Episode 41: Fight or Flight

A loud CLANG echoed through the nave as Draken slammed Agrimmosh upon the anvil of Minderhal’s Forge. Although he felt great satisfaction, and an obvious magical connection between the two artifacts, nothing dramatic happened. Gydion then healed Kingsley, who had suffered serious wounds against the slag giants.

Meanwhile, Dravis (who’d been teleported back by Turin) and Silaqui were hot on the heels of Urgash (the stone giant inquisitor of Minderhal, and master of the Cathedral), who’d barely escaped the Cathedral’s nave with his life. Easily following the trail of blood around a corner and up some stairs, they chased him round and round, up three stories of the cathedral’s largest spire. Finally, on the third floor, they encountered the inquisitor’s two stone giant bodyguards, who attempted to block the ranger and shadowdancer from pursuing him any further. Luckily, Dravis was Invisible and thus easily moved past them, and Silaqui had imbibed a Fly potion and flew around them. She shot an arrow into Urgash, who was drinking down potions of healing as he ran up the next set of stairs. (She also spent a few rounds wounding one of the bodyguards). Drawing closer to Urgash, Dravis noticed that he seemed to be carrying something small and fuzzy—the dragon-turned-bunny was in his hands!

The next—and final—staircase led to a shattered chamber, its floor and outer wall partly crumbled away. Cold mountain winds howled wickedly through the broken stonework as Urgash ran to the brink, threw the rabbit into the air, and cast Dispel Magic. The bunny was magically transformed back into Flametongue, who spread his scaly wings and took to the air! Turning and laughing, the stone giant found himself riddled with magical arrows, as Silaqui fired with unerring accuracy. The next round, Dravis (who had been waiting invisibly at the top of the stairs, with a sinking feeling that Urgash could see him) attacked the inquisitor’s stone giant bodyguards, who had just finished their ascent to the rooftop chamber. With a Hasty assist from his magic sword, Dragonfang, the invisible shadowdancer unleased five sneak attacks on the already-wounded bodyguard, killing him instantly! The second bodyguard was then dispatched by Draken, Kingsley and Gydion, who had finally caught up with the rest of the party.

Her nerve bolstered by the arrival of her fellow Giantslayers, Silaqui aimed another round of arrows at Urgash, to deadly effect. Shouting “Curse you, she-elf!!”, the inquisitor toppled over and fell, landing with a loud thud 600 feet below on the cathedral’s roof. Silaqui flew out and peered over the ledge to make sure he was dead. As she did, she saw that two giants outside the cathedral’s palisade had also witnessed Urgash’s death, and were moving through a gate towards the cathedral. The vertiginous height and battering winds, however, made her dizzy, so she flew back and alighted on the broken stone. As she did, she finally noticed the immense dragon treasure horde at her feet!

Distracted as she was, she didn’t notice Flametongue flying at her with breakneck speed. The red dragon opened its jaws and breathed fire at her, scorching her and knocking her back! She returned fire, with magical arrows, wounding the wyrm. But it was for naught—the dragon wasn’t interested in a fight. It turned tail and flew off into the distance, over the mountains, finally disappearing from view.

The party regrouped and sifted through the pile of treasure. They turned up items, coins and gems worth c. 5,000 gp for each Giantslayer. They also uncovered several magic items, which they added to the small trove of magic items that Draken and Gydion had discovered on the floors below during their ascent.

A search of the three lower floors of the cathedral’s spire revealed two human prisoners from Shinnerman’s Fortune, who were in shock from starvation and torture. The party gave them food and water. Crying into their food, the released prisoners told them their leader, Tarram Shinnerman [whom the Giantslayers were searching for when they first entered Minderhal’s Valley] had been tortured to death by Urgash.

The party’s search of the lower three floors also revealed multiple documents and maps in what looked like a trophy room. Among the maps was a map of the Mindspin Mountains, upon which were marked multiple giant strongholds [thanks to a translation by Dravis, who speaks Giant]. Another diagrams depicted a huge castle floating on a cloud, which Dravis interpreted as the the Storm Tyrant’s base of operations. “He has a castle floating on a cloud?” exclaimed Gydion, incredulous. His friends nodded in agreement—they, too, had never heard of anything so fantastic.

Dravis snuck downstairs and found multiple giants searching the cathedral, but none were venturing upstairs—clearly, they’d been warned away from Urgash’s inner sanctum. But he suspected that the giants would eventually overcome their fear and venture upstairs. After some discussion, the party decided to sneak back out of the cathedral the same way they’d come in. So they packed up the dragon’s horde (and other valuables, including the maps and documents from the Trophy Room) in their Bags of Holding and prepared to become Invisible. Just before vacating the spire, however, they snapped Nickelbee in two and left him on the top floor, broken and alone.

After escaping through the watery passage in the larder, they found their way to the halfling village on the shore of Lake Minderhal. To their surprise, they found that King Knut’s dwarven army had set up camp there! The king greeted them and had a banquet prepared in their honor. Over an exquisite dwarven dinner, the party explained that they’d relit the forge and killed Urgash, the Storm Tyrant’s inquisitor-in-chief. King Knut was very happy with the news and predicted that the giants remaining in the valley would almost certainly turn on each other—but it might take about a month.

After spending a few days regaining their strength and selling some items to the dwarves, Turin Teleported them back to Trunau, where Asa was very happy to see them. He invited them to stay at the Sanctuary, where their friend, the priestess Tyari Varvatos, welcome them with open arms.

From the safety and comfort of the Iomedaen Sanctuary, the adventurers pored over the documents and maps they obtained from the cathedral, and learned important information about the Storm Tyrant’s plans. First and foremost, they learned that Minderhal’s Valley was just a recruiting station for Volstus’s armies. Urgash had been evaluating the new conscripts there and sending the most promising recruits to a frost giant village called Skirgaard for additional training! One of the maps pinpointed the location of this training camp, which lay in the Mindspin Mountains nearly 150 miles south-southwest of the Cathedral of Minderhal.

(Unfortunately, there are no clues as to the whereabouts of the Storm Tyrant’s flying fortress; from what Dravis read in the documents, its location changes frequently)

In a rented workshop, Turin crafted them numerous magic items to aid them against the frost giants. As he did so, summer became the fall in the Hold of Belkzen as the calendar advanced into early October. And in the distant Mindpin Mountains, winter settled upon the high peaks.

Treasure: Coins and items worth a total of 5000 gp each player, + tons of magic items (for a list, watch this space!)


1. The documents and maps uncovered in Urgash’s quarters indicate that Minderhal’s Valley was simply a recruiting station for the Storm Tyrant’s elite forces, who are being trained in a remote frost giant village located deep in the Mindspin Mountains called Skirgaard. What evil forces await our heroes in those bleak, frozen, alpine wastes?

2. With the relighting of Minderhal’s Forge and Urgash’s dramatic death, chaos has ensued in Minderhal’s Valley. Have the Giantslayers attracted the attention of the notorious Storm Tyrant?


Episode 40: The Forgeheart!
The Grand Relighting of Minderhal's Forge

For some unexplained reason, Dravis excused himself—he jumped Turin’s final Teleport! The Giantslayers then found themselves in the basement Forgeheart without their fighter-thief friend. Then, the slag giant priestess, Natalia, took a book off a shelf and instructed the party on lining the furnace with clay, then helped them by placing a fire geode inside. She then went upstairs and climbed out the secret door into the worship space. The others heard her ordering other giants out of the room; then, when the coast was clear, they and Ferin followed her out across a stone bridge up onto a 15-foot-high stone dais.

Upon the dais sat a giant stone blacksmithing forge and huge iron anvil set atop a basalt platform rising from a pit of slag. In order to attract a dragon, Draken blew the magic horn Drakesbane. The party waited expectantly. Unfortunately, nothing happened, so he blew it again. The party waited again, and after a few rounds, they heard something alight on the ground in front of the building. Suddenly, the front doors burst open, and a young adult red dragon was climbing over the pews towards them!

“Who summoned me?” shouted the dragon. Draken took responsibility, and the dragon glared. “I am ”/characters/flametongue" class=“wiki-content-link”>Flametongue," it growled, “And I want that horn!” “Relight the forge with your fire breath, and the horn is yours!” the dwarf replied. A loud conversation ensued, during which the players used some Truth magic to get the dragon to admit that he wasn’t going to uphold his end of the bargain. After a few rounds, his patience exhausted, Flametongue attacked the party with his fiery breath weapon—seriously injuring Draken, Ferin and Natalia.

Suddenly, a blast of fire catapulted from the center of the sacred forge, sending a bright shower of sparks throughout Minderhal’s Cathedral. At the same time, the slag pit around the dais turned bright yellow and began churning with roiling, molten slag. And, unbeknownst to the party, black smoke began pouring from the chimneys in the cathedral’s spires. “My forge is relit!” screamed Natalia, making a grab for Agrimmosh, but missing. At precisely that moment, a large, important-looking stone giant burst into the room, and attacked Silaqui!

Things moved very quickly from that point onwards. The Druid Gydion sprang into action and cast Baleful Polymorph on the dragon. The evil creature didn’t make its saving throw, so it was transmuted into a bunny rabbit! Meanwhile, upon the dais, Draken and Kingsley fought for their lives against Natalia and Ferin, who were determined to seize the Hammer of Unmaking for themselves. Eventually, Kingsley knocked Ferin into the slag pit, while Natalia disarmed Draken and claimed the hammer for herself. A few rounds later, however, Draken and Silaqui toppled Natalia into the slag pit, along with Agrimmosh!

Gydion Wildshaped into a Fire Elemental and dove into the slag to retrieve Agrimmosh. To his surprise, however, he found that he wasn’t alone: a slag-like ooze was also there, fighting for possession of the magic hammer. Eventually, Gydion prevailed with a powerful Call Lightning Storm spell and the slag-ooze was defeated.

A second slag-like ooze formed on the other side of the pit and attacked Draken and Kingsley! Gydion emerged and gave Agrimmosh back to Draken. The Druid then joined the fight against the ooze, ordering Kingsley to go look for the dragon-turned-rabbit, which had apparently disappeared in the heat of battle. Silaqui downed a potion of Fly and took to the air to scan for the rabbit from overhead. Neither the lion nor the ranger, however, could find hide nor hare of it.

Draken and Gydion defeated the second ooze while Silaqui flew back to defend them against the huge stone giant, who was upon them. Her arrows seemed to do less damage than usual, but she kept firing ,until the stone giant finally gave up and ran out the doors leading into the cathedral’s mess hall.

Finding themselves alone for the first time, with Minderhal’s Forge re-lit, Draken decided to obey Agrimmosh’s call. He struck the magic hammer upon the forge!

Next: The Secrets of Minderhal’s Cathedral

Episodes 38-39: The Secrets of Minderhal's Forge

The Giantslayers followed an underwater passage for 10 miles before finally emerging in a larder, somewhere inside Minderhal’s Cathedral. After a few hours of waiting for darkness to fall, they were interrupted by a giant looking for jerky. Battle commenced, spilling out into the adjacent giant-sized dining hall. Eventually, our heroes prevailed, defeating one frost giant, two stone giants and three hill giants. Unfortunately, a hill giant escaped and ran outside to sound the alarm.

As the battle was ending, the adventurers noticed someone watching them through a cracked doorway. They pushed their way into the room and confronted the spy: a young female slag giant named Ferin. Having never seen such small creatures, the giantess was at first wary and not talkative. But her eyes grew wide when she noticed Agrimmosh. She exclaimed that her mistress’ prophecy had come true, and she excitedly urged them to come with her to meet her. After a brief interruption by some armed guards (during which the party hid), she led the group (hidden from sight by virtue of Invisibility potions) to middle of a huge amphitheater, in which was housed an elaborately decorated, ancient, giant-sized forge. The attraction of the magic hammer to the forge was immediate and obvious, but the players were forced to ignore that as Ferin opened a secret door in a statue of Minderhal and led them down a dark staircase.

At the bottom was an oval-shaped room. In the center, a pillar-like furnace of cemented, soot-blackened stones was illuminated by the waxy lumps of crude candles, and surrounded by a ring of mystic symbols fashioned out of metallic dust sprinkled on the floor. In the shadows they could see an elderly female slag giant watching them intently. Ferin introduced the giantess, Natalia, to them as her mentor and mistress. The old giantess introduced herself as the Keeper of Minderhal’s Forge, and demanded to see Agrimmosh (which she called The Hammer of Unmaking). When the players said no, she backed off, asking them if they knew what they were in possession of. She went on to explain that, with the hammer, they could achieve great things. She pulled some dusty books off of a nearby table and, opening one, explained that the hammer (used with the forge above) could be used to create incredibly powerful magic items; it could also be used to resize giant-sized weapons. This grabbed the heroes’ attention!

Seeing that she’d piqued their curiosity, Natalia continued. All these things are possible, she said, but first, Minderhal’s Forge must be lit! After asking her how to accomplish this, she opened another book and explained that there are four pieces of the puzzle. One was sacred clay, which must be gathered to line the forge. Second, magical fire geodes must be placed inside the forge. Third, a dragon must be lured with a magic horn called Drakesbane. Fourth, the players must compel the dragon to ignite the fire geodes with its fiery breath.

After going off in a corner and discussing this amongst themselves, the players returned and told Natalia that they had everything she needed to relight the forge, save one thing: the sacred clay. Where might we find it? They asked. Natalia opened yet another book and read: the clay can be found in the burial coffin of the great vampire, Lord Kraven. The players exclaimed that they’d been there—in fact, they’d beaten the vampire in battle—and they knew exactly where it was! Natalia was delighted at this news, and demanded they go and bring the clay back at once. They agreed, and within a few hours, the party wizard, Turin began Teleporting them to the old giant chapel (where they’d fought a pack of plant-like guardians). Teleporting the entire party took two days.

The players hiked up to the ancient tomb where they knew Lord Kraven’s coffin was located. After defeating two scarecrows, they delved deeper and encountered the two Vrock demons they’d left behind during their previous visit. The demons, joined by a third, attacked. After a few rounds, Lord Kraven finally appeared, flanked by three female vampire-spawn. Eventually—after a harrowing battle during which Draken was knocked unconscious—all the monsters were defeated. Kingsley ended up slaying the demon that had knocked the dwarf unconscious, and Silaqui killed the other two. Dravis, meanwhile, took out the vampires. After the smoke cleared, Gydion doled out healing, and then the party went to collect their hard-earned treasure: the clay soil inside Lord Kraven’s coffin (which they loaded inside one of their Bags of Holding). After trekking back down to the giant chapel, the party wizard was summoned and began ferrying them all back to Minderhal’s Cathedral.

Next: The Forgeheart !

Episode 37: TBA
This blog spot reserved for Darrell

Two- sentence summary:

Seeing no easy way into Minderhal’s Cathedral, the Giantslayers decided to follow Dragonfang’s advice and enter through Minderhal Lake. After backtracking around Minderhal’s Valley and weathering a number of dangerous encounters, they eventually found the secret entrance inside a sunken temple beneath the waters of Minderhal Lake.

Episode 36: The Inner Valley

After defeating the vampire, the party climbed back down and spent the night in the Fire Giant Chapel. The next morning, Gydion’s player rolled an exceptional Spellcraft roll, determining that the broken, porcelain doll they’d recovered in the tomb of Nargrym Steelhand was a soul-bound doll. Draken Mended the doll and it sprang to life! The kewpie-doll told them his name was Nickelbee, and that he used to serve Nargrym himself. Expressing wonder at Draken’s steelhand and magic hammer, the doll declared Draken as Nargrym’s rightful heir.

Soon after this happened, Turin Teleported in, and took the dragonbone cage, together with some of the party’s extraneous treasure, and two party members, to the GiantKing’s Tomb just north of Shinnerman’s Fortune—where the dwarves had set up their encampment. The rest of the party camped overnight in the Chapel; the next morning, Turin re-appeared and Teleported them to the Tomb. (All save Gydion, who flew back since he couldn’t be included in either of Turin’s Teleports).

The party spent a week in the GiantKing’s Tomb, where they rested and paid Turin to produce various magic items for them in the dwarven encampment. Turin’s ranger sister Silaqui questioned King Knut about the dwarves’ plans, and asked him for help. He told her that she and her friends needed to act as spies for the dwarves; because, although they had some “eyes” in the outer reaches of Minderhal’s Valley, he didn’t know what lay in the heart of the valley, where the giants were assembling. He also mentioned that there were rumors of an “Anvil of Minderhal” somewhere in the valley, which could forge magic items; transmute one metal into another; and even magically resize giant-sized weapons into normal-sized weapons! The party was dubious but agreed to return to to investigate.

Upon returning to Minderhal’s Valley, Gydion took to the sky as an Air Elemental and flew reconnaissance while the others walked below. Following the foot-traffic led the adventurers to the southeast. After an uneventful night where the canyon walls opened up into a more shallow valley, the party continued on. After a few hours, the Druid returned to inform them that up ahead, the canyon housed a giant-sized cathedral built into the wall of a steep mountain, surrounded by hordes of giants of many species. A massive, poorly built gate lay between them and the cathedral. Seeing that they couldn’t hope to overcome all of those assembled giants, the party camped overnight in the storm. It started to rain. Under the cover of rain and wind and darkness, the Druid Wildshaped into an Air Elemental and made multiple trips to the Cathedral (which they now knew was called “Minderhal’s Cathedral” thanks to runes on its outer walls), searching for an entrance. He noticed that while some groups of giants entered freely, there wasn’t that much traffic into and out of the place. He also flew high above the Cathedral and (in a canyon behind the mountain) witnessed a dead giant, face-down in a mountain brook, being eaten by a herd of winged deer.

After much discussion which lasted late into the evening, the Giantslayers asked Dravis inquire with his magic sword (Dragonfang) how to get into the Cathedral. It instructed him thusly: “The entrance to the Cathedral lies under Lake Minderhal”. Having seen no lake in their travels—and curious to investigate the dead giant and the creatures feeding on it—the party decided to backtrack and travel to the canyon behind the Cathedral.

Next: Under Lake Minderhal

Episode 35: Varvatos, Villains, Vrocks and Vampires
…this episode has been brought to you by the letter “V”

When the party woke the next morning the rain ended and the fog parted. Dravis thought he heard a distant call from atop the canyon. The mysterious Druid Gydion felt a lure as well. Curious, the two investigated, and found an overgrown path winding up the western canyon wall. Meanwhile, as Draken and Silaqui broke camp, Turin and Asa appeared in the Chapel—they’d teleported in! Happy greetings were exchanged, but afterwards, Turin turned serious. The elf wizard explained that he had been researching an ancient artifact on behalf of Tyari Varvatos. He pointed to the direction it was located in: strangely enough, he pointed to te top of the western wall of the canyon. He told the group that they’d need Asa’s help, and some potions he’d brewed for them. Dravis asked if he could take some things with him, for example, the geodes they’d claimed from the Chapel’s hidden chamber (and other cumbersome things). Turin nodded. Then, grabbing the giant Bag of Holding and other treasures—and placing his gift of potions on the ground—the wizard wished them all good luck, and teleported away!

The group climbed the western wall for hours before finally reaching the top. There, a rough-hewn, ancient path was cut into the lichen-encrusted stone. The Giantslayers followed it as it widened, ending in a dark, dusty passage that headed west. It was blocked by large, iron bars set into the stone. Gydion sent a prayer skyward, breathed a Soften Earth & Stone spell into the stone, allowing Draken to easily remove a few bars with his great strength.

After a brief discussion, the group decided to let the fighter-rogue Dravis stealthily take the lead (buffed by a potion of Darkvision that Turin had brewed), followed by Draken and Asa, and then the others. Dravis soon found himself in a large room with two exits, one to the south and one to the west. He heard movement coming from the southern exit, and heard a whoosh of air from the western exit. But his attention was immediately drawn to the north side of the room, where he heard the call from earlier, but louder: “Come here! Set me free!” Upon further investigation, he found a dragon-bone cage upon the floor, with three pieces of smoldering coal inside. Wedged into one of the bones was a short sword, and the voice seemed to be emanating from it—but only in Dravis’ mind; his ears registered nothing. Drawn to the magic weapon, Dravis picked it up. It then telepathized to Dravis: “I am Dragonfang. You belong to me now. I can teach you a magic ritual which will allow you to shrink this cage to fit into your knapsack. Beware the lumps of coal—they are nascent demons!”

He wrested control from the sword and, snapping out of his telepathic trance, woke to see Draken and Silaqui heading into the south exit, and Gydion, Kingsley and Asa standing next to him (and the cage). Dravis relayed what the sword had told him, which spurred Asa into action: “Paladins and demons are a thing. Let me handle these lumps of coal!!” Dravis nodded and went to investigate the western exit. Gydion was loathe to leave Asa alone with the incubating demons, but he sent Kingsley away to assist Draken and Silaqui.

Draken, Silaqui and Kingsley soon found themselves in a large stone chamber, in the middle of which was a pitch-black sphere of Darkness. All of a sudden, Silaqui was nailed with a Lightning Bolt, followed by a Magic Missile assault on Kingsley. A Fireball exploded as well. The spells were emanating from the black sphere! A familiar laugh split the air, and the three adventurers knew they were facing their recurring wizard nemesis! Silaqui downed a Turin-brewed potion of Spider Climb and climbed the wall; she then loosed some Human-Bane arrows into the sphere. One of them hit, doing double damage! Then, Draken downed a Turin-brewed potion of Mirror Image as Kingsley warily circled the dark sphere.

Meanwhile, Asa buffed himself, opened the cage, and struck one of the lumps of coal with his magic short bastard sword, Scorch. The lump exploded in a concussive blast, and when the smoke cleared, a Vrock stood in its place. If the little halfling was afraid of the hulking demon, he only showed it for a brief moment before charging in to attack. He was a paladin of Iomedae, after all, and seeing a demon take form before his eyes awoke a fierce determination in him. “Back to the Abyss with you!” he cried, letting loose with a Smite Evil (enhanced by Eagles Spendor and Divine Bond flaming sword). Gydion backed him up with his +2 Flaming scimitar. After a few rounds, the evil creature was laid low by the paladin(despite the demon’s immunity to fire), who shouted “Get the Vrock outta here!” The Druid and the paladin then slammed the cage shut.

By that time, Draken and Kingsley had bravely entered the sphere of Darkness and were confronted by the scarred face of the laughing wizard they’d faced so many times before! Between the evil wizard and the heroes, however, were six hideous, deliquescing zombies! Calling upon his cleric training, the dwarf let loose a Channel Energy, destroying five of them. Kingsley ripped apart the remaining one.

After regrouping, the party decided to explore the western exit. They found a long, stone passage with multiple sepulchers cut out, to the left and to the right. Suddenly, a vampire appeared behind them, cutting off their escape! Asa and Silaqui, being the closest to it, pressed the attack. The others, meanwhile, had troubles of their own: the vampire had summoned a Swarm of rats, which was closing in from the far end of the passage. Dravis ducked into a sepulcher, avoiding some of the damage; Draken sang an incantation of Sanctuary, causing the rats to go around him; and Gydion stepped into a sepulcher, downed a potion of Fire Breath, and waited.

The next round, the vampire clawed Asa, depleting two levels from him! The paladin staggered to his knees as Silaqui and Draken double-teamed the undead abomination. Finally, the vampire cried out and disappeared in a pink mist, dropped what turned out to be a Bag of Holding. At the same time, the rat swarm was turned to ash by Gydion, who deftly breathed fire upon them from his sepulcher.

Inspection of the Bag of Holding turned up various powerful magical items (see below). Dravis discovered a Secret Door which led to a chamber containing a handsome treasure, a box full of dirt, and a ladder leading up. Assuming the box was the vampire’s coffin, the fighter-rogue defiled and dispersed the dirt before ascending the ladder, his comrades close behind him.

Treasure_: Staff of Healing, Ring of Protection +2, Robe of the Druid, +4 Headband of Charisma

Next: The Forbidden Valley

Episode 34: Thieves vs. Leaves in the Temple
A close call for Dravis Montbreeze!

Draken, who could see just fine in the nearly-dark temple, entered first, with the others close behind. Rain began to fall through the collapsed ceiling, turning the air sticky, and making walking difficult; the wet vegetation that covered everything slowed their movement by half (Gydion and Silaqui, however, were unaffected, due to their Woodland Stride ability).

Piles of shingles littered the floor. They passed rows of moss-covered, giant-sized pews, and saw two sets of stairways along the western wall. One led up to an empty platform, and the other led to a weathered statue of a stern-looking fire giant. A closed door was set into the eastern wall at the bottom of a wide set of stairs leading to a dais with a large, round brazier and an altar. Dravis and Silaqui stealthily climbed the stairs to reconnoitter and found decaying bones poking up through the thick layer of moss surrounding the altar. Nothing else seemed amiss, however, so they called out to Gydion and Draken, who soon joined them.

Gydion cast Detect Magic and learned that the large (10-foot high) brazier was surronded by an aura of evocation magic. Draken walked to the door in the eastern wall and put his ear against it. Silaqui climbed back down the stairs and perched herself atop one of the pews, commanding a clear view of the entire temple. Dravis, meanwhile, snuck around the back of the altar, laying down shingles to walk on so as not to disturb the bones.

Just then, the vines behind the altar became animated, and giant-sized leaves sprang out of nowhere, closing around Dravis, who cried out in alarm. The others turned and saw him struggling within a Giant Flytrap, which had lifted him into the air. Before Gydion, Draken and Silaqui could react, however, each was attacked by a large, writhing heap of vegetation—Shambling Mounds! Against the verdant, lush background vegetation, the temple’s vegetable guardians had easily surprised them.

Gydion found himself grappled by his leafy opponent, and spent the next couple of rounds struggling to free himself, assisted by his fierce lion companion, Kingsley. Eventually freeing himself, he rained a Flame Strike upon the Shambling Mound that had attacked him. Next, the Druid pulled out his +2 Flaming magic scimitar, and sliced some of its branches off. Much to his frustration, however, he discovered that fire has little effect on Shambling Mounds, because of their DR 10 against fire. Kingsley had more success defending against it with tooth and claw, and eventually turning the monster into a lifeless haystack.

Trapped as he was in the corner by the eastern doorway, Draken was repeatedly grappled by his Shambling Mound, but escaped each time thanks to his Freedom of Movement cleric domain ability. The dwarf spent the next few rounds slamming his Shambling Mound adversary with Agrimmosh until it finally collapsed into a motionless heap.

Silaqui, atop one of the 10-foot giant, stone pews, was slammed by a tendril from a Shambling Mound on the floor; jumping out of the way, the elf narrowly escaped being grappled. Leaping off the pew, she cast Entangle at her opponent, but it was undeterred. Desperate to escape its reaach, she next imbibed a Gaseous Form, and spent the next few rounds moving away from it, and her Entangle spell. Gydion attempted to help her with a Call Lightning spell, but stopped after realizing the lightning was making the monster grow stronger.

Meanwhile, behind the altar, Dravis was struggling to stay conscious. Dravis’ player had already used a “zombie” token to escape one of the Flytrap’s leaves, only to be be engulfed by another, and was now unable to move or even breathe. And, on top of that, the plant was slowly digesting him! So Gydion’s player decided to spend one of his “zombie” tokens and then—moved to action by Druidic intuition—Gydion cast Cure Serious Wounds on the fighter-rogue through the trap, healing him and rousing him to consciousness. Then, Gydion’s player used a second “zombie” to allow Kingsley to dramatically grab the trap’s long petiole in his strong jaws and shake Dravis free. At the same time, Draken bludgeoned the Flytrap with his magic hammer while Silaqui fired arrows at it from the pews [unfortunately, because she was out of range, her arrows didn’t do as much damage as usual]. Not far away, the Shambling Mound that had attacked Silaqui was deliquescing into a puddle, for some unexplained reason.

The next round, the giant Flytrap exacted revenge upon the lion, using another of its many traps to tear into his flesh, followed by a grapple. Already severely wounded by his encounter with the Shambling Mounds, Kingsley fell unconsious. Luckily for him, however, he was too big to be engulfed in the trap, so he didn’t suffer the same damage that Dravis did. In the following rounds, the Flytrap attacked both Draken and Dravis with its snapping traps, but in the end, the heroes prevailed. Over and over, Agrimmosh smashed into the monster’s trunk, while Silaqui splintered it with arrows. Gydion finally finished off the Flytrap with a strike from Call Lightning, reducing it to pink dust.

Healing was doled out, and the Giantslayers finished exploring the temple. Gydion found a Sapling Rod mixed among the bones around the altar. Dravis discovered a secret door in the north wall. Meanwhile, the door on the eastern wall led into a dark, flooded, moldy chamber. Steering clear of the wet, mucky floor, Silaqui climbed the walls via a potion of Spider Climb and discovered a pile of six spherical, 2-foot wide/1000 lb stones in the corner. Draken then entered the room and found a giant-sized Bag of Holding locked inside a stone coffer that was sunken into the muck in the middle of the room. Buffed with a Bull’s Strength from Gydion, Draken (assisted by Dravis) rolled one of the stones out of the room and split it open. Hidden inside was a mass of small, radiant, orange crystals, which Silaqui ascertained were glowing with the magic of a Delayed Fireball spell! Dravis yelled for everyone to scatter, and after 5 rounds, the crystals ignited a 20-foot-radius fireball, flooding the temple with light and heat! Luckily, by that point, the party had hidden themselves safely behind the stone pews.

After multiple attempts, Dravis finally managed to open the secret door, revealing a narrow passage. At the far end of the passage lay three large (c. 2 feet in diameter and 750 lbs), spherical stones with a rough-textured black surface on the floor. The party scooped two of these into their giant-sized Bag of Holding, together with two of the Delayed Blast Fireball stones. It was decided that Draken, who possessed the highest Strength score, would carry the Bag.

It was getting late, and progressively wetter, so Gydion erected Warped Wood Manor upon the dais, where the party enjoyed a well-deserved, peaceful night’s rest.

Next: Into the Heart of Minderhal’s Valley

Episode 33: The Trail of Tears
Shinnerman's misfortune

The party set up their tents but Silaqui was restless. After the sun set, she decided to follow the giant and human tracks eastwards under cover of darkness. She drank a potion of Mage Armor , then cast Pass Without Trace on herself, and headed out, following the footsteps along a winding tributary, while Dravis began first watch. (With only three party members left at camp, their watches were slightly longer—two hours and forty minutes, as opposed to only two hours).

After two hours of hiking, the elven ranger reached the eastern edge of the bottomland. The tracks continued to follow the tributary eastward into one of the narrow canyons that Gydion had spotted on his last reconnaissance. She drank a potion of Darkvision before entering the canyon, creeping stealthily along, close to the rocky ledge on her right.

Another hour passed. As she crept along, she heard pebbles falling around her. She looked up to see nocturnal kangaroo rats scavenging along the cliffs. The dry canyon was alive at night with animals unnoticed during the day. Just then, a great roar broke the silence—sending the rats scurrying—and a fiery explosion high above her lit up the night. Silaqui drank a potion of Spider Climb and clambered up the rocks to investigate. She clambered up, and then sideways, and then up again, trying to track the source of the commotion. After a few minutes of this, she finally rounded a corner and saw a reptilian-like shape launch itself from the lip of the canyon above, and fly eastwards. Frightened and alone, she climbed down and headed back to camp to report what she’d seen.

Meanwhile, Dravis had gone to sleep and Draken was keeping watch. Suddenly, a pair of barghests lept out of nowhere, biting him through his armor. Flat-footed and off-center, the dwarf raised the alarm, yelling out and waking his friends. Regaining his balance, Draken cleaved through them, seriously wounding one. The barghests attacked again, but missed. Draken cleaved a second time, dropping one of the creatures; the other one disappeared into thin air.

The rest of the party grabbed their weapons and rushed out of their tents and saw Draken standing over the dead barghest. “There were two of them!” he told them, “One of them became invisible, or teleported”. Looking around, Gydion spotted the second creature above them, on top of one of the large boulders that sheltered their campsite. The barghest stood very still and focused its Crushing Despair spell-like ability on Draken, sapping his faith and causing him to lose 2 points on all his rolls. The rest of the party attacked with missile weapons, doing little damage, easily absorbed by the creature’s damage resistance (5 DR/magic).

The next round, the creature growled and sprang ferociously at Draken, intent on avenging its mate death. Unfortunately for the barghest, Gydion’s lion companion, Kingsley had held his action, and as soon as the beast landed, the lion mauled it, killing it with one bite. The party disposed of the bloodied barghest bodies in the river, and Draken continued his watch. Gydion took the final watch, which was uninterrupted save for Silaqui’s return. Although the group had decided against lighting a fire, thinking it would compromise their safety, the ranger didn’t need smoke to find her way back; she easily followed the tributary, and her own footprints, back to camp. She was able to catch a few hours of sleep before dawn. When the sun rose, she told everyone what she’d found over breakfast. “It was much bigger than a rift drake!” she insisted, when the others expressed doubt over her assertion she’d seen a bona fide fire-breathing dragon. Gydion then meditated to regain his spells while the rest of the group broke camp.

The group retraced Silaqui’s steps, and after two and a half hours, found a smouldering campfire. The giant footprints continued east, but the human footprints ended abruptly at the site. Closer inspection of the ashes turned up human bones. “Well, maybe they ate one of them, but perhaps the dragon you saw flew off with the other prisoners?” said Dravis to Silaqui, hopefully. The elf, who was tired from her all-night adventure and was relying on her Endurance feat to stay awake, looked grim. Alas, whatever their fate, things didn’t look good for Tarram Shinnerman and the other missing humans from Shinnerman’s Fortune.

Two hours and 4.5 miles later, the Giantslayers were rounding an oxbow in the tributary when they heard low, guttural voices ahead. The voices emanated from some large boulders across the brook. The rogue/fighter Dravis, who knows the Giant language, interpreted: it was a female giant, yelling at a bunch of others to “pick up the pace”; the others were grumbling their responses and protests. Dravis and Silaqui swam across the brook with a rope and fastened it on the other side so that Dravis could ford the river. Gydion turned into a bird and flew across, followed by Kingsley, who padded silently across. Silaqui then climbed one of the boulders, but when she reached the top, a loud siren was heard. The ranger had set off a magical Alarm spell! Dravis heard someone shout “Gristlecrack, we have company!” as an obese, blue, female giant with red hair—who had been sitting down—rose to her full height. They had finally found the giants who’d kidnapped Tarram Shinnerman!
A full nineteen feet tall, Gristlecrack was now eye-level with Silaqui, atop the boulder; the giant raised her giant club and smashed the elf for over 40 points of damage. The other party members rushed between the boulders and found five huge trolls, growling loudly and baring their fangs. Dravis attacked one with his two short swords, followed by Draken, who cleaved through two of the beasts with his magic hammer, Agrimmosh. Gydion and Kingsley went on the offensive as well. On their turn, four the trolls bit and tore mightily—though two of them suffered poor aim from the Fear effect generated by Draken’s Fingernail Armor. The fifth troll, on the other hand, emitted a maniacal laugh, and disappeared into the air. It sounded like the mysterious wizard who’d been tormenting them ever since they first left Trunau, two months ago!

Silaqui fired an elemental Fire arrow into the giant’s face, followed by two more arrows, severely wounding it. Draken, Dravis and Kingsley continued their melee assault while Gydion invoked a Flame Strike between the trolls, causing some serious fire damange they could not repair with their trollish Regeneration ability. Just then, they heard maniacal laughter as a Fire Ball exploded in the middle of the battle, damaging both heroes and trolls alike. The party looked around, but the spellcaster was nowhere to be seen. Had it been cast by the troll who’d mysteriously disappeared? If so, he or she must be using the Greater Invisibility spell, Dravis thought.

The fight continued for several more rounds, reaching fever pitch as Silaqui dropped Gristlecrack, her blue hide riddled with arrows. The trolls looked worried, but there was no escape as Draken, Dravis and Kingsley made quick work of them. As the battle came to a close, the invisible spellcaster trapped Gydion in a Resilient Sphere, but the Druid freed himself by invoking his last Limited Wish.

While the party healed their wounds (Draken used his Channel Energy, which was supplemented by potions and scrolls from the others), they scanned around for the invisible, laughing wizard, but it was no use. He was gone. They also searched the boulders for any prisoners, but found none. What happened to the humans?—Silaqui grew despondent, desperate to know. The party decided to press eastward (since they were heading that way anyway), following some other giant tracks which, Silaqui determined, were roughly four days old.

Two hours of hiking later, the canyon widened, its slopes relaxing once again into more of a valley. At about this point, a smaller, narrow gorge headed south, while another headed north. It was now late afternoon, so the party sent Gydion, in eagle-form, to do reconnaissance. An hour later, he returned and reported the valley continued eastward as far as he could see, following the tributary. The southern gorge seemed desolate, save a small stream, and ended abruptly after growing more and more narrow over four miles. The northern gorge, however, contained a fast-flowing brook, and widened after about 3.5 miles. A forest of aspen and birch dominated this part of the gorge, in the center of which was an old, ruined church-like structure in the middle of a clearing. Though the sun was very low in the sky, the party decided to head there. Two hours later, as the light finally faded to darkness, they spotted the temple in the gloaming.


The barghests and trolls carried nothing of value, but Gristlecrack’s backpack contained the following items:

a +1 short sword,
1 potion of gaseous form
1 scroll of mirror image
1 gold bowl engraved with images of dwarves fighting giants (worth 400 gp)
1 gold flute (worth 1,000 gp)
1 small diamond (worth 900 gp)
2 opals (worth 500 gp each)
679 gp, 180 sp, & 900 cp
…and a collection of 14 grisly feet (dwarven, halfling, and human)

Next: Thieves, and Leaves, in the Temple

Episode 32: Enter Minderhal's Valley
Valley of a hundred perils

The party traveled one full day through the high peaks of the northern Mindspin Mountains before reaching Minderhal’s Valley. In recent centuries, the area had been a quiet wasteland, but in recent months, the valley—named for the evil giant god of the forge, Minderhal—was reportedly filling with giantkin of all sorts, rallying to the war-cry of the great storm giant Volstus, also known as the Storm Tyrant. According to what the party had learned at Redlake Fort, the Tyrant was gearing up to invade the surrounding lands and subjugate their “little folk” (as he called them). The Giantslayers were determined to stop him.

At about midday, the party rogue, Dravis—who was scouting a few hundred feet ahead of the rest of the party—found himself under attack by two small, bouncing, bearded creatures. They wore blood-red caps and laughed maniacally while slashing him with their scythes, and kicking him with their pointed, metal boots. The rogue shouted the alarm, and the rest of the party ran to join him. Gydion the Druid identified them as Redcaps—sinister, fey creatures who preyed upon travelers in mountainous region. While the party pressed the attack, Gydion told explained how they enjoyed killing things by kicking them to death, and then dyed their caps in the victim’s blood. He also recalled they could be warded off by religious symbols. Dravis became the target of another round of attacks as three more Redcaps sprang out of the forest shadows. Draken, who was the last to arrive on the scene, spotted a Green Hag hiding behind a tree. The dwarf ran up to bludgeon her with Agrimmosh, but the magic hammer passed ineffectively through the crone, who disappeared with a cackle!

Meanwhile, Silaqui set down her bow and presented the blessed Iomedean symbol on her necklace, holding it boldly for all the Redcaps to see. One of the beasts screamed and ran back into the forest, while the others (while visibly shaken) held their ground. The rest of the party continued the battle, with Dravis, unfortunately, suffering the most. Frustrated by the faeries’ annoying Spring Attacks, Gydion resourcefully erected a Wind Wall in front of himself. This halted the Redcaps in their tracks, preventing them from springing and allowing the party to score some melee attacks. Once again, Silaqui presented her holy symbol, which caused another one to flee. Although they slowly gained the upper hand, victory was hampered by the beasts’ high Damage Resistance (10 DR/cold iron). Dravis finally killed one of them!—it screamed loudly as it disappeared in a cloud of red mist. As the remaining two Redcaps ran off, demoralized and frightened, the rogue worried out loud about whether the giants had allied themselves with faeries from the Unseely Court.

A few miles beyond this unexpected fey encounter, the path met up with a river, which flowed quickly southward in the direction they were headed. The path ran parallel to the river, and for the remainder of the day, the cold mountain waters and mixed-boreal forest accompanied the party on their journey. At sunset, the forest ended, and the river began to flow steeply downhill through a dry, scrubby, boulder-filled bottomland. According to their map, they’d reached Minderhal’s Valley—though by everyone’s estimation, it was more like a canyon than a valley. They descended and set up camp next to a giant boulder, where they spent an uneventful night.


Just after breakfast the next day, Gydion Wildshaped into a sharp-eyed eagle and flew into the clear, sunny, mid-August morning sky. While the Druid did reconnaissance up ahead, the others broke camp and followed the path southwards through the canyon. After about an hour, Gydion returned with news: an ettin [a two-headed giant] and two dire bears were approaching, about two miles south along the path. In addition, he’d spotted two drakes perched on either side of the canyon, a few miles further south. He quickly described the area beyond that: the canyon opened up into a boulder-strewn valley, with three canyons branching off from it: one, which headed south, contained the river, while the other two headed eastward, each containing a smaller tributary.

The Giantslayers split up and hid on either side of the path in an attempt to surprise the ettin and its pets. Unfortunately, they hadn’t counted on the bears’ keen sense of smell. The bears growled a warning which silenced the ettin, which had been arguing with itself about the reasons it had been denied admission into the the Storm Tyrant’s armies. “Now I’ll show you how to pound flesh,” sneered one head to the other, and then yelled up the path: “Whoever’s hiding up ahead, show yourself and die!” At Dravis’ suggestion, Draken answered by shouting (in Dwarvish) “You losers! Rejected by the Storm Tyrant! Stupid giant!”

“A dwarf!!” one of the heads said, as it rushed up the path towards the sound.“A rotten, stinking dwarf, in Minderhal’s Valley no less. Let’s get him!” The dire bears, meanwhile, had sniffed out Dravis (who was hiding, near Draken, on the west side of the path) and Gydion (near Silaqui, on the other side), and were closing in. Dravis climbed on top of a boulder to escape, but the huge bear followed and bit him savagely. Silaqui fired a volley of arrows (including a magical arrow of elemental Fire) at the ettin, wounding him, which was followed by a Call Lightning strike by Gydion.

A few rounds later, the ettin lay dead on the ground, killed by one of Silaqui’s arrows (after an assist from Draken’s hammer). Surprisingly, the dire bears continued to fight the party. On the west side of the path, the first bear had Dravis cornered on top of the boulder, jaws dripping with the rogue’s blood. On the east side of the path, the second bear attacked Gydion’s lion companion, Kingsley, who’d wedged himself between two boulders, positioned between his master and the bear. Kingsley—who was the same size as his opponent thanks to recently ‘leveling up’—responded with fang and claw, seriously wounding the beast with two critical hits.

The next round, Dravis (now in a flanking position) let loose a flurry of sneak attacks with his two swords. The bear dropped lifeless, so Draken took the opportunity to clamber down from the boulder, cross the path, and smash the other bear (flanking him), ending its savage life forever.

The party regrouped and healed their wounds, but before they could set forth, fire rained down from the sky! The two fire drakes that Gydion had spotted further south were doing fly-by attacks with their Fireball Breath! The party quickly hid among the boulders and discussed the situation as the flying reptiles did hairpin turns in the sky. As soon as the drakes reappeared, Gydion hit one with a Lightning strike [the spell he cast upon the ettin still being in effect] while Silaqui launched three arrows at the other. But after being hit by two more Fireballs, the party realized they were outgunned because Draken, Dravis and Kingsley had no effective missile capabilities. Dravis suggested that the drakes may not be attacking them per se—rather, perhaps the scavengers were only trying to drive them off, so they could feast upon the remains of the ettin and its dire bears. So the party elected for “double move” actions for their next round, heading southwards away from the carcasses. It paid off: the drakes didn’t follow them, and left them alone for the rest of the day.

As evening approached,, the party reached the part of Minderhal’s Valley that Gydion had spotted earlier: a wide, valley-like bottomland which branched into three other canyons: one main canyon continuing southwards (containing the river), and two smaller canyons heading eastwards. Gydion once more took to the skies to fly reconnaissance. Further back the way they’d come, the Druid saw the drakes feasting on the ettin and bera carcasses they’d left behind—"Dravis was right", he thought. He saw nothing down the eastern canyons, but spotted a party of six colorfully-garbed humanoids a few miles south, heading towards them along the river. Meanwhile, Silaqui picked up the trail of the band of giants and humans they’d been tracking (from Shinnerman’s Fortune). Their tracks led along one of the tributaries, down into one of the smaller, eastern canyons.

Next: the Trail of Tears

Episode 31: Three Trolls & A Baby
It ain't ogre til it's ogre


After a week in the Stone Giant King’s Tomb studying their magic tomes, it was finally time for the party to head to Minderhal’s Valley. Reconnaissance of the Valley was crucial to figuring out their next move. After an uneventful night in the forest, the Giantslayers discovered a well-worn footpath alongside a quick-flowing mountain brook. According to their map, it led to a small mining village named Shinnerman’s Fortune. After a few hours, they came upon a small cottage with a large hole in its roof, and the front door broken off its hinges. Grunts and crashing sounds could be heard inside. More disturbingly, the unmistakeable cry of a human baby could be heard above the din.

Gydion Wildshaped into a hawk and floated up to the roof of the cottage, with Silaqui not far behind. New party member Dravis silently stole to the front door and listened: there were three trolls inside, and one was complaining bitterly about how much it loved the taste of human infants! Unfortunately for the troll, the baby was on the second floor of the cottage and the troll couldn’t fit up the stairs! The troll was thrashing around (the baby’s smell was driving it crazy), apparently trying to bring down the cottage with its bare hands, carelessly raging around the small, fragile human dwelling.

With the trolls distracted as they were, the heroes easily gained surprise. Draken rushed in and attacked one, with Asa, Kingsley and Dravis as backup. Turin kept his distance, acting as lookout. Meanwhile, above, Gydion flew through the hole in the roof and, switching back to human form, discovered the infant in crib, just inches away from the boulder that had pierced the roof. He quickly handed the baby to Silaqui, who had climbed up with no problem using her Ring of Climbing. Next, he cast Air Walk on the elf ranger, who took to the sky with the baby safely in her arms.

The rest of the party had now engaged the trolls—and found that they were more resilient than they expected. Draken and Kingsley managed to bring down the one nearest the door, assisted by Silaqui, who nimbly shot a Fire Ray (one of her new fire-touched sorceress abilities) at it without dropping the baby. Dravis landed a critical blow on the second troll, doing a whopping 46 points of damage—killing it instantly. Gydion engaged the third troll with Call Lightning, shouting “Choke on this you miserable, murdering bastard!” Shortly afterwards, the entire second floor collapsed, plummeting the Druid to the ground; Draken finished off the third troll with a crushing blow from Agrimmosh.

The party regrouped and—mewling infant in tow—continued down the path alongside the stream. They passed two other, similarly damaged cottages, but found no survivors. A few minutes later, they arrived in Shinnerman’s Fortune. The scene was anything but fortunate; all of the buildings were damaged by boulders, and the residents were wandering the roads, panic-stricken. A group of miners approached the party, led by a middle-aged woman with long, graying hair and a burly man with a salt-and-pepper beard. The pair introduced themselves as Alderwoman Jayek and Alderman Rey, and beseeched the party for help. They described the horror of the recent giant raid on their village, in which the colossal humanoids rained boulders on their houses, driving the villagers out so that they could be captured. Then, the captives—along with cattle and other livestock—were chained up and taken down the road leading south. (“Towards Minderhal’s Valley”, thought Gydion). There were at least a dozen missing, by all accounts, including the village’s leader, Amurchan Shinnerman, a distinguished descendent of the village’s founder.

The woman paused when she saw the infant swaddled in Silaqui’s arms. “That child is my granddaughter!” she said, and burst into tears. Then, after disappearing into a nearby hut, she presented the party with a leaf-shaped clasp. “This has been in my family for generations”, she said, “and it is now yours. Thank you for saving this precious girl!” She then took the baby and went back to the hut. Then, Alderman Rey spoke up, with a stern look in his eye: “There has never been an attack like this before on Shinnerman’s Fortune. The giants of the Mindspin Mountains are growing bolder and more reckless. Please, you must rescue the villagers they have kidnapped. You must defeat this giant menace!” The party reassured the Alderman that they would help as best they could, and immediately headed south, on the road to Minderhal’s Valley. [Asa and Turin stayed behind in Shinnerman’s Fortune, however, to heal the injured, and help rebuild the village].

The party easily followed two sets of tracks—giant and human—down the road, for several miles. Then, suddenly, the human tracks veered into the woods, followed by the giant tracks. Dravis and Silaqui followed the tracks, stealthily, until they saw two frightened humans hiding in the underbrush. They waved to them, and the humans ran forward, but were vaporized by a massive beam of force from the canopy. Looking up, the ranger and the rogue saw two massive, 18-foot-tall cyclopses! The one-eyed fiends were shooting beams from their eyes, obliterating everything in their path. “Foolish humans!” one of them laughed, “Who will save you now?!”

Dravis and Silaqui scattered! Dravis successfully hid, but Silaqui failed her stealth roll, making her the new object of their offense. She was hit twice with force-beams, reducing her hit points substantially. Luckily for her, the rest of the Giantslayers heard the commotion, and were rushing to her aid. After a few rounds, one of the cyclopses was brought down with a loud thud. Meanwhile, Dravis was sneaking his way through the forest towards the other cyclops, intent on sneak-attacking it. Unfortunately for him, cyclopses have preternaturally high Perception scores, and the wily rogue was soon spotted. Two force-beams and a great-axe-blow later, Dravis dropped to the forest floor, knocked senseless and bleeding out. Silaqui bravely rushed through the underbrush and fed him a potion of Cure Moderate Wounds, but ate an Attack of Opportunity for her troubles. She was seriously wounded, but did not falter, and Dravis awakened on account of her ministrations. The rest of the party closed in, and within a few rounds, took down the second cyclops.

The party regrouped, and continued south for a few hours. Just as night fell, they saw smoke from a campfire up ahead, in the woods to the east of the path. Gydion Wildshaped into an owl and took to the air. His enhanced vision revealed four ogres, seated around a campfire, with a pack of chained human captives with sacks over their heads. The captives looked bruised and battered. The ogres were talking amongst themselves. Upon hearing Gydion’s report, Dravis went to investigate: the ogres were arguing about whether to eat the captives. Three of them, apparently, were hungry, while the fourth insisted that they needed to preserve the humans as “capital” for bargaining with another giant he referred to as “Gristlecrack”.

The party took advantage of the argument to catch the ogres flat-footed, and vanquished them with little trouble. They rescued their captives and, removing their chains and hoods, noted that there were less than 12. Questioning the villagers, the heroes learned that another group of giants had gone ahead, with other captives in tow. One of the rescued villagers knew the Giant language, and told the party that the giants who’d gone ahead were definitely headed towards Minderhal’s Valley. Unfortunately, because of the sacks on their heads, they couldn’t say for certain whether Amurchan Shinnerman was among them.

The party healed the rescued villagers, and spent a restless night around the ogre’s campfire. “What foul trouble lies ahead?” wondered Gydion, as he drifted off to sleep, huddled up close to his loyal companion, Kingsley.


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