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.
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”