The Dweller in the Wintervale
"To Elvenking Baranwë the Wise,
Hail your majesty! As you requested, the following missive is a summary of our best information about that most dread creature, the Dweller in the Wintervale. Even writing the name is a curse, yet I will press on for the sake of the free peoples of Farland. Be advised that the following knowledge is tentative and possibly erroneous. It is most difficult-and dangerous-to discover any of the secrets of the Denizen of the East, and though we used our best methods, including old-fashioned research and spying as well as spells of divination and seeing, much remained hidden from us, occluded by magics more powerful than any I have encountered.
Our research seems to confirm the conclusion hinted at by the greatest poem of Galdin Palantar: that the Dweller in the Vale began her existence as Talkana Silumiel, called Moondaughter, the most blessed and beautiful of all the elven race. Alas, because of her curiosity and ambition, she fell from the grace of Tal-Allustiel and into the hands of Vornoth, the Dark Walker, where she was tortured and perverted. It seems likely that she became the first of the orcs, the mother of the orcish race, and that she later had a hand in creating many of the evil races that follow the Walker-in-Darkness.
The gift of immortality, bestowed on all of us elves by Tal-Allustiel himself, was not taken by the Walker during the transformation. She has lived for many millennia and will not die a natural death. The Dweller was to be the hands of the evil god Vornoth on the face of Núrion, designated by the Dark One himself to bring all of the living beings of Núrion under his evil rule. She was tasked by the Dark God to forcibly sway all living creatures on the face of the Shattered Jewel to the worship of Vornoth, thereby making him more powerful than the other gods, and thus allowing him to win the Ontological War once and for all.
We speculate that after the Battle of the Sarum and the great Wars of Al-Dustriel, the Dweller made a concerted attempt to conquer Farland by founding the Orc Nation of Rothnog and using this organized kingdom to wage lethal wars on the elves and dwarves. And she apparently came very close to being successful- except that she allowed her nation to fragment, through her own vanity and hubris, and to turn on itself. Thus her most promising early venture came to naught. It seems that the Dark God, after two unsuccessful wars, grew very wroth with Talkana, disappointed beyond measure that she had squandered two successive chances to subjugate the races of light before they grew powerful, as Vornoth knew they would if they were allowed to remain free. Thus the Dark God punished Talkana, proclaiming, "Your ambition and vanity burn in your bosom like a fire. Now a fire shall indeed burn within you!" And it seems the Dark God made within the Dweller a raging fire such that she felt she was being consumed from within by the hottest flames. So fierce was the internal burning, the punishment of the god, that only the coldest temperatures could give her even an instant of respite. Thus Talkana had no choice: she fled back to her dark valley and there, though she was suffering torment unimaginable, she crafted magic never before seen on Núrion, a spell that would freeze her flesh and call down the very blizzards of winter on her valley, that she might have a moment's relief from the burning affliction within her. And thus we think the Wintervale, the valley of eternal ice and snow, was born. And at the heart of the Wintervale, in a hellish tower of translucent ice that juts like a fang from an evil city, now nameless, she came to dwell. Indeed this tower, the epicenter of the spell of winter, was the only place on the Shattered Jewel were Talkana would not suffer limitless pain.
Vornoth made it known to the Dweller in the Wintervale that her only relief from his punishment and thus her only escape from her self-imposed prison was to conquer the continent of Farland once and for all. At first Talkana sought ways to thwart the god Vornoth's sentence, learning more and more magic, that she might lift the curse. But always she failed. Finally, resigned to the will of the god she both served and hated, the Denizen of the East set out to conquer Farland, hatching scheme upon scheme, limitless machinations that brought endless suffering and death to the face of the realms. And she enjoyed various successes, from the reign of the foul realm of Stor-gris, which harried the Hinterlands for nearly a thousand years, to the banishment of the elves from their ancestral home, yet never was she able to come as close to success as she had been when the world was young, and so she continued to suffer.
The only time the Dweller left her sanctuary, as far as we are able to discern, was to fight personally in the Battle of the Death Downs-for she knew that winning this war was crucial, since victory would mean the destruction of the fledgling human civilizations, and she foresaw that the humans would be a great thorn in her side if they were not destroyed. But she failed at this too, and so great was the pain she suffered, partly from the battle and the explosion caused by the Crown of Aelfar, but mostly from the burning within her, unmitigated by her icy realm, that she vowed never again to leave the Frostspire. But out of the jaws of defeat, the Dweller managed to snatch the seed of her ultimate victory-the Book of Seven, that wicked relic created by Vornoth in the depths of time. For many eons after this, the Dweller labored to unlock the secrets of this mysterious tome. With each passing decade and century her knowledge and power grew, and closer and closer she came to fully understanding its secrets, until finally, in some fateful year unknown to us, she unlocked its last secret.
Then the darkness fell quickly over Farland. She used the Book, combined with her own near-godlike acumen in magic, to create Seven Lords of Sin, seven creatures imbued by the Book of Seven with the power to weld the unruly dark folk hordes into disciplined fighting armies the match for any in Farland at that time. And as the histories tell, these dark armies and these Deadly Lords swept over the continent like a shroud covering a corpse. One would speculate that the Dark Conquest was a success in the eyes of the Dweller and her master, yet the Wintervale remains. Perhaps the Walker expected his agent to vanquish our people as well, or perhaps he expects the lands to the south also brought under his control. All we do know is that the cursed place still stands and we presume that the Dweller remains imprisoned within her spire.
As far as the Dweller's person is concerned, we were able to find out precious little. As the first orc, it is likely that she is some unique combination of elf and orc, made fiendish by the touch of the God of Darkness himself. No living elf or man has ever laid eyes on her visage. The histories do not tell of her features, and the strongest magics cannot penetrate her tower, so none know her face, if indeed her countenance, after her fall, resembles a face at all. Indeed, scrying on her tower is dangerous, because it risks attracting her attention. It is said that she goes about clad in raiment of the purest white, and that frost plumes from her sleeves and cowl, an ever-present reminder of the coldness she exudes, the ice that keeps her from burning alive. She is undoubtedly the greatest wielder of magic on all of Núrion, able to bend to her will dweomers that would crush a lesser sorcerer. It would be folly to face her in combat, yet combat is not where her skills lie: she is a master of manipulating others to do her bidding, sending them to gladly fight and die for her. Yet ironically this master of pawns always has been, and still remains, the pawn of another. She is well aware of this fact, we believe, and would escape her bonds if she could. Admittedly, this is pure speculation.
These facts, my liege, are all we could discern. I gladly leave this subject now to walk in the Valley of Summer, under the sun, far from that cursed creature the very contemplation of which chills me to the marrow. May Tal-Allustiel grant you beauty.
--Singol of House Birlithe, Lord High Mage"
The Dweller in the Wintervale
Medium humanoid (elf, orc), neutral evil
Armor Class 19 (natural armor)
Hit Points 310 (35d8 + 140)
Speed 30 ft., fly 50 ft.
STR 11 (+0) DEX 16 (+3) CON 18 (+4) INT 23 (+6) WIS 18 (+4) CHR 20 (+5)
Saving Throws Con +12, Int +14, Wis +12
Skills Arcana +18, History +14, Insight +12, Intimidation +13, Nature +12, Perception +12, Persuasion +13
Damage Resistances lightning, poison
Damage Immunities cold, necrotic; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks
Condition Immunities charmed, frightened, paralyzed
Senses truesight 120 ft., passive Perception 23
Languages Dark Speech (common, wild, and secret), Elven, Farlandish, Old Speech
Challenge 25 (75,000 XP)
Legendary Resistance (3/day). If the Dweller fails a saving throw, she can choose to succeed instead.
Fey Ancestry. The Dweller cannot be charmed, and magic can't put her to sleep.
Spellcasting. The Dweller is a 20th-level spellcaster. Her spellcasting ability is Intelligence (spell save DC 22, +14 to hit with spell attacks). The Dweller usually has the following spells prepared, though she knows nearly all spells:
Cantrips (at will): blade ward, fire bolt, mage hand, prestidigitation, ray of frost
1st level (4 slots): detect magic, magic missile, shield, thunderwave
2nd level (3 slots): acid arrow, detect thoughts, enlarge/reduce, mirror image
3rd level (3 slots): counterspell, dispel magic, fireball, slow
4th level (3 slots): blight, dimension door, greater invisibility
5th level (3 slots): cloudkill, cone of cold, scrying
6th level (2 slots): disintegrate, globe of invulnerability
7th level (2 slots): finger of death, prismatic spray
8th level (1 slot): dominate monster, power word stun
9th level (1 slot): power word kill
The Book of Seven. The Dweller possesses the fell and powerful artifact called The Book of Seven. She used it to create the Lords of Sin; the Book has many other dangerous powers that she could put to terrible use (DM's discretion). An aura of death magic emanates from the Book of Seven when it is in the Dweller's possession. Each creatures except the Dweller or her allies that ends its turn within 50 feet of the Book takes 15 (5d6) necrotic damage and 15 (5d6) psychic damage.
Death of an Immortal. The creature that causes the Dweller to be reduced to 0 hit points dies and cannot be raised or resurrected. Only the direct intervention of a deity can prevent this death or bring the creature back from the dead.
Freezing Touch. Melee Spell Attack: +13 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 19 (6d6) cold damage. The target must succeed on a DC 22 Constitution saving throw or be frozen and paralyzed for 1 minute. The target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success or taking an additional 7 (2d6) cold damage on a failure.
The Dweller can take three legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action option can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature's turn. The Dweller regains spent legendary actions at the start of her turn.
All the ages of the World (Costs 2 actions). Creatures near the Dweller in the Wintervale suddenly feel the crushing weight of immortality. Each living creature within 30 feet of her must make a DC 22 Constitution saving throw against this magic, taking 31 (10d6) necrotic damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. A creature that fails this save is also slowed as per the spell. A creature slowed by this effect must then make a DC 22 Constitution saving throw at the end of each of its turns. If it successfully saves three times, the slow effect ends. If it fails its save three times, it permanently turns to stone and is subjected to the petrified condition. The successes and failures don’t need to be consecutive; keep track of both until the target collects three of a kind. Once a creature saves three times against this effect it can't be affected by All the Ages of the World for 24 hours.
Freezing Touch. The Dweller makes a freezing touch attack.
Cantrip. The Dweller casts a cantrip.
The Dweller in the Wintervale is always found in her lair, the dreaded Frostspire in the heart of the Nameless City. Her lair is usually guarded by two ancient white dragons. No living things dwell around her lair; the area around it is an undead-haunted necropolis. While in her lair, the Dweller has a challenge rating of 26 (90,000 xps). On initiative count 20 (losing initiative ties), the Dweller can take a lair action to cause one of the following effects. The Dweller can't use the same effect two rounds in a row.
- Creatures within 30 feet of the Dweller have vulnerability to cold and necrotic damage until initiative count 20 on the next round.
- The Dweller rolls 1d8+1 and regains a spell slot of that level or lower. If she has no spent spell slots of that level or lower, nothing happens. When the Dweller recovers a spell slot, an enemy within 60 feet that the Dweller can see takes 18 (4d8) psychic damage.
- One creature the Dweller can see within 120 feet of her must succeed on a DC 22 Dexterity saving throw or be enclosed in a force cage. The cage has no gaps or bars; instead it has six solid walls that totally enclose the target. The creature in the force cage can do nothing to affect anything outside the cage, nor can anything outside the cage affect the creature inside it. To escape, the creature must use its action to make a Charisma check contested by the Dweller's. If the creature wins, it escapes the force cage. Otherwise, the cage disappears and the effect ends on initiative count 20 on the next round.