Session 38: The Fall of Gristlecrack
[Dec 22nd, 2020]
The heroes continue to face off against Grislecrack and her troll minions. Brango, enlarged by the power of Agrimmosh, faces one-on-one with a troll with Arngeir and Duke behind him. On the other side of the large boulders, Agandar and Kiltro face off against one of the trolls. Esderal stands invisible and unable to help nearby.
Agandar and Ali helps take out the moss troll with Brango as Kiltro flees from a troll. The troll lunges and tears into Kiltro, nearly felling him. It then tears into his flesh and feasts upon his half-orc skin. Agandar and Ali try to attract the trolls attention. Esderal joins in an the three of them are able to fell the troll.
Meanwhile, Brango cuts down the other moss troll as Gristlecrack charges in facing the enlarged dwarf. Duke summons a cinder rat to distract Gristlecrack. Arngeir uses his powerful calming prayers to keep one of the trolls from engaging in combat. However, the troll eventually is released and charges at Duke. Duke is nearly eviscerated by the troll.
Kiltro summons a mighty wall of fire that blasts through Gristlecrack and the troll. Soon the heroes are able to pelt Gristlecrack with spells as Brango and Arngier also fall to the mighty giant’s attacks. Gristlecrack then falls and the troll shortly after. Agandar looks about the remains of the battle and dwells on the near-death of his friends. It spawns a memory.
Agandar: The Parting
The heroes treat their wounds and look about the giant’s encampment. They find the remnants of the Wolfervein, long destroyed and eaten. Lucias finds his books and eagerly writes about the battle he just witnessed, calling the heroes “the Giantslayers” in the written account. Agandar also discovers the final signs of the missing villagers from Hinderson’s Fortune. In agreement with Gristlecrack’s words during the battle, it seems the villagers were taken away by a massive dragon or drake.
The heroes head north into a sheltered offshoot of the valley and make camp. They rest through the night thinking about all they have learned and how best to defeat their giant foes.
Session 39: Lost Temple of Zurtavaag
[Dec 29th, 2020]
The next morning (26th Traderide, 692 G.R.), the heroes set out to again explore the extensive valleys. They reflect on the words of Gristlecrack and the signs of the large draconic prints in the ground. They know the villagers they seek are now long out of reach, but they still must find the legendary Cathedral of Gigas and the gathering army of the mysterious Storm Tyrant, Volstus.
They head out exploring the valleys and mountains, checking long fingers of the valley only to find they end in narrow V’s of tow mountains colliding. During this travel, Duke reflects upon his last, most memorable quest many years ago.
Duke: Coastline Quest
The heroes head northward and find a large aspen woods where Kiltro spots the faintest sign of a stone structure jutting out of the woods. They head towards it and find a giant-sized temple rising out of the forest. They determine that it is quite old and forgotten, with no signs of any giants visiting the area in quite some time. Brango pushes open the massive door.
Inside, they see a large room with three prayer benches before a massive altar devoted to the fire giant deity, Zurtavaag, the Steel Conqueror, Lord of Fire Giants. They enter the temple, finding it covered with vegetation as the broken slate ceiling let in plenty of light through holes and cracks. They head towards the altar and find a massive black-steel fire pit before it, now cold and filled with mosses and plants.
Arngeir heads to the back of the altar to examine it closer, but soon finds himself captured by a massive flytrap creature. The plant monster pulls Arngeir towards itself in the blink of an eye and swallows him. Brango hacks at it as the others throws spells and bombs. Then another of these massive plant beasts assaults the others. Ali leaps out to defend Agandar, but is soon swallowed by the beast as well.
Brango continues to hack at the second plant monster as Esderal tries to help free Arngeir from the recently felled one. Kiltro and Duke throw powerful fireballs at the beasts and Kiltro also summons numerous walls of pure flame. The second monster then swallows up Agandar, Brango, and Duke in one quick bites with three of its heads. Desperately, Kiltro and Esderal fell the final beast, barely saving Duke and Brango’s lives.
Agandar and Arngeir tend to everyone’s wounds as Lucias recounts the tale of the battle, clearly excited by the near-death experience. The heroes then explore the next chamber, finding it darkened and filled with muddy water and black mold. They find a small stone coffer and a pile of large geodes. Esderal fails to pick open the coffer, but Brango does manage to crack open one of the geodes.
Inside the rough surface is a beautiful, opal gemstone that glows with powerful light. Kiltro finds the magic of the stone strange, but he is uncertain of its purpose. Duke then examines the stone and discovers too late that the magic inside is destructive. The geode explodes with a powerful fireball. Duke is nearly killed, but thankfully Arngeir revives him before he dies.
Duke learned that these geodes are little more than disguised bombs hiding delayed-blast fireballs inside. The explosion had two positive consequences, however. First, it opened the stone coffer, revealing a magical bag inside. A giant-sized bag of holding, which was likely used to transport the massive geodes.
The second consequence was that it cracked a nearby secret door. Esderal leads the way into the secret chamber which curves around behind the altar. They find three more geodes on the far side. These ones, however, appear to be a safer magic. Duke and Kiltro believe they do not possess dangerous explosions inside them. Esderal also finds a wand of fire magic that once belonged to a giant named Aduromi. It serves as an excellent staff for Kiltro. They heroes explore more of the ruin as Brango works at breaking open the new geodes. Inside, he finds a beautiful dark red crystal. Duke identifies them as fire crystals, rare magical crystals from the Elemental Plane of Fire, known for holding on to powerful flames almost eternally.
The heroes camp out in the secret chamber of the temple as Duke and Esderal explore the last vestiges of the ancient giants that once used this temple. The heroes then spend the next two days exploring more of the valleys to the north and east. They continue generally eastward, following the mountain streams as the land rises into rockier and rougher terrain.
On the night of the second day of travel (28th Traderide, 692 G.R.), Agandar watches in the middle of the night. He notices a strange, spectral dwarf sneaking towards the camp…
Session 40: A Warning of Wights
[Jan 5th, 2021]
Before Agandar can react, the dwarven specter rushes into the nearby tent with a feral glow burning in its red eyes. It reaches out and drains life from Kiltro. Esderal awakens and screams, rushing out of the tent with his sword. Another specter then rushes into the other tent to strike at Brango as a third strikes at Agandar. The powerful soul corrupting touch of the specters causes Kiltro, Brango, and Agandar to fall into powerful trances and begin to obey the commands of the evil undead specters.
Duke rushes out of the tent and uses his most powerful enchantment to counteract the effect on Agandar, suggesting the druid aid in the fight against the specters. Ali faces off against one of the wights in the tent, but is soon knock down. Arngeir and Agandar begins blasting them with positive-energy spells, slowing their assault. Duke slams Brango and Kiltro’s head together as they both try to hold the old man down. Brango awakens from the trance and grabs his weapon, striking at the specters. Duke keeps blasting them with his magic, trying to deflect them as Esderal moves around, cutting at them with his magical rapier.
Eventually, the specters are defeated, although one manages to flee into the night. They realize the dwarven specters appeared to be the spirits of miners from centuries past. Feeling drained and defeated, the heroes head back to their tents to rest. They rest long into the morning of the next day (29th Traderide, 692 G.R.) before packing up their camp and heading out. They continue heading southeast through the valleys.
After a few hours, they come across a giant scarecrow made of numerous tree trunks lashed together. Agandar finds tracks of numerous marsh giants in the area, heading to the southeast. However, the elf notes that the scarecrow is a crude symbol of danger meant for other giants. The scarecrow seems a few months old, but the tracks are a few days fresh.
After some debate, the heroes decide to ignore the danger and continue onward to southeast. They soon enter a marshy forest of tall, skinny aspen trees shimmering in the wind. After an hour or so, they are waylaid by a band of marsh giants. However, these giants appear undead, having recently become wights.
The heroes leap into action to fight these undead horrors. Kiltro summons a wall of fire as he and Duke blast them with spells. Agandar, likewise, blast them with powerful evocations. Brango and Esderal roll through the battlefield slicing and cutting away at the wights with Ali. Arngeir holds the ground fighting with axe and prayer. The touch of the powerful wights leaves the heroes feeling literally drained and weakened of their essential life essence. With some fortitude, the heroes are able to defeat the wights and tend to their wounds. During this moment, Kiltro falls into an ancient memory of his ancestor, Antipho Marydmius.
Kiltro: Fortunate Memories
After much additional debate, the heroes decide to turn around. Some in the party begin to fear an evil powerful enough to turn a band of marsh giants into undead wights. The heroes pass the scarecrow and head northward, finding a northeastern route to follow for the rest of the day. As evening draws, they see strange structures at the base of the mountain, shimmering in the dusk. They decide to camp and wait until morning.
The next morning (30th Traderide, 692 G.R.), the heroes hike into the hills and head towards the structures. Soon they discover that the structures are old, forgotten dwarven mines and associated buildings. As they examine the ruins, they learn that they are several centuries old, perhaps older. Brango then recognizes the symbols upon the mine, likely the name of the Dwarven clan who founded and controlled it. It reads ‘Osstgrung’, or Eastmine in the Nomen tongue. Next to words is a symbol of a sun rising behind a mountain, the ancient symbol of Nargymkin’s clan before it was changed to honor their ancestor. Brango realizes this mine was founded by his ancient clan, long before they had the renown brought to them by Nargrym Steelhand. The entrance to the mine beckons…
Session 41: The Lost Harkarak Clan
[Jan 12th, 2021]
The heroes begin to enter the ancient Dwarven mine. However, Duke hears something coming. The rush into the nearby bushes and trees as six large cave giants head towards the mine with carcasses of recently slain animals in their hands. Agandar jumps from his hiding spot and blasts the giants with a storm of hailing ice shards. Kiltro, Duke, and Agandar then blast the giants with powerful bolts of lightning and explosion of magical fire as Brango, Arngeir, Ali, and Esderal keep the giant’s distracted. Duke summons a globe of water and traps one of the giant’s inside until his friends can help him finish it off.
After the giants are slain, the heroes look at their belongings and find a strange bronze, Dwarven key in one of their sacks. Two Dwarven runes are repeated along its side, “Har’Karak” (Fire Mountain).
Arngeir and Brango recall ancient tales of the infamous Harkarak clan of dwarves who had a fortress known as Harkod-karak. They had perfected the power of magma forges and created unparalleled steel, a process that all dwarven cities have since replicated. However, the leader of the Harkarak clan demanded to be treated as the eighth king of Kalavar or they’d withhold their mighty steel and forging secrets. This caused the other rightful Seven Kings of Kalavar to declare the Harkarak to be treasonous and none shall associate with them. This eventually caused Harkod-Karak to fall into economic ruin and the fortress was eventually overrun by its enemies, orcs and giants. To this day, the dwarves usethe term Harkraki as a curse and insult, for someone who is too greedy and arrogant for their own good.
The heroes enter into the ancient mine, eventually coming across a large room where the cave giants had set camp. They seem to have only been there a couple days. The heroes explore deeper into the mines, and find a small workshop for repairing and storing mining equipment. The cave giants had ransacked and shattered the items inside. However, under a stone table, Brango finds a powerful belt of the Harkarak clan and an ancient stone tablet. The tablet has an inset where the key clearly fit inside to store it. The tablet reads:
Let it be known to all,
The Harkarak Clan is no more. We have lost our ancestral lands. The domain of the eighth king has fallen. The ancient enemies of the Khuzdi have ransacked our fortress, felled our king, and despoiled the ancient halls of our bretheren. I leave the key to the King’s secret entrance. Perhaps someday we shall return to the sacred halls of our people, in the proud burning mountain of Harkod-Karak.
It is on this sixth day of Moonstone, 2326 Thimgar, that we, the survivors of the Harkarak Clan, set aside our birthright and ancient name. This mine on the eastern mountains will be the source of our new wealth and might. As such, our clan will henceforth be called, Osstgrung, to honor our new fortunes.
With deep regards,
Kalamak “Osstgrung” Harkarak
Moonstone 6th, 2326 Thimgar
Brango comes to the realization that these are his ancestors. Forced to flee their ancestral homes and shunned by Dwarven society, the Harkarak clan came to the Heropeaks to start anew, renaming themselves to Osstgrung. Then five centuries later, Nargrym brought increasing fame to the lost clan and they’d rename themselves again to Nargrymkin. However, it is still unknown where the fortress of Harkod-karak exists, as that information has been lost to time.
The heroes head back out into the valley and continue on their journeys. They return towards where they came and head down a side valley that dead-ends. They decide to rest and start fresh the next day. As they set up camp and begin telling tales around the fire as the evening sun sets, Brango sits by himself and begins confronting his emotions again, feeling fear bubbling up inside him.
As Brango slams into the wall, trying to stop this overflow of emotional anguish, he is assaulted by a prowling, eight-legged cat, known as an aurumvorax. The beast lands on the unaware dwarf and tears into his plate armor with its razor-sharp claws. Brango screams for help as he struggles to get the beast off him.
The others rush in to help, but then two more aurumvoraxes leap down off the cliffs. Kiltro is assaulted and nearly killed as Esderal and Arngeir deal with another. Brango and Ali work to take down the first one. Agandar transforms into a mighty wolf, biting and tearing at them. Duke throws a well-placed spell of fear upon the one eating Kiltro and it promptly flees into the wilderness. The others then gang up on the remaining one.
The heroes treat their wounds, mend their armor, and return to telling stories, now with some fresh meat roasting in the flames. After a restful night, the heroes continue on the next morning (Traderide 31st, 692 G.R.). They decide to head down the southern valley that did not include a waterway. Rain falls upon them most of the day, somewhat dampening their spirits and causing some internal fighting. After a long day of travel, they rest in a sheltered alcove in the mountain’s wall.
The next morning (Traderide 32nd, 692 G.R.) they head south, finding the valley narrows where a series of rifts are cut into the floor. A massive Dwarven-made bridge spans one of the rifts. As the heroes get closer, they find of stone giants on the far side of the 200 foot bridge. The stone giants begin to throw rocks at them.
Session 42: Ali’s Fall
[Jan 19th, 2021]
The heroes charge across the long stone bridge as the stone giants on the other side pelt them with large rocks. Brango uses the power of Agrimmosh to grow giant-sized and guard the center of the bridge, as his allows gather behind him and throw spells. The stone giants then charge in wielding hefty, tree-sized clubs, slamming Brango repeatedly. Arngeir keeps healing Brango as the others use their magic to strike at the giants. Ali rushes in, clawing and biting at the stone giants, trying to help Brango hold them off.
One stone giant then charge forward towards Ali and slams him hard with his mighty club. Ali is battered and goes sailing into the air, off the bridge, down the 100 foot drop to the hard rock below. The snow-white fox aches out a few painful breaths before succumbing to an eternal rest. Agandar tried to rush towards the cliffside to try and save him, but realizes that Ali has passed from the world.
The others manage to take down more of the stone giants, a few of them thrown off the bridge as well. Eventually all the stone giants are defeated and the heroes gather to tend to their wounds and mourn over the loss of Ali. Agandar uses a flock of crows to carry Ali to the upper section and he buries him. The heroes continue for a couple hours, finding the landscape more green and lush in this valley. Pools of stagnant water and buzzing insects fill the marshy lands. The heroes hide in hidden hollow to rest up. During this time, they reflect on those they have lost and the trials and tribulations along the way. Agandar has Esderal tatoo him with yet another mark of a lost animal companion. Esderal is shocked to find so many symbols upon the elf’s body. The weight of two long centuries was clear upon Agandar’s face.
The heroes rest over night and set out the next day (Firesky 1st, 692 G.R.) to the marsh and swamp-filled valley. After half a day’s travel, they come across a particular wet and swampy area. There are a number of ancient stones covered in lichen. They appear to have markings on them. As the heroes get closer, they are accosted by a band of ravenous scrags, aquatic trolls. The heroes are surrounded as the hungry trolls close in around them. Duke and Kiltro blast them with fire magic as the others try to hold together. The battle is fierce and dangerous, but eventually the heroes are victorious and fell the trolls. The heroes patch up their wounds and learn that the stones are burial markings. The area is a vast burial ground that likely dates back to the Braelheim Empire of the ancient Jotuns.
Session 43: Grulshak and Xorns
[Jan 26th, 2021]
The heroes leave the marshy burial grounds behind and head further south and east along the marshes of the river valley. The land becomes somewhat more stable as they travel. Agandar reflects on the loss of Ali and the many animal companions he has had over the years. He thinks back to when he met the snow fox.
Agandar: A New Companion
After a few hours, Brango overhears the sound of giants arguing far ahead and some animal growling in pain. Agandar searches the area for tracks, and discovers signs of a band of ogres or hill giants passing through here recently. Esderal, Agandar, and Arngeir decide to sneak ahead and investigate the disturbance, while the others stay behind.
As they near the clearing ahead, they see five ogres trying to wrangle a mountain drake. Two of the ogres have long ropes around its neck. Agandar bursts out of his hiding place and summons a flock of ravens to come down and distract the ogres. Arngeir charges in, ready to attack. Brango and the others hear the commotion and charges through the marsh to catch up with the others. Soon a battle ensues as the heroes attack the ogres. Duke and Kiltro blast the ogres with lightning as Brango and Arngeir cut them down. Esderal helps with some well-placed bombs. The ogres are felled and the heroes gather round to treat their wounds.
While the others tend to their wounds, Agandar heads over to the drake and releases it. He seems to have an instant connection with the beast. He spends some time to connect to the natural world and create the magical bond between himself and the mountain drake. He names the creature Grulshak. The beast still has much to learn, but Agandar is glad to have another animal companion to share his adventures.
The heroes spend the rest of the afternoon traveling to the end of the south-eastern valley, where they see a brick building nestled where the land rises out of the swamps and marshes. The heroes explore the outside of the building, finding it is Jotun-made and quite ancient. There is a pool of thick mud that runs between two large double doors. However, the heroes decide they will need more rest before venturing inside and they head upland to make camp.
After they set up their camp and share a meal, the heroes head to bed and Arngeir takes the first watch. As the light of the sun disappears over the horizon, he hears a low rumble. Four three-armed creatures with rocky hides appear and strike at him. Arngeir calls for help and the others rush out of their tents to fight the beasts that Arngeir names as xorns.
The heroes soon find that the earth elementals are ferocious fighters, clawing and tearing into them easily. The heroes begin to drop like flies as the xorns tear them down. Esderal goes invisible and tries to revive people as Kiltro desperately blasts them with spells. Agandar turns into a giant ape and slams them as Arngier and Brango do their best to fight them. The heroes barely come out alive, but they eventually fell the xorns and treat their wounds. They rest for the rest of the night and set out to explore the mysterious building the next day.
Session 44: The Clay Shrine of Gaia
[Feb 2nd, 2021]
The heroes pack up their things the next morning. Arngeir tries to shake off a dream he had where he envisioned himself as the strange woman he had seen before. This time he envisioned himself through her eyes.
Arngeir: Shared Vision
Unsure of what to make of the vision, he asks his comrades about it. Kiltro and Duke provide little help on the matter, but Duke believes this vision is related to divine or occult magic, not the arcane magic of wizards.
The heroes return to the large brick building in the woods. Brango is able to push the large door open and they enter into a large single-room chamber. A sluice of water pours down the center of the room creating the running pool of muddy water. The heroes head to the northwest corner as Esderal climbs up onto the giant workbench and explores numerous implements for working clay and pottery. The heroes then check out the eastern end of the room, where a massive mortar and pestle sits. Esderal climbs up on the nearby table to peer into the vessel.
As the rogue peers down into the empty mortar, the clay statues on the eastern wall suddenly come to life. Duke enlarges Brango to a massive size to hold them off. The clay statues charge forward, spewing forth a green ooze from inside their vessel. Worms writhe in the ooze as it lands upon Esderal and Brango. The heroes feel a bit overmatched and try to keep some distance. However, as Kiltro blasts through one of the clay vessels, the heroes decide to stay and fight. As the clay protective vessel breaks, the ooze inside writhes forth, as devouring worms bubble inside the acidic green blob.
Brango is quickly overwhelmed as he tries to hold the line. He falls as the others try to pull back. Soon Agandar and Grulshak fall as well. One of the statues pounds Grulshak into paste upon the hard ground. The heroes continue to blasts them with spells, bombs, and blades until their protective clay shell breaks. Then Brango helps to slam Agrimmosh into the oozes and pound them to a pulp. With the oozes finally defeated, the heroes are forced to tend to Arngeir, who has worms crawling inside his skin. Thankfully, Agandar is able to pull them out before they prove fatal.
Agandar tends to creating a funeral pyre for his faithful companion, Grulshak. In the meantime, Esderal and Kiltro climb into the southern cabinet and find three magical items: a runestone bearing a rune of warriors, a magical scroll bearing a powerful spell of shadows and conjuration, and a strange magical clay glowing with transmutative powers. Duke realizes this clay is likely sacred to the worshipers of Gaia, but wishes he had his archives and laboratory to properly study its properties.
The heroes say farewell to Grulshak and continue away from the building and into the valley. They explore for the rest of the day, heading eastward into another valley. They rest for the night in a hidden glade before setting out the next morning. The next day (Firesky 3rd, 692 G.R.), the heroes head into a narrow foggy canyon. They head up to the higher ground and push through a narrow, rocky pass. They then hear the sound of ogres nearby and Agandar pushes ahead, letting his Druidic storm-sight peer through the mists. The ogres turn and hear them coming.
The heroes jump into cover as Brango stands firm in the the path. Agandar turns into a deer and pretends to be just a bystander. The ogres then charge in at Brango as the others leap out hiding and blast them with fireballs and spells. Agandar then charges in from the side with his massive deer antlers. The battle begins to look grim as Brango is nearly killed and a giant floats in the foggy air, throwing down spells from above…
Session 45: Foggy Valley and the Manticore
[Feb 9th, 2021]
Nakurrh, the mongrel giant sorcerer, continues to throw down deadly spells at the heroes, creating more clouds of deadly, poisonous gas. Brango tries to hold his position as he is continuously assailed by the ogres surrounding him. Arngeir and Agandar try to heal him and keep him alive. Duke manages to scramble away from one of the ogres, that then falls dead as Arngeir’s curse claims its life. Arngeir revives Duke and manages to hold firm as the ogres surround him as well. Kiltro then blasts many of the ogres, felling them with a powerful bolt of lightning. Brango and the others gather together and finish off the last ogres together.
The heroes then surround the giant sorceress and throw all their remaining spells and energy at her. With some well-placed strikes and deadly spells, the sorceress falls. The heroes tend to their wounds for at least an hour. They find that the ogres were kicking around the heads of dead humans in some sort of game. After some discussion, they realize their resources have been severely depleted and decide to find a place to rest through to the next morning. As the sun rises towards noon, the fog clears and the heroes exit the narrow canyon into a somewhat wider valley.
Kiltro finds a memory of another ancestor surfaces in his mind. This memory is from Velo Marydmius, who is unfortunate to experience the famine and disease during Goldwall’s occupation by the Aelgardians who sacked the metropolis around -508 G.R..
Kiltro: Hungry Memories
The heroes head south and west along the valley and find a place to camp and rest. Agandar finds no tracks of dangerous denizens nearby, but the heroes still decide to keep their profile low in the narrow valley. They rest all through the day. Agandar spends the time to attune himself with the whistling winds of the canyon, refocusing his magical attunement to the wild winds. Arngeir spends the time in prayer and solace as he tends to repairing his armor. Brango spends the time putting together a coherent plan for climbing and using a system to ensure no member of the party is left behind if they have to climb the mountain’s walls. Esderal restocks his alchemical vials with nearby plants and minerals. Kiltro and Duke spend the time studying the spell-scrolls they have found and scribing them into their books.
After a restful night’s sleep, the heroes set out the next day (4th Firesky, 692 G.R.). They explore the eastern reaches of the valley and find a series of dead-ends. Around noon, they come across the sound of yelling giants and great roar of some beast. Esderal, Agandar, and Kiltro sneak ahead where they find a manticore being pulled down by ropes by two giants, an ogre and a giant cyclops. The giants mention that they need to capture the beast to bring to the “arena”. The cyclops manages to spot Agandar and throws a stone at him.
The heroes charge in as the cyclops charges at them. Brango meets the cyclops in melee combat as the others blast it with spells and bombs. Soon the cyclops is taken down and the heroes find that the ogre successfully tied up the manticore. The heroes move in and quickly take down the ogre as well. They then approach the manticore as Kiltro begins to lead a diplomatic effort with the restrained beast.
The manticore helps the heroes locate the Cathedral of Gigas. He warns them, however, that a great army of giants exist in that valley to the north and they would be wise to flee the area. He also confirms that a great beast also dwells in the valley past the scarecrow and that the heroes should avoid it if they value their lives. Kiltro forces the manticore to promise not to attack them again as the heroes reluctantly untie the monster. The manticore then flies off towards the south, far from the valley of Gigas and the army of giants.
Session 46: An Army of Giants
[Feb 16th, 2021]
The heroes head westward where one of the stream seems to flow into the base of the mountains. They inspect the location closer and find that the water flows down into an underground chasm as a waterfall and becomes an underground river. Deciding it best to avoid such travels, the heroes head back north and east out through the narrow canyon. The heroes head north and run into two earth elementals that assault them on the other side of the bridge. They take them out quickly and make camp.
The next day (5th Firesky, 692 G.R.), the heroes then set out and head north all the way up and around westward into an unexplored valley. They rest for the night. Overnight, Esderal spots a trio of bulettes, or landsharks, hunting prey. But Agandar suggests they leave them alone as the wind favors them that night. The next morning, (6th Firesky, 692 G.R.) the heroes overhear some ogres passing through the valley, heading northward. The heroes approach them and Kiltro is able to speak with them. They learn that the giants had been expelled from the gates for not being strong enough to join the Storm Tyrant’s army.
The heroes leave the ogres be and head southward. Agandar notices that the wildlife and foliage in this region is greatly diminished and all the trees are nothing more than crudely cut stumps. The heroes hide in the rocks as they approach a line on the horizon. It appears to be a massive gate stretching from end to end in a narrow part of the valley to the west. Agandar turns into a large eagle and flies high into the air to get a good look. He spots six giants guarding the great gate with two smilodons prowling the area outside the portcullis. He then see in the far distance a great mountain. At its base is some large stone structure against the mountain’s side. Around the structure is a sea of makeshift, colorful tents and thousands of campfires. A great army of giants camped out at the base of the mountain and the Cathedral of Gigas.
Agandar shares this news with the others as they look to leave the area. They then notice a hill giant chieftain arrive at the grand gate with two guards. They fight off the smilodons and are granted entrance into the gate to join the mighty army. The heroes head back northward and camp as far as they can from the gate. They then continue on for another day circling back around north and west to explore unseen valleys. During the night, Arngier passes along a magical dream message to folks he knows, including: Halgra Blackblades, Droja, Almrin Embercleave (Duke’s brother who was heading back to Hopesdawn), Vuignur Nurdre (Esderal’s birth father in Jarnby), Ingrahild, Calrianne Blix (a knight of the Alliance), and Straya Kraum (council member of Hinderson’s Fortune). The message relays the news of the army of giants and where they are within the Valley of Gigas. Arngeir pleads with them to prepare defenses and rally troops to meet the coming army.
The next morning (8th Firesky, 692 G.R.) the heroes continue onward to the west and then south. They explore a valley eastward where they find a pack of perytons fighting over the corpse of a dead hill giant. The perytons rip out the creatures heart and charge at the heroes.
The battle is quick and viscous and the few remaining creatures fly away. The heroes learn that the giant was likely dropped there by a large dragon or drake. The heroes make camp and rest for the night. The next morning (9th Firesky, 692 G.R.) they head southward. Near the evening, they come across a group of angry ved giants that relay how angry they are that the failed to join the Storm Tyrant’s army. They mention that Volstus has a “pet” dragon. The heroes ignore the veds and let them pass through as they head south and camp for yet another night in the Valley of Gigas. That night Arngeir begins to have a strange dream…
Session 47: Esderal’s Last Act of Bravery
[Feb 23th, 2021]
Arngeir has a dream, hearing the disembodied voice of someone speaking to him. He learns that the Alliance is trying to gather troops to meet the giant’s growing army, however, it will take much time. They ask that the heroes do everything they can to learn about the enemy, slow them down, and take out any leaders they can. Arngeir also speaks with the blonde-haired witch, this time they were communicating equally rather than just seeing each other’s dream. She introduces herself as Astreya and that she serves “the gods”. However, she explains that it is her mission to help the giant army and that she and Arngeir are on opposite sides of the coming war.
Arngeir: Dream Response
The next morning (10th Firesky, 692 G.R.), the heroes head out, feeling somewhat overwhelmed by the task asked of them by the Alliance forces. They decide to explore more of the valley and hope to find independent bands of giants to take them out slowly. They follow the winding river, heading east and then south until they come across a small, rocky valley heading westward. They decide to explore as they head up into the rock vale. They begin to follow a footpath that heads up to a rocky cliffside where the entrance to a cavern sits about 30 feet up on the rocky wall.
Kiltro discovers a pile of old bones beneath the cavern, most of them crushed and torn apart. It seems to contain some giant humanoid bones. The heroes decide to climb up and explore the cavern, to meet whatever beast may be dwelling within. Brango leads the way and climbs up the rocky wall, helping the others follow him. Agandar simply summons the winds to carry him up to the cavern entrance. As the heroes enter the cave, Arngeir summons a magical light to guide them. Esderal looks ahead and discovers a massive three-headed beast charging towards them. A chimera.
The heroes think about retreating, however, they find the way behind them is blocked by two black-scaled drakes, perhaps foul offspring of the chimera’s draconic portion. The heroes stand to fight as Brango and Arngeir charge in to hold a line. The two drakes charge in, spewing a deadly toxin at the heroes. Kiltro, Agandar, and Duke blast the two beasts behind them with fire and lightning, felling them quickly. Brango is then knocked down by the deadly chimera. Esderal rushes in, trying to distract the beast as the others begin to plan an escape. Duke uses his magic to render himself, Agandar, and Arngeir invisible. Esderal tries to attract the attention of the chimera, so that Brango might escape. It is this action the levels the creatures attacks upon him. The great beast leaps upon Esderal and tears into him with all three heads ripping a large portion of his body. The rogue is ripped apart right before his friend’s eyes.
The heroes scramble to flee the cavern with the chimera charging behind them. Kiltro teleports outside the cavern and prepares a spell as the others scramble down the cliffside. Lucias falls and nearly dies from hitting the hard rocks below. Brango leaps down and revives Lucias as Duke follow him. Agandar turns into a bird and soars into the sky. Kiltro then releases his spell, summoning a great wall of fire to block the exit of the cavern. The chimera roars from the other side as the heroes scramble out of the area.
The heroes travel about a mile away from the cave entrance and treat their wounds. They discuss at length that evening about whether they should return or not to retrieve what may be left of Esderal, particularly his hopeknife for the funeral ceremony. The heroes rest and sleep on it, although no one finds much sleep as they deal with the loss of their comrade and friend. Many of them feel guilty for bringing such a young man out on such a dangerous mission.
The next morning (11th Firesky, 692 G.R.), the heroes decide to leave the chimera alone for the time being. They continue following the river. The day is dark and dour as rain drizzles down from a gray sky they mirrors their own hearts. After a long day of travel, the heroes rest in a eastern branch away from the river. They continue on the next morning (12th Firesky, 692 G.R.), enjoying the clearer weather. Brango seems particularly fatigued and stressed, finding little sleep the previous night.
The heroes find a set of wide stone stairs climbing up the side of the cliff at the end of the narrow canyon. They follow the stairs and pass many side caverns with short depths. However, as they reach the top, they find a wider cavern. They are soon assaulted by four cave giants that seem to be guarding the cavern. The battle is quick and fierce, and the heroes take out the cave giants. Although, Arngeir and Brango, are nearly killed in the melee. After patching up their wounds, they find a small leather note on one of the giants.
It reads, “ORDERS: Guard the cave entrance from intruders. – Urathash.”
Brango begins to seethe with rage as he hears the name upon the order slip. The last time he heard this name was from Droja, when she named the stone giant that murdered his parents…
Session 48: Abhlesh the Lost
[Mar 2nd, 2021]
The heroes begin to walk towards the far end of the cavern as Brango seethes seeing the name Urathash on the leather scrap. Before the heroes can continue into the passage, a man suddenly appears at the cavern entrance. He wears patchwork leathers and looks to be a man of his late forties. He seems quite distracted as if looking at things that do not seem to be present.
Abhlesh: The Meeting
After an introduction, Duke begins to understand this newcomer as someone that can somehow see all possible paths of fate intertwined, getting glimpse of possible futures and impossible pasts. The man, named Abhlesh the Lost, seems eager to join the heroes forward, wanting to see where this cavern will lead them. He also seems to know quite a bit about the heroes as he analyzes them and sees their possible pasts, presents, and futures intersect.
The heroes continue onward with their new comrade, heading along a long tunnel. The floor is smooth and composed of hewn rock, while the walls are rocky and natural. After some distance, the heroes come into a larger cavern with two great columns of stone. Two rock trolls then leap forth and attack with a smaller buggane ally. The heroes try to hold the line with Brango taking the brunt of the attacks. Soon the trolls break their the barrier and charge in at the heroes, who feel a bit overmatched. Kiltro summons a wall of fire to help slow them down, as the others blast them with spells and keep Arngeir and Brango alive to hold them off. During the battle, the heroes learn about Abhlesh’s strange occult magic that seems to bend the laws of time.
After the rock trolls are defeated, the heroes find a magnetic rock on a rope on the buggane’s neck. They then decide to return to the valley outside and rest. They find a small hidden area and rest through the day, getting to know their new companion a little better. The next morning (13th Firesky, 692 G.R.), the heroes return to the caverns, to find it nearly untouched since they left the previous afternoon. They proceed north into a side tunnel that leads to a living quarters for the trolls. They defeat the solo, rock troll that guards the room. They then find a strange smoothed rock with the Jotun number 10 inscribed on it.
The heroes then head south, following another tunnel into a large oval chamber. The walls are smoothed and much dust covers the floor. There are large paintings covering the walls, some depicting animals, others depicting large stone buildings. Duke and Abhlesh get close to the paitnings to examine the Jotun runes over the arches above the paintings. One reads, “Aduromi, the Priestess of Crystals“, the same name on Kiltro’s staff that was found in a temple. It is then that the painting nearest Duke, the of a large cave bear, seems to come to life, leaping off the stone wall and attacking him…
Session 49: The Ancient Jotun Map
[Mar 9th, 2021]
Duke tries to peel away from the painting as a three-dimensional projection of the two-dimensional painting leaps out. The illusory cave bear tears into him as an illusory aurochs, megaloceros, and cave lion leap out as well. The heroes strike out at the illusory creatures trying to figure them out. Kiltro learns that there is some magic at work and Arngeir deciphers that the projections are simply illusions and that the paintings are the real enemies. The heroes begin to refocus their attacks on the paintings but take many hits from the illusions. The paintings begin to shift and move along the surfaces and strike out at them from the floor beneath the heroes’ feet. Eventually, the heroes are able to destroy the aberrant paintings and catch their breath.
As the heroes treat their wounds, they are attacked again by four large frilled lizards led by a massive hybrid cave giant. The lizards charge in, throwing up their frills and frightening their prey. Agandar summons an ankhav to keep them back as Brango and Arngeir face against the mighty giant. The giant swings his mighty stone greataxe at the warriors, nearly felling them with each blow. Abhlesh keeps Brango on his feet as the other spellcasters blast the enemies with spells. Eventually the lizards are slain and the giant falls. The heroes try to get information from the giant. Abhlesh tries to stabilize the giant with his temporal magic, but Arngeir accidently kills it when tending to its wounds.
The heroes finish tending to their own wounds as Abhlesh and Duke examine the paintings again. They determine that the room is a giant map and that the heroes had possibly visited two of the buildings depicted in the murals. They read five names above the five buildings. Aduromi, the Priestess of Crystals; Jogrothir the Hunter; Mymrith the Maker; Rosag, Preserver of the Forge; Moruntyr the Storyteller. Abhlesh relates that these names correspond to ancient tales of the Jotun and their heroes from ancient times. The heroes realize they had been to the locations of Aduromi and Mymrith, where they found the fire crystals and the magical clay. The heroes also realize they do not know how to read the ancient map without some guide to north.
The heroes explore the next cavern, where the cave giant came from, inside they find a bronze tripod and rod. Kiltro immediately realizes that this is for the magnetic stone they found. The heroes rush back to the map room and soon Duke, Abhlesh, Agandar, and Kiltro are able to piece together the actual locations of each of these buildings. They mark the three remaining buildings on their drawn maps. The first is a large stone temple in the middle of a lake (Rosag); the second is a small chapel in the woods (Aduromi); the third is a small cave in the mountains (Jogrothir), the fourth is a stone temple in the swamp (Mymrith), and the final building is a white temple in the forest (Moruntyr). However, the last building has a symbol near it. The rune is foreign to Duke and Abhlesh, but Duke feels it is somewhat familiar. Abhlesh then places his forehead against Duke and their minds collide for a moment. Together, they find the memory buried deep in Duke’s memory: the rune means both secret and invisible in the ancient Jotun tongue.
Duke & Abhlesh: The Mind Meld
The heroes ponder on these new findings, wondering what else they might find in this ancient valley…