ACT 13: Ashfjell, Fire Mountain

Session 93: Assault of the Spellscars

[July 5th, 2022]

The heroes climb through the mountains of the Heropeaks, making their way towards Jarnby. The cold Autumnal winds blow down from the North, sending shivers through their spines. The thirty-odd survivors from Skyrgaard follow behind, with Ingrahild trudging beside them. The heroes do their best to move at a pace that everyone can keep up with, but the travel is dangerous and brutal through the mountain passes and high hills. Seven long days pass into the middle of Autumn (3rd Leafall, 692 GR), and the group knows there is still far to go before they reach the comforts and safety of Jarnby.

As the day grows dim, and the heroes see the fading sun setting behind Hethroth’s Hond, Agandar and Abhlesh begin to notice a strange buzzing sound. They instruct the survivors to gather together as they prepare some spells for protection. They then see it, a spellscar soaring through the air straight towards them.

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Abhlesh summons a powerful temporal protection field, surrounding the survivors. Brango uses the power of Agrimmosh to grow to giant size and strike out. Duke, Kiltro, and Agandar blast the thing with spells. The spellscar is quickly destroyed, but the buzzing sound grows louder. There are many more of them approaching. The heroes leap into action, trying to destroy them. Duke summons a powerful elemental confluence to strike at them with elemental energies. Agandar blasts them with fiery vortexes of hot air. Abhlesh concentrates on protecting the villagers.

It is then that a massive, elder spellscar joins the fight. It immediately warps Kiltro’s mind, sending him into a confusion. Kiltro throws random rocks with his mind, even killing one of the survivors. However, Abhlesh temporarily reverses time and casts a powerful regeneration on the villager to save his life for when time catches up. Brango finds himself blinded by the powerful magical creature. The others find the spells unleashed by the spellscars to be more annoyance than deadly. Duke uses his mastery of magic to counterspell many of the dweomers unleashed by the spellscars, rendering their magic useless.

The heroes manage to slay a few of the creatures, but the elder spellscar fights on and the heroes must defeat it to put an end to the danger for good…

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Session 94: Ancient Relics

[July 19th, 2022]

The heroes continue their epic battle with the spellscars. Duke flies in, in dragon-form, to tear apart one of the smaller spellscars. Arngeir becomes giant-sized, much like Brango, and charges in. But the spellscar summons a repulsive globe that keeps the warrior at bay. Kiltro tries to blast the spellscar with a disintegration ray, but it reflects off the spellscar’s magical protections and tears through Kiltro’s side. Thankfully, Abhlesh is on hand to patch him up.

Meanwhile, the elder spellscar pulls back and summons their own globe of repulsive energy. Brango summons wings at the back of his armor and slowly tries to fly up towards the spellscar, even though he is completely blind. Arngeir takes the form of an angelic being and flies up towards it blasting it with holy songs with a piercing sonic attack.

Agandar summons the magical wings upon Shrugga’s barding, and he climbs aboard the bear. They fly into the air and are able to pierce the repulsive magic and strike at the spellscar head on. Duke finds he cannot approach the spellscar, so he returns to human form. Duke and Kiltro try to blast the spellscar from the ground, but their spells are repelled by the spellscar’s magical barrier.

The heroes continue to strike and wear down the spellscar. Abhlesh then binds the spellscar to the material plane, preventing it from teleporting away. The heroes then weaken it more as Kiltro then blasts it with a final arc of electricity, felling it.

The spellscar explodes into a tornado of magical energies. Duke acts quickly and is able to pull out the ancient Xaya box and perform the ancient capturing ritual. The box draws the energy down towards, siphoning all of the magic into the tiny box. The box closes with the spellscar trapped inside. The survivors and Ingrahild rejoin the heroes and celebrate their victory.

The heroes then travel for another eight long days in the mountains, until they finally see Jarnby before them. There are many tents as if armies are camped outside the city. As they approach, Almrin and the Knights of the Golden Sword ride out to meet them. They brings the heroes and the survivors back to the city and ensure everyone gets the help they need.

Almrin and a few knights take the heroes to the tavern for a few drinks and they talk about their exploits in Skyrgaard and what has transpired near Jarnby. It seems that great armies of giants have gathered on the Blood River north of Bolvirk. Four suspected armies gather, each targeting a nearby settlement or fort. The people of Bolvirk, as usual, refuse to flee the settlement to the better defended Jarnby. The Alliance forces are still gathering in Jarnby and can do little to protect anywhere else. The Ridders of Krungar are protecting Midgaard on their own. The heroes lay out their plan to strike Ashfjell and Almrin agrees its a good idea to take out the leadership. He warns that the giants have red dragons aiding them and that their leader, the Storm Tyrant, flies around on a massive red dragon.

During the talk, Brango reunites with his mentor, Granindorf. The old dwarf is the Commander of the Grimholdur dwarves who have joined the Alliance forces. He asks Brango to come to his room later. When Brango arrives, Granindorf tells Brango that he always thought of him as a son and he is proud of him, quite the unusual display of emotion for the stone-faced warrior. He gives Brango a crystal on a brass chain that belonged to Brango’s father. When Brango touches it, an ancient memory is released into Brango’s mind.

Brango: The Orb’s Vision

Brango tells the others about his new-found knowledge about the Harkarak clan and the secret entranceway to their lost fortress. Duke and Brango realize that King Tytarian, mentioned in Skirkatla’s notes, likely refers to the current leader of Clan Brandrik, the fire giant clan that conquered the dwarves of Harkarak long ago. It is quite likely that the lost Harkarak fortress is in the mountain of Ashfjell where the giants are gathering.

The heroes get some rest and the next day (11th Leafall, 692 GR), Duke teleports them all to the Valley of Gigas and the Cathedral of Gigas. They meet with the slag giant Ferrin, and she helps Brango restore the latent magic within Agrimmosh that was awakened with the felling of Skirkatla. She also warns them that many giants headed off to find the mountain of Ashfjell to join the gathering armies.

The heroes then teleport to Hopesdawn where Duke intends to find a long-term protection for the Xaya box containing the spellscar. Kiltro heads to his mother’s manor to speak with her. Abhlesh begins researching prophecies and time paradoxes at the grand libraries. Agandar joins him, searching for information about the fire giants and the ancient Braellheim Empire.

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Session 95: The City of Dreams

[July 26th, 2022]

The heroes reach the Hopesdawn, the City of Dreams, the largest metropolis on the Eastern coast. They find themselves outside the Dancing Dog, a tavern Duke used to frequent during his early years at the Academy. The heroes are briefly stopped by guards who are concerned about Shrugga’s presence in the city, but Duke is able to throw his name around to resolve the situation.

The heroes split off, with Agandar going to the Elven District, Agandar and Duke heading to the libraries at the Academy’s campus, Kiltro heading to his family’s manor to see his mother, and Arngeir and Brango heading out on a grand barcrawl through the city’s taverns.

Duke and Abhlesh head to the Archive of Ancient Oddities, a large museum of ancient relics. They pass through numerous displays of ancient Nomen artifacts before heading down to the basement. Duke talks with the caretaker of the secret vault where he is able to once again deposit the ancient Xaya box containing the spellscar. However, this time it is kept under greater protection with plenty of warnings. The two scholars then head to the restricted library after getting permission from the library dean. They spend many hours learning about the records and Abhlesh begins his research on prophecies and the timestream.

Meanwhile, Agandar rides Shrugga to the grand temple dedicated to Enis in the center of the Elven District upon Nesseril Island. Twelve grand trees form the columns of a circular structure with he canopies forming a great green dome. Agandar talks with the priestess there. He tells her of their plight in the north and she grants him access to their store of ancient primal knowledge and druidic lore.

In the Noble District, Kilto finds the stairs of Mardym Manor, leading up to his childhood home. He recalls returning to home after a year at boarding school, only to find his new step-brother, Brandicus, and his step-father, Orlo Deventis.

Kiltro: The Stepbrother

Orlo had died when Kiltro was 22, but Brandicus has been a pain in his side ever since that day. Kiltro enters the manor and greets his old butler, Gayloff. He then chats with Brandicus, who tries to emphasize his importance, indicating that he does more for the Marydm family than Kiltro. Kiltro learns that after a throughout investigation (mostly paid for by the Mardym family), the authorities determined that a magical monster from the university killed Brevelia, clearing Kiltro’s name. Kiltro’s mother, Aelfya then returns home and she and Kiltro reunite. Kiltro insists that Drukzerd is still alive, but Aelfya refuses to believe it, as he has only the prophesy of an orc witch to guide him.

That evening everyone gathers at Embercleave Manor where Duke despenses rooms and they share a find meal together. Duke find’s his parent’s old room and recalls the last conversation he had with his father, just after his mother had passed.

Duke: Last Words

For the next few days, Duke works on scribing spells and preparing for the adventure ahead. Everyone does some shopping in the great markets of the city. Agandar continuies to study new magic at the druidic temple. Brango and Arngeir continue their exploration of the city and its many drinking halls.

Kiltro fights with his mother. She arranges with the university that Kiltro has graduated and is no longer bound to work for Duke. She now expects him to stay home and find a wife to ensure the Marydm line continues. However, Kiltro eventually explains to her what he has been doing up north and that he really is needed to help in the war. She eventually accepts this and is proud that he found his own path.

Meanwhile, Abhlesh fervently studies the prophecies and ancient texts in the library. He finds a reference to Ephorocronus in an ancient Arathian text, where a seemingly madman explains that this strange being started to teach him strange magic so that it could be passed along and improved for many generations, before the ‘the Lost One’ can learn the techniques.

Abhlesh also finds an ancient prophecy, “…when the big tall folk return to their ancient lands, all of time and space will rupture...” He believes it refers to the giants returning to the lands of Braellheim. However, he also finds a series of obscure references related to “… the starstone from the sky”. It appears in a prophecy about the destruction of Goldwall, “…when the starstone meets the grand city, founded by the dark-skinned men of the far east, it will be obliterated…”; the coming of the devil-lord Bael, “…and through the stone from the stars, the great demon will breach the moon’s light and step upon the land to lead his followers…”; and, finally, to the rupture of the timestream, “…it has been said the starstone from the sky shall rupture time itself…“. These archaic writings set Abhlesh’s mind in motion, but he learns little about his upcoming task.

After a few days, (15th Leafall, 692 GR), the heroes use Duke’s powerful magic to travel to the ley lines to Bolvirk. They find the town is in preparation for the war, with everyone bustling around. Arngeir leads the group to the Ivory Hall, where they meet with the town’s council. Halgra Blackblades shares their defensive strategy and asks why the heroes will not stay and fight with them. The heroes avoid telling her their full plan, but inform them that their mission is for the good of the all.

That night, Arngeir leads a funeral ceremony for Esderal, casting his hopeknife in the flames.

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Session 96: Into the Halls of Harkod-karak

[Aug 2nd, 2022]

The heroes rest the night in Bolvirk, and the next day (17th Leafall, 692 G.R.) they discuss their plans. They believe that Ashfjell is a significant place for three reasons: it is the location of the advanced training facility described in Skirkatla’s notes; it likely is the seat of power of the fire giant clan, Brandrick, in which Duke believes to be the clan that wiped out the Harkaraks in ancient days, and thus is likely the location of the Harkod-karak; and lastly, Agandar knows the volcano to be the source of the druidic Fire Order’s connection to the ley lines and the Vault of Thorns. The heroes hope that all three locations are indeed one and the same.

Duke uses his powerful magic to transport them to the outskirts of Redlake Fort. They head towards the fort, but find it ruined beyond repair. The inner moat is filled with muddy water and the castle’s walls have been pummeled by rocks until the crumbled and collapsed. The giants have clearly destroyed the once prominent fortress of the Alliance.

The heroes follow Agandar’s lead as they head north and west through the wild wilderness of the Northrim mountains towards Ashfjell. The cold winds continuously remind the group that winter is coming, which will spell more doom for the armies of the Alliance than it will for the giants. After three long days of travel, the heroes arrive at the base of Ashfjell. In the distance, they find innumerable giant encampments climbing up the side of the hillside towards the rocky steep the marks the entrance of the fire giant stronghold. The encampment is at least ten times larger than the one seen at the Cathedral of Gigas. The mountain itself climbs into the clouds where it’s peak fades from view.

The heroes decide to follow Brango’s belief that the secret entrance to the Harkarak fortress is on the western face of the mountain. They spend the night hiding in Duke’s conjured cabin. The next morning (21st Leafall, 692 G.R.), Agandar expertly guides the heroes around the encampments, avoiding any patrols or signs of danger. They manage to slip passed undetected and reach the western cliffs by midday. After some experimentation, Brango is able to recreate the Harkarak symbol upon the cliffside and gain entrance to the secret chambers before the heroes are spotted by a patrolling red dragon.

They enter the halls to find exquisite Dwarven architecture of marble, bronze, and brass with numerous intricately carved bloodstones dedicated to their deities. They explore many of the temple chambers and shrines, finding a secret vault holding the lost Harkarak crown and numerous treasure. They also find a telling of the Dwarves’ history: how the Harkarak Clan were an offshoot of the Khani (seeker) dwarves of Brong, in that they believed the Promised Land lay elsewhere, in particular, the burning mountain they had seen to the north on their original journey to Kalavar.

The heroes then find the large temple dedicated to Puln the Forgefather, creator of the Dwarves. They find a skeleton sprawed upon the floor at the top of a dais holding a bronze staff. Kiltro inspects the staff and the skeleton crumbles to dust. The staff has the same inscription as the top stair of the dais,  Helgak de Kodtaadr allaz Pulnak (Praise be the Forgefather of all Creation). As Abhlesh examines the magic of the staff, the other search around. ARngeir incidentily triggers a powerful trap. A grand pillar rises from the floor and draws him, Kiltro and Brango to it with a powerful magnetic force. It electricutes them and nearly kills them. Abhlesh and Duke try to figure out how to disable it as Kiltro teleports to safety. Arngeir is stuck to the pillar. Duke charges towards it to disable it’s magic, but finds it far more complicated that he thought.

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Session 97: Golem Guardians

[Aug 16th, 2022]

The heroes continue to try and avoid the electrical column in the Temple of Puln. Brango charges at it and smashes it with his hammer, avoiding its pull. Arngeir manages to escape and heal himself as Duke gives up on trying to disable its magical aura. Brango bashes it a few more times until it finally shatters and breaks.

With the electrical trap disabled, Abhlesh finally examines the staff he found. It is the Staff of the Forgefather, a powerful magical relic of the church of Puln. Abhlesh takes it, hoping to use its divine power for the good of their quest. The heroes treat their wounds and decide to continue along the hall to the north to explore more of the lost Harkarak fortress.

They find a section of the corridor blasted away revealing a seemingly natural cavern. Abhlesh is able to view the timestream and see that the wall was broken from the other side, suggesting that something broke through long after the dwarves had left. The heroes decide to continue on into the main entry chamber where they find the Harkarak symbol on the floor of the grand hall and four statues of the founders of the clan. Duke is mesmerized by the runes and rushes out to look at them. This triggers some sort of magical trap that activates the four statues as deadly golem guardians.

Duke is immediately bashed by the golems into the ground, unconscious. The others hold at the hallway entrance with Shrugga trying to hold the golems back. The golems release extensive electrical charge from the gems embedded in their forms, and the static electricity slows and weakens the heroes. Brango grows to giant-size with Agrimmosh trying to protect his friends as Abhlesh and Agandar heal everyone and help pull them back to safety. Duke informs them that their magic is nearly useless save for a few cold-based spells, so Kiltro concentrates on that as Brango shows the power of Agrimmosh to crush stone.

Duke, once revived, becomes a massive earth elemental of mighty stone, slamming the golems from behind, flanking with Brango. Eventually the two manage to destroy the golems as the others provide spells of support and healing.

With the golems defeated, the heroes explore the nearby chambers, finding two barracks that flank a main entry chamber to the west. Duke finds gear mechanisms that can be used to open the main entrance doors, but they choose to ignore them for now. They find a few magical trinkets before heading down the small natural cavern. They find a small gathering of gemstones piled in a corner. THey are then assaulted by crystalline earth elementals that erupt from the nearby walls.

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Session 98: Gem Eaters and Dwarven Traps

[Aug 23rd, 2022]

The heroes prepare to defend themselves as the crystalline elementals burrow out of the solid stone. They trample through the heroes cutting them with their jagged-sharp crystalline bodies. Many of the heroes take a beating, but find they have little room to manuevere in the tight cavern. Duke summons a powerful illusion to blind and disorient the creatures. Abhlesh then prepares a temporal spell, but finds a new power within his mind. He reaches into the temporal void and activates the new power. He then summons a mighty orb of pure entropy and temporal distortion.

The orb of entropy expands and begins to engulf the elementals, wearing them down and tearing their bodies apart. The heroes desperately try to flee the area as Abhlesh tries to hold and control the new power. Duke teleports to safety. Shrugga tries to flee, but finds himself blocked by one of the elementals. Kiltro is then knocked down under the polar bear. Agandar climbs aboard Shrugga and the two manage to push their way past the elemental. Kiltro and Arngeir then manage to get out of the cavern. Abhlesh then climbs along the ceiling to safety. Brango heroically continues to bash the crystalline entities with his mighty hammer.

It is then that Duke summons a great gravitational bubble that pulls all the creatures and Brango deeper into the growing orb of entropy. One of the entities burrows through the stone and reappears out of the ceiling near Abhlesh. Brango, as hearty as the most hearty of Dwarves, grits his teeth and fights off the effects of the entropy as his finishes off the remaining elementals near him. Arngeir then bashes the last entity on the ceiling into crystalline dust.

The heroes talk for a bit, as Duke is quite surprised by the power Abhlesh now wields, finding the magic interesting but dangerous. The heroes gather the gemstones that the crystal elementals were guarding and return to a larger chamber to rest. They rest through the rest of the evening and on through the night, with Abhlesh using his power to track the time in the lightless halls.

The next morning (Leafall 22nd, 692 G.R.), the heroes continue searching the ancient Dwarven halls. They decide to enter the main doors to see how they relate to the levers that Duke found in the adjacent chambers. As they enter the middle-hall, the doors slams shut, knocking Shrugga aside. Caustic spears then fire upward throughout the room, coming from small holes in the floor.

Agandar is able to plug and disable the holes near him, but the others scramble for safety. Brango, Kiltro, and Shrugga try the doors, but they are sealed shut. Duke then perfectly times another gravitational blast just as the spears come up. This bends many of the spears nearest him, causing them to get stuck and be unable to return to the floor. Brango and Abhlesh then pull off a shield from the upper wall to the north, and Abhlesh teleports to the other side.

Agandar spots secret doors on the north and south walls and Duke finds they contain the mechanisms of the trap. Duke is able to disable one of the gears, before switching places with Arngeir just before the spears fire again. Brango and Kiltro then try to disable the trap to no avail.

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Session 99: Into the Caverns of Ashfjell

[Aug 30th, 2022]

The heroes continue to stay out of the way of the spears as they strike into the air. Agandar manages to disable the lower gear set, then Duke finally is able to disable the upper gear set. With the gear system disabled, the spears stop rising through the floor and the locks holding the doors open. Abhlesh opens the door and everyone treatrs their wounds.

The heroes head into the main chamber, finding the massive, bronze gear-controlled door at the entrance to the Harkarak fortress. Duke and Abhlesh pull the levers, opening the massive bronze doors. The heroes finds the entrance caverns ahead are blocked by thick rubble of fallen stone. Duke finds alchemical evidence to suggest that the dwarves intentionally collapsed the tunnel to protect the Dwarven fortress.

The heroes continue their exploration of the Harkarak halls, they head north down another long hall. They find a massive two-story plaza with apartments, shops, inns, and taverns glistening in the marble, bronze, and brass d├ęcor of the fortress. The place is as silent as a tomb, empty save for the dust and debris of the settling mountain after centuries of neglect. It seems the dwarves abandoned the city, perhaps hoping to return some day. Thankfully, it looks like the orcs from Brango’s vision never found a way in to take it over.

They find a skeleton of a dead dwarf, seemingly killed by another Dwarf. He carries a magic ring that Kiltro dons. Duke finds a departing letter from a clerk in one of the offices. It reads:

…the hills crawl with the filthy breathren of the Ruhki [orcs], we have collapsed the entranceway to protect those few of us who remain and keep our sacred halls untained by their foul touch. The priest refuses to leave his sacred temple, promising to protect it to death should the Ruhki breach the collapsed tunnels. The rest of us gather our supplies and prepare to leave through the secret exit on the eastern spur of the mountain. Kalamak, final son of the King, is all that remains of the great Harkarak line. He will lead us away from our ancestral halls so that our people may live on.  Cursed be the Seven Kings of Kalavar who deny the Eighth King his rightful throne.  Cursed by those greedy kings who are threatened by the might and wealth of the Varak-de-Har [Fire Kingdom].  ... until we return to our hallowed halls, praise be Kalgrod to keep our secrets safe…

Agandar finds a secret tunnel that leads far into the east, deeper in the mountain. After a few hours of exploration, the heroes decide to head down the secret tunnel. It eventually ends in a natural wall, with a secret door. Beyond the door is a lava tube, about 20 feet in diameter, that has been smoothed somewhat to be better traversed. Agandar finds mud prints of fire giant boots heading north.

The heroes follow the boot prints until they end at a T-junction. They decide to head north and west, down a long tunnel until they reach a large open cavern that reeks of decay. Kiltro scouts the cavern and finds numerous orc slaves working a mushroom farm with a single fire-giant guard.

As the heroes deliberate on their next actions, they hear another guard coming down the corridor towards them. They ready an ambush and strike at the guard as he appears. Abhlesh uses his magic to silence the affair, making the fire giant guard in the cavern unaware of the assault. Using the battle’s momentum, the heroes charge into the main cavern to strike at the guard. Agandar flies upon a flying Shrugga. Duke and Brango charge in invisibly, while Arngeir and Kiltro make themselves known.

Soon the heroes find themselves fighting four fire-giant guards in a great battle. Duke turns into a water elemental blasting the fire-giants with his mighty, watery fists. Brango uses Agrimmosh to grow to a giant and slams them with his hammer. Abhlesh supports the others and blasts the giants with shadow magic. Kiltro and Agandar blast them with support spells. Duke’s circle of magical books protects everyone.

Soon the fire giants are dead and the heroes approach the orc slaves. Kiltro talks to them and learns that they have long been enslaved by the giants here. One of the elderly orcs, named Kuhzan, recognizes Kiltro’s familiarity and says that he is of the Windbreath Tribe much like Kiltro’s father, Drukzerd. He tells Kiltro that Drukzerd is there as well, somewhere in the mountain. He has been here for many years.

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Session 100: Fire Giant Patrols

[Sep 6th, 2022]

The heroes treat their wounds in haste, hiding in one of the back rooms. Kiltro asks more of the orcs, but they seem ready to accept death and are unwilling to help fight the giants who enslaved them. The heroes continue their explorations of the lower levels of Ashfjell.

They head north and east into another cavern. The light of Arngeir’s magic gives them away and they find themselves assaulted by a band of fire giants and their hell hound pets. Brango and Arngeir charge in with DUke joining them as a water elemental. Abhlesh, Agandar and Kiltro blast them with magic. The battle is quick and decisive, with the heroes taking out their enemies.

The mushrooms in this room have all been harvested and gathered, and piles of compost and soil are ready for planting more. The heroes find the fallow farm cavern contains thirteen corpses of orcs, all slaughtered by fire-giant swords. Brango realizes they had tried to rebel and were cut down. The heroes head north and west, but the tunnel ends in a dead-end. They decide it would be a good place to hide and rest in the future.

They return to the fallow fields and head west, coming to a junction before heading south and east. Agandar hears ahead the sound of many animals. Kiltro sneaks into the chamber and finds numerous ettin giants tending a large herd of pigs and boars. The heroes decide to head back. On their return, they run into another fire giant patrol.

The giants pummel the heroes with rocks from afar. Duke summons a wall of magical light that evaporates the stones as they come. The giants begin to charge in, but then Abhlesh and Agandar’s magical blasts blind two of them. The two blind giants continue to stumble forward as Brango and Arngeir cut down the first one. The final giant begins to flee to get more help. However, Kiltro, Agandar, and Abhlesh are able to destroy him before he gets away.

The heroes then return to the fallow farm, finding another dead end along the northeast passage. They return and head north at the junction coming into another cavern. Kiltro and Agandar sneak ahead, hearing chanting in the cavern. They find a group of ogres worshipping together. Kiltro hears them pray to someone called Father Moon. Agandar recognizes it as a reference to the vile ogre deity, Kalahagg. It is then that Agandar is spotted by the ogres. He calls for help as the ogres charge in.

The others come rushing down the corridor to help, but are then blasted by a powerful magical burst by the ogre priestess. Duke and Abhlesh are nearly killed and Abhlesh finds his eyes no longer work, he is blind. Arngeir revives Abhlesh and Duke and the heroes realize they are in dire straits.

Agandar and Kiltro use their magic to blast through the ogres in a flurry of frozen air and jagged ice, bringing both of them to the far side of the cavern. Duke summons an elemental confluence to protect himself and his allies. Brango cuts down and ogre with Arngeir as they charge into the chamber. Meanwhile, Abhlesh stumbles towards his friends, not sure what to do given his current state.

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Session 101: Exploration of the Caves

[Sep 20th, 2022]

The heroes persevere, pushing themselves against the powers of Karah, the ogre priestess and her minions. A massive hog covered in steel plates and belching steam charges in from the darkness to the east. Kiltro and Agandar stand in its path. Kiltro tries to flee away from it as Agandar transforms into a mighty bronze dragon and flies to the caverns eaves. The steam hog charges in, blasting the heroes with burning hot steam from its mouth as Karah continues to torment them with powerful spells. She blasts Agandar’s soul and then tries to rip Brango’s spirit from his body. Agandar makes a fly-by attack with his dragon claws as the others send spells. Karah is felled and the steam hog soon follows.

The heroes treat their wounds for a half-hour and then look about the broken shrine. They find a magical Dwarven runestone but otherwise nothing of significance. They decide to head out, but soon hear a patrol of fire giants coming their way. The heroes set up an ambush in the narrow entrance to the cavern and try to hold out as the fire giants charge in. Brango throws his magical javelin, creating a powerful stalagmite that rises from the ground. Brango and Arngeir charge in to fight as the others blast the enemies with what few spells they have left. The fire giants are defeated before they can flee.

The heroes decide they need to rest after this long day of exploration and combat. They head back towards the north and west, finding the dead-end cavern tunnel. The magical spike conceals their camp and they rest through the night. The next morning, Arngeir cures Abhlesh’s blindness and the heroes set out to explore. They find evidence that the fire giants have moved their dead and are quite aware of the attack upon their complex.

The heroes head east, discovering a checkpoint to the far northeast of the caverns. Kiltro sneaks in and finds a large cavern and fortification where fire giants stand guard. There is a large iron protucllis that heads up and to the east. There are also giant columns that are seemingly holing up the cracked ceiling. The heroes decide to head south and east, finding another chamber. Agandar turns into a snake and slithers in for reconnaissance. He finds an extremely smelly cesspit, with numerous wooden outhouses perched over the pit. The collection of compost and feces seems to be tended by a handful of giant aberrations. Occasionally, fire giants come in and out of the outhouses.

The heroes are uncertain what to do next. They decide to return to the checkpoint, but on the way, they find the tell-tale sign of flicking lights and a fire giant patrol coming their way. They prepare an ambush again and defend themselves. The fire giants charge in blindly, but try to pull back and pelt the heroes with stones. The heroes push their way in, felling one of the giants as they close the gap.

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Session 102: Reinforcements Interrupted

[Sep 27th, 2022]

The heroes charge down the corridor, felling one of the giants as they make their way to the final two. A few more blasts of spells, hammer, and axe, and the two other fire giants are felled. The heroes move quickly, realizing that the number of patrols are increasing. They head back to the checkpoint chamber, deciding to rush into and ambush the fire giant guards.

Duke casts an invisibility dweomer upon Brango, who manages to sneak in next to the fire giants. The others empower themselves with quickening magic and Arngeir grows to giant size. Brango then makes his attack, suddenly become visible as he slams Agrimmosh into the giant’s knee, cracking the bone. This throws the fire giants off guard. They then see Agandar charging in atop Shrugga with a giant-sized Arngeir at his size. Behind him comes Kiltro and an invisible Abhlesh. Duke then flies in the form of a swirling storm elemental. Three more giants come out of the side chambers, one of which is a lieutenant.

Brango uses the power of Agrimmosh to grow to giant-size, larger than the fire giants. He begins smacking them with his hammer. Duke then flies in and changes shape into a powerful water elemental, and begins slamming them as well. Agandar and Shrugga charge in with Shrugga tearing into the giant’s flesh and Agandar blasting them with spells.

Arngeir comes around the side and tries to take on the lieutenant by himself, but he struggles. Abhlesh then uses his new powers of temporal distortion to convince the giants that the ancient spirits of the Harkarak clan have returned for vengeance. Brango encourages this notion as he calls out a battlecry for his clan. With a few more moments, the heroes are able to fell most of the giants and all gang up on the lieutenant, who still spars with giant-sized Arngeir. They fell the final fire giant quickly.

The heroes then explore the two guard chambers and find little of immediate interest, just some bedrolls and supplies for the guards. Agandar finds a ledger that details the comings and goings of all the giants through this checkpoint from this “farm level” to an area called “the Grinder”. It also records nearly 100 giants in a barracks level just above this chamber. There is also a side note indicating that the crack in the ceiling has grown and the makeshift supports won’t last forever.

The heroes realize that the writing might refer to the large wooden pillars that seem to be supporting the ceiling where a large crack has formed. They discuss collapsing the pillars and cutting off the barracks and the numerous giants from the rest of the complex. However, the heroes want to explore the rest of the lower levels before heading up, which would be impossible after the collapse. Kiltro, also, greatly wishes to find his father, Drukzerd, who was said to be somewhere in the farms.

Kiltro spies on the barracks with a magical eye and finds there are indeed dozens of giants of different types, the most elite of their warriors. He also sees two entrances to the barracks chamber, but both would likely be cut-off by the collapse. Therefore, Duke and Abhlesh decide to scout ahead to the next chamber in the “Grinder” area, so that Duke can accurately teleport them to that chamber after they collapse the ceiling.

The two old men cloak themselves in invisibility and Duke downs a potion of darkvision. They head past the portcullises and past an offshoot tunnel to their left which is the pathway that spirals up towards the barracks. They eventually see a light up ahead and re-apply their magical invisibility. They sneak into a tight corridor and a guardpost that is heavily fortified and guarded. Duke memorizes the chamber and the two return quickly, narrowingly avoiding a group of giants passing them by.

When Abhlesh and Duke return, the heroes set to collapsing the pillars. Duke uses a scroll to transmute the rock into mud at one of the pillars, and cracks form across the ceiling. Kiltro then blasts another pillar with a disintegration ray, evaporating it instantly. The ceiling collapses, cutting off the barracks from the rest of the mountain complex. Piles of rock and dust begin to crumble and roar as the heroes run away from the calamity.

The heroes find themselves in the massive cesspool room, where a few fire giants have left their latrines and are heading towards them to seek out the sound of the collapse.

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Session 103: Cesspool and Mines

[Oct 4th, 2022]

The heroes charge in to fight the fire giants near the latrines. A few more fire giants step out of the nearby outhouses and join the fray. Brango and Arngeir try to hold the line as Agandar, Kiltro, Duke, and Abhlesh blast them with magic. Shrugga joins the melee as Duke summons his elemental confluence to strike at the giants. After most of the fire giants are felled, the heroes notice that a few otuyghs from the cesspool climb up and drag the fire giant corpses into the pit to digest them. The heroes finish off the rest of the fire giants, but one of them manages to escape to warn the others.

The heroes tell the otyughs that they are the new bosses now. The heroes then quickly chase after the fire giant that got away. Brango drinks a potion quickly as they run. After some ways down the corridor, they see a new chamber up ahead with light streaming into the cavern tunnels. Agandar volunteers to scout ahead. He finds a massive chamber partially dug out of the stone. There are a few stone trolls and a gathering of orc slaves picking away at the rock, with two fire giant guards watching over them. Agandar also sees the fire giant that got away, begging the other fire giants to prepare defense. As the giant looks back to point towards the cesspool tunnel, he spots Agandar.

One of the giants charge in to fight, but Brango then leaps towards him, slamming him hard with Agrimmosh, knocking him to the ground. The trolls and giants then begin throwing flaming rocks at the heroes as they begin to move in and catch up to Agandar. Agandar summons an elemental confluence to absorb the thrown rocks, but the elementals are soon destroyed. Duke then summons a magical wall of orange light that seemingly evaporates any stones that flight into it. This protects the heroes as the giants have to slowly come towards them into melee.

Brango and Shrugga hold the enemies at bay as the heroes slowly tear them apart one by one. Kiltro strikes at a few of the giants with some chain lightning. Agandar does as well, blasting the giants and trolls with an arc of electricity that bolts across the room from enemy to enemy. It unfortunately travels through one of the orc slaves, felling him instantly. Kiltro seems rather bothered by Agandar’s callousness towards the orcs.

The rock trolls continue their assault and seem to regenerate quickly, and Kiltro tries to burn their regeneration away. However, that seems ineffective, and Duke soon finds that acid prevents the trolls’ wounds from regenerating. It isn’t long before the heroes are able to fell the remaining trolls. However, the same fire giant that fled from the cesspool continued to run down another tunnel to the east.

The heroes treat their wounds and meditate on their powers as Kiltro speaks with the orc slaves. He learns that Drukzerd his somewhere to the west, past the boar chamber. It seems he was responsible for a minor rebellion and has “paid the price”. Kiltro unshackles the orcs’ chains with a key from the fire giants. The orcs desire freedom, but have little ability to get out on their own. They decide to follow the heroes far behind them as they head west, hoping to find a way out in their wake. Brango and Agandar only tolerate this decision, as neither has much concern for the orcs.

The heroes head west and come to a Y-junction, they opt for the northerly route and continue. They come across another large chamber, but it appears empty. The heroes march across the open stone, but then find their way blocked by three hulking figures. At first it seems like three giants, wrapped in thick iron armour. But upon closer inspection, these are not giants, rather massive iron golems, guardians protecting this chamber from intruders.

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Session 104: The Search for Drukzerd

[Oct 11th, 2022]

The heroes hold at the top of the rising steps as the lumbering iron golems charge towards them. Arngeir, Brango, and Shrugga hold the line, but as the golems charge in, one slams Arngeir back. Duke blasts them with lightning, slowing them down. The golems then began to release a toxic gas upon the nearby heroes. This causes many of them to cough and struggle for breath. Brango and Arngeir then continue to bash into the golems. Agandar takes the form of a black dragon and blasts the golems with his acidic breath, causes their metal to corrode. He then flies into strike at them as he flies around them. Duke and Kiltro attempt to blast the golems with acid magic as Abhlesh provides healing and support. Eventually, the heroes are able to destroy the deadly constructs and treat their wounds.

The heroes continue onward, with Agandar checking the next tunnel, realizing it is the boar chamber where the ettins guard over the many wild boars. The heroes decide to use Duke’s invisibility magic to sneak passed the ettins, which requires them to leave orc behind. They tell the orcs to stay quiet in the former golem chamber until they can return.

The heroes easily sneak passed the ettins and continue down the corridors. They then come across m,ore light in the distance, and Kiltro sneaks in to scout. He finds a great mushroom chamber, except this one is being picked by almost two-score of orc slaves. He suspects one of them may be his father. The heroes concoct a plan to take out the fire giant guards.

Brango and Duke fly into the room, both cloaked in invisibility. Duke is in air elemental form. Brango uses the magic of his armor’s runestone to fly in with magical wings, striknig one of the fire giants. He calls out, “The ghost of Harkarak strikes at you!” as he slams Agrimmosh into the giant. This causes a slight panic among the giants, and three more come out of the nearby chambers. The other heroes then charge down form the north, heading towards the wide ramp to the main level. Duke slams his fire giant with a forceful gale. The giants surround the ghostly Brango, trying in vain tos trike the dwarf. The giant on the hill strikes at Duke, and nearly fells him. Duke then dispels his large air elemental form and tries to compel the giant with an enchantment. However, the giant swipes at him, but just before the blade strikes him, Duke teleports, exchanging places with a nearby orc. The fire giant is quite puzzled as he fells the orc. Duke however finds himself invisible and chained to two other orcs.

Meanwhile, Brango fells the remaining giants and charges north to assist Arngeir with one of the final giants. Duke uses a greasing spell to slip out of the shackles right before he becomes visible again. The other heroes help Brango and Arngeir fell the remaining two giants.

It is then that Kiltro peers at all the orc faces, and finds the face of his father, Drukzerd. He is worn and weary, the life drained out his spirit. Kiltro realizes that the large iron ball chained to Drukzerd’s leg is actually seared and nailed to his ankle-bone. He looks wearily upon Kiltro, at first confused, but then says his name, “Kiltro?”.

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Continue to ACT 14

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