Taking a quick trip via airship to the Lhazaar Principalities, they dock at Regalport, the capital of the largest of the many baronies. After loading up on cold-weather clothes and furs, they charter a ship to take them north, past the many island city-states, and to the frozen sea. The halfling captain and his ship are equally dilapidated, but he has the best crew crazy enough to undertake the journey. Luckily, the days pass without incident, and the ship eventually begins pushing through floes of ice sheets. It eventually becomes too thick to pass through, and they let the party disembark to continue their journey. The captain promises to wait as long as he could before turning back, else they’ll probably be frozen to death, stuck in the sea’s icy embrace.
Hiking across the wavy, uneven ice, the party is thankful for the ring of warming they found long ago, whose heat radiates to save their skins even from the numbing wind that blows against them. Suddenly, and without warning, the ice explodes in their midst as a massive head breaks through from the water: a sea serpent comes up to strike. They dance and jump between the chunks of ice as it attempts to bite and swallow each of them whole. It is eventually beaten back and decapitated, the long unseen body sinking into the depths. Some of the survivalists salvage what they will of its teeth and scales before moving on with their journey.
At the second day of travel, they come across a dip in the snow to find a ship half-buried. Digging to find the prow, the see it is indeed the North Seeker, the very ship Halungalom had told them about. He eagerly begins digging down to find entrance, and the party joins them to uncover the mystery of its disappearance. What they find is disturbing: the bodies of sailors, mostly human, lie everywhere, victims of violence, not exposure. Zrill’s investigative techniques find they were not attacked from outside, but had killed each other. Knife wounds mark all of them, and more than one sailor died with blood on his own knife. Exploring the rest of the ship reveals more bodies with similar evidence, including the gnome from House Sivis. The only exception is a man found in the pantry, having died of starvation apparently, having been the last survivor of the slaughter. Halungalom takes the ship’s maps and records, while the party looks for supplies. The food had all been eaten, but the man did have a golden ring that radiated magic. The cleric Rin determined it had the power of a Word of Chaos, and held on to it. They put the bodies to rest as best they could and took their own uneasy rest on the ship, not entirely sure they were alone on the continent after the attack of the sea serpent.
The night goes without incident, however, besides a forecast of days of blizzards. With time running short, the party soldiered on against the blinding wind and snow for yet another day. As daylight came to an end, so to did the blizzard, and they found themselves before a castle built or carved of blue ice. Standing atop it was a man, perhaps some sort of knight dressed fully in armor of the same blue ice as the castle.
“I bid you welcome to my mistress’ castle, and hope you did not suffer too much on the arduous journey here. She greatly values her privacy, hence the unwelcoming conditions. The fact that you are here and alive is testament to your endurance and mettle. Still, before I can let you enter, there is just one more test of your skills…” He leaps gracefully down from the fifty foot wall, unnaturally so in full armor, and spreads his clawed gauntlets wide.
“You must pass me first.”
With a red burning in his eyes, and a glint of canines, he nods the faceplate of his helm down and begins running to the side. His form quickly blurred as he became a speeding wall of ice and claws around the party. This was briefly interrupted to run through the party and smite with a glowing-black claw before becoming indistinct again. He was difficult to hit until Zrill managed to entangle him, slowing him down significantly and allowing the party to get a bead. The man had a brief repartee with Varele, even commanding her to turn on her companions, but she managed to resist his advances as the party bashed him into a vaporous cloud, which departed over the wall shortly before the gates opened on their own.