Dear Diary…ruining the moment, it’s what we do

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

We found the kennel room where they kept the hellhounds, and a couple barracks – one of them equipped for juvenile giants. I don’t remember seeing any of those here yet.

Also found a kitchen with a fire pit that seems naturally heated…as in, maybe a volcanic vent. Ezekiel would have a better idea. The fortress definitely sits on lava in some places – they used a natural vent as a garbage chute. Someone very unhelpfully cast darkness at the mouth of the opening, so if we were not so careful and thoughtful, we might have slid in the grease to a sudden and crispy-fried death in the lava below. Even Raven needed a rope while checking that the chute didn’t lead anywhere interesting.

According to our map, there’s nothing else on this level to explore, so it’s time to take the stairs down…

**

How to begin? For starters, splitting the party always makes things confusing.

When we reached the bottom of the stairs, we heard chanting…it could have been giant voices, but it was too far away to be sure. Almost at once, though, we heard hellhounds barking, much nearer – perhaps they scented us.

Ezekiel told me to take my invisible self and run the other direction to check for prisoners that might need rescuing, while the others dealt with the threat at hand. After taking a moment to swap for my ring of infravision, I headed up the north passage.

I passed a room lit with lava (probably the same lava we saw from the kitchen chute), and a couple trolls – but they had no prisoners, and seemed to be minding their business, so I kept on. Not too much farther along, I turned a corner of the passage and found a giant guarding a door. The sound of chanting came much louder from the other side of the wall – right by me – but I didn’t think I could take out the guard and still be sneaky…and I didn’t want to take on the whole group by myself.

So I returned back down the passage – toward the crackle of lightning and the crash of boulders hitting stone, and various other shouts of battle. When I came up to the others, giants and gnolls glowed with faery fire, mostly on the far side of a blade barrier that sliced across the corridor just above our heads. Raven and Agnar were on the front line, while Ezekiel stood to the back with Lydia.

I was trying to explain the situation to Ezekiel, in between shots with my bow, when a scream ripped down the corridor…from behind us. Let’s just say it didn’t sound like a giant scream.

Aliana and Oaklock looked at each other, then she pivoted, told Clatrial to guard Ezekiel, and charged. Ezekiel and Mikael were already heading toward the scream, and Raven was trying to bring Agnar…but Agnar was having too much fun fighting fire giants beyond the blade barrier. So Heiron and I let the paladins do their thing, and waited to back him up until Raven got through to him.

It didn’t take too long…Lydia zapped the remaining giants, and that pursuaded Agnar the good fighting was behind us. When we caught up with the others, they had killed the giant on the door, and Ezekiel was healing an elf in ripped clothes.

Moments later, Ezekiel announced that the wall at the turn of the passage (the wall that the chanting came from) was fake, and he and Clatrial charged through the apparently stone surface. Aliana left Master Oaklock talking to the rescued elf, and followed them while Mikael was still trying to figure out how it worked (staring at the wall and poking with his staff). Agnar arrived in time to see Aliana disappear, and charged after her, yelling something like, “Save some for me!”

Meanwhile, Master Oaklock and the other elf found the giant’s keys in his pocket, and started unlocking the doors right near us – there were actually a couple doors there that turned out to be cell doors. I stood guard with my bow, since Raven and Heiron still hadn’t returned from securing our rear down the south passage. It sounded like plenty of giants were beyond the wall, though, so when Raven and Lydia arrived (she can keep up because she’s wearing boots of speed), I left them to guard the elves and found my way through the illusory wall.

The first thing I saw was steps going down – and a blade barrier spinning and slicing through the air at the foot of them, about the height to take off someone’s head if he were coming down the stairs. From the way people were moving, though, I could tell there was another doorway over to the left, so I circled around and came down a staircase that only had dead giant weasels to trip on, no deadly blades.

Ezekiel and Aliana were on the far side of the room, battling more drow. Lightning crackled, arrows flew, fire giants died. (I found out later some of the lightning came from the pillars lining the room.) One of the fire giants was an ugly, hairy female wielding a scepter – and on examining her body afterwards, we think she was Snuri’s queen, “Frupy.” Which means the giants’ leadership is mostly destroyed, now, we hope…and we’ve killed another dark elf. Aliana killed a male with another of those gross tentacle-staves, and it seems the drow were heading up this ritual in this “temple.”

We took a moment to take in the creepy atmosphere and the gross murals, then went to check on the prisoners Master Oaklock had released. In the “temple,” strange light swirls through the air – blobs of mauve and violet, which you’d think would make you think of spring flowers, but it really doesn’t. The pillars supporting the roof are creepy, and not just because they zapped Aliana with lightning. The left-hand (western) wall shows giants bowing down to a black stone, and making sacrifices of humans and giants. The opposite (eastern) wall is painted with creatures of various kinds all crawling up to three tentacle-beings and being eaten. I don’t get what the food-creatures get out of the deal. I’m also not sure what the tentacle-abominations are supposed to be, but I really don’t need Ezekiel to explain…I know they’re bad, and I’ll hopefully never meet them.

The front of the “sanctuary” has that burning eye symbol that we’ve associated with King Snuri, along with a Y superimposed on a triangle, with I feel we’ve seen before, but I’ll have to consult my notes. [Margin note: the shrine underneath the Hill Giant fortress had a double-triangle made of copper in the floor, which Ez has connected to House Alservs, which are the Drow worshiping the Elder Elemental Gods. I think that was a different triangle, though.] Also some braziers burning a green flame that looks like someone threw up snot, and some fat black candles burning lavender flames (again, the color makes you feel like death and fungi, not like flourishing herb gardens. It’s a disturbing thing…).

Aliana says the rescued prisoners said their companions were being sacrificed here, but there’s no sign of residue here now (not even a pile of ashes and bones). It’s tidy, but somehow that’s one of the worst parts of this. When we finally rejoined Master Oaklock, he had five other elves with him – including a lady that Aliana embraced and called “Princess Shallaria.” The princess says she and her retainers were traveling through the Jotens for fae reasons, when the giants captured them. She says several days ago something happened that shook up the giants, and the ceremony today was almost an act of desperation. I guess losing the Fire Giant king and most of his warriors would do that…

Ezekiel says there’s still one female drow at large, and we don’t know how many more giants. The elves didn’t know of any more prisoners, but we couldn’t very well wander around with most of our spells used up, and with trying to protect the rescued prisoners.

We moved everyone into the “temple” to finish looting the giants’ bodies. Ezekiel took the drows’ gear, presumably to safely dispose of anything Evil. The Fire Giant Queen had some jewelry (and of course her huge iron scepter), but nothing else seemed important…except the whole room felt vaguely magical (Tressarian said the altar was the strongest, but it definitely resonated through the whole room.) The longer we stood around, the more I noticed everyone (not just me) looking over our shoulders and twitching…so it’s just as well we got out of there.

Lydia brought us through the mirror back to the Haven fortress. Tomorrow, she will send the princess and her party to Gorna, which should make it easier and quicker for them to make their way back home. That will also give someone (probably Aliana, since she volunteered – and she has the manners training) to deliver a report to His Grace’s people, so they know everything we’ve found so far. I suppose we should send a report to King’s Agent Lashton, but strangely enough no one volunteered to handle that.

I need to copy out some of our maps, and some of the documents we’ve found, to send with her…and I also need to warn Sirion and Ragni and Agni and the centaurs (and Keiran, if he’s still hanging out) about all the giants Ezekiel has invited to come over. He would be mighty cross if they all got killed as soon as they arrive. Honestly, I don’t know what he’s going to do about those ogre-mages, but I guess one worry at a time.


Find the previous entry here.

One thought on “Dear Diary…ruining the moment, it’s what we do

  1. Pingback: Dear Diary...you meet such interesting people in dungeons - Kimia Wood

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