Once again our heroes climbed the cold, steep high peaks of the southern Mindspin Mountains, where they established a new campsite on the outskirts of Skirgaard. (They wanted to keep the frost giants guessing as to their exact whereabouts). Later that same evening, the Druid Gydion, in Air Elemental form, dropped the hag’s head (see Episode 43!) into the middle of the frost giant village! The hag’s head was etched with the holy symbol of Thremyr (the frost giant god, to give the impression that Thremyr was upset with the frost giants. Gydion’s presence was detected by a patrol of two frost drakes, but he easily evaded them by flying into the cloud layer above.
The next day, Gydion once again took to the sky—this time, in hawk form—to spy on the frost giants’ tavern and nearby guard tower. Listening in, he was pleased to overhear the giants talking about how Thremyr must be very upset with the frost giants’ chief, Skirkatla, to have so viciously decapitated her loyal hag servant! (The Giantslayers’ plan was working!). The Druid also took note on how the village’s wooly mammoth pen was manned. Then, he flew over the armory/forge area in the middle of the village. He was surprised to see what appeared to be two remorhaz’s buried beneath a frozen pond—its burning body acting as the heat source for the frost giants’ forge. The entire forging operation was overseen by one frost giant, and one fire giant. Finally, he flew over a part of the village he hadn’t spied on before, and discovered a pen where scores of additional human prisoners were locked away—these were clearly the friends and relatives that some of the prisoners they’d liberated along the River Usk [episode 43!] had told them about.
Meanwhile, Silaqui and Asa were intent on doing mischief to the statue of Thremyr on the other side of Skirgaard. Specifically, they were aiming to damage the statue in hopes that the giants would see it as a retributory act by Urgathoa, the goddess of gluttony and disease (and the undead!) who had replaced Thremyr in much of the village (and in the heart of their chief). Asa waited on the cliffs above while Silaqui, using her magic Slippers of Spider Climb , scurried down to the shimmering, icy statue. The elf ranger let loose with a sorcerous Firey Blast, and then a flaming arrow, but the ice statue remained intact. Finally, she shot an Elemental Arrow of fire at it, which melted its arm so badly that it fell off, together with the icy axe it was holding! Luckily, she’d been careful to place the statue directly between her and the statue’s guards, so she downed a potion of Invisibility and escaped up the cliff before they could see her.
At the stroke of midnight that night, the party (buffed by wands and potions) sent Turin and Gydion to Fireball a guard tower on the opposite side of the village from the tavern, as a distraction. The pair then Teleported to rejoin the others on a cliff-face below the tavern. Their next order of business was to take out the guard tower next to the tavern. Backed up by Asa, Silaqui silently assassinated the frost giant sleeping in the tent at the base of the tower, while Draken and the others climbed to the top of the tower and took out the frost giant stationed there. The frost giant tavern was now unguarded and ripe for plunder!
Before the Giantslayers could make their move, however, a hill giant waitress exited the building to empty a waste bucket. Her back turned, Draken cast a Silence spell, which provided Turin an opportunity to launch a Fireball into the bar without her noticing.
Silaqui boldly entered the bar and attracted the attention of the 18-foot tall four-armed bartender, who threw a keg of beer at her! Asa, close on her heels, entered and shouted “This house of ill repute is finished!” Hearing that, the three remaining patrons (already steamed from Turin’s Fireball) immediately set upon the little halfling.
Before the barfight was over, Asa killed one of his giant opponents, while Draken and Kingsley finished off the two other customers. Silaqui, thanks to some well-placed arrows, slew the gargantuan bartender. Gydion played a mostly supportive role, avoiding personal injury at all cost.
The next day (= day 8 since the their arrival in Skirgaard) the Giantslayers practiced the three R’s: Resting, Recuperating and Reconnaissance. With regards to the latter, Gydion (in bird-form) watched as a frost giant jarl addressed his troops angrily (unfortunately he couldn’t understand what was being said because the giants had switched to communicating solely in the Giant tongue for security purposes). The Druid also flew into the wooly mammoth pen, where he cast Speak With Animals and struck up a conversation. He learned that although the mammoths distrusted the frost giants, they liked the giant-centaur creatures, and felt generally well-cared-for. Gydion returned to camp and, after relaying this information, the party decided to liberate the wooly mammoths that very night, and take out the nearby grainery at the same time.
At around 10PM that night, our heroes (again buffed by Turin’s wands and potions) rounded the top of the cliff adjacent to the guard tower overlooking the grainery. All of a sudden, a cry of warning rang out, and a flare lit up the patch of snow around the tower. Turin immediately Fireballed the guard tower but it was too late—the guards had spotted them, and alerted the rest of the village!
Asa checked out the tent at the base of the tower, but it was empty; he set it afire with his Flaming Burst sword. Then, using a Fly potion, Draken alighted on top of the tower, where he met two frost giant guards. He swung Agrimmosh, scoring a critical hit; after a few more rounds, the dwarf was victorious. Meanwhile, Silaqui had climbed the tower and took out the second guard.
But their troubles were just beginning! To the north, Gydion (in owl form) was alarmed to see the constantly burning wicker statue in front of Skirkatla’s tomb had left its station and was actually running towards them! In addition, to the east, Silaqui (from her new perch atop the grainery) spotted four ice trolls rushing to investigate.
Turin (now airborn care of an Overland Flight spell) swiftly Fireballed the trolls, doing serious damage. Silaqui, Draken and Kingsley readied themselves for battle against the trolls. Next, Turin buffed the party with a Haste spell. Asa, thinking better of the situation, shouted “We’ve been spotted! Retreat!” and ran towards the edge of the cliff, trying to get the others to follow.
Gydion—now on the other side of the grainery—tried to warn the others of the burning wickerman’s rapid approach, but it was too late. The statue was nearly upon him! The Druid-Owl flew circles around the evil golem, using his Natural Spell feat to sing an incantation of Quench to douse its supernatural incandescence. The golem, however, just shrugged it off. Next, Gydion conjured a Sleet Storm around the statue, freezing the ground and obscuring its vision in a bid to slow it down. It ignored this as well, however, and lurched forward past him, right into Asa’s path! It snatched up the little paladin with one hand and shoved him into a cage built into its chest. Inside the cage, Asa screamed as razor-sharp, burning gears and blades emerged and sliced into him.
Meanwhile, Turin attempted to halt the advance of the ice trolls by evoking Black Tentacles, but each troll made its saving throw. So, Gydion and Kingsley kept the trolls busy while Draken and Silaqui attacked the statue. Turin swooped in and fired a Lightning Bolt at the statue; it had no effect on it, but Asa was fried in the process!
Although Asa was healing himself with his Lay on Hands ability every chance he could, his hit points were dangerous low. Turin, seeing his friend’s mortal peril, knew he had to act fast. The wizard becamse Invisible and bravely stuck his hand into the cage. Although his arm was wounded in the process, Turin was able to pull Asa from the statue’s body, freeing him! The two then Dimension Door‘d to the top of the now-vacated guard tower, where Asa healed them both.
After a few more rounds, Draken and Silaqui finally brought down the wickerman, with Silaqui delivering the final, killing blow (arrow). They were then free to help Gydion and Kingsley against the trolls. With deadly aim, Silaqui killed one who was wielding a bow from the far side of the Tentacles. Draken killed one. Even Asa ran down the stairs and killed one.
The Giantslayers didn’t have much time to catch their breath, however, three frost giants appeared and attacked. Gydion cast Flame Strike on them. Then, Kingsley and Asa rushed to the front, with help from Draken and Silaqui. After several rounds, the elf ranger/sorceress killed the first of the three giants. The second of the three was killed by Kingsley and Gydion, who invoked Call Lightning. Turin dealt with the last one by Charming him. The clever wizard whispered in the enchanted giant’s ear: “The stores in the grainery are poisoned! You should destroy them!” The giant immediately went and tore open the (locked) grainery doors. With the party’s help, the charmed giant neutralized the occupants (another ice troll, and a dire bear) and started to smash the grain stores. Silaqui set fire to the silo with a Flame Blast, and everyone ran out. Unfortunately, the Charmed giant escaped into the night—and Turin worried that he might give up valuable information about them to Skirkatla.
The Giantslayers, via various magicks, took to the air to escape. Soon after lift-off, however, they found themselves accosted by the accursed frost drakes that guarded Skirgaard’s perimeter! Turin reacted first with a Lightning Bolt spell, wounding one of them. It was the drakes’ turn next. Two of them shot explosions of freezing mist, which caught most of our heroes in their icy grip. The other two attempted fly-by bites, but missed.
Draken pulled out the Drakesbane Horn and sounded it confidently, hoping to drive off the winged, dragon-like beasts. But instead, the three that didn’t make their saving throw started flying at him, attempting to grab the magic horn out of his hand! They weren’t afraid of it—rather, they seemed preternaturally fascinated with it. One of them actually succeeded, and flew off with the horn, with the two others in hot pursuit. The fourth drake fired another freezing burst at the party defiantly.
Draken flew at the group of three drakes and swooped in, grabbing the Horn back while the others trained missile fire upon it. Gydion attempted to Call Lightning upon the drakes, but to no avail—apparently, they were immune to electricity. In the end, Gydion’s Air Walking lion companion, Kingsley (with Asa upon his back) killed two of the frost drakes; Turin killed another with a well-placed Lightning Bolt; and Silaqui disposed of the fourth with her arrows.
After their harrowing battle in the sky, the party quickly retreated to their hidden campsite, a mile from the village. Over the next week, the Giantslayers continued to spy on the frost giants, and were pleased to see that their guerrilla tactics had paid off: the giants were beginning to disband! Specifically, all of the non-frost giants (including trolls) began to leave Skirgaard.
END OF PART I
Over the next six days, as the citizenry of the village began to diminish, Gydion made contact with the giants’ remaining human prisoners, relaying a much-needed message of hope: a rescue attempt was being organized. Turin began Teleporting dwarves and supplies (in Giant Bags of Holding) from Minderhal’s Valley into the party’s campsite. By the end of one week [= day 14 since their first arrival in Skirgaard; approximately February 19], the population of the village was reduced 80%, with only frost giants remaining. That night, the party decided to launch another attack, distracting the frost giants so that the dwarves could rescue the prisoners.
First, the party took out the two guards in front of the icy statue of Thremyr, and the watchtower nearby. Then, Gydion once again infiltrated the prisoner’s pen and told them that their liberation would take place that very night, and that they should be ready!
Next, the Giantslayers took the Longhouse—the grandest building in Skirgaard and, apparently, the seat of government. They gained access thanks to a Knock spell from the wizard, Turin. After defeating two heavily armed guards, they cornered Skirkatla’s most decorated general in his private quarters. After a prolonged battle, Silaqui dealt the great, blue-skinned, Viking-like general the final, killing blow with three deadly arrows. A search of his quarters turned up a secret compartment underneath his throne—guarded by a pit-trap that Silaqui triggered, causing her to fall 50 feet onto sharp spikes! The compartment contained 6,000 gp, and various magic items (see below).
The party locked themselves in, and spent the night in the Longhouse. During the night, the dwarves led the human prisoners to the lower peaks of the Mindspins, and along the River Usk to relative safety.
The next evening, the party decided to hit the temple of Urgathoa, located near Skirkatla’s tomb. It was a bold move on the Giantslayers’ part, but it was time! There were two doors into the temple, which appeared to be built from the living rock around it. Draken determined the structure to actually be an ancient temple of Thremyr which had been converted to a temple of Urgathoa. The doors were unlocked, so the party walked in, noting an elaborate tile floor forming a shocking mosaic of an immense black fly with the symbol of a skull on its back. Asa told them that this was the holy symbol of Urgathoa. The walls here were draped in dark red velvet—another sign that sinister religious rituals took place here—and a portrait of a beautiful woman bearing a scythe hung on the far wall.
And underneath the painting stood the temple’s high priestess, an eerily beautiful woman whose right arm had been tranformed into a flesh-covered scythe, and whose left arm brandished a powerful-looking sceptre! The Giantslayers instantly went on the offensive, only to find their path blocked by a magical Wall of Force. It was then that they noticed another figure—a man in robes, who began chanting an incantation! Asa, Kingsley and Draken felt their way around the Wall. The paladin and the lion engaged the cleric, while Draken barreled past her and attacked the magic-using man in robes. Gydion felt his way around the Wall last, Calling Lightning as he approached.
Two giant mummies appeared through a door and starting coming towards them, but Turin cast his own Wall of Force—followed by a Wall of Ice—and stopped them in their tracks. His sister Silaqui, meanwhile, provided cover for them as they brought up the rear, into the dark corner where the Urgathoan cleric and magic-user were entrenched.
Just as the two elves approached, Asa swung Scorch, landing a killing blow against the dark, otherworldly priestess. Suddently, there was an explosion of blinding light, followed by absolute darkness, black as pitch. Then, the area occupied by the priestess became a swirling, greenish-grey vortex—an alien portal—into which Asa, Kingsley, Draken, and the evil magic-user were inexorably drawn. And the next round, to their great dismay, Gydion, Silaqui and Turin were sucked in as well!!
100 gp (recovered from the bodies of the Longhouse frost giants in Pt II)
And from the general’s private quarters:
1 magic, giant-sized +1 breastplate made of mithral
1 +6 belt of Giant Strength
1 giant-sized Everburning Torch
2 potions of Cure Moderate Wounds
1 potion of Neutralize Poison
1 divine scroll containing the following spell: Protection from Energy
1 arcane scroll containing: Detect Magic, Shocking Grasp, Blindness/Deafness, Heroism, and Minor Missile Storm.
1 wand of Slow (10th level), 18 charges
Next: Doomed in a Demiplane of Urgathoa