On the morning that we were to depart and head southwards towards the mountains, Sandru called us all together. “There will be one more rough leg,” he said. “The downhill run to the mountains, and then through the pass. Then it’s all downhill from there, 2 to 3 days to the mountains, three or four in the pass then we are on the plains of northern Tien Xia.”
We had returned the previous midnight with Amiko; she was groggy and woozy, but Kainyn and Nisha could tell that she hadn’t been poisoned. The window in her room was open, letting in the arctic air, so we suspected that her kidnappers had probably entered that way. Amiko was very tired, so Kainyn stayed with her the rest of the evening.
At breakfast, the old woman Koyu said that it was odd that if her kidnappers (whom we assumed had been hired by the five storms Mafia) knew that she was here, why not just kill her? We don’t know at this point how she was affected. But she’s in possession of a magic box that has a permanent anti-scry on it – artifact-level power. The most magic anyone has ever seen, but the kidnappers didn’t take it. This could be connected to her bloodline, which has power. There’s also something in the box, very valuable and scry-able. If the box is opened, the item inside can be found through magical means. We suspect it’s another artifact-level, divine magic item, potentially her family’s seal. It was still in her room when she was kidnapped, meaning either her kidnappers could not find it or did not know its value.
First day: pretty uneventful, much better roads and easier travel.
Second day: very bright sun, forcing the drovers to squint. We do see something in the distance; it turns out to be a herd of tadra’s, four-armed creatures that we had fought previously at the storm tower. They struck in force, falling upon the caravan and doing significant damage. Over time, the party was able to finish them off, with Mitch dealing the killing blow on the last one.
Third day: temperatures are still pretty mild, which is good for repairs on the caravan damage. Thankfully we have a wainwright with us.
Fourth day: Ulf says we’re about halfway to the mountains. It’s cloudy that evening and on the fifth day it dawned gray and much colder. It’s very dark all day. Mumpo began to feel the cloud cover is a natural; it’s somewhat reminiscent of the weather control from the other side of the pole. “A storm like this would bring many changes, but mostly it would come from somewhere,” said Munpo. “This isn’t doing that. It’s forming in front of us and moving toward us, even as we move toward it.” The clouds continue to thicken, but produce no precipitation as far north as we are.
Sixth day: towards the end of the day we can see in the distance some serious storms in our path. There’s only one trail through the mountains and the storm is basically centered on it. Ulf cautions against trying alternative routes, they can be lengthy and problematic.
Kpyu thinks we may have another option, however: as a follower of Desna, she says she loves old things, and they used to be a Desnan civilization here. It had always been reputed to live underground. I’ve noticed, Koyu explains, looking at lakes and the terrain, and if my calculations are correct the heart of this civilization is only 5 to 10 miles from here. Sandru shut her down pretty quickly – taking a caravan underground is nonsensical, he said. But Koyu pulls aside Munpo: I don’t have a lot of detailed information, she says, but the entrance is warded by two statues of Desna. Even centuries old, they should be easy to find. Mumpo thinks he can fly and go see if the statues can be located.
Seventh day: cooler, and the storm continues to expand; it’s very gray and clouds keep growing larger on the horizon. At this point, the Elvish eyes among us see something dark underneath the storm. Mumpo believes it is an unnatural and enormous wall of snow.
Mumpo changes into a bird, to check out some caves to the east, While Ulf rides south to check out the storm. After about an hour to an hour and a half, a small entryway into the mountains appears in front of Munpo – possibly a path, with some signs of worked stone. It’s potentially a statue; and Munpo investigates and finds a fallen second statue of a female figure, well-worn. Nearby, Munpo finds a large 50-foot wide rift in the earth. It’s about a day’s travel from the caravan, and Munpo decides to widen the opening. He then heads back to alert everyone.
Back at camp, a discussion takes place upon Munpo’s return: I found something, and we can get there, says Munpo. Ulf advised on the snow: it’s much worse than we thought, and it will be here in 3 to 4 hours. Sandru orders the immediate departure. “I could’ve sworn I heard a female voice cackling within the snow,” said Ulf. The wind picks up throughout the night, and near dawn it’s shocking how close the snow has approached. Everyone now hears laughter distantly. The storm is very close but the caravan manages to arrive in time to get undercover in the place that Munpo had found.
Inside, a graded path leads down into the mountain. A little digging and the caravan is safe. Once the caravan is dug in, Munpo and Esteban decide to investigate deeper into the cavern.Esteban shoots a lit arrow about 150 to 200 feet into the cavern – it lands and kicks up a great deal of dust but there’s not much to see. Mumpo decides to echolocate and ventures really deep into the cavern, about 1000 feet in, where he locates some stonework pillars. Looking deep into the cave, Munpo squints and sees a pair of creatures. Esteban hears Munpo crying out, so he wakes and warns the rest of the crew. Esteban then lights a torch and runs down the tunnel – and suffers a similar fate to Munpo: the two headless stone creatures smash Esteban nearly to the ground, crushing his face and torso, his ribs cracking. Soon the rest of the party arrived, and began fighting the creatures, while Esteban retreated painfully. Other creatures emerged from the darkness, increasing everyone’s worry over Munpo. Once the creatures were defeated however, Nisha healed Munpo and cast Restoration on both he and Esteban. Mumpo was unconscious and looked like death warmed over; Esteban was still walking but looked similarly. Nisha gave them both additional healing.
Back at the caravan, Munpo and Esteban retired and the rest of the crew alerted the guards to keep their eyes open. There were a number of false alarms, but no attacks, and the next morning the team awoke to an entrance blocked by snow. Koyu believes the tunnel goes under the entire mountain, and that possibly we may travel through it.
Mumpo decided to Earthglide down the path, leading the caravan deeper into the mountain. He used Savior to alert the rest of the party to any dangers. Mumpo eventually found a set of doors, and Esteban came up to see if they were trapped. As he was looking the door to the south opened and creatures began to emerge…