ACT 14: Climbing the Mountain

Session 105: Chaos in the Lower Levels

[Oct 18th, 2022]

The heroes gather themselves around Drukzerd as Kiltro and his father reconnect after those many years apart. They learn that the Grenseldek had captured Drukzerd after he rescued his tribe. He was enslaved by her for many years, before being sold to the fire giants a few years ago. He helped to start many orc rebellions, but they always turned out poorly. A few days ago, after another failed rebellion, the orcs learned that Drukzerd was responsible for the uprising. They burned a hot iron ring to his flesh and bone, and had it chained to a large iron ball. Brango cuts off Drukzerd’s leg to free him, removing the shackle, as Abhlesh then reverses time and regenerates the orc’s leg and body. The orc is quite refreshed by the experience.

Drukzerd explains what he knows about the lower levels, telling the heroes that there are outcroppings where they graze goats on the south end of the mountain. As the conversation continues, the others free the many orc slaves, but cannot offer them refuge. The heroes are secretive about Harkod-karak, not trusting the orcs. Abhlesh peers into Drukzerd’s mind and learns that he is indeed noble and true, having great love for his family that is only masked by his hatred for giants, and grand irritation with his own people for not standing up to them.

Drukzerd sends the other orcs to seek the southern cliffs and find a way off the mountain. The heroes and the orc then travel to Harkod-karak where they rest for the night. The next morning, Drukzerd agrees to stay at Harkod-karak, so as to not endanger them further. He eagerly awaits their return. The heroes set out and explore some of the southern caverns. They trick the ettins to get them to lower their guard, then swiftly kill them with magic and blade. Agandar then sends the many boars to freedom in the caverns, soon creating a herd of the enraged beasts charging through the caverns.

The heroes follow the boars some ways, before diverting southward. They find the other orcs they rescued are dead. They then reach the grazing grounds, finding some stone giants tending flocks of goats. The heroes approach the stone giants in diplomacy, and learn that they have little love for the fire giant overlords. Both sides to let the other be. The heroes step out onto the grassy cliffsides and breathe the fresh air eagerly. The they return to explore.

The next chamber they discover is another fungus-covered goat pasture, but it is empty and has signs of warning in Jotun. Agandar flies in and find the dead body of the fire giant that fled from them the day prior. He seems to have been beaten to death. It is then that a horde of spectral orc slaves appears and assault the heroes in a chaotic rage. The heroes cover themselves to avoid the worst of the blows, but find the experience disheartening and exhausting. The haunt ends and the heroes push on, finding the rest of the caverns have been explored.

Duke then teleports the heroes into the checkpoint of the “Grinder” section, just past the collapsed barracks. The heroes find three fire giant guards surprised by their sudden appearance. The fire giants are quickly dispatched and the heroes prepare for their exploration of this next level of the mountain.


Session 106: Faux Castle Walls

[Oct 25th, 2022]

The heroes find little of use in the chambers near the guardpost. Brango and Arngeir struggle to raise the northern portcullis with their strength. Brango uses his magical cloak to turn into a bat and fly through the bars. He then uses the winch on the other side to raise the portcullis. The heroes continue their journey through the mountain as mortared walls give way to old lava tubes like the lower levels.

After some ways the heroes come to a T-junction, where Agandar discovers evidence of some beast fur and traffic to the west, but much giant steps to the northeast. The heroes head northeast and find a large chamber with the sound of shattering stone. They find numerous fire giants and a frost giant striking at makeshift walls. It’s as if the fire giants constructed false castle walls that resemble those created by men. They seem to be training their giants how to take them out and deal with defenders. A group of unfortunate orc slaves are serving as those defenders.

As the heroes enter the chamber, a giant calls out to them and they rush in to a fight. Agandar becomes a white dragon and blasts them with frost. Abhlesh draws forth heat from the room using a temporal anamoly. Duke then summons a wall of light that can cause irreparable damage to one’s mind. Brango uses Agrimmosh to grow to giant size and rushes the giants as they continue to throw stones. Soon the heroes have the upper hand, and a few giants attempt to flee. But they are taken out by Duke, Abhlehs, and Agandar. The orcs attempt to drop a wall on Brango, but it fails to do much harm.

With the giants felled, Brango kills the orcs that harmed him before shrinking back to normal size. Kiltro speaks with the orcs and tells them to go free. The heroes then find a magical rod that can easily created mortared walls, seemingly the source of the giant’s frequent and quick construction. The heroes patch up and continue onward, deciding to return to the split and follow the path of the beasts.

Agandar decides to scout ahead with Shrugga, using a conjured light to guide the way. He finds a large open cavern with many alcoves. He steps towards one of the alcoves and finds points of red light, the narrowing eyes of hell hounds. Soon the elf and his bear are accosted by numerous hell hounds and their larger cousins. The others rush in to help as Agandar conjures a swirling vortex of elements to protect him and Shrugga.


Session 107: Hammers for Dinner

[Nov 15th, 2022]

The battle continues as Agandar and Shrugga try to stay within the protective swirl and chaos of the elemental confluence. Hellhounds and larger warhounds charge at the heroes. Duke turns into a white dragon and blasts the dogs with his freezing breath. Brango and Arngeir wade into combat with an invisible Abhlesh supporting them from behind. Kiltro electrifies all the hellish dogs with a chain lightning.

Shrugga is nearly killed and Angandar sends him back to safety after the confluence is destroyed. Duke moves in to help hold off the hell-hounds. Brango and Arngeir are able to take a few more out, and eventually all the dogs are slain. The heroes explore the cavern, finding a strange metal grate in the northern alcove. Brango is able to remove the grate, revealing a long dark shaft into the mountain. As Agandar throws a stone down the shaft, he suddenly feels woozy. The elf feels another sudden attack on the Vault of Thorns. He explains this to the others, and Duke recalls that the Fire Node that once connected to the Vault is likely nearby.

Kiltro volunteers to look into the seemingly endless shaft, pulling out his flying broom. He flies down into the shaft, heading deep into the heart of the mountain. He finds the narrow tunnel fills with smoke, and the smell of brimstone fills his nostrils. Further deep, Kiltro sees bubbling magma at the bottom of a large open cavern. He decides to head back, but as he flies back up, he hears a faint cackle of a hag off in the distance of the lava-filled cavern. When he explains this to the others, they all worry that Dimmvildr might be here in the mountain, trying to use the Flame Node against the Vault of Thorns like she did with the Stone Node on Aukimanifell. Strangely, Agandar knows the Flame Node is the only node not directly connected to the Vault at this time.

The heroes continue on through the corridors. Kiltro scouts the next chamber, finding a large dining hall with a few fire giants. The heroes all charge into the room ready to strike. Soon, there are ten fire giants that charge out of the nearby chambers. Duke summons a wall of blue light, that slows them down and eventually turns one of the giants into a petrified statue. The heroes quickly take out the rest of the giants.

When they explore the chambers, the heroes find some lost treasures of the Harkarak dwarves as well as a stack of important documents signed by King Tartarian of the fire giants. It seems that the Storm Tyrant plans to conquer the rest of Hashan before marching on the orcish city of Gruum. After that conquest, they intend to take their orc hordes into Krungar and Aelgard. There is a big red ‘X’ over the city of Hopesdawn. The documents also mention another fortress with significant forces called Ironcloud Keep, but no reference to where its located.


Session 108: The Siege

[Nov 22nd, 2022]

The heroes treat their wounds as Kiltro speaks with the cowering orcs. Kiltro gets them to agree to not tell the giants who attacked them. The heroes then continue onward, coursing through more of the dark cavern corridors. They find a few dead ends, but then eventually find another light ahead. Kiltro scouts ahead and finds a large cavern with a bunch of giants seemingly practicing combat techniques against human-sized metal statues. Giant leaders watch from high platforms, calling out tips and critiques. There is a large metal portcullis blocking the entrance.

Kiltro returns to the others and they decide to to look for another chamber. They eventually find a large cavern, where Kiltro scouts ahead again. He finds a giant replica of a human-sized castle, complete with a moat of dirty water and a wooden drawbridge. A trio of fire giants seem to be taking a break from their assault. However, one of the giants spots Kiltro. He calls out an alarm and they charge towards the heroes.

Arngeir grows large through Hethroth’s magic as Agandar creates a wall of ice to funnel in the enemies. However, as the heroes charge into the fray, the giants realize who they are and try to retreat to the castle. When the giants reach the castle’s doors, their allies seemingly won’t let them in. The heroes charge in, blasting the fire giants with spells as Brango and Arngeir leads the charge. Arngeir then faces off against the giants, but then Brango charges in behind him. Arngeir lays down his massive shield for Brango to run up as a ramp and leap towards one of the giants. Agrimmosh slams into the giant’s face, felling it.

The heroes quickly take out the giants outside the walls, but find the giants up on the crennelations are firing massive ballista bolts at them. Duke flies into the air with his magic towards them, firing frost rays of ice at them. Brango smashes in the door to the castle and Kiltro charges through it. The poor half-orc is then covered in splashes of quicklime, boiling water, and burning tar, which sends him into a coughing fit.

Massive Arngeir tries to climb up one of the towers, but is forced to pull back and heal himself. The others then charge in, and Kiltro and Agandar blast the giants up on the walls. Arngeir then reverts to normal size and charges through the back door and the heroes fell the remaining lieutenant.

Emboldened by their success, the heroes, however, decide to seek respite and rest. They find one of the dead-end corridors and set up their magical spike and prepare to rest in the darkness. Thankfully, they are not found through the night, but Duke does hear them charging about the corridors looking for them. The next morning, the heroes set out, knowing that the giants will be extra guard today. The heroes return to the training room, where they cast a few protective spells and charge into the fray, surprising the giants within.

A battle is fought at the entrance to the chamber as Brango grows large with Agrimmosh’s power and the others blast at the giants with spells. The heroes seem to be taking the upper hand as frost and fire giants fall to their onslaught…


Session 109: The Labyrinth of Traps

[Nov 29th, 2022]

The heroes continue to assault the giants at the entrance way to the training chamber. Another frost giant is felled. Duke then hears a faint sound of spellcasting behind him and quickly transpositions himself with one of the frost giants. Kiltro watches as a blade punctures the frost giant, now next to him, and disintegrates him. The heroes realize there is an invisible enemy. Brango and Arngeir concentrate on the remaining fire giant lieutenant while the others try to find this enemy.

Abhlesh unveils the invisible things around him and spots a frost giant magus. Agandar blasts him with an icy storm as Duke covers him in grease. Kiltro then blocks his escape with a wall of stone. Duke then dispels the invisibility. The magus promises to return, saying that they predicted their arrival. He then pulls out a scroll and teleports away. Brango and Arngeir take out the final fire giant.

The heroes explore the chamber, finding many humanoid-shaped metal statues used for the giants to train with. However, at the far end of the chamber, they come across meticulously carved statues that resemble them nearly exactly. They even find a broken statue of Nyrrikki as if they knew he was killed. Abhlesh mentions that they must have a powerful oracle to gather such information.

The heroes then find a small secret chamber that likely belonged to the magus. Brango finds a small scrap of paper on the floor that mentions “the Queen and her foresight” and seems to lament that the King doesn’t listen to her. He also warns of the “enemies”, meaning the heroes, and preparing adequate defenses.

The heroes continue onward and find another chamber, but its shrouded in darkness and has masonry walls that create a labyrinth. They press on, but soon find that the chambers fill with serrated blades flying out of the walls cutting at them. They rush out of the area, pressing forward, getting cut and sliced by the traps. They then step out onto a exposed cliff where fire giants on the far side of the chamber pelt them with flaming rocks. Arngeir charges in and climbs up to face the giants as the others stream in.

Kiltro and Agandar blasts the giants from afar with powerful spells. Duke goes invisible after being revived after a flaming boulder knocked him down. He tries to sneak around to the fire giants, but finds a pit-trap opens beneath his feet. He scrambles and grabs the edge and barely pull himself up. He then bounds forward with a jumping spell, only to land on another pit trap. He floats down with magic, but still grazes the poisonous spears.

Meanwhile, the others climb up the high cliff and over the wall to help Arngeir, where they then take out the remaining giants. The heroes now prepare to continue onward, knowing that the giants are quite aware of their presence and that invisible magus could be anywhere at anytime.


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