By Eric Haddock
Citadel Felbarr, conquered by shield dwarf King Emerus Warcrown, is in much the same position as Mithral Hall, even though they are quite some distance from each other. They are both halls taken by shield dwarves away from someone or something that once held it. The primary difference between the two is that Citadel Felbarr is still threatened by the previous owner: King Obould, an orc chief. He waits somewhere in the Cold Wood, it's believed, or perhaps even farther north than that.
Citadel Felbarr is much more alert to the movements of monsters in the area, especially of what wanders out from Cold Wood. The shield dwarves of Felbarr believe that if Obould marches toward them, such an action will flush the wildlife out of the forest well enough to be noticed by the lookout posts situated between the Rauvin Mountains east of Felbarr and the small forest to its west.
One of these lookout posts saw something rather unusual last night: a pack of lycanthropes chasing a human merchant's wagon. The human was screaming and whipping his two horses furiously -- which needn't have been done, for the horses were scared enough to jump the Great Rift. They careened past the lookout as the beasts pursued, snarling and snapping at the spokes of the small wooden wheels of the wagon.
After being sure nothing more was coming, the dwarves from the lookout rode their horses after the whole lot. Before long, they came to a scene of carnage. The wagon had been nearly destroyed -- its wheels and the bed had been badly cracked. Of the merchant and any passengers he might have had, nothing could be found.
Message from the lycanthropes to Malar:
The best news, my lord! Last night's effort was wonderful! We used the Big Portal to get to the pillared one. From there, we went to the road and smelled carefully around to see if we could notice anything. The smell of perfume was carried to our noses from the south, so we carefully followed it. We didn't want to get too far from pillars, but your words gave us courage and we pressed on. The merchant had settled for the night with a small female -- but he left his horses hitched for some reason. The humans smelled like kin to each other. They were both asleep in the back of the wagon and I was first to leap onto the back of the wagon to tear into the little one. This spooked the horses who galloped. The human took control and we chased after, for sport. We alerted the stubby-legged ones near Felbarr, just as you instructed, my lord! As for the humans, we took them as prizes for the night's work.
It was only when this was reported the following morning did its significance come to light. Silverymoon had warned nearby important settlements about a possible coordinated attack heralded by lycanthropes. More lookouts were sent to each post.
The lycanthropes used a portal in the Cold Wood and referred to it as the "pillared one." In fact the portal is located in a ruin that features columns. It was the retreat of Amalith, an elven mage who spent more time seeing to the opulence of the retreat than to her studies. Amalith prayed to Selûne, however, and the goddess, needing a portal in about the same area as Amalith's retreat, gave Amalith the materials and knowledge necessary to construct the portal. The roof the columns supported are long gone, but the columns and the foundation yet remain. The portal is located in the floor and is marked by white lines that shine in the moonlight and suggest a game board of some sort: a large boardlike one where the pieces might be played by people in costume. It's a fairly large portal with a radius of 30 feet that can accommodate a large number of people at once.
The Cold portal is a two-way portal that leads back to the Moonwood portal discussed in Part 5. However, the markings on the floor of Amalith's retreat suggest that the portal leads to many other locations.
How to Incorporate Cold Portal Into Your Champaign
- The Cold portal could be the destination for another portal or the result of a botched teleport spell. At first glance the Cold Wood is like any other forest -- until the bite of the cold air stings the eyes and the northern clime becomes apparent. The Cold Wood also serves as a haven for monsters.
- Someone like Amalith may want to build something in the woods but fear intrusion by area monsters, leading to the age-old request for hearty adventurers to clear an area of monsters. That Amalith's ruined retreat is well hidden (as everything generally is in Cold Wood) is a bit of an overstatement. It's more forgotten and overgrown than hidden, so it's possible that the PCs could stumble upon it as they're in Cold Wood on other business.
- You may even want to have an ettin from the Cold Wood brag about his strength by saying that he toppled the roof of a grand temple deep in the Cold Wood. If challenged on the matter or asked about the temple, he'll take anyone who follows him to the place where he raised the roof.