As the party got ready for their new day raiding, keen and vigilant eyes spotted distant movement. A winter wolf cautiously searching the area, most likely looking for them. Thinking first that such a creature would never work for creatures as weak as goblins, but that the goblins answered to ogres and If this was one of their scouts it needed to be removed.
With great skill and luck the party managed to get in the wolfs path to lay an ambush, despite the wolfs super natural abilities the fight ended fast. The wolf had formidable powers over ice and a freezing breath that made it’s bites highly dangerous. Even with an ability to create an ice clone outnumbered and out ranged the wolf had little chance to survive. It did however let out a howl before it died, perhaps a signal perhaps part of its powers the party didn’t know.
With the wolf deal with the party decided to move their camp before heading out to fight the goblins. Varric found a perfect replacement camp far more defendable and so hidden he almost missed it. It was a small cave hidden behind some bushes, with a tiny hole in the roof and back entrance that would require all but Erky to crawl through.This move only took a few hours leaving still most of the day so the party moved on to the goblin camps, this day their familiar scout reported significant changes to the larger groups. New goblins better equip and with wolf mounts were seen in the nearest major camp. The satellite camps were also larger, were before camps as small as four had been seen now the smallest held twenty two. Given their new level of knowledge and conference the party still moved in.
Two small camps beside each other were their targets the twenty two and a thirty two count camp. Both fell with barely a scratch to show, the party had gotten even better at fighting these goblins. Luck was with them on the first camp and no alarm was sounded on the major camp nearby, but after the second their presence was known.
Thanks to their familiar scout they knew not only had the alarm been raised but that they had very little time to loot. This major camp held a combination of technology and magic, the goblins had created giant kites capable of carrying five goblins and they had a shaman capable of summoning wind enough to lift and steer the kites. These kites moved faster than the party could their only hope was to keep ahead of them long enough for their magic to run out.
Grabbing the most important items from the camp the party ran at top speed, the goblins were slowly gaining on the party but once the party crossed the river the goblins gave up their pursuit. the boundary of the river both baffled and comforted the party. The sudden change in weather by simply cross the river was clearly unnatural, even with the knowledge of a ancient red dragon and its ability to alter the terrain around its lair. This was several miles from the bottom of the mountain were the dragon resided at the top, the dragons influence shouldn’t reach even half way down mountain.
Now clear of the altered environment Lia noticed a change was coming, using magic to confirm her suspicions realised. A storm was coming, and was likely to last well into tomorrow. They moved back to their new camp and settled down to weather the storm. As they rested Erky had a sudden moment of clarity, the winter wolfs body as a supernatural creature could be used to create magical items.
Varric volunteered to go retrieve the corpse, and at first light he headed out. The storm had whipped up to a blizzard, Varric was rugged up and moving carefully. If he got lost he would last long out here and with visibility down to about ten feet he couldn’t afford to lose his way. His memory and tracking served him well he found the corpse within a few hours. He wasn’t the first to find it but he knew nothing of this as he gathered it up and started back.
As he got close to the camp Varric realized he was being followed, not that he had seen more than a shadow in the storm, a sound of crunching snow out of step with his own foot falls and pure instinct. He felt that it was at least two and he guessed that it was more winter wolfs, he had little choice but to continue on. He could fight one alone and even if he did his path to the camp would certainly be lost if he got in a fight.
As he got back to the camp alerted the rest of the party to the presence of the winter wolfs and they prepared for a fight. Erky sent his familiar out through the small hole in the roof to scout, he learned that there was in fact three winter wolfs and that they were now circling the cave. Winter wolf discovered the back entrance but failed to find the hole in the roof. Though they had found the back entrance it was unlikely they would use it, nearly twice the size of a normal wolf they probably could squeeze through the gap but this would leave them completely venerable to attack.
The party had plenty of time to prepare a defensive line before Erky announced that there was now six targets. Three ice clones entered through the front, straight through the layered magical defences, two made in over the first layer an area of grease tripping one. The second line was overlapping webs and spikes that caused damage but failed to slow the creatures. Readied for this attack the party was able to strike first, but the ice clones had great resistance and they couldn’t focus their fire.
The fight was brutal and hard won, several severe injuries were taken. With Soul suffered painful internal injuries making it near impossible to act. Despite these injuries and the loss of magic potency the winter wolfs remained outside. Instead of continuing the attack they use their powers to create walls of ice over the two entrances trapping the party in the cave. Thanks to their scout the party learned that one of the wolfs had taken off and the remaining two were standing watch over the entrances.
Seams the wolfs wanted either to trap them and freeze them or bring reinforcements. Grateful for the break and knowledge that they could take it, the party decide to recover and plan a little. They had no intention on waiting for the third wolf to return with help. Their breakout plan involved engaging both wolf but focusing on one. The ice walls were venerable to fire and bludgeoning damage so easy to bring down. Erky also felt that he could squeeze out the tiny hole in the roof and get the drop on the wolfs.
Erky was lifted out and out the hole and once he was set he spotted the wolf at the rear entrance and initiated the attack. The ice walls at the entrances were blown open, with magic and arrows flying out and into the winter wolfs. The winter wolfs were far less resistant then the ice clones and even their attempts to reseal the entrances wasn’t going to help as Erky fired from the unknown exit.
The winter wolfs released they weren’t going to stop the party and run for it disappearing into the storm. But Erky knew one was weak and sent his familiar after it, using the familiars telepathic link to guide his shot at the unseen target he successfully finished the wolf before it escaped. The final one was gone but at least it was unlikely to return any time soon.
The storm lasted a two days in this time Erky was able to extract and contain the magic from within the winter wolfs corpses into residuum. This raw magical component was rarely know outside of the Gnomes inner circle but was not restricted knowledge, though some of the ways to a gather residuum were restricted. Soul on the other hand was recovering very slowly, even with magical Lia and Varric weren’t able to hasten her recovery.
It was decided that it once the storm had broke they would head home to recover and resupply. With the weapons and armour they had acquired they could equip everyone with swords, bows and armour. Though the armour would need to be resized, there was time before any attack might threaten the village. The storm broken late evening and Lia felt there would be several days of mostly clear weather, so the party made ready to leave the next morning.
That morning was perfectly still and the sky perfectly clear, almost unnaturally calm but it was a good start for the trip home. With the clear and still day it was even possible to spot the winter wolf that was following them. Well out of range it looked ready to follow them home, not something they wanted just yet. The party came up with a cunning plan to ambush the winter wolf.
Varric and Rupert felt that they could sneak over to the wolfs position as it moved to follow the rest of the party. Lia and Erky had an idea to get Lia over too, Lia could shape change into a rabbit and have Erkys familiar fly over carrying her. Quara suggested that Erky and herself then also put invisibility on the familiar and Lia, just to make certain that the winter wolf didn’t get spooked.
Lia swooped down on the wolf and transformed to her normal form and used her magic to created a spike trap. This was the signal to Varric and Rupert to attack having successfully approached the winter wolf from behind. Lia then deployed the golden lion statues and wild shaped into a bear. The wolf fell quickly to the arrows and claws, and Erky had another corpse to extract residuum.
The rest of the trip home was uneventful except for Souls complaints of pain. Quara had been collecting and testing different plants looking for uses beyond food. A few had a small magical nature and Erky was able to produce some residuum from them, but one moss was hallucinogen and analgesic. But it was also highly addictive and even with small carefully applied doses Soul started wanting more even after the pain had stopped.
Fortunately they made in home before any major side effects showed. To their surprise they were greeted by Mira, as her waved at them from the watch tower. She had taken them up on their offer for shelter, at least during winter. This had been a very profitable few days, but winter had only just started.