Icewind Dale 10-12: Good Mead

The snow-covered tusks of a mammoth mark the entrance to the verbeeg lair
We decided we would visit Good Mead, and reached the town late the next morning.

Nestled between Redwaters and a nearby evergreen forest, the town was literally buzzing with the droning of bees. The town's squat dwellings were adorned with carvings of dinosaurs and serpents. They were overshadowed by the two-story structure of the mead hall, its eaves carved and painted to resemble wyverns.
Good Mead shield

After speaking to the locals, we learned that a verbeeg had stolen three casks of mead that were being loaded onto a dogsled for transport to Bryn Shander. Apparently Kendrick Rielsbarrow, the town speaker and a giant of a man in his own right, stood his ground against the verbeeg, but didn't fare well. After skewering Kendrick with its spear, the verbeeg grabbed the casks and disappeared whence he came. The other residents of Good Mead tried to save Kendrick, to no avail; his body lies in a local shrine. Five members of the militia went after the verbeeg but haven't returned.

We decided we would track down the verbeeg the next morning.

The next morning we located the tracks into the woods. As we made our way to the edge of the forest, a figure in cold weather clothing lurched out of the woods into plain view, running fast through the deep snow. The figure explained they were a trapper and were out in the woods checking their traps when they came upon a grisly scene: five members of Good Mead's militia, their skulls and chests stove in.

Following the trail deep into the woods, amid the snow-covered pines, we discovered the remains of the five militia members, who look like they were clubbed to death. New-fallen snow had already begun to settle on their corpses.

While we followed the trail, I was hit by a harmless, tiny snowball. A tiny nature sprite laughed and disappeared behind a tree. A chased it briefly, and lobbed some snowballs back at it, until it produced a flower from the ground, bowed, and departed. Bowing in return, I felt the cold disappear. My companions indicated they were just as cold as ever.

Continuing on, we finally found the entrance to the verbeeg lair marked by the snow-covered tusks of a mammoth.

The trail culminated at a rocky hillside with pines growing around its base. Set into the hill were three caves. A frozen creek emerged from the west cave, which had a low-hanging mouth. The center cave—an eight-foot-high passage hewn from the rock—was moderately blocked by a tight stand of conifers and two massive fallen logs. The northeast cave had a big, yawning mouth, and flickers of light emanated from within. The tracks headed through this entrance.

I offered to scout out the dark caves, starting with the west, following a frozen stream north until the tunnel split, with one way continuing north and the other veering east. The stream followed the dark northward tunnel. Light from a distant fire was visible in the eastern tunnel, where I spotted what I suspected was the verbeeg.

I scouted the central cave, where a dozen burial niches were carved into the walls of the eight-foot-high, five-foot-wide passage. Each burial niche in the tunnel was two feet wide, two feet tall, and five feet deep. The humanoid bones seemed to have been savaged by animals, leaving nothing but a couple of skulls and carved stone knives behind.

We agreed to draw the verbeeg into the west cave, and surround it from the central cave.

Blaze followed me to the western cave and hid, while I waited for the others to take up positions in the center cave, and I hit the verbeeg with arrows. The verbeeg charged at me, and Blaze engaged it. Erling and Bran were attacking it from behind. Blaze went down fast until Bran revived him. At the verbeeg's call, a large brown bear emerged from the north, and it was a tough fight.

When we were done, we were in no condition to face additional threats. We briefly scouted some more of the caves, finding a bonfire in the middle of a larger cave, keeping it lit and relatively warm. The scent of roasting meat filled the air as a hunk of meat on a spit dripped juices into the fire. Goats and sheep were held in a spacious animal pen enclosed by a crude wooden fence. The cave also included a wooden cart with a broken wheel, two old crates, and two barrels.

Hearing a growl or roar from deeper within the cave, we retreated and found a safe place to rest.

As we were resting, we witnessed a meteor streaking across the sky moving from North to South.

As we were finishing our rest, a snow figure appeared and asked in a feminine voice why we were interfering with her work. When I casually asked who she was, she said she was the Frostmaiden and commented on our arrogance. She also mentioned that she had to expend valuable energy resurrecting Ravisin, her favorite agent.

She then warned us off and disappeared as I cut down her snow-made form. Unfortunately her presence caused the temperature to drop significantly, and Blaze was left slightly scattered as a result.

We returned to the verbeeg cave and scouted out the exterior. I ventured inside at a fourth cave entrance we found to the east. To the left I found a dead-end cavern with a crudely excavated, ten-foot-wide pit in the middle of the floor. Peering down, it appeared twenty feet deep and filled to a depth of five feet with bones, trash, and filth. To the left was the firelit cave with the goat and the wooden cart with a broken wheel.

Employing a similar strategy, we flanked the lone inhabitant, which turned out to be an ogre. It put up a fight, but was easily confused by our onslaught, and it eventually fell to Blaze’s sacred flame, right into the fire by the goat pens.

We began exploring the verbeeg lair, with its rough, twenty-foot-high ceilings covered with large icicles.
Gahg the verbeeg returning to her beloved Duhg with a basket of goodies
Before we got far, another verbeeg strode in from the snow, through the mouth of the cave. Her misshapen face bore a too-wide smile. She clutched a spear in one hand while using her other arm to cradle a wicker basket filled with bits of shiny metal. "Duhg?" she shouted in Common. "You home?"

We immediately scattered and Erling tried to impersonate her “Duhg,” but Duhg’s mate, Gahg, was not so easily fooled and, dropping its wicker basket, flew into a rage and gave chase. We scattered and hid, employing guerilla tactics until I was finally able to put it down with an arrow in the throat.

Inside the basket we found 75 gold coins.

Following the western tunnel’s frozen stream north, Bran led us to a seven-foot-deep frozen pool at the back of the dark cave. Trapped beneath the pool's ice was a stone statue of a smiling young man, naked except for a well-placed oak leaf, with his face turned toward the sky. In the western niche of this chamber was the bear’s nest including a gnawed skull and bones.

To the east, north of the burial niches and a natural tunnel bisecting a ring-shaped excavation, we found carved steps climbing five feet to a ten-foot-high, fifteen-foot-square room, with narrow, natural exits in the east and west walls. In the middle of the room was a rectangular stone block seven feet long, four feet wide, and three feet tall. Pictographs on the walls of the chamber told a tale of one tribe's journey through mighty mountains and across a perilous tundra.

The pictographs illustrated how a tribal chieftain led her tribe to settle in Icewind Dale, how they fought off terrible monsters to claim their land, and how they found peace in their new home. Blaze was able to pick out an image of the chieftain wielding a wand and casting a destructive spell.

All together, we were unable to move the block, so together we strapped four goats to the lid with rope, and managed to employ their assistance until the block slid aside revealing a shallow niche in the floor beneath. Inside lay the bones of a female human, her tribal garb reduced to dust and tatters. Clutched in its left hand was a pearl and in its right hand was a wand.

Bran quickly grabbed both.

After returning the goat to their pen, we explored the cave to the east where we had found the ogre. Suspended from the ceiling of this chamber by a series of ropes and pulleys were six baskets. Clustered near the south wall were three wooden casks carved with Good Mead's heraldic symbol: a drinking mug made of a cut-off section of horn, with an antler handle added, upright and centered.

We lowered the baskets using the rope mechanism and found that they contained sheep shears, milk pails, bristle brushes, and several bags of grain and oats. One of the baskets contained 72 silver coins, 344 copper coins, a translucent pink moss agate gemstone, a healer's kit, a hunting trap, and a small rabbit-skin bag containing ten silvered sling stones. One of the three casks was empty, but the other two each weighed 200 pounds and held twenty gallons of honey mead.

Returning to the goat pen cave, we found a crate packed with straw and another containing ten large torches made out of wood and pitch. We also found barrels half-filled with salt and pepper.

Unable to fix the wooden cart’s broken wheel, we decided to rest for the night.

During the night I noticed that Bran slept restlessly. In the morning he said he was haunted by phantasmal nightmares and felt like he had no rest at all.

We surmised that he must have been cursed by the new found items he had taken from the chieftain’s tomb. Having discovered that they were a pearl of power and a wand of the war mage, he was reluctant to simply return them.

Bran came to grips with the idea that he might not last long if he didn’t rid himself of his affliction haunting his sleep and returned the wand and pearl to the sarcophagi. Examining the murals, it appeared to me that they depicted a noble tribe. We tried to cover the lid, even enlisting the goats and sheep, but were ultimately unsuccessful.

I packed up the extra healer’s kit and we headed out toward Good Mead.

As we were making our way, a large sabre toothed tiger lunged at me, mauling me. Together we put it down pretty quickly, but not before it had mauled me severly. I could not help thinking how ironic it would have been if I had been killed by a sabre toothed tiger. What would my uncle think?

After being healed by Blaze, we continued on and reached Good Mead by midday without further incident.

We visited the Mead Hall, where we met JenLurie Evenash. She said she could arrange to have two carts, drivers, and someone to fix the wagon wheel ready the next morning. She agreed to pay us 7 silver coins for each goat and sheep.
Oosi Nokredri of the Bearclaw Clan

As we were securing rooms for the night at the local inn, we noticed a tall half-orc eyeing us intently. Bran engaged him and he introduced himself as Oosi Nokredri of the Bearclaw Clan and told us, “I’m looking for some adventurers that were out here who are maybe looking to accompany me on a quest. I heard you might be them. I’m on a quest to catch a group of outcast rogue berserkers that have been raping and pillaging towns—who need to be brought to justice. I’ve been tracking them through the tundra, through these places, and I managed to track them so far beyond here, but I need some help to subdue them and stop them. I’ve recruited a druid to help us further track them down, but the druid’s not going to be much help in terms of combat or helping to stop the barbarians. They can be quite formidable. So what I need is some help to track them down and stop them from killing innocent people in and around this area. They’re supposed to be in a town west of here called Dougan’s Hole, which coincidentally people have lost contact with. So the plan is to go down to Dougan’s Hole and go to Jarlmoot on the tundra where there’s a giant circle of thorns, where we think they might be.”

When Bran asked for more information about the barbarians/berserkers, Oosi explained, “They were outcasts. They were shunned from the village for various crimes and other things they had done against the community. Typically that’s not a problem, but they decided to band together and that’s when it became an issue. They’re not necessarily orcs. Our tribes are not exclusively of any race and they are not specifically of my clan, but of many different clans.”

When Bran asked how far away their camp is and if it is near Dougan’s Hole, Oosi explained, “My best guess is a day or so. Supposed to meet the druid who’s gonna lead us there, who could give us more details about the route. I’m not from this area, so I don’t know the trails very well myself.”

When I asked where he’s from, Oosi explained, “We’re a clan of nomads who roam to the west of here, in the frozen tundra.”

When I asked what his allegiance is to the people of Dougan’s Hole, Oosi replied, “None, but these berserkers are of the barbarian tribes and it is our desire to keep the peace between all the peoples here. And these outcasts going around raping and killing and pillaging could very well start a conflict between all the tribes and the town’s folk.”

When I asked about the berserkers, Oosi said, “I haven't gotten close enough to figure out their exact numbers.” He said his was a medium sized tribe and that they had sent him to take care of the situation. He clarified that he was their representative and that no one else from his tribe would be assisting. He said his tribe had entrusted the quest to him and that one way or the other it would be done.

He said he was planning on meeting the druid, who lives in this town, tomorrow. He went on to say that the berserkers had been sacking and looting for quite some time, and were bound to have ample spoils that we could split if we help him on his quest.

Erling, who had been unusually quiet, seemed reluctant at first to track down and fight a bunch of berserker barbarians, but then expressed concern that Dougan’s Hole might be on the verge of being wiped out.

Blaze said that if barbarians are preparing to attack the Ten Towns we should see to it.

Erling acknowledged that we had seemed to become local heroes.

Bran and I expressed our skepticism of Oosi’s story, especially since his tribe sent only him. Oosi grew irritated at our reluctance to drop everything, growling, “I thought you were all local heroes around here.”

Blaze suggested he let us discuss the matter privately.

After some discussion, Erling suggested we could tell Oosi to wait a day for us to return, or tell the villagers to retrieve the supplies from the Verbeeg lair themselves. After we had discussed the other missions we were intent on looking into, Erling suggested we tell him we would help him after we finished what we had to do, in hopes that he would help us defeat Ravisin. We eventually asked Oosi if we could meet the druid today, and he agreed.

He brought us to the druid’s shack on the edge of town and we were greeted by a woman in her thirties with sun-darkened skin and wind-burned cheeks, dressed in leather. She introduced herself as Selma and said, “It appears that certain members of the bear tribe have succumbed to some kind of corruption and have been a plague upon the land. I am uncertain about their location or their relation to whatever’s going on in Dougan’s Hole. Oosi came to me and he told me that he was looking for these berserkers. I informed him that I did not know where they were, but I did know of a possible way that he could gain that information.”

When asked, she said she thought they might be under some magical influence.

Oosi said his tribe roamed in the vicinity west of Good Mead, and later said they were to the east. He said there was a rumor that the people went silent and thought perhaps that these berserkers might have gone there and wiped them out.

Selma said she agreed to take Oosi to a location where she thought it possible he might be able to divine or learn the location of these berserkers. Her guide fee was 25 gold coins. The location she was aware of was what was called the Jarlmoot, quite a distance to the west, about five or six days, adding, “A circle of giant thrones on a haunted hilltop. On nights of the full moon, the spirit of Reggaryarva, jarl of jarls, will open his treasure vault to anyone who defeats his champion. I suggested to Oosi that if he’s able to defeat the jarl’s champion, he might request as treasure the knowledge of these berserkers.”

Ultimately, Oosi agreed to accompany us on our missions as long as we agreed to help him afterward, voicing some reservation, “Here’s the problem. The longer we wait to confront these demonically influenced barbarians, the more people are going to lose their lives and the more property will be destroyed.” He insisted they must be demonically influenced if they’re acting this way, as opposed to being mere criminals, adding, “They’re under some kind of influence. Barbarians don’t usually act this way. There’s something going on and they have to be stopped. The problem is, the longer you wait, the more people are going to die. But if this is what it takes to get the help I need to go run these guys down, I’d be willing to help you if you’re willing to help me.”

Selma added, “The legend says that the Jarlmoot’s treasure isn’t only knowledge. Anyone who defeats the champion will gain the champion.”

Oosi was confident that he could kill the champion.

Without further incident, we retreated to our rooms to sleep.

When we woke, Bran shared that he felt well rested and we rejoiced that his curse had been lifted.

At the Mead Hall, we met the drivers and the wheelwright, and headed out with their two axe beaks pulling a cart each.

We reached the Verbeeg lair without incident and retrieved the supplies. Once the wagon wheel was fixed, we loaded it up and attached the driver’s axe beaks to the loaded wagon and pulled the empty carts back ourselves.

Once we arrived back in Good Mead, we sold the wagon, the supplies, and the animals to JenLurie Evenash for 39 gold coins and returned the mead.

We visited the local shrine, a vacant building standing on the lakeshore with a crow-haunted steeple protruding from its peak. Unlike the mead hall, the shrine's painted icons of the god of war wielding a flaming sword were chipped and faded, and its spacious interior stood mostly empty except for a long table on which rested a body covered with a blanket. The body was that of Speaker Kendrick Rielsbarrow, a giant of a man in his forties.

Asking around, we learned that the shrine was built over a century ago, when the town's rivalry with Dougan's Hole raged so fiercely that the lake, a frequent battlefield, became known as Redwaters. For a time thereafter, nearly all residents of Good Mead paid homage to Tempus. Today, the shrine's relevance dwindled to the point where it was mainly used just for town gatherings.

Before leaving town, we agreed to split up the coin and treasure we had collected so far.

Along with Oosi, we headed to Easthaven.

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