Ameiko suggests we should use the Amatatsu Seal right away, which we do to bring Kiku back to life. We search the cabin and find quite a few drums of ale, foodstuffs and a loose floorboard which hides a magical adamantine mace. We move a short way and drive our wagons into a circle before settling down to a nervous rest. The rest of the night is peaceful and day emerges but it brings little light.
We travel for a few days through marshlands till we reach a place called the Coppek Ford which means we’re leaving the lake country region. The ford is at a crossing of the Taraska river and we eventually find a shallow area where we think we can cross. We take our time, picking our way across the Taraska and follow the river north and eventually east where we come to higher ground, emerging finally from the marshlands. There are herds of musk oxen around, when Ulf takes note of the partially buried remains of an ox being consumed by a polar ooze. We travel for 5 more days when the glow of the sun finally illuminates the expanse we’ve been traveling on. We are surprised to see an encampment of what looks to be Erutaki camped ahead. The travelers reprimand us for traveling this far north and speak of various superstitions which suggest that it will be bad luck to camp together. Ulf takes note of a town near here where we would be welcome, but it is a bit off our trail. Regardless, we continue to where the path splits and decide to head to this town, named Iqaliat.
We eventually reach the town of Iqaliat which is built into the side of a ridge, on the edge of the High Ice. It’s a fortified settlement and even to Ulf, the townsfolk seem a bit stand-offish and unfriendly. We circle the wagons and make our way to the chief’s home. There seems to be a lack of livestock, and we meet with Sonavut who looks happy to meet with Ulf. Sonavut makes us feel welcome and she tells us the town has many problems and is being plagued by a White Dragon named Vegsundvaag. The dragon has been lairing in the High Ice and started harassing the townsfolk. Strange monoliths have been appearing on the High Ice, which may or may not be contributing to an increase in storm activity. We are interrupted by a knock at the door and find there is a commotion outside. A crowd has gathered around Tunuat, the village shaman who is addressing the folks. He accuses us of bringing bad omens to the place, and that we bring a taint here and demands a sacrifice. We have a lynch mob here and arguments begin to escalate. We manage to beseech Nalvanak, the chieftain to Tunuat’s great distress, to allow us to help them defeat the dragon. Tunuat retreats in defeat, but we feel there is more to the shaman’s accusations than he makes out. We treat with the chieftain who tells us that there is a path past the dragon’s lair. He tells us that the monoliths are connected to the frozen dead. We are allowed to stay here the night but we must leave to slay the dragon tomorrow. We talk to Sonavut about Tunuat who also seems sympathetic to our suspicions about the shaman.
In the morning, we are gifted with magical claws by the chieftain and then we make our way to the High Ice. Near the crevasse, we are bathed in the light of an aurora borealis, and feel the blessings of Desna. We reach the crevasse which Dreki scouts out. He manages to find the dragon which chases him out of the crevasse and into our trap. We manage to defeat the beast and find in its lair a medallion that we learn belonged to Tunuat. We also find the remains of another dragon and smashed eggshells.
We learn back at the town that Tunuat is missing, said to be up at the wind altars. We head up to the little wind altar but he is not there. We find a secret door which is trapped just beyond which a pit opens. We pull folks out of the pit, and continue on down the tunnel and meet a guide named Naquun. He converses with Ulf and he also seems to be tracking Tunuat. When speaking with him, it is revealed that he is under the possession of a quasit demon, which we destroy. Removed of the possessive force, the guide tells us that Tunuat carried out a ritual on him which must have caused the possession. He joins us to find the shaman and we carry on, coming to a door which we open behind which reveals a sunken room open to the sky. Tunuat is down in a pool of slush at the bottom of the room, amongst many bones. There are bone altars here as well. Tunuat is obviously an agent and so we slay him, and his frost undead henchman. He carries a symbol of Sithhud, the demon lord of blizzards and the frozen dead.
The slushy basin at the bottom of the ramp is filled with hundreds of bones, all marked with a curious rune like a frost-rimed, three-fingered skeletal hand. This symbol also appeared on a black talisman shaped like a black horned head worn by Tunuat. The skulls of these skeletons have been piled into a crude altar and a number of white shards, that we identify as fragments of white dragon eggshell, are placed before it. Painted along the icy walls of the pit are Erutaki pictograms, scattered among many more of the strange runes.
One of the pictograms shows strange black standing stones rising from icy hills. These appear to be the black monoliths that the Erutaki nomads and Sonavut told us their hunters had reported as having recently appeared on the High Ice.
Another pictogram displays a cluster of towers glowing with a strange blue light. We recognize these blue-limned towers as the Nameless Spires, an ancient ruined city at the North Pole. We learn that the Erutaki believe the wind spirits reside here—a dangerous place, but a source of great visions for those brave enough to seek it. Tunuak himself undertook a vision quest within the last year and it is speculated that his subsequent behavior may have resulted from falling under the spell of this winged woman.
The third pictogram shows a single monolithic tower rising above what seems to be a black lake, with white mountain peaks behind it, which we identify as the Alabastrine Peaks.
The fourth pictogram depicts a spiraling storm with long arms ending in ice-fanged jaws devouring Erutaki villages, but with longer jaw-arms reaching toward forests, crudely drawn castles and cities, and what may be ships at sea. Warriors are shown trying to fight the storm with spears before being engulfed and sealed in tombs of ice. We identify the fang-armed spiral as representing the morozkos, or “hungry storms,” the legendary blizzards that rage across the Crown of the World. They are seemingly living storms that can devour entire villages and that almost seem to seek out their victims.
The fifth pictogram shows a blue-skinned woman with dark wings and hair, wearing a silver crown or circlet. Her hand grasps one of the claw-symbols like a scepter, and spiraling streaks of silver and white curl from it in every direction. We decipher notes scrawled in Erutaki beneath this pictogram that speak of an obsessive love for “Katiyana, who speaks to me on the winds from her tower in the Storm.” No-one recognizes this winged woman.
The final pictogram shows a humanoid silhouette with stag-like horns sat upon a throne within one of the blue-limned towers. Notes scrawled in Erutaki beneath this pictogram stated that this being was “Her Lord and Master, the Black Hart, who sits upon his throne in the Nameless Spires.”
After the elders of Iqaliat had spent time discussing the pictograms, they further revealed that their ancient tales say that the morozkos were a roaring scourge wielded by Sithhud, demon lord of blizzards and the frozen dead, who ate the flesh of the dead and bound their bones to serve him in ages past. The three-fingered skeletal claw is Sithhud’s mark, and the pictograms suggest that the Black Hart may have found some way to reclaim the demon lord’s ancient power, perhaps using the strange black monoliths or other ancient magics discovered in the Nameless Spires and that the dark-winged woman is his servant.
The elders believe that the third pictogram shows a place that the Erutaki call the Storm Tower. So named because of the storms that always seem to swirl above its pinnacle, this spire is similar to those found in the Nameless Spires, but it stands alone near the Alabastrine Peaks. It seems that the morozkos have been awakened from the Storm Tower, but if the Black Hart or the winged woman gains full control over the hungry storms, none will be able to stand before them, and our caravan will never make it across the Crown of the World.
We are given a pass to stay in town and freely trade and are gifted with interesting items.