Snow stretched into the horizon as the group of adventurers and reluctant partners trudged forward. The group walked for hours. They traveled through a long valley, also covered in immaculate, white snow. Ahead was a rise and beyond it a small mountain where the dwarves had been digging. The site of digging was unmistakable. It was marked with a large red splash. It was the remains of the poor dwarf that had fallen to the Yeti’s rampage.
Mundane things – tools, crates and provisions – welcomed the adventurers as they approached the scene of gruesome death. The red stain had some of the squashed remains of the dwarf. With a little further investigation they found some other pieces of the victim strewn across the snow and rock. Dvalin looked at the remains and shook his head at the hopelessness of bringing the man back to life. The head was missing, as well as much of the remaining torso. The signs of mining were unmistakable but there was no ore to be found. They had been told there was an abundance of the material but there was none here. Upon further examination, Brenna found a track of two lines leading to and away from the mine. It looked like a sled had passed through here and had, most likely, taken the ore.
Along the tracks, they found three sets of small footprints. The footprints looked like they belonged to small children. Brenna studied the tracks and came to the conclusion that they were about one hour ahead of their group. Dvalin was able to identify the tracks as goblin tracks. Now they knew who their quarry was. It was two in the morning at that moment and the night never seemed more cold and indifferent. Davlin did notice that the remains of the torso were encased in what was once plate mail. It was as mangled as the body but Dvalin was sure he could salvage it with some work and extra ore to replace some of the material. With some ingenious engineering, he managed to hoist it onto his back and resolved to take it with him.
Mythe wanted to leave the remains behind as they hunted down the ore. It was the main reason for this quest and they could come back for the body later. He put forth the idea of burying it deep in the snow but Zephyr pointed out that anything that could survive out in the cold wilderness could probably get to anything they tried to hide. Considering meat was more and more scarce as time went on, this was an accurate assessment. Besides the valley they had emerged from, the remaining landscape was wide open land. Brenna searched for some rocks to, perhaps temporarily bury the poor fellow. Her conscience gnawed at her with guilt. Zephyr had been right, even a temporary cairn would not hold the remains for long if something really hungry passed by.
Brenna saw some trees off in the distance and proceeded to drag the body over. If she could just tie the remains to a high branch, it might be enough to keep it safe for when they came back. Lullaby, the Kenku, walked with her and cocked her head to the side in confusion. “Raaa! What’s the point? Raaa!” Brenna took a moment to answer. Slowly she began to explain that many people were very attached to the bodies that the souls of their dear departed had occupied in life. In death, they liked to preserve the bodies and give them burials. These were testaments to the meaning that the dead had to their loved ones. Burial also provided the loved ones a place to visit the dead and remember the good moments. People liked to stay close to the resting place of their loved ones and became distressed when they did not know where they were. Bodies of the dead provided closure to those they left behind.
Lullaby kept pace and nodded but inside was still confused as to why people would want to see the horrible state of others they cared about. In the time that it took to make sure the body was secure in the high branches of a tree, they lost another hour. Now the goblins were two hours ahead of them. It would be even harder to catch up to them now. Mythe walked on in dejection. He had wanted to take the image of the dwarf to replicate later but had been sorely disappointed when the body was too mangled to discern what he had looked like. He sulked as they moved on in search of the elusive ore. To show they had found a corpse, they took the crest on the torn shirt of the dwarf with them. If the body wasn’t there when they came back, they would have proof that they had found him.
Again they moved towards open snow and began walking behind their quarry. They increased the pace of their travel to make up for lost time and hoped to catch up to the goblins soon. Again Brenna stooped low to search for their tracks and picked up the trail with the help of Lullaby’s sharp eyes. The lady Kenku was fittingly observant. Together, they led the way through the snow.