Making our way toward the temple we find we are being followed. There are at least two giants, a weird looking collared lizard pet of giant proportions and a few others on our tail. Taking advantage of the best terrain we can find on short notice we clump together behind a rock, hoping to ambush them. Keth spots a large eagle soaring overhead, circling and screeching, it veers off, angling back toward the creatures we were hoping to ambush. We’ve most likely been found.
The massive lizard lumbers up, faster than expected. We’ve managed to pre-cast some of our protective spells, and the rod has been invoked, giving us all the best advantages we can muster.
The lizard is absurdly large, several times bigger than the puny humans it faces, at least until Coy becomes the larger version of himself, giving it a bit of a challenge in that arena. I am the lucky one right in its path, as it lumbers closer, I brace myself and step into range swinging madly at it. I lashes at with its craggy jaws barely missing me. I land one solid blow, but then get knocked to the ground by its massive swinging head, I still manage to stab up into it, I think I’ve hurt it badly, but can’t be sure from my prone vantage point. All I see is a chaos of huge feet, claws and dripping jaws above me.
The ground quivers beneath me with the pounding of the lizard and the giants approaching, I debate the merits of trying to roll away to get to my feet, but decide to take advantage of the access my vulnerable position provides the beasts softer under palate I continue to attack from where I lie. I can’t hear much from around me but the hissing from the lizard and the growls and grunts of the giants getting closer.
I miss my cousins comforting voice that seems to grant my arms more strength and steadies the blows I rain on our enemies. I wish we had not decided to have Gertie and Kuni go on a scout run.
The lizard must think me tasty, it catches me up in its jaws, trapping my sword arm. I struggle, trying to break free, but cannot get out of the hold it has on me. Ironically a dagger would come in quite handy right now, suddenly I am more thankful that Gertie is not here to see my lack of preparedness, after jibbing her for not being able to cut herself free of the great wyrm that had swallowed her. I really need to make sure I get myself a dagger…
Suddenly the scaly beast in whose maw I am gripped, opens its jaw and screeches, thrashing around, then crashing to the ground. I roll away from its slack jaws, leaping to my feet I see the smoldering corpse of the lizard sizzling before me, its eyes clouding over as it twitches out its last breath.
Cilka’s work is evident everywhere around me, several of the armored non-giant enemy are down, also smoldering, the giants are still up and moving quickly toward me. Coy is smashing fists into a slender opponent with a wicked looking curved blade. I don’t see Keth anywhere, but do see the hound archon, so I hope he is OK. I don’t see Dom, but then again, one does not usually see Dom anyway. I feel Alaric’s healing energy wash over me, greatly improving my outlook, and I know he is OK, at least for the moment.
Nito, the celestial friend that Alaric called a few days ago is standing near me, I feel it’s protective presence as it moves between me and the slender guy with the curvy blade. That protection is well received, but proves fatal to Nito when his opponent yells out, calling to its foul deity and smites Nito, cutting him down. I can tell he is beyond any healing powers we have at our call.
Experience has taught me caution, even though I boil with rage at the death of our celestial companion, I know I face a giant with a long arm and I clamber to my feet cautiously, knowing he will take a swing at me while I regain my feet. My caution is rewarded as I fend off a terrible blow with my ready blade. I am up, I just hope I can help before more of my friends are lost.
A wall of searing fire leaps up enclosing most of the enemy and blocking the Giant that took a swing at me, Cilka’s signature work, classic and effective.
As the slender curvy blade wielder spins around, I notice his ears have the charactertic point that bespeaks an elvish race, though he is dark and somewhat demonic looking. I step in and lunge at the dark elf, my sword lands two out of the three swings I am able to take, but my blows don’t seem to land as hard as they should.
I see arrows stream overhead and hear Cilka’s shriek cuts off suddenly, she had to have exposed herself to get the fire wall up, I can only hope she was able to get some cover before the arrows reached her, but the silence I hear now does not bode well, when Cilka is unhappy she is usually quite vocal about it, I find myself stretching to hear her voice, hoping for the complaints to come ringing out down the canyon walls.
Suddenly there is nothing left for me to swing at. The dark elf is down, struck fatally by Coy. The giants are holed up behind the fire wall, I cannot see them, much less reach them to stop their retreat. I do hear their lumbering feet shaking the ground as at least one of them moves off and away. Keth has appeared, flying high in the air, I hear him calling out that he has the last giant trapped. He must have managed to close off the opening beyond the fire wall, penning it in and cutting it off from its retreat.
Alaric has gone to Cilka, I know that whatever can be done for her, will be done. Dom is down, I run toward him, not that I can help much, but in the absence of anything to hit, I am at a loss.
The giant is now completely trapped, ice above, stone to the side and below, and fire to the near side. There is a small window that we can, or at least some of us can, angle arrows through. I need some target practice, so I try my hand and my bow as well.
We finally pepper the trapped giant with enough arrows and magic missiles to bring him down.
We set up our watches and get what rest we can, we are all healed up, but very battle weary. Dom and Alaric see a huge burly giant that was peering down the hill trying to find us, but it does not come close enough. We pass the night uneventfully.
We are close to the mountain, only an hour or so away.
As we start the climb up the mountain we see a figure off in the distance, an ogrish looking creature is there. Viewing it through the glass, we see it is an ettin standing guard on a thin walkway, it is looking down in our direction.
Dom scouts a way up that is more hidden, we take some extra time to climb up this circuitous path in the hopes that we can approach undetected. The ettin shows no signs that we have been spotted. The path becomes steeper, switching back and forth as it wends its way up the steep slope. The path is well traveled, but we see no evidence of the stone being hauled up. This is apparently the path to their dumping grounds, there is a huge pile of refuse, including decaying humanoid remains, the stench is appalling.
We plan a sneak attack on the Eton, I get to be wraithlike, given the ability to hide from all the senses of our enemy, I get to be sneaky!
Our plan is to sneak up, surround the ettin, and all attack at once. The idea is that we will bring it down in one blow, without giving it the time to sound the alert, best laid plans…
I invoke the rod and prepare to be made sneaky. We slowly and quietly move into place, the ettin is scanning the valley floor below and does not seem to be at all alarmed. So far so good, then we round the corner and the other ettin guard at the post behind the outcropping comes into view…
Luckily that one is snoozing at his post, but probably not for long…
Alaric phases into view, steps up and lashes out, hitting the beast two good solid blows. Dom moves up, knives flashing, this is his element. There is not much left by the time I get to take my swings, I almost feel sorry for the beast as it crashes to the ground before it even really knows it’s being attacked.
Coy, having faith in his companions, has broken off to try to silence the inattentive guard in the tower. Coy manages to stun him and we rush, trying to keep the alarm from sounding. The advantage will be ours If this succeeds.
I don’t even have a chance to make my way over to him before Alaric fells the stunned ettin guard. Coy grimaces, and finishes him off.
There are two ropes running through two holes in the wall, one is red and one is brown. We assume pulling the red one would sound an alarm, and the brown we surmise will open the door. At least that is our hope.
We arrange ourselves before the door, and brace for action. Coy takes hold of the brown rope and pulls, it takes more muscle than he expected, he leans his weight into it, and a grinding noise accompanies the doors slowly swinging open to revealing a corridor, there are two openings on either side with heavy curtains pulled across them both. We hear snoring from behind one curtain, and voices filter through the other. We decide not to leave anyone behind us, Coy pulls open a curtain, the sound of snoring becomes louder as the heavy curtain is moved aside.
There are four stone giants in this room, two are dicing companionably while the others are snoring away. I almost feel badly, disrupting this friendly scene, almost, but not quite.
Alaric and Dom have both gone in ahead of me and made their marks, I move in and swing a mighty blow, one hit carrying through to the other. Cilka moves in behind me and her magic takes out the first one I hit. Coy moves in while the sleeping giants wake and rise, arming themselves with whatever they have to hand. One of the dicers manages to get a few swings in before Alaric knocks him out of the fight. We have the other two, wiping the sleep from their eyes, and I am sure our ruckus has mobilized the mountain fortress, we’ll be seeing many more shortly.
I swing at one of the sleepy ones, at first I thought I missed him, then I notices the deep gash open up as his eyes go wide and he drops unconscious.
Coy takes a glancing blow and being the fragile elf he is, goes down. Of course, I must go save him, you know, because I am a girl, and that’s what we do. I deal two massive blows, the second of which hits him in a particularly vulnerable spot, dealing significant damage. This is the second time my sword has hit with almost inhuman force. On the last blow, my blade flares blindingly bright and a ring of fire explodes from its tip, blasting everyone surrounding me, friend and foe alike. I am unscathed and left standing there, holding my sword with a dumbfounded look on my face. Cilka comments that I am trespassing on her territory.
We finish off the prone giants as we hear Keth outside bellowing at the guards in the other room, some nonsense about disciplinary action. It almost works. It does buy us a few precious seconds to get a heal or two and clean up the rest in this room.
We move forward down the hall toward the giant Keth almost bluffed, I am uncomfortable leaving the other curtained room behind us.
Cilkas streaks of magic shoot past us, slamming into the giant, rocking it back on its heels. It doesn’t last much longer between Dom’s attack from behind and Coys smashing fists, it falls. Now we just have to deal with their immediate leader, Snurr.
This is when the giants from across the hall finally decide to make their appearance. Cilka cries out in fear as we all spin around to deal with this latest threat. Ogres and ettins, two of each come pouring out of the room, filling the hall with their growls and stench.
The hallway works to our advantage, we are two across yet they can only come at us one at a time. We are mechanical in our attacks, one step forward hack, hack, hack, parry and repeat. Alaric and I make a good team. Every now and then, Cilka little balls of crackling energy come flying through, pelting the ettins and they try to press forward.
Alaric steps in and lands a good solid blow, I move up and swing, my sword hit hard and true and… another blast of fire radiates out cooking everything within a ten foot radius, everyone but me.
We have cleared this area, we even let a few run away down the mountain. Keth has taken over the body of Snurr, so we have an officer of their number on our side.
Further down the hall there are large brass bound wooden doors with a five point star scratched into the face. The doors open to a great hall with a dais at the far end, two thrones grace the dais. A tall bronze statue of a faceless woman stands in the corner close to us on the right. There is a gallery to the left and a stair rising up into the ceiling. Cilka points up toward the gallery, “something moved up there!”
Keth/Snurr offers to toss one of us up onto the dais, we decide to take the stairs.
The top of the stairs shows us two more giants down the corridor with an evil looking giant red doglike thing in front of them. Keth/Snurr steps in and growls at them in an officious way. This does not seem to have the effect he was hoping, they growl back and raise their weapons in the commonly recognized I am going to do my best to kill you sort of way. I invoke the rod.
The red dog pads forward and opens its maw, flames shoot forth, bathing us all in searing fire. I am unable to fend it off at all and fall screaming into a fiery darkness. I come to with Alaric’s healing energy washing over me, relieving the searing pain of my burns. I struggle to my feet and move forward into the fray.
Blows are flying in the tight confines of the hallway, my friends are up, then down, then up, then down. Alaric has done little more than heal whoever he can reach, trying to keep people on their feet. We finally start to make some headway. The red dog and giant peering out the door think so too as the dog tries to run and the door into the room slams shut, blocking off our access to the last giant standing. Cilka calls out and the hound freezes in its tracks, it takes another blow or six from me, Dom and Alaric and finally it falls.