Returning to Stormreach, the group decided to take some downtime and relax before deciding where to head next. During their relaxation, they were approached by a Changeling Scout who introduced himself as Dor. Dor told them he was looking for a particular artifact, a map known as The Meydani Map. The Map was last seen in the hands of a dwarf explorer named Phillipe Heyerdahl, more than 100 years ago. Heyerdahl was mounting an expedition to the Everice, in the distant southern reaches of Xen’drik, but he never returned. Dor believed that the Map was still down in the Everice somewhere, and he wanted to recover it. However, he did not have the resources to make the trip alone, and he knew he would need the aid of a group to acquire the artifact. He had approached the Savage Company, but they were not interested in helping him. However, he had heard of a rival group who had tangled with the Savage Company in the past, and decided to seek them out. The group asked Dor to give them some time to consider, and he agreed to come back the next day.
When Dor left, Anton told the group that he remembered that the Meydani Map was an artifact all right – it was an artifact of The Traveler, and would be considered sacred to those who worshipped him. Shackleton didn’t have a big problem with that, as long as Dor’s money was good. Tierel wanted to travel south to the Everice anyway, as her mother had also headed in that direction at some point in the past. The group finally decided to take Dor’s money, and journey south to the Everice.
The next day, they met with Dor and agreed to his terms, and Shackleton set about gearing the group up for travel to the arctic climes. Dor had arranged passage on a ship heading south, and they set out a few days later for the two week journey to the Everice.
During the journey, they were attacked a few times by marauding Drow, and they had a chance to fight alongside Dor and see the measure of his abilities. Dor was an expert archer, as well as being an accomplished Scout and tracker. His nature as a changeling was sometimes annoying, as he had a habit of imitating those around him in an attempt to “fit in.” Over time, they grew to trust him more and more, and the group learned to fight alongside each other effectively enough.
During the quieter times of their journey, Anton brought up something that had been disturbing him. As they traveled and learned more about Tierel’s mother, the timeline didn’t make much sense. It seemed that much had happened during the time that Tierel was growing up in Morgrave University, but almost too much had taken place. It seemed that too many things had happened, and in a strange kind of order, and some of the events didn’t make sense. Moreover, Anton could not get a clear picture in his head of how long the group had been journeying together. As he mentioned this, each of the members of the group realized that their own sense of time was off somehow, and they couldn’t clearly remember how long they had been in Xen’drik. Malaxder suggested that this was possibly an effect of the Traveler’s Curse, which distorted both time and distance wherever they went. In the end, no one was able to come up with a good explanation for what they were feeling.
After two weeks travel, the ship docked at a tiny, nameless trading village, which was as far as the ship was traveling. There the group resupplied, and made their way on foot towards the village of Tilkatukus. Dor and Shackleton spoke to the local residents, who warned them of the dangers of their road – Frost Giants had been seen roaming the lands more frequently, and Dire Polar Bears were becoming more active for the start of their mating season. There were other dangers as well, but the group was confident they could survive whatever the Everice could throw at them.
As they traveled a few more days, the group got their chance to test that theory – they were attacked by groups of bloodthirsty Yeti on the open plains, frost salamanders in the icy canyons formed by the howling cold winds, and finally ambushed by a Dire Polar Bear, who managed to sneak up on the group while they walked. All the while, they kept their eyes peeled for Frost Giants or their tracks. After a few days, Dor found some tracks that definitely belonged to giants, and followed them as far as he dared. Cresting a hill, he spotted a giantish scout and it’s frost wolf companion, but it seemed to be heading away from them and from the village they were headed towards. Dor’s ability to camouflage came in very handy, and the giant took no notice of him.
Finally, after a few days of travel in the bitter cold, they arrived at the fishing village of Tilkatukus. Most of the year, the village’s ships were frozen into port on the Icemaw Sea, but now the ice was thawing a bit and the ships could make their trips into the waters, which meant that trade of all kinds was picking up. Dor was fascinated to meet all the different people and races throughout the village, learning more about each race as he talked to everyone. He and the rest of the group went about gathering information on Phillipe Heyerdahl, trying to see if anyone in the village knew of him, or what happened to him. After a great deal of searching and talking to people, he finally met a sage named Will Dyer, who had been living in the village his entire life. Approaching the sage politely and with coin in hand worked out well, and Will was quite happy to share all kinds of information with him. He had never met Heyerdahl himself, but his grandfather had, and he told him of the dwarf explorer. He said that Heyerdahl was planning to explore several sites in the Everice – The wizard’s tower of Delzomen, the bear city of Oksaahka, but what he really sought was the legendary demon city known as Icerazer. The location of Icerazer was unknown, but Heyerdahl was sure that clues to the location of the city could be found in the other locations. Will also spoke of the map that Heyerdahl carried, that would supposedly allow him to find the mythical city, and of the dangers of the Everice, including dragons, creatures, frost giants, and the twisted humanoids known as the Frost Folk, who sacrificed unwilling victims to their evil gods.
While Dor was looking for clues to the Meydani Map, the rest of the group was securing shelter and exploring the village. Tierel and Mal acquired a small hut in the village version of an inn, and found that the hut was populated with tiny hearth spirits called Domovoi, who enjoyed keeping the house warm and cozy, and thus made excellent keepers for the various huts owned by the “inn.” Anton, in the meantime, warned the village elders about the frost giant scout they had seen, and Shackleton and Baph wandered the village taking in the sights and doing some shopping.
As night fell, Dor got ready to take his leave of Will Dyer. Will had taken a shine to the young changeling, and as he was leaving he pulled Dor aside and warned him in a whispered voice about “the madness beneath the ice”. Apparently, something lived beneath the frozen surface of the Everice, something that drove any being that encountered it insane. Will warned Dor that whatever searching he did, not to delve beneath the ice for too long, or to look too deeply into secrets that were best left buried. Dor took his warning to heart, and rejoined the group for their rest before making their way out into the icy wastes the next day.