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 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?
Next: BOOK FOUR: PERMAFROST PERIL!