Dan as Incendius, Human Wizard
Neil as Bud, Ranger
William as Fib, Tiefling Warlock
Sina as Alasaurus, Swordmage
Steven as Etain, Drow Cleric
Allison as Mardred, Dwarf Paladin
Jared as Two Bits, Halfling Rogue
Josh as DM
The next morning, the villagers set out for Kelvin’s Cairn to attempt to “rescue” the missing apothecary (and any other intended sacrifices). Fib and Etain continue to joke about whether they are going to save him to consider the debt settled, or just make sure the cultists finish the job so they don’t have to cough up the 50gp. Fib continues to talk about joining the cult and participating in the sacrifices (“the benefits sound great!”), and Mardred continues to be unsure whether they are joking, and feeling vaguely uncomfortable…
Shortly after noon, they arrive within site of Kelvin’s Cairn. Bud squints and realizes that the windward side of the mountain would be very inhospitable, and begins leading them up the leeward side. As they start to ascend, Etain looks up and sees a ribbon of smoke against the backdrop of clouds. “There!” Bud leads them towards the smoke, and they soon climb high enough to be within a few hundred yards of where it seems to come from, when he realizes that they are following a track that seems to have been trodden many times. He stops everyone, and Two Bits and Bud sneak up and around, off the path, until they find they are above a cave mouth that was hidden by the angle of ascent. As they watch, they realize several camouflaged figures are hiding in the snow, waiting to ambush the party if they climb any higher.
They signal to each other and Bud maintains his perch, Two Bits going back to warn the others and then climbing again silently, completely blindsiding the foes. He bird calls, and Alasaurus and Mardred charge up, Mardred going straight up the slope to cut one off while Alasaurus uses her magic to lasso another down off his perch, while Bud shoots two arrows right in the head of a third, who falls out of his hiding spot, instantly dead – they all realize they are goblins!
As they stand surprised, a fourth one not seen by the others darts out of his hiding spot into the cave mouth and is around a corner and down the passage before they can do anything. Two Bits does a triple somersault flying leap slide down to the cave mouth and blocks the retreat, and he, Fib and Incendius finish off one, although the other is able to slide past Two Bits and escape as well! The party charges down the passage after them before they can regroup..
The cave surface quickly changes to something more refined, clearly a living area that has been inhabited for quite some time, and as they climb some stairs they see the second retreating goblin talking with another sentry. Bud shoots him in the throat before he can finish delivering his chattered message, and the other goblin darts into a side passage. The party charges up just as two more burst forth, but just as the heroes seem to have it under control, a giant verbeerg busts down another door and attacks with a giant mace!!
He roars defiantly and is surprisingly nimble on his feet, seeming to melt in and out of the party and swinging his mace frantically, but he seldom connects in his hurry. Even as several goblins swoop in and distract Etain and Alasaurus, the party is able to push him back towards the entrance through a series of feints drawingg him towards the casters. Meanwhile Incendius fries several goblins to a crisp, and they methodically take him down once he is isolated. At the last moment, the verbeerg cuts and runs back down the passage, dodging down a side tunnel as Bud’s final arrow narrowly misses him. Bud and Incendius give chase, back through his sleeping quarters and treasure room, then turn a corner to find him gone, with nothing but a dead end (oh, and 500gp. So, there’s that). Incendius searches for magical concealment and even sets a lot of stuff on fire while the rest of the party shows up and searches, but they are unable to find any sign of him. Alasaurus suspects a secret door of some kind based on the evidence, but they are unable to find it and give up, deciding to focus on the hostages.
They move back to the main area which shows no sign of cultists, but there is another tunnel leading deeper. Two Bits and Etain take the lead, with Etain using his darkvision to scout and Two Bits using his small stature and natural bluff to masquerade as a goblin. The see a few side chambers that seem to be goblin-inhabited (aka dirty and poorly kept) but then it transitions to rooms that seem to be much neater and likely occupied by humans. As a sense of dread comes over them, Etain finds religious charms and insignias that seem to be made of the black ice… Incendius immediately melts them, but everyone is more on edge as they approach a larger lit area and hear menacing voices reverberating down the passageway…