Having escaped the siege of the Elven Kingdom at the hands of Dracarys’ army, Team Trust was beaten, broken, and defeated: they had lost the three dragon eggs they had acquired, and Wolf and Lutervoc were both kidnapped by different forces. They had been decimated by Dracarys despite their best efforts, and had failed to save the Elves. Then, upon arriving at Archie’s camp, they discovered a battle that had left the camp in ruin, the Everymen and Archie missing. Itto was on the verge of leaving the team for good, and Rayne was adamant about going off on her own to find Wolf. Even Quinn was distraught, and left on his own to find Archie. Team Trust, it seemed, had been broken.
As the attempted to salvage what was left of their mission, a terrible blizzard began to take over the area. Squirm, who had defected from Dracarys and then been rescued by Team Trust, vanished before he could give them any information. Escaping into a magical dimension to hide from the storm, the team centered around the one lead they had remaining: the mysterious new Finger of Dracarys who they had captured.
Pulling off the stranger’s cloak revealed a blue-colored half-Orc hybrid of sorts. His cold yellow eyes sparkled with electricity and glared at Itto, claiming that the Paladin had murdered his mother. Jil noticed the tattoo of Cas on his neck, and attempted to reason with him. Eventually, the boy broke down and confessed that he was Malavar: the love-spawn of Itto and the Blue Dragon (who had disguised herself as Itto’s long-dead love Ellay and convinced him to do the “Blue Waffle Shuffle”). Before more could be learned, the boy escaped into the blaring winds of winter.
Meanwhile, Yu’in transported Rayne back to the Elven jungles to find Wolf (on the contingency that she would signal them when she was close to the were-croc hideout), and noticed that the snow was falling there as well. It seemed that the storm was a powerful spell, meant to bring about a new Ice Age and freeze the world. However, it was unclear what the origin of the spell was.
Hearing a strange sound and seeing a red light in the distance, Team Trust knew that they had to keep moving forward, as losing any more time would surely prove disastrous. They trudged through the snow, barely able to see, until they came upon a magical winter village which Jil identified as being on the Water Plane.
Entering into a strange workshop run by magical gnome-elves with pointy hats, they were directed to the shop-master Bernard, who informed them that the blizzard was caused by Old Snowbeard, an avatar of Pelor who lived in an ice mountain and, in the past, had created a yearly snowfall which would heal all Good children. The gnome-elves, on their end, would read the minds of all Good children and create gifts for them all, which would be delivered to every Good child in the land. This year, however, it seemed the snow was proving harmful, and the gnome-elves suspected that Snowbeard was no longer trying to heal, but to hurt.
Team Trust agreed to help, and the gnome-elves stated that they could provide directions to Snowbeard’s mountain, in return for their help in fixing the magical “Present Producer”, which was not working, The team united at last, working together to fix the machine, and were soon on their way to the mountain. They defeated a pack of Sabre-toothed Tigers, and soon found themselves at the base of the mountain, witnessing a battle between an Evil Dire Polar Bear, and a Good Woolly Mammoth. Even though the mammoth would have yielded quite a bit of money on the black market, Slink decided to do the right thing and kill the bear. Itto then healed the mammoth, who broke through the mountain for them and pointed them up the stairs to Snowbeard’s throne room.
Upon arriving in the room, Snowbeard arrived and announced that all the love and goodness had been stolen from the world, and he was now on a mission to freeze the planet and wipe out all life, so that it could begin anew. Some tearful pleading on Itto’s end about hope and goodness and all that Christmas-y garbage actually managed to convince the withered old man to give Team Trust a shot: should they complete his three trials, he would consider ending the eternal winter.
The first trial saw Jil trapped in a wall of snow. Thinking quickly, Slink threw an orb with fire inside it at the wall, freeing her. The second room was shrouded in blackness, and only by “identifying their friends” through a series of riddles could the team progress. In the final trial, the team had to match themselves up on a metaphorical chessboard against Dracarys’ Fingers. It was through this (and process of elimination) that it was discovered that Rayne was meant to be match with Blackheart…leading the team to wonder if, perhaps, he was actually Rayne’s long-lost brother (and Itto’s adoptive Paladin brother) Crestus Sunwhisper.
After surviving the trials and learning the true meaning of friendship and trust or something lame like that, the group was confronted by Old Snowbeard, who said that he still thought that the world was irredeemable. He sent a giant snow-yeti monster against the group, and despite their best attacks, they were unable to hurt it. In fact, anger and violence seemed only to make the monster stronger. It was then realized that the only way to defeat the beast was with the Power of Love. So they sang some “Huey Lewis and the News” at it and hugged it a bunch, and the monster became gentle and loving.
Seeing these acts of kindness, Old Snowbeard too transformed back into his jolly old self and proclaimed that if this shifty team could learn to love, perhaps the world could too. He then ended the winter and returned Team Trust back to the Material Plane, but not before they had a good old holiday party to celebrate the holidays!
…But while this distraction may have temporarily rekindled some of the feelings of trust amongst the team, their greatest obstacles still loomed threateningly overhead. Would Rayne be able to find and save Wolf? Would the group locate Archie? And what of Lute and the dragon eggs, who were in the clutches of Roken somewhere unknown? With their list of allies growing ever thinner, it seemed the only ones the heroes could rely on…was each other.