25 Aryth, 998 YK
After a thankfully uneventful night, Reland goes into the taproom to find the broken windows boarded up, the fire blazing in the fireplace to keep out the early morning chill, and an older , bearded man who abruptly grabs an ornate walking stick, tosses a few coins on the bar, and leaves upon seeing him. When asked about the man, Randak the barkeep could only say that he arrived about a month ago, keeps to himself, and spends most of his time at the keep, probably as an overseer of some sort.
After breakfast, Bjorn convinces Reland to go with him to see the village theocrat to dig up more information about the Lucky Arrow. The others opt to head to the keep to pose as workers in order to find more information about what is happening in the area.
Bliss, Nebrian and Pewter easily found work in the outer yard of the keep. Asking around, they find out that the gentleman that Reland encountered at the Sleeping Giant is presumably a member of the Church named Aversten, who took over supervision of the keep’s repairs. He insisted on the installation of ornamental quartz blocks on the interior of the keep’s walls. He was also overheard mentioning that he is a member of a branch known as the Sanctum, but no one knows what exactly the duties of that organization are.
Bjorn and Reland meet with the theocrat, who admits that there is very little information he can provide about airship routes, other than to inquire at the House Orien enclave in Aruldusk. Among other things, he mentions that this recent cold snap the area was experiencing had been intense and yet, strangely, at regular intervals. The pair head to the keep to touch base with the others and hire themselves onto the work crew. After several hours, Bjorn manages to start yet another commotion among the workers. Bliss, Pewter, and Nebrian sneak into the inner ward of the keep in the confusion.
Nebrian tries to subdue a guard in an attempt to steal his uniform and somehow gain access to either the armory or treasury, but the guard manages to shout before he is knocked unconscious. With the help of Pewter and Bliss, the guard is quickly dragged down the stairs and into the inner courtyard; hopefully the guard could be bound and hidden in the stables there.
Meanwhile, several quartz slabs embedded on the inner wall flare to life and a stream of pale light radiates from each one to a point in the middle of the yard. A soundless explosion rocks the keep and a rift appears in the courtyard. A wave of intense cold rushes out from the portal, chilling Bjorn, Reland. and several of the workers while instantly freezing the other unfortunate laborers to death. As the surviving workmen flee the keep, several more of the mephits the party fought the night before come through the portal. A pulse of energy streaks from the bodies of the frozen laborers to the portal, then radiates out to a pair of large snowdrifts in the corners of the yard – which then form themselves into large, icy human-like figures that rush toward Bjorn and Reland.
While the chaos erupts around him, Bjorn looks up and notices Aversten, leaning on his cane, standing on the keep’s battlements, intently watching the events unfold below.
Alerted by the sounds of battle, Bliss, Pewter, and Nebrian unceremoniously dump the guard in a stable stall and rush to the outer yard, where the ground has been turned into a slippery sheet of ice as more mephits emerge from the rift. Bjorn and Bliss manage to do significant damage to two of the panels, but not enough to affect the portal, before being set upon by the ice creatures.
Eventually the party, aided by a handful of guards, destroy the creatures and fight their way to the portal. The portal winks out of existence and the panels on the inner walls grow dark. When the party members look back up up at the ramparts, Aversten is nowhere to be seen.