Icewind Dale 22-24: Dougan's Hole

Frost Giant Lodge
We departed for Dougan’s Hole.

On the way, a pack of goblins swarmed out at us through the blizzard, including warg riders and shamans followed by more than a dozen archers. Mendel used his magic missiles and sleep. Bran used thunderwaves and healing words. Blaze used spiritual weapon, radiance of the dawn, and cure wounds. The goblins cast ray of enfeeblement and witch bolt. Erling pulled a giant elk out of his bag of tricks. I withdrew to a safe distance to pick them off with arrows.

Mendel and Blaze needed potions of healing, but when the battle was done, at least two dozen goblins lay dead around us.

We searched the goblins, finding some silver and diamonds. Bran found that the goblins bore the banner of Karkolohk.

Bran sang a song of rest while we recovered.

Once we were done, we continued on toward Dougan’s Hole. Erling rode the giant elk.

We could see Dougan’s Hole about an hour ahead in the distance when I spotted a large fury body lying in the snow ahead of us. Peering closely, it appeared to be a winter wolf, and it appeared to be breathing. With Oosi close behind, I approached the creature.

“Don’t attack me,” it growled. “I am injured. Leave me be.”

“How did you find yourself so injured?” I asked, noting that I did not see any wounds on it.

“My mean, cruel master kicked me,” it replied.

Upon questioning, it explained that its master was a frost giant named Garagai, who captures and eats children of Dougan’s Hole as tribute. It said that Garagai was too strong to be attacked, but that it would take us to Garagai’s lair to free the young there. It agreed to help us if we proved formidable in the battle. It said its name was Koran, and I convinced Blaze to cast cure wounds on it. Koran gave us the impression that Garagai’s lair was four or five hours west of Dougan’s Hole, and we said we would rest the night in Dougan’s Hole and meet it the next morning.

We left Koran and soon entered Dougan's Hole, the smallest and most insular of the ten towns, only housing about fifty people in a small cluster of dwellings perched on the edge of the now frozen Redwaters. Ice had buckled the shorter of its two piers, rendering the dock unsafe. The longer pier had two icebound keelboats tethered to it, though they're immobile because of the frozen surface. Local fishers had hauled their smaller boats out to the edge of the ice to go fishing.

Approaching from the north, we entered the largest building in the center of town. We were greeted by a large man with a face too small for his big head and missing quite a few teeth. He told us that wolves were stalking the town and taking their children. He directed us toward the Fishhead Bucket and explained that the speaker was his mama.

His mama welcomed us in, confident that the stolen children must already be dead, and focused on feeding the remaining townsfolk. She offered Bran a warm place to spend the night, but we all headed to the tavern.

On the southern side of town we found a triangular ring of nineteen crudely fashioned megaliths, granite menhirs arranged in a rough triangle, with a single stone at the formation's center.

Mendel was familiar with it, explaining that, “No one knows who built this structure or why; the townsfolk maintain that the stones were there when the town's founder, a Chondathan named Dougan Dubrace, first happened upon this fishing spot. Scholars have tried to research the origin of the structure's name, but all they have found are allusions to a creature named Thruun in the oldest legends of the northern folk. Some speculate that Thruun was a god, while others believe it's a destructive elemental spirit bound to this location by ancient druidic magic.”

We continued on to the Fishhead Bucket tavern where Oosi ordered drinks and struck up a conversation, asking why they weren’t more concerned about their children being taken and eaten.

The bartender, a man with small, misshapen ears, replied, “Dougan's Hole is beset by winter wolves, don’tcha know. They stalk the outskirts of town. Don't know how many, but them wolves are big as horses!"

"They know words an' got a mighty vocab'lary too!" said another patron with pointed teeth.

"I’ll take a drink,” said a third, who bore more than a passing resemblance to the other two. “By Thruun's Stones, they caught fair Sil and her lovely brother Finn th' other day." He explained to Bran that the other two were his cousin and his uncle.

A fourth who looked like their sister chimed in. "Dang winter wolves say they ain't givin' 'em back till the town coughs up a king's ransom in food and gold. This town barely got enough to feed its own, and there ain't no gold. Ain't no one allowed to leave town. Dem wolves vow to kill anyone who tries!"

They all confirmed to Bran that the wolves demanded their food and gold if they ever wanted to see their children alive.

Erling started a game of cards, agreeing to play for beans.

Mendel was intent on finding someplace private to spend the night, but all that was offered was the common room or a root cellar.

We discussed amongst ourselves whether we thought we could trust the story of the wolves, which I explained I did not, elaborating that Koran had indicated that it was traveling with Garagai, but then turned on the frost giant when it disagreed with what was being done to the children, which it had been bringing to Garagai. I was convinced it was a trap.

The locals told Oosi that the town’s sacrifice to Auril was warmth, and balked at the idea of sacrificing children.

Mendel attempted to hypnotize the bartender, but did not learn anything useful.

Bran suspected that the wolves might be taking the children for themselves and that there might not even be a frost giant.

The bartender then told us that, “a few weeks ago, there was a man that came around town, and he said he was going to kill that giant for us. He left and we never seen him again. He said he was Cordell. Cordell Holte.”

Erling, Bran, and I took a walk around the outskirts of town. Erling spotted many large wolf tracks circling the town. Bran noted that many of them led to the west.

When we returned, we each took turns maintaining a watch while the rest of us slept.

In the morning, we departed west. When we returned to the spot where we had met Koran, it was not there, but we found its tracks headed west.

We followed the tracks west, across over a dozen miles of frozen tundra.

Eventually we saw a towering edifice, built entirely of ice, jutting up out of the vast tundra. The domed structure was easily three times the height and width of any building found in Ten-Towns. The wolf tracks led directly to it.
Frost Giant Lodge
We circled round it and found a tunnel in the ice that appeared to have been borrowed by a creature. A foul scent pervaded the tunnel.

Secured by rope and pitons, I climbed down into the hole and back up into a roughly forty foot square room filled with five very large barrels, the source of the foul fishy oil scent.

A large opening led to an empty cavernous chamber.

I returned to the party and we all climbed through the tunnel into the room.

Bran confirmed that the five barrels of whale oil each weighed 500 pounds and could be sold for fifty gold coins in Ten-Towns.

I noticed that a section of the tunnel wall was smeared with a strange, frosted white residue—enough to fill a small bottle. I recognized it as a rare remorhaz secretion called thrym.

I showed the group what I had found, warning them of the remorhaz danger. Mendel said that alchemists use thrym to craft potions of cold resistance and that a bottle of thrym could sell for 250 gold coins.

He collected enough thrym to make two potions.

Erling searched the adjacent chamber. The only furniture within it was a big matted and musty fur bedroll. Another large opening led to the north.

Beyond the opening I scouted a twenty foot wide hallway. Sixty feet to the east was the back of a giant-sized throne atop a circular dais in an oval chamber with high walls. Against one wall was the body of a man who appeared to have been stomped and crushed.

Entering the oval chamber, I saw that the high walls of glittering ice resembled a sepulcher. The frozen, hacked-up corpse of a frost giant lay on the floor, entombed in translucent ice.

I withdrew back into the hallway as what appeared to be a woolly mammoth entered the chamber from the north. It entered the room, peered at the frost giant corpse, and returned to the north.

I relayed what I had seen.

I returned to the chamber and examined the frost giant corpse, which had a sword sticking out of its skull.

The mammoth returned, and stared down at me with hate in its eyes, crying out, "You are to blame for all of this!" It then lowered its head and assumed a threatening posture.

I withdrew into the hallway, attempting to appease the beast by saying, “Easy big fella. We just want to talk,” while I targeted it with my slayer’s prey.

We all braced for an attack as it charged toward us shouting, “This is all your fault!”

“This is not our fault,” I insisted, backing up.

As it gored me with its tusks, Erling and Bran missed shots at it, Oosi hit with his javelin of lightning, and Blaze used his sacred flame, and Mendel cast toll the dead. Withdrawing further, I targeted it with hunter’s mark, but was hurt too badly to aim.

Erling and Bran hit it with their next shots, and Bran cast healing word on me. Oosi smashed it with his warhammer. Mendel cast toll the dead. Blaze cast scorching ray.

Just then, two winter wolves came running into the room from the east.
The winter wolf brothers, Koran and Kanan, pose a threat to all who visit Dougan's Hole
Oosi hit it with his hammer as it charged toward Mendel and viciously gored the mage. As Mendel collapsed, I alerted my companions to the two approaching winter wolves, and landed a solid shot on the mammoth. Erling used a potion of healing to revive Mendel and hid in the shadows. Mendel rose and withdrew into the bedroll chamber. Bran tried to use blindness, but it had no effect. Blaze hit it with his spiritual weapon. Oosi retrieved his javelin of lightning and threw it at the wolves.

The nearest wolf hit Oosi and me with its cold breath. I missed the mammoth, but Erling hit it with his shot, dropping the beast. Bran hit one of the wolves and cast another healing word on me. Oosi scooped up his warhammer and engaged the nearest wolf. Mendel caught the nearest wolf in a web, and Blaze hit it with scorching rays.

The nearest wolf broke free of the webs, but the other got stuck. I missed the wolf, but Erling hit it with his shot before hiding again. Bran also hit with his shot. Mendel hit it with magic missiles. Oosi and Blaze flanked it, Blaze hitting it with his mace.

The second wolf broke free of the webs and knocked Oosi prone. I missed again, and Erling hit again. Bran drew his rapier and stuck it. Oosi rose and finished it with his warhammer.

Mendel cast toll the dead on the remaining wolf. Blaze hit it with his mace. It retaliated with its cold breath, catching Oosi and Blaze. I finished it with a solid shot in the throat.

“Thank you,” Mendel thanked Erling while Ossi retrieved his javelin. “That was really a close call. I wish I had a potion to give you back.”

We returned to the throne room, where we noticed that chiseled into the throne's backrest was a large rune. The ice around the giant’s head appeared to be melting. Oosi searched the stomped body, noting that the man’s breastplate was intact. He found a book on the man, labeled The Journal of Cordell Holte. Mendel read some of the more interesting passages out loud:
..These last two years of winter have been difficult for the people of these towns, there is only one way I can really help....

...I have never been busier, the long nights and overcast "days", (I hesitate to call them days, it's more like a short, four hour break from the gloom), have resulted in a scourge of monsters and beasts lurking, ready to predate upon an unwary villager at any moment....

...Yesterday, I killed a talking bear, A TALKING BEAR!?! At first it was just an increase of goblins, orcs and other regular threats to civilization, but things are getting weirder...

...Arrived at Dougan's Hole today, the people are... different from other Ten-Towners....

...I'm heading out tomorrow to kill a Frost Giant. The townsfolk say it's pet, a large winter wolf, showed up outside of town two days ago and demanded a tribute of food and gold (of which they have little) in it's name; Garagai. There was even talk about sacrificing a townsperson to appease the giant. (gods!)...
Concluding that the frozen giant corpse must be that of this Garagai, we discussed the possible relationship between Garagai, the mammoth, and the wolves.

“Excusing me for interrupting,” Mendel chimed in, “but are we going to be here for ten minutes? Because if we’re going to be here for ten minutes, Oosi, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a reason that armor is undamaged.

“I’d like to verify it.

“It will take me ten minutes to see if it’s enchanted. It could be magical armor, and that would explain why the armor is unscathed. Look at how that poor man was pulverized! It’s not an emergency, but if we’re going to be here...”

Handing the journal to Bran, Mendel pulled out his spellbook and began casting the ritual of detect magic.

“Oosi, I was right,” Mendel explained, “that armor is indeed enchanted. You are very lucky and I can’t think of a better person to wear it than you.”

Oosi asked if I would want the armor, but I replied, “As much as I would love it, I think it makes more sense for you to have it.”

“That sword down there is magical as well,” Mendel revealed, peering into the ice.

“That throne is magical as well,” Mendel added, detecting an aura of conjuration magic around the rune. “It seems to be coming from this rune here. I can’t make it out. I could read it, but it would take me another ten minutes. I don’t know if we have that time…”

Mendel began the ritual of comprehend languages.

“Do we want to get that sword?” I asked. “Hopefully Bran is right, and it is the sword melting the ice and not the giant. Perhaps we should finish exploring this place before we retrieve the sword.”

“The rune says ‘ice’ in Giant,” Mendel explained, having completed his ritual. “I suspect that if someone were to sit on this throne, there’s some power that they might be able to activate. Perhaps if they said the magic word: ice.”

We split up the small treasure we found and proceeded to explore to the north.

The hallway opened first to the left where we found a massive table hewn from a single block of ice standing in the middle of a cold chamber, surrounded by chairs also made of ice. Many of the chairs were chipped and cracked.

Peering into a further opening to the right, I saw a whale corpse and returned to my companions searching around the ice table and relayed what I had found.

Lying on the floor under the table, we found a one-foot-tall stone statuette of a spindly creature that we recognized as a chwinga.

“I suspect that this may have been a creature that was turned to stone after it was killed,” Mendel speculated. “If you look at how these puncture wounds enter the statue, that’s very unusual for a piece of stone.”

Placing the statue in my pack, I pointed to an alcove at the end of the hallway, between the two openings. “Take a look in this corner. There’s a chest over here, and this whale stinks.”

The six-foot-long, five-foot-wide, five-foot-tall stone chest was half buried under ice.

A sour stench of decay filled our nostrils as we entered the chamber of the frozen corpse of a whale, lying crudely butchered on the ice-packed ground. Beside it was a blade in the shape of a paring knife the size of a longsword.

“Oosi,” I pointed at the blade, “take a look at that shearing knife.”

After examining the whale, I added, “It looks like this whale was harvested for oil, and the wolves began to eat it here.”

While the others examined the chest for a way to open it, I explored an exit beyond the whale carcass. Returning, I explained, “There are in fact three entrances, and we’ve only accounted for two of them, the one that I just explored, and the one from where the wolves came. I believe there’s another entrance into this structure that we have yet to explore. As you mentioned before, we are looking for children. Perhaps we should check that out before we investigate the chest.”

We all exited the structure from the northern entrance by the whale carcass, and peering into the center entrance I could see the throne room in the distance. “I think I see the edge of a cage,” I pointed toward the southern entrance. “I suspect that this is where the wolves were when we entered.”

Moving closer I saw, standing against the west wall of the chamber, a huge, slatted animal cage, with a locked gate attached to it by rusty hinges. Trapped inside the cage were two shivering humans in cold weather clothing. They looked fearfully at the entrance. I whispered to my companions, “There are two children.”

I stood guard outside while my companions attempted to free the children.

They finally emerged with the two children, Silja and Finn Dejarr, human siblings. Silja was a spindly girl with pointy teeth. Snow clung to the ends of her long braids. Finn had a piebald face flanked by small, malformed ears. His hands were frostbitten, and his teeth chattered uncontrollably.

We brought them to the room with the large bedroll and allowed the children to warm themselves while we took a short rest.

With Oosi’s aid, we harvested meat from the mammoth, almost a month’s worth for one person. I also carved out the mammoth’s tusks.

Mendel gave Blaze a day’s worth of his share in return for rations Blaze had previously provided to him.

After we were rested, Bran melted enough of the ice to retrieve the sword, which had a bright crimson blade, searing hot to the touch.

Oosi and Erling chipped away at the ice covering the chest, and found mostly giant-sized tools.

We decided to sleep for the night before heading back to Dougan’s Hole. I took the first watch.

The night was uneventful. Before leaving, we smashed the throne until it was destroyed.

Back to Dougan’s Hole, we returned Silja and Finn to their mother, Hilda. Hilda explained that all she could spare as reward were a pair of magic boots that had belonged to her husband and older brother who passed away a few years ago.

Trying the furred boots on, I found them snug and quite warm. I spent the next hour in town attuning to the boots, and discovered they were boots of the winterlands.

Mendel wanted to return to Bryn Shander to do some shopping and check on the cauldron, but we decided to travel to Easthaven instead and spent the night in Good Mead.

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