Icewind Dale

Session 01
The Blessing of Auril

Navena, Songberg, and Eira must all go to the Palace of Winter, a Temple of Auril, which is a day’s ride from Luskan. There, they are to obtain the blessing of Auril, a requirement for their contract with the Trading Coster. To gain the blessing, they are told, involves animal sacrifice. Songberg abstains from this enterprise, feeling it will anger Tyr, thus he forgoes early payment. Navena and Eira each purchase a mule at market and lead it to the palace where they must drown their animals in the cold, nearby lake. Adroitly concealing a knife, Navena hastens the death of her mule by stabbing it under the water. Eira, on the other hand, nearly dies of hypothermia in the struggle to kill her charge. The group returns to Luskan where soon after Finder Heartendale throws a send-off party for the caravan.

EXP:
Eira: 65
Navena: 50
Songberg: 50

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Session 02
The Trail to Old Auckney

Finder Heartendale’s caravan has set out, heading Northwest to the Old Auckney trading post, a site operated by the Thousandheads Trading Coster. After five days, when the company is within a day’s march of their destination, giant spiders encircle the group in the deep of the night. Three spiders are killed. Wallace is injured badly and the group decides to move camp at Songberg’s urging.

EXP:
Eira: 110
Navena: 110
Songberg: 110

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Session 03
Hunting the 'Spider Herder'

After a grueling march away from the spider ambush, the party reaches the River Sambar and heads south to the Old Auckney Trading Post. The group is met with open arms, given hot food and rest. Haugaard speaks to the clerk, Navena encounters the crestfallen shipwright, Eira meets with Brandish, and Songberg tends to Wallace’s wounds. The denizens of the post speak of recent dangers also with spiders; they’ve lost some livestock and one young man to the creatures. An old Uthgardt barbarian tells of a tale of a ‘spider-herder’ that plagued his people when he was just a boy. Haugaard commands every able-bodied person to strike out the following morning to hunt this so-called ‘Spider Herder’. Navena easily picks up their old trail and leads the force back to the prior day’s camp. The force splits into groups and searches the area for evidence of the spiders and finds it, nearly falling victim to a crude, spiked-pit trap in the process. Further tracking efforts lead to another ambush, this time against even larger arachnids—these drop a net of webbing as part of their ambush. The ensuing melee sees Jasper and a pilgrim of Lathander killed. Brandish’s wolf Bishop as well as Brandish himself, Drielle, and Eira are all grievously wounded.

EXP:
Eira: 170 XP
Navena: 170 XP
Songberg: 170 XP

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Session 04
The Dryad and the Ettercap

Brandish and Navena, the two elves of the company are beckoned away from the group by the sound of a voice calling in their language. A dryad has called to them and she pleads for them to finish what they have started; to slay the Ettercap that has corrupted her home tree. The dryad can lead them there. Brandish seems intent on going, as does Songberg who is then able to convince Haugaard this danger should be faced and the creature dealt with once and for all. Haugaard orders the less fit—those not as trained with weapons—to return to Old Auckney with the corpses of Jasper, the dead pilgrim, and the ailing wolf Bishop.

Wounds are tended to, blades are sharpened. Prayers are offered to the dead and living alike. The dryad leads the elves to a ridge, all the others following the elves in turn. A congress of the blighted forest’s animals, gathered no doubt at the dryad’s urging, await with an unnatural and silent curiosity. Looking out from the ridge, an earthmote can be seen, tethered to the forest by a tunnel-like structure of giant webbing. The party surmounts the webbing like a ladder, Garn nearly losing his life to a deadly fall in the process; he is saved by a rope swung over to him by a quick-thinking Songberg. Thereafter the party locates the dryad’s tree, and with guidance from Tyr and Navena’s keen eyes they confront and slay the dreadful creature and its last two spider-children. Not long after, the earthmote’s placement in the sky begins to soften and wobble underfoot …

EXP:
Eira: 275 XP
Navena: 275 XP
Songberg: 275 XP

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Session 05
Rocks Fall...

The group is caught in a crashing and crumbling explosion of earth, snapping trees and flying spiderwebs as the earthmote, recently home to the foul Ettercap and it’s get, returns violently once more to the surface of Faerûn where it belongs. A man named Hyorvard, one of the Uthgardt from Old Auckney is lost forever, as he falls into one of the Ettercap’s traps during the calamity. He is buried under untold feet of earth and roots. Brandish, Garn, and Songberg are all forced to the ground and partially submerged. Drielle nearly suffocates, as the company must locate her by muffled screams and dig her out; she has a broken leg. A pilgrim named Danton loses an eye. Navena is all but killed when she falls into a large branch that spears her through the belly. Eira and Haugaard have escaped with the least harm by getting tangled into webbing.

While the party is laid low and horizontal, the dryad returns. She spares Navena and in her way, thanks the two elves for their efforts in rescuing her tree. A limping, slow, painful slog back to Old Auckney is conducted and two scant days of recuperation race by. With the miracles of Tyr and the dryad having everyone more or less on the mend, it is back out into the wild. They head east, diverting from the coast and into foothills covered with a carpet of hardy shrubs, wildflowers, and stunted evergreens. On one evening, a meddling crew of pixies arrives to rattle the pots, scare the animals, and make off with Songberg’s Holy Symbol.

Exhausted by the hiking in the hills, slowed by Drielle’s lame leg and Danton’s incessant moaning over his ill-fortune, the group eventually finds a station of lumber to be traded with a clan of Uthgardt, not far from the River Icetongue. It is here that an aerie of griffons locates the caravan’s animals and dives in for the attack. Once again, Navena is nearly killed, pounced upon by an angry griffon. The assailing creatures are fought off, but at the cost of two donkeys.

EXP
Eira: 175 XP
Navena: 175 XP
Songberg: 175 XP

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Session 06
The Elk and the Raven

The aftermath of the griffon attack is an arduous labor of skinning, dragging, smoking, and raft-building. The wood needed is eventually gathered and the group makes its way to the River Icetongue which is the most considerable geographic barrier between Luskan and Fireshear. Navena and Brandish agree to risk a detour north to look for a suitable area for fording. Despite great concern over losing animals or an injured person like Drielle to swift waters, it is sturdy but eager Brandish who drops his footing and is carried away downstream. Songberg and Eira both give chase, with Eira proving the more competent swimmer. No lives are lost, Eira rescues the foundering elf, but Songberg’s struggle with the frigid waters and separation from the group only deepens his weariness.

The wood is for trading with the Elk tribe, however Halefrid, Chief Shieldmaid of the Elk people puts the company before the ‘omenspeaker’ inside a great wooden church dedicated to Auril and Tempus. The barbarians and the caravan do trade as expected, and Eira later learns of Brandish’s bloody secret past with these people. The omenspeaker, Petra, says the arrival of the caravan is fated and that the strangers must act as a neutral party in returning a young woman, Groa, from the capture of the neighboring Raven tribe. Upon meeting with Ornolf, chief of the Raven people, he claims Groa left her people willingly—out of love for Skuli—one of their young hunters.

The following day there is a long meeting, where the gathered share in the spirit blood of the Uthgardt heritage. The elders of both tribes, plus the new strangers talk peacefully for hours on the riverside of what is to be done with the lovers and who is at fault for the death of the Great Tree. Resolution of the inter-clan dispute has won favor with the Elk tribe and much needed rest to the caravan. After five days time, with a chill setting into the late autumn air, the group again departs westward following Lathander’s path into the horizon. The terrain grows rockier and more mountainous day by day, hour by hour. A week out, Brandish is first to spy something odd off in the distance. It is the carcass of great mastodon and something has been eating it. Eira, Songberg, and Brandish get too close before they realize an owlbear, bloody beaked, charges over the hill of meat to protect its kill.

EXP
Eira: 150 XP
Navena: 150 XP
Songberg: 150 XP

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Session 07
A Mammoth Surprise

Eira and Hessler are each terribly wounded by the owlbear attack, however the two monstrosities are dispatched and the ivory prize of the dead mastodon is secured. Much like the encounter with the griffons, the party makes camp early to patch themselves up and attend to the chores of cutting and stowing the ponderous ivory tusks. Several days journey later, another Great Tree is discovered in a nearby vale and Skuli is keen on getting close; he wants to confirm the omenspeaker’s claim that the tree has perished. Brandish, Songberg, Navena and Eira chaperone Skuli to the site and there they discover a strange scene. A man has been trapped inside a tree-cage, put there, he claims by the works of a sorcerer who ambushed him and his compatriots. Vague impressions in the snow may corroborate his story, but no one looks closer. Haugaard, when he learns this news, leaves the decision of what is to be done with this man, who calls himself Istryn Ashbinder, up to Songberg. Hessler and Brandish opine for his freedom. Navena and Skuli, aloof to his fate, could care less it would seem. Drielle pays the man a private visit and the two talk for a time. Assured by the righteous path of Tyr’s justice, the dwarven paladin proclaims the man will stay where he sits. As the company departs, the condemned man bellows out dark vows to Bane, to Loviatar, to Malar to any other vengeance-hungry god that is listening—that he will hunt them each down beyond his very grave if it comes to that. During this episode, Navena’s keen senses warn her of the presence of a nearby fiend, somewhere in the forest. This causes the pilgrims to all huddle closer than usual around Songberg. Hessler, it is worth noting, disappears from the caravan for a spell. Many suspect he too goes to visit Istryn, however upon his return Hessler says he was simply ‘having a movement’ and got separated.

Eventually, at the outskirts of Fireshear, the caravan reaches the lodge of some lumberjacks and prepares for the warmth and safety of the local hotsprings. The people of Fireshear are rugged and cagey. They coop their foreign guests up in a large inn called the Manticore. The Waterdavian merchant-prince of Fireshear, Lord Aldridge, clearly wants a lot of eyes watching the travelers. Everyone takes care to replenish their supplies and mend what the wilds have broken or damaged. The pilgrims are glad to meet with a young man named Ivan Darkthorne who brings news of Ten Towns to any who will listen. Ivan talks of gardens in the snow and unearthly lights and how Jared is able to commune with angels. Asking around, Songberg uncovers from a local miner that a man named ‘Istryn Ashbinder’ went missing along the northern means two or three winters ago. In other news, a dispatch from Ironmaster just a few days ago states a terrible collapse has occurred. Haugaard will be breaking from the caravan to be with his people in their time of need.

EXP
Eira: 405 XP
Navena: 405 XP
Songberg: 420 XP

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Session 08
The Northern Means

The respite in Fireshear, while warm and soothing, proves too short. The caravan must keep going or they risk being snowed-in. The two dwarven envoys from Ironmaster, the toe-headed brothers Gordrim and Dorgrim make final preparations with Haugaard about his detour to their beleaguered home. Meanwhile, Songberg and Hessler are tasked with getting a fair deal from the traders in town. In exchanging for food and climbing supplies, the caravan unburdens itself of its mules and carts to take on new stores of cold-weather food, crampons, pitons, rope, sled supplies and dogs. Eira, not getting too comfortable, spends much of her time sparring with Brandish; his love for battle means he is only too happy to oblige her. She employs her shield-and-axe techniques against his two-weapon fighting style. Navena, now the guide of the company sufficiently pores over maps and meets with Haugaard, Ivan and others who have made the journey north. Once satisfied, the elf spends as much time as possible in Fireshear’s hotsprings.

A few days after they first set foot in town, the caravan is once again on the move. Haugaard breaks with the group and heads west. A massive wall of jagged stone, what is known as the ‘Spine of the World’ now confronts the caravan. They follow a road called the Northern Means which is little more than a game trail with stacked river stones serving as mile markers. Exhausting hikes, day after day bring the company between the peaks. They head for Hundelstone, once a mixed town of Dwarf and Man alike, but the calamity of the Spellplague has reduced it to a glorified camp-site for temporary passers-through.

Roughly a week in to the journey, with Hundelstone still almost a week away, a strange collection of earthmotes is encountered. Unlike the massive mote which was home to the Ettercap, here they discover an array of them, of many sizes. Some are just shards of ice caught in the air, others are huge boulders of ice and stone. Some are a hundred feet or more into the sky, others hover at head height. Many of them have grown enormous icicles. Eira stops abruptly, claiming to have seen a vision of a woman made out of snow, affixed to one of the closer motes. No one else sees this, and although neither Navena or Songberg sense anything in the environs, Brandish urges everyone to keep moving away from this place. Divine Sense prompts Songberg to look closer, and a Frost giant is spied encased inside the deep blue ice—perfectly preserved in his floating tomb for the past hundred years or more.

That evening, the party is beset by a sudden blizzard. Hours of howling wind, thunderclaps, and several feet of driving snow scatter possessions and freeze bones. They quickly bivouac, using ropes to keep people linked. Everyone survives the night, but some items are gone, lost to the white-out. The blizzard was a blow to morale, and against better judgment, some of the pilgrims decide to start a fire and roast the last of the owlbear meat before it spoils. They are breaking into the mead before Eira and Garn put a stop to their revelry. They are too late, however. A din of howling grows closer. A giant pack of half-starved wolves, two dozen at least, rushes in out of the darkness.

EXP
Eira: 400 XP
Navena: 400 XP
Songberg: 400 XP

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Session 09 - Prologue
Captured!

Your characters have each collapsed while fighting against the onslaught of so many wolves. Perhaps from blood loss or immense pain, you fell unconscious. Perhaps your character is still very alert, but has instinctively decided to feign death hoping the wolves will pass you over for other victims. Perhaps your wounds are simply too great for locomotion and you are anchored in the snow, forced to watch in horror as wolves chase down luckless pilgrims who flee in the knee deep powder. The valley walls echo with resounding, gruesome screams which are gradually being silenced. It is clear some number of you have perished already. The wolves begin to circle and dance around their dead prey and skirmish with each other over their spoils. After what feels like an eternity of this horror, a number of small creatures with reptilian eyes can be seen encircling the bloody scene, having emerged from the white-cloaked beyond. They are little more than jawa-sized grey shapes to you at this point, however one of them carries a staff, and it approaches the closest. The clinking and rattling of its many necklaces of wolf teeth and ivory blending with the growling and howling of the wolves is a sound you will never forget. The largest dire wolf, a majestic black-furred creature, can be seen to turn away from the pack and leap at the shaman creature attended by the warping sounds of magic on the wind. It transforms mid-air, getting smaller and smaller and lands in its hand, now a mere stone the size of a baseball. The remainder of the wolves disperse quickly and in unison, the new creatures move in to loot the caravan and to restrain anyone still living.

Consciousness is flitting in and out. Recall that the wolves attacked deep in the night. Exhaustion, the gnawing cold, and wolf-wound agony have warped your sense of time. Eira can see almost nothing​. Songberg and Navena see a color-leeched gloom of grey snow and​ the​ black shapes of dead bodies, blood smears, and caravan items. Your captors too​ are grey shapes​, up close now, ​they ​are scaly dragon-men​ of a pygmy​ size. They have a language which none present can comprehend, but it seems clear they use it to squabble over whom to tie up, what goods to salvage, and what​ or who​ to leave behind. The sleds you have with you are now being used to transport what has been stolen. Each of you, along with some others have also been lashed to the sleds with rope and cord; only the barest effort has been made to respect your wounds (but perhaps this means you’re being taken alive?). The darkness fades and there’s a day at least of traveling. It takes between three and four of these​ small​ dragon-men to tug the sleds with their own power. They take you off the trail, between crevasses and up and down steep cliffs. These creatures are expert mountaineers. Along the way, Thorhal and Davalos die from exposure; the creatures ​waste no time in eating​ the cold flesh off of their bones​ once a body is discovered​. ​What remains of them​ ​are left where they lie. Some time later you worry that Brandish and Drielle are missing, but no one can be sure. Visibility is restrained by your limited range of movement and your captors do not suffer a sound from you. After at least a day and a night, it’s clear you’ve been taken underground into a cave or tunnel system.

Time and space begin to break down even more as your agony and weariness, hunger and dehydration reach the maximum levels the mind can bear. You begin to tell yourself perhaps this is possibly some long, fevered death-dream and that you are on your way to meet Myrkul in the great beyond after life. The jostling and hoisting and carrying you undergo variably snaps you in an out of consciousness. Bear in mind this rarely happens in concert, so you each catch glimpses of the others looking dead or close to it, surrounded by sneering, gray lizard pygmies. These creatures, your captors, unbind you from the sleds, tie you up individually, and carry you around down corridors and around interminable bends and turns in a mostly featureless tunnel system. You think you pass yet more of these creatures in small chambers amid domestic tasks, you hear drumming; shrieking laughter and chants bounce around the strange halls, you smell soot and sour things. The unending motion that began after the attack of the wolves finally halts. Things grow quiet and dark and stay that way for many hours on end.

Whoever has the best CON will come to first. Everyone has two added levels of exhaustion. You are chained to a wall in some sort of cell.

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Session 09
Escape!

The party, a diminished and bedraggled crew of what remains of the caravan finds itself trapped in a cell-like room underground. Everyone is injured and exhausted. Everyone but Drielle is manacled to a wall—a fact the jailers will soon regret. The headcount stands at Drielle, Eira, Navena, Songberg, Theren, Lourenco, Garn, and Hessler. Songberg speaks up and informs everyone that Kobolds are what have them; they are nasty, brutish dragon worshipers. Drielle assures everyone there are steps she can take to possibly free everyone or at least fight back. She wants to use an Augury and ask Myrkul for guidance. The group begins to discuss a plan: they want to make noise in the hopes of summoning some of the Kobolds to the cell. They get their wish, perhaps sooner than they bargained for. Two Kobolds arrive and begin to drag an unconscious Lourenco out of the room. Before they have finished, Navena begins screaming wildly. Eira too, blows a whistle the kobolds neglected to pilfer. The kobolds intervene, using violence to silence their screaming and whistling prisoners; Lourenco is dispatched, his blood wells up in a puddle around his body. However, this brings one of the kobolds within striking distance of Drielle who slays it with a deadly grasp. The second kobold screams in terror and flees. Drielle chases it through her open cell and out into the catacombs beyond. There’s a flash of light and it too has perished by her hand. During the commotion, Eira’s whistle has freed her from the wall, having summoned a tangle of roots that dislodged her chains. All of this happened before Drielle’s Augury to Myrkul.

The group is armed now with a spear, a short sword, and two improvised black-jacks made of manacle-chains. The group decides to split, leaving Drielle time to rest while Navena and Songberg—who can best see in the dark—do some quick exploring of the nearby vicinity. They encounter a secret passage and run afoul of more kobolds. Two are slain, but others are heard to run away. When the party is rejoined, a strange visitor arrives. The stranger is an elf maiden of surpassing beauty dressed in a mixed garb that seems part noble and part savage, furs and silks. What is more, she entered the cell simply by walking through the door as a ghost might. She offers, since the kobolds are now surely spreading their alarms, to misdirect them away from the group. In exchange, she wants possession of the terribly injured Skuli who was found in an adjacent cell soon after their escape. After some debate, and with varying degrees of remorse, the maiden’s terms are met—and the party presses on without Skuli, leaving him in the cell with the strange woman.

Using a meager divining rod fashioned from a root-twig (summoned forth by Eira’s dryad whistle), Drielle guides the group to the room where nearly all of their possessions are located. There are clashes with more kobolds on the way, as they fight through a common room, a kitchen, and a smithy, but the caravan’s items are found. They also find evidence of other caravans that were ransacked by these creatures and even orc and giant equipment as well. Log books and other materials indicate some of these items have been stashed here since the Spellplague, over 100 years ago. Eira uncovers an elven diary which makes mention of angels and Navena’s father. Nearby the group loots a treasury, purloining coins and some other items of value. Wasting no time after that, they set off in search of an exit. During this search, there is no sign of their erstwhile captors, so perhaps the maiden kept her end of the bargain?

After entering a new area which appears to have some elements of superior dwarven construction to it, Garn stops Navena. An antechamber before them has been rigged with a false roof—and is set to collapse, probably against interlopers who weigh more than the wiry kobolds. They decide to trigger it with the haft of their spear. Sure enough, the roof comes down in a spray of dust and jagged rocks, destroying the spear. Somewhere in the twisting corridors behind them, the sound of that collapse has roused something angry. Something howling in the darkness with a voice that is neither beast or man.

XP:
Eira 450
Navena 450
Songberg 300 – This deficit can be made up if he comes to terms with the fact that he bargained with an evil creature. I’ll explain more in person.

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