Icewind Dale: Session 4

Kelvin' Cairn
After we recovered from the fight with the crag cats, we continued our trek up Kelvin's Cairn.

Zigzagging our way up the mountain, we soon reached a nearly vertical climb, where we had to cling to narrow ledges and scaling icy cliffs. Again I suggested we tie ourselves together using Brutus' rope, and everyone agreed. The early going was rough, and we would have all fallen if it weren't for the skills and grip of Erling's tiny hands, of all people. Further up, Brutus was still struggling, and Erling was too work to help him. Fortunately the rest of us were able to band together and hold them up. Nearly at the top, Erling and I nearly slipped and had to be assisted. Finally we were able to make it to the top of the cliff.
Kelvin' Cairn trail
Up ahead, we saw a fifteen-foot-high, ten-foot-wide cave mouth. There was blood on the snow some distance from the cave entrance. Garrett said that this was where his expedition had been ambushed by a yeti that was hidden under a snowdrift near the cave entrance. 

After examining the blood stains and searching for tracks, we agreed to cautiously explore the cave. Blaze lit up the cave with light on his shield. Inside, we saw that the cave had a twenty-foot-high, concave roof, and most of the floor had fallen away, forming a chasm at least eighty feet deep. All that was left of the floor was a rocky ledge with a natural stone bridge on the right that led to a tunnel across the chasm. A sheet of ice spanned a fifteen foot wide section of the chasm on the left side, leading to another tunnel.

Brutus secured his rope to the wall with a piton, and Erling took the rope across the icy bridge. Once across, Erling secured his section to another piton, which he stuck into a crack, and I helped secure it using shape water, freezing water from Erling's skin around the piton in the crack.

Erling soon returned and said it was too dark for him to see inside the tunnel, so, with the rope secured, Bran crossed the icy bridge, which cracked slightly under his weight.

He soon returned with a fright. He told us that the tunnel ended in a ten foot high ledge that blocked passage to a larger cavern beyond, and that when he scaled the ledge, he saw a yeti up close.

Bran and Blaze then explore the tunnel at the far side of the stone bridge. When they returned, they said the floor of the ten-foot-high tunnel was strewn with the bones, with bits of flesh still clinging to them. Garrett returned with them and confirmed that they were the remains of  Mokingo "Growling Bear," the goliath who had saved him from the yeti. The head had been ripped from its shoulders, gnawed, and stuffed in a niche dug out of the wall. Amid the goliath's bones were torn bits of hide armor, a greataxe, and the skulls and bones of three mountain goats. Several other crude niches in the walls held the frozen heads of various humanoids, no doubt the yeti's previously decapitated victims.

Exploring the tunnel further, the floor of the cave sloped upward before opening into a large cavern.

Perilou Fishfinger
There, they saw a small yeti torturing a halfling woman curled up in a fetal position, while a much larger yeti looked over them. Garret confirmed that this was Perilou Fishfinger, one of the companions he was guiding up the mountain. The yeti tyke was knocking her around like a ball, and it was clear from her cries that Perilou was still alive.

Taking a torch, Erling and I crossed the icy bridge to distract the yeti, while Brutus guarded the entrance and others went the other way to rescue Perilou.

With Erling's help we scaled the ledge and I attacked with firebolts while Erling shot arrows at the yeti. On the far side, Bran created a minor illusion of a small crag cat, while Garret shot arrows and Blaze used his guiding bolt.

The yeti tyke crawled up onto the other's back, and the larger yeti let out a roar. Garret grabbed Perilou and we ran as we heard another roar from the entrance.
A mountain climber meets his doom on the slopes of Kelvin's Cairn
A second large yeti was at the entrance, and was clawing at a terrified Brutus. It tossed a dead mountain goat towards Blaze. Garret and Erling shot arrows at the beast, as Brutus regained his senses and finally swung his hammer. After I finished the beast with a firebolt, Blaze cast cure wounds on Brutus, who was pretty badly beaten.

Perilou thanked us, but seemed traumatized after witnessing the death of her goliath friend, and subsequent capture. She said Mokingo had been determined to find Oyaminartok, a legendary goliath werebear, and test his mettle against her. She also revealed that when she had been captured, she saw Astrix running farther up the mountain.

We agreed to finish off the two yeti's in the cave so they could no longer terrorize Kelvin Cairn's explorers.

Using the same tactic we had previously employed we attacked the yeti from both sides. Erling helped me scale the ledge and I finished the big yeti off with a firebolt, and the tyke with a thunderwave when it lunged at me.

We took a short rest in the cave, and explored the place. Against one wall, hidden under the shattered remains of a dogsled, we found a mess kit, an explorer's pack, and enough blood-spattered heavy clothing to make two cold weather outfits. Among some dwarven remains, we found what might have been clan symbols, which we took, hoping to return them to the dwarves' families. Brutus took Monkingo's greataxe. Erling skinned the largest of the yeti, hoping we could make two capes out of them.

Continuing on, we eventually came to the edge of a vast and deep crevasse, with nowhere to go but down. We saw a collapsed tent half-buried in the snow near the precipice. Jutting out of a nearby snowbank was a pair of blue leather boots. Next to this grim display was a figure in cold weather clothing sitting in the snow, her knees pulled in tight to her chest. Horns protruded from underneath the figure's fur-lined hood.

"Astrix," I called out, but there was no response. Approaching closer, we realized that the figure seated in the snow was Astrix, but she was dead—frozen solid with her teeth clenched and her eyes staring at the blue boots sticking out of the snow.
Here lie the bodies of Astrix the tiefling and an ill-fated mountaineer known only as Blue Boots
We dug the half-buried body out of the snow, revealing a decapitated shield dwarf explorer. All we found on him was an empty wineskin, a half-eaten block of goat's cheese, and a miner's pick.

Searching Astrix's body, we found leather-bound spellbook, which I took. Bran took the blue leather boots.

The journey back down Kelvin's Cairn was treacherous, but otherwise uneventful. There was no sign of the mountain goats that had harassed us on the way up. When we made it back to the base camp, we took a long rest in the tents.

Our pace back from Kelvin's Cairn was a bit faster, thanks to Garret's sled and dogs, to which Boy had now rejoined at the head of the pack.

Garret was able to find evidence of dwarf activity, and we followed the tracks, which led up to tunnels carved into the slopes of a valley. There we were greeted by the gruff shield dwarves that lived in subterranean halls beneath the Dwarven Valley. We introduced ourselves and were welcomed as friends of the Battlehammer Dwarf clan. We returned the clan symbols we had retrieved from the yeti cave, and they seemed appreciative.

The next morning we left and made our way, uneventfully to Termalaine, where I was eager to explore the closed gem mine.

Garret and Perilou agreed to continue on to Targos without us, Garret urging us to visit as soon as we could.

We found our way to the Town Hall, where we eventually met the half-orc town speaker, Oarus Masthew. When we asked about the gem mine, he explained that a group of kobolds had crept into the mine, entering from the surface and forcing the miners to abandon their jobs. He said no one was killed, but the kobolds were too dangerous for the miners to deal with. As an afterthought, he also revealed that a human miner had gone missing a few days before the kobolds showed up, prompting other miners to fear that a monster must have crawled up from the Underdark. Oarus suggested that the miner may have fallen down the central shaft, which was deep enough that his body would never be found. He offered us a reward of 50 gp if we could rid the mine of the pesky dragonlings.

After some negotiations, we agreed to take the mission in the morning and he would pay for our room and board for the night.

Oarus brought us to The Eastside, explaining that is where most visitors in town stay. What looked from the outside like separate houses turned out to be a single structure with rooms connected by underground passages, with cozy guest accommodations in the cellar.

I made conversation with the innkeeper, a willowy teenager named Marta Peskryk. I didn't get much out of her, but as she was going about her daily chores, she sang this song to herself:
Ahead of winter's wind she came—
The lovely woman with no name;
Draped in a fur-lined cloak of red,
To the icy lake she fled;
The wind pursued her all the same—
As sure as night she's dead.
When I asked her about the song, Marta told us that fifty years ago, a mysterious woman in a fur-lined red cloak stopped at the Eastside on her way to Lonelywood. Because the woman was alone and frightened, the innkeepers—a pair of retired adventurers who happened to be Marta's grandparents—tried to console her. The woman gave them a ring as payment for their hospitality. Not long afterward, a howling wind burst into the inn and tossed the woman about like a rag doll. The innkeepers intervened, giving the woman time to escape. The evil wind battered Marta's grandparents unconscious before resuming its hunt. That was the last anyone saw of the woman.

Seeing that Marta was wearing a ring on a chain around her neck, I asked her if that was the ring, and she said it was. I asked if I could see it, but she politely declined.

Full from our generous meal, we passed the time with drinks and conversation. Erling and Bran took out their instruments, and tried to provide an entertaining tune to go with Marta's song, but struggled to harmonize. I sang along with Marta, until we were all ready to turn in for the night.

The next morning Erling and I brought the yeti fur to a tanner, who said he could have it ready by the end of the day. After that, we all headed to the mine.

The entrance to the mine was in the woods northeast of town. After following the trail for about 30 minutes, we arrived at an open tunnel in a hillside. The area around the opening appeared devoid of life. Empty carts were parked near the entrance, next to which a crude wooden sign had been propped up. Written on the sign in charcoal were the words "Kobolds only!" in Common, written in an elaborate calligraphy.
Bran cast light on my dagger, and we entered the mine, quickly descending more than fifty feet down rough-hewn steps through seven foot high tunnels. Bran led the way, often in the darkness, frequently calling Erling to help him search for traps.

At the bottom of the steps, the tunnel opened into a small chamber, with slightly higher ceilings. Racks holding picks and hammers were nailed to the walls of the small cavern. The floor was covered with rock dust and tracks.

We took the leftmost tunnel and soon entered another chamber, which was divided by a rocky ridge, five feet higher than the rest of the cave, with two narrow slopes connecting the two sides on either side. Picks and shovels leaned against the ridge. Small gem deposits in the ridge and the walls of the cave gleamed seductively. Another tunnel exited to the right.

We continued on through this tunnel and Erling and Bran were assaulted by two giant rats. Brutus finished one with his hammer, and I finished the other with a firebolt.

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