Giantslayer 5e

Session 33
An Ill Wind Blows

The enchanted ice-encased shrine that the monk found herself trapped within was dedicated to Kostchtchie, the demon lord of cold and giants, and its patron demanded offerings of flesh or blood. The guardians over the place included an elf winter witch named Kesha, a frozen dwarf warrior from Kraggodan named Jobral, and a dozen ice mephits. The site was unnaturally cold due to fiendish influence, but the group managed to overcome the malevolent defenses and it vanished.

Later, the group came upon the tracks of an enormous bear that changed into a large humanoid. While investigating the tracks, the group was waylaid by three elemental myrmidons sent by Kostchtchie as retribution for their attacks against him. The elementals were dismissed and the group discovered that their mysterious quarry had run off up the mountain.

The next afternoon a fierce blizzard caught the group unprepared on the mountainside. Following the lead of the ranger, the group pressed on despite treacherous conditions until they were discovered by Bode, the enormous Ulfen man who was their mysterious quarry the day before. Bode escorted them to his humble cabin where a warm fire, hot food, and good mead refilled their bodies and spirits. Bode imparted what he knew of the frost giants of Skirgaard.

Early in the morning the cabin was alarmingly awakened by a powerful knocking on the door. It was a party of frost giants fleeing Skirgaard, and they stopped by to tell Bode that Gavindra was dead, killed by Skirkatla herself and displayed as a warning for all other would-be traitors to witness. The news hit all equally hard, especially that there was a traitor among the princess' allies.

The next day and a half was spent climbing the peak to the Glacial Rift of the frost giants. The jagged entrance to the frost giants' realm was lightly guarded, despite knowledge that the giants were expecting the outsiders to attack. The group eliminated the sentries and prepared to make their assault against the frost giants and their evil queen, Skirkatla.

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Cutscene 9
Second Homecoming

The last few days of the journey down out of the mountains have been ones torn with mixed emotions. The looming threat of the giant army is diminished, but the memories of the fallen and lost are heavy on the minds of the Trunau soldiers and settlers. They know they are bringing sad news to the families left behind, who held out hope for their safe return that will not come.

Much of the journey has been in silence, each lost in their own private thoughts. The daily and nightly storms wracking the southern mountains have been even more destructive than usual since the fall of the cathedral and its defenders. As dawn arrives on the sixth day, though, the campsite is bathed in a most welcome sight. A bright sun rises over the far peaks and casts its welcome golden rays onto the valley floor far below you. The rays alight on the wooden palisade ringing the butte known as Bloodmarch Hill, and the roofs and whitewashed buildings stand ever present ready to receive you. It was more than 2 months ago that you left, but home is finally within sight.

The group breaks camp one last time and eagerly proceeds down the path to the valley floor. Some of the men have tears running down their faces as they travel. They quickly wipe away any evidence, but flashes of smiles express the relief that all are feeling. As the bedraggled group draws nearer, the familiar sounds and smells of Trunau provide still greater enthusiasm to travel a little faster. A long Trunauan horn blast fills the air, and the front gates open emitting a line of riders galloping toward you. At their lead is Chief Defender Halgra, and to her side is Patrol Leader Jagrin Grath. A score of riders follow behind, quickly bearing down on your position. They encircle the group in a dusty cloud as they pay special attention to each and every one of you.

Halgra speaks, "Sergeant Frum, I feared you were likely recounting your tired old tales of heroics to the Lady of Graves by now." She smiles, continuing, "I am glad to see you survived your ordeal. Please be so kind as to see the other survivors to the Longhouse where meals and accommodations await you. I look to join you later. Please be so kind as to save some of the ale, will you?" Frum nods and a big smile crosses his lips. He motions for the other survivors to follow him, and they set off toward the gates.

Halgra then looks at each of you, sizing you up. "I hate to spoil your homecoming, champions, but there is a matter we must speak of." She pauses for a second, then continues, "We have been awaiting your arrival for a few days now. Silvermane has been monitoring your approach and the townsfolk have all been most anxious to celebrate your homecoming." As if on cue, a hue and cry of welcoming shouts erupts from the town as Frum and the others enter through the gates. Halgra looks over her shoulder, smiles, and continues, "So I am sorry to tell you that the next few days are likely going to be full of food and drink, back claps, and requests for stories without end. I ask that you indulge these kind folk and let them treat you like the heroes you are. You have done a tremendous thing. When you have had your fill of the townsfolk, I would ask that you come seek me out in the Ivory Hall. I would hear of your plans. But for now, prepare to be besieged by the kindness of kinsmen!" Winking, she says, "I hope you're up to the task." She then wheels her horse around and the column of riders escorts you into the town as throngs of well wishers sing choruses of joyous homecoming.

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Session 32
Bittersweet Homecoming

The group followed the lead of the knowledgeable trackers among the survivors and carefully escorted the ragtag group along mountain goat paths to Shinnerman's Fortune. The village was devastated and uninhabitable in its present state, and as the group proceeded to push on to Trunau they encountered the red dragon Naximarra. She was displeased that they were headed north instead of south, but the group persuaded her that they needed to resupply so she hesitantly gave in and the group pushed on to Trunau where they were greeted as returning saviors.

Amidst the triumphant fanfare, the wizard caught sight of the dwarf Agrit lingering near the doorstep to the House of Wonders before heading inside. Hurrying after her, he discovered her crumpled form on the floor with a hole in her head just as Sara Morninghawk hurried inside responding to Agrit's prior summons. When she saw her beloved's body on the floor, she flew into a rage, accusing the wizard of her death and creating a commotion that required the intervention of Halgra and Jagrin Grath. Later investigation by the group determined that Agrit's soul was captured and being held on the astral plane, most likely by beings of the Dark Tapestry.

The group managed to restock supplies and procure horses for their upcoming extended trip to the Mindspins. In the process they learned that the rune giant and its entourage had bypassed Trunau but encountered resistance in Lastwall before continuing on toward Urgir for unknown reasons. They also learned of a war between rival fire giant kingdoms Ashpeak and Kragnaroch. Not having the time to linger in town overly long due to a time constraint placed by the dragon, the group packed up, bid their goodbyes, and returned south to Shinnerman's Fortune to meet up with Naximarra. The dragon reluctantly approved of their plan to take out the frost giant allies of the Storm Tyrant, and the group began their climb into the frozen heights of the mountains.

Amid the snowcapped heights of the mountain peaks, the group came upon a pack of white wolves led by a mated pair of winter wolves. After defeating the hunting party, the group came upon an enchanted ice-encased stone circle. Attempting to bypass it proved impossible, and the monk became entrapped inside it while trying to appease the site's spirits with an offering. When she moved to leave, the living ice crystals sprang to life to make sure she would never leave alive!

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Dragons' Horde!
Magic Items

Found within the collective treasures of the red dragon brothers' (Jahlvoraz and Mazzamorra) lair, the following magical items were quickly studied and passed out among the conquering heroes:

Scout's Honor is a suit of elven studded leather armor +1 made by the Nirmathi elves from the Chesnardo region. Only the most advanced scouts are bequeathed with such a fine suit. The leather is fashioned from owlbear hide and cured under the light of a full moon. The studs are made from the finest mithril, yet do not reflect light at all.

The Adamantine Half Plate magically adjusts to perfectly fit the wearer. The armor bears unidentifiable yet ancient patterning upon its chest and back. Strangely, a set of initials are carved into the interior of the back in spidery common script – RAB.

The Boots of the Winterlands are made from the finest white stag hide and snow leopard fur, and bear small crampons with diamond-chip bits. Fashioned by powerful tribal shaman from the Realms of the Mammoth Lords using ancient, long-forgotten rituals, they were gifts to their tribes greatest warriors who often ventured alone on great hunts.

The Pearl of Power hails from the cold waters off Tian Xia, and came over the crown of the world to Avistan hundreds of years ago with caravaners seeking trade. It recently came into the possession of Volstus the Storm Tyrant as part of a gift from envoys of Ustalav. Having no need of the magical item, the storm giant used it to lure the greedy young red dragon Jahlvoraz into range of his Orb of Dragonkind.

Ssamantiss' Scales is a cloak of protection made from the scales of the tyrannical serpent Ssamantiss of the Mwangi Expanse. The cloak is purported to have been fashioned by an apprentice of Old Mage Jatembe himself after the great serpent was slain by Jatembe's Ten Magic Warriors. The cloak was lost to the darkness of time for eons, only to resurface when it was discovered by adventurers seeking treasures in the ancient vaults around Ird. From there, it has changed hands many times over and made its way to Avistan and deep into Varisia before being claimed by the young red dragon Jahlvoraz for his hoard.

The Heart of Air is an amulet of health fashioned from ethereal winds pulled from the elemental plane of air itself. Its exact maker is unknown, but it could only be the work of the finest crafters known to geniekind. 

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Session 31
Requiem For Urathash

As the group searched the chamber for treasures to aid them and took a short rest to recover some strength to their weary bodies, the stones of the cathedral called out to them in Urathash's voice to join him in the forge before the evening prayer or their young hill giant friend Toncliff would be put to death. The group steeled themselves for the fight against the high priest and descended the massive tower to make their way into the cathedral. 

Gathered in the nave of the church was a congregation of amassed giantkin. The gathered throng wagered among themselves as Gavindra and Urathash's servant, Kullsisk, held back the crowd with chides and calls for calmness. Urathash greeted the invaders and bade them to prepare for single combat against him. Minderhal would either grant him the strength to slay them, or he would not. When the battle commenced, Urathash was pressed hard but he was able to partially change the momentum when he struck down the monk. His earth myrmidon ally harassed members of the group as well, but in the end it failed to protect its master as Urathash was struck down by the group's combined onslaught.

The gathered giants erupted in anger at Urathash's fall, but thanks for strong words from the group's ally, Gavindra, the giants were cowed into fleeing the cathedral and, ultimately, to packing up and returning to their various homes. The Storm Tyrant's army was no more! Kullsisk reverently prepared his master's body for burial while the heroes discovered a secret door that led to the dungeon below the altar. Descending into the dungeon the group came upon the elderly, blind slag giant seer Etena. She followed the group out of the dungeon in order to be certain they carried out the instructions she provided to perform the Ritual of Unmaking and destroy Minderhal's Forge for good. The group realized that the slag giant would have to sacrifice herself as part of the ritual, but it was a sacrifice she was willing to make so that the forge could not ever be used for the Tyrant's purposes again.

The group took shelter in the cathedral to gather their strength for the coming task. The elf priest prayerfully restored the monk to the land of the living, albeit drained of some of her strength. Composing themselves, the group focused on the task at hand. They performed the ritual exactly as instructed and bent their collective wills against that of the legendary forge's imbued spirits, and were successful in causing its destruction. The forge was no longer a threat!

There was but one task left to accomplish. The red dragons at the top of the tower had to be dealt with. Preparing themselves for the long climb up the tower and the assault of the dragons in their aeyrie, the group arrived at the top ready for battle. The larger of the two dragon siblings, Jahlvoraz, swooped in and out of reach using his breath weapon to terrible effect. The smaller of the brothers, Mazzmorra, attempted to emulate his brother but fell victim to the attacks of the elf rogue who shot him out of the sky and finished him with her magical blade. Jahlvoraz flew into a rage at the death of his sibling and sought retribution against the elf, but his fury only brought him closer to the group and he was finished by a well-timed series of attacks.

The group took some time to review the contents of the dragons' hoard, which contained thousands of coins and quite a few magical treasures. They then descended for the final time, bade their goodbyes to Gavindra who was headed to Skirgaard, and sought to round up any remaining allies that might be within the cathedral and the nearby valley. As the sun set over the storm-wracked mountain peaks in the distance, the group reflected on all that they had accomplished over the past several weeks. Tomorrow they would head with the survivors back to Trunau, but they knew their destined road would eventually call them back into the depths of the Mindspin Mountains. 

Ding! Level 10!

Thus ends Book 3 – Forge of the Giant God

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Swag
Simulacrum Droppings

The simulacrum of Sissivex Eilserv was equipped with two actual magical treasures:

These Bracers of Defense are fashioned from thick strands of phase spider webbing by arcanists of the Darklands using the strange radiations of the ancient vaults to transform the material into magical defenses.

The Ring of Fire Resistance was fashioned by powerful noble efreet in the City of Brass at the behest of King Tytarian of Ashpeak. The ring is made from basalt and iron and contains fire giant runes and bears the symbol of Ashpeak on its crown. The ring is bequeathed to welcome guests of the king to allow them to withstand the heat of Ashpeak's dungeons.

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Session 30
A Dark Secret Revealed

As the very stones of the cathedral called the gathering giants, Gavindra ushered the outsiders deeper into the mountains' depths as she joined her giantkin in the sacred forge for the midday sermon. Pushing once more into the abandoned throne room beyond the grog hall, the group encountered three late-arriving hill giants intent on grabbing a slave snack on their way to the sermon. One of the giants felt the hero-slaves were too much trouble and quickly left the other two behind, and the remaining pair were quickly dealt with.

The next chamber beyond the throne room contained the remnants of an old well but at present it contained the bound fomorian giant Tharg Three-Eyes and a pair of invisible stalker wardens. All three were put down before the group proceeded up the stairs to Urathash's trophy chamber. Tacked to the walls were all manner of giant-sized maps and notes, and the well-preserved chamber was dutifully being taken care of by a cyclops servant named Surog. The group attempted to push past the faithful servant, but when he forbade them admittance with his broom he sealed his own fate. Just then, a furious Bjorindil crashed into the room from below, intent on sealing either his fate or that of the intruders. It was his own that was decided, however. The group inspected his magical axe and armor, but wisely decided to avoid them due to their apparently cursed natures.

Climbing still further up the impressive tower led to the discovery of the giants' interrogation chamber. The chief interrogator was a glabrezu demon who was quickly sent back to his home plane. Another demon remained, however. It was a quasit and it sought to delay the group as its master prepared in the chamber above. The heroes freed and stabilized the two living prisoners held in the chamber – Patrol Sergeant Frum and Shinnerman's Fortune elder Tarram Shinnerman. The heroes steeled themselves for the push to the next level, not knowing what to expect.

The quasit's master was a dark elf mage named Sissivex Eilserv, and he was well defended by two elite drow swordsmen and a summoned shadow demon. The dark elf mage sought to ensnare the minds of the surface dwellers but he was largely ineffective. He and his guards wore down the heroes who were nearly defeated before snatching precious victory. When the mage finally succumbed, he turned into a pile of snow and his true nature was revealed – he was only a simulacrum. The revelation of the existence of the drow to the priest of Ketephys was shocking, but now he knew the source of the rod he discovered all of those years ago in the dark recesses of the Tanglebriar. The group licked their wounds as they searched Urathash's private quarters for precious treasure to aid them.

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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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