Dan as Incendius, Human Wizard
Neil as Bud, Ranger
William as Fib, Tiefling Warlock
Sina as Alasaurus, Swordmage
Steven as Etain, Drow Cleric
Fred as Hogar, Half-Orc Slayer
Allison as Mardred, Dwarf Paladin
Josh as DM
The heroes took off with Algonell and quickly reached the southern end of the dwarven valley again, setting off through the Icewind Dale wilderness back towards Bryn Shander, hoping they could arrive before the wintery army (and the rumored dragon and ice witch leading the charge) could do too much damage to the town. The mood was quiet and serious, although whether due to the gravity of the situation or the hangovers that many members still felt, was unclear. Fortunately Etain was able to whip up some of his Underdark Bloody Mary Hangover Cure, which cheered everyone up right away – at least, until he started explaining the ingredients (it turns out that they make do with what is at hand when making cocktails in the Underdark).
Bud and Algonell were able to navigate a route through the wilderness that avoided any encounters with more yetis or wild beasts through the day, while still keeping a good pace, and by nightfall they reached the outskirts of Bryn Shander where they saw evidence of a gathered horde. Bud and Hogar snuck off to investigate and found a camp with 40 or 50 barbarians and yetis, and sign that wolves and bears had been around earlier too, but no sign of the witch or her monstrous companion. They reported back, and the team agreed to circle the camp and enter Bryn Shander to assess the situation before taking further action. As they approached the gate, a guard yelled “Who goes there?”, but the retort of “Well.. not barbarians?” was sufficient to gain them entry. Or maybe one of the guards just recognized them from saving the caravan a couple days prior.
They found Speaker Duvessa consulting with the guard captain about the city defenses and strategy. After filling her in on what they had seen (and the alarming signs of Akar Kessel under Kelvin’s Cairn), they asked if anyone else had seen the witch or the dragon. Unfortunately, no one had. They agreed that the city walls were their greatest asset and the best strategy was to wait for attack inside. The suspicion was that the attacking force was waiting for full strength and would begin the assault that coming morning. The main fear was that the witch’s magic or dragons might would be able to do more damage to the wall, allowing barbarians into the town and significantly weakening the defensive position. Everyone agrees that the best thing for the heroes to do is attempt to take care of that greatest threat, so that the more mundane foes could be left to the town guard. Incendius attempts to charm Duvessa into agreeing to pay, but she appeals to their consciences and Mardred, Etain and the other morally inclined heroes agree to help first and discuss payment later.
As the team reflects on why the witch was not spotted with her army, Alasaurus recalls what she knows of the evil winter goddess Auril who is rumored to be powering the witch. She knows the goddess is most appeased by sacrifices (preferably live), usually death by exposure to the elements, and her followers have a habit of often making these near moving water. Hogar speaks up that he knows where the nearest stream around Bryn Shander is, and they decide to do some scouting together to see if they can find her isolated at night and take care of the threat. They set out into the night in search of the stream. Although the unusually cold winter has frozen it over, Hogar locates it and they move forward with Bud in the front scouting. They move forward slowly for some time, and as they are beginning to get tired and long for their warm beds back at the inn, Alasaurus suddenly stops. “I sense something – there is evil about.” She begins conferring with Fib to determine what it is when Bud hushes them – “Wait, I hear something. Some kind of chanting? You stay here, Hogar come with me.”
Bud and Hogar carefully crawl to the top of the next hill and see a slender figure in white leaning over something, apparently the source of the chanting which has grown louder. As Hogar determines it is the witch and starts scrambling back down to the rest of the party, Bud stops him. Bud scans the rest of the area and notices several furry shapes in shadow a ways off from the stream, forming a rough perimeter around the figure. “Guards – Can’t tell what they are from here though.” But before he can finish the thought, Hogar has moved forward towards one of the shadows to get a better look. He gets close enough to determine it is a yeti and starts to head back when he hears the yeti stir, sniffing the air and start moving in his direction. Did it catch wind of his scent? Hogar moves back quickly and doesn’t see it follow.
Back with the party, Etain proposes to dress up as an evil cleric and try to parley to create a distraction, but Incendius instead proposes to set a distant tree on fire to create a distraction, hopefully dividing the yetis and then circling back to focus fire the witch with the rest of the party. “Hmmm.. a plan that doesn’t involve putting our only healer in the middle of the battle alone? Yes, let’s take that one.” Incendius sets off to find a suitable tree.
After a few minutes, he returns: “We should see smoke and flame billowing from a few hundred yards that way in another minute or two.” Fib gets in position and confirms the yetis have headed off to look at the tree, while Hogar, Bud and Incendius sneak within range before giving the signal and firing an arrow, a ball of lightning, and an angry half-orc slayer towards the witch all at once. As he cuts into her, Hogar gets a good look and realizes that she is smiling. Unnerving.
As the rest of the party joins the fray, she intones “Icingdeath, my pet, arise and show some proper hospitality for our guests.” Fib, Bud and Incendius, who had been keeping their distance, suddenly realize that white indistinct shapes in the snow that they assumed was some foliage are actually bones, which are rising from the ground and forming into a large skeletal dragon!! It begins trampling over them biting left and right until Alasaurus can intercept, protecting the casters and then teleporting away to confuse the beast. Ice rises from the ground around the ice witch, pushing back and slowing Mardred and Hogar, but Incendius summons his trusty flame sphere behind her and it begins to lick at her with white hot tendrils. Just then, the yetis return, apparently having caught scent of Hogar and not made it to the tree. Fib and Bud are in dire straits, but Incendius’s flame sphere is finally able to defeat the witch… but she merely melts into the snow, loosing two final spears of ice, and they realize that it was only a simulacrum, presumably the real witch had been projecting her consciousness and power into it.
Still, they are encouraged to press on by it’s defeat, Mardred and Hogar on either side of the dragon while Etain keeps them alive, Fib teleporting away from one yeti to step in front of Bud and keep him alive, and Alasaurus locking down the other yeti. Their combined forces finally cause the dragon to fall apart again, weakened by its masters magic disappearing as well. They clean up the final yetis before Fib or Bud can fall, and everyone cheers before collapsing, exhausted at the long battle. They realize that several of the dragon’s claws can be fashioned into powerful weapons, and take those before heading back to town.
Back in Bryn Shander, everyone but the night watch is catching a few hours of sleep before the uncertainty of morning. The heroes report their success, and the troubling business of the simulacrum, and the head night watchman agrees to wake them up if any movement of the barbarian/yeti army is spotted.