Moving on, the group decided to head to the bear village of Oksaahka, hoping to find more clues about Philippe Heyerdahl and the Meydani Map. Old Will Dyer had warned them that the bears were distrustful of outsiders, but if they were approached with respect and caution, they could be helpful. As they grew closer to the village, the group intentionally put away their weapons and set up a small camp outside the village proper, away from the walls but still obvious to the residents. After a short time, a large armored bear made his way out to the group, stopping outside their camp but between them and the village. Malaxder went out and spoke with the bear, who introduced himself as Amak, one of the chieftains of Oksaahka.
Malaxder laid out their purpose for visiting, and their intentions to Amak, speaking politely and truthfully. Amak was impressed with Mal, and said that while they would not be welcomed into the village, they were welcome to stay in their camp outside, and he would consult with the village elders who might have dealt with Heyerdahl. The next day, he returned with a request of their own: in exchange for the information, they wanted the group to do some scouting for them. The bears were in thrall to an ice dragon named Krikhesmeth, who regularly demanded tribute from them. While Krikhesmeth was not a kind creature, she generally left the bears alone as long as they stayed out of her territory and gave regular tribute. However, she had not demanded tribute from them in some time, and they bears worried not so much about her health but about something that might have been powerful enough to stop her from leaving her lair. Amak asked if the group would be willing to travel to her lair and investigate, and see what might have become of the powerful dragon.
Traveling to her lair was uneventful, but approaching it became suddenly difficult. A field of towering ice spires lead up to the frozen cave she occupied, and while Mal could not detect any magic in them, Dor knew that these formation could be dangerous nonetheless. As they entered the field, arcs of electricity jumped from spire to spire, creating a dangerous path for the group to traverse. Dor’s speed and quick reflexes allowed him to safely cross the spires, and the rest of the group followed in his wake before the natural hazards could reset their stores of energy.
Continuing up and into the lair, the group’s attempt at announcing themselves was met with no response. Entering the cave, they were attacked by bound ice elementals, who lashed out at them with wicked sharp icicles. Defeating the bound guardians, the group then encountered a gathering of ice mephits. The mephits attempted to scare the adventurers with blustery words, but Malaxder saw through them and convinced them to stand down. After a bit of talking, the mephits revealed that they had been learning from the dragon, but something had happened to her recently and they were afraid to approach her space deeper in the lair. Malaxder convinced the mephits they were there to help, and they agreed not to attack him if he would go and see what had become of the dragon. They also warned him that the dragon had a powerful animal companion, which would fight to defend its mistress.
Going deeper inside, they came across strange scratchings on the walls, and a terrible smell. Looking over the scratchings, Anton feared that something terrible had taken ahold of the dragon, as the “writings” were mostly mad ramblings, and mentions of some terrible thing. Coming around the corner, the encountered the dragon herself – her eyes had gone white and rheumy, there was spittle flecked around her mouth, and several of her claws were gone. All over her body, patches of scales were torn out, and they were stacked across the floor with more writings on them, some of them written in the blood dripping from her fingers where she tore her claws out. In the corner, a gigantic wolf-like creature whose fur seemed to be made of ice was cowering, her animal companion clearly in fear of whatever had affected the mighty dragon. Obviously driven mad by some terrible power, she lashed out at the group with her breath weapon, which they narrowly avoided. Gathering around Malaxder, they quickly teleported out of the lair and back to Oksaahka, dodging another clumsy attack from the dragon as they fled.
Returning to the bears, they quickly gave their bad news to Amak, who invited them into the village to give their report directly to the council of elders. Entering the village, they followed Amak to the council’s hut, and presented their story to the elders. As they finished, however, a terrible sound, half roar, half shriek of pain, echoed across the tundra – the dragon had come to the village, and she was berserk with rage.
Running outside, the group fought valiantly to defend the bears, who did their best to fight off the maddened dragon. Dodging blasts of wintery breath, the group engaged the dragon and her massive animal companion in combat, bringing fire and magic and swords to bear against the awesome beast. After a terrible battle, Shackleton finally plunged his sword into the dragon’s heart, and Anton felled the wolf-like creature with Baph’s help.
For their valiant defense of the village, the bears happily agreed to tell them everything they knew, and also used their skills and magic to upgrade the groups armor, granting them all a greater chance to survive future battles. The bears told them that Heyerdahl had come looking for clues to the mythic demon city of Icerazer, which the bears did have knowledge of. They explained that Icerazer exists on an iceberg, perpetually floating around the Icemaw Sea to the south. However, Icerazer’s drifting followed a pattern, and those who understood the pattern could predict where the iceberg might be found. Explaining this to Dor and Shackleton, the pair pooled their knowledge and determined that Icerazer would actually be coming close to Tilkatukus soon. They thanked the bears for their generosity, and decided to return to Tilkatukus gear up and prepare to make the oversea trip to Icerazer.