In the cold wastes of the northern Icewall Mountains, a land where human and fey have been scourged, a secret lies buried and dormant, hidden from the Shadow and almost forgotten by those who toil against the darkness. That secret is a place of great power, a nexus of mystical energy, and possibly a shrine to gods long lost. The nexus, aptly named the Pipes of Heaven, is dormant, waiting in cold silence to once again channel the power of the winds and sing to the mountains and the lost gods.
“Near the summit of Doraden’s Fang, above even the hardiest of the northern firs, is where you will find the Pipes of Heaven, which have remained hidden for over a century from mortal and daemonic sight. The pipes are in a basin that is never touched by snow. Once you find the basin, you will be near the cavern of the keepers and the secrets it holds. Search the southeast face of the Fang closely and you will find the entrance. The keeper’s took great pains to preserve their knowledge. Find the cavern and you will find the answers that you seek.”
The Pipes of Heaven consist of eight shafts descending into the heart of the Icewall Mountains that funnel the power of the northern winds. The shafts range from very small (20” in diameter) to very large (6’ in diameter). The shafts are arranged in a rough circle and sit inside a basin just above the tree line (12’000 feet above sea level). The basin is roughly in the shape of a bowl with rock walls rising almost twenty feet above the basin’s floor. The walls appear natural, but a closer inspection reveals that the gaps in the walls are evenly spaced and match the size of the various pipes. Imbedded into the walls of the basin are iron hooks. The hooks are above eye height (about 10’) and are not immediately noticeable as they blend in with the rock wall.
The former keepers of the nexus lived in a small cave complex on the southeast face of Doraden’s Fang (a mountain in the northern Icewalls). The cave entrance is masked by dense stands of evergreens. Inside the cave there are four primary chambers, a living chamber, a workroom (cooking/crafts), a storage room, and the archives. The archives are unique as the keepers inscribed their history and rituals into the rock walls of the cave. The cave walls tell the history of the nexus, the formation of the keepers, the means of crafting powerful bows/arrows, and the rituals to seal and open the nexus. The archive is truly massive, stretching back almost 700 feet into the mountain. One of the most chilling entries is amongst the last, when the prophecy is announced and the decision is made to seal the nexus. The prophecy written almost a hundred years before the fall, describes in uncanny detail what was to occur.
To open the nexus, a ritual of restoration (a total of 14 caster levels is required) must be conducted. The ritual will reveal the stone seals and allow them to be removed. All eight seals must be removed. The largest seal weighs close to 1,200 pounds. The keepers imbedded the iron hooks into the basin wall to assist in moving the seals. Removing the stones will reveal almost perfectly smooth shafts that descend out of sight. If you drop an item into the shaft, you will never hear an impact.
“As the last stone seal is removed, a rumbling is heard from the very depths of the mountain and the air, already cold, becomes almost crystalline. The winds rage whipping rocks and branches through the air. The roar of the winds is deafening as dark clouds move rapidly toward the mountain. The clouds open sending stinging sleet and sheets of lightning toward the nexus. As the winds increase, it becomes obvious that the basin will provide no defense from the storm and to stay will mean your deaths.”
When the last seal is removed the nexus will draw energy into itself in the form of heavy winds and storms. The storm will have hurricane force winds, sleet, and lightning. The area around the nexus is not habitable during the storm. The only good cover is the keeper’s cave. The storm will gradually decrease in ferocity as the nexus fills with power. By the end of the third day, the winds will begin to drop and the lightning will end. By the end of the sixth day, the storm will pass. Movement on the mountain during the first six days will be exceedingly dangerous if not impossible.
The nexus starts with no spell energy and will slowly increase in power (8 energy a day) until it is fully restored (80 spell energy). The nexus is unusable until it’s been fully restored. Once it’s fully restored, it will operate normally. When using the pipes’ energy, the wind will move through the pipes making a form of music. The sound of the pipes varies with the amount of energy used. Massive use of the nexus’ energy will generate a loud and deep bellow that can be heard for miles. Small energy uses will be higher in pitch and softer, a sound that can barely be heard outside the nexus.
To seal the nexus, a ritual of sealing (a total of 14 caster levels is required) must be conducted. Prior to the ritual, all energy must be drained from the Pipes and the stone seals must be put in place. The ritual powers the seals, which will merge with the existing rock, shrouding the pipes. “As the Pipes go silent and the seals are put in place, the winds begin to whistle through the hills. The wind’s song seems almost a dirge that increases as the ritual is performed. When the ritual ends, the winds cease, and the air is cool and still. A silence settles over the mountain, as if the animals have sensed the loss and mourn the passing of the music of the gods.”
There is one more ritual that can be performed by the Pipes; a violent and destructive ritual, the ritual of shattering. This ritual will destroy the Pipes and create a storm of the ages that obliterates everything in its path. The storm will cover the northern Icewall Mountains and sweep north and west, destroying buildings, creating avalanches, and ripping trees from the ground. Tens of thousands (mostly orcs and goblinkin) will be killed. Details on how to conduct the ritual and even that the ritual exists is hidden within the archives. A very knowledgeable reader who read through the complete archive would find hints of the ritual. When the prophecy of the fall became clear to the keepers, there was debate on using the Pipes as a weapon instead of sealing them off for future generations. It is these discussions that will provide the clues to the ritual of shattering.
The party is approached to guide/guard a group of channelers/keepers to the pipes so they can craft weapons for the resistance.
The party learns that the Shadow has captured documents that provide hints to where the pipes are located. The party must destroy the Shadow party searching for the pipes and burn the documents they carry.
The party is sent on a mission to the Icewalls and is forced up the mountain to escape pursuit. The party discovers the keepers’ cave and the secret of the pipes.
The party has to guide a group to the pipes and guard them while they prepare for the ritual of shattering. A new orc army is forming in the northern Icewalls and the ritual could destroy that army. The party may have to sacrifice their lives to ensure the army is destroyed.