It is midday in a stateroom on the adventurer’s airship.
Inside, the gang are discussing their options. Thoko had left people out in the wilderness to see what heroes would come, to flush out the heroes, because he wants heroes above anyone else because they have juicier souls. The group’s idea is to go through the tunnels to see if there is an alternate way to reach Thoko’s realm.
Rand and Zinnaerris pore over her book, Rand realizing that the book changes when people die. Yet it didn’t seem to change when Boko “died”. Maybe Lord Garland was telling the truth?
The group discusses heading into the tunnels, while Ol’ Ropey fashions a rope ladder from extra rigging.
All but Shah, who stays behind, enter the tavern with their “business faces” on. Deagha turns into a hummingbird. Heading back toward the tunnel where the female white dragon was encountered, everyone senses a chill. Deagha flits back to cast endure elements on all without cold resistance. They reach the doorway to the white dragon’s room. Deagha flies ahead, notices that the ice in the room seems to be melting, water dripping at a trickling pace from above. Rand casts non-detectable alignment on himself.
Deagha and Fraas fly up and see a second chamber, lined with slippery ice. Large dripping stalactites. It looks as if it was magically very cold, with that effect now wearing off. Tunnels toward branch out in each cardinal direction. They notice that the ground is chopped up in the East & West directions, slushed as if someone or something big had been here recently. Deagha notices that something wyrmish had been wriggling through here. Deagha knows of no natural creature who could make these tracks, but Fraas thinks that it looks much like the tracks of a Frost Worm.
The southeasterly trail goes on beyond into darkness. The northwestern trail leads to a ledge, where coiled up, a 30ft frost worm is asleep, its single eye closed.
Fraas recalls that these worms are vulnerable to fire, but may explode upon death. Fraas affixes a grappling hooks rope ladder that Korrak & Zinn climb up. Sentinel leaps up with Rand on his back. Fraas & Deagha fly up. Fraas casts communal protection from cold on everyone. It is quiet, apart from the sound of Rand’s clanking armor
Deagha, flying ahead sees the creature’s eye crack open and flies back to alert the rest.
Everyone further back hear crunching ice. Deagha returns to just see the worm slink into a tunnel around a bend. Deagha feels overcome with fascination upon seeing the worm staring back from in the tunnel. The group hears a high pitched trilling sound.
Fraas tears a bit of stray cloth from his garment and sticks them in his ears, advising the rest of the group to do the same. He continues forward, but can now feel the will of the worm try to take hold, which he shrugs off. Sentinel bounds forth. Zinn, Korrak and Rand move carefully forward on the icy floor.
The worm passes a dazed Deagha on its way out of the hole as it blasts cold at Sentinel. Deagha sees this beast attacking his friends and snaps out of the enchantment. Fraas blasts the worm with an empowered mythic fireball. Sentinel leaps onto the worm but his fists clang on its icy armor. Zinn misses with her immolating bow; Rand misses with his bow. The beast continues to burn and suddenly explodes into a burst of frozen shrapnel.
A trilling sound echoes from the alternate tunnel, but stops after a short while. Deagha flits into the tunnels to where the worm went and finds a miscellany of bones, deer, kobold, etc. The crew decides to forge ahead after a round of healing from Rand, Sentinel gets his “healing” from Fraas.
They advance carefully on the ice for the rest of the day. Periodically the tunnels widen into larger chambers, but the condition is consistent, yet it still gets colder. The group stays as wide as they can as they move through these rooms. There is an absence of life for the most part; not a lot of signs of living creatures, perhaps the insurmountable cold made the area unlivable.
At the end of the day’s travel, they reach a very large chamber, with a semi-frozen, lightly thawed pond. Finding a place in the chamber where there are grooves in the wall, about 300 ft away from the lake, they make camp. Rand places caltrops around the encampment. Deagha morphs back into human form.
On first watch, Sentinel & Zinn hear a splash from the lake and a multitude of voices cursing in giant. “Fuck!” “Pull em out” “Shhhhh” At least 3 different voices. Deagha turns into an air elemental and moves closer to investigate. He sees a dozen large humanoid creatures gathered around the water. One is squeezing liquid out of its furs. They look like trolls but their skin is paler, and they look wirier, like ice trolls.
Fraas flies over with Deagha to unleash a fireball. Deagha casts wall of thorns, one of the trolls tries to smash through, but only hurts his hand. Fraas’s single fireball, completely obliterates the trolls, whose bodies explode through the thorns like meat through a sieve. Only one troll head is unhurt, trying to move back to its body with its mouth. Fraas flies down and picks up the head; brings it back to group. Zinn tries to talk to it, but it is too far gone; Korrak finishes it with her flaming sword.
Deagha flies out to check the rest of the lake, seeing the trolls’ tracks. Their tracks came from the west, a slight breeze. No sounds, except very quiet echoes of worm trills, very far away.
The next morning Deagha hummingbirds up the west tunnel to investigate the source of the breeze. After a while, he reaches the exit of the caves. Cautiously peering out, he sees the troll tracks leading to a troll encampment. There are about 2 dozen other trolls of various ages, very savage looking, no apparent alignment with Thoko. On the flight back to the cave, he flies up to scan the progress north, about 50 miles south of Thoko’s realm.
Deagha rejoins with the group, and they travel through the northernly tunnel for the rest of the day, it getting progressively colder. They reach a fork. The northwestern air is slightly fresher, natural cold brisk mountain air. Northeast, air is damper, no tracks.
Making camp in an alcove, the night passes uneventfully.
The adventurers decide to head down the damper tunnels. Deagha scouts ahead reporting back routinely. After a few more hours of walking, Deagha reports that he’s seen some very old mine tracks that have not been used for a very long time. Just the disused rail remains, no carts. There is no trace of aerum; whatever was mined has been mined out completely.
Sentinel notices, after walking about an hour along the tracks, a very small shining object, about the size of a coin. Deagha flies up to look at it, it looks like a scale. Frosty white, small. Looks dried like it’s been there for a while. Passing mining veins, bits of tools, splintered and piecemeal, old crumbled wood as if it was a cart torn apart. Eventually the mine shaft opens into a large room, the largest room yet. He did see that other tunnels were branching out from this room. Upon approach Sentinel hears a sound of “wet, chewing”.
Deagha flits ahead slowly to try and find the source of the chewing. A female frost giant, eating a dire rat like an apple. A cloak of blackbird feathers, which Fraas notes may imply the ability to hide. She’s chained by heavy manacles hands together, and bolted to the ground in two places.
The room seems to be a junction, tracks all through the room, a rope-winch in disrepair leading to a higher set of tracks. The giantess is sitting on a pile of bones, from human to frost giant size, including a skeleton of a horse-sized dragon, with decaying white scales.
Deciding to interrogate the giant, Zinn and Rand approach, while Fraas hangs back and readies a silence spell in case she triggers and alarm. She does not register as evil. She notices them, and in common tongue, “please don’t take my rat.” She hops around. She looks very malnourished and is darting her eyes at their weapons, sizing them up. “Are you here to kill me?” Rand engages diplomatically with the giantess.
She notices Rand’s crown and seems pleased that he took it by force. She had tried to take the crown from the jarla before, but instead was sentenced to remain here. She had been a scout in the jarla’s army. Her sentence is until “it” comes back for her. There is a Slorath in these tunnels, a gargantuan creature, bigger than a frost worm, intelligent. She announces her name is Bjaritte and claims to know the mountain very well. She desperately asks to be freed in exchange for leading us into Thoko’s area. Rand and Korrak take turns swinging their weapons to break the chains, freeing Bjaritte. Fraas and Sentinel rush forward toward the noise.
As Fraas moves out, he hears crumbling rock behind. He lights a copper piece and throws it toward the sound. The shining coin flies up above the entrance to a set of tracks above and on an upper ledge he sees a pair of giant green vertical eye slits staring right back attached to a giant white scaled monstrosity. Fraas immediately casts invisibility on himself.
The rest of the group hears Fraas casting a spell, which Deagha recognizes as invisibility. They see a gargantuan form black out the light, slithering and softly landing on the ground. Fraas feels an icy cold breeze at his back. And rushes toward the rest of the group without turning back, but evasively flying.
Zinnaeris uses her boots to teleport Korrak & Bjaritte back to Griffton. Rand casts daylight on a coin and throws it toward the slithering sounds. The room is now dimly lit. The light passes by an enormous 40 ft long serpent form, with glossy white scales, icy blue tongue, multiple rows of teeth. Fraas notices a train of scales moving underneath right toward Rand and Sentinel.
Deagha summons an Ettin to attack the Slorath. One of the Ettin’s heads is paralyzed, while the other strikes out with a vengeance. Deagha casts mythic barkskin on Rand. Sentinel unleashes a flurry of blows on the Slorath. Fraas averts his gaze, and launches a giant fireball.
Back in town, Korrak, Zinn & Bjaritte appear. Korrak intimidates to get the townsfolk to chill out when they see the frost giantess.
Back in the tunnels, Rand swings his axe, landing a mythic, smiting blow hurting the creature very badly. He then swings again, with a critical strike through its eye, into its brain. Fraas stands agape.
Fraas sends a message to Zinn. “The beast is slain. No problem. Teleport back to us. If you take longer than a few minutes, I’ll try scrying you.” Before replying Zinn relays the message to Korrak & Bjaritte. The latter of whom concedes to follow wherever requested.
Zinn to Fraas, “Um. My god you’re alive. See you in a minute. Maybe.”
An astonished Korrak, Bjaritte & Zinn reapparate in the cavern. Bjaritte is gobstopped. “This creature has long terrorized my people… for generations.” Fraas detects magic on Bjaritte: Cloak of elvenkind, illusion aura +5 to stealth. Korrak loans Bjaritte a frost spear that she tests by stabbing the slorath corpse.
Fraas mends Sentinel then sets to work taking parts of the beast for later use and investigation, picking pieces of brain through the eyehole formerly housing Rand’s axe, collecting pieces of its eye, scales, small bones and blood. As Fraas gets deeper inside the creature, he has to use protection from cold spell to keep digging. He finds two orc bodies in various states of digestion.
Fraas emerges from the body. Everyone make a pile of all the goods they find in the chamber: a badly corroded mundane clothing, a magical battleaxe (2), a magical dagger (+1), some oil of magic vestiment for Rand, a potion of good hope, 3 scrolls of baleful polymorph, greater shadow conjuration, and regenerate, a wand of searing light, a corroded shield and various coins and gems.
They equip Bjaritte with the magical chainshirt and Rand starts discussing with her a strategy on how best to free Thorak’s captives. She says that these mines connect with Thoko’s mines. She reveals how Thoko’s pool of sending works. It’s a large pool, big enough for a dozen, leaving a powdery residue upon arrival. She acknowledges that people’s’ lives shrivel up to power the pool. Thoko is magically trapped, but compels the dragon to compel all to do his bidding.
The prisoners are commanded by the rune giant to mine the aerum. There are other advisors closer to him. It is a loose hierarchy, constantly changing, lots of usurping going on. He has reigned for ages, mostly in the mountain. Since Belheim fell their thirst for conquest has expanded. She knew of griffton, not of by its name, but as another target on the mote. Her sister had led that charge; she is please we defeated her. She claims that the miners’ souls barely have an effect on empowering him, so Thoko is greatly desiring of heroes’ souls. She seems earnest about everything.
Meanwhile, Fraas scavenges through the pile of bones digging out some dragon scales, pieces of bone. He notices that all the creatures were intelligent and gets a flashback to the time when he once found intelligent creatures the most delicious.
Priority now is getting his captives free. The gang heads further North under the guidance of Bjaritte.