Before leaving Captain Raag Bloodtusk’ headquarters, the party purchased a map of Redlake Fort from the potion-selling half-orc (unfortunately, her potion shop had burned down during the giant mosquito incident, last episode). Asa used his Candle of Truth to verify that the half-orc wasn’t selling them a bogus map. Draken also scribed some scrolls of Cure Light Wounds, and Asa purchased a riding dog. The elven wizard Turin decided he would stay on board the boat to pursue some arcane research. Preparations complete, the Chanticleer then set sail upstream along the River Esk. After a week, the Mindspin Mountains starting coming into view in the west, and the riverboat reached the dock where the captain had planned to drop the Giantslayers. About a half-mile before reaching it, however, the dock suddenly burst into flames! This was followed by the ignition of what looked like a string of beacons along the shoreline, upriver. Apparently, Redlake Fort was ready for them.
The captain’s magic tooth glowed as he hurried the party to shore in his dinghy. On the way, Asa asked him to keep Uskroth’s Armor for him, until they returned (which he estimated would take about a week). Janekfan took to the sky in eagle-form to survey the surrounding land while the rest of the party hurried along the road towards Redlake Fort. Jane came back and told them that the map appeared to be correct—but she also reported two groups of giants, ogres and orcs had left the fort and were headed towards them! The adventurers got off the road and hid among the rocks, avoiding the first group. Then, traveling in the woods next to the road to avoid being seen, the party approached slowly, spotting the fort in the distance, up the hillside. Suddenly, they were barraged with arrows from above. Looking up, they spotted a large, pointy-eared giant, with a number of orc soldiers around him. Knowing they were at a disadvantage, the party hid in the woods, where they doubled back to take another, less-traveled road upwards which they hoped would lead to their attackers.
They crested the hillside and found that the road did, indeed, lead to their attackers! The giant and his orcs were busy celebrating the fact they’d run off the invaders, so the Giantslayers gained surprise. First, Gydion cast a Wind Wall spell to deflect the giant’s arrows, giving Draken and the others a chance to close the distance between them and the giant safely. Next, Gydion used his Fire Breath potion to incinerate the giant’s orc soldiers. Not a single orc was left standing! Jane called lightning down on the giant (whom she identified as a Forest Giant), while Silaqui filled him with arrows. Kingsley and Draken then closed the distance, hitting it with tooth and hammer, respectively. In a mighty show of strength, Draken brought down the colossal humanoid with a critical hit, reducing him to man-size with the hammer’s Reduce Person ability before felling him. A search of his body turned up four healing potions of various strength.
The party continued along the road another 20 minutes before reaching Redlake Fort. The sun began to set rapidly. Gydion then transformed into an owl to survey the surrounding land again—this time, focusing on the dam that separated the fort from the lake adjacent to it. As per their earlier strategizing that morning, the party was hoping to break open the dam and flood the fort. On his flight over the fort, however, he noticed a big crowd of orcs and giants gathered at one end of the ancient, crumbling structure. They were shouting and jeering as they watched a dwarf—shorn of his beard, dressed in rags, and deftly wielding what appeared to be a frying pan—fighting a dire bear. The gladiator-style match was taking place in a section of the moat while the crowd looked down from above. Could the dwarf be their new friend Ingrahild’s lost brother, Umlo Nargrymkin? Gydion thought. Worried that there might be even more innocent prisoners inside the fort, he abandoned the plan to destroy the dam, and decided to open the sluice doors as a distraction instead. He wanted to take immediate action to save the dwarf from the bear, and this was one means to that end.
Landing silently, Gydion spotted the sluice doors—there was a turning-wheel imbedded in them, which Gydion surmised was the way the Twisted Hearts regulated water levels. Returning to his human form, Gydion stepped into the water, and was immediately attacked by a giant gar! Gydion drew his Flaming magic scimitar and, after a few rounds, filleted the slimy fish. Then, turning the wheel full-throttle, he watched as water from the lake slowly poured into the dry moat surrounding the fort. He was glad that no water was entering the fort—even though he would love to see the orcs and giants drown in the red waters, he didn’t want any prisoners to drown along with their captors.
Gydion assumed owl-form again and raced back to the party, quickly drawing them towards the wooden palisade immediately adjacent to where the dwarf-bear flight was taking place. Taking direction from the owl-shaped Gydion, Jane cast Warp Wood , pulling apart the poles of the palisade to allow easy entry. Peering down into the pit, the party were horrified by the primitive bloodsport below. “Those sick bastards,” Asa muttered under his breath, and readied himself to climb down into the pit.
The orcs took notice of their appearance, of course, and fired upon the party. Silaqui sprang into action, climbing the palisade and running along top, where she took aim. Meanwhile, Draken climbed down into the pit and, stepping between the bear and Umlo, slammed the bear with Agrimmosh. Asa followed, slicing into the bear’s side with his longsword. Two other, smaller bears were on the other side of the pit, but kept a safe distance from the heavily armed dwarf and halfling. Meanwhile, Jane remained outside the fort, keeping watch on Kingsley, Toboe, Asa’s riding dog, Ingrahild, and Cat. She called down Lightning upon the bear, singeing it grievously. At the same time, Gydion flew across the moat and resumed his human form atop the palisade next to Silaqui, who had just killed three orcs (firing three arrows at once; one of them Orc Bane) who had climbed the palisade to confront her. She also attempted to kill the largest orc (probably their leader) with her arrow of Orc Slaying, but it didn’t work [the orc made a successful saving throw].
The next round, Draken finished off the bear with his hammer, laying it low in a bloody pile. He was surprised to notice that the beardless dwarf’s frying pan was made of mithral. Asa then asked the beardless dwarf, ‘Are you Ingrahild Nargrymkin’s brother?’ The ragged dwarf nodded in affirmation. Then, looking up at the crowd, Asa shouted, at the top of his voice, in Giant, ‘Bring us Grenseldek, and we will spare your miserable lives!’
Next: Assault on Grenseldek’s Fort, Pt II!