Our expert judges have conferred, and we have our five finalists for the Enter the Dragon’s Lair contest! Each day this week, we’ll post one of the finalists, and then we’ll set up a voting process so that you, our readers, can vote for your favorite entry. Today’s entry comes from Ronald Corn—congratulations, Ronald, for gaining one of the coveted finalist positions!
Ice Bridge Encounter
After a grueling climb, you finally reach the summit of the icy southern peak. Staring out across a great expanse, you can barely make out a cave mouth carved into the side of the next rise. Unfortunately there is only one way to reach the next peak or the cave mouth; by a long bridge made of ice.
The ice bridge is over 300′ in length and connects the two icy peaks. The base of the bridge appears to be a natural sheet of ice approximately 20′ wide for most of its length. On both sides of the base an icy fence rises about 4 feet high and is designed in a criss-cross pattern. It runs the entire length of the bridge. The fence certainly limits the chance of accidentally slipping off the bridge and an almost certain death. It is obvious, considering your long ascent to the top, that despite the chasm being filled with icy fog, the drop from this height is well over 1000′ feet.
The surface of the bridge is covered in ice and snow and wind drifts have created mounds of snow in various spots along the walkway. Although the mounds at places are as high as 3 feet, the bridge is quite easy to traverse.
Near the midpoint of the bridge is a clearing, bathed in blue light. This clearing is unique for a few reasons. First the area immersed in this blue light is devoid of ice and snow, giving it the appearance of a normal black metal bridge from this distance. Second there appears to be several large white birds gathered there.
The bridge is covered with such a thick layer of ice and snow it gives the appearance that the entire bridge and fence is made of ice. Movement across the bridge costs 2 squares of movement unless the ice sheet is removed. Also, the severely slippery bridge increases the DC of Acrobatics checks by 5. A DC 10 Acrobatics check is required to run or charge across the icy bridge.
Upon closer examination it appears that the ice bridge has been reinforced by superior dwarven craftsmanship. A metal framework has been laid around and over the natural ice bridge providing increased movement and stability. Connected black metal plates can be seen just under the thick surface of the ice. These metal plates run the length of the bridge. Likewise, the ice fence is actually made of the same metal and is firmly anchored to the natural bridge, providing even more support.
Close inspection of both the metal walkway and the metal fence reveal thousands of Dwarven runes etched into the surface. The runes are clearly Dwarven but many are ancient and their meaning lost with the fallen kingdom of Nordhëim. Anyone who is able to speak and read Dwarven can make them out as runes of protection from the elements. A DC 15 Knowledge check in either (Dwarven Lore/history) or (linguistics) will reveal the following messages repeated over the length of the bridge.
“Wotan, Father of Runes, light me path”
“All Father, Rune Master, make me feet firm.”
“Father, fear can’t hold me!”
Should a Dwarf speak the first phrase, “Wotan, Father of Runes, light me path” the runes begin to glow in blue light. These runes light both the path and the fence. After three rounds the runes produce enough heat to melt the surface ice as well. With the metal plates free of surface ice, the PCs are less likely to slip gaining +2 to any reflex saves or Acrobatics checks and can move normally. Unfortunately as the ice melts the heating of the bridge surface wakes the white dragon sleeping under the bridge (see below).
Should a Dwarf speak the phrase “All Father, Rune Master, make me feet firm,” all metal on the bridge secretes a magical adhesive. This adhesive will bind any living substance to the metal until the third phrase, “Father, fear can’t hold me!” is uttered. This adhesive was used to keep dwarves from falling, especially when the violent winds kicked up at this altitude. It is important to note that in order to utilize the adhesive it is first necessary to clear the topmost layer of ice from the metal walkway.
The white birds are actually tiny white dragon wyrmlings and are feeding on a Dwarven corpse. The fallen Dwarf still holds a Dwarven battle axe in his grasp. The axe glows with a brilliant blue light. This blue light radiates heat and is the reason the area is void of any ice and snow. The battle axe, named Blue Fire, is +2 vs ice/snow creatures. This continual warmth is the reason neither the corpse or the battle axe has succumbed to the intense cold.
(5) white dragons wyrmlings
The snow mounds are actually white dragon eggs. Attacking any of the eggs whether by force or use of fire will wake the white dragon curled up sleeping upside down under the bridge. Vibrations do not wake the sleeping dragon but using fire on the bridge will. This does include the warmth provided by the runes, but at a slightly slower pace. After the ice begins to melt (round 3) every turn thereafter the runes are still active (and warming) there is a 1 in 6 chance the adult white dragon will sense the warmth. This increases to 2 in 6 on round 5, 3 in 6 on round 6, etc. This only happens when the runes are still warming. Should a dwarf turn them off then the warming process stops.
Three of the mounds (eggs) have puffs of frosty vapor emanating from them. These eggs are just beginning to hatch. They will hatch in 5 turns and add 3 more hatchlings to the mix.
(1) Adult White Dragon