After rescuing the remaining villagers from the Cult of the Dragon Below, the party investigated as to where the Dragonmark energy could’ve gone off to. As it so happens, a House Tharashk mining operation existed a day or so’s travel from the village. While traveling to the mining camp, the weather turned from a humid, jungle climate to a frigid winter one. This unnatural cold was obviously magical, though the source didn’t become evident until the heroes arrived on scene.
At the mining camp, miners were busy chopping up furniture and wooden equipment to feed several large bonfires. A group of disgruntled miners had gathered around the camp’s overseer, Bern d’Tharashk complaining bitterly about the cold and grumbling about mutiny. As the heroes began to try to intervene, a longship with ragged, funereal sails and an undead crew descended from the air to the NE, landing with grim tidings. The undead poured from the ship and began to attack all those living in sight.
The heroes ably dispatched the undead, and upon closer inspection of the undead vessel, heard the skeletal dragon figurehead open its mouth to speak, “DO YOU HAVE THE SCEPTER OF THE WINTER KING?!?” After an unfortunate instance where the party replied in the negative, they soon discovered a skulking shape in the crowd. A sailor on a House Lyrandar vessel was trying to sneak away from the camp. Cornered by the heroes, the man, Marko soon confessed to having entered the Cairn of the Winter King and having made off with the scepter.
Approaching the skeletal figurehead again and telling it that they had the scepter, the heroes manned the oars of the skeletal longship and flew to the Cairn of the Winter King. Upon arrival they discovered a chilling obelisk of ice with many skulls of all manner of creature suspended inside. They entered, prepared for battle, only to be welcomed by a jolly barbarian claiming to be the Winter King and a magnificent feat laid out for them. Buckskin Buckshot immediately went for the table, especially the rich-smelling beer in the halfling-sized tankards. Somewhat to his regret, the beer, as well as the rest of the food was cursed. The supposed Winter King, his illusion-disguised wife and his “hounds” (actually dire wolves) attacked.
Victorious, the heroes made their way through the cairn. The encountered many more illusions, a room of solid ice keeping the ghost of a dwarf priest from a restful afterlife, a frozen army, and an owlbear. Eventually they snuck through a secret passage into the throne room of the Winter King himself. Unwilling to hand over the scepter, they fought a glorious battle (mostly because I had to amp up the WK’s hp by about 1,000 to keep it from being a 2 round fight…) and killed the Winter King once and for all. The took his crown as well as a strange ivory card with the symbol of Flames inscribed on it.
Instantly upon retrieving the strange card, the Queen of Air and Darkness appeared, and greeted her son, Brand. She also greeted [[:psi314], whom she implied was now part hers after his Thelanis-fueled experiments, as well as Kritos whom she demonstrated was entirely hers and teleported him away to some dark fey realm to “fulfill his part of the bargain.” The Queen of Air and Darkness then directed her son and his comrades to the Eldeen Reaches where they were to find more pieces of the so-called Deck of Chaos.