Due to the illness that Tomorachian seemed to be suffering from, Ohrana counseled the rest of the Half-Shadows adventuring company that their movement towards Refuge would be slow going. There was no way to determine what route they could safely take that would move faster as they had to stop every few hours to examine and tend to the cleric. It was later that Ohrana diagnosed the illness he was suffering from as Sarvass, a disease that seemed to affect those who dabbled in the arcane or mystical arts. Recovery was bleak for such an illness but if there was to be any hope at all, they would have to move quickly if at all possible to get Tomorachian to somewhere which had a decent library or alchemical lab, such as Refuge.
While the group huddled together, discussing their options, they saw a long figure on a bluff nearby. Saerid Turquoise recognized that the individual was a dwarf so immediately approached the stranger to see his intentions. As he came closer, he noticed the newcomer was older, and clearly showed signs of having once been part of the esteemed city guard of Anvil. The stranger introduced himself as Brimley Oxheart and stated he was en route to see what had become of another dwarf he had a close relationship with, Denralla. Once Saerid explained the tragedy that had befallen her, Brimley asked if he could help in fulfilling her mission which was greatly accepted by Saerid and the rest of the Half-Shadows.
Travel was uneventful for the next day but they were slow with Tomorachian’s illness as well as constantly looking over their shoulders due to some of the powerful entities they had been angering in recent weeks. The Diabolist and the Lich King had both sent powerful adversaries to thwart the heroes and they feared more attacks.
Coming over a ridge, the following day, they came across a curious sight. Whereas the land surrounding them was pleasant and showed signs of the autumn season, there was a massive patch of land ahead of them which was completely covered in ice and snow, as if it was an island of frost unto itself. Worse, they saw a band of Frost Giants and an ice troll that seemed to be guarding a lone silverarch tree covered in snow. It was not long before the giants spotted the heroes and they charged into battle. Tomarchian, however, did not so much charge, as he did limp.
Upon defeating the evil creatures, Koldrag suggested that this was the work of Una Helta, the Winter Witch, who was behind this strange phenomena. Besides, this was the very thing that Vyper had been investigating for the Elf Queen. While the rest of the adventurers looked around for any signs, Suriveth Varune approached the silverarch tree, suspecting it could have been some kind of sign. In fact, it was, as the magic that had transported the cold weather here was able to be used in a backwards direction, allowing she and the rest of the heroes to travel closer to Refuge, something they desperately needed. Using her knowledge of magic and knowledge of secrets from the Prince of Shadows, Suri showed the others had to walk the silverarch tree.
Upon getting to the other side, Koldrag determined that they had, in fact, gotten several days further than they had been. It was night but in the distance they noticed the signs of life from the town of Refuge as they could see smoke from chimneys and lights from home fires. Traveling forward, they passed the craggy surroundings of the mining concern that was the lifeblood of the town. But they stopped when they found dead miners buried in the snow, showing signs of exhaustion and having been worked to death. It was then that they were beset upon by another agent of the Lich King, a necromancer named Wisp who had at her command a new form of undead, a ruthless and intelligent group of creatures known as the Kort.
The fighting was fierce as well as brutal as the Kort attacked with merciless efficiency, working together in concert. During the battle Saeird moved himself towards Wisp, who had taken a position on a bluff over the mines. While dealing her with her personal servants that protected her, he noticed that her powerful magic allowed her to sense the Staff of the Void that was on Suri’s person and Wisp was able to bring it to her. When she then decided to use the item on Saerid, he was shocked with a series of psychic attacks designed to kill him but whereas he was able to fend off most of the attacks, it was as if his mind was in Darkveil, the far away city they were trying to find. During these psychic attacks, he began to understand and see some of the secrets confined to the city.
Saerid learned the following:
- Darkveil was intended to keep things in as well as out
- Darkveil was a city not designed for humans or humanoid creatures
- The denizens of Darkveil were still there, in some deep sleep
- The Lich King and the Diabolist fully intended for the Half-Shadows to get to the city as the Lich King and Diabolist were barred from opening the doors and clearly their vile plan involved tricking the heroes to opening the doors for them.
Saerid was able to share these shocking details with his friends once the Kort had been dealt with and Wisp had retreated with the Staff of the Void. Of course, it was theorized that if she had taken the staff and if the plan was to allow the heroes to get to the city and open the doors, it was likely not long before the staff would be allowed to find its way back to their hands through the machinations of the Lich King and Diabolist.
Making their way to Refuge, but carefully, they found that it was a town under control of the Kort and their masters, likely Lich King loyalists. The people seemed to be going about their lives, albeit cautiously. It was then that they were spotted by a dwarf named Obar who quickly brought them into his home and into his cellar. He told them they would likely be killed otherwise and they should stay out of sight. Obar explained he was an engineer associated with the mining concern and that forces of the Lich King had, indeed, taken over the town. The individual in charge was a man named ‘Lord Veldt’ but Wisp was the enforcer of his laws. The people of Refuge were willing to put up with this as it was clear that Lord Veldt wanted supplies in the mine and would be gone within a week. Whether it was because forces would come to save the town or Lord Veldt would have what he wanted was irrelevant. But if the heroes wanted to stop them Obar would help and knew of people who would aid them.