Grosh continued to trek steadily forward, his eyes stinging from the intensely bright sunlight glaring off the frozen and barren landscape of the Great Glacier. The wind cut like knives across him, so cold that it burned, but he ignored it. He needed to keep going, needed to find who was calling him. He knuckled the water from his aching eyes. He’d be glare-blind soon, he knew. Like the wind, though, he ignored this.
Opening his hand, he peered at the glint of metal cradled there. It was hard to make out with his failing eyes, but he knew what it was. It was the Ring of Vaasa. How he had come to have it, Grosh didn’t know. It had vanished along with the pearls, and should be in the elemental plane of Water. But it wasn’t. It was in his hand. He didn’t know what to do with it. He had considered putting it on as his large feet crunched his way forward on the ice. For some reason, he didn’t.
He was in the Glacier now, walking through the ice. No cave or fissure leads to where he was going. It was impossible to get to where he was going, yet he was getting there. He walked through the ice as if it wasn’t there, moving downwards steadily. Even so, he could feel the harsh bite of the frozen sea against his skin. Was he even breathing? Yes, he was. How, though, he couldn’t tell. He had the ring. Maybe that was why?
The mass of ice he was passing through ended and Grosh was in a cavern of solid ice. The walls were slick and seamless, curving up to the great domed ceiling. It had an ethereal glow of bluish-green, from the sunlight filtering through so much ice. In the center of the cave was a massive block of ice. He could barely make out a shadowy form inside, like a man, but much too large. A giant, perhaps?
Around the block, several vaguely humanoid shapes scurried about. They were a little taller than he was, maybe eight feet, and snowy white. The beings looked to be a cross between a man and a mantis. They were busily tending to the block of ice, paying Grosh no mind. None of this made sense, but he felt like it should.
There was something in the back of his head, like a long-forgotten memory, that told Grosh he should know this place, should know these beings, and should know the form in the ice. Clenching his fist around the Ring of Vaasa, Grosh moved forward, walking among the mantis men.
Yes, this was the place. This is what he was being drawn to. This is where he needed to be. The form in the ice remained unidentifiable, even when he drew nearer. The shadows played from the glittering walls and obscured the features of the being in the ice, but he could see something glint. It may have been a trick of the odd light, but it looked as if blue and green crystals of ice hung around the neck of the being in the ice.
Before he could get close enough to be sure, he heard a feminine voice behind him. “The Dreamer is awakening.” He spun around, but there was no one there behind him. He was alone, save for the mantis men and the giant humanoid in the ice.
“We must do more to keep him cold,” she said. Grosh slowly turned in a circle, head cocked to the side, trying to find where the voice was coming from. It seemed to bounce off the walls, coming from everywhere at once. There was a clear note of worry in the voice as she continued. “The Melding is coming too soon, and he will soon be free! It is not yet time!”
Then, with a jolt, Grosh was awake. He was on the mat in his room at the inn. The idea that it was all just a dream was dashed by the reality that he was covered in a thick layer of rapidly melting frost. He clenched his fist, reflexively, remembering the Ring of Vaasa. Something was in his hand, and it was cold.
It took some effort, but Grosh was able to uncurl his fingers. In his hand was a thick leather thong of icicles. They were blue and green, like the icicles around the neck of the Dreamer, and they were carved all over with runes in giant. There was blood in the runes. His hands were slick with blood, and the throb from his torn fingernails made it clear that it was his blood. He had carved the runes into the ice with his own nails.
Still feeling like he was dreaming, Grosh read the runes. They were complex and complete, and expertly carved, especially considering that he did it in his sleep with his own fingernails. The icicles were carved with the Dream of Ulutiu.
It was clear what this meant. Somehow, he’d become a Chosen of Ulutiu. The Eternal Sleeper had visited Grosh in his dreams, or possibly the other way around. How or why, he didn’t know, but he had pretty definitive proof sitting in his bloody hands. Slowly, and with a feeling of dazed reverence, he draped the icicles, the holy symbol of Ulutiu, around his neck.
He sat for a while, staring at his hands. The blood was becoming sticky as it dried, and the rest of him was becoming slick as the frost melted from him. His eyes moved past his hands and too the floor next to his mat. There was blood there, too. Drips and splatters were evident, but he didn’t pay much attention to them. He was too focused on what his blood spelled out in Damaran.
“The father of Grosh Silversmith is the key to your understanding,” his blood intoned. “Seek ye Gog in the deepening depths amidst the tentacled horrors. Your servant shall be your guide.”
Grosh had no idea what it could all mean. His father, Fillius Silversmith, was dead, and had been for years. He had buried his father behind the cabin himself. Clearly the tentacled horrors were the mind-flayers, but who was Gog? For that matter, who was his servant?
He’d need to tell the others about this.