Saturday, April 4, 2015

Among the Giants

[Edited 4/5/15. Because typos. Holy cow.]

Peering over the edge of the cliff, the party saw a vast pine forest stretching out below them. Far off to the west, Rothslake glittered in its cold enormity. A single brown thread--the road from Ravensport to Frostwyk--snaked across the landscape about a day's journey west-southwest. The late winter wind blew icy cold and a steady snow began to fall.

Using her magical bat-wings (acquired from the Swamp Witch's hut ages ago), Indis began ferrying her companions down the side of the cliff to the forest floor below. Just as she set Fil down and was on her way back up to collect the next rider, a gigantic wild hawk appeared and decided that she looked like a tasty morsel. Streaking up from the forest, it grabbed her with its enormous claws and began to fly away.  A few stray arrows from the party whizzed past or between its feathers but for a few tense moments, it looked like Indis would be taken away.  Fortunately, she had the ability to wrest free her arms and cast a magic missile spell on the bird, as Elazti did the same from the ground below.  Injured and afraid, the raptor released Indis (who deftly employed her bat-wings again) and disappeared into the forest canopy.

A cold night followed, as the group made camp amid the rocks at the base of the cliff. They did their best to sleep sitting up beneath a layer of shared blankets, while Xanna the thief rekindled one of her patented clay-pot-and-candle portable heaters. By the time morning broke, some 14" of snow had piled up around them.

The journey to the road took longer than expected thanks to the heavy snowfall and dense forest, but eventually they did make it. Once on the path, the group struck west in the hopes of making it to Frostwyk before they froze to death or ran out of food. Having grown up in the area, Ambiorix recalled rumors that savage berserkers, dangerous Ursari (bear-men), giants, and other unsavory creatures often frequented the area.

Two more days passed and luck, it seemed, was on the party's side. No one--or no thing--disturbed them. They were about a day and a half from Frostwyk when the sight of smoke from the road ahead gave them pause. Using her crystal ball, Elazti scried the remains of a camp.

Two smashed and overturned wagons lay wrecked on the road, the body of a half-eaten horse plopped between them. A short, humanoid figure stumbled off the road and into the forest to the north while a wide path of broken trees and huge footprints pointed southward. Following the path with her magical sight, Elazti saw a pair of two-headed giants smashing their way through the forest. One carried a dwarf under each arm while the other carried a dwarf and a horse.

Ambiorix, Indis, Elazti, and Panopé rushed ahead to see if they could find any survivors at the destroyed camp while Xanna and Fil sneaked through the woods to try and gain information on (and possibly an advantage over) the two-headed giants.

Two heads are better than... uh, never mind.
At the camp, the first group found a dwarf woman unconscious and bleeding just off the road. Panopé healed some of her wounds and, once she was conscious, the dwarf identified herself as Arda, part of a group sent from the far-off dwarf realm of Arkencairn to try and reclaim an ancient silver mine.

Meanwhile, Fil and Xanna used their stealth to tail the giants.  That is, until Xanna made an unfortunate misstep, tripping over a snow-buried branch and stumbling, face-first, onto the giants' path.  They immediately noticed her and the closest monster gave chase.  Xanna took of at top speed, simultaneously running and rummaging through her pack.  Just as the two-headed beast was almost on top of her, she found what she'd been looking for: a potion of flying! She downed the pale blue liquid and instantly took to the sky.

Safely out of reach, she began firing crossbow bolts at the giant, shouting "death from above!"

Having heard the commotion, the rest of the party and their rescued dwarf friend rushed to the scene. Before the giant closed in on them, Eazti used her Staff of Power to unleash a fireball at it, which severely burned the beast. The monster only got in a single attack (which mildly injured Elazti) before Ambiorix and Indis closed in and finished it with their magic blades.

The Widow Arda
Fil, seeing no better option, jumped from his hiding place and began taunting the second two-headed giant with his own bizarre, two-headed companion: Herbert the Golden Piglet.  The giant, confused, enraged, and hungry, gave chase.  Like its companion, it stumbled headlong into our band of deadly adventurers.  A lightning bolt from Elzati and some melee attacks from the rest of the party and that giant, too, was soon dispatched.

A quick investigation showed that only one of the dwarves, Delath, had survived. The other two (which included Arda's husband) were laid to rest in the forest.

Once the funerary rights were conducted, Arda and Delath made an offer to the PCs: help them reclaim the ancestral mine and the party members would be rewarded with a full share each of the future mineral rights.  They agreed to do so after a quick return to Frostwyk for healing, supplies, and a visit with Ambiorix's father and half-siblings...

NEXT TIME: Brothers abroad, a merchant and his strange servants, and the beginning of the Abandoned Silver Mine adventure!

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