The party headed north, fending off wyvern attacks along the road. They had purchased a luxury camper style wagon so that the mage could use the travel time to learn spells, and for the most part it worked.
Soon enough they reached the gates of Elsarime. The city wall, little more than an overly tall palisade, stretched on either side, and the gate itself was ornately carved with wooden faces on it and thick, metal bound doors. Walking on a platform above the gate was a single guard. In spite of the wind and biting cold, the guard stood stripped to the waist, seemingly proud of is physique and tattoos.
This far north the weather had changed. There was snow on the ground and the temperature had dropped to dangerously cold levels. The halfling was riding in Pinwheel, and he found that, other than protecting from the wind, the steel construct collected the cold and turned into a mobile ice box. The necromancer was immune to the cold, being undead, and the barbarian was simply too tough to care about petty concerns such as frostbite.
The guard challenged them, stating that this was a harsh land and they didn’t get many travellers. After some brief confusion over whether they were there for business or pleasure they were allowed in. The walls and buildings cut out the wind, and while it was still cold, they could move around far more comfortably.
Directly inside the gate was a tavern, promising warmth and food. They notes the ice had been cleared of the sign above the door, but the other buildings in the area hadnt done the same thing. Without any way if knowing already, finding a shop would be challenging. The bar was called “Mahalo!”.
Inside they found the promised warmth, as well as local cheese. The tavern was occupied with a couple of the bronze skinned warriors from the town, as well as a small cadre of dwarves. When asked, the dwarves told them they were merchants bringing goods from a holdfast in the mountains, but before they could elaborate further, the party wandered off.
They knew they were on the clock, so to speak, with the impending apocalypse, so they bought coats and gear for the cold at a local shop they had to ask directions to and prepared to head out. The elderly shopkeeper was surprised and shocked to see… well, anyone, let alone outsiders. He cut them a deal to try and get them to come back.
But the cold was brutal, and the buildings were warm, seemingly without fires. They investigated and discovered the heat coming off of the idols. Being enterprising adventurers, they decided to head to the temple in the center of town to see if they could buy one, to make the trip up the mountains easier.
The temple was by far the largest building in the city, consisting of concentric rings of increasingly high thatched roofs that ended in a point some forty feet in the air. Through the thatch heat leaked out, causing visual distortion between the heroes and he sky above. No snow fell on the temple, despite the fact that it drifted down in a dusting of small lazy snowflakes over the test of the town.
They opened the door and we’re punched in the face with a blast of hot, moist air. Everywhere priest hurried around in loincloths, stripped to the absolute bare minimum required for modesty. One near the door hurried over and greeted them with a wide smile and open arms.
The party quickly realized the heat was rolling off the massive idol in the center in radiant waves, hot enough to be uncomfortable if one was unprepared for it.
The idol was the shape of a large stylized woman, with exaggerated female features that implied fertility and procreation. It was a truly massive statue, surrounded by flowered the likes of which they had never seen before, colored in bright reds and blues. Around it four bronze braziers burned, each one at the compass points.
The heroes asked about the idol, and if they could aquire one for their trip up the mountain. The priests told them they were welcome to one, but Ahi, the goddess represented by the idol, only provided heat for true worshippers.
The party looked at each other. Their cleric shrugged. He worshipped Yondalla. He couldn’t help them.
The Sorceress stepped up and volunteered. Worshipping a goddess of heat and flame could be fun, she said, and then paused.
“Um, worshipping Ahi doesn’t involve anything terrible, does it?”
The priest laughed, “No, of course not, but to prove you’re an actual worshipper, and not just some adventurer looking to stay warm on a frozen mountain, Ahi demands a small sacrifice. There is a monthly tithe. You must burn small something of value in her name.”
The Sorceress agreed. Her first sacrifice was her coat, burned on one of the four sacred braziers.
Equipped and armed, the party set out up the mountain without delay.