Maccath repeated herself again as she nervously watched Kindra deftly throw another stack of books onto Maccath’s desk to choose whether to transport it south or not. “… these volumes exist nowhere else in Faerun.”
The heroes had agreed to help Maccath pack up her belongings to ensure they could leave Oyavigatton quickly, but Maccath’s lack of apparent gratitude was still odd.
“Perhaps, but the devotion to one’s study can sometimes come at the expense of social graces…” Ioan replied almost as if he had been thinking the same thing already.
The cold of the iceberg didn’t seem quite so unbearable anymore, and even the cautious were able to relax a little bit after Maccath’s repeated assurances that Arauthator would not return for weeks or longer; so sound was his defeat at the hands of the heroes who ambushed him in his own lair. That is what made Maccath’s apparent distraction even more strange; her single-mindedness in protecting and removing the precious volumes from her little frozen library seemed to occupy her every thought. After watching Kindra duck out of the tent through one of the many tapestries, Finnius caught Maccath gazing off as if lost in thought.
“What is it, Maccath?” he asked. “You tryin’ to move these things with your mind?” He walked over to another tall stack of books that Th’mugen had throw down with a grunt before he disappeared an hour ago, placed his hat on top of the stack, and holding the brim, dragged the hat downwards, swallowing the entire stack inside the depths of his top hat.
“I am only sorry Marfulb will not join us.”
What the heroes had learned is that the ice frogs they had slain and scared off were, in fact, ‘caretakers’ of the iceberg, and had been here long before Maccath ever arrived. Their leader, Marfulb, was especially intelligent and had been keeping records and logs of The White Death, a biography of sorts, for the dragon for many years. Completely beholden to the dragon, they would not leave or allow their task to end prematurely until the Old White Death should leave forever, or be killed.
Denying Finnius the opportunity to respond in his ‘unique’ manner, Th’mugen appeared in an abrupt manner, clearly impatient with how longs things were taking. “How much longer?” he asked.
Looking around the tent area, Maccath took stock of what was left, lifting and double-checking what papers, scrolls and books remained on her desk to ensure they were of no value. With a glance at Finnius, and then to Th’mugen, she simply said, “It’s time to leave.”
The news of Aruathator’s defeat was celebrated by the Ice Hunters with cheers, cries of disbelief and gifts of their finest fermented fish for the heroes. Barking Seal, Bonecarver, and even a somewhat recouperated Orcaheard all praised the heroes as messiahs who had freed them from their frozen imprisonment. Having a knowledge of The White Death themselves, they seemed certain that they had enough time to lose themselves in the vast expanse of the Sea of Moving Ice and find a new home where Arauthator couldn’t track them. As the heroes escorted Maccath to the landing shore, she found herself next to Melissandre and said aloud, as much to herself as to Melissandre, “The dragon may have fled to save his own life, but his revenge will be terrible.”
Signalling Lerustah as agreed, the captain of Frostkimmr arrived shortly after, leaning over the edge of the boat desperate to see whether the heroes had all returned.
“My, my! You are the right ones for the job as they say!” He laughed aloud, the apprehension, nervousness and careful concern about finding Oyavigatton seemed to have disappeared with the threat of the ghost dragon. Even Drugo seemed happy to see the heroes, and was the first to help carry some of the loot the heroes discovered back on board to be stowed away securely. With the crew acting as disciplined and expertly as they had travelling into the frozen north, they were soon underway, back to Waterdeep as planned.
The trip south was relatively uneventful, and the crew thought better of hauling the ship onto any iceflows as they had done on their way north. However, it was both Kindra and Melissandre who noticed on their first night at sea, the moon that shone brightly over them blinked dark more than once.
“Will he attack?” Kindra asked, her concern obvious not for herself, but everyone on board.
“No…” Melissandre responded with certainly, not even concerned enough to turn her gaze at they sky again. “… he knows us now.”