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Pressing On... To Pyrrhic Victory...
The party chose to rest up, using another tiny but ritual just to get their bearings. Once they did, they pushed forward taking in the impressive cavern. Murals carved along the walls were clearly of dwarven design, but showed the dwarves in defeat. This is a rare find by any historian, as it means that the giant had kept dwarven artisans just to create a tapestry of their own failure and loss. Ngithol was able to make out the clan as Thunderhoof. They were prominent during her time, or place, or whatever she was from. It mattered little, but was interesting none the less.

As they continued on, they found the hall of dwarven armors. All of the kings and generals in the Thunderhooves clan stood here; a trophy room. Some were slowly becoming encased in ice, as if the magic in this cavern was broken somehow. Nissa recognized an animation spell when entering the hall and prepared party for assault. The suits not frozen to the bases walked off their mounts and began assault. It wasn't a nasty battle, but the animated suits did get a few licks in before being shut down permanently. Ngithol suited up one of the full plates that were mostly undamaged and the party forged ahead.

The next room was even more corrupted by the magical ice, creating a slick incline that hampered the party when assaulted by a group of Minotaur skeletons. The first leveled a direct goring charge at Ngithol, taking her to the ground for a moment. The others rallied behind Darius and Reckoning, as it is truly a sight to behold when a paladin wields a smiting hammer against a skeleton. There was little cause for concern when the powdered bones mixed with the melted ice from Nissa and Ngithols Firebolts. And on they walked....

The party eventually uncovered the cause of the magical interference. An ancient shrine to the Flaymaster was damaged and pulsing erratically, messing with the caverns magical auras and likely the cause of the undead. Unfortunately, there was more undead in here! From high up in the ceiling came two beholder zombies!! Eye rays launched and reflected off the ice, blasting the party in all angles. Darius flew up to meet them with his winged boots, while Ngithol tried to goad one down to her terms. All was going well with strong tactics and focused fire, when an erratic beam caught the dwarf in her shoulder. Disintegrate. In an instant Ngithol was gone. Nissa, Darius and Sorn redoubled efforts and barely survived. The rogue was then able to shut down the weird shrine, protecting them from any future magical issues. Darius gathered up the dust left behind of ngithol's passing, hoping the dwarves could maybe bring her back. He might even trade his mighty maul for his friend's life. But that was after they finished the mission. The end of the hall had two large vault doors locked and sealed tight. They found the treasury.

Sorn proved to be useful, again in getting them passed the locks. Once inside, they found a large cache of gold, gems, silver and copper coins, along with potions and scrolls, and in the center of the room on a dais rested Kargi-Mourn. Decorating the room were beautiful tapestries adorned with fire snakes. Each worth a sizable amount of money, but also hiding a nasty secret. Before Darius could reach for the sword, the snakes came to life and leapt from the tapestries. Most were simple flame snakes, but two were much more dangerous: Nagas! One guardian and one bone naga, all working together to protect the dungeon for all time. In an instant, lightning shot from one naga, hitting Nissa and Sorn and killing Beshenen outright. Sorn fell next, but was brought back up with a goodberry, while Nissa and Darius finished off the bone naga. Darius then suffered a nasty hit and was dropped, forcing Nissa to also bring Darius up with her last berry. That was just enough, as he was able to finish off the last naga while Nissa destroyed the tapestries and stopped more from emerging. She fell from a snakebite but Darius was able to stabilize the wizard after attending to Sorn. Beshenen was already lost to them.

The party gathered the treasure and the sword and took their fallen comrade's body out to be buried as is his people's custom. They made a simple rock grave and burned Desarkis' body, though Darius did grab a finger bone with intent to see about his squires resurrection as well. Unfortunately, they had nearly 100 miles to cross in less than ten days, and their guide was dead. It was not going to be easy....
Session: Game Session 42 - Sunday, Nov 29 2015 from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM
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Into the Storm Giant's Stead
The frost giants wasted no time and engaged the thieves with reckless abandon. In mere moments, only Barden the wizard, Sorn the mastermind and Steward the halfling remained of the ten that set out from Shyta-Thybaj. Then a shout came from the hill, and an ethereal greatsword appeared to slice at the leg of one of the giants. Magic missiles and firebolts launched from the wands and hands of Nissa and Ngithol, respectively. Darius led the charge down the hill, absorbing the trees being flung at him thanks to Desarkis' warding bond placed upon him.

The battle was fairly one-sided from that point. Sorn moved to flank with Darius, and Ngithol distracted another while the giants quickly lost both ground and the advantage of numbers. When the last fell, Beshenen's bow pointed at Steward, ordering a lowering of weapons. Steward responded by firing a poisoned bolt at the cleric. The wizard, Barden, put a holding spell upon Darius and shouted for everyone to calm down. Unfortunately, he placed the spell on the wrong warrior. Ngithol sprung forth and blasted the wizard and thief with burning hands, finishing off the halfling and badly wounding the wizard. Nissa then dropped a sleep spell on him, ending the hold on Darius.

When the wizard woke, he was both shaken with fear and in a rage at seeing the smoldering corpse of his best friend. When confronted by Darius, Barden's words were a mixture of vile and anger toward the paladin. Whether he was trying to goad Darius into striking, or if it was the last act of a man fearing death, no one can be sure. Darius was drawn into the argument, for sure. His own temper got the best of him, but he restrained himself from striking the wizard, though his sentiment to leave him freezing in the cold seemed to visibly bother his charge, Desarkis.

Choosing to ignore the wizard for the time being, the party moved to inspect the giant iron doors fitted snugly in the glacier. Ngithol was at a loss, not able to read giantish, or figure out any way to open the door. Nissa cast comprehend languages and could discern much of the giantish language, though the sigils only made words and none were in any intelligible order. She did, however, locate the sigils that would mean "open" in giantish, so they tried that. The doors made a heavy clanking sound, then turned a bright blue before blasting the party with an icy cone of cold spell. After a bit of healing from Beshenen, they reexamined the door. Sorn, the thief, tried to slip away, but his movement was halted when Darius stepped on his cloak. Through a misunderstanding, Desarkis, still feeling some of the effects of his barbaric rage, stepped in between the thief and has master, Darius. If the thief was to be forced to sit and take another blast of that magic, then Desarkis would have to stand up and say no. Darius, still angry from dealing with the wizard, was having a hard time seeing why his squire was stepping up to him, and ordered him out of the way. Thankfully, Ngithol, rarely the voice of concern, was able to recognize the misheard argument, and calmed all down. Darius said he, alone, would stand and work on the door, to reduce the damage taken by others. Nissa was fairly sure she had figured out the door, reading a phrase of "ride the lightning" - which made sense, as storm giants were fond of lightning, though she wasn't entirely sure what that meant, in context. Barden, the wizard, laughed, and offered up assistance to opening the door if they let him and Sorn go. Reluctantly, they agreed, and the wizard grabbed some of the remaining gear and made for the hills. Once he was clear of their sight, Barden sent a sending spell with the instructions that ride the lightning meant to open the door with lightning.

Before Nissa could speak, Ngithol launched her lightning javelin at the door, precisely where Darius was standing. The Paladin suffered both cold and lightning damage, as the trap had reset, but the door did open this time, allowing all to enter. Sorn decided to stick around, thinking he might be able to score a bit of the treasure. It wasn't like he'd be free to head back to Fingers' gang, anyway.

Inside the glacier was a perfectly carved out hall, complete with giant stone columns to hold the ceiling. Crossing the threshold the party quickly spotted some figures standing up as Darius' Reckoning shone bright blue in the cave, reflecting off the walls and providing ample light for all to see the ghouls rise. They moved to strike, but were stopped by Beshenen and Desarkis' attacks. The ghouls were merely a minor annoyance, however, compared to the terrible surprise assault from the wraiths in the walls! They very nearly killed Nissa and Darius, though both were able to survive, thanks to the quick thinking of Beshenen and Darius with their healing abilities. Unfortunately, Desarkis had sustained too many injuries in the fight with the giants, as well as having taken damage from the warding bond he'd placed upon Darius. The half-orc fell from the necrotic draining damage of the wraith's strikes. When the last wraith fell, Darius rushed to his squire's side, hoping to heal him, but it was clear the orc was too far gone. He looked up at his master and simply said, "I learned much by your not a bad man." With that, the half-orc gave his last breath.

The others were tired, but they had to press on. It was unbelievably cold inside the glacier, making it unlikely they'd be able to rest well in here. No, they needed to get the sword and get out, hopefully before the sun fell.
Session: Game Session 40 - Friday, Nov 06 2015 from 3:00 PM to 8:00 PM
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Trailing through the Pass
Owl calmly woke the party inside the magical hut to warn hem of company. A group of orogs had entered into their campsite and we're moving to the hut. Ngithol and Darius began suiting up, knowing the orogs couldn't enter the hut. Unfortunately, the lead orog was wise to the magic and ordered his men to cut down the horses and mule when the party didn't immediately exit. That move got the group jumping faster with Owl and Beshenen momentarily stepping outbid the hut to launch some arrows at their assailants. That bought Ngithol and Darius enough time and they exploded from Nissa's magical barrier and the battle was joined.

The dwarf's blade barrier protected her from the majority of blows as the orogs swarmed her first. The leader then moved in to quarrel with both the paladin and eldritch knight. He proved to be more than a match for the two, with Ngithol taking some severe blows before the orog drew a topaz encrusted javelin from his back and spun to throw past Darius and Ngithol to target Desarkis. However, he shouted "incinerate" in orcish, causing the javelin to transform into a lightning bolt, striking all three with a blast of magical energy. Ngithol resisted, thanks to Plumphelmet, the pseudodragon hiding on her shoulder. Unfortunately, the next barrage of attacks would become more costly. Ngithol was momentarily dropped, along with Owl, followed by Nissa.l. Darius and Desksrkis kept fighting while Beshenen worked to bring the others up with healing magic. Slowly, the tide turned, especially when Nissa unloaded a barrage of magic missiles, ending the orog leader's life. Within moments of his fall, the others rallied to finish off the remaining orogs.

It was a stressful way to wake up, not to mention costly. They were now left without any mounts to carry gear, so Owl stashed what they couldn't carry behind some rocks and they pressed on to catch up with fingers' men. Beshenen and Owl found the campsite, but were unable to track the bandits any further. They were obviously using some camouflaging magic, though it would be of little use. The party knew where the giant's stead was. They would meet up soon enough. As such, Beshenen lead the party through a safer route up the pass; one they couldn't have taken on horseback and would help them make up time.

Along the way, they were encountered by three druids, one of which seemed to know Nissa. They explained that Jynko, the female druid, also had the gift of visions and had the same dreams as the gnome wizard. They were seeking Parn to help free the totemic spirits. Nissa was worried after speaking with the druids that she may have misinterpreted the dream, but was still convinced that a trek to Reanaaria was necessary to save the young woman's life. The three shared information and a few potions to help their new friends and continued on their way.

Later that day, as the party continued to climb through the pass, Ngithol heard a cry for help in dwarvish. Looking down a slippery snow covered slope was a dwarf desperately trying to move a broken cart. Not sixty feet away was an iron covered gorgon, snorting and pawing at the ground, preparing to charge. The archers loosed arrows while Desarkis blasted the creature with magic. Ngithol attempted to charge down the slope but lost her footing and crashed to the lower pass, barely able to stand from the tumble. That alerted the gorgon and it charged at the dwarf. Nissa's magic caused the creature to miss the goring charge, but it was able to trample Ngithol into unconsciousness. It then turned attention to the ranged assailants and launched its noxious breath up the hill. Beshenen suffered the worst, slowly turning to stone, while Desarkis was affected but was able to break free after being restrained. Darius took to the skies to charge the monstrosity as Ngithol was getting up. She drew forth the javelin taken from the orog and shouted "incinerate!" Unfortunately, her throw went high and the Lightning bolt struck the side of the mountain instead of the gorgon. A thunderous explosion, followed by an avalanche of snow and ice tumbled down the mountain covering the party, gorgon and dwarf. Darius was missed due to flying in the air, and Ngithol barely outran the snow. The others weren't so lucky. Nissa was the first to dig herself free, only to find she was in the direct path of the gorgon. It charged forth knocking her out, only to immediately fall from Ngithol's firebolts. The conscious members then set to rescuing their friends. It took a while, but everyone was located, even the stone form of Beshenen. And what luck, but one of the potions provided by the druids restored the sure shot back to flesh! The dwarf, named Rougan, thanked the party and told them he would be happy to make restitution for saving his life if they make their way to Karasta-nu. The party gave him some supplies and continued on their way.

Upward, further into the pass the party journeyed. Eventually coming into a valley blocked by an old glacier. The sounds of battle and screaming could be heard as the party saw fingers' men running from three frost giants!! Just beyond the giants could be seen a massive iron door inside the glacier... The storm giant's stead, at last!
Session: Game Session 39 - Friday, Oct 02 2015 from 2:00 PM to 8:00 PM
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Gotta Pay the Troll Toll
While preparing to leave that morning, Beshenen gathered up some arrows from the fletcher and noticed something peculiar. He brought his findings to Darius, "As you know, I have a good eye for detail. The arrowhead Nisa found, there's no way it came from a gnoll." The cleric continued, "the distinct pattern of the grooving makes it stand out and, compared to these I got this morning, I am certain they were made by same master fletcher." Darius' suspicions were heightened. He wanted to confront and deal with Bendle for this treachery, but Ngithol stayed his hammer, "We cannot be certain the arrows weren't traded for at some point, and we do have a more pressing concern about not losing the sword were chasing after. It is possible we were duped, but then it is our own fault for being so easily fooled." Reluctantly, the paladin agreed and the party made haste to move on from Ryrej and try to make haste to the storm giant's stead.

A few hours along the pass and they were ambushed by some cold, starving trolls!

Three of the sickening giants surrounded the party and went to work, slashing, biting and gnashing at anything remotely edible. It was all the party could do to just stay in the fight! Darius and Desarkis focused as much as they could on the leader, while Ngithol did her part in keeping fire on the creature, ensuring it could not regenerate. Beshenen did what he could to keep everyone upright and fighting despite Owl's insistence on being repeatedly knocked unconscious. Unfortunately, it was not all fun and games, as Jhera was crushed under the claws and teeth of one troll. Things were beginning to look bleak. Owl was down. Desarkis took a vicious blow and faltered. Ngithol was caught and ripped from her horse and smashed into the ground. Beshenen moved to provide aid as the trolls surrounded Darius. The paladin screamed "Aid them!!" And radiant healing burst in flashes of light, healing his comrades and charging up his will. Moments later he held up Reckoning as his eyes begun to glow; even the faintest outline of angelic wings could almost be seen forming when a cacophonous boom leveled one troll. It would never move again. The paladin was growing weak, however. He had done a rare thing, nearly exhausting his holy power, instead having to rely on brute strength to finish off the remaining troll. But he would not be alone. Owl took another blow, but not before healing Darius some, and Desarkis leapt from out of nowhere to deliver a killing blow to the giant.

It was a hard earned victory. One that the party felt earned them a bit of a rest. So they took their time reloading the horses while Ngithol burned the ever living hell out of the troll corpses. Before they could continue on, however, a familiar gust of wind nearly knocked them over. Darius shuddered and dove for cover, "Dragon!" He shouted as a shiny, large copper dragon landed in their way. "I should think so. For I am a dragon!" "Boo." The "boo" actually did scare Owl, who slipped in the snow and fell down. The dragon chuckled a bit before resuming his fearsome pose, "you are trespassing in my domain. I was thinking about killing you, but then you went and killed these blasted trolls that have been irksome for a while. I was going to do it mhself, but they kept hiding. So I may be inclined to give you a pass. IF you can tell me a joke". Owl looked up and said, "I helped kill the trolls". That brought laughter from about everyone, seeing as Owl spent more time picking himself up off the ground than he did fighting. And since the dragon, who identified himself as Modierken, saw the whole thing, he was inclined to find that as funny as the rest. "You chaps are alright. I'll let you pass on your way. Be careful as there are more dangers ahead. I believe some wyverns have been feasting on travelers of late. Keep your eyes upward while traveling." The party exchanged a bit more information on their intent to find the storm giants stead, and the other humanoids searching for it. The dragon didn't share much, but did confirm that they were on the right trail and close to catching up with them.

With Modierken gone, Darius finally felt he could exhale. The last time they faced a dragon, he lost two very good friends. And sages can wax philosophically all they want about metallics being good.. In the end, they're still fearsome and dangerous creatures. In fairness to Modierken, his tip on the wyverns was good, as not but two hours later Owl spotted two of them flying in for a chase. The party rode on until they saw there was little along the pass to hide in or around, so Owl and Beshenen began firing arrows while Ngithol lobbed firebolts. Darius told Desarkis to focus on protecting the party and grabbed Reckoning. As soon as the wyverns came into range, the paladin whistled and his boots grew wings and flung him fast into the air. He collided with one wyvern and began what some bards may call a strange mating dance. Those bards are perverts. Instead, the paladin dealt crushing blows to the dragon, and it returned in kind with claw and poison from its stinger. The second swooped in to help its kin, causing a bit of damage before turning to focus on Ngithol. Darius crushed the first one's head with a severe blow from Reckoning, while the other took down Owl and Ngithol with nasty strikes. Desarkis and Beshenen worked to get their friends conscious as the wyvern shifted focus to the flying paladin. One well-placed stinger in the back and Darius was floating ever so gently to the ground. Were he awake, he would have thanked Deb'fo for the treasure that was winged boots.

The half Orc rushed to his master's side, healing Darius just as Ngithol took ankther sickening flurry of blows. However, she returned much in damage, weakening it enough that Darius and Desarkis were able to finish off the dragon. "What a horrible day", Beshenen bemused, but Darius was almost all smiles. It's not every day you get to pay the troll toll and fight wyverns while airborne.

After Nissa set up camp, Beshenen and Owl scouted the area. They came back with great news! They spotted a campfire not too far ahead. It was likely Fingers' men, meaning they could easily overtake them tomorrow if they pressed the advantage. Ngithol spit out a bit more bile from the poison, "let's talk about that in the morning. Tonight I just don't want to die anymore." Darius agreed and the group slipped into the tiny hut for some much needed rest.
Session: Game Session 38 - Friday, Sep 25 2015 from 2:00 PM to 7:00 PM
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Into the Mountains
The party made good time in getting to Ekof, narrowly avoiding a particularly nasty blizzard that picked up coming off the mountains. They settled in for the night at Ekof commons, the only tavern and inn that caters to travelers coming and going. Their night was not uneventful, however, as a halfling merchant named Bendle and his guide, Ebert approached them with a job.

Bendle recently came into a deal with some nearby gnolls for a large amount of furs. The gnolls, either being too stupid to know the worth, or unable to sell them anywhere else, were offering up a massive trade for a ridiculously low price. Too good for the merchant to pass up. However, Bendle was not a stupid man, and knew better than to enter into a deal with gnolls without good backup. Having heard about Darius and the party's recent exploits, he figured a ten percent cut of the furs would be a reasonable share for watching the halfling's back during the trade. He wasn't expecting trouble, but gnolls have historically enjoyed halfling flesh.

The party agreed and all set out in the morning toward the meeting place. The snow had barely let up from that night before, greatly slowing their travel and ability to see. It was unfortunate, then, that Owl was off tracking the southern slope when they were ambushed by a small group of winter wolves!

The wolves moved in concert and attacked from all sides at once. Darius and Jhera took on the leader while Nissa, Bendle and Ebert held off another. Ngithol led Desarkis and Beshenel toward the third. It was a fairly nasty battle, and one that decidedly favored the wolves in their preferred climate. But home field advantage isn't always enough and while Darius took enough damage to fall, his mighty warhorse was more than enough to finish off the alpha. Meanwhile, Nissa and Bendle finished off the second, and between Desarkis' axe and Ngithol's fire, the final wolf was put down. Before they could enjoy the victory the party needed shelter from the continuing flurry of snow. Nissa opened up a mystical hut using her magic while Desarkis pulled the unconscious Beshenel and Darius inside. They moved to help Ebert, Bendel's guide, but found him frozen from the winter wolf's breath. A silent prayer was given, and the party slipped inside the hut for protection from the elements.

Once they had sufficiently rested and recovered the party set out again to meet with the gnolls. The weather had lessened and was now mostly clear skies with just the slightest breeze. Approaching the small valley where the gnolls were located, Darius was suspect. The gnoll pack leader stood out in the open with four armed warriors and a rather large pack of furs. Bendle and Darius moved down first, with the others keeping an eye out for danger. The gnolls were suspect of a non-halfling arriving to make the trade, but barked out his offer and Bendle agreed, showing the large pile of coin to trade. Just then, an arrow fluttered out from behind the visible gnolls and would have struck Nissa square in the chest were it not for her otherwise invisible mage armor. The arrow shattered off into the snow and the party quickly responded to the ruse, following Bendle into the fray. The fight was over so quick. What looked to be a serious skirmish was rendered moot when Nissa cast shatter upon the packlord and his guards. All three dropped instantly, their gear, eyes and brain matter exploding from the thunderous blast. The remaining gnolls tried to escape, but Jhera trampled one down while the other was caught by the arrival of a halfling scout, Emitt. He was wary of the deal that Bendle and his brother, Ebert had gotten into and came to survey the situation. A good thing, too, as the last gnoll may have gotten away were it not for his well-timed arrows.

Something didn't sit right with Nissa or Darius in how this all played out, however. They could locate gnoll tracks all about the place, but were unable to find the assumed shooter or his precise location. Nissa did locate a piece of the arrowhead that missed her, and it did appear to match up to the arrows used by the other two gnolls they did manage to drop. The whole situation was not without disappointment, however, as Emitt lamented the loss of his brother by the wolves, and regretted not being with his brother to help save him. The party spent the next few hours loading up the furs and checking the gap for any more gnolls. Bendle offered up the reward to the party in coin, seeing how he didn't end up having to spend it on the furs, which was a welcome offer, as it kept weight off the party's mounts and ensured the party didn't have to get the fur anywhere for trade and such. Besides, 1,800 dothok (gp) was a solid payday.

They arrived in Ryrej just before dusk and settled in the comfy calf for a nice warm stew and sleep for the night...
Session: Game Session 37 - Friday, Sep 11 2015 from 2:00 PM to 7:00 PM
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