Ravaaga crept into the icy darkness. The passage was either a natural crevice or roughly carved out of the clear, blue glacial ice. After a brief time, her eyes became accustomed to the low light and she realised it was all lit by a bluish-green light.
As she continued along the passage, Ravaaga came to some stairs. They were carved out of the icy floor, and descended into the gloom. She waited for the others to catch up with her. She crept down the stairs and saw a clear passage ahead.
After another twenty feet or so, she came to a fork in the passage. Both passages contained stairways continuing southward and downward. She tried the right hand path.
The path levelled out after a while, and then descended down a third flight of stairs.
At the end of the third flight of steps, the tunnel emerged into the open air. Ravaaga entered a huge cleft in the glacier. To her right was an enormous crevice, at least 200 feet deep. She could not tell how deep it was, as the valley floor was covered in an icy mist. Pillars of ice and stone emerged out of the mist like dead trees in a swamp.
On the other side of the rift was another path, mirroring the one Ravaaga stood upon. To her right Ahead of her, the pathway she had come down continued, carved out of the cliff edge, with the icy wall rising up to the left and down from the right hand side. It curved to the right where it disappeared around the corner.
To her right stood a cave entrance. She listened carefully and heard distant sounds. Senses heightened, she crept in.
The entrance opened out into a cave, with two other exits, to the north and northwest. However, what is most remarkable was a floating cloud of luminous blue mist. The globe illuminated the whole room with its faint glow. Ravaaga slowly walked towards it, ready to turn and run at the merest hint of danger. As she closed in, she noticed the temperature dropping. As she got within 10’ of it, it started getting painfully cold. She pulled back and felt the blood returning to her nose and fingers. She worked her way around it and peered through the first of the exits. She could see another of the glowing clouds at the end of the tunnel, where it opened out into another ice cave. She crept further in and discovered the source of the sounds she had heard earlier.
In a cave to her left, Ravaaga could see large icicles hang from the ceiling, and several ice stalagmites rise up from the floor. Mounds of snow formed near the walls. Sitting on the mounds of snow were six vaguely humanoid figures. Shaped like white, shaggy-haired gorillas, with curled horns on their heads, they were. Yetis.
She crept into the right-hand cavern and found what she took to be the leader of the yetis. Thrust into the snow to its side was an ice-blue scimitar. That is going to be mine, one day thought Ravaaga. She briefly thought of trying to steal the clearly magical weapon, but thought better of it.
The adventures spent several days in the rift, with Ravaaga in the lead, using her ring of invisibility, spotting the way, and the others following.
Occasionally, they would come across frost giants, and used surprise to strike and withdraw.
Several times the giants sent hunting parties out to search for previous groups. The adventurers would hide in wait, using Ravaaga’s ring and the tried and true ‘arrow of silence’ ploy, with an arrow from Damonel’s quiet enchanted with a silence spell from Gervontis
When the third search party emerged, they also brought the yetis and their snow leopards as huntsmen. In the end, Ravaaga got her scimitar.
The party continued to make forays, deeper and deeper into the rift. They focussed first on the eastern side. Here, they found a fissure in the ice where they could hide. The fissure was one of many crossing a long passageway, chiselled into the glacial ice. The three-foot-deep crack cut into the western wall of the passage and curved southwards and then northwards into ice, where eventually it met with dead-end passage. This they used as their home base.
All that glitters
At one point, the party discovered what appeared to be a trophy cavern. It was a thirty-foot-high cave, carved out of solid ice and cast in a blue glow as light filtered through the ceiling. The cavern held a ghastly display – eight blocks of ice standing on end, each containing a mutilated humanoid corpse.
Gurhana pulled out a wand and scanned the morbid trophies, discovering that some of them contained magic items. Despite Isabeau’s protestation, this led to some furious chipping by the others, while she stood in the passageway outside, ostensibly looking out for frost giants or other foes, but in reality quietly fuming.
Perhaps Hieroneous heard her silent prayers because suddenly their was a huge rumble followed by a “Shoosh!” and a “Whump!”, as the ceiling of the cave collapsed on the floor.
Isabeau and Damonel immediately rushed into the room to find Horgoness’ head and shoulder poking out of the snow, and Gervontis and Gurhana staring in disbelief from the other entrance.
Horgoness struggled out with the help of Gervontis. The others scabbled into the ice and snow to dig out the forms of Ravaaga, Romar and Ynaanul. Fortunately, all were alive – battered and bruised, but alive. They carried the injured adventurers back to their hiding place to recover.
The frost giants appear to have thought the intruders had been caught by the landslide. Their patrols lessened as a team of giants dug into the ice.
A Close Shave
Ravaaga had previously discovered a base for a number of frost giants when she took a fall on a particularly icy tunnel and nearly ended up in the lap of two frost giant guards. Fortunately
she managed to escape when they went to investigate the source of this mysterious sound. Her ring of invisibility and small size helped her keep well out of their way as they pounded past.
On returning, the whole party were covered by Gurhana’s Invisibility 15’ radius spell. The four frost giants in the room were caught completely by surprise, and the adventurers quickly held the upper hand. What they had not counted on, however, was the further four giants in the raised are that was adjacent. Two enraged frost giants emerged from each end of the dividing wall of ice.
They hurled huge blocks of ice and closed in for battle. Suddenly the balance shifted and it was the party that was hard pressed. At one point, Gervontis was staggering back from a strike and another giant closed in for the kill. When all seemed lost, Horgoness stepped in front of the attacking giant. Horgoness was rather more well-armoured and skilled and soon the tide turned back again.
Ghosts in the Rift
The party continued to foray out from their hiding place in the fissure, exploring more of the caverns and returning to the safety of their hiding place. At one point, they found four tired and starving dwarves in a pit, being taunted by jeering ogres. The ogres were less happy when the tables were turned on them, and the adventurers came to the dwarves rescue. The dwarves were grateful for their freedom, but equally glad to be fed, rested, and in some cases healed of their wounds.
They found an interesting part of the puzzle in a cave on the other, western side of the rift. This 40-foot-high cavern was carved out of solid ice, like the others around it. Enough light filtered through the ceiling to illuminate the area. A giant-sized table and four large chairs carved from ice stand in front of a steaming pool of clear, bubbling water. In the northwest alcove is an 8-foot-tall pedestal of ice, atop which rests a large crystal globe.
Around the table were four frost giants, playing dice and gossiping. Ravaaga used her magic ring and the sentient sword Wyethe to eavesdrop their banter.
She learned of the dissent within the ranks of the frost giants. They spoke of Slydi, the older frost giant at the other end of the room. The wizened frost giant was leaning heavily on a long staff that ended in a flail, her clear blue eyes burning with malice. Draped in a thick mantle of furs and chainmail, she clutched a sparkling orb of purple glass and cackled to herself, as though fondly remembering a horror inflicted upon a bygone enemy.
Slydi was the mother of Svarhilda, the jarl’s consort, and one of the most influential giants in the Glacial Rift. Syldi and Jarl Grugnur have no love for each other, and Grugnur keeps the old harridan at a distance by assigning her to frequent raids.
Descent to the chasm
Once the northern half of the rift was explored, and many of the denizens disposed of (literally into the chasm below), it was time for the adventurers themselves to investigate the misty depths. They descended the staircase from the eastern side of the rift. At the bottom they saw a number of icy mounds to their right (the north). As they peered closer they saw that the mounds were in fact alive and devouring the bodies of the ogres and frost giants that had been deposited there to hide the evidence…
Discretion suggested going in the opposite direction.
There was a white dome in this direction too, but this one was much larger and made of ice. Infravision suggested heat within. The source of the heat was a remorhaz, a polar worm, and this was its lair. The creature resembled a twenty foot centipede. Its body was segmented, jagged and heavily armored. The lower segments of its body bore legs, while the uppermost ones had webbed spines rather like a cobra’s fan. Protruding from its back, were big, red, jewel-like lumps which radiated extreme heat. The creature was bluish-white in color, but had a reddish glow caused by its extreme body heat. It reared up into the air and towered over the adventurers, but was soon brought down.
The glassy-smooth floor of the den is littered with the skeletal remains of young frost giants sent to obtain some of the fiery blood of the remorhaz as a rite of passage into adulthood.
Using Gurhana’s wand of magic detection, they discovered two magical items in the detritus in the floor: a magical ring and an icy battle axe.
A United Nations of Giants?.
The final part of the western half of the rift appeared to be made up guest quarters, and contained a number of giants of different types. Emissaries sent by other giant lords.
At the end of a long north-south corridor, Ravaaga crept past two frost giant guards. In the first room to his left were three, twelve-foot high fire giants. The cave was slightly warmer than the others and illuminated by a flaming pyre in a shallow pit. Across from the fire pit, a 5-foot-high shelf had been carved out of the ice and heaped with bearskins to form a crude bed. Tucked in an alcove was an ornate iron chest.
The largest of the three fire giants was pacing back and forth, grumbling about how he’s ‘forced to wait for eternity while that blazing idiot, Hasskarth, whispers nonsense in the jarl’s ear!’ The sword Wyethe later translated the words as Reavagaa remembered them.
The fire giants appeared to be preparing to leave. They were packing, including unloading the contents of the chest in the alcove – a solid silver statue of a bear, rampant, with topaz eyes and ruby fangs – into the bag at the belt of the swtrongest fire giant. In the confusion, Ravaaga crept through to peer through the passage at the north end of the cave.
In this cave were five stone giants. They stood or sat very still. Indeed, when Ravaaga first saw them, she had initially thought they were statues, carved from stone themselves. It was only when one stirred, as she edged through to peer into the next cave, to the north of this one, that she was aware they were in fact alive. She instantly froze. Had they heard her? Or, worse still, seen her? She checked her ring of invisibility. It was still on her finger. The moving stone giant walked towards the piles of skins and produced a huge jeweled platinum crown, which he unwrapped and ran his hands along lovingly. He rewrapped the crown and stood once more. When he had remained motionless for some time, Ravaaga continued creeping norward and peered into the next cave. This contained five hill giants. Smaller than the stone giants and the fire giants, but altogether fatter than the other, leaner giants.
They were sitting around, apparetly waiting for something. They wrapped their fur cloaks around themselves and grumbled.
Ravaaga went back to collect the others. When they returned, the fire giants were leaving. They left out of the sourthern entrance and turned left, to the passage going east and south. The invisible party crept behind; it was time to explore the southern half of the great rift.
It appeared that the southern passages from both sides of the rift led to the same place. Following the eastern passage, the giants led the invisible group into a huge cavern.
This place was obviously meant to be impressive, as its walls bore carvings of battle and hunting scenes in bas-relief.
Enormous icicles clung to the ceiling of this massive cavern, and torches festooned the rough-hewn walls. Jutting from the walls sporadically were 10-foot-high ledges that serve as perches for ice toads. The floor in the middle of the great cavern fell away into a gaping crevice.
Set into the western wall were two 30-foot-tall double doors carved from slabs of glacial ice and decorated with frozen bas-reliefs. These carved scenes showed giants slaying enemies, hunting dragons and other fearsome monsters, and so on. Torches burned at intervals along its length.
Flanking the doors, stood two 30-foot-high ledges of smooth, ice-covered stone. Perched atop each ledge was a frost giant.
The frost giants disappeared, and shortly afterwards, the double doors began opening. It was time for a quick choice to be made. They decided to follow the fire giants into the heart of the frost giant’s lair.
They entered a large stone cavern more than fifty feet wide, and more than seventy long. It was tall as it was wide. Stone winches were set into the floor control the chains and counterweights that opened and closed the great ice doors. By each stood one of the frost giants. After the party had nipped through the doors, the giants began closing the doors once more. The fire giants did not even acknowledge the doormen, and continued through a fifteen foot wide doorway at the western end of the cavern, where a heavy wooden portcullis is raised to reveal an even larger cavern beyond.
The walls of this torch-lit cavern are painted with murals depicting frost giants waging war against their enemies, riding on the backs of mammoths, and dragging chained slaves behind them.
The party followed, carefully, with Ravaaga well in the lead. It was difficult moving so fast, when everyone was invisible. The main party shuffled in a loose ring around Gurhana, with a hand on her and one on a colleague. Ravaaga moved stealthily ahead and followed the fire giants under teh portcullis into the cavern beyond.
This was a sprawling, torch-lit cavern with many exits. A roughhewn staircase led up to a 20-foot-high ledge. A passageway led northwards and a doorway stood to the left into a room full of ogres.
The fire giants continued through the cavern, avoiding two of the mysterious luminous ice clouds as they went through. At the far western end of the cavern, the giants strode past the base of the stems and headed south into another, smaller cavern. This was not much more than a wide passage, and ended in a doorway, again with a wooden portcullis above.
Going under the raised portcullisthe fire giants led Ravaaga into a 50-foot-high torch-lit cave. The stone winch that lowers and raises the portcullis stood nearby, and icicled cover the domed ceiling. Stone steps formed a dais at the far end of the room, atop which stood a half-finished statue of solid blue ice carved to resemble a mighty frost giant. Dwarves hung from ropes off the 20-foot-tall statue, carving it.
Behind the statue stood a pair of heavy stone doors carved to resemble two halves of a giant snowflake. Chunks of broken ice form a pile near the west wall, and to the east Ravaaga could see a giant-sized ice chair and a hanging tapestry.
A frost giant with an ice-tipped staff and fur-lined armour and cloak presides here, with four frost giant guards. Atop its head was a helmet with two curved horns from some giant creature, each tipped with a metal tip.
None of the frost giants seemed particularly happy to see the fire giants, who did little more than grunt acknowledgement. The standing frost giants reluctantly parted and allowed them through as they alighted the dias and walked towards the double doors. Two of the frost giants strode forward to open the ice doors. Afraid perhaps of the damage the fire giants might cause it.
As the fire giants went through the door, the fifth frost giant sat in his ice chair, seething with barely-surpressed anger. His knuckles even whiter than usual, as he gripped the ends of the arm rests.
Ravaaga saw the fire giants enter an enormous cavern, which appeared to contain tables and chairs, but the doors slammed shut before she could see any more. She returned to her compatriots in the previous cavern and they pondered their next move. The party decided to investigate this are before continuing into the cave with the statue and the frost giants.
Ravaaga clambered up the stairs. They were clearly not designed for a five foot elf. Ahead of her at the top was a wide platform, overlooking the main part of the cave and an exit to her left. Straight ahead of her was another winch for an unseen portcullis.
She crept through the wide tunnel to her left, which turned northwards. At the far end was a portcullis, blocking entry to another cave.
A Prisoner of the Jarl
Trapped behind a heavy wooden portcullis was an 18-foot-tall female giant with purple skin and hair as dark as a thundercloud.
She wore heavy iron manacles on her wrists and had a large ball-and-chain clamped to her right ankle, belying the finery of her garments.
“Hello?” whispered Ravaaga.
The giant looked up.
“Did my father send you?”
“Finally!” she said with a sneer, stomping her chained foot. “Get me out of here!”
With that display of arrogance, Ravaaga was tempted to leave her there, but she continued to question the giant, much to the latter’s frustration.
Eventually, Ravaaga discovered that the giant was a the daughter of Krombaalt, a powerful unaligned storm giant lord who inhabits a castle deep in the Crystalmist Mountains. Krombaalt sent his daughter Elektra to meet with the frost giant jarl. However, by the time she arrived, Grugnur had talked himself out of forming the alliance, fearing that King Snurre might be offended. Instead, he took Elektra prisoner and plans to ransom her.v
Elektra had assumed that the characters have been hired by her father to rescue her. She was obviously angry at her father for sending her to negotiate with Jarl Grugnur and looks forward to informing him about her ordeal.