Lucifan had spent some time with a barbed devil that had whisked him away to the Sinking City within the third layer of the Nine Hells, the domain of his master Mammon. The barbed devil explained that if Solkara is freed it would greatly upset the power balance between the demons of the Abyss within the Elemental Chaos and the devils within the Nine Hells of the Astral Sea. The barbed devil made it clear that if Lucifan was instrumental in preventing Solkara from being freed, he would be greatly rewarded by his master. However, if Solkara was freed and Lucifan was unable to stop it, Mammon would be…displeased. Satisfied that Lucifan got the message, the barbed devil returned him to the king’s palace in Hathsarl and then disappeared.
Lucifan found that enough time had passed where the PCs were nowhere to be found. So he headed back to House Mariz where he found Telara aiding in the rebuilding efforts there. Telara explained that the other PCs had gone off to sneak into Etraiv’s vault and recover his piece of the key to Solkara’s prison. The two of them decided that the PCs could need some helped and headed off to House Qet’aran to lend a hand.
Meanwhile, the other PCs found themselves trapped in Etraiv’s vault, with a large contingent of goons, as well as Etraiv himself, on the other side of the door. Etraiv taunted the PCs, trying to get them to surrender. Helmirion realized that Etraiv was just stalling while he extended the area of the anti-teleport zone that surrounded his vault. Not wanting to give Etraiv more time to prepare, Rosalina threw open the door and the PCs dove into battle.
As the battle began, Etraiv shouted his thanks to his master Kostchtchie and began to transform into a hideous demon. Portals open and more rageborn demons, the minions of Kostchtchie, appeared and joined in the battle. Seeing the horrible monsters, Etraiv’s soldiers faltered, but under treat of death from Etraiv they joined the fray.
Lucifan and Telara arrived just in time, coming down the stairs behind the battle and the other end of the room. Helmirion threw down a wall of fire breaking the enemies into two groups. Lucifan and Telara took care of the rear guard while the rest of the PCs occupied the demons and a few soldiers up front.
Eventually Lucifan managed to shout to Helmirion to drop the wall of fire, and the two groups of PCs were able to work together to drop the rest of their enemies. Etraiv finally fell, taunting the PCs with his last breath that they would be unable to stop Solkara from being freed.
After the battle, the PCs knew they didn’t have much time to look around the compound before reinforcements arrived from the city council. While Helmirion took the ten minutes necessary to cast a teleport ritual, Sariel took the time to sneak around the rest of the house and look for anything interesting. She struck pay dirt and found a journal written by Etraiv in one of the drawers in the master bedroom.
The PCs teleported back to House Mariz and got some well deserved rest. In the morning, feeling refreshed, they regrouped to figure out their next move. They read through the journal and discovered some interesting information about Etraiv’s mentor, Vlaakith.
Apparently Vlaakith had been instructing Etraiv since he was a boy. But Etraiv’s parents never realized the truth of what Vlaakith was: a powerful lich in service to Solkara. Vlaakith worked to indoctrinate Etraiv into Solkara’s cult, and Etraiv eventually pledged his soul to the primordial and in exchange for powerful magic. The final act in Etraiv’s ascension was to slay his parents in an evil ritual.
Vlaakith wanted to use Etraiv to take control of Hathsarl in order to have unfettered access to the nearby Burning Lake. The lake of molten lava had enough fire energy that Vlaakith thought he could harness it to help melt Solkara’s frozen prison.
The journal also mentioned that Vlaakith was in possession of another of the keys to Solkara’s prison. Vlaakith was always working many plots and travelling from place to place advancing his power and researching new magic. However, he has a permanent home in the City of Brass, the largest and most metropolitan city in the entire Elemental Chaos.
The strange orb that had attacked the king was created by Vlaakith. He had given it to Etraiv and Etraiv had visited the King on the ruse of a diplomatic mission in order to release the orb. It was to be the final step in securing Hathsarl under the control of House Qet’aran.
After absorbing everything from the journal, the PCs went and talked to King Aphyr, who had recovered enough from his encounter with Vlaakith’s orb to discuss things briefly with the PCs.
The PCs gave the king a rundown of everything they had discovered. The king expressed his gratitude to the PCs for saving his life and rescuing the city from Etraiv’s clutches. The PCs handed the journal over to Aphyr and explained the contents. The king promised to use the evidence in the journal to restore the good name of Helmirion’s house, and instead see that House Qet’aran was banished instead. Helmirion made a plea to spare the lives of the rest of the members of House Qet’aran, not wanting to see history repeat itself. Intsead, Helmirion thought it was appropriate that he take possession of House Qet’aran in the name of House Saravel. King Aphyr agreed to this proposal.
The king gifted the PCs with unique magic items from his personal collection. In addition, he promised that Hathsarl would always be a welcome home to the PCs should they choose to return. He also pledged to lend his resources toward rebuilding House Mariz, and making sure that Yuriel was well taken care of for his role in saving the city.
The PCs decided that it was time for them to see how Frostwatch had faired in their absense. Helmirion had not yet had a chance to master the ritual necessary to travel between planes, but the king put one of the remaining sages of the city at their disposal to help them travel back to the mortal plane.
The PCs arrived back in the Red Spire safely. They found Travius there, wrapped in thick furs and huddled over his desk. It was terribly cold in Frostwatch, much colder than it would normally be at that point in the season.
Travius explained that Frostwatch had not faired very well since the PCs had left. The giants, ogres, and orcs from the mountains had been making frequent raids. The two mining villages had been overrun, and many of the outlying cities were having trouble repelling the raiders as of late.
In addition, many farms had failed due to the cold, or been raided. Those who could have fled inside the gate of Frostwatch, which is now overrun with refugees. Due to the weather and the food shortages, there are people dying everyday within the shadows of the Red Spire, and Travius finds this very disturbing. The church is doing what it can to help the refugees, but resources are spread very thin.
The PCs and Travius exchanged information that they had gathered about Solkara and her cult. Travius explained how the weather was being affected by the weakening of the veil between Frostwatch and Solkara’s prison. If the PCs could stop the cultists from further weakening the monolith the weather would stop getting worse, but it would take all of the keys to Solkara’s prison to reseal the veil and repair the monolith. Travius thought he knew how to do it if the PCs could recover all of the keys.
The PCs knew who was in possession of the three remaining keys: the frost giant king Norvaldr in the mountains north of Frostwatch, the lich Vlaakith who lived in the City of Brass, and Mirmakur, the Raving Priest, a storm titan that resides in the Elemental Chaos outside of Solkara’s prison. Travius agreed with the PCs that the least formidable of these enemies was probably Norvaldr, though it would be no easy task to challenge him.
However, before the PCs could go after the final keys, they had to stop further damage from being done to the monolith, in order to give the residents of Frostwatch even a small hope of surviving the terrible winter. With the decision made, the PCs started to plan out their trip and gather supplies.
They planned to teleport to the city of Whiteleaf just south of Coir Dun. They would have to go on foot or on horseback from Whiteleaf into the mountains, and would need supplies and possibly a brave soul to guide them. Coir Dun had been overrun by the raiders from Norvaldr’s clan, so once the PCs left Whiteleaf they would see no friendly faces until they had reclaimed the monolith and stopped the cultists from destroying it.