The Broken Talons decided to try to obtain the weapon that Quentin was given the tip about. After stopping off in Oganis Ford—where they picked up Jim—they headed to Obsidian Keep, a Naratani outpost on the edges of the Darklands. Their target was Jasper Keep, an abandoned Araun fortress about a week’s march away. The orcs made occasional attempts to take the keep, but were never successful. It was unknown what lay inside.
The guild supplied themselves with heavy winter gear and with plenty of warnings—avoid the red snow, the crunchy-looking snow, the blue trees, the “rivers” of coldfire that flow above the snow, the blue lichen, the black ice, the yellow snow…
Once the group moved into the Darklands proper, the temperature dropped to -30 during the day, colder at night. It was a long and bitterly cold four days, interrupted only by a “river” of super-cold energy floating above the ice. (It was, and a feather token boat was involved.) On the fourth evening, Saak declared that it was going to storm for the next day or so. Jim offered to do what he could to keep everyone on their feet until they reached the keep. He exhausted himself, but the guild marched steadily for the next day and half, reaching Jasper Keep.
Outside the keep were bodies of orcs. Inside, the keep was warm, although how it was kept so the Guild never discovered. Once they had passed into the main hall, the guild was confronted by a spirit who demanded that they leave, or else. A plea that they were merely taking shelter pacified the spirit, who warned them that they were safe as long as they stayed within the first chamber.
The group rested. The next day, they began exploring. The door at the far end of the main chamber opened to a hallway crossing it. At both ends were doors. When either door was approached, spirits appeared and warned the guild away. They decided to open one of the doors anyway. Cedric threw open the door to the right. A green beam flew past him.
The door lead to another hallway. As they traversed it, each person felt the weight of fear pressing in on them. Araceli was convinced that there were shades in the shadows, waiting to pounce upon her. Telios heard the sounds of the Travelers and felt tentacles on his head. Ignoring these fears, the guild continued to walk. Soon, they reached a point where a corridor branched off.
The first spirit reappeared, telling them that they were free to take anything that lined the corridor and that he would show them a hidden treasure, but they could proceed no further. The guild regretfully declined this offer and pressed on to the final room. In that room was a sword and nothing else. Quentin picked up the sword, but it apparently did not care for him. Damien it tolerated.
The guild returned to the corridor, which was lined with ancient suits of armor and weapons. They carried off two suits of armor used by the Jade Phoenix mages during the Second Crusade, two suits of Araun armor, a maul and a greatsword. They were unable to find the hidden cache. After resting once more (and making sure that Jim was okay), the guild set off again. The journey back was worse. The first night, it stormed razor snow, cutting their tents to shreds and injuring those who had no shield to scramble under. The next morning, the guild tried to figure out how to travel forward in spite of the snow that would cut their winter boots. A solution involving magic and fire was found, and the slog through the cold continued.
After the storm, it grew even colder. Each night, different guild members suffered from frostbite and hypothermia. After about the third night, nearly half the party was exhausted from the cold. Telios saved the day by wishing for a safe, warm house in which to spend the night. A mansion appeared, guarded by the weirds of Dryard. Inside was warm food, fireplaces, bathtubs, multiple rooms (!)—it was a small piece of heaven in Thedinaar’s hell.
Refreshed from their night in the mansion, the Broken Talons pushed back to Obsidian Keep, and after a partial boat ride, they ported back to Oganis Ford. Almost every member of the guild has sworn solemn (and futile) vengeance against Thedinaar for those two wretched weeks in the Darklands.