The party posing as the Central Mining Authority was able to secure passage on an airship north, where they would be able to find out more about the unusual icewalker authority. Their journey took them past many of the Hastlanti league’s cities. Every city had the same story, they were working their best to prepare for the long winter but a pirate had stolen one of the league’s airships and had was raiding the farming communities. He was kidnapping most of the townsfolk and stealing all the topsoil he could get his hands on. The cities of the north referred to these fertile regions as Emeralds and their topsoil carried an old enchantment that kept them (relatively) warm and capable of bearing crops.
After a several stops and several days the airship left for its final stop, the remote outpost city of Crystal the last refuge bordering on the great barren expanse that is the northern glacier. This peaceful journey was interrupted as lookout shouted that the pirate had been spotted. The dread ship Sacrifice was speeding in the direction the party had just come from. On a course that was bringing directly towards the Haven, a small farming community. With a bit of bravado from Andolin and pleases for compassion from Ishtar a spark of courage was ignited in the heart of the cowardly captain of their ship. He took them on a course following the pirate and as the pirate ship descended on its prey the captain loaned the party his emergency glider to make their landing.
As this was not the party’s first time in a glider they easily piloted it into a hidden alleyway near the town square. From there they had a perfect view of the pirate crew running into houses to capture the townsfolk. Leaping into battle they easily took out the ruffians. They only noticed that all the pirates carried the mark of demon-taint moments before demon spiders leapt down from the ship to aid their human vassals. While the human combatants went down easily the spiders proved much tricker to pin down. They would strike, poisoning the heroes and knocking them prone, then would leap to the safety of the rooftops. Gilgamesh had no problems chasing them, jumping up on boxes and carts to reach the roofs. Andolin teleported across the entire town square to reach his quarry. Ishtar pinned one against a wall where it couldn’t escape. Esprit, was actually quite happy that they all decided to leave him alone. As soon as the spider demons died the ship began to cast off its ropes and attempted to make its escape. Esprit used his telekinetic powers to lift the party to the ship and they hid in the hold while they gathered their energies to take the deck.
Minutes later they burst through the doors of the deck deck. Taking out swaths of pirates on their way to the command deck. At the wheel of the ship stood Captain Gyrfalcon, a man with a dashing red pirate outfit and a sickly green circle burning on his forehead. This circle resembled that of a Solar but glowed with the green fire of Malfeas. Cackling he engaged the party in combat. He moved like the wind, his pistol shooting gouts of fire, his rapier leaving burning trails. Any time the party thought they had him pinned he would vanish and reappear in several places. The ship soon became a chaotic mess of light and sounds and colors as Animas flared. The captain’s green spider being surrounded by a mountaintop flag, a sea of blue light, a tiger and dragon, and a storm of crystals. The thunderous noise and flashes of light could be seen and heard for miles. Despite his awesome speed and strength the corrupted solar could not withstand the party and was knocked out.
When he awoke he was quite difficult to interrogate. He spoke to himself several times as if seeking council, or arguing with the answers he just gave. All they learned is that he wished their deaths, that he was the greatest captain ever, and that he was working for someone else further north. Giving up on getting any information out of him past that they decided to break his neck. Sadly the bonds restraining him were too loose and he threw himself off the side of the vessel before they could finish him off. It is unknown if he could survive the fall from a mile up into icy cold waters. The party then turned to the crew. The healing knowledge of Ishtar and the arcane training of Espirt was enough to revert some of the crew back into their former selves. These now freed men gladly informed the party of the icewalker barbarian who was gathering the tribes and was organizing the raids the former Captain Gyrfalcon was leading. Indebted to the party they agreed to take them to the far away outpost of Diamond Hearth, a tiny speck hidden in the expanse of the northern glacier.
It took them a week to get there and from the air it was clear that someone had made serious alterations to the city. The city rested in a hollow in the ice and excavation teams were breaking away huge blocks of the glacier in order to expand the fields around the city. Giant mounds of topsoil stolen from Emeralds waited to be spread across the newly cleared ground. Also the center of the city had been razed, the town hall and center square destroyed. In its place was a tent village. This required investigation so they landed the ship and instructed the crew to keep it safe.
Venturing into town they soon got the measure of Diamond Hearth. It was a mining town, most of the people who lived there were bachelor miners, out to make their fortune in the diamond and jewel mines out on the ice. Now there was a new order, the barbarian Icewalkers had come in one day and sacked the town. The civilian populace was left untouched but the leaders were killed and the barbarians took control. Now they demanded that the miners farm food for them with stolen topsoil. Anyone who dissented soon met with the icewalker witch, Samera. After this meeting they were complete subservient to her and the icewalkers and this sudden lack of free will made the rest either fall in line or stay silent. Deciding they needed to meet this Samera for themselves Gilgamesh and Andolin went from tavern to tavern, touting their reluctance to Samera’s control in hopes one of her converts would hear and report them. This plan bore fruit quickly as it took less than 2 hours for Samera to appear and interrogate the PCs. She hit the entire party with a form of Solar social attack, her caste mark appearing on her forehead as she spoke. Only Esprit was hit by the effect but it inflicted him with the desire to perform any task she or the barbarian warlord, Yurgen Kaneko, requested of him. Upon learning that they were with the airship and the previous captain was not there she brought them straight to the camp in the center of town.
In the grand central tent they met the warlord behind it all, the solar Yurgen Kaneko. He asked the party where the captain of the ship was and they claimed he was dead. Struck down by the Hastlanti navy, the ship and crew fled for their lives unable to take any topsoil with them. They were also mysteriously freed from the demon possession by his death somehow. Dissapointed to hear this Yurgen appointed one of his other dragonblooded lieutenant to take command of the ship. He said the party could stay in the tents tonight but in the morning they must take the lieutenant out on a raiding mission to the south. For winter was coming and the grand campaign was about to begin….