Journal Posts

Tag: recap

Against the Giants - Hall of the Fire Giant King, Parts 7 & 8
The group crept forward as quietly as they could to the vast cavern Ambrie had scouted. They were not quiet enough. A voice, deep and terrible, echoed from a ledge at the far side of the chamber. The ancient red dragon introduced itself as Imvaerharhro - Inferno for short - and Soren recognized the name. He was one of the mightiest dragons of the North, and a terror for more than a thousand years. The dragon offered them their lives if they left their weapons and treasures behind. Though Hornbeast was willing, the rest were not, and the dragon took wing from his hidden ledge.

The battle was fierce and unpredictable. Orosius was crippled by dragon-fear, and despite his speed, Krush could not close with the mighty dragon. Even as Inferno blasted the group with his fiery breath, a quartet of salamanders rose from the pools of magma dotting the chamber. Blasts of scalding, poisonous gasses rose from fumaroles scattered across the cavern floor, and the dragon called up gouts of magma from the stone. A mighty spell-caster as well as a ship-sized killing machine, the dragon unleashed blasts and walls of flame, and evoked a fiery claw that grabbed at his foes. Soren, Ella, and Rurik initially stayed back to offer spell-casting support (along with Sindri, firing his magical bow), while Krush, Orosius, Hornbeast, and Ambrie ran forward to engage the beast. The battle-lines quickly shifted however, and Hornbeast and Ambrie engaged the dragon on the cavern floor while Krush, Rurik, and Orosius struggled down from the ledge where the dragon's hoard lay.


"I'll take all your treasure! And a side order of fries! And make it snappy!!!"

The monk was a cagey foe, dodging claws, bite, and tail as best he could, while launching well-placed blows and joints and vulnerable spots, both with his magical rod and his mighty fists and feet. It was enough to keep the dragon off-balance, unable to take wing or react to opportunities in combat. Wounded by his blows, the halfling's sword of light, and the spells and arrows of the elf wizard and the gnome ranger, Inferno sought to flee with part of its hoard, which was loaded on a sturdy old rowboat in the upper cave. Despite his speed and power, Ella was able to interpose herself and stun the dragon with a word of power. Reeling and unable to move, the dragon fell prey to Orosius and the trident Wave, slain even as its escape was in sight!

The heroes rested, counting the dragon's loot quickly and with a practiced eye, mostly thanks to Ambrie. After the halfling thief had appraised most of the precious stones, jewels, and objects of art, she took off to explore the ledges on the far side of the cave. She found a series of winding tunnels filled with stalactites and stalagmites, and felt the hairs on the back of her neck rise. Ambrie saw three squid-headed, mauve-skinned humanoids in dark, shiny leather clothes. She tried to sneak back to the group, but was caught in the psychic blast they unleashed as they crept forward, invisibly.


"Um, this barbarian has diet brains. I specifically ordered regular brains. Can I talk to the chef?"

The wave of psychic energy dazed and stunned a few of the heroes, but Krush and Orosius charged the ledge and were on them. One fell quickly, despite grabbing the momentarily-stunned barbarian with his facial tentacles as their saw-like bone spurs sawed into his head and attempted to reach his brain! Ambrie darted back and forth between them, and Ella reached the ledge, blasting them with arcane energy. The leader of the trio surrounded Krush and Orosius with an unbreakable bubble of psychic force, only to fall to the warlock's eldritch blasts. The remaining mind flayer grabbed his fallen leader and shifted to the astral plane, escaping.

Meanwhile, the invisible, tentacled horror they called up had appeared amidst the rest of the heroes in the cave, and Soren, Rurik, Sindri, and Hornbeast were hard-pressed to fight the abomination. It grabbed at them with ropy tentacles and tore at them with dagger-like teeth even as it blasted the quartet with lightning and other energies. But the monk's enchanted rod and powerful fists, along with the wizard's spells and the ranger's blade, proved to be its downfall. What was left appeared briefly, its indescribable form quickly dissolving into fetid corruption.


[I]I'm pretty sure they identified the invisible stalking horror as a "nope" usually found in "we're never gonna go there."[/I]

With that horror defeated, the heroes followed a passage north from the dragon's cave on the ground level, and it led into another large cave. Ledges on the far side stood 40 feet high and looked down onto the floor, where large rock pillars stood opposite a massive, orange crystal formation, which resembled nothing so much as a column of fire. A curtain of flame shimmered and roared on the far side, blocking any exit. As the heroes made their way in, a group of drow rose from the ledge on the far side in ambush, but the trident Wave warned Orosius and his companions. Even as they laid down walls of fire, blade barriers, and fireballs on the group, a trio of fire giants - one a priest of some sort -emerged from the curtain of flame.

The battle was brief but intense, and Orosius and Krush engaged the giants. The priest used some magic to draw both into the fiery crystal, where they could not moved and were scoured by flame, but both managed to escape. Hornbeast, Soren, Ella, Ambrie, and Sindri dealt with the drow, while Rurik advanced on the giants, Whelm singing its death-song for them.

With these enemies defeated, Ambrie scouted the cliff above and found web-filled tunnels leading back to a sleeping area for the drow. The group made their way through, but realized they had set off an eldritch alarm of some kind. Making their way back, Orosius peered through the curtain of flame and saw a vast cavern, one bisected by a river of magma spanned by a basalt bridge. Soren dispelled the wall of fire, and the group raced ahead. A group of drow waited there, along with three more fire giants, a human wizard (no doubt the turncoat they had learned of) and an armored orog who was doubtless his bodyguard.


Drow - bringing sexy back to evil.

The drow high priestess they had fought before was there - Eclavdra, she introduced herself as - and she swore they would not interfere with the Elder Eye's plans! With that, battle was joined. A pair of salamanders rose from the magma along with something else - a rune-scarred fire giant of gargantuan size, one with skin like iron. This rune giant proved to be a fearsome foe, his giant blade scything through the heroes even as magical symbols and spells blasted from his enchanted hide!

The battle was fierce and the heroes nearly fell, but in the end, the giants were slain, the drow routed, and the high priestess lay dead. The group recovered the magical dagger Flame from the rune giant's care, and it was presented to Ambrie. They opted to leave, their objectives of defeating King Snurre's forces, routing the drow, and recovering the magical blade fulfilled. They returned to Phandaliin, got their rewards from the elf king Melandrach and the storm giant lord Krommbolt. As to what would come next...only the gods knew. But Sigryn Stormborn was still a threat, and would have to be dealt with someday soon...
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Against the Giants - Hall of the Fire Giant King, Part 6
Having rested for a brief moment, the group went back to investigate the iron cages hanging from the basalt bridge up the passage back the fire giants' dungeon. As before, the passage opened up, becoming a bridge over an 80-foot deep cavern that ended in what appeared to be a pool of liquid hot magma. Orosius, Hornbeast, and Krush moved up and the itinerant monk began to crank up one of the cages. He heard a cry from below...and something else. Eerie, inhuman screams echoed up as did the flapping of many, many wings.

Suddenly, four giant-sized skulls wreathed in flame flew up into view, accompanied by swarms of what appeared to be bats composed of living fire. The giant flame-skulls began casting spells, blasting the party with fireballs and scorching rays, while they countered spells cast at them. The firebats swarmed the group, biting and clawing with licking flames all about, threatening to ignite whatever they touched. Sindri and Ambrie darted about, peppering their foes with arrows, while Ella, Soren, and Rurik threw spell after spell to seemingly no avail. Krush and Orosius tore at the swarms with their weapons, and though their blows took down many firebats, more yet seemed to take their place. Indeed, one of the flameskulls used its magic to hurl Orosius to the magma far below. Only his efreeti-wrought armor saved him from certain death, though the four fire giant guards that emerged from nearby caves were nearly his doom. Krush was bold enough to swing down and fight alongside him, Blackrazor hewing the giants down, and their stolen vitality enough to keep him alive until he was rescued by Soren.


They were about as bad-ass as they looked.

Eventually, the tide turned. Rurik called up Moradin's holy power, and forced two of the flameskulls to withdraw, while Ella banished one of the others. The last fell, while the swarms were finally torn to shreds. With great care and teamwork, the group coordinated a series of attacks on the remaining flameskulls, leaving naught but shattered fragments in their wake - save one that Soren, necromancer supreme, had brought under his control.

With that threat dealt with, they finished pulling up the cage. Inside was a rather dehydrated looking gnome named Keak. He stated he was a scout, and that he'd accompanied a band of elvish adventurers trying to find Princess Moonshadow and return her safely home. He knew Fonkin from days gone by, and stated he would travel with the group. The elf swordmage and the dwarf knight, Dram Blighthammer, had been badly wounded however, and agreed to accompany Keak back to the upper level, stating they would come looking for the heroes if they had not heard from them in a day's time.

As the group rested for a moment, Ambrie and Sindri crept downstairs from the cave where the driders had set up their lair. The duo found cavern passages far below, and one led to a cul-de-sac filled with lava. Another led back to the magma chamber where Krush and Orosius had slain four fire giants. Yet another set led into a massive, stinking cave. The stench came from carrion...and from trolls. Dozens, by the look of the place. The two diminutive adventurers crept back up the stair, a curious troll with a keen nose nearly on their trail! Upon hearing this, Orosius wasted no time. Best to kill them now, and be done with it!


Yup, they had cave trolls!

So Orosius led the others below, and marched headlong into the troll warren. A massive troll war-chief in plate armor wielding a wicked-looking greataxe awaited them. Negotiations quickly broke down, and the battle was on. The party was surrounded by trolls - including massive mountain trolls, scaled cave trolls, and two-headed trolls! Mighty magics were called down, and Rurik, Soren, and Ella smote them with fireballs and more.

The battle raged, but in the end, the trolls were burned down and the troll chief slain, his adamantime armor and Axe of Sharpness now trophies. As they bound wounds, Ambrie crept ahead to the next cavern. Looking down, she saw beyond a ledge, a massive chamber filled with sulfurous geysers and a second, higher ledge on the far side. Something massive on it stirred...a red dragon, larger than any the halfling thief had ever seen!
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Against the Giants - Hall of the Fire Giant King, Part 5
Following Ambrie's lead, the group had reached the massive iron doors of the fire giants' armory. Without any pause, Orosius kicked the massive doors open wide. While the half-orc pirate roared a challenge, the rest of the group rushed past him! Spells and missiles staggered the three giants and sole azer in the room briefly, though the brass-skinned, fire-haired dwarf blasted back with fiery spells and the giants drew their greatswords and engaged the party in melee combat.


They had been fighting metal-skinned dwarves with fire for hair. Can D&D get any more metal?

The azer spoke a command and flames swirled out of two nearby iron braziers, filling two suits of man-sized armor. Beings of living flame clad in plate mail, the two elemental myrmidons each grabbed a pair of scimitars and joined the fray, along with a small pack of hellhounds released from their chain by one of the giants. While Dram Blighthammer, Fonkin Hoddypeak, Orosius, Krush, and Hornbeast held the line, Ambrie and Sindri peppered their foes with arrows. Rurik hurled his hammer, Whelm, at the giants time and again while Soren, Ella, and the warlock's thrall countered the azer's spells and blasted their foes. In moments it was all over, and their foes lay dead or, in the case of the fiery myrmidons, banished.

A quick search of the armory yielded little of value, save an enchanted shield that was given to the dwarf knight they had rescued, Dram. After binding what wounds they had, the group made their way down a nearby ramp to the second level of the fire giants' lair. Passing by the forge, barracks, and prison they had cleared, the group made their way down a long passage and over a basalt bridge spanning a chasm with bubbling magma visible fully 80 feet below. Iron cages hung on winches along the bridge, but the group only investigated one, which turned out to be empty.


...apparently, it can. They were fighting fire. Armed with swords.

At the end of the hall, they saw a stair on the left side (the south wall, in this case) leading up and a massive set of stone double doors about 40 feet ahead on the same side. On the opposite wall, an alcove was set about 10 feet back. The wall there was made of a strange, dark purple stone that was covered in ropy striations, as if it had party melted and re-solidified. As the group took up position in the hall, Hornbeast made his way to the double doors and Orosius crept as quietly as he could in full mail up the stairs. Both heard chanting, and realized there was a large chamber beyond.

Meanwhile, Ambrie had gone to investigate the strange wall. As soon as she touched it, the stone animated, becoming a mass of writing tentacles. She and Fonkin were quickly grabbed and drawn into the wall, as Soren, Sindri, Krush, and Rurik attempted to aid them.

Orosius had been heard by someone in the large hall however, and an alarm was raised. Hornbeast waited by the doors to ambush whoever opened them, only to be caught by surprise as they were flung open by a pair of fire giants. Orosius charged up the stairs and saw a huge, columned temple hall beyond. A pair of Luskanite warriors were there, along with a Northman priest adorned with the swirling symbol of the Elder Elemental Eye. With them were half a dozen drow, two of the female dark elves also wearing the same symbol. Ella and the Luskanite warlock she had enthralled turned to aid the pair.

As Krush hacked at the wall, it opened, revealing a small cave beyond. Four monstrous driders were there, and the centaur-like spider hybrids unleashed stands of sticky webbing and a hail of arrows. But Rurik, priest of the holy light of Moradin's forge, called forth daylight in a shining globe, causing them and the dark elves in the temple to flinch before its awesome radiance.


That's a whole lot of "nope" right there.

A battle on two fronts erupted, with half the group tearing at the living wall as the driders harassed them, while the other half traded spells and blows with the drow and giants in the temple of the Elder Elemental Eye. In the end, the drow high priestess fled using a magical orb that let her teleport away, though her words indicated she would await the survivors below somewhere.

Wounded, the heroes managed to catch their breath and bind their wounds. The altar in the temple had been activated during the fight, becoming translucent purple with swirling, amber eye at its center. Smoky tendrils had grabbed at all nearby. Ella, a servant of the Great Old Ones, recognized a sacrifice was needed. The Luskanite cult priest had been rendered insensate by a spell, and was drug over there. As his body was pulled into the crystal, it blackened and became opaque once more. A flask of black liquid appeared atop it, and the female warlock drank deeply.


Would you really drink anything at this guy's house? I'm just saying...

In a flash, she gathered strange insights. The cult of the Elder Elemental Eye - THARIZDUN - counted Sigryn Stormborn, high captain and war-lord of Luskan as a member. They had stuck an alliance with their compatriots among the drow, and had unleashed the giants to upset the balance of power in the North. They sought weapons of great power - Wave, Whelm, and Blackrazor among them - weapons that could serve as keys to free ancient and terrible primordials chained since the Dawn War. One of the weapons, a dagger named Flame, had been recovered by the drow as a gift for Luskan's war-lord, and was somewhere below. A sword named Storm was somewhere on an island in the Trackless Sea, and the last, an axe named Ice, was already in Sigryn Stormborn's hands. A set of rough-hewn steps off the small cave led down, as did a ramp back at the foot of the bridge on the north wall of the passage. No matter what, their foes lay below.
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Against the Giants - Hall of the Fire Giant King, Part 4
Exiting the extra-dimensional space of Soren's Mordenkainen's Magnificent Mansion spell, the group made their way out of the king's treasure cave and back up the tunnel to the secret door by the throne in the great hall. As they had figured, they were expected. A simple alarm - chimes strung on a wire in front of the panel - clanged as they entered. Four fire giants stood guard, and they called out as the group entered. Boldo, the newly crowned fire giant king entered, accompanied by a fire giant priest, a fire giant with a scourge-like whip, four more fire giant warriors, a pack of hell hounds, a sinister-looking dwarf in a mail shirt, and the Luskanite spell-caster that had fled their battle with King Snurre.

"I had expected you sooner,"Boldo said wryly. "Some of my advisers thought you might of left. I knew better. You wished to talk of terms? I give you none. I rule here. And you are guilty of regicide. Now...what kind of king would I be if I let you leave freely after that? No, give me the one who struck the death-blow." He hefted his axe - the very same wielded by the executioner below. "I will take that one's head, and the rest of you may leave with your lives. Otherwise all of you die."

You know you've made it when you kill the guy on the cover of the Player's Handbook.

Krush stepped forward. "I took one king's life. I will take another's!" With that, battle was joined. It was a hard-fought contest, with Krush, Orosius, and Hornbeast at the front and badly outnumbered. Their new allies Dram and Fonkin stood near the throne, protecting Ella, Soren, and Rurik as best they could, along with the Luskan guard the warlock had enthralled. Ambrie and Sindri darted about, using bow and blade to strike at the giants' heels and the chinks in their armor. Ella encased the hell-hounds and the Luskan woman in a cage of force, only for the woman to escape with a minor teleportation spell. The dour, mailed dwarf - who could only be the traitor Obmi Ironwhisper - dashed in, striking at Orosius and Hornbeast. He was incapacitated by magic, as were a couple of giants. The winter warlock was dropped by the monk, while Krush finally dealt a death-blow to the usurper Boldo.

With the tide turned, the rest of the giants and their azer slaves fell quickly, cut down in retreat before they could gather any reinforcements. Obmi was taken prisoner, and Dram took him down to the dungeons for the time being. He was too dangerous to keep close, and too wily to leave tied up somewhere that wasn't secured. The Luskan guard died thanks to an "accidental" stabbing on Soren's part, only to be raised as an undead warrior under the elf necromancer's command. Ella enthralled the warlock from Luskan instead, binding her will as she used the powers granted her by the Great Old Ones to crush her independence.

After catching their breath and tending to their wounds, the heroes went on to explore the rest of the top level of the hall of the fire giants. They found empty barracks and a council chamber of sorts, along with what had to be Obmi's office. A few maps and letters there spoke of the giants' plans, and of their alliance with the drow. Apparently, the cult of elemental evil had far-reaching tendrils...

Scouting around the immediate area, Ambrie found a kitchen and dining hall with a few fire giant maids, a pair of guards, and a cook. Several azer servants were on hand, and a pair of them guarded a door into what must be other chambers. The sneaky little halfling went back to the group and informed them of her discovery.

"I thought when the giants said they were inviting us for dinner that it sounded a little too good to be true."

Krush decided he would be the one to "parley" and kicked the door in! With a rush, the group charged in and handled the giant cook and her servants. Although Krush nearly ended up in a pot of boiling stew thanks to the cook's tongs and took a nasty cut or two from her massive cleaver, he managed to slash her throat with Blackrazor, letting her lifeless body collapse onto the boiling pot that was coughing forth poisonous vapors. Despite the ensuing explosion of flame and toxic gasses, the barbarian rose, full of stolen vitality. Soup, as it turned out, was not on. The rest of the giants fell, and the azers surrendered, exiting the kitchen.

Two more giantesses and a dozen young fire giants waited in the halls beyond, along with a few more hell-hounds. Ambrie and Orosius gave them the option of leaving with their lives. Despite suspicious glowers, the giants took their offer and fled the hall. As the group ransacked the kitchen, its storerooms, and the barracks, Ambrie scouted back the other direction out of the dwarf's office. She had found a long hall with a door on the right. It led into what appeared to be an armory, tended by more azers and a pair of nervous-looking fire giants. That appeared to be the last of what they had to deal with above. After that...well, the drow had to be here somewhere! And there were plenty of passages leading down....
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Against the Giants - Hall of the Fire Giant King, Part 3
Ambrie scouted the long corridor ahead of the group, quietly peering around the corner more than 100 feet ahead. Two more dusky-skinned armored ettins stood there, along with a half dozen fire giants and a strange, one-eyed, hunched humanoid on a chain. Apparently, the frost giants had warned them as well on their way out. The tiny halfling thief sneaked back to the group, who decided simply to charge and barrel through the obstruction.


Forget cave trolls. They had a hynotoad.

Their tactics were surprisingly successful. Rurik conjured a wall of spinning blades, seemingly pulled from Moradin's forge, cutting a swath through the giants and quite literally cutting down their mobility. Orosius, Krush and Hornbeast took the lead, engaging the giants and ettins as the rest of the group stayed back and peppered the enemy with missiles and spells. The monstrous black-skinned, one-eyed nothic was dominated by Ella, and she turned the power of its gaze back on the giants. In short order, the enemy was dispatched.

The heroes made their way down the long hall, past a ramp leading up and a pair of sealed iron doors. To their left, more than 100 feet ahead, a short flight of steps led up to a cavern-like smithy on the edge of a pool of molten rock. The fire giant smith was there, and he wore a cunningly-crafted golden helm. He was obviously blind, but seemed to sense the heroes' presence better than a sighted giant would. Despite Hornbeast's attempts at parley, the giant smith would have none of it. A series of ringing blows on his anvil summoned more giants from a nearby barracks, along with another pair of massive hell hounds. A construct of stone and iron, set with dozens of whirling blades, stood near the giant smith's forge.


Yup, he threw red hot anvils at the party. Freaking fire giants are METAL!


The battle was bloody and swift. Krush charged the fire giant smith, and despite being hammered by him and slashed by his construct, the dragonborn barbarian cut him down with Blackrazor, causing his body to tumble into the magma pool. Ella turned the nothic's gaze against the giants and hell hounds, and sent the monstrous beasts running off while the giants reeled under its hypnotic gaze. The heroes ended up cutting down the giants and smashing the construct, and took a moment to rest as they looted their barracks.

Backtracking to the sealed iron doors, Soren opened them using a knock spell. There were a few azer guards and a pair of fire giant guards waiting in a long hall lined with cell doors. The dungeon! As the heroes charged in, Sindri and Orosius were nearly crushed as the steam-driven doors slammed shut again. Ambrie and Krush had run in, and all four were nearly cut off. Apparently, someone had activated a mechanism to shut the massive doors. Ambrie quickly began unlocking cell doors, freeing a doughty dwarf warrior who gladly took her magic dagger when offered it and ran into the fray. She also freed an elf warrior, who conjured his own blade before moving in to fight. The halfling thief found a lever in a third room, and opened the doors once more before running forward.

Meanwhile Krush and Orosius engaged the giants and Rurik and Ella ran in. The doors slammed once again, but Ambrie found a second lever, dispatched the azer who had pulled it, and opened the doors one more time. The heroes discovered that the intersection ahead where the giants stood led to a torture chamber. A pair of fire giants - the torturer and an executioner by the look of them - stood ready, along with another member of Luskan's Arcane Brotherhood and his two barbarian bodyguards.


The fire giant executioner - chopping necks and cashing checks!

The battle spilled into the torture chamber, and Orosius found himself slammed into a giant iron maiden. Only his half-orc constitution kept him upright, despite half a dozen piercing wounds. Though it was a difficult battle, the heroes prevailed as Ella briefly banished the executioner to the para-elemental plane of frost with a powerful spell and the torturer was cut down.

After catching their breath, the heroes searched the remaining cells. They found a group of elvish warriors and the very elf princess they had been looking for - Moonshadow, daughter of King Melandrach of the Misty Forest. She was...well, a handful. Powerful and charismatic, no doubt, and a born leader. She was also kind of critical and demanding, and warned the heroes that other, darker forces were involved with the giants and the emissaries of Luskan's new war-leader; the drow. Specifically, it was a group of dark elves serving the cult of the Elder Elemental Eye, a power of darkness and corruption. The heroes had seen those same marks on the tools used by Sigryn's followers. There was a great conspiracy here, and it made them uneasy. All save Ella, perhaps. Despite her drive to continue on, Orosius and Ambrie convinced her to return home to her father and safety. Soren provided the princess and her retinue with a scroll containing the spell teleportation circle, and they departed. But the elf eldritch knight, Fonkin Hoddypeak, and the dwarf knight, Dram Blighthammer, agreed to stay with the group and fight the evil beneath the halls of the fire giant king.


"Are you really going to wear THAT into battle? And you should sharpen your axe. And..." Yeah. It was probably best they sent her back home. Adventurers never listen to authority figures! Don't they know a little guidance is necessary for success?

Perhaps more importantly, they also rescued a captive fire giant named Boldo, one of the former king's lieutenants. He vowed to unite the fire giants remaining and convince them to cease their attacks and sue for peace. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, the heroes turned over Snurre's iron crown to him and sent him on ahead. Meanwhile, they sneaked back to the king's treasure chamber to rest up in the still-extant extra-dimensional Mordenkainen's magnificent mansion spell. They were hurt and tired, and would let events progress as they would. After all, they had killed plenty of giants so far. What were a few dozen more?
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Against the Giants - Hall of the Fire Giant King, Part 2
Exiting the invisible portal Soren's spell had created, the heroes re-emerged into the fire giant king's treasury cavern. Someone had obviously searched the area, as the fragments of the iron golem had been gathered up and the dead hydra reduced to ash and bone. But they had remained unseen inside the pocket dimension. Figuring their next step should be to deal with the fire giants' queen, who had been mentioned by the surrendering azers in the king's hall, the heroes set about exploring. They opted to head the direction not taken in the secret tunnel, figuring it would likely lead to a bolt-hole in the king's quarters. They were right.

Unfortunately, the queen was waiting and ready for such treachery. A crude alarm had been set on the panel into the royal chambers, and it went off as the secret door was opened. Hornbeast went forth to parley with the hideous Queen Frupy, only to nearly have his head knocked off his shoulders by her flaming mace! The heroes had to fight the queen, her armored maids and bodyguards, as well as a dozen azer slave and her pet dire weasels. One of the man-sized beasts had clinged to Rurik's neck like a leech, trying to chew through the dwarf cleric's armor to reach his throat! The queen even employed a magic mirror on her wall, briefly trapping Krush, Ambrie, Sindri, and Soren in an extra-dimensional prison!


One could go as far as to call the fire giant queen...hot?

Despite the numbers being against them, the heroes felled the queen and her servants. This was in no small part due to the horde of berserkers Orosius had called forth with the iron horn of Valhalla he had recovered from the frost giant jarl's treasure hoard. He sent the berserkers ahead into the throne room, downing several hell hounds and driving off a pair of fire giants while the heroes managed to bind their wounds and loot the royal chambers.

Although the winter witch from Luskan had gotten away from the previous battle with the king, the heroes had no idea where she was or what the current disposition of the giants was for that matter. To that end...they opted to head back to the treasury! A second set of rough-hewn stairs led down to a secret door. As the heroes had learned that an elf princess and her retinue had been captured by the fire giant king during their respite in Phandalin, they decided to try for the dungeon. Ambrie opened the secret door into a partially-collapsed chamber.

Several hill giants and stone giants were there, no doubt guests of the king. Hornbeast attempted to parley, and with some aid from Orosius and Ambrie, they convinced the stone giants to walk. This was, after all, not their fight. The hill giant sub-chief had none of it. He wanted blood and battle, and he got it! He was the first to die. The rest of the giants were cut down in short order, and the heroes followed the stone giants into the hall beyond.


"And that's when the rest of the group realized when Hornbeast said he wanted to parley, what he was really saying was he wanted to murder every monster they came across."

Unfortunately the stone giants had warned the other guests - a band of frost giants - that the intruders they'd been warned of were back. As they made their way out into the hall, Ambrie and Orosius found a huge cart harnessed to a giant yak and several angry frost giants. The heroes fought these giants (despite some misadventures with the yak-drawn cart) and the king's other guests - a rakshasa noble and his three rakshasa guards! The fiends were nearly a match for the heroes, as Soren, Ella, and Rurik found their magic ineffective against the tiger-headed beasts and they were almost a match for Orosius and Krush in melee combat.


Um...good kitty?

With the rakshasas and the giants down, the heroes took a moment to catch their breath before pressing on...
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Against the Giants - Hall of the Fire Giant King, Part 1
Two full tendays passed as the companions rested in Phandalin, attending to more mundane concerns as they went over the map recovered months ago from the steading of the hill giant chieftain, Nosnra. Reports of attacks by giants, ogres, and orcs around Nevewinter Wood and both the High Road and the Long Road near the vast forest continued to come in. Trade with Neverwinter was near a halt, and more communities had been sacked and burned. The heroes decided it was time to act. Using the formula for the teleport circle found on the scroll in the treasure of the frost giant jarl, the heroes traveled by magic to a ring of broken standing stones on the slopes of Mount Hotenow, deep within Neverwinter Wood.


The slopes of Mount Hotenow.

They followed a broken trail up the mountain, past streams of lava and past burned forest up to a road of basalt that ended at great, obsidian doors leading into the mountain. This had to be a way into the lost dwarf city of Gauntlgrym, perhaps the lower levels, now taken over by the fire giant king and his kin. Soren could detect complex enchantments on the handle-less doors of unshatterable volcanic glass, and with Ambrie's cunning suggestions, unwove the enchantments and opened the doors.


Not the most friendly neighborhood.

The opening led into a vast hall lined with pillars of basalt and gas-powered brass torches reflecting off polished walls of black-and-red veined stone. Ambrie sneaked past a pair of dusky-skinned, armored ettins and a small alcove covered by one of many tapestries of woven metal strands hanging in the hall. A fire giant sentry was there. She came back and warned the group, who decided to approach in force as she remained in the shadows. Hornbeast took point, demanding to see the fire giants' king. The bemused giant and the ettins escorted the heroes down the hall to a massive throne on a dais lit from behind by a pool of magma. A few fire giant warriors and their azer slaves - brass-skinned, fire-haired dwarves in scale armor - stood ready, along with a pair of coal-black hell hounds the size of horses. A massive fire giant with a crown of iron wearing the hide of a white dragon as a cloak sat on the throne - King Snurre, ruler of the fire giants! A human woman in a blue gown and furs stood next to him. She was introduced as an emissary - from Luskan. No doubt Sigryn Stormborn's hand was involved in giants' attacks here as well. But word had reached the heroes of other, darker powers...but they were not evident yet.


King Snurre Ironbelly. I assure you, it did not move like a bowlful of jelly when he laughed.

After hearing Hornbeast's terms, he laughed without mirth. "You think to dictate terms to me in my own hall? Think again! Kill them, and take their skins for my trophy hall!" With that, the battle was on! One of the azers threw a lever beside the throne and hidden gas jets in the pillars ignited, shooting flames out over the hall. Krush and Hornbeast surged forward, cutting down giants and hellhounds in an attempt to reach the king as Orosius, Rurik, and Ella held the middle, fighting off the ettins and more giants. Soren held back, blasting with spells as Ambrie and Sindri darted about with their bows, evading both ettins and giants as best they could. The winter witch from Luskan blasted ice and snow in the hall, but Ella helped to counter her magic as Rurik used healing prayers to keep the group fighting. Hornbeast countered the fire giant king as best he could, keeping him busy long enough for Krush to deliver the killing blow with his terrible black blade. Blackrazor drank deeply of the king's soul, filling Krush with stolen vitality. The rest of the giants fell, and the azers threw down their hammers.


Yeah, it was that freaking epic.

After checking the giant king, taking his bejeweled crown, and prying some of the gems from his obsidian throne, the heroes tried one of the iron levers next to the throne - the one that did not activate the gas-jets (which had been shut off). A secret door to the left of the throne opened in the back wall, leading to a rough, cave-like passage. Ambrie scouted ahead, finding that the tunnel went left and right. Scouting to her left, the halfling thief found rough stairs going down to a cave filled with five enormous iron treasure chests! Hornbeast made his way down the right passage, but held up as the rest went to investigate the chests.

Unfortunately as soon as Ambrie tried to pick the lock on one of the chests, the illusory wall at the back of the cave wavered as a huge iron golem strode forth, with a massive, eight-headed fire-breathing hydra slithering behind it! The heroes were soon embroiled in a terrifying battle. They severed head after head on the hydra, only for two more to sprout instants afterwards. It bit and breathed gouts of flame even as the iron golem delivered blows with its fists capable of pulping a man. Only the heroes' quick reflexes saved them, though a couple of glancing blows nearly stove in Orosius's ribs. Worse yet, the fiery breath of the hydra was melting and re-forming the iron golem, sealing up the damage done to it by the heroes' enchanted weapons as if it had been freshly-forged!


Yikes!

Despite the power of the beast and the iron juggernaut, the unstoppable tide of blades, tridents, and arrows cut down the hydra's heads as blasts of cold sealed the stumps. The golem was downed as well, and the heroes stood triumphant despite their wounds. Orosius, as it turned out, had grabbed a ring of keys from the fire giant king. Ambrie went around, making sure to disarm any traps that might be set off by using the wrong key, and the heroes looted the king's treasury. Orosius found a suit of mail forged by the efreeti of the City of Brass that rendered him immune to fire and Soren a staff of the magi crafted by the archmages of Anuaria - a mighty weapon indeed!

Figuring that their wounds would quickly get the better of them, and that the rest of the giants would be on alert, the heroes opted to lay low. Soren conjured an extra-dimensional portal using the spell Mordenkainen's Magnificent Mansion, and the heroes rested unseen for a time. Let the giants rage...the heroes would strike when they were ready, unseen, in the very heart of their stronghold...
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Against the Giants - Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl, Part 1
A few weeks had passed since the Heroes of Phandalin had returned home from Secomber, where they had brought an end to the giant attacks on the Delimbiyr River valley. They had slain Thane Arnak, mad ruler of the stone giants of Howling Crag, opening up the Trade Way south and east. As late summer gave way to early autumn, cold winds and rain threatened an early snow in the hills. With the threat of an early winter came word of attacks by bands of orcs, ogres, and frost giants along the High Road. Caravans and small settlements as far south as Longsaddle and as far east as Mithral Hall had been attacked, and trade out of Mirabar had ground to a near halt.

Learning that the Marchioness of Mirabar and the ruling Council of Sparkling Stones had promised rewards to those who could put an end to the attacks, the heroes journeyed north. Fending off a few attacks by bands of orcs and ogres, the heroes reached the northern city. It was atop a knoll overlooking the River Mirar, and its thick walls were sloped and its squat, stone buildings reminiscent of a fortress. After securing lodgings at a local inn, the heroes were summoned to meet with the city council.


Mirabar by night.

Descending into the lower levels of the city, which was home to nearly as many dwarves as humans, the heroes were escorted to the Council of Sparkling Stones. After a productive meeting with the Marchioness and the councilors, the heroes agreed to help. They had learned about the frost giants' stronghold, a series of caves in a glacial rift high in the Spine of the World Mountains, several days northeast of Mirabar. They also learned that one of Jarl Grugnur's lieutenants, a frost giant named Vaald, had offered a cessation of hostilities should the jarl be slain. Despite the offer of a guide, the heroes opted to use the magical chain found in Thane Arnak's possession, and teleported to a spot a couple of miles west of the rift.

The heroes had prepared, and thanks to their winter gear, managed to hike there without incident. Sindri even found a small cave nearby, one fairly well hidden and dry, and at the back of a cleft small enough that no giant could squeeze through it. Wending their way down a crudely carved stair at the mouth of the rift, they heroes found themselves on an icy ledge on one side of the small canyon. Ice and snow were prevalent, mists cloaked the bottom of the rift, and heavy winds made any prospects of flying or climbing nigh impossible.

With Ambrie scouting ahead, the group entered the first cave they found, only to encounter a small group of frost giant guards and their winter wolf watchdogs. The battle that followed was fairly brief, but fairly messy, though it was hard to tell how much noise carried over the sound of the wind outside. Once the heroes had dispatched the guards and their pets, they made their way down a cave tunnel and into another series of passages.


"Fee Fie Fo Faffling! I smell a sly little halfling!"

Ambrie and Hornbeast found a couple of linked caves with several armored ogres carousing, sleeping, and maintaining their weapons. There was also a pit with several very cold, very hungry looking dwarf slaves. Quietly promising to free them later, Ambrie and Hornbeast crept back to the group. Hornbeast wanted to find the frost giants' jarl, and eliminate him as quickly as possible.

Finding a set of steps carved into the side of the rift, the heroes descended to its floor. Making their way through large mounds of snow, the heroes were caught off-guard when huge, blob-like mounds of the stuff started attacking them! These oozes seemed to be made of living snow, and their touch burned when it struck. Despite their immunity to slashing blades, the heroes nevertheless managed to burn them down.

Beyond, they saw an icy dome at the bottom of the rift. Picking their way through jagged ice, the heroes were nearly surprised as a massive figure broke through the ice and snow. It was a remorhaz, and it roared with an inhuman shriek as it charged the party. Despite slamming its burning back-plates into the heroes and swallowing Orosius, the half-orc pirate put Wave to good use and killed the beast from within!


The worst part? It's breath! Okay, maybe second worst after the whole "eat you and burn you to death" thing.

A pair of frost giants had been alerted however, and threw frozen handaxes (each about the size of a greataxe) from above. Despite Hornbeast's entreaties to talk after literally running up the cliff face, Orosius managed to pitch his magical handaxe high enough to strike one's helm, causing it to fall from the 100-foot ledge. Meanwhile, Ella transported herself and Krush up to the ledge with the other. She paralyzed the giant long enough for Krush to cut it down, and with magic, they rejoined the others on the floor of the rift. With one giant surviving and reinforcements on the way, they drug their new captive off in hopes of learning something. Meanwhile, Ambrie had found a dagger of red-black obsidian in the icy dome, apparently indigestible by the remorhaz, along with a gold ring. Soren identified the dagger as enchanted and unbreakable, while the ring held a couple of wishes. Certainly this was a stroke of luck, one that might sorely be needed....
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