Deciding to earn a little extra money while waiting on Helda to be ready to leave for the The Dwarven Valley, the party decides to talk to Slim. On the walk to the Northlook, they come across a barbarian chained to a post and wearing little more than a loincloth. It’s very apparent that he will not survive the night if left out in the elements.
When questioned, he gives his name as Hengar Aesnvaard, and proclaims his innocence. He states that he merely came to Bryn Shander to plead for help for his tribe, the Tribe of the Elk. The guards tell the heroes to move along and that if they want to pursue this matter, then they should speak with the sheriff and speaker. They speak to them and buy the barbarian some time, and ensure that he won’t freeze to death for the evening.
Given 24 hours, they then decide to head to the Northlook to complete their first task of getting the merchants’ money back from Slim. The tavern is much rougher, but they do spot a few familiar faces in the common room. Heading straight for the bartender, he sends them up as if they were expected. That turns out not to be the case when they enter Slim’s room and find him along with 6 other thugs standing over a dead body. Caught by surprise, he mutters, “No witnesses!” and they attack the party.
The thugs are put down quickly, but Slim’s form changes into that of a wererat and he barrels through the second story window to escape. On the body, a note is found written by Mithaan and adressed to Arunn. It seems that he was lured here by the letter then ambushed. Also found on the corpse is a Harper’s pin, and two gems worth 50gp each. The party takes the gems and pays the merchant with one of them, to which he mutters their deal is complete. Helda Silverstream was in the common room of the Northlook and merely nods approval as they head back to their rooms at Kelvin’s Comfort. On the way back they spot a warehouse ablaze, but the situation seems well in hand so the party decides to leave that be and turn in for the night.
The next day, the heroes get a fresh start on tracking down the accuser of the barbarian and look for clues as to why he would be singled out and blamed for the Yeti attack on the town. Finding conflicting stories, they head to find the shop that the accuser works in. She’s visibly nervous, and tries to flee out the back of the shop. The party catches up to and knocks her out in the alleyway behind the shop and takes her to Mithaan. Casting a zone of truth spell, they get the real story from the accuser. She’s apparently a cultist of Auril and the barbarian was to be a sacrifice to the goddess.
They also speak to Mithaan about the murdered Harper, to which she replies that she did indeed write him a note, but that the one found on his body was a forgery. She wanted Arunn to meet a ranger who had a run in with these same thugs who they all believed to be working for Ship-Rethnor, a pirate organization out of Luskan. In fact, Arunn had had silvered weapons shipped here on the caravan to combat the suspected wererats.
The owner of the warehouse where the silver weapons are stored hires the party to guard the shipment as his other warehouse was burned down last night in an apparent arson attack. Recalling the fire, the heroes start piecing the plot together. It would make sense that the wererats would want to steal the weapons they are vulnerable to, but the broader plan is still not apparent. That night while on guard duty, the heroes are attacked by the Ship-Rethnor pirates and a half-orc thug named Mirak the Shank. They thwart their attempt at stealing the weapons, but Mirak tosses a smoke bomb down and manages to barely make it out alive.
Having had enough of Bryn Shander, the heroes decide to collect their payment from the merchant who hired them and contact Helda. She has sold all her wares and is anxious to meet her uncle Stokely Silverstream and procure some of the fabled black ice recently discovered to work into items. The trek there is complicated by a storm and a large bear attacks the party on the road. They handle themselves well, and slay the beast handily. Helda seems concerned that the frequency of winter beast attacks has increased as of late, and ushers her wagon on.
At the entrance to the Dwarven valley, they are stopped by a patrol of four dwarves brandishing weapons and armor made of black ice. Agitated, they explain that Stokely is no longer the leader of the valley and will take them as prisoners of Baerick Hammerstone. Helda is having none of this, and the fight is on. The heroes use non lethal force to subdue the dwarves, and load their unconscious forms into the back of Helda’s wagon. It’s not long thereafter that another patrol is ran into, but these dwarves seem honorable and have no black ice items in their possession. They escort Helda to Battlehammer Hold and Dain Stokely, who they still say is leader of the valley. She greets her uncle warmly, but the heroes note the tension in the stout dwarf’s shoulders.
What is going on in the valley that has split the dwarves asunder? And does the black ice have anything to do with it? With pirates infiltrating Ten Towns, what are they up to? How are the cultists of the Auril, the Frostmaiden tied into all of this?
Find out next time on…