Dear Diary…another basement

Alert: May contain spoilers for the adventure “Against the Giants”

Lydia returned this morning as Ezekiel was securing the external doors. Mikael summoned his earth elemental from the stone, and we headed down the stairs behind the secret door [marker on map]

The workmanship down here is markedly different. Agnar pointed out no orc could make something so sturdy, and Aliana agreed. Even in this “secret back way,” the ceilings are tall – the bottom of the passage opens through an arch like seventeen feet high, complete with buttresses. I guess you could say we’re much less worried it’s going to collapse down on our heads without warning.

The first room we came to, four manticors charged us (they have a human-ish head, but a long, spiked tail, and four legs kinda like a lion. Mem: draw Roland and Markus a picture).
They gave us a scuffle, but Lydia and Mikael charmed two of them…and then Lydia talked with hers, and said they were prisoners, kept to guard the way, and fed through a chute – though barely. We already knew it wouldn’t end well. Their kind and our kind don’t mix well.

Ezekiel went around looking for anything interesting – and stuck his hand in a pile of fake gems, and dropped gates across all the openings. Well, all the openings that were open – Schakka found a secret door that let us into the room with the levers to raise the gates. How handy. I looked for tracks to see how frequently this place was used, but it’s not dusty enough. Frequent cleanings, perhaps? Not a very giant or orc thing to do.

Through the room with the levers and spy-holes, we came to another large room – with open passages to the north and south, and a line of doors sitting opposite us. Ezekiel picked a door to open, and Lydia sent her “kitty” through first.

Then things got kinda crazy for a while. Turns out Ezekiel picked the barracks full of bugbears, and Heiron and Raven rushed forward to engage them (the manticor went down pretty much at once, but it was half-starved already). Ezekiel and Mikael tried yelling in whatever non-Common languages they knew to get the “enemies of the giants” to stand down, but I think they were talking to the wrong bugbears.

Aliana showed marvelous patience, and waited until another company sounded their alarm gong and rushed out of a different door before charging into the heart of things. Lydia flung spells through the doors, but Mikael’s manticor lost the rest of its mind and tried to bite her head off…so we killed it.

Everyone had run off past where I could see, so I was stuck with the decision to either chase after everyone (one of whim was Raven), so stay with Lydia to guard our backs. Turns out I made the right decision, since a Hill Giant and some more bugbears came up from the southern hallway.

At length, Aliana joined us, in time for a couple giant white apes to charge out of yet another door. It seems they belonged to another hill giant guard; when we eventually got around to searching his room, he had a platform above the door for them to sleep on. (Mikael said they reminded him of Lulu, and that it makes him sad.)

The guardroom with the gong (formerly occupied by a bugbear squad) also had a row of cell doors. Raven came out before too long, leading a man who kept gibbering at us to buy his little white pebbles, at a great bargain…then trying to eat them…or stuff them into a belt pouch, which he wasn’t wearing. Raven kept at it, keeping him from choking, while a second man looked on pityingly. (The second man says he’s been here since a raid over three months ago. He doesn’t know the other man’s name.)

Finally, Ezekiel and Aliana emerged with an elf – says his name is Oaklock Gilderleaf, and he will gladly fight with us for a year, by sword or spell, in return for saving his life. I think Aliana was influential in persuading him we were for real.

They found some skeletons that were beyond help (Aliana doesn’t let Ezekiel fraternize with their type), but they did bring out a squad of orcs that Aliana says were captured for interrogation (presumably about the “resistance”).

She says some others were already tortured and eaten. Makes me glad I didn’t eat anything from the kitchen last night.

The orc leader looked around at all the dead bodies – bugbears, two hill giants, and the manticors – and said the giants had obviously lost, so this was their chance. Since Ezekiel and Mikael were interested in letting the orcs out of this place, the leader said he would take us to the “resistance” to tell them the giants were dead and it was good to leave.

He took us down the hall to a barricade of fallen stones, guarded by more orcs; after some back-and-forth, they let us through, but with a warning not to hurt the “lizard-man.” Apparently there’s a colony of troglodytes down, and according to the orcs they were here before the giants came. That reinforces the idea that at least the basement was here before the giants’ fortress.

The orc chief came and talked with Ezekiel, and eventually agreed that they could leave – if we broke out their other people who were still locked up. Well, that sounded like a guided tour to the rest of the enemies down here, so we headed out. The chief roused his tribe and came with us. Raven and I counted about eighty orcs, so fighting them would have been time-consuming.

Ezekiel asked the chief about “Jarl Grugnir.” He says the Hill Giant Chief got orders from him sometimes…for instance, some of the “digging” was for the Jarl. Apparently the digging was part of the split between the orc “rebels”and the giants. Their chief says they uncovered something so horrible, they’d rather live trapped down here than keep digging for the giants – that even death was better than the “dark powers that eat you brain.” And he pointed out the door- down a side passage and all blocked up. Well, I don’t know about anyone else, but at that Aliana started rattling Fetafencer in his sheath.

We got to the junction where we started, that leads down from the manticor room, and unlocked a couple cells along the wall there. The massive orc army following behind us was too chicken to keep going, but they said we would find more cells if we kept going west. So we went on alone, me with an arrow on the string as usual.

We spotted a bugbear in a room to the right about the same time he noticed us. Agnar charged in, followed by Aliana, to make sure he didn’t kill ant peisoners, and Ezekiel, to help unlock any prisoners.

While they were busy, Heiron and I were guarding the corridor – when we heard a bellowing from the passage that branched to the left…a bellowing in a language I didn’t know, but that made Tressarian practically leap out of his scabbard, burbling with excitement.

He can’t jump out of his sheath, of course, and by the time I dropped my bow and got him drawn, the two fire giants were on us. And Agnar and Aliana had run over from the other room to kill-steal, and Heiron had irritated the giants with a volley of arrows. One of the giants grabbed the roof and tried to pull it down as he fell, but he just managed to drop some masonry on Agnar, who unburied himself pretty quickly. We got the killing blow, though…I promise, I would never lie to my sword, and we absolutely stabbed those giants into oblivion. Fire giants are like his one favorite enemy, and he really hopes we find some more.

The main hall dead-ends in a torture chamber, with “implements” of all sizes. Ezekiel spent some time trying to poke his eye out in the iron maiden, but not even Schaka found any secret doors.

Following the passage that the fire giants came down (the one didn’t succeed in collapsing it), we heard sounds of hammers and anvils…according to Agnar, dwarf-hammers. Sure enough, the passage ends in a smithy, with attached armory, where seven dwarves were chained at their work stations. While Raven took the keys from the fire giants and freed them, some of us looked around… Giant-sized weapons and armor filled the storage space, from spears and axes to warhammers and maces. (Heiron said one axe looked like Elmo’s style, though I’m not sure even he could lift it.)

The dwarves said they’re from the mountains around Sterich, and are anxious to go back. Except one, who is eager for a little pay-back on the giants; his name is Mongo. In either case, we didn’t have any spare dwarf-sized armor, so I escorted them all back to where Lydia, Mikael, and Master Gilderleaf were protecting the merchants we rescued. (And reassured them about the crowd of waiting orcs.)

Speaking of the orcs, the chieftain seemed satisfied that we’d found all his missing people, so Lydia helped me see them safely to the external door – and through it. We gave them the same message we gave the others – cause no trouble, and we’ll bring no trouble to you. On the way out, the chief told Lydia that the Hill Giants used to bring their treasure down here, but he wasn’t sure exactly where. So we still have some basement to clear. We gathered up the squad in the kitchen with their ogre, and they all went off happily enough.

We still haven’t found the rumored treasure room, and Ezekiel wants to investigate the “darkness that eats your brain.” The orcs pointed out the passage to us – a closed door, with freshly-piled stones blocking it from this side. We might not get to that before tomorrow…we’ll see where it all ends.

Find previous entry here.

One thought on “Dear Diary…another basement

  1. Pingback: Dear Diary...dark residue - Kimia Wood

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *