The party has arrived in the settlement of Gold Mountain. At first glance, Gold Mountain is a stout, pleasant village of rough-cut timber buildings and low stone walls. But for its simplistic appearance, the group knows that a vast and deep Dwarven complex lies beneath, reaching deep into the roots of the earth. What the Dwarves do down there is a mystery to North Point’s citizens.
A work detail of Dwarves greets them warmly, taking from them the burden of the cargo they carried from North Point. Attendants lead away the team’s mounts. Eberk, Elroy Wick, Magnus, Øskur Røgnvaldurarsøn, and Yorgenson Uberson saunter into the small town.
It is too late tonight to travel any further. The group crowds a corner of the tavern and eats an impossibly huge feast of hot, rich, meaty dinner. There will be few good meals from tomorrow onward, so now is the time to savour a fine meal and a warm soft bed. They do not make it too late a night.
In the morning, the party meets at the local quartermaster’s shop. Their assignment is known to the Dwarves of Gold Mountain; there is no need to barter for mission-critical goods. Cold-weather clothing, climbing gear, rough hemp rope, grappling hooks, dry rations, blankets, and bundles of firewood are the critical supplies. Dressed in their new attire and fully loaded, each member of the party is moderately-to-heavily encumbered. For at least the next two days, they will still have mounts to carry much of this additional equipment.
A Dwarf guide, HADVAR (N.P.C.) will lead them to the foot of a nearby glacier, their starting point for crossing the prominent mountain range to the east. Mounting his pony at the lead of the group, Hadvar mentions that Worgs with riders have been spotted in the forests ahead. Eberk takes the news in stride; his friends are uneasy.
Gold Mountain disappears behind the party as they trek into the shady pine forests. The weather is exceptionally nice. Coats are open and headgear removed; it is late-Spring and in the sunshine their cold-weather gear grows uncomfortably warm and sweaty. For half the day Magnus and his friends trot along behind Hadvar, glimpsing the grey-white mountains through gaps in the evergreen shroud above. They lunch as they travel. After noon they hear the first threatening sounds of Worgs, baying off in the distance. Nothing comes of this.
They reach a suitable camp site by evening, and unload their mounts. Watches are established for the night. A half-moon wanes above. On first watch, Elroy (Listen = 21) and Yorgenson (Listen = 21) hear something unusual, faintly off in the distance. Second watch is quiet. Øskur (Listen = 11) does not pick up any odd sounds in his pre-dawn vigil.
Second day of travel. Hadvar’s course takes them up steeper inclines than yesterday. The forest thins and the mountains look much closer and more imposing. At mid-day, they leave the treeline and enter barren land. Behind and below them, the forest carpet stretches out into hazy distance, with the sea only a shimmering ripple. Above lies scrub brush and mossy rocks, with a bright blue-white glacier beckoning. Their pace slows as the mounts pick careful steps amid the scree. When evening comes, they make camp on an arid plateau and take uneventful turns on guard.
In the morning the party decides to continue on foot. They take on the burdens borne by their mounts, and send the horses back to Gold Mountain with Hadvar. Goa Finnbjorn wishes to retain her riding-dog, LöRYDYR, as a pet. Taking care on the rough slopes of the mountain base, the party hikes on for an hour and reaches the glacier.
The glacier is an impressive sight; solid blue ice, fifty feet high and stretching over eight hundred feet wide. Like a river frozen in place, it flows out of a steep-walled valley leading into the mountain range. Druid Uberson points out a passable ascent on the slope to their left. Following this, his friends make an easy climb and step out onto the broad sheet of glacier. The ice surface is rough and gives decent traction. For safety, the group stays near the center of the glacier, following a spine of rock debris.
It is chilly until the bright warm sun crests the mountains and shines on them. For most of the day they hike along the ice. The terrain is what Uberson expected and he anticipates the dangers (Survival = 27). Mid-afternoon, some of the party Spot something dark, high above them on the slope of the mountain-side. The sharpest eyes of the party identify it as a cave. Hadvar had warned the party against attempting to pass under the mountains. Too many cave networks under this range meander endlessly to a traveler’s doom, or lead into the warrens of dangerous under-dwellers. Still, this cave is worth investigating.
It takes two hours to inch a careful ascent up to the cave. The opening to the cave is large; fifty feet high and eighty feet wide. Eberk scouts ahead into it. The unworked passage narrows down to a broad hallway-sized tunnel, and leads on as far as the Dwarf dares to go.
Coming back near the cave mouth, Eberk Searches the tunnel floor. He finds stone flakes left behind from tool-making, and bone chips. Elroy Wick (Knowledge : Nature = 20), Øskur Røgnvaldurarsøn (with a Natural 1 rolled for Knowledge : Nature for a total skill check of 12), Yorgenson Uberson (with a Natural 1 rolled for Knowledge : Nature for a total skill check of 7), and Eberk (with a Natural 1 rolled for Knowledge : Nature for a total skill check of 2) examine the bone fragments. The Bard can tell these remains are from a humanoid and not a wild beast.
Dry and sheltered, the cave will make an adequate camp site for tonight. The group happily dumps their packs and burdensome bundles of firewood. Øskur Røgnvaldurarsøn is wary of the corridor leading off into the unknown. He strings up some rope and dangles cooking utensils from the line to create a tripwire.
Fire is lit, dinner made, and the evening passes in subdued fashion. Everyone is worn out from carrying all this gear. They retire to their bedrolls. The first watch is uneventful.
Magnus is on the second watch and does not hear anything over the low crackle of the fire. Asleep, Wick (with a Natural 1 rolled for Listen for a total skill check of 4) is undisturbed. Same too for Uberson (with a Natural 1 rolled for Listen for a total skill check of 8). Øskur wakes; whether he heard or he sensed something, he does not know. Eberk (with a Natural 20 rolled for Listen for a total skill check of 21) startles awake.
Suddenly there is commotion from the shadows – something has tripped Øskur’s perimeter line ! An instant later, four grey, eyeless, rock-skinned humanoids charge noiselessly into their camp and attack. These creatures are wearing leather armor and carry sharp stone axes. Two of them wear skull-bone helms.
Yorgenson Uberson (Initiative = Natural 1) remains blissfully asleep. Wick does not wake until one of the attackers hacks him with its axe; Øskur Røgnvaldurarsøn also takes a hit. Eberk is chopped and Elroy is hit again as he scrambles to his feet. The Bard is almost unconscious from the damage he has suffered early on in this melee.
The fight is on. Stumbling back, Elroy Wick begins to Inspire Courage. Yorgenson Uberson finally stirs from his beauty rest, rises and taps the Bard with a Cure Light Wounds spell. Druidbarian Øskur becomes Enraged, connecting on a Critical Hit but for only normal damage. Eberk and Magnus square off against two of the creatures. It does not take Magnus long to kill one, and then kill another. The Fighter has grown in prowess, and wields his Heavy Pick like a master. Frenetic shadows paint the walls of the cave.
Uberson is hit. He lashes back (with a Natural 1 confirmed as a Critical Miss) but the creature misses with its Attack of Opportunity. Another attacker is killed; only one of the eerie creatures left. Øskur Røgnvaldurarsøn attempts to Bull Rush it into the campfire, but fails. In reply, the statue-like humanoid sinks its stone axe deep into the Druidbarian’s shoulder on a Critical Hit.
Magnus delivers a punishing reply in Øskur’s stead. Perhaps desperate, the last creature tries to Grapple Øskur. The Druidbarian dekes away, takes an Attack of Opportunity and kills it. Øskur then tears the axe out of his shoulder and tosses it aside. He bleeds nonchalantly.
Attention focuses on the tunnel. Nothing else emerges. When the sounds of combat echo away, no other sounds follow. Elroy (Knowledge : Nature = 8) and Øskur (Knowledge : Nature = 13) look over the dead, and identify the creatures as a rare subterranean race called Grimlocks. Wick thought that Grimlocks were a slow-witted but well-meaning type of dinosaur, but evidently that is not the case. Similar study of the bone helms worn by two of the Grimlocks tells the Bard (Knowledge : Nature = 7) and the Druidbarian (Knowledge : Nature = 29) that they are troglodyte skulls.
Øskur the Druidbarian heals himself with a Cure Light Wounds spell, and Druid Yorgenson aids others. Then Yorgenson casts a Detect Magic spell. He finds nothing. Besides the primitive but sharp stone axes, the group finds a total of 15 gems on the slain Grimlocks – a decent find. They drag the unsettling rock-coated bodies away from their camp and pile them down the tunnel.
It is the middle of the night; second watch resumes its post while the others try to go back to sleep. When its turn ends with grey dawn, the last watch of the night has nothing to report.
(end of the session)
[Elroy Wick, Øskur Røgnvaldurarsøn achieve Level 3]
[Eberk achieves Level 2]