ravenna for a while, and their patron could be ‘eccentric’ because he was loaded with gold—and spending it freely.
The research that Rogan’s contacts had already done gave an approximate location of the temple of Ahn Ata’ar, somewhere in the frozen wastes of a forgotten backwater. It took the group approximately 2 weeks to cross the ocean to arrive at the nearest port to the approximate location of the temple, by which time they were more than happy to kiss the ground…until they stepped off the boat, that is. The port of Meridian is a place that values wizardry highly, almost to the exclusion of all else. As a port town, it does have a market, and you can find many interesting magical items there. However, it is not friendly to outsiders, tolerating the foreign merchants who bring their required wares, but few other interlopers. Looking around the town, a few things struck the adventurers: everyone they could see was human, male, red-haired, and blue-eyed. A party armed for adventure that had not a single human in it generated some unwanted interest, to say the least. Our heroes passed the night in the tavern and inn at the dockside where all the other “out of towners” stay, and began inquiring early the next morning about passage to the area where the the Temple supposedly rested.
Before noon they were on their way, trekking toward what they had been told was a barren wasteland, covered in snow. Finding the snow-covered island was relatively quick, but the party spent some time wandering the barren wastes, looking for any ruins that could be called a temple. They encountered ravenous arctic wolves and their shifter masters, looking for their next meal, driving winds and terrible cold, but eventually found shelter in what looked like a small, ascetic monastery whose residents had abandoned it some time ago. While they regrouped and attempted to use the shelter of the building to rest and figure out where to go from there, they discovered that nature had encroached into the building, making a few hazardous places where it was difficult to keep one’s feet. Making their way across an ice slick and into a (relatively) large, open room, one of the party members noticed a crawl space under the floorboards.
Down, down, into the depths the group decended. (It should be remarked that these depths were decidedly colder than the last, although it is not certain that the group was grateful for the difference.) The underground passage eventually leveled out into a rough-hewn corridor, in which the group found a party of strange humanoids, covered in piercings, tattoos, and scars—Shadar-Kai. The group, save Karath, who, as a worshipper of the Raven Queen, knew of them, had never encountered them before, and found their disregard for their own pain, or own lives, to be unsettling and bizarre. After defeating the Shadar-Kai, the group began to wander the tunnels, the haphazard hewing of stone gave way to smooth, baked stones, of the kind of composition one would more expect in a desert than in the arctic wastes, set in a regular pattern by artisans of some skill.
This temple still held its secrets closely, over however many years since its abandonment; the traps that civilization had set in place were still loaded and ready to protect the temple. The party discovered this after they attempted to aid a woman whose slow, ragged breathing and sputtering lantern made it clear that she was unable to help herself. Her ankle was twisted, if not broken, but she was able to move after her wounds were tended.
As the party moved through the corridor, some of them had their attention drawn by the richly-painted walls. These fresco tapestries showed scenes of war, pillaging, feasting, and drinking. Figuring prominently in several tableaux were huge cookpots with people around them celebrating and cooks stirring the pots with giant spoons. Others featured libations to large figures with great tongues. As the scenes progressed, the celebrating figures were replaced by pictures of skeletons who eat all they can consume, the food falling through their bones and piling on the ground, as children lie lifeless on the the ground and women weep. Finally, there is a tableau of cataclysm, with a pale corpse-king throwing the sun into a great cauldron. The cauldron, in turn, tips to the side and six legs are shown to jut out of it. A black scarab emerges, wandering away from a frozen, despoiled land.
The hallway lead to a great room. The doors were large and heavy, and they creaked open into a room with a large cauldron in the middle, set on a dais a few feet off the floor. Stairs lead up to the cauldron, and there was room behind it for one person to stand. A Kruthik hive had made its home here, and were looking forward to the meal of fresh meat the adventurers were poised to provide. They were, however, easily destroyed by the adventurers, who located the scrolls and returned to Rogan, bringing along a new mercenary in the invoker whose life they had saved.