"Ah, the Rimefrost Isles, ye say? A place so cold, it chills yer very soul, it does. Cursed by the gods and forgotten by time, those islands be a tomb for the livin' and a haven for the dead. Aye, ye'll find no warm hearths or friendly faces there—only the Auk Scraelang, and believe me, ye don't want to cross swords with those icy devils. So, if ye plan on venturin' to the Rimefrost Isles, prepare yer heart for the chill of eternal winter and the dread that comes when ye lock eyes with a puffin that's been dead for centuries but still craves the warmth of yer livin' flesh."
History of the Rimefrost Isles and the Colony of Frigidholm
The Rimefrost Isles were once a promising haven named "Frigidholm," settled during the Middle Ages by undead mutant animal puffin Vikings known as the Auk Scraelang, alongside their human masters. Frigidholm was initially founded as a staging point for Viking—or as they referred to themselves, Vyking—expeditions heading toward the untamed lands of Laurasia, a distant continent that promised untold riches and glory. Situated strategically amidst the treacherous waters of the Rimefrost Isles, Frigidholm was designed to be a self-sufficient, fortified settlement where seafarers could rest, resupply, and prepare for the next leg of their journey. The two most prominent fleets to settle Frigidholm were known as the "Stormclaw Armada" and the "Icetooth Flotilla." Both fleets consisted of a motley assemblage of longships, knarrs, and drakkars, intricately carved with fearsome dragonheads and intricate runic designs. The Stormclaw Armada hailed from the frostbitten lands of Norrhem, a kingdom renowned for its battle-hardened warriors and shamanistic practices. The Icetooth Flotilla, on the other hand, originated from the islands of Skargen, known for their expertise in seamanship and an animistic tradition that revered the forces of nature. Initially, Frigidholm was a thriving hub of activity. Its natural harbor was always bustling with Vyking vessels and fishing boats, while the markets teemed with traders exchanging exotic goods from Laurasia for Norrhem iron and Skargen furs. Meadhalls were built, where stories of seafaring adventures and monster slayings were shared over copious amounts of honeyed mead. A grand temple was erected, dedicated to an eclectic mix of deities from both fleets' pantheons. Here, rituals were performed to seek the favor of the gods for safe passage and bountiful raids. The society was clan-based, with decisions being made by a council of Jarls representing both fleets.
However, the relative prosperity of Frigidholm was short-lived. Their fate was sealed by the calamitous Long Winter, an unnatural freeze that devastated their settlements. When the Long Winter descended upon the settlement, the seas froze over, crops failed, and livestock perished. Desperation led the Auk Scraelang to unearth forbidden secrets in a deep Atlantean tomb concealed beneath layers of iceThe tomb, known as "Khrysothoth's Sanctum," was the resting place of an entity that was a master of necromantic practices. In a desperate bid for survival, the residents of Frigidholm turned to Khrysothoth's Sanctum, casting aside their traditional gods for the dark promises whispered from below the icy surface. What emerged from that accursed ritual was no longer a community of hearty Vyking explorers but the undead Auk Scraelang—twisted parodies of their former selves, with hearts as cold as ice of their now eternal dwelling place. The rituals discovered therein granted them an eerie unlife, in exchange for unspeakable sacrifices. Their "fear ships," dubbed Dolornaughts, are nightmare vessels forged from a rare, magical black bone known as "Umbral Ossium" and propelled by magics dredged from the deepest fathoms of despair. Their weapons and armor are equally unsettling, crafted from Umbral Ossium and a magically enchanted ice called "Elysian Frost." Supplemented by necromancers and cyromancers, the Auk Scraelang armies swell with ghastly constructs and risen dead. They summon undead sharks and other aberrations, each more terrifying than the last, to patrol the icy waters surrounding their accursed domain.
The Mission: The Lost Ship
The Alchemyst's Reverie was a grand three-masted galleon, designed to withstand the treacherous currents and unpredictable storms of the Atlantic. Her hull was reinforced with enchanted ironwood, and her sails were woven from a magical blend of silk and dragon's breath, making them resistant to both fire and wind. The figurehead at the prow was a finely crafted golden phoenix with ruby eyes, which served as a symbol of both the alchemical pursuits she facilitated and the resurrection of riches she promised.
The Alchemyst's Reverie was laden with barrels of alchemical gold—a rare and potent element forged through mysterious, secret processes that imbued it with both magical and material value. This form of gold serves not only as a metal but also as a catalyst in various spells, incantations, and healing rituals. Its loss would be an irreparable setback for the Alchemist's Guilds in both Kamden and Sin City. Tragically, the Alchemyst's Reverie never reached her destination. The ship vanished without a trace, fueling rampant speculation and sorrow in both cities. The last known signal emitted from the ship's magical beacon placed her near the frigid waters off the Rimefrost Isles. With so much at stake, the guilds pooled their resources and magical prowess to organize an expedition to locate the ship and recover the invaluable cargo.
This expedition would not be for the faint-hearted. The Rimefrost Isles were not just inhospitable but malevolent, harboring ancient curses and legendary beasts like the undead Auk Scraelang, whom legends foretold prowled these icy domains. Both guilds were well aware that whoever embarked on this perilous mission would have to face unspeakable risks, including but not limited to vicious storms, malevolent spirits, and ancient curses. Yet, the alchemical gold was deemed invaluable enough to warrant the peril. Scholarly elders, seasoned adventurers, and mercenaries were invited to submit their applications. Magically binding contracts were prepared, laying out the terms and rewards for this hazardous quest.
The Lost Captain: Captain Elara "Goldwing" Thistledown
Captain Elara Thistledown was no ordinary seafarer; she was a feline mutant-animal, possessing a blend of human intellect and feline agility. Known widely as "Goldwing" for her golden, leonine wings that sprouted from her back, she was the epitome of a maritime adventurer in this unusual world. Her fur was a rich blend of auburn and tawny hues, and her eyes glinted with the deep blue of oceanic depths, always alert to the nuances of her surroundings. A pair of lynx-like tufted ears swiveled to capture even the faintest sounds, a trait that had saved her crew more than once from looming danger. Goldwing's tail was as expressive as it was functional, serving as a natural rudder when she swam and a balance point when she executed her high-flying acrobatics. This tail was also adorned with a series of silver rings, each one engraved with magical runes that contributed to her uncanny ability to predict the weather—a necessary skill for any worthy sea captain. Her attire was an eclectic but functional blend of naval tradition and personal flair. She wore a tricorn hat embedded with protective charms, beneath which her hair was neatly braided to keep it out of her face. Her jacket was made of water-resistant dragon scale leather, dyed in dark shades to better blend with the sea at night. Around her waist, a belt of enchanted leather held an assortment of tools, including a beautifully crafted cutlass with a hilt shaped like intertwined serpents.
The Rescue Vessel: The Arcanum Solstice
When it came to search-and-rescue missions in treacherous waters, few ships could rival the capabilities of the Arcanum Solstice. This vessel was not merely a product of mundane craftsmanship; it was a magnum opus of maritime artistry and alchemical engineering. Built primarily from Skywood, a rare lumber harvested from trees growing on floating islands, the ship was lighter than most vessels of its size, aiding both in speed and buoyancy. The wood bore a deep blue hue, almost as if echoing the sky from which it came. A striking characteristic of the Arcanum Solstice was the intricate filigree work that adorned its sides, bow, and stern.
Woven into these golden filigrees were crystalline shards of Wyrmglass, which were not just for decoration; they also functioned as conduits for various protective enchantments. At the bow, an exquisitely crafted mermaid figurehead clasped a radiant pearl in her hands. Rumors whispered that this wasn’t merely an ornament, but a bound water spirit that guided the ship through mist and storm. Wyrmglass is an enigmatic material, a substance that straddles the realms of magic and mineralogy, an artifact of alchemy and arcane history that defies easy classification. From afar, it emanates an iridescent glow, its colors shifting and merging in a dance that imitates the spectral flames of a dragon's breath. When sunlight strikes its surface, it refracts into a thousand kaleidoscopic patterns, painting the ground and surrounding objects with radiant glyphs that seem to tell stories of ancient realms and forgotten lore. Its origins are steeped in myth and conjecture. According to legend, Wyrmglass is said to be forged in the crucible of a dragon's final exhalation. When an ancient dragon, a creature of untold magical power, meets its demise, its departing soul crystallizes the air and surrounding elements. This process blends the creature's innate arcane energy with the raw substances of the Earth, resulting in a substance that is neither wholly organic nor mineral. In texture, Wyrmglass feels deceptively smooth to the touch, as if sculpted by the wind itself. Yet it carries an unexpected weight, as if each shard contains within it an entire lifetime of mystical knowledge and experience. Though it possesses the translucence of glass, it is far more resilient, resisting even the most powerful physical and magical assaults. It has a brittleness that is almost illusory; attempts to shatter it often leave the aggressor stunned, as if a resonant frequency within the material counteracts the force applied to it. Alchemists and sorcerers find Wyrmglass to be a priceless component in various magical applications. When ground into powder, it serves as a potent reagent for elixirs that grant ephemeral insights into the magical weave of the world. When incorporated into the structure of magical items, it amplifies the efficacy of spells and enchantments. Swords with edges honed from Wyrmglass are said to cut through the very fabric of reality itself, allowing the wielder to strike down even incorporeal foes.
However, Wyrmglass is not without its dangers. The material has a peculiar affinity with the very essence of dragonkind. Those who keep Wyrmglass artifacts in their possession for extended periods report hearing whispers, the spectral vestiges of dragon song, murmuring secrets both enlightening and maddening. Scholars have even posited that Wyrmglass might possess a form of sentience, a collective consciousness that links each shard to the last remnants of the dragon's soul. In the world of art, Wyrmglass has its own singular beauty. Sculptors who work with the material must exercise great caution, as the substance resents being shaped by unworthy hands. Yet, when successfully crafted, Wyrmglass sculptures become timeless masterpieces, their every facet and curve seeming to tell an endless tale of tragedy and triumph, of realms long vanished and epochs yet to come.
Dimensions and Crew
The ship measured a robust 120 feet from stem to stern, and its masts towered another 90 feet into the sky. With three expansive decks and multiple cargo holds, the Arcanum Solstice was designed to undertake long and perilous journeys.
The crew of this remarkable vessel was as diverse as it was skilled, led by the stern but just Commander Mortimer "Cragjaw" Ironvein, a mutant-animal badger known for his tactical brilliance. Then there was Lysandra, the enigmatic elven navigator who claimed to read the stars as easily as others read books. Rounding out the senior crew were Sal "Threepaws," a raccoon mutant-animal quartermaster with an uncanny knack for logistics, and Eilif "Stormsinger," a human bard who doubled as the ship's primary source of morale and arcane expertise. Each crew member, from the most seasoned veteran to the greenest cabin boy, was handpicked not just for their vocational aptitude, but also for their ability to function in the face of supernatural adversity.
Together, they embodied a singular purpose: to navigate the labyrinthine perils of sea and magic to recover the Alchemyst’s Reverie, and, if the gods were willing, her valiant crew. Time was of the essence, but if any ship and crew could defy the odds, it was those aboard the Arcanum Solstice.