Against the Giants

Chapter 12
We talk religion

Large painted masks hang on the walls and Belastraya is sitting in a giant chair flanked by two richly dressed stone giants. Sprawled on the floor nearby is a huge fire tusk boar, puffing smoke as it snorts in our direction.

Our conversation is short but polite and as Castallan she offers us accommodation for the night in the frost giant’s old quarters. We also apparently have free roam of the keep.

“It is however rather late”, Belastraya yawns. “Let us get some rest and I will summon you when it is time for us to talk more.”

With that, we are ushered out of her tower into the courtyard.

“Well that was.. polite.” muttered Kurrek Drong as we headed towards our quarters.

“Yes. I get the impression she was looking down at us” I replied, instantly regretting the obvious stupidity of my words

“Ay ye daft bardy twit. She’s twenty foot tall. O course she’s looking down at us! Welcome to ma world!”

“Sorry Malin, I meant, she didn’t seem to think of us as worth talking to in any way. We might be here a while”

And with that, we retired for the evening.

The next morning brought no summons from Belastraya, so at Danica’s suggestion we made our way to the third tower where apparently the stone giants’ seer, Utanu, had his temple.

Inside the doors, the temple was a huge cave guarded by several stone creatures called galeb duhr. On the far wall is a huge fresco made of chalk and paint of the stone giant’s primoridal deity Ogremoch, standing above a row of worshiping giants. To either side are curtained off areas, probably living quarters and in front is a large stone altar.

Standing in front of the altar with his back to us is a scruffily robed stone giant, who I can only assume to be Utanu. As he turns to see who has entered though, we see that he has a particular distinguishing feature. A fully functional third eye, slap in the middle of his forehead!

We attempt to introduce ourselves, but Utanu simply grunts and carries on with his duties. Regdar tries to strike up a discussion as a fellow priest, but is shrugged of with a somewhat impolite “Don’t have human brothers”.

“I apologise for interrupting your mediation High Utanu,” I politely declare, “ but we are here on a mission to try and stop the war between men and giant kind”

“We have heard some worrying rumours about the health of Thane Arnak’s health and would wish to help in any way we can”

“Pshh.. Since the Galthrak was uncovered, Thane Arnak has become corrupted”. He grunts. “It is the will of Ogremoch though. He has obviously placed the stone there for us to find and to help Thane Arnak do his will!”

At this point his third eye starts to glow and Utanu seems to be having some sort of vision. He shudders for a moment and then shouts

“YOU!, You are enslavers of giant kind!” and despite our hurried denials charges at us in a rage, followed by the three Galeb Duhr!

Realising that a fight cannot be avoided, Thames charges Utanu and lands a spectacular blow that immobilises the priest, but as he is struck, Utanu yells out a curse that takes form and wraps itself around us, slowing everyone down.

Even slowed, Theseus is able to nonchalantly walk up to Utanu, dancing his way through from the back of the group to hit the giant with a brutal slam, knocking him across the floor.

Recovering himself, Utanu stands up and rapidly punches back at Theseus and Thames, striking the minotaur hard across the face. Smack!

His third eye closes and a glow emits from behind the eyelid before it reopens. He punches at them again and blood flies from Theseus nose as Thames is also staggered.

Behind them, Kurrek Drong appears to transform himself into a tree. Swinging his hammer he summons a shower of mud down onto the priest, covering and partially suffocating him. As he does so, Regdar offers words of encouragement which heal Theseus.

Two of the Galeb Duhr walk into the rock below us and appear in front of us. A third walks into the rock and vanishes. One of them gestures and the ground around us erupts into sharp spikes of rock, slashing Kurrek. The other one summons the same spell, erupting shards of rock around the rest of the party, causing me to dodge flying debris again. Regdar isn’t so lucky and is skewered by a sharp spike.

Suddenly a shockwave blasts through the curtains to the side of us as the third Galeb Duhr reappears in one of the ante chambers. Luckily for Thames he is able to dodge the blast wave!

Distracted by the sudden blast, Erevan’s attempt to produce and throw flame at Utanu goes wild and splashes against a far wall.

I activate my aura, nock an arrow and fire at the farthest Galeb Duhr. As the arrow strikes, it triggers my inspiring success charm and I use it to dimensional step myself and Theseus next to the beast. He strikes quickly and it roars in pain, causing a shockwave to blast out, throwing Theseus and myself away.

Theseus picks himself up and charges straight back at the monster, striking it with his hammer.

Thames takes a battle stance as hit hits the Galeb Duhr in the ante chamber with multiple blows.

Kurrek is struck hard by Utanu and is knocked backwards as Utanu’s third eye does its strange ritual of shutting, glowing and opening again. Shifting towards him, Kurrek misses with a swing of his hammer and triggers a localised earthquake. Unfortunately to no effect.

Calling upon his deity, Regdar prophesizes Utanu’s doom.

The Galeb Duhr next to Thames, blasts air at him before vanishing into the rock, throwing him across the room.

The one that we had damaged misses Theseus with a blow while the third one summons more shards of rock, hitting Thames, Kurrek and Erevan who manages to miss Utanu with two erupting flares!

I hit the Galeb Duhr with another arrow, but my victim of the Feywild power misfires. Fortunately it’s enough of a distraction for Thames to hit and immobilise it and Theseus to walk in with his disrupting advance and smash it with his hammer, reducing it to gravel. He then charges at Utanu, flying at him and hitting him hard. Giant blood flies as rocks appear from the ground restraining Theseus!

The priest punches at the trapped minotaur and nearby Kurrek, landing blows on Theseus. He swings at Theseus again as Kurrek tries to block. Kurrek’s attempt to defend his ally fails though and both Kurrek and Theseus are struck.

The enraged minotaur lands the last blow though, slowing Utanu with a heavy hit as Regdar heals him.

The Galeb Duhr next to Theseus phases into the ground below it and reappears next to me, swinging a punch. The other one pops up in the middle of the party with a huge shockwave blasting Kurrek, Regdar and Erevan.

The mage hurls a fireball between the Galeb Duhr and Utanu. His aim is still off from all the blasts around him, but it still singes them a little.

I chant my dirge of the damned poem and strike at the monster next to me, chipping off a small piece of stone on my second attempt. The other Galeb Duhr is struck hard by Thames who is again blasted backwards to the floor as it screams.

Knowing that we need to keep Utanu alive, Theseus tempers his murderous rampage and picking the most non lethal one of his thousand ways to die, knocks Utanu to the floor.

The stone giant staggers to one knee and calls Theseus a particularly rude name in giant, “Splkrrrrk”* then punches at him, hitting twice as he is slid by Kurrek. Theseus is out cold!

Kurrek steps past the fallen minotaur and misses with a wild swing while Regdar casts a mass cure light wounds on the whole party.

The Galeb Duhr in the middle of the room vanishes into the ground and reappears behind the party near the door. It then summons more rock shards under Erevan and myself, hitting me. The other narrowly misses me with a punch and drops into the ground.

Erevan blasts the visible Galeb Duhr with a wake of fire and I move in towards Utanu, failing to harm him with my cutting words, but healing Theseus slightly and reviving him.
Thames strikes and immobilises the priest as Theseus swings a devastating, yet entirely non lethal, strike at him and knocks Utanu out!

Kurrek dives into the earth and attacks the Galeb Duhr next to the door, killing it. Its remaining ally punches Thames in a very lackluster way and melts into the earth. All the sharp rocks fade with it.

We carefully revive Utanu and attempt to negotiate with him. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts and most well chosen and diplomatic words, he just doesn’t seem to trust us over what he has seen in his vision. However he does agree to leave us alone and will do whatever is the word of Thane Arnak.

We leave the temple quietly. Apparently nobody outside has heard the fight above the loud wind noise up here, which is probably lucky. Noticing a shadow cross the courtyard, we spy a shape above, which must be a huge bird with what could even be a rider, high up in the sky.

It begins to dawn on us that Belastraya really isn’t in a hurry to talk with us. The stone giants in the courtyard are very hospitable and we join them for food and drink, but any attempts to talk about Thane Arnak or their orders and the war are brushed of with “Belastraya speaks for Arnak and we follow” or polite comments that when Belastraya wishes to speak with us, we will be sent for.

Eventually, by mid-day the door to Belastraya’s tower opens and one of her assistants come out, quietly talking to one of the guards. He then heads up to the guard tower on the gate and the stone giant solider there waves a flaming brand above his head.

At this signal, the giant bird above us comes in to land. It is a huge roc, with a stone giant clad in heavy cold weather gear riding it. He dismounts, talks to the guard and immediately mounts and takes off again, flying towards the mountains in the east.

Later in the afternoon a patrol returns, with at least one wounded giant. They are warmly welcomed by their compatriots and the leader marches up to the locked door of Belastraya’s tower and speaks to the guard. After the guard knocks on the door, it opens and the leader is quickly ushered in, returning about half an hour later with a huge barrel of ale for his squad.

We pass the evening with the drunken guards, singing a song I have quickly composed about Thane Arnak’s prowess in battle. Again, we are told very little other than we will have to be patient if we wish to talk to Belastraya.

The next morning the roc returns with a different rider who stands by the fire to get warm. After chatting with a couple of the guards he tells them he needs to report in and heads into Belastraya’s tower.

Knowing we could be here for weeks, by which time the giant armies would have gathered and attacked Hochoch, we decide to wander down the stairs in the temple tower.

“Don’t worry,” one of the giants tells us. “When Belastraya summons you, we’ll come and get you”.

Feeling somewhat depressed that my oratory skills seem to have failed us, I nod and follow my friends into the temple.

  • roughly translates as “Daisy”
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Chapter 11
Malin gets the bird

We follow Malin up the stairs and at the top we seem to have reached one of the peaks. The wind blows a gale above us and through the walls around us. Around the corner we can see a courtyard of some sort, probably linking the towers, but our immediate concern is the huge male frost giant sat opposite us with a six foot hawk on a perch next to him!

The giant looks up at us and yells “oh for Fogluck’s sake will nobody keep the riffraff out?”
He then jumps up and rushes out into the courtyard, quickly returning, followed by a huge owlbear!

“Get the bird!” Kurrek yells, as he charges at the hawk while transforming into the herald of winter. Swinging his warhammer he summons a wall of mud that immobilises it and covers it.  They bird screams in pain and Kurrek swings again slamming it around off its perch. 

Knowing the hawk could be used to summon reinforcements, I rush in and hit it with some particularly cutting words, pulling it towards myself and hitting it with my long sword and an inspiring success. I then trigger my dimensional step and pull Theseus next to the bird, his mighty hit kills it in a cloud of feathers. 

From the opposite end of the short corridor we’re in we see a dwarf jumping up and down behind a cell door shouting ‘help’

The owlbear charges in from the courtyard and claws at Theseus, raking across his armour. The minotaur is thrown across the room into a wall, slumping down prone. It then slashes at me with another claw, raking across my chest armour. I’m stunned as I feel ribs breaking.

Pulling himself back up from the floor, Theseus charges at the beast with his head lowered and goring it with his horns. It screeches and throws him backwards again. By this point Malin has charged in and misses with his first swing, but the return swing of his spear stabs the owlbear in its side. 

Regdar runs towards me chanting some healing words and I feel bone magically knitting together, but I’m still stunned from the hit.

Obviously annoyed at the loss of his hawk, but seeing the danger of a fire casting magic user, the frost giant rushes across and fires a freezing bolt from his staff at Erevan, covering him in ice and immobilising him.

Kurrek steps up to the owlbear and slams it with his warhammer. Frost forms across its feathers and it slows its movement.

Erevan casts his fire shield and phase steps me into the comfy chair the frost giant was previously sat in. He then calls down a huge wake of fire across the owlbear. The monster screams in pain, blasting Regdar and Theseus, throwing them backwards. It then stands up and charges at Kurrek trying to disembowel him. The force of the attack stuns the dwarf!

Theseus clobbers it with his thunder fall skill, knocking it prone and pushing it backwards. He then hits it with oak hammer rage. It screams in pain again, blasting Theseus back a step. 

Called by the frost giant, two stone giants run in and start throwing rocks. One at Erevan which slams him on the side of the head and another at Theseus which bounces harmlessly off his head. 

Dodging the flying rocks, Malin strikes another critical blow on the owlbear, skewering it through the heart and killing it. 

Regdar creates a wall of whirring blades across the corridor under the frost giant who takes cuts from the holy knives. The frost giant charges at the stunned Kurrek hitting him with his staff knocking him backwards. Frost then bursts out around him freezing most of us to the spot!

“So, you can’t even fight fair against little people eh? I think your courage might have thawed out dripping beard!” I mock the frost giant’s courage with my Satire of Bravery call, the words taking magical form and slashing it, throwing it back into the stone giants. It’s followed by a fireball from Erevan which blasts into a stone giant and hits the frost giant.

Trying to use one of the exploding geodes we found earlier, Theseus grabs one from his pack but drops it in front of himself and is knocked out by the blast!

More rocks fly from the stone giants, missing Theseus but bouncing off Erevan’s shield. 

Easily dodging a searing light cast by Regdar, the frost giant moves towards me, taking damage from my chant and showing obvious pain.  He points his staff at me and fires a bolt of ice. I’m frozen to the spot again, wincing at the pain. However Kurrek jumps towards him, pushing him into the wall of slicing blades. I then chant my victim of the Feywild verse and knack for success simultaneously, hitting the frost giant and teleporting Malin next to him and causing the captured dwarf to be teleported out of the cell and into the fight.

The captured dwarf is wearing rags and looking a bit unkempt. She looks around and blinks at the sudden freedom. Ducking under the frost giant, she tries to run for a chest behind us but is struck by its staff. Surviving the blow, she throws open the chest and starts rummaging through it, grabbing bits of dwarven gear. Defending her, Kurrek strikes back wildly.

A stone giant steps forward easily dodging Malin’s strike and sweeps his huge stone club around hitting the gnome. 

The other stone giant also ducks past Kurrek attacking us at the back of the corridor. Swinging at myself, Erevan and Regdar.  The club glances off my shoulder and smashes into the side of my helm, hurting me badly. Erevan’s fire shield burns the giant as it attacks.

Another stone giant enters from the courtyard, throwing a rock that hits Kurrek

Healed by prayers from Regdar, Malin makes his unfettered fury stance and attacks the ice Giant hitting it hard. Trying to step out of Regdar’s flying blades, the frost giant is evicerated, blood and gore splattering the stone giant next to him, which looks down at the body in horror.

“We come in peace!” Kurrek yells, as he stands firm, but they don’t seem convinced. 

Seeing the stone giants still trying to attack, the dwarf almost glows with cold and blasts a freezing wind painfully freezing them to the floor. 

Using my words of friendship I hold my hand up and shout “Hold! Our fight isn’t with the stone giants!  We have already negotiated a peace with the hill giants”

“Lower your weapons and we will bring you to Belastroya” yells one of the giants.

We agree, lowering our weapons and releasing them from the ice. A giant runs off to fetch someone.

The new dwarf introduces herself as Danica of clan Nad.

“I was sent here by the clans several months ago with 10 stone masons. The masons were ushered down into the warrens while I had discussions with Belastroya the castelan (and Thane Arnak’s sister) about the castle defences when I was grabbed and thrown into a cell. I’ve not seen any of the dwarves since. “

According to Danica, Belastroya was asking questions about the strength of the dwarven defences and when the dwarf carefully fed her false information. Belastroya had her thrown in a cell. 

“They’ve been tunneling for a while now” Danica tells us, “They seem to be looking for something underground”

I politely ask about the health of Thane Arnak and the stone giants look shifty to one another and say he is well and in his throne room below. 

Danica tells us that Belastroya is behind all of the attacks and the head of the Hochhochian peace delegation has turned traitor and is helping them. 

From what she has heard, Thane Arnak has gone mad and he and Belastroya now hate all non giants. Apparently he has been corrupted by some artefact that they dug up. A purple egg shaped stone. 

She believes the ice giant was there as an emissary. She finds it odd that the frost and stone giants were working together. 

One last thing. Esevon. The Adamantine dragon. She guards the rear entrance. Belastroya appeases her with offerings of food and treasure. 

More giants arrive and escort us across the courtyard, under the gaze of nervous looking stone giants to Belastroya’s tower. 

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Season Break
Some great new series to watch

Your regular programming is taking a short break and will return soon. In the meantime, try the pilot episodes of some great new series coming to your favourite D&D channels*

Malin

Follow the whacky adventurers of your favourite zany little gnome friend as he moves to a new town on the other side of the country and makes new pals while trying to further his giant slaying career.

In this crazy pilot episode, Malin and his cute little pixie sidekick accidentally find themselves in a hill giant gay bar. Hillarity ensues!

Adventuring Party LA

In this new spin off from the ever popular Adventuring Party, meet a brand new team of adventurers, in a completely new location, with much lower paychecks as nobody’s ever heard of them. Exactly the same plots and monsters that you loved, but we don’t have to pay them more than union rates!

Dungeon Masters: Behind the Screen

Go behind the scenes as real dungeon masters tell us the secrets of summoning evil creatures to try and kill off adventurers. Find out the real story behind the ancient order of DMs and just where it is they get those ‘special’ dice from that seem to roll more 20s than yours.

The Burny Man

4 Part children’s horror mini-series for giants.

*i.e we’ll show the pilot and then they’ll disappear without a trace unless the focus groups are drunk that day.

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Chapter 10
We are deafened by monsters of rock

The creatures appeared out of the depths of the cavern, our initial view of them obscured by the elemental lightning blasts from the crystal columns. The glowing wisp like things appeared to come from the lightning itself, two of them floating towards us. Two miniature whirlwinds of sand grew as the got nearer, gathering up material from the floor and three vaguely humanoid figures formed themselves from the rocks that were scattered all around the cave.

Wasting no time, Thames charged into battle past one of the whirlwinds, ignoring the sand that blasted his armour cleaner and more rust free than it had ever been, swinging a huge blow at one of the stone monsters, hitting it and vapourising the sandstorm at the same time.

Roaring loudly, Theseus ran at one of the glowing wisps, swinging wildly. Despite its apparently gaseous form, the maul slammed into it with a satisfying smack and a buzz of energy.

Despite being hit by Thames, the first rock monster ignored him and tries to jump across to attack the minotaur. Spotting an opening, Thames strikes with his sword and sends chips of stone flying across the floor. The monster appears to shrink into itself slightly, then explodes in a shower of rock and debris, peppering both Thames and Theseus with shrapnel!

Another rock monster shuffled in from the back of the gave and hurled a large rock from its body at Theseus, hitting him across his arm. The stone explodes as it hits him, just as he is hit by an electrical discharge from a nearby column.

As he ducks to avoid another thrown rock, Thames watches as one of the blue wisps wrapped itself around Theseus and spins him twenty feet into the air, holding him there as he struggles uselessly.

“what da f” he exclaims as the other wisp does the same to him.

The monsters seem to have taken a particular dislike to our armour selling knight and the minotaur, possibly because they were the first to attack them or maybe because they’d heard their rendition of “Don’t fear the Roper” back at the Dwarven encampment. Nonetheless, we were in real trouble if they were taken out of the fight, especially as the rest of the party were still rushing to the fight.

With some well practiced words, I activated my aura and blasted the frontmost stone elemental with my power gained as a victim of the feywild, focusing it to teleport Thames and Theseus to the floor behind it and out of the Wisps’ grasp.

From behind me I heard a “Whoosh” and felt a rush of force pass nearby as he hit a wisp with his force orb spell, causing it to scream in such a high pitch I’m sure that those in the party without Elven heritage wouldn’t have heard it.

Seeing his minotaur friend flying in the air was just too much for Malin, who was by now rolling on the floor almost helpless with laughter. Attempting to pull himself together, the gnome manages to load his sling and fire it at a sandstorm, but his aim is so wild he nearly manages to hit a very unamused Theseus.

Both of the sandstorms zoomed forwards, spinning and inflicting a small amount of damage on Thames as he readied himself for his next attack, while the prayer that Regdar was forming finished unanswered as the words formed a bolt of energy that missed the wisp.

Spitting sand from his mouth, Thames brings his sword up and around in a cleaving assault, striking rocks from one of the stone elementals as well as dissipating a sandstorm. With pieces of itself sliced off, the rock monster falls to the ground and vanishes into the rocks on the floor. Drawing healing power from my aura, Theseus does a devastating strike on the sandstorm, destroying it.

Reforming itself between myself, Erevan and Regdar the rock monster explodes shrapnel into all of us. Erevan is lucky enough to dodge the flying debris, but Regdar and I are pushed forwards into the melee, as I watch a larger rock punch out from it into Erevan’s chest, winding him and the storm of stones moves towards the wall of the cave.

One of the other stone elementals hurls another exploding rock at Thames, which explodes into shrapnel around him.

The frontmost wisp moves towards Regdar, solidifying the air around it into a blade, which slashes Thames and myself. Stepping back, I fire an arrow at the furthest, wisp, hoping to hit it and use teleport the fighters into the back of the melee, outflanking the creatures, but my arrow clatters uselessly into the darkness.

Having got his laughter under control Malin charges past us, rushing the nearest wisp and hitting it with his spear. He feels resistance as he stabs it and his hair stands on end as some of its energy discharges itself through him.

Thames has managed to positioning himself near the other wisp and strikes it with his longsword, but doing little damage.

“ere Theseus. Dese blue thingies is swordproof init!”

“HIT, THEM, HARDER!” roared the minotaur, slamming the wisp in front of him with his maul and flying into a rage!

Moving back from the wall, the stone elemental explodes again with a massive force, throwing us all backwards away from it. Rocks fly from the others, missing Theseus, but hitting him with shrapnel. Standing nearby, Regdar and Malin are also hit by flying shrapnel.

As the wisps swipe the charged air uselessly at Theseus and Thames, I miss again with another arrow. Erevan however, has a slightly better aim and blasts an erupting flare at one of the wisps, hitting it with a huge blast of fire and turning it into an inferno of plasma.

Regdar steps away from the heat and prays for a mantle of glory, causing a blast of holy energy to strike at the rock monster attacking Malin, as well as healing the no longer laughing gnome.

Undeterred by all the flying shrapnel, Thames slams a wisp brutally with his sword, cutting through it and into a nearby stone elemental, then stepping away as it too moves back towards the wall, hurling a rock at Theseus. As with the previous rocks, it exploded hitting Malin and Thames with shrapnel, followed by yet more rocks from the other monsters, filling the air with flying shards.

The burning wisp moves towards Theseus, but strike at Malin and this time it is he who is suddenly twenty feet in the air, spinning gently above the wisp.

“HA! Not so funny now is it Malin!” laughs Theseus as he dips his head to avoid a flying piece of shrapnel.

My cutting words don’t seem to have any effect on the rock monsters, but I help out by making a bolstering speech, which gives the party a little more resolve.

The burning wisp is hit by a magic missile from Erevan, making it scream again and Regdar blasts it with a prayer. Malin suddenly drops out of the air and lands with a thud on the ground.

Stepping away from the further wisp, Thames strikes at the frontmost one, drawing off a small amount of energy. Likewise, Theseus smashes it with a murderous rampaging blow, but it’s obvious that normal weapons aren’t having a lot of effect.

The stone elemental suddenly charges at Malin and explodes, hitting him and Thames, blasting them away from itself. Another hits Theseus with a thrown rock, blasting the minotaur, myself and Malin.

Knocked back into range of a crystal column, Thames was blasted with a lightning bolt while the wisp at the front of the battle attacked Theseus and lifted him into the air again.

Striking the rock elemental with my longsword, I triggered my dimensional step and inspiring success simultaneously. I teleport Thames in behind the monster and the positive effect from the spells allow Theseus to break free of his hold and fall to the ground.

Erevan blasted the wisp with another magic missile, which kills it. Proving they’re not invulnerable to force spells.

Thames recovers himself a little as Regdar casts a healing prayer on him and he draws health from my aura. Then Malin hits the rock elemental with a deadly power strike, shattering it into small enough pieces to kill it.

Trying to outdo Malin in the madness stakes, Theseus throws one of the geode’s he’d picked up earlier at one of the crystal stalagmites. It chips a small piece of crystal off the column and then explodes, damaging it very slightly.

He then throws another at one of the rock elementals but misses, the geode exploding harmlessly in the distance. It throws a rock back at him, hitting him in the leg and exploding but fortunately missing myself and Malin with its shrapnel. We’re not so lucky a second later as another exploding rock hits Thames, hitting myself and Regdar with lethal pieces of rock that cut through my chainmail.

My ears still ringing from the nearby explosion, I cast unluck on a rock elemental, injuring it as Regdar and Malin both hit it with blows.

Attacking Theseus, the remaining wisp forms a missile of air, which whistles into him and cuts his arm. It is then hit by another magic missile from Erevan who has decided to forgo his many fire based spells for the only force spell remaining in his arsenal.

“I apologise for my tardiness fellow adventurers!” Kurrek Drong called to us as he rushed into the battle from the cavern behind us. “Lost my way in all this rock!”

Wildly flailing his maul in a disrupting pattern, Theseus advanced on a wisp, hitting it with a ‘smack!’.

The rock monster attacking Malin vanishes into the floor and reappears between myself, Kurrek and Regdar, who dives for cover as it explodes, hitting Kurrek and myself. The monster then vanished into the rocky ground again, popping up to punch Malin, who is simultaneously hit by a large rock thrown by the other. The blast from the explosion hits Kurrek and throws me into one of the crystal columns. Diving away from the column, I’m hit by a massive elemental discharge from it which causes my arrow shot at the remaining wisp to fly wide.

Bored with throwing magic missiles around, Erevan produces a flame in his hand and hurls it at Malin’s rock monster and kills it with a massive blast of fire. Malin then charges at the other rock monster and kills it with a massive strike, just as Regdar manages to heal him slightly with a prayer.

Kurrek dives through the earth and jumps up to the side of the wisp, summoning a massive surge of mud with his warhammer. Both hammer and mud slam into the wisp, killing it!

It is now eerily quiet in the cavern. The monsters are all apparently dead, but we don’t look much better. Most of us are covered in cuts and bruises from pieces of flying rock and Malin is looking more ghastly than usual, leaning on his spear.

We hole up in the geode cavern for a short while to patch up our wounds and regain our strength then look into a corridor in the corner of the cavern where we find steps that are obviously cut to the size of stone giants, winding upwards into a tower above us.

“Ach, this looks interesting!” Malin yells, and starts climbing. Despite each step almost being his height, the little gnome rapidly ascends and we have to hurry to catch up with him as his noisy clattering up the spiral staircase isn’t going to surprise anything that’s at the top unless it’s spectacularly deaf.

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Chapter 9
A short stay with the dwarves

Our train of wagons and weary survivors arrived at the Dwarven stronghold late in the night. Luckily for us though, one of the guards on the gate recognised Jasper Trueforge from his previous travels and after a short sequence of shouting and various bearded heads bobbing up over the palisades and back again, the gates swung open and a bleary eyed Dwarven king greeted us and ushered us inside.

Soon we were surrounded by dwarves who quickly assessed which of the rescued prisoners needed immediate attention from healers. Regdar had done a pretty good job of stabilising and healing though, so mostly it was a case of finding beds for them while the party met with the king and his council to report on our attack on the Hill Giants’ steading and warned them to be on the lookout for a werewolf hill giant.

The next morning we gave the council a more detailed briefing and traded for supplies for our ongoing journey. Walking around the village, we were followed by curious dwarven children, their facial hair varying from the full dwarf beard in the adolescents to patchy fuzz in the infants. They were keen to hear about our adventures too, so I regaled them with songs and tales of the hill giants.

Worried about the threat of our werewolf hill giant pal Varg following us, we’d been constantly scanning the road and woods around us as we headed to the stronghold, but seen nothing. Just in case though, we requested whatever silver weapons the dwarves could make for us quickly before we left.

The rest of the day is filled with more discussions with the king and his council. Buoyed by our mission’s success against the hill giants, originally organised by the rulers of Hochoch, we are able to persuade the Dwarves to communicate with the human forces and hopefully work with them where possible against the forces of the giants. The dwarves also had a patrol heading in the general direction of the elven territories and were quite happy to assist the group of elves we’d rescued in getting back to their people. While the elves couldn’t promise anything from their leaders, they did promise to request that they also communicate with the dwarven and human armies. To help with this communication, Vogue volunteered to head back with the elves to act as an envoy and Barratt asked to go with the next patrol heading towards Hochoch to help with the negotiations there.

The dwarves it seemed, used to work quite closely with the stone giants at Howling Crag. In fact, young dwarves would often be sent to apprentice with them. This arrangement being of mutual benefit as the dwarves learned stone masonry from the masters of the element while the giants had tiny little helpers that could do all the fiddly bits.

A couple of years ago however, all contact with the Crag stopped and nothing was heard of from the dwarves that were currently there. Dwarven deputies sent to Howling Crag were politely turned away and warned not to return.

“It’s all that Belastroya I reckon” exclaimed King Dwon-Ki-Klong. “Lothar was a bit funny, but it was only when Belastroya started gaining influence that the stone giants started to withdraw into Howling Crag”.

“Do you have anyone here who might know the Crag well?” I asked. “someone who apprenticed there for instance?”

“Ah, you’ll want to have a chat with old Defan-Dur” the king suggested. “He was a master of dwarves there and only retired back here just before the mountain closed”

“Pac! Get in here!”

at the king’s call, a short but definitely non dwarf human entered the council chamber.

“Yes my king?”

“Take these adventurers to Defan Pac. They need to talk to him”

“Yes my liege. Right away”

Following Pac through the village, he explained to us that his family had been rescued by a dwarven patrol when he was a baby and his family had built up strong ties with the clan. When it came time for him to apprentice as a teenager, his father had persuaded the dwarves to take him on and he had learned much about working stone and was now Dwon-Ki’s trusted steward.

Pac knocked on the door of a small cottage and introduced us to a very old and wizened dwarf, who was the previously mentioned Defan-Dur.

The old dwarf was a very useful source of information. He informed us that the mountain under the castle was riddled with passageways and halls, there being as much under the ground as above it. Also, he mentioned that when he was originally working at the Crag, both giants and dwarves used an entrance at the base of the mountain through a long tunnel leading into the under citadel but decades ago it had fallen into disuse as all traffic was instead sent up a climbing track to the main gates on the castle.

The next day, we set off to Howling Crag with the dwarven children singing the burny man nursery rhyme behind us and waving goodbye to Vogue and Barratt.

Approaching the mountain, we stop at the top of a road that winds its way down a sheer drop to the base of the Crag, a massive castle of three conical towers carved from a mountain. Carefully avoiding the eyes of probable watchers on the towers, we skirt around the mountain to the north, where Defan-Dur thought the old entrance used to be.

The whole area had obviously overgrown nearly completely since the giants had stopped using it, but luckily I still remembered a few tricks from my archeological days and looking for the telltale signs of slightly stunted vegetation I soon spotted the remains of a cobbled road, which we followed until it reached a deadfall at the base of the mountain.

Examining the rubble, Kurrek-Drong determines that it’s likely to be a passageway that was blocked by a landslip. Diving into the rock like some sort of strange fish, Drong burrowed his way through and found himself in a dark passageway. Hanging a mountain he burrows back to us and we set to work trying to shift enough rocks to gain access.

A couple of very tiring hours and a lot of bruises and abrasions later, we had managed to clear enough rocks to scramble through into the passageway, which we follow into the mountain.

This was obviously the old entrance. Obviously carved by skilled stone workers and is large enough for a procession of giants to walk down. After about three quarters of a mile, it opens into a huge chamber which contains a couple of very dilapidated wooden buildings. They are very disused and barely standing as age and rot have eaten away at them but the remaining furnishings of mixed sizes show that whoever built them was quite wealthy and was designing them for both giants and dwarves.

As we proceed further along the passageway, we see detailed murals on the walls which progressively get more intricate and start to be broken up by statues in alcoves at various points.

There are a few cave ins and the odd bit of minor flooding but the passageway is still sound and progress is good. Still paranoid about our big hairy friend, I wedge a silver dagger, point upward, in a deeper pool on the path just in case we’re being followed.

Estimating that we must be directly under Howling Crag by now, we notice what looks like a torch flickering ahead. I cautiously edge up to the end of the corridor where I find a huge solid stone door. With a nearly burned out ever burning torch on one side and two giant sized handprints on the door about ten feet above the ground.

Trying to push the door fails, but Theseus realises that the door rolls aside and straining to the maximum he rolls it aside a little. Wedging it open with spikes, we crawl through!

On the other side of the door we enter a large stone hallway with various stalagmites and columns. To our left, a more natural cavern opens up containing some strange crystal stalagmites which flash as arcs of electricity flicker between them and the walls. Ahead of us in the distance we notice a stone stairway rising and can hear the muffled bleating of sheep.

Heading up the stairs I sneak up and find the passageway getting much lighter and opening up to a crossroads where there are six sheep and a cart, laden with merchant’s supplies. Some of these are definitely from Hochoch. More steps lead up straight ahead.

To the left, the corridor opens up into a loop to the cavern where the crystalline stalagmites are and a small opening leads into a cavern where we can see a dozen geodes have been mined out. As we move to investigate them, we see bright balls of light flitting between the stalagmites as well as some odd creatures apparently made of solid rock and others looking like strange rocky whirlwinds. Apparently this part of Howling Crag is not as quiet and uninhabited as we’d hoped!

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Another Letter Home

Some few weeks prior to current day:

Hail again revered Elders.

I continue to explore this wider world and must admit to finding it still highly discomfiting. Though I feel I have gotten a better understanding of the spirits out here. Today I spent the morning traveling with some Elven scouts in a heavily forested area in the shadows of a mountain, skirting around a ‘modern’ dwarven underground haven. These elves of course purport to be ‘one with nature’ but I found them anything but. Perhaps masters at controlling it, but no friends of their spirits. I asked one the name of his bow and he gave me a name. An Elven name. What piece of wood have you ever met that is pretentious enough to call itself ‘Silverswift’?

This may be my last letter for a while, I have discovered a tribe of Hill Giants at the foot of these mountains and have decided to look closer…

I hope you are all well.

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A Letter Home

Sent home by Kurrek-Drong 7 months prior to current day.

“Esteemed Skycaller,

My first forays out into the wider world have been most surprising. While I knew there would be many cultures to meet and viewpoints to clash with what has truly off-balanced me is the spirits out here. They are truly alien…in most every way. Seemingly dormant and depressed and with no understanding of their importance. An anecdote perhaps.

3 days out from the borders of our lands a cousin perhaps of Al-alaruk, bringer of cleansing water, decided to unleash their greatest storms and I sought shelter under a rock outcropping. I greeted the rock as one does and found that they remained silent. Silent! Can you imagine! A rock with less than impeccable manners!? A rock…with no manners.

I…was stunned..speechless even.

Ah well, such are the foibles of this new life. I almost dread to think of the adventures in store for me.

I hope all is well with you.

.
.
.
.

A rock…with no manners! Can you imagine…

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Chapter 8 - Nosnra
Technically, we still don’t kill any children

Returning to the ground floor of the steading and the side door to the great hall we’d passed earlier, Barrett carefully peered through a crack in its roughly built planking.

What he saw was worrying. Apparently, in the short time we’d been downstairs, a patrol had returned and its leader (a shaggy looking hill giant, surrounded by a small pack of immense dire wolves) was loudly arguing with Nosnra while various hill giants watched from around the room, except for one which was trying to restrain Nosnra’s bear by a lead in the corner of the hall and a large stone giant looked on from the end of the table, obviously annoyed.

We’d quietly discussed our plan of attack on the climb upstairs, so with our knowledge of the giant’s tongue, Malin and I prepared a suitably nasty insult, with Malin providing some spectacular swearwords in giant.

“How come you know so much giant profanity Malin?” I asked.

at this, Malin produced a small booklet titled “Gnomish – Giant Dictionary” and I nodded with complete understanding.

Then, using his Ghost Voice, Malin made the words sound as if they were coming from one of the hill giants across the room.

“xaffh -

“faagag- —

ah. This is where my task as storyteller is complicated by the very power of gnomish profanity. Apparently, when trying to write the actual phrases used by Malin, even my strongest quills simply dissolve as the ink boils while writing them.

As such, I’ll paraphrase what was said, which was something of the order of mentioning that he’d heard that an orcess called Staycee, girlfriend of one hill giant Varg, was particularly talented in the bedroom department, although any hill giant who was dating an orc was obviously somewhat under endowed.

Upon the words apparently coming from the hill giant’s mouth, the shaggy giant let out a massive roar and transformed into a giant wolf! Simultaneously Thames kicked the door in and charged into the pack of dire wolves, hacking one with a spectacular hit, which seemed to bite deep but only made it quite angry. That would be Varg then!

Our cunning plan activated, we followed Thames in the charge into the room, except of course for Barrett, who immediately ducked into the shadows and prepared his bow and Erevan who hung back and prepared spells.

Theseus and Malin ran straight for Nosnra, who jumped up and attempted to swing his huge crossbow but was knocked backwards off his chair by Theseus and set upon by Malin. He then staggered back to his feet but flailed uselessly at the pair.

I felt a brief blast of cold as Kurrek-Drong changed his form and dived into the ground. He appeared shortly afterwards in the midst of the dire wolves, looking almost like a snowman and swinging his warhammer around his head and causing some sort of magical field that seemed to slow time. Most of the wolves recoiled as they were hit by the field and fell to the floor in slow motion.

Charging through his pack of wolves, Varg bit into Thames’ shoulder, he then leapt apparently through the table to attack Theseus from behind, but the seeing the movement out of the corner of his eye, the Minotaur avoided the blow. A wild howl errupted from Varg’s mouth.

Recovering quickly from the confusion, one of the hill giants bowled a huge rock at Drong, knocking him across the floor.

Back in the shadows, Barrett let loose a volley of arrows, hitting the werewolf while Erevan summoned a horrible beast apparently made entirely of molten lava and commanded it to attack the dire wolves, while firing his magic missile into the fray. Undeterred, the wolves fight back, two of them slashing at Thames. Staggering from their onslaught, Thames fell prone, his helmet flying across the floor and with a nasty gash across his cheek.

The remaining wolves that Drong had knocked prone managed to regain their feet, but were now moving incredibly slowly.

Now in the midst of the battle, I started chanting the words that activated my aura and fired an arrow at a dire wolf, while noticing Regdar swear as the chant he was phrasing went wrong somewhere and spluttered.

“Grrrrraraaaaghh!!!”

Nosnra’s pet bear pulled itself free of its handler and charged across to protect its master. Malin was smashed across the chest by a huge blow from its paws. Turning invisible to try and avoid further attacks doesn’t help Malin as a second strike from the bear grabs him!

Hoping to help the attack on Nosnra, Jasper rushed in and attempted to jump up onto the huge table, but just missed and fell flat on his face amongst the plates of food! Looking up, he sees the stone giant stand up at the far end of the table and point a staff at him, blasting him with a beam of magic that makes his bones ache and slows him down.

Various rocks are now flying around the room as the hill giants rally, Drong and I are both hit, although I only take a glancing blow as Thames leaps to his feet and swings his longsword around in a cleaving blow that slashes across one dire wolf’s eye. I feel the change in my aura as he takes advantage of its healing magic to recover and see the cut across his face fade.

Also regaining his feet, Drong hits another dire wolf and several of them flinch in pain, flying backwards from him. Two of them fly backwards into the fire pit in the centre of the room and the smell of singed fur is added to the other foul smells in the hall.

The werewolf is slowed as Theseus performs a disrupting attack and then swings around to hit Nosnra with a violent raging attack. Malin is still being grabbed by Nosnra’s bear, but as they roll around together, he manages to stab it with his spear and the bear is left prone on the floor as he struggles free.

Arrows striking him from the shadows, Nosnra gets up again after Theseus’ attack and strikes back, knocking him backwards across the floor, yelling “GET THEM!”

Varg has now changed from his werewolf form to something halfway between a full wolf and a hill giant and leaps across the melee hitting Theseus and biting Malin. Somehow he then moves through them and bites Regdar before I see him rush towards me and slash me across the chest!

Wiping off the pieces of food, Jasper stands up on the table and summons horrifying nightmares in the mind of a wolf, which cause it to reel in pain and fall to the floor, he then runs across to aid Theseus and Malin in the fight against Nosnra.

While Drong and Thames fend off blows from other hill giants and what seems to be a couple of their children, Erevan blasted Nosnra with a force orb. One of the dire wolves then leapt out of the fire to bite Thames while two more jumped up on the table to strike at Jasper.

Slashing out, I skewer one of the huge dire wolves and firing my feywild power at it, teleport Thames and Drong next to it as Regdar smashes Varg. Drong ducks as a pair of rocks narrowly miss him and Thames is charged by a roaring hill giant and is temporarily knocked to the floor. Standing again, he rushes off in one direction, before twisting his helmet around so he can see where he is going and valiently charges at the injured wolf in front of us, dispatching it with a final stab!

Drong creates a blast of energy around him, scattering giants, wolves and the two giant children, who are both killed.

Back behind the table, the bear attempts to slash at Malin again, but is distracted as Barrett skewers one of its ears with an arrow and Theseus is trying to stand up but is forced back to the floor again by one of the wolves on the table. Malin climbs over Nosnra onto the table and stabbing his spear downwards, dances around it seductively. Initially wide of its mark, the attack clips one of the wolves on the table and then viciously stabs into Nosnra, opening a huge wound in his side.

Jasper is hit by another ray of light from the strangely quiet stone giant’s staff and feels his muscles tighten up and lock in place. Now with his legs completely immobilised, he can hear something large running up stairs in the distance!

Three more giants enter through a door on the opposite side of the hall and a female giant in shamanic clothing in through another. She waves her arms and some magic words in an ancient giant dialect summon huge chains to fly up from the ground and fly past Malin.

Nosnra yells out to his troops then attacks Malin. Jasper bravely forces his muscles to respond and steps into the blow but is thrown from the table, rapidly followed by Malin as he is hit by a second blow from the hill giant chief. As he hits the floor, Jasper rolls and stabs one of the wolves, but is hit by the beam of light again and is turned to stone!

Still leaping around the melee, Varg misses drong but jumps across and bites Regdar but is then engulfed in a blast of magical fire summoned by Erevan.
Knocked against the table by a flying boulder, Thames clips the wolf attacking Theseus as he passes and is blocks an attack by another taking a terrible bite to his arm, which leaves his left arm dangling uselessly.

I run across and utter some beneficial phrases that help Jasper shake off the petrification, then pointing my longword at him, I use some more nasty ones, (helpfully improved by choice words in hill giant from Malin’s pamphlet) to send a bolt of cutting words at Nosnra, which knock him to the floor and pull him under the table.

As I do this, the stone giant points his staff again and says a single word of command. Huge pointy shafts of stone burst out of the ground between us, knocking me prone and Thames unconscious but fortunately he clings to my chanting and drawing on the remaining power in my aura heals himself and charges at the werewolf with a spectacular strike that causes it to howl in pain.

Behind us, Erevan is in trouble as we have been flanked by a hill giant, which rushes up and clobbers him! Knocking a dire wolf to the floor, Drong takes a breath and starts to dash away from it to try and protect Erevan and Barrett but the wolf snaps at him and bites his ankle, pulling him to the ground. The hill giant is killed by a swarm of arrows from Barrett, who then strikes the wolf with another.

As the wolf attacking him is distracted, Theseus jumps back to his feet and slams into Nosnra with all his strength. While the hill giant is nearly twice the Minotaur’s size, the sheer momentum and violence of the attack bowls him across the room, injuring his bear in the process and finds himself directly under Malin’s spear as he has used it to pole vault onto the table and stabbed down at the prone chieftain.

Malin doesn’t have time to cheer though as he is suddenly wrapped in more shamanic chains and while he is stunned, is smacked from the table by Nosnra’s huge fist, landing in a crumpled heap on the floor.

Varg lashes out at Thames but misses as Vogue runs into the room.

“sorry, got distracted by some shiny stuff outside!” she apologised, while suddenly appearing behind the werewolf, striking him with her blade and with a jingle of bells, killing him with a second stab! Apology accepted!

There are still more hill giants attacking us around the room. One charges in at drong, missing with a swing of its club, but jumping over him and stepping on his face in the process. Another rushes at Jasper, but the dwarf swings his glaive and knocks it temporarily to the floor. Shaking its head, it gets up again as a swarm of hill giant children rush into the room. Apparently they must have managed to move the piled up bodies of their parents that we’d blocked the door with.

Running towards the outlying hill giants, Erevan prepared a spell which blasted two of them and two wolves, killing one of each. He is then covered in a shielding wall of fire which the surviving wolf burns itself on as it tries to bite him. The hill giant fares worse as it attacks and is killed by the fire.

I curse Nosnra with unluck and chant some bolstering words as Thames leaps up onto the table and swipes both dire wolves off it. Regdar also moves up and calls upon his diety to heal Jasper, who is again slowed by magic from the stone giant’s staff.
The bear manages to hit Theseus with both its forepaws, grabbing him and squeezing him in a deadly bear hug, cracking ribs! Breaking free, he takes a painful gulp of air and wails in on the bear with his hammer, immobilising it and knocking it prone but he is floored also as Nosnra fires a massive bolt from his crossbow, which slams into him and knocks the minotaur from his feet.

From the floor, we hear Malin shout

“D.d.d.d. Dragon!”

I look up just in time to see a blue iron dragon stomp into the hall and vanish, just as Malin is grabbed by a huge stone fist appearing from the floor and is crushed into unconsciousness!

Drong is battling a hill giant, crippling its knees while Barrett peppers it with arrows. The dragon suddenly appears in front of Barrett and chomps twice. It misses, but disappears and reappears at his side, blasting him with lightning before vanishing again.

Remembering his previous attempt at jumping the table, Jasper climbs under it this time, swinging at Nosnra with his glaive and then teleporting behind him to swing at the shaman.

Vogue runs in behind Drong’s giant and nearly killing it with another jingly stab. However it stomps on both of them.

Erevan suddenly finds himself swarmed by hill giant children who hurl themselves at him, oblivious to his fiery shield. While he takes some injuries, six of the children die horribly from burns and the rest run screaming from the room!

Patting himself down, the wizard then steps towards the giant that Drong and Vogue are battling. A dire wolf nearby lashes out at him and burns itself, while Erevan blasts fire at the giant, vapourising it!

Thames is bitten by a wolf, which I whack with my sword as it is bitten by Erevan’s magma beast and Theseus is slightly revived. Ragnar calls upon a healing boon and all of us nearby feel better.

Theseus and the bear are still in a dramatic struggle for life. The bear nearly kills Theseus with a nasty slash but he gets to his feet and strikes it across its head.

Just as I’m reeling from a blow by a hill giant’s club, I spot the stone giant sigh, turn and head out of the door and Vogue is bitten badly by the dragon appearing behind her, zapping her with lightning again. Drong decapitates a dire wolf and rushes over to face the dragon. A vollley of arrows from Barrett miss the dragon as he tries to hide outside the hall and closes the doors for cover.

The dragon is now in a frenzy and Drong, Vogue and Ragnar are all taking blows. Before vanishing again, the dragon breathes out a mist of electrified vapour, the dragon covers Drong, Vogue and Erevan, who conjures a new shield to protect himself while Vogue ducks under the mist and dashes across to eviscerate a dire wolf. Erevan blasts fire at the remaining wolf and misses, but his magma beast finishes it off.

Killing a giant in front of me I send another small magical boost of health to Theseus and Regdar’s prayers do even more to keep the Minotaur from falling. However he is then hit by a swinging paw and staggers. Now able to help him, Thames strikes at the bear with his longsword and recovering from the blow, Theseus smacks it with his hammer.

Jasper is struck with the butt of Nosnra’s huge crossbow then knocked backwards by a wall of force from the Shaman. Recovering, he stands up and teleports past the bear, striking it from behind and knocking it towards Malin. There’s a tinkling rush of air as Vogue flies past and runs it through with her blade, killing the creature.

By this point several of the hill giants have fled and seeing himself surrounded, his pet bear dead and a large part of his clan lying dead around him, Nosnra holds his crossbow up in the air and shouts

“STOP! stop, surely we can come to an arrangement”

Other than Nosnra and the iron dragon, which doesn’t appear to be around any more there’s not a lot left to fight, so I decide to see if we can end this battle without any more bloodshed. Given the situation and how much hill giants understand violence, I bluff a little and come across a tad more evil than I would normally think I am.

“Nosnra! You’ve seen just how powerful we are and how week your clan is against us. Surrender now or after we kill you, we will hunt down your surviving children and they will all die a fiery death!”

“ay an we as already whacked all ya patrols” pointed out Thames, who also understood the power of bluffing it seemed.

Malin has his own approach, probably aided by the splitting headache he must have as Theseus lifts him to his feet.

“grrrrrrrrrrrr”.

Nosnra steps back looking worried from the tiny gnome with the 8ft spear.

“You have fought well Nosnra, far better than any of the other giants we have come across. Truly you are a mighty chieftan and it would be a shame to kill you.”

At this, Nosnra throws down his crossbow and agrees to surrender. He yells and the iron dragon suddenly appears by his side and skuttles away. The door we came in through opens and Barrett staggers into the room, his hair someone frizzy. Drong follows him in. Apparently, while hidden outside the room giving cover fire, the dragon had teleported in behind him and been zapping him with electrical shocks between bites. Fortunately Drong had heard the attack and run through to help out.

Nosnra takes us through to his living quarters to negotiate in comfort. He refuses to be taken prisoner as he feels he would be better off dead than rotting in a Hochhochian cell, but he does offer to grant us three requests if we leave him and the remainder of his steading alive. This sounds like a reasonable request to us, so we have a bit of a chat amongst ourselves and make our three demands..

Firstly, we ask for the locations of all the giant strongholds. He gestures for us to follow and he takes us through a hidden door and down a short flight of steps to a cellar where the dragon is now curled up in a corner, watching over a huge chest. Rummaging around in it he pulls out a badly drawn map which shows the layout of the giants’ strongholds. We notice fire giant and ice giant names scrawled on the map along with the hill and stone giant ones.

Secondly we ask him to negotiate with the other hill giant clans to get them to stay out of the battle. He tells us he will try, but his orders come through “Obni” from King Snurr. He shows us his latest orders, which command him to bring troops to Howling Crag for an attack on Hochhoch. Hopefully though, we will have reduced the number of hill giants opposing us in future battles and weakened the force attacking Hochhoch.

Finally we quiz him about the structure of the groups of giants. He tells us that he is being ordered around by fire giants and we should talk to Loathar, the stone giant we saw leaving the battle earlier.

Negotiations done, we head back out into the hall to prepare to leave.

“Hey, where’s the werewolf?” asks Malin. “Did you kill it?”

“Yeah, we smacked his arse!” replied Thames.

But looking at the spot where Varg had fallen, there wasn’t a sign of his body, just a patch of drying blood.

“Bugger!”

as usual, Malin had summarised perfectly. Apparently we hadn’t killed the werewolf hill giant quite enough. We’d have to watch our backs!

We agree to leave the steading with our rescued prisoners. The giants give us a variety of carts that had been taken in their raids and loading them up with most of the stolen trade goods, we leave the hill giants to count their dead.

Our plan is to head east towards the dwarven lands as they are on the way to Howling Crag. Nosnra’s orders state that the attack will begin in about three weeks, so speed is of the essence. Chatting to Zander as we cut across country, he agrees to act as our agent in returning the stolen goods. Something which will earn him a nice percentage but more importantly should result in a decent increase in our funds when we’re next in Hochhoch.

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The Burny Man
Hill Giant Nursery Rhyme

A new nursery rhyme appears to be going around in Hill Giant creches..

The Burny Man

Touch not the burny man
lest your fingers frizzle.

Bite not the burny man
or your tounge will sizzle

Strike not the burny man
or flames your skin will flay

Look out, it’s the burny man
run, run, away!

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