Giantslayer 5e

Session 29
Clash Of Titans

At dawn the next day a portal opened up within the Oculus' tent and the dwarf was returned from his long ordeal. The Oculus bade the outsiders depart her tent not to return after divulging the existence of an unguarded narrow crevice granting access to the plateau the cathedral rested upon. The group took leave of the horrific creature and her servants and set their sights on safely reaching the top of the plateau.

Using a combination of magic and skill, the group carefully scouted the area before ascending the rough cut to the edge of the wooden palisade surrounding the plateau. Skirting the edge of the massive cathedral, the group at last gained access via a side entrance and found themselves within the nave of the church. As their eyes adjusted to the dimly lit chamber, they witnessed Urathash and another stone giant interrogate the chained form of the young hill giant Toncliff for information on their whereabouts. Unsatisfied with their results, the pair of stone giants retreated further within the enormous complex.

A loft above the outsiders' position held a trio of hill giants, including one braggart named Ruddig Headstomper. Ruddig was very large for his race, and bullied the other pair into fetching him some grog from the groghall. In doing so, one of the giants stumbled upon the hiding invaders and began a fierce melee that attracted the attention of Bjorindil the frost giant and his allies. Bjorindil and Ruddig were especially fierce combatants, and if not for the wizard's magic would have spelled the end of the heroes. Bjorindil's greatest strength was also his weakness, however, in that his magical items granted him exceptional abilities but also caused him to fly into an uncontrollable rage striking at friend and foe alike. Ruddig and Bjorindil enjoined in battle and Bjorindil succeeded in striking down his rival.

Just then, Bjorindil's sister, Gavindra Hoarsdottir, entered the nave and successfully calmed her brother's fury, sending him off to rest. She struck a bargain with the outsiders, bequeathing them a magical signet ring in exchange for their word to destroy her queen in Skirgaard. The group followed her into the groghall and removed several troublesome giants within before moving further into the cathedral's depths. Taking a short rest in a giant pantry off of the groghall, the group witnessed the gathering of giants for the midday sermon as Gavindra urged them to make haste and do what they came to do while Urathash was otherwise occupied.

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Session 28
The Eyes Have It

Heading down the valley wall with the morning sun lighting the path before them, the group came upon an encampment of ogres. The ogres were the dungsweeps of the giant army, and they used this isolated location to prepare their dung bricks from the giants' waste they gathered with their large shovels. The group sought to use the ogres to sneak past the giants and gain access to the cathedral, but Mama Dung intended to double cross the group and so a fierce melee ensued. The ogres' corpses soon littered the camp and the group made haste to gain the valley floor lest more of the dungsweeps show up unexpectedly. 

The valley was wide enough to circumvent the few large tents that dotted the landscape, but the first such tent was surrounded by tall, wooden palisades that housed prisoners. The clear purpose of the tent was an abbatoir based on the gruesome remains behind it, and the group intended to free the human slaves that were being held until they were ready for slaughter. As the group quietly approached the tent, the panicked slaves called out for help, alerting the hill giantess butcher Rotter Bloodfreckle and her bugbear helpers. Powerful magic whisked the pregnant hill giant to another dimension while the group dealt with her minions. When she returned from her banishment, the group was ready and waiting and the hill giantess met a gruesome end. The group released the starving and malnourished slaves from their pen and began to lead them to the far end of the valley where they could hide undisturbed from the giants' patrols. Along the way, they witnessed a group of ogre dungsweeps hastily moving north, presumably having found their dead kin and going to warn the giants. 
 

Quickly moving north once again, the group encountered the eyeball-adorned tent of the Oculus, a mystic orc with her two orog bodyguards. She communicated telepathically with the wizard and said she had a gift to share with him. At her touch, he became incapacitated and fell limp at her feet. She then immediately turned to the group and unleashed a powerful psychic blast that left the cleric and the dwarf reeling in stunned silence. Her bodyguards entered the fray, as did her fiendish barbed devil ally and her companion phantom hound. The group was being overrun, and the dwarf was grappled and subsequently dragged beyond reach and encapsulated in a dome of impenetrable magical force with the Oculus while the group fought for their lives against her allies. It became clear that the helpless dwarf was in dire straits, but there was naught that could be done about it. Her orog bodyguards were actually just lifeless puppets being manipulated by tiny brain creatures, but thankfully they were easily vanquished. Her fiendish ally was sent back to its infernal domain as well. Faced with the remainder of the group and the dwarf's life hanging by a thread, she bargained for his life by requiring two living sacrifices in return.

The group reluctantly agreed and eventually procured for her two orc slaves from within the giants' encampment. During the interim, they encountered a large force of giants heading south led by the frost giant berserker Bjorindil. The scout managed to deceive the giant into thinking she was the Oculus, and convinced him that their group had fled back into the secret tunnel under the mountain. The group spent a tense night in the tent of the Oculus, awaiting dawn when the dwarf would be safely returned.

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Session 27
Trek Into Darkness

Using magic, the group was able to read the ancient giant runes on the mithral disc and discover the secrets of the Rituals of Making and Unmaking. Taking the time to imbue the clay and the fire stones with the proper ritualistic prayers, the group were about to break camp when they witnessed a lone stranger pulling a cart through the rocky terrain of the ruined village. The stranger turned out to be an earth genasi named Sheikh Omanani and he was a peddler of rare goods benevolently sent by an unnamed ally of the group to help them in their adventures by replenishing what must be depleted stores. The trader's prices were steep, but the group had few options and so agreed to trade with him. His parting words were unnerving to the wiser of the group, and fearing the neutral trader might trade their whereabouts to the giants the group paid for his silence in valuable gems that the stranger prized. Bidding the strange traveler goodbye, the group trekked their way down the entirety of the twisty snake canyon and came upon a series of cliff caves where the canyon ended.

Using magic they found one cave that extended into a tunnel into the mountain, but as it was late they wisely decided to camp for the night before entering. The following morning they began the long trek into darkness only to get waylaid by gray-skinned trolls. The trolls were part of the Stoneskin tribe, and their leader was a duergar witchdoctor named Grumchog. Her strong earth magic failed her when it counted most, and the outsiders overcame her troll allies and forced her to surrender. As a means of thanking the group, Grumchog showed the interlopers how to create potions of greater healing out of the stoneskin troll remains. She also showed them a wondrous cavern left over from the time of the giants heyday. It was a star chart and map room depicting the valley as it once was. With that, the odd Grumchog bid the group goodbye as she sought out more stoneskin trolls to replace the ones the group had defeated.

Further down the long tunnel the group came to a room with a sandy floor that contained the bleached bones of many trolls and a giant. The group attempted to not disturb the sand but wound up arousing the ire of the undead spirits of the departed giantkind and had to fight their way through the room against troll specters and their stone giant wraith master. The specters were destroyed, but the wraith was merely turned as the group had witnessed its inability to willfully leave the chamber. Whenever it passed into the halls beyond the chamber, enormous spectral hands pulled it screaming back to its resting place. Leaving the cursed being behind for good, the group passed further under the mountain and to a chamber that contained a fomorian giant named Hurag and his 3 dire wolf pets. First his pets were laid low, and then the fomorian himself was bested. He appeared to be the tunnel's guardian, and once the group had defeated him they were free to traverse the remainder of the tunnel and emerge into the fading light at the southern end of the valley outside the Cathedral. The group made their camp even as they took in the scene of the valley below them.

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Session 26
Swimming With The Fishes

The adventurers spread out to explore the chamber inhabited by the Infernal Scar even as her shade dripped from the ceiling above to reform into something else on the slick floor. They discovered a half dozen large, rough-skinned stones in the northeast corner of the room. The dwarf's tools and hammer made short work of the large geodes and within they found glowing yellow crystals that they began to gather up even as they set to work on the next stone. Just as the dwarf cracked open the second stone, the crystals from the first stone exploded in a fiery blast. Not wanting to risk further harm, the group backed away even as the second stone's crystals exploded. Clearly, these were not the fire stones the party sought. Further investigation of the chamber found a locked stone coffer with a bag of holding that contained some long lost potions.

Expanding the investigation, the group uncovered a narrow secret passage that ran behind the dais. Within it were three smaller, but similar stones. As the group was investigating the new stones, a group of giants led by the frost giant Bjorindil arrived outside looking for more fire stones. The group hid within the secret chamber while the giants gathered up the four remaining false stones and headed back to their encampment. Shortly after the giants departed, the shade completed its transformation into another of Grondur's vessels. The orc thanked the group for releasing it and then immolated in a column of dark flame leaving nothing behind.

The group bid goodbye to the lone surviving orog and left Aduromi's Chapel the next day to head off to the lake. Bypassing several giant patrols they made the lake without any disruptions. Using a recipe for a potion of water breathing they had discovered at Fandarra's Shrine, the group procured the necessary gillweed from the lake's edge and crafted enough potions to allow them all to spend 1 hour underwater. Heading out to the lake's dark center led to an encounter with a monstrous shark and its two lesser mates. Once the sharks were dealt with, the group found the ruins of an ancient giant village that sank hundreds if not thousands of years ago. Only one ruin remained intact, and it was a temple to Minderhal. Having previously warned the outsiders not to disturb the sacred water, the merrow that kept the lake fought to the death to protect it. The temple's final guardians were a quartet of chuul, but they, too, were dispatched. The temple's spoils belonged to the outsiders. The primary treasure was a large mithral disc with giant runes on both sides. The group surmised it contained the Rituals of Making and Unmaking, but could not immediately read the ancient runes on its surfaces. They grabbed the lightweight disc and swam with it to shore just before their potions wore off. Not being able to take the disc with them, they copied the runes on both sides and buried the disc in the silt near the lake's edge. They then traveled back upriver to the slag giant ruins and camped for the night, intending to use magic the next day to read the runes and discern its secrets.

Ding, level 9!

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Cutscene 8
The Forge Mistress Speaks

You awaken in the middle of the night to find yourself in a strange place. You are indoors, underground, no longer in the valley proper but somehow within the massive cathedral. Dust covers the floor and cobwebs drape the walls. The room's dimensions are not discernible as they are beyond your vision, concealed by impenetrable darkness, but you sense the room is made for giants. You feel quite small and exposed.

Your attention is drawn to the source of light – a pillar of cemented soot-blackened stones illuminated by waxy lumps of crude candles. A ring of mystic symbols fashioned out of metallic dust encircles the stones. A shaky voice speaks from the darkness. "In times now lost, my ancestors built the sacred forge in the cathedral above to honor He Who Makes and Unmakes. I am Etena, Keeper of the Forge." A shadow of a giantess forms from out of the darkness. As it approaches the light its features become more discernible. She has short, thinning white hair, a soot-stained dingy complexion, wrinkled features, age-spotted limbs, and milky white eyes. She continues, "I inherited my position from those who walked this world before me, and those before them. I am the guardian of the sacred forge. The forge was not created for the perverted cause Urathash and the Tyrant have intended. Had I the strength, I would stand up to them. I would stop them. You, however – you, the bearers of the Drakesbane Horn – you have the power to stop them. If you can't stop them, you have to destroy the forge. Perhaps both. But first, you must learn what must be done."

The ancient giantess lets out a grunt as she kneels onto the cold, stone floor. Her blind eyes search the chamber's heights for inspiration as she continues her tale. "According to the sacred texts, four ancient heroes first brought Minderhals' Forge to life. Mymrith the Maker was a priestess of Fandarra. She used clay gathered and prepared near the shrine of her goddess to line the forge and contain the fire within. Aduromi – the Priestess of Crystals – whose veins bled molten metal, brought with her to the valley the secrets of the fire geodes. The geodes, once lit, burned hotter and longer than any material known to fire giants. Jogrothir the Hunter bore the sacred horn Drakesbane, which summons the breath of the mightiest of dragons, stoking the fire to even greater heights. The last was Rosag the Preserver. Rosag held the secrets of water and its ability to temper metal. Not until she performed the Blessing of Rosag could the Forge have been lit. Rosag had another incantation, too, the incantation of unmaking. Likely it yet remains within her shrine in her home village. Sadly, that location is long lost. Find the incantation, find the makers' items, and you just may be able to unmake that which cannot be unmade."

The candles on the pillar slowly flicker and die out, casting the room in utter darkness. The old crone's last words ring in your ears amid the din of utter silence, "Do not tarry small ones. Time waits for none."

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Session 25
Hunting Holy Relics

The congregation of giants outside the Cathedral lingered on until after dusk. The group was deciding upon their next course of action when the young hill giant Toncliff wandered up the canyon. The group engaged him in conversation, learning he was heading out on his own after intending to warn the Storm Tyrant, when Kragmuld and a female hill giant hurried up the canyon after the wayward teen. Kragmuld sought to return Toncliff to the Cathedral, but turned his attention to the outsiders when their presence became known. Kragmuld, his brown bear pet, and his female consort were not to survive the encounter. The tumult attracted attention from the congregation down below, and the group carefully hid themselves via magic from the hunting party. Toncliff was not so lucky, and there was evidence he was dragged off when the group of giants retreated. The heroes picked their ways back to the secret tunnel via moonlight and spent the night there.

The next day they encountered the mischievous faerie dragon Brizz again. Another trade and Brizz agreed to show them the safe path to the hag who claimed the swamp near the giants' shrine where the mystic clay is sourced. The little dragon also mentioned a Dark Passage that he was intending to investigate that led from the snake canyon to the ravine that backed into the valley with the Cathedral. The group recognized this as a possible means to bypass the army of giants gathered outside the Cathedral. Moving deep into the bog, the group came upon a ruined giant burial mound guarded by the green hag, her enormous giant croc pet, and a guardian shambling mound. The hag was using hit and run tactics by submerging herself in the deeper parts of the bog, but fearing for her minions she struck a bargain to let the heroes pass unmolested. The group continued on to Fandarra's Shrine where they discovered giant-sized clay bricks in a secured cabinet. They took portions of the clay for themselves and beat a hasty retreat. Running into the returning clay procurement party, the group hid out in the swamp for several days lest they draw the attention of a quartet of stone giants left to guard the mighty stone bridge leading out of the valley. Once the giants procured the true clay they needed, they left the valley for good.

The outsiders made their way to Aduromi's Chapel where they knew Burning Claw orcs awaited. Within the defunct fire giant chapel was a group of zealous orcs dedicated to a mistress they called Infernal Scar. The orcs were summarily dealt with and the group turned their attention to the mysterious orc who remained hidden behind a closed door in the chapel. She was a dangerous adversary who used powerful ritual magic to incinerate, electrify, and destroy the heroes. If not for divine interference it could have gone poorly for the heroes, but they prevailed against her and her twin infernal spined devil allies. Ere she collapsed in defeat, however, she erupted in a magical blackfire conflagration and was wholly consumed. Her magical shade was spotted atop the chamber's ceiling, where she taunted the heroes as her essence dripped to the cold stone floor below.

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Cutscene 7
The Storm Tyrant's Wrath

The massive gray stone cathedral carved into the mountain commands the valley before it from atop an impressive flight of stairs obviously made for true giants. Restored banners flutter in the mountain breezes atop tall poles at numerous landings. A throng of giants and giantkind are gathered in the valley before the stairs. Their numbers must be in the hundreds. Most plentiful are the dim-witted hill giants, but you also spy stout, dark-skinned and flame-bearded fire giants as well as the tall, blue-skinned and white-bearded frost giants among their numbers. Noticeable even among this crowd is that of the frost giant Bjorindil and his silvery, dragon-headed axe and ice-spiked armor.

Standing atop the staircase is a giant with skin as gray and hardened as the structure he claims as his own. He is noticeable among stone giants by his garb, but even further still for the mighty warhammer he hefts easily with one gnarled hand. The stone giant stands in stoic silence next to the figure who comes striding out of the stone portals exiting the cathedral. The immense figure could be none other than the Storm Tyrant himself. He stands taller than any figure you've ever seen. Winds constantly blow around him, and lightning sparks across his features and armor. He grips a glowing red orb tightly in his left hand, and his voice echoes like thunder throughout the valley when he speaks.

"Urathash, Master of the Forge, I see not the progress I was promised when last I was here. Where are my scores of champions? Where is the beginnings of my undefeatable army? " He holds a hand up to stop the stone giant from speaking before proceeding. "You, there, ogre. What clan are you from?" The ogre meekly answers but you are too far away to hear its response. "And what have you done to honor Clan Bonecrush, ogre? What have you done for the glory of this army?" There is a pause as the ogre contemplates an answer, then utters something that causes laughter from the crowd. Volstus is not pleased and his temperament is mirrored in the gathering storm clouds overhead. "You, hill giant. Yes, you there. And what have you done?" A young, hunched-over hill giant with greasy black hair steps forward onto the lowest step and speaks loudly enough to barely be heard at distance. "I brings you word, great Storm Tyrant. I brings you word of dem yous servants hunts. I seen em. I knows em. And I cames to warns you." Volstus looks interested and motions for the young giant to enter into the cathedral. The young giant refuses, though, and steps off the stairs and back into the crowd.

Volstus turns to Urathash and says, "No more excuses, priest. Procure more fire stones as you have the clay, and find that horn! You do not want my wrath upon your head. See to it that does not happen." With that, the storm clouds lower into the valley and a tremendous thunderclap reverberates over the valley stunning those below. The mighty storm giant rises into the air, lifted by a whirlwind, awaiting the arrival of his magnificent mount, the red dragon Akazerath. The mighty dragon flies from out of the storm cloud and the giant leaps astride its back, lightning and thunder rolling around him as they fly south out of the valley.

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Session 24
Oh No! Faerie Dragon!

The adventurous band spent the night in the tomb of the giant hero Jogrothir high up on the cliff face overlooking the forbidden valley. The weather was unforgiving what with torrents of rain and thunderclaps shaking the mountains, but the band exited the cave and made north for the main canyon they knew to be the primary path used by the giants. They spent their last remaining daylight hours using a magical censer to scout the southern canyon while sequestered in the northern woods away from the main valley. The next day they cautiously picked their way up into the primary canyon but stopped when they found a well-guarded crevasse leading west. The crevasse was marked with giants' tribal totems and guarded by six bored hill giants. Skirting around them, the group continued south to see what luck they might find that direction.

A massive stone bridge provided the only hope of spanning a deep chasm containing a raging river. Guarding the bridge were two loyal stone giant followers of the Storm Tyrant. They forbid entry into the sacred lands behind them, and gave their lives trying to keep the outsiders from trespassing. Beyond the bridge the canyon descended quickly into marshlands. On the outskirts of the marsh the group came across an interesting faerie dragon named Brizz. The playful dragon told the group that the giants had recently removed several large chests of clay from the southeast passage. He also mentioned that a hag and her enormous crocodile pet roamed that area of the marsh. He bragged that he had tricked the giants into staying away from his part of the marsh, the southwest portion, via his powerful magic. He was anxious to show the outsiders his clever ruse and took them to the canyon's end where it was discovered he was using powerful illusions to keep intruders out. Working out a trade, the dragon agreed to show the group a hidden passage leading into the giants' valley and he kept true to his word.

The group used the dragon's hidden tunnel to bypass the outer guard post, but they discovered they still had to overcome a guarded wall bisecting the canyon. The wall was guarded by two hill giants and a pair of smilodons. The defenders were put down and the group entered into the giants' domain proper. An overlook granted them the ability to witness the Storm Tyrant himself make an appearance to the mighty stone cathedral of Minderhal. He was displeased at the lack of progress Urathash had made, and warned them to make more progress ere he returned. With that, he rose into the air on a vortex and jumped on the back of his controlled red dragon mount before flying off south deeper into the Mindspin Mountains.

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Session 23
Giants Have Heroes?

The group awoke to a cold and rainy day, but packed up their gear and followed the giantkins' tracks south back the way they had just passed. They caught up to the camped giants a few miles outside of the ruined slag giant village, and engaged them in a fierce battle. The dark-skinned, orc-blooded hill giantess, Gristlecrack, led a trio of heavily armored Cracked Teeth ogre slaves and a fourth horse-collared ogress slave. All but one of the giantkin were slain, and the fourth graciously accepted his freedom and slinked off into the woods dotting the canyon floor.

The explorers retreated north once again at dawn's next light and followed the trail of a large force of orcs heading east into the valley until dusk forced them to camp. That night they witnessed an awesome but humbling sight. A small column of orcs and giantkin were being led west out of the canyon by a massive, rune-covered, ebony-skinned, armored giant that the Thassilonian identified as a rune giant. Suddenly, the enormity of the giants' mission in the valley was made clearer. They were contesting to select the strongest of those gathered in order to somehow transform them into the ancient giant dreadnoughts. 

The group discussed scouting the nearby chapel that the Pathfinders had mentioned, but postponed that endeavor in order to put eyes on the cathedral. That plan was also postponed when they came upon the tracks of a lone giant and its two pet wolves heading east into an unknown canyon. They followed the trail straight into an ambush set by the hill giant hunter/trapper, Kragmuld. The giant was vicious but pragmatic, and when his advantage was spent he sacrificed his two pets and beat a hasty retreat. The end of the box canyon contained dozens of abandoned mine shafts. The group camped in one for the night, and were witness to strange sounds and odors emanating from deep within the mountain. 

The following day they opted to explore a southern canyon that was marked by a giant-made scarecrow as a ward to giantkind. Evidence of why was discovered in the form of four bloated hill giant corpses floating in the river. A few miles further down the canyon they discovered the tomb of an ancient giant hero high up on the cliff face, now inhabited by several wyverns. After dispatching the wyverns and scaling the cliff, they claimed the famed Drakesbane Horn that once belonged to the giant hero.

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Session 22
A-Canyon-Exploring We Go!

The next morning started off strangely. A circle of fiery runes etched themselves in the air near camp and from within the fiery vortex emerged a strange, masked figure. It nodded at Marcus and announced he had a package to deliver him. Noticing Marcus' perplexed look, the stranger altered his appearance to the familiar form of Emirikol the Chaotic. Suddenly noticing the Thassilonian wizard, Emirikol quickly stunned the unsuspecting mage before ruining his mind and willpower with a feeblemind spell. Things calmed down when it was explained that the mage was with the group and not coercing them. When Marcus reluctantly agreed to accept the package, Emirikol produced the monk Fan Ju and then used a Ring of Wishes to restore the wizard's mental faculties. Emirikol then audaciously announced that the mage owed him a favor for restoring his abilities and that he would collect on the debt one day. With that, he bade his goodbyes and retreated through the fiery portal to his unseen ship – Demonwing. 

The group elected to explore the southeast canyon and spent a good portion of the day following myriad small streams to its end. The crisscrossing streams eventually fed into a small mountain lake. They spotted the remains of a dead hill giant lying at the edge of the still lake, and noticed that the giant had a shiny golden nose ring. When the scout went to retrieve the ring, a hydra rushed the shore attempting to devour the elf while ferocious swarms of quippers attacked those in the stream. Eventually, the hydra was laid low and the quipper swarms dispersed, allowing the explorers to retrieve the giant's ring. It turned out to be a magical Ring of Warmth. The heroes turned around and backtracked to the larger valley they started in that morning.

The next day they began exploring the southwest canyon and followed a recent trail up into a narrow box canyon where they encountered a mated pair of chimera with black-dragon heads. The beasts fiercely fought to defend their territory, but the Black-Headed Beast was slain and his mate driven off. Investigating their lair revealed some treasures, including magical potions and ointments, near the remains of a number of orc carcasses. It was discerned that the orcs had most likely perished within the past week. Still following the river on its southern journey, the group opted not to scout out an easterly snake canyon. A wider intersection farther south contained remnants of an ancient slag giant settlement, now in ruins. An armored and verbose hill giant named Cormog Deadgut took offense at the intrusion, and he and his two Skittering Ravager orog slaves attempted to drive off the interlopers to no avail. All three were slain. The giant was evidently rummaging through the ruins for keepsakes for some unknown end. As daylight ebbed, the group followed the river south and east and came upon another long, narrow mountain lake. This one was also inhabited, but the aquan-speaking inhabitants remained hidden beneath the dark waters and urged the explorers not to disturb the sacred waters of the sunken temple. The group obliged and made camp.

The following day they explored the canyon beyond the lake and discovered it ended abruptly, so they turned around and headed back. The return trek took the better part of a day, especially when the group decided to scout out the snake canyon they had previously bypassed. The twists and turns of the canyon, along with its myriad side canyons, proved too time consuming, however, so the group abandoned it in favor of returning to the main valley. Night fell ere they could make the targeted valley and they camped away from the river. A group of giantkin passed nearby the group's campsite during the night, and it was determined in the morning that the giants were likely tracking the outsiders.

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