Cold, exhausted, and hungry, the band of adventurers entered Fallcrest, only to find it nearly deserted. Lights and faint noises could be detected towards the halfling encampment near the river, so that seemed to be the most natural place to go.
As we trudged towards the river, it became clear that the town of Fallcrest was in serious trouble. Merchants and farmers alike walked past, eyes downcast and heads bowed to this infernal snow. A group of men and dwarves were breaking apart crates for firewood, and hoarding anything that looked remotely like food. It became clear, the closer we got to the river, that a town meeting was already in progress.
As always, tempers were flaring and the most unattractive side of humanity was shining through. Most were interested in just saving their own skins. Farmers competing with traders for resources, and the good Lord Markelhay was having a very difficult time keeping order and having his voice heard.
Then it got ugly.
Some porters and dwarves were circling through the crowd, clearly intending to start a full scale riot. Guards were watching everyone with distrust, and nervously fingering the hilts of their weapons. Some had drawn and cocked crossbows. This was clearly not going to end well, until someone intervened.
“The next person that moves will die!” shouts Archimedes…or something to that effect, anyway. As he says this, a giant likeness of his head appears over the heads of the crowd, shocking everyone into stillness. No sooner had this happened, than the snowstorm turned into a full blown howler. winds swirled through the camp, snow and ice stinging faces. Duric seemed a minitaure Father Winter, so white was his beard. Lightning and thunder began pounding their beat, a cacophony of destruction headed straight towards Fallcrest.
Duric turns his head, and listens. Beneath this wall of sound, he hears what can only be a war chant. Rhythmic voices, droning a doom for all present. The strangest thing…it was not coming from upriver, or downriver…it was coming from the sky!
Then it got uglier.
Grabbing Xanthe, Duric points to the sky. As he does this, a large ship with a tattered sail begins its descent towards the encampment. Crashing through the ice and slush that choked the slow moving river, the ship came to rest on the shore opposite the halfling camp. Fur clad warriors and bones dressed in mismatched armor poured over the side of the vessel! Fallcrest was under attack!
The ensuing battle was not pretty. Warriors though they are, Kiava & Co. struggled fighting off the horde of undead. Many villagers were lost. A dark day for Fallcrest.
As Gideon wiped his sword clean from the filth and dead flesh that adorned it, Xanthe and Elena walked through the destructive scene, recovering what arrows they could. Bob and Duric, however, approached the ship. as they got within 25 feet of the strange vessel, the dragon head shook free from the ice that covered it, turned and spoke:
“Return the ice scepter of the Winter King, or this winter you feel will last for eternity, and the cold and dead will continue to feast on the warm and living.”
As the boat finished its words, Those townsfolk that had escaped came pouring back into the camp, mourning the dead, blaming the company of warriors for this latest tragedy in an ongoing tragic affair. Only the clear head of Markelhay kept it from escalating to pitched battle once again. As the Lord Warden was speaking, Bob noticed movement towards the edge of the crowd. Turning towards it, he sees a hooded figure, easing its way towards the edge of the crowd. Thinking quickly, he waves his hands in a series of complicated movements, which causes an arrow to appear in the air directly above the escaping figure’s head. Seeing this, Archimedes makes a quick dash through the crowd, leaping onto the fleeing person and bringing them to the ground.
They had caught Marko Lancet, a half-elf rogue. Upon interrogation, it became clear that Marko, in fact, was the one with this mysterious ice scepter. He told his story of fleeing enslavement (not quite convincingly enough), and offers to help the party return the ice scepter to the cave from which he had found it. As the characters approached the boat, they are allowed to board, and begin rowing their way towards the Cairn of the Winter King, in the hopes that, somehow, they can bring this winter to an end.