Alexius had spent a great deal of his life since his apprenticeship searching for any clues regarding the ancient Kaldhammar Academy, but has been unable to divine its exact location, until now.
Idly flipping through several travelogues the fiend Octavious had in his expansive library, Alexius is dumbstruck when he finds the missing piece of information he needed. The academy lies far to the north and east, in the Baldesmere swamp at the foot of a volcano called Hvitr’s Horn.
Not wishing to wait for the entire circle to be present, Alexius collects up a handful of followers and heads out, aiming to take ship at Gorlis for the long journey north. On the way out he stops and discusses his intent with one of the only other wizards still present, Anima Emissary.
Hearing the tales of the fabled academy, and knowing that the northern wilderness is an excellent place to find rare and powerful materials, he agrees to accompany him north.
After a long and arduous sea voyage, and an even more draining trek across the hostile geatish wilderness, the pair of wizards and their entourage finally come within view of the Baldesmere. While the two wizards sit puzzling out a way to cross the mighty lake, Donny and Alvera move down the coast looking for anything useful. They come across a rude hut on stilts at the edge of the water and they go to investigate. Unable to elicit a response from within, Donny clambers up the ladder to check the interior. As his eyes adjust to the gloom of the interior, he is startled by the sudden movement of a great form and falls backwards into the muck. The hut, none too sturdy at its best, collapses from the sudden movement and the figure is revealed to be a huge and unkempt man with a great black beard covering almost his entire front.
It soon becomes apparent that he is unable or unwilling to speak, but seems intent on following the two, particularly Alvera.
By the time they return to the rest of the party, Anima has fashioned several small rafts from the trunks of local trees. The party sets off across the water, with one of the boats sitting dangerously low in the water due to the giant local.
Alexius summons a cadre of water spirits to propel the boats across the water. The crossing itself is uneventful except for when a strange calls echoes out from across the water and the giant bellows out an answer. Alexius urges his spirits to greater speed as a large sailboat emerges from the mist, its crew calling intently to the expedition. Not knowing their intentions, Alexius and Anima steer clear and continue to the far shore.
When they finally make landfall, they find themselves near within sight of a small fishing village, the local man leaps out of the boat and charges off bellowing something in his native tongue. Donny chases after him while the rest of the party takes time to gather themselves before approaching.
Once the enter the village, they quickly realize that something is very wrong. A pall of fear and misery hangs over everyone remaining. Speaking to one of the few villagers willing and able to talk to them, they discover that someone or something is coming in the night and taking them from their homes. They have begged one of their local gods for protection, but despite the mass of votive offerings covering his shrine, no relief can be found.
Soon, Anima and Alexius find themselves talking with a wizened old women named Berthe, who tells them a story about the old academy. She says that generations ago, the wizards of Kaldhammar delved deep into the heart of Hvitr’s mountain and discovered something, a gateway to incredible power. Being great in knowledge, but lacking in wisdom, the wizards tossed aside all concerns save the reckless pursuit of this power. Their folly awakened the fire of the mountain and only the might of the Storm of Justice himself kept it from burning up the whole world.
After the eruption the rains kept up for a generation; there were some who were born afterwards that were married with children of their own before the sun again showed itself through the clouds. Since that day the people of the Baldesmere were cursed and sought only to make amends for the sins of those long-dead wizards. They also spoke about Hvitr and learned the core tenets that he demanded from his followers; Justice, Wisdom, and Patience.
Hearing this tale, the two wizards decided to trek up the mountain to the Forsaken Fell, the site of the old academy and the town that had grown up and burned around it. Both for the knowledge buried there, but also to determine what was hounding the poor villagers and stop it.
That night the party took up residence in one of the many abandoned huts, setting a strong watch in case the night stalkers targeted them. Their caution was rewarded as they were awoken in the darkness of the night by a stifled scream and the sounds of a brief struggle somewhere nearby.
Following the sound as quickly as they could, they found one of the occupied huts empty, one wall broken in by a rushing body. All of the other villagers remained cowering indoors, but the wizards led their companions out into the night, following the strong trail of bodies being dragged against their will.
Unfortunately the weather and terrain worked against them and they lost the trail in the darkness. They returned to the village and resolved to set out again in the morning.
Once the first light of dawn peaked over the eastern horizon, the party had already began their ascent. They found some evidence of their targets from the previous night, all indicating that they were heading for the ruins of Kaldhammar.
By mid-morning, the group crested a rise and saw what was left of the ancient academy, a broad plateau covered in rough volcanic rock, with a maze of half-melted stone walls and pillars peaking up at irregular intervals. The party quickly split up and began searching the ruins for any evidence of their quarry.
They searched for several hours with nothing to show for it except for a few old trinkets, until Alvera stumbled on a small subterranean chamber with a vertical shaft cut into that led into a system of catacombs. Seeing that their had clearly been recent activity here, the party set ropes and descended into the dank and frigid cave system.
Aside from knowing they needed to head in a general eastern direction, they had no real idea where to proceed and spent several hours wandering the caves, finding that many of the chambers had been used as burial places for the residents of the academy over the years.
Finally, their searching was rewarded as they stumbled upon a large, expertly carved vault. Along the right side of the chamber were three portals, each blocked by a massive stone slab. Each slab had a small viewing slit at eye level, and a Hvitric rune carved into the outer facing. The first bore the rune of Patience, and within the chamber was a strange glass object, partially filled with water. The next bore the rune of Wisdom and within sat a fine gray woolen cloak. The final chamber bore the rune of Justice and contained a massive stone hammer.
The party was allowed no time to contemplate this situation, as they were ambushed by a group of ragged figures. The battle was brief, but intense as it seems that each of the attackers had some small mastery of magic. While his companions battled the mysterious wizards, Donny stood at the doorway to the final chamber. He contemplated the simple elegance of the rune and thought on its meaning, and back over his life of inequity. His faced burned with shame as he remembered all of the things he had stolen, the people he had cheated and lied to. He pressed his head against the stone block and wept for his wasted life. Desperate to vent his frustration, he raised his hand and hammered the stone with his bare fist.
It exploded outward in an earth shattering thunderclap, he was thrown violently backwards and those few remaining enemies were put to flight by the sudden cacophony. One was close to the door and might have escaped except that Alvera calmly brought her crossbow to her cheek and, with barely an instant to aim, loosed a shoot that struck the fleeing figure exactly between the shoulder blades and he slumped down in death.
The party turned to see Donny emerging from the far chamber, brandishing the massive stone weapon. All of them regarded him, but he only had eyes for the hammer; Jafnir. He wasn’t sure how he knew, but he knew that was its name, and he knew that it meant that he was being given a chance to redeem himself.
Seeing that it was possible to breach these vaults, the rest of the group set about trying. Alexius posted himself in front of the vault of Patience and resolved to show that he was as calm and still as the stone around him.
Alvera decided that the rune of wisdom indicated that the solution lay in clever thinking. She unraveled a length of rope and tied it to the end of a bolt. It took several tries but eventually she was able to hook the fine cloak within on the edge of the head of the bolt. She had scarcely began to real in her catch when the stone block began to descend with a groan. At first she thought it was opening before her, in reward for her unorthodox thinking, but it stopped while the doorway was still completely blocked. Then it began to rotate to reveal a massive stone figure of a mighty warrior bearing a two handed hammer, similar to the one in Donny’s possession. The eyes of the statute pulsed alive with yellow fire and it lifted its hammer and strode purposefully towards her. Unsure of exactly what might be happening, she threw herself to the ground to beg for forgiveness for her transgressions. Unfortunately for her the golem was uninterested in her protestations of innocence and proceeded to smash her into an unrecognizable pulp. The rest of the group looked on in shock. No one heard Donny whisper under his breath.
Once Alvera was well and truly dead, the stone giant turned about and clambered back into its niche. Once properly ensconced, the stone pillar returned to its previous position. Looking within they could see the woolen cloak, sitting as it had been on the simple dais within.
Anima spoke briefly with Donny and came up with a theory based on his account of opening the first vault. He went to the vault of Patience and poured a small measure of water from his skin onto the slab. Almost immediately it began to collapse as the stone morphed into a pile of wet sand. Walking gingerly into the chamber, Anima picked up the strange object, looking like nothing so much as an ornate water clock.
Seeing this, Alexius rushed over to the final vault and blew gently on it. The stone slab that should have been able to resist any force the party could have brought to bear fell inwards and shattered into a thousand pieces. Stepping over the rubble Alexius picked up the cloak and threw it around his shoulders.