Playing with Fire
December 28, 2012

January 16, 994 at 8:00 p.m. (38,913 g.p. in party loot)

Rowena is held captive. The group is hummingbird free, has already uncovered some “mundane” information about the Scarlet Guard in Lambasa, and plan to meet by 6:00 p.m. on January 17 in the woods west of Lambasa, at a specific location given in the hummingbird note.

As the group approaches the city gates and see elves being checked, they realize that they weren’t checked these past days, since being sent on this mission. That is not true today. Kissandi slips by with her hat of disguise. Bui’s ID is given a thorough check before the party enters Lambasa. Bui asks the Scarlet Guard helping with the ID check if he knows Dunvan. No dice.

Once inside the gates, the group splits up. Ja’Elle looks to the local Thieve’s Guild for information about PR III. Kissandi goes to the University in search of more knowledge about Imix. Bui and Tyzzer begin their search for Dunvan by looking for Scarlet Guard at familiar taverns.

With leads from fellow Thieve’s and payment to said thieve’s for their services, Ja’Elle followed a trail of information, eventually leading to a woman and two of her friends in a bar. After confronting the women, Ja’Elle continued to follow the chain of command upwards until it reached a man by the name of Mulligan Finch, a man who owns and runs a local robe and cloak store on Infernal Alley. Ja’Elle snuck in overnight, found a backroom with a man sleeping, held a dagger to his throat and gathered more information. Ja’Elle needed to wait until morning until Mulligan Finch would return, a man with a long white beard. Ja’Elle mentioned PR III to Mulligan Finch, left and then tried to scout the building. Over an hour later, he followed a man (the man he held a knife to last night) back to what seemed to be his home. After returning and continuing to scout the store, eventually Ja’Elle noticed Kissandi, Bui, and Tyzzer walking Infernal Alley, seemingly looking for him.

Meanwhile, Kissandi uncovered a book with a chapter on Imix in the University library. With some help, she was able to discern some information about Imix. To learn more, Kissandi took time to uncover some shadowy figures. With some keen observation and the ability to improvise, Kissandi was able to gain access to a basement game of cards. She endured an initiation beating by a large thug at the behest of a small, squeaky man. By about 5:00 a.m. Kissandi convinced the group that she was trustworthy and they took her to a ritual sacrifice by fire, two levels below a place called Bamrah’s. Kissandi, with a flare for the dramatic said let’s take this to the street and then made an effective escape. A little later, Kissandi met back up with Tyzzer and Bui.

Tyzzer and Bui returned to the Dire Gar. There, they met a familiar member of the Scarlet Guard, Hagar, who Tyzzer spoke with the other day. Noticing they upset him when they brought up the names of those mentioned by Van Devries (Dunvan, Malagar, and Fech), they asked why? He said that Malagar was disgraced, but he did not know the other two. Talking to a few others in the Dire Gar and another bar, Tyzzer and Bui got shoulder shrugs, confused looks, and a few others who had no specific evidence but concurred with Hagar that Malagar’s name was not well thought of here. Tyzzer and Bui hoped others would come to them with information and hung out in the bars. Then, they returned to the inn and met up with Kissandi.

Kissandi told Tyzzer and Bui about the ritual sacrifice. They wanted to right this wrong, but wanted to find Ja’Elle first. It took quite some time to find him, or really for Ja’Elle to find them. When Ja’Elle noticed them walking Infernal Alley looking for him, for a little fun, Ja’Elle relieved Tyzzer of a jeweled scepter from their last journey into the Steading. Ja’Elle quickly returned it, saying, “sir, this must have slipped out of your pocket,” with a smile on his face.

The group shared stories. Ja’Elle and Kissandi realized that Mulligan Finch, the owner of the robe and cloak store was also present and seemingly leading the ritual sacrifice by fire that Kissandi witnessed.

A plan was made. The group surrounded the cloak and robe store. Ja’Elle unlocked the two back doors. Kissandi, wearing the hat of disguise entered, talked briefly with Mulligan Finch. Finch quickly summoned help, the large cultist from the night before and slipped out a door to a back room. At the one minute mark, the group burst in through the doors. Ja’Elle closed and locked the front door. Kissandi and Ja’Elle made quick work, killing the cultist in less than 10 seconds, before he could make an attack. The group searched the first floor in seconds and found Finch was gone. Kissandi quickly noticed a section of the floor with a secret door.

Quickly and clumsily the group hustled to the dark lower level. Kissandi was able to find fresh tracks. Following the tracks led to a room with what clearly was a teleportation circle, recently used. Mulligan Finch had escaped, but his identity is now known to the group.

While trying to deactivate the portal, Kissandi prayed to the Raven Queen. Receiving a clear message that she, Kissandi, was on an angelic mission, it is her duty to prepare the dead for their journey while protecting them from undeath, to punish those who seek to escape death, and to find if there is truth that Imix has sought an alliance with Orcus and/or Vecna. Ja’Elle, Tyzzer, and Bui were able to do a little damage to the portal, but it is clearly still functional.

Kissandi hurried upstairs and began a process to prepare the dead cultist’s body for death, using a couple of coins to cover the eyes. The rest of the group tried to hurry her along, but were soon convinced to help her prepare the body, however disgusting a job it was to do.

With only an hour left before needing to depart for the woods, the group decided to go a couple blocks down the street to Bamrah’s to right the wrong done at the sacrifice the night before. While Ja’Elle snuck around and picked the lock to a concealed entrance to the lower level, a man intentionally got Bui’s attention. Bui followed the man he had never met, but recognized as a friend. He was Vale Temeros, a dark skinned member of the Sojourners. Vale advised Bui of the help the Sojourners provided to keep their last encounter in the storefront unnoticed, but that would not be possible if they continued killing others during the light of day on the busy street.

Bui was easily able to convince the others to hold off on raiding the location of last night’s sacrifice.

Kissandi noticed a person that must have been following the group for the past day and a half, a bearded man. Kissandi confronted the man. Soon, the man named Kerrigan was surrounded by the party in the middle of Infernal Alley, a busy street with lots of businesses and bars, known for its high level of crime and higher numbers of city guards.

Quickly intimidated, Kerrigan told the party he was paid well by Alepup and by Mulligan Finch to observe for them. Bui, through a feat of diplomacy was able to convince the group not to kill or cut out Kerrigan’s tongue. Bui sent Kerrigan away believing Kerrigan was convinced to change his ways.

Tyzzer sprinted to the castle and requested a quick meeting with Van Devries. Tyzzer disclosed everything to Van Devries, but during the conversation was disturbed by Van Devries’ reaction and now believes Van Devries is part of the problem and possibly part of or connected to the Imix cult.

Tyzzer made it just on time to meet the group in the woods as the teleporter activated and brought the group back to PR III.

The group, still armed, appeared back in the jail cells. After a short discussion with Zarenthal, PR III returned flanked by two fire archons.

PR III has one more mission for the group, to find information about the local elf network. He seems set on making an alliance with the PCs. He told the group they are not much different than he and that by sparing their lives, he realized they could be a powerful ally in the future.

PR III sees himself and the group as more than pawns in a game controlled by leaders or gods, but instead as those who should oversee things and make a more perfect world together. According to the group, his views of a more perfect world don’t seem to mesh with the group’s. He disagrees.

Rowena, unconscious but alive, was dragged in upon request. During the discussion, Bui recalled ally, bringing Rowena into the cell with him. He healed her and asked if she was okay.

Over the last day, the group learned:

  • PR III works with the Imix cultists, but is not a religious fanatic.
  • the Imix cult has run wild in Lambasa.
  • Tyzzer no longer trusts the Scarlet Guard, even at the highest level (e.g. Van Devries).

The hope is to free Rowena. They have two days to fulfill PR III’s next mission.

The teleporter takes them back to just outside the city walls of Lambasa.

January 17, 994 at 10:00 p.m. (38,901 g.p. in party loot)

Double Agents

Scene One:
Start Time: Ja’Elle & Rowena 8:00 a.m. on Jan 12, 994
Javok leaves, saying he will be back in over a week, likely a week and a half or two with allies who can help return to the Steading. Ja’Elle and Rowena take an extended rest.

Scene Two:
Start Time: Kissandi, Bui, & Tyzzer unknown
As you awake, cold and without your armor or weapons in separate prison cells, you see a burst of light zoom across the sky. A male tiefling with a scar under his right eye, and a dark cloak and cape enters the hall and talks with the group. After the tiefling leaves, the group is introduced to PR III. He enters, flanked by two fire archons. After noting how impressed he has become with the exploits of the PCs despite their going counter to some of the work he has been backing, he tells the PCs he has spared their lives. He says he wishes to make an alliance with the PCs and to test them simultaneously. He has Ja’Elle returned to an adjacent cell and then shows the group a hooded and bound Rowena, whose life he holds in the balance. The group is told to choose two of three missions, accomplish them, and her life will be spared. The choices are noted below.

Story notes – PR III, tiefling tough guy, Zarenthal (magic circle), and some fire archons visit the captive PCs - PR III has spared the PCs lives and plans to enlist them or form an alliance with them. He gives the group a choice of fulfilling 2 of 3 missions. Rowena’s life is being held in the balance. All missions involve infiltrating a group and returning with names of important individuals in each group. The options are: Scarlet Guard, local elf network, and the Sojourners. The group chooses the Scarlet Guard and the local elf network. 2 mechanical hummingbirds are sent with the group presumably as spies or a way for PR III and his forces to view the PCs actions, the group is teleported via magic circle by Zerenthal to just outside of the capital, Lambasa, to start with the Scarlet Guard.

Rowena’s Story – captured while trying to keep track of Ja’Elle on the scouting expedition to the Steading, held hostage by PR III who said she will be killed if party does not complete their two chosen tasks.

Ja’Elle’s Story – scouted Steading, lost Rowena, back to cave, Javok returns much earlier than expected with a group that he says will value what you offer them but assures you can help you find your friends, Ja’Elle is captured by 20+ cultists & knocked unconscious (betrayed by Javok?), reunited with party in prison cells, in Lambasa with spy hummingbird, distracts bird with help of Kissandi, writes note, seeks and finds Knix, Knix has other rogues mug Ja’Elle – smash mechanical bird to bits – put under a barrel and spike the barrel into the ground, pays Knix with leather armor +3 & hires him to set up hits on Bui and his spy bird (Bui repels all attempts), stays away from meetings, getting info from thieves guild, so not to be seen by the other bird, eventually reunites with party outside of town after Kissandi gives the all clear in the birds. He prefers not to return to PR III, and plans to research PR III over the next 22 hours.

Kissandi’s Story – In prison, Kissandi seeks reassurance and receives it from the Raven Queen that her service is still needed. Seeing the passing comet (?) in the sky, Kissandi realizes that this may be supernatural and something meant to honor a god other than the Raven Queen; after accepting the offer from PR III and regaining her equipment, she immediately uses her falchion to smack a mechanical hummingbird just to see how well it is made. As a hummingbird stays with Ja’Elle, Kissandi follows and watches. Kissandi helps distract the bird, allowing Ja’Elle to scribble a quick note. Later, Kissandi sees Ja’Elle slip into a dark alley, and finds him being “mugged” by a few rogues. Ja’Elle isn’t putting up much of a fight and Kissandi realizes it is a set-up to destroy the bird. She doesn’t interrupt and it works. Then, she and Ja’Elle travel together, looking for ways to knock off the other tracker hummingbird. When reunited with Tyzzer and Bui, Kissandi joins them in a meeting with Van Devries, a representative of the king at the castle. After trying to convince Van Devries to help destroy the other hummingbird, Kissandi is dismissed and sent back out. Outside the city walls, the second hummingbird bursts into sparks. Kissandi notices the sparks form a burst 10 circle around the group, with all but two of the sparks quickly fading. She looks at the two that remain and they form part of the outline of a piece of parchment. The parchment directs the group to meet at a defined location in the woods just west of town in exactly 24 hours. Kissandi relocates Ja’Elle in town and brings him back out to meet with the party. She discusses possible options for the party for the next 22 hours and what to do about going into the woods for the likely transportation back to PR III in 22 hours. Over the next 22 hours, she plans to do some more research about Imix.

Bui’s Story – (surprise…Bui is a Sojourner – this may or may not be known to the rest of the party) Bui was graced with one of the two hummingbird trackers. He ventured into town and went to talk with people about the Scarlet Guard, trying to talk with those who he thought would know little and may provide poor information to PR III. He wanted to avoid Dunvan, a former friendly Scarlet Guard contact, if at all possible. Later in the day Bui was jumped by a few rogues. With some quick thinking and good use of his skills, he was able to shake them off. In the ordeal, he lost a potion of healing and his purse was lightened. At the inn where he stayed, his subconscious woke him up in the middle of the night when, once again a couple of rogues were approaching, this time sneaking in the shadows in his room. Using astral flare, he lit up the room and scared off the rogues. He reported the incident to management and they did all they could to make it up, offering him anything he wanted for breakfast and making his stay at the inn free. Bui received a note from his friends saying that he would be jumped again and to let it happen. Instead, Bui decided to stay in only heavily populated areas and well-lit areas so as to avoid being targeted a third time. Upon meeting his fellow adventurers he became aware of their intentions to destroy the tracker hummingbird, of which Bui was not convinced was the best plan, thinking it could lead to Rowena’s demise. Tyzzer was even more adamant about protecting Rowena. Bui joined Tyzzer and Kissandi in meeting with Van Devries. Bui was disappointed when Van Devries gave Dunvan’s name along with the names of two other unknown Scarlet Guard in the presence of the hummingbird. Once the full party was reunited, Bui suggested Ja’Elle research PR III while he and Tyzzer find Dunvan to try to help him and/or get information from him, before the timer with 22 hours left goes off.

Tyzzer’s Story – Tyzzer did not have a hummingbird tracker, so he set off to find out information about the Lambassa Scarlet Guard. He went to a guard house and met a dwarf Scarlet Guard at the door. After rediscovering that Scarlet Guard do not have higher ranks, Tyzzer asked for someone who may have more leadership or could be more helpful. He then met with a dragonborn warlord named Khiraj. He and Khiraj shared battle stories and discussed why Lambassa was in need of their skills right now. Upon Tyzzer’s request for a place where city and Scarlet Guards hang out, Khiraj suggested a seafood bar, The Dire Gar. Tyzzer ate and drank with city guards and commoners and took a lead from one to go to meet Shanks, a city official, inside the castle for more information. Tyzzer continued to ask how to become a Scarlet Guard and how to help the land. After sharing information about PR III and the hummingbird constructs, Shanks said Tyzzer should speak with Van Devries, a close helper of King Goodwell II. Van Devries seemed convinced that the best way forward was to have the PCs serve as double agents, uncovering as much about PR III’s whereabouts as possible while going along with PR III’s plan, and revealing as little as possible. Van Devries asked for a meeting with the entire group later. Ja’Elle did not attend. At this meeting, Van Devries gave three names of Scarlet Guard (Dunvan, Malagar, and Feck). He had told Tyzzer earlier that some information must be released to satisfy PR III and not blow cover for the PCs. Then, the three were separated because of Bui’s hummingbird. Tyzzer was summoned to meet with King Goodwell II. Tyzzer and Goodwell spoke and Goodwell thanked Tyzzer for serving the crown and the country and said to follow Van Devries’ plan. After the last hummingbird self-exploded and was gone, Tyzzer was quite upset with Kissandi and Ja’Elle for not protecting Rowena and trying to destroy the hummingbirds. Tyzzer clearly wants to preserve Rowena’s life first and foremost. He agrees with Bui to try to help him find Dunvan while the other research PR III and Imix before the 22 hour timer runs out.

Part of the Story of the Sojourners – Sojourners are a loosely organized organization of people who help those less fortunate than them. They are somewhat covert and at least nationwide organization in Terkent. The Sojourners recognize one another by a compass that is displayed in different ways on each Sojourner. Sojourners sometimes work solo. Other Sojourners receive aid from and know many others. Part of the reason the Sojourners don’t have a leadership is so that they can operate behind the scenes helping others without politics or money (bribes) influencing them.

End Notes – Ja’Elle plans to search town for more information on PR the third, Kissandi plans to research Imix, while Bui & Tyzzer look to find Dunvan. In just under 22 more hours, the group was instructed to go to a specific location in the woods west of town. The group has not decided whether all will go, if Ja’Elle will stay behind, or what they will do. Questions have been raised about the benefits and drawbacks of going or not going. On one side, the fear is that Rowena could be killed. On the other is that PR III has not been proven trustworthy or not to be trusted. Information gathered may help with the decision.

Current time is January 16, 994 at 8:00 p.m.
Current party loot = 38,913 g.p.

On the Knives Edge
November 30, 2012

Jan 11, 994 at about 3:30 a.m. (party gold = 22,308)

In the last segment, the party just defeated Nosnra and the iron dragon Feramaug and hit a milestone.

After carefully considering plans, the group sent Ja’Elle up the stairs where he found a single room with a single unlocked chest. Inside were 21 bone scroll tubes. All but one of the tubes were empty, which contained note signed by Obmi referring to King Snurre, and urging Nosnra to increase the raids against humans after meeting at Howling Crag.

Next, the group sent Ja’Elle into what appears to be Nonra’s treasury. Ja’Elle sprung a trap but with some luck avoided falling into a pit. After leaping back and forth across the pit, Ja’Elle brought the contents of three treasure chests back. He kept LVL 17 +4 repulsion leather armor. Tyzzer kept the bejeweled gold scepter (7,500 gp) and gold-emroidered vest sewn with gems (2,500 gp). Tyzzer fastened the gem to his bastard sword, making it a LVL 15 +3 righteous weapon. Kissandi took the LVL 17 Cloak of Resistance +4. Tyzzer took the platinum brooch shaped like the holy symbol of Lolth (2,500 gp) and four gems worth 500 gp each. The group left a chest with lots of gold pieces (4,000 gp) in it and a cask of excellent wine (500 gp) here to pick up later, if possible.

Next the group sent Ja’Elle into the stream and had him swim a short distance toward the mines. Ja’Elle didn’t get far before calling the others into the cavern. As the party entered, four umber hulks burrowed up from underground and attacked. Bui recalled an ally. Tyzzer helped his allies shift back. Ja’Elle was slippery enough to escape and Rowena stayed back far enough that eventually the party was able to retreat far enough that the umber hulks stopped their pursuit. Only one umber hulk was damaged in the battle. This was a close call for the party, but a crafty escape.

Next, the party decided to go to the other part of the mines. Partway in, out of the dark, two tentacles grabbed Bui and Rowena. A cave roper started to real Bui in. Rowena was able to break free. Out of the shadows, Ja’Elle darted in and critically hit the beast. Tyzzer charged in to defend his allies. When the roper was bloodied, Bui planted the standard of the silver dragon and used his own glorious presence to quickly reduce the will of the enemy. Rowena eventually came up to attack from close quarters. The roper was never able to land a direct bite, but did further weaken the party. Ja’Elle dealt the killing blow to the roper.

After the roper was defeated, 10 dwarf slaves emerged from hiding saying the stone giants had left them here, the orc slaves were gone, and thanked the party for defeating the roper. The group found more treasure including a golden skull with gems for eyes (1,500 gp), a cured displacer beast fur (1500 gp), and 1200 gp loose in coins. The coins were added to the other chest with loose coins. Tyzzer took the skull and fur. The dwarves carried the treasure chest now with 5,200 gp and the cask of excellent wine (500 gp).

The party next went to the smithy and released the fire elemental that was imprisoned there after Rowena used her ritual to communicate with it, asking it to destroy the cultists on the main floor.

The party went up to the main floor and found a secret door in the single room Ja’Elle had been in with the unlocked chest. The door led to Nosnra’s den, which had chairs covered with stitched human skin, and a mounted head of a great white stag on the wall. Kissandi was found laying on a bearskin rug. After reviving Kissandi, the group decided to continue out of the Steading.

The dwarves hung back in the great hall as Ja’Elle scouted ahead. The cultists were in the entryway. A negotiation went wrong and it turned into a battle. After a fairly quick battle, Tyzzer was knocked unconscious. Bui and Kissandi dropped their weapons. Rowena ran from the Steading. The cultists yelled for Rowena to stop. She did not. Airnys, the Imix cultist leader sent rivulets of fire at both Kissandi and Bui, knocking both unconscious. Ja’Elle snuck away and escaped through a chimney. Before he escaped, Ja’Elle saw evidence that the fire elemental had done some harm to cultists. He also saw Laerthar the stone giant and his two stone giant allies dead amongst many dead cultists from a recent battle.

Tyzzer, Bui, and Kissandi were captured by the cultists.

Rowena and Ja’Elle both made it to the cave where they found each other and Javok. They requested Javok get help. He said it would take days to a week for him. Ja’Elle and Rowena planned to await help.

Until next time…

Nosnra and His Pet Dragon
November 10, 2012

Jan 11, 994 at 3:00 a.m. just after an extended rest… (total party gold = 22,308 gp)

After receiving instructions from the cultists, the group descended to the lower level, with the distinct possibility that they just saw their last extended rest. If they clear the lower level, the cultists may allow them to live.

From the bottom of the stairs, Tyzzer scanned the room. Ja’Elle scouted ahead and noticed some movement behind a nearby door. Soon later another battle with Nosnra began.

Two hill giant avalanchers met the party in the doorway. Two orc ruffians hit the gongs repeatedly during the battle. Nosnra and his wife, Morzul, used ranged attacks to start the battle. The stone giant, Laerthar, used his petrifying gaze throughout the encounter.

Bui kept Nosnra from attacking for several rounds of the fight, before Nosnra finally saved out. Ja’Elle made his way around the battlefield, felling enemies quickly. Tyzzer and Bui held the giants at bay, while Rowena stayed back in the stairwell and used ranged attacks to help weaknen the giants.

The group made quick work of one of the hill giant avalanchers, one of the orc ruffians, and Morzul.

Nosnra, the other hill giant avalancher, and Laerthar held their own. At one point, Ja’Elle and Bui were petried and Tyzzer was unconscious, with Rowena in the stairwell. Nosnra used this chance to escape. The second orc ruffian also ran away during the fight.

Two additional stone giants showed up with ten more orc ruffians.

Once the second hill giant avalancher died and a few of the orcs were destroyed by Rowena, the other orcs made a run for it.

Hope was fading for the group as the stone giants looked fresh and the party was out of healing powers. Laerthar offered an olive branch…allow he and the other two stone giants to leave and they would stop fighting. After a quick negotiation, the party told Laerthar that leaving via the stairs they descended would be sure death at the hands of the cultists above. Laerthar said another stairs could be found, but Nosnra and his dragon would be in the way.

The group decided to take a short rest and were urged by a small, old man in a red cloak to use a ritual to redistribute their healing surges. They spent 10 minutes and then tracked Nosnra to a room with walls bristling with spears.

Ja’Elle slipped in, found a dragon and got back out. Rowena never entered. Tyzzer and Bui entered. The portcullis descended with Ja’Elle and Rowena out and Tyzzer and Bui inside. The dragon and Nosnra quickly did over 90 damage to Bui and knocked him unconscious…

Tyzzer revived Bui quickly.

Bui and Rowena neutered the dragon. Bui reduced the dragon’s damage by 10 and Rowena used mass resist lightning to reduce the dragon’s damage further. Bui recalled an ally and brought Ja’Elle past the portcullis. Rowena got their on her own with her fey step lacings.

The group worked away. Tyzzer proved to be quite the fighter again in both battles, dealing damage as much or more than directing others to deal more damage. Ja’Elle delivered the killing blows to both Nosnra and Feramaug, his pet dragon.

Moments in both battles looked like sure defeat. With a strange turn of events with the Stone Giants and great battle tactics by the party in the battle against Nosnra and Feramaug, the group came out victorious so far.

What awaits next could bring great reward or could all crumble beneath the group.

Kissandi still needs to be found. There must be treasure here somewhere. There is surely more to kill in the mines – for sure that rock beast with a long reach that had been described earlier. Could there still be dwarf slaves there? The unnatural flame in the forge must be investigated. The tenuous alliance with the Stone Giants may prove helpful or costly. Another staircase is nearby. Can it be used to sneak past the cultists, or will the cultists be there, too?

Will the heroes escape the Steading? So many possibilities for next time.

Cut Scene - A Deal You Cannot Turn Down‏
November 7, 2012

You are weakened to the point where fighting the cultists is a certain and quick death. (Kissandi – unconscious and captured by the giants, Tyzzer 1 HP & 0 surges, others unknown but not as good without Tyzzer & Kissandi)

After a short discussion, the leaders of the two groups of cultists approach Rowena, Bui, Ja’Elle, and Tyzzer.

Clearly upset by the unexpected turn of events, Airnys (Imix cult leader – Red Robed Mage Type Leader) and Erogani (other cults leader, Drow Arcane Guard) address the four of you. They seem not fully convinced that you follow Imix. However, they make it clear they want to give you a chance to prove yourselves as true believers. To do this, they say all who dwell in the Steading must be destroyed, and you must destroy them.

The cultists say the only way you will prove that you are true believers is to enter the lower level and clear everything living. If you perish in this mission, you will be celebrated as martyrs for the cause. If you survive and clear the Steading, you may be spared your lives and recognized as true believers depending on how you accomplish this victory. If you do show faith and you honor Imix by destroying the hill giants, their allies, and any other living creatures in the lower level of the Steading, and then make a great sacrifice to Him, you will be bestowed with Imix’s grace.

On your honor and your word that you will do as they have ordered, the cultists post guards over you and over the stairwells, so giants do not emerge/escape while you take an extended rest and level up.

You are given your weapons back as you descend the stairway, knowing that you must clear the level, likely without the chance to take another extended rest and at least initially without Kissandi who was taken below by the giants. If you clear the lower level, you may still escape with your lives.

Rowena endures the high fever through the night and recovers her will. She has bested Greater Moon Fever and is back to being the “normal” Rowena again. The fever is gone and there is no longer a penalty to her Will.

One Side Retreats, the Other is Captured!
September 14, 2012
  • January 10, 994 around 5:30 p.m.
  • Major fight against the giants continues.
  • The new kitchen staff arrives to aid the giants.
  • The next round, Morzul (Nosnra’s wife), Laerthar (the stone giant), and 14 young hill giant arrive.
  • Rowena uses her fey step lacings to teleport away from the party and into the fray with the young hill giants. She destroys all but one of the young hill giants and an ogre with a single fire attack.
  • The party focusses fire on Vaarg and destroy him.
  • Ironjaws, Nosnra’s bear, is killed.
  • Several more giants are killed.
  • Kissandi is knocked unconscious and is dying.
  • She is stabalized with two strikes.
  • A hoard of Imix and some other type of cultists arrive.
  • It seems Nosnra thinks they have arrived to aid the party.
  • Nosnra orders the giants to grab the elf. They push forward, grab and drag Kissandi to and down the stairs.
  • The party allows the cultists to surround them, eventually surrendering weapons to them.
  • Meanwhile, the drow-led cultists (non-Imix worshippers) destroy a giant who is stopping them from pursuing Nosnra and the others. The Imix worshippers destroy the last ogre and a giant who were in the front line of the battle versus the party.
  • Attempts to bluff and negotiate with the cultists are neither a complete success or failure.
  • We end in quite a predicament. Kissandi is an unconscious prisoner of the giants who have descended to the lower level Tyzzer has 1 HP and 0 surges. Ja’Elle is surrounded by faceless cultists. The cultists have taken begun to take control of the situation, and it appears the party may be captives.
  • Next time, what tact will the party attempt to make the most of this turn of events?

Total party loot: 22,308 g.p.
Current conditions: Kissandi unconscious and captured by Giants, All others hurting and ‘captives’ of Imix Cultists. All have more than enough experience to level up after the next extended rest.
Date and time: January 10, 994 at 6:00 pm

A Little Ruse and a Series of Fortunate Events
August 31, 2012

Notes 8/31/12

Continue fight!
• Nosnra shoots a crossbow at Rowena, but I bravely intercede and take the brunt of the attack, convincing Nosnra that we are willing to negotiate
• The chief tries to take our weapons and we protest, but eventually give in. Nosnra’s hill giants take the weapons we dropped.
• Alex leaves Steven hanging with a double high-five, but eventually comes around with a burner!
• Vaarg needs to be forcibly removed from the hall. Rowena taunts him mercilessly about his dead wolves.
• Kissandi and Rowena continue to feel the effects of the werewolf’s attacks after the fight. We are worried that they might become infected with lycanthropy.
• Bui attempts to convince Nosnra to reveal his plans, but Nosnra insists that we should have brought information.
• Bui and I convince Nosnra to allow us to accompany a scouting party to Utini and Agion, but he will not give any information about his giant allies.
• We are escorted to the stone giants’ room to spend the night.
• Bui heals Kissandi of his affliction, but Rowena says she can shake it off. Woof.
• Tyzzer asks the hill giant guarding our room if we can worship at the temple.
o Bui convinces Nosnra to let us go with an escort. Nice job, Bui!
o Entering the temple, Bui recognizes that this is a temple dedicated to The Elder Elemental Eye.
o The reflective surface on the wall behind the alter shows monstrous reflections of us.
o We move up and Bui and Kissandi investigate the alter. Kissandi spills her blood on the alter.
o Bui steps around the alter and gazes at the mirror. A “Y” shape is burned into his forehead. He feels the urge to do something bad . . .
o Bui attacks Kissandi! Kissandi leaves the alter. She’s just not that into this.
o Bui is compelled to touch the alter, which causes a large purple gem with black veins to materialize.
• Bui takes the gem and is freed of his domination and scar.
o Rowena approaches the alter and discovers that the wall behind it is a link to the Far Realm. Can we destroy the link?
• No.
o We head back upstairs with our proof of the temple (gem).
• Ja’Elle does his sneaky thing even though there is a hill giant in the room guarding him.
o Tries to hide under the bed. The giant sees him all the way.
o Ja’Elle tries a different tack “I wanna show you a trick . . .” Ja’Elle hides from the giant.
o The crafty halfling then charges in and smacks the giant up.
• The giant doesn’t stand a chance.
o Ja’Elle walks around for a while, gets bored, then returns to the room.
• The gang returns the room to find it dark and suspicious. Ahh, Ja’Elle.
• As we sit around stratergizing, suspicious giants come in to attack us!
o Big fight
o The chiefy joins the fight!
o Vaarg and some more wolves join the fight!
o Rowena puts up a strategic Wall of Fire in the hallway
o We are holding our own, and in a good position, but how many waves of giants can we take on?
o To be continued . . .

The Demise of the Steading: Part 1 by Tyzzer Zaneen
August 17, 2012

January 10, 994 at 2 a.m. Tyzzer Zaneen writes:

After enacting Ja’Elle’s entertainer plan to rid the Steading of a few more giants, our company retreated to the safety of the cave from which we first set out, making sure to cover our tracks through the river in case we were being followed. As we approached our cave, which we assumed was well hidden, several of us noticed a small light as if from a hooded lantern, or a child’s nightlight in the back of the small cavern. Ja’Elle scouted ahead and felt confident enough to announce himself. The three figures turned around, and we recognized our fellow adventurers, Laeralin, Fumaro, and Tekal, who had come to offer help and information.

Laeralin gave us two notes left by Javok, the orc we freed. One was from Javok letting us know the context of the other note and telling us of an unnatural flame the dwarf slaves wanted us to check out in the smithy forge. This second note was from PR III to Nosnra, the hill giant chief, and made it clear that the mysterious PR III is behind the hill giants’ raids. It also suggested a religious aspect to the evil that has befallen our beloved country, which I believe makes it even more imperative for us to investigate the temple underneath the Steading in order to know exactly what the motivations of our enemies are, and potentially discover a weakness in their defenses. If nothing else, it will make sure that we are prepared for whatever we are to face in the weeks to come. The second note also gave us the information that reinforcements would be arriving at the Steading in the next day.

At this point, the three travelers asked to talk to us, dividing into two groups. Tyzzer, Ja’Elle, and Kissandi talked with Fumaro and Tekal, while Laeralin talked with Rowena and Bui, the two with elven blood. We did not share much information from these discussions, but it can be assumed that what we talked about helped form our strategy going forward.

I believed that with the giants at the Steading weekend, and reinforcements still at least a day away, our best strategy would be a straightforward assault on the giants. After discussion, however, it became clear that posing as the reinforcements might allow us to infiltrate farther into the heart of the Steading. This could allow us to obtain the information we seek, namely the map of the other giant fortresses, without having to fight. What swayed me to this tactic was the argument that even if this plan failed, we would still be able to enact my “kick the evil giants’ asses and take the map” plan. The note indicated that the reinforcements would prominently display red diamonds on their attire, so with the help of the druid Fumaro, we gathered berries and made a dye with which to paint our armor and robes. It was decided that there was no way to disguise Ja’Elle, so he would pose as a prisoner, giving further credence to our story that we (the imposter reinforcements), met with the heroic adventurers who had previously attacked the Steading (us), thus winnowing our numbers. With a plan in place, we slept as Laeralin, Fumaro, and Tekal kept watch.

The next morning, we set back out to the Steading with the intention of approaching from the road we assumed the reinforcements would come from. As we made our way to this road, we spotted a large group heading toward us. The party hid, while Ja’Elle scouted. Ja’Elle confirmed it was a giant raiding party including three hill giants and eight bugbears. Once the group got within range, we attacked! We were able to make quick work of them with Rowena showing her strength by dispatching the bugbears in two bursts of flame, and Kissandi flying across the battlefield slashing with her falchions that never seem to miss. These were not the reinforcements mentioned in the note, but they were undoubtedly heading to the Steading, so is was fortunate that we were able to fight them on the road before they joined with their evil kin.

We continued on our way and were eventually hailed at the front entrance of the Steading. When the gates opened, we were confronted by a grotesque giant named Vaarg and several large wolves. We introduced ourselves as the anticipated reinforcements and confidently demanded an audience with chief Nosnra. Cautious but convinced, Vaarg escorted us into the great hall, which was much how we left it. The chief, his pet bear, the stone giant named Laerthar, and several other hill giants occupied the chamber with Vaarg and the wolves. We had determined that Bui would pose as the leader of the group, so he began persuading Nosnra that we were indeed the reinforcements he was expecting, and trying to get him to reveal his plans. The chief was clearly more interested in making our “prisoner” Ja’Elle pay for what he had done the day before, but Bui was able to convince him that the halfling was a valuable source of information and that PR III would be angered if we killed him without first questioning him.

After several tense minutes of diplomatic negotiations, Nosnra finally seemed to believe our story, then asked us to prove our faith. At this point it seemed inevitable that our ruse would be discovered. I attempted to appease the chief by kneeling, but Bui did something I did not anticipate. He attempted to push Ja’Elle into the smoldering fire in the center of the room. Ja’Elle resisted, but I caught on to Bui’s intent and confidently walked through the fire, making a show of reveling in the flame. I emerged on the other side quite injured and still on fire. Bui followed suit and did not fair any better.

The chief was still not completely satisfied and commanded Vaarg to challenge us to combat. The hunched giant underwent a monstrous mutation and became a fearsome, slobbering werewolf. We moved into combat strategically, attempting to keep up the ruse that we worshipped the same god Nosnra worshipped. As usual, Kissandi flew into battle with glee, while Bui and I supported from a short distance. Rowena was again a powerful force in the fight, putting the giant werewolf and his pets to sleep for a while. This unfortunately did not last for long, and the battle continued. During this time, Ja’Elle could not keep his impatient hands and feet under control, and several times attempted to move away from his spot in front of the chief. These efforts were met with threats of swift retaliation from the surrounding giants. Soon, I saw an opportunity to place myself in a strategic melee position, but quickly became the favorite target of the werewolf giant. Were it not for Bui’s healing, I surely would not be alive to be writing this account. After killing both wolves, it was clear that we would soon destroy the giant abomination. Chief Nosnra called a halt to the fight, but Rowena’s emotions were too high, and she pressed on. Obviously not a man who is used to being defied, Nosnra did not ask twice, but rather launched himself into the fray.

Total party loot: 22,308 g.p.(added wealth gained from returning raiding party)
Current conditions: In the middle of the 2nd battle since an extended rest. All except Ja’Elle spent action point. All but Ja’Elle bit by Vaarg – must save at end of encounter.
Date and time: January 10, 994 at 2:30 pm
Separate quest cards being developed from Laeralin and from Fumaro and Tekal

Tidying up the Kitchen, Meeting the Boss, and Joining the Carnival: All in a Day's Work (Ja'Elle's Account)
July 27, 2012

After escorting the prisoners out of the steading, we turned our attention back to exploring the main level. We knew the west side presented us with two choices: 1) enter the great hall and face an enemy force likely too powerful for us to defeat; or 2) enter what we believed to be a kitchen to try to convince the few orcs in there to either assist us or NOT assist the giants. What we didn’t know was what was waiting for us on the east side of the steading, so we concluded it would be a good idea to find out before deciding what to do next.

After a brief discussion about how to proceed, we moved into position in the hallway leading away from the entry area. As we approached, Kissandi spotted a secret – not really secret, but certainly hidden – door leading directly into the great hall. We decided there was no reason to concern ourselves with this door, and instead gathered around the double doors leading east. We could hear many voices speaking in what was presumably the hill giants’ tongue, so we had a pretty good idea of what was on the other side of the doors. Everybody readied themselves in case we were spotted and needed to act fast. Once the group was ready, I opened one of the doors as slowly and as quietly as I could. I – with Kissandi peering inside as well – was able to see three young hill giants in what appeared to be sleeping quarters. Other voices were coming from farther into the room, so we knew there were more than just the three of them. With those inside being preoccupied with what they were doing, they did not notice us. Just as I had done opening the door, I slowly and quietly closed it again. Kissandi and I quickly whispered to the group what we had seen inside, and we all agreed there was no need to start a fight with the young hill giants at this time. We quietly made our way back down the hallway, with the kitchen as our next destination.

We arrived without incident in the hallway that leads from the great hall to the kitchen, then proceeded to take up our positions. I was to cover the door leading from the great hall just in case there were any stragglers, while the rest of the group would be barging into the kitchen in a show of force intended to intimidate the few orcs we expected to find in there. I moved to the door leading to the great hall while the others gathered outside the kitchen door and had a brief whispered discussion, presumably to decide who would be throwing open the door. Kissandi stepped forward, firmly grasped the scalp we removed from the fire giant, leaned heavily into the doors, and pushed them back with great force. I could see her pause ever so briefly, and the sounds of activity coming from inside made it clear she was looking at more than just a handful of orcs. No matter! Kissandi strode forward confidently as planned, and I could see her toss the scalp out in front of her as she walked into the room and out of sight. I heard her say in a loud voice, “THIS will be your fate as well unless you help us defeat the giants!” For several seconds, not a single noise could be heard coming from the kitchen. It was clear Kissandi had gotten the attention of everybody inside, but what would their reaction be? Bui stepped inside the room to join Kissandi, and I could hear him saying (to the orcs, I assume), “If you help us, we’ll let you live!” It was obvious at this point that we were going to have a very tough fight on our hands, so the rest of us rushed forward to join the fray. I saw Tyzzer and Rowena step into the room as I was making my way to the doorway. It was at this point that all hell broke loose!

I made it to the kitchen doorway, and peered around the corner. Instead of entering a small kitchen with a few orcs, we walked into a kitchen suitable for feeding an army! There were two large ovens on the west wall, two large work tables in the open areas, a couple counters in the southeast corner, and numerous barrels, containers, and kitchen utensils all over the place. The kitchen staff consisted of two female hill giant cooks (near the ovens), three ogres (evenly distributed around the kitchen), and 15 orcs (essentially all over the kitchen as well). The giants were not armed, the orcs all had stone knives suitable for carving meat, and the ogres had extremely long spiked chains. Tyzzer, Kissandi, and Bui had already entered 15-25 feet into the kitchen and were facing the bulk of the enemies, while Rowena had hung back closer to the doorway to provide ranged support from a safe distance. Kissandi and Bui were both shouting to the rest of us to NOT attack the orcs, and instead to concentrate on the ogres. It was clear the ogres were directing the orcs to fight, while it was equally clear the orcs were more afraid of the ogres than they were of us. The ogres used the orcs as a protective shield while staying close enough to attack with their long chains. Meanwhile, the hill giants saw no reason to get very close to the fighting, instead relying on hurling at us whatever was handy.

Trying to hide in these conditions was out of the question, so I knew I’d have to rely on my speed to be effective. With almost all of the enemies’ attention being drawn to the others, I was able to dart into and out of the fighting a couple times. I landed a few good hits, but there was no way this strategy was going to be effective if the enemy decided to roll up our left flank. Then…

Way to go, Rowena!

She nailed a handful of baddies with a spell that resulted in five of them (one ogre, one hill giant, and three orcs) falling to the floor, sound asleep! That’s just what the doctor ordered! Now I could finally dive into the action! As I was bolting forward, I could see that Tyzzer, Kissandi, and Bui appeared to be starting to gain the upper hand on the right flank. When I arrived at the downed ogre, I plunged my knife into him and made sure he didn’t get up again. When I looked up, I could see one of the orcs fleeing the battle and cowering behind the table at the north end of the room. It was at this moment that Kissandi broke from the horde on the right flank and ran to finish off the downed hill giant. She was going to need some help, with the other hill giant so close. I scrambled over the table and moved into position next to Kissandi, who had just started to work on the sleeping hill giant. We finished the job quickly, but at the cost of one boiling hot cauldron being thrown at us by the other hill giant. I was able to sidestep it, but Kissandi wasn’t so lucky. She was hurt, but still battled on!

A quick look around showed things were definitely looking up for us. The three previously-sleeping orcs had awoken and were trying to make their way for the south doors, obviously no longer interested in fighting. The hill giant stood alone in front of an oven, looking more desperate than intimidating as she reached for whatever she could find to throw. Toward the center of the kitchen were two ogres – one still untouched – and a handful of orcs. Since the ogres were our primary targets AND I knew Kissandi would have no trouble with a hill giant cook, I decided to head directly for the closer of the two ogres. That meant climbing over the table again, but this time I stayed on it to try to catch the ogre off guard. Unfortunately for me, he saw me coming and swung his chains at me when he thought I had lost my footing. Unfortunately for him, I was only pretending to lose my footing in the hope that he would take the bait and swing at me. The gamble almost proved costly, as the ends of his chains whistled past the tip of my nose. Avandra was looking out for me, and with her help I was able to close in on the ogre and land a devastating blow. Shortly thereafter, Bui’s glorious presence sapped what was left of his will to live. Two ogres down and one to go!

We were able to make quick work of the remaining ogre, so I hustled after the orc who had slipped out the north doors while the rest of the party went to help Kissandi finish the last hill giant. The terrified orc was cowering in the dining room just off the kitchen and he refused to return. I told him there was only one hill giant remaining, but he said he was not moving until she was dead too. Moments later, the party finished off the hill giant and I was able to convince the orc to return. The other three surviving orcs also returned, and we gathered as much information as we could from them. They told us of a powerful giant – more powerful than the chief – who used trained large wolves in battle. When we had finished interrogating them, they agreed to help us. However, they were not able to produce a volunteer to carry out the plan of spiking the giants’ drinks. So, Kissandi chose a volunteer and told the other three to go free. The “volunteer” orc summoned his courage and delivered as many drinks as possible to the giants in the great hall. Our goal was to make them as drunk as possible, in order to give us an advantage when fighting them. Once the orc was done, we sent him on his way as well. All the pieces were now in place for us to launch a most audacious plan, involving me standing face-to-face with the giants in the great hall. Gulp!

We had discussed the plan earlier, so everybody had a general idea of what to do. We returned to the entry room and reviewed the details one last time. We were fortunate to have gotten this far without any major problems, but I was wondering if our luck would run out while I was standing among the giants. I suppose there was only one way to find out. Bui, Rowena, and Tyzzer went outside to set up the location for the “performance,” while Kissandi and I approached the main doors to the great hall. I removed my bracers and gauntlets to appear as ordinary as possible. Kissandi paused for a while, and I am pretty sure she asked for guidance or protection from the Raven Queen, or both. I was glad she did, because I was beginning to think we would need all the help we could get. We waited a moment to listen – just to make sure the party was indeed still going, which it was. Kissandi and I pushed open one of the massive doors just wide enough for a human to fit, I took a deep breath, then casually strode into the great hall as if I was just a traveling performer who had lost his way.

I’m not sure whether I was surprised or not that I was able to walk nearly past the fire pit before any of them noticed me. I suppose they were busy having a good time, and there was no reason for them to be on their toes since they were in the great hall of their fortified steading. It’s not like somebody could just slip in and start killing everything in sight and hope to survive. But, I digress…
As I approached the fire pit, the hill giant there who appeared to be in charge of cooking the meat saw me. He didn’t seem as surprised that I appeared as much as he seemed surprised at seeing a halfling for the first time. He said something to get the attention of a huge – even by their standards – hill giant seated in the center chair along the north wall. I glanced around quickly to see the hill giant chief, five hill giant guards, one stone giant, and a massive bear. I can’t say that I’ve ever felt especially tall in my life, but at this moment I was feeling especially small. The chief was also clearly seeing a halfling for the first time if the look on his face was any indication. He asked me who I was, and I explained that I was part of a group of traveling performers who had gotten lost. We were hoping to find a safe place to stay for the night, and in exchange we would be willing to put on one of our shows. The chief was reluctant, demanding to know how I had gotten inside. I told him his guards stopped us at the front gate, as I had no doubt he had instructed them to do. I did assure him at this point that his guards were actually doing their jobs quite admirably, making sure some group of strangers didn’t just come waltzing in. I further explained to the chief that his guards demanded proof that we were indeed who we said we were, so my colleagues were outside performing for the guards. I was allowed to enter, since the guards had concluded that one little halfling couldn’t possible be a threat to a steading full of giants. This explanation still did not satisfy the chief, but it seemed the extra alcohol may have finally put him over the top. He appeared quite pleased at the idea of seeing a group of traveling halflings.

I thanked the chief and turned to leave. After taking one or two steps, I stopped and turned to face the chief again. I asked him if it would be possible for one or two of his guards to help us with our belongings and our animals. Our group was weary from far too much traveling, I said, and the extra help would allow us to get started sooner. Reluctantly, the chief agreed and ordered Lugnut to accompany me outside to help. I again thanked the chief, then turned to walk with Lugnut to rejoin my colleagues outside. Along the way, I was telling him what a wonderful show we have, and that all of them were in for a very special treat. As we approached the main doors to the great hall, I could see that Kissandi had left to alert the others that we were on the way. When we reached the entry room, I assured Lugnut that the lack of torches was because they were all outside being used for the performance and pointed to the light coming from outside the main gate. At this point, we could hear very clearly what sounded like a carnival going on outside. Rowena really outdid herself this time! It took a little convincing to get Lugnut completely outside, but his curiosity got the better of him and he rounded the corner of the doorway with a look of great anticipation on his face. I almost felt bad about the “surprise” he was about to receive. As planned, the party jumped out of the shadows and made such quick work of Lugnut that he was not able to yell for help and barely was able to put up a fight. Things were going pretty much according to plan, but we decided to change things a bit at this point.

Luck had been on our side while we were in the steading, but fatigue was beginning to take its toll. When we devised the plan to face the giants in the great hall, we had not counted on having such a grueling battle in the kitchen. We did win that battle, but the victory came at the cost of sapping more of the precious little energy we had remaining. So, instead of returning to face the giants inside, we decided to wait outside and hope they would come to investigate. After a few minutes, the chief was yelling for Lugnut. We could not make out what he was saying because he was speaking in the hill giant tongue, but it was clear his patience was wearing thin. We were hoping he would send out one or two of the guards to find out what was happening, but the chief decided he wanted to find out for himself. We could hear the sound of several giants approaching, so we remained hidden just outside the main gate in order to ambush them. Unfortunately, they stopped in the entry room and the chief began shouting again. We heard Lugnut’s name a few more times and what was undoubtedly a lot of cursing aimed at us, but none of them made a move out of the darkness. In an act of desperation, I stepped into the doorway to try to convince the chief that Lugnut and the other guards were still around the corner enjoying the show. I did not need to see or even hear the chief to realize he was no longer buying the traveling entertainers story and was just trying to figure out what was REALLY happening. The chief grunted something, then we could hear footsteps leading away from us and presumably toward the bodies we had hidden at the base of the stairs.

The giants now knew that something was terribly wrong – from their perspective – and we knew they would want to strike hard and fast to exact revenge on those who invaded their steading, killed many of their comrades, and freed prisoners. Knowing this and knowing they would likely muster all their available forces, standing toe-to-toe with them in the doorway was no longer a very attractive option. We quickly decided that we needed to put some distance between us and the steading so that we wouldn’t be overwhelmed. We stopped about 200 feet away in order to see if anybody was following us. After a while, a hill giant guard came out of the main gate and looked around. He found Lugnut’s lifeless body and went back inside. We decided to continue watching and listening. When we heard the howling (wolves perhaps?), we decided the time had come to fall back to a safer location.

Should we make our way to the cave and try to get an extended rest, or should we try to set up an ambush for those who are tracking us? A successful ambush would likely give us the time we need for an extended rest, but a tough fight may be more than we can handle without resting first. We stand, once again, at another crossroads…

Priorities (in no particular order):
Major quest: The stone giants, frost giants, and fire giants have hidden strongholds in the mountains. Look for a map or some other clue that reveals where these allied strongholds are located.

Special Quest: Free the Dwarf Slaves– The hill giants have captured several dwarves, and the dwarven clanholds (Bofgim, Thokak, Vonhak) have posted generous rewards for their safe return. PARTIALLY COMPLETEDFIVE SENT WITH JAVOK

Minor Quest: Rescue Zandor Caskerhill – The hill giants have captured Zandor Caskerhill, a human merchant who has ties to local nobility in Estias, the Finnara family. Locate and rescue him. COMPLETEDSENT WITH JAVOK, ALTHOUGH ZANDOR WAS KNOCKED OUT BY KISSANDI

Minor Quest: Find the Abandoned Temple – The hill giants have built their stronghold atop an old dungeon complex, within which is rumored to be an abandoned temple. Find this temple, explore it, and bring back proof of your discovery.

Total Party Loot = 20,308 g.p.
Engraved stone tablet from Belastraya to Laerthar (Rowena)
2 Milestones: 5+ encounter since last extended rest.
Time: Currently around 2 am on January 10, 994.

A Well Set Ambush and Setting Slaves Free
July 13, 2012

After some planning, Ja’Elle scouted out the area. He peeked in a door and saw two hill giant torturers torturing a half-orc and a dwarf. Then, he explored a passageway leading around to the other side of the torture chamber and also to the smithy.

The group planned to lure the hill giants out towards into an ambush in another room. Kissandi, using the hat of disguise, disguised herself as an escaped prisoner, got the hill giants attention and moved away. The closest hill giant torturer was able to catch up to her at the entryway to the ambush with a charge.

The first hill giant was quickly bloodied. The second yelled something towards the smithy and then joined the fight. Ja’Elle, Kissandi, and Tyzzer were able to keep the giants flanked and away from Rowena and Bui. Rowena and Bui used ranged attacks to weaken the giants. Bui planted the Standard of the Silver dragon and used his own glorious presence to quickly deplete the last remnants of will and energy of the giants. The group quickly dispatched both hill giants with focused fire.

During the melee, a couple of orcs peeked around the corner and then left to take word back to the smithy. Another orc sprinted off in the direction of the mines. With Javok’s help, we later guessed that he was alerting stone giants, more orcs, and dwarf slaves in the mines to our presence in the Steading.

Kissandi freed Javok, a half-orc, who had been strapped to a rack and tortured. Using her action point, Kissandi freed the dwarf from the spit above the hot coals, too. The dwarf cowered in a corner. Javok said he would do anything to help us out.

Javok, following Kissandi’s orders, charged into the smithy and attacked an orc. The orc hit him back. The fire giant forgepriest, Smolderheart, grabbed Javok with his fiery tongs and smashed him with his flaming warhammer, dealing over 60 damage. The group hustled in. Kissandi and Tyzzer worked on the minions. Bui protected the group by greatly reducing the damage of the fire giant and temporarily made it so Smolderheart could not attack. Rowena made the group fire resistant. Javok escaped the grasp of the tongs and ran, on fire, to safety.

Smolderheart quickly made his saving throw and regained the ability to attack. He grabbed Bui with his tongs. Rowena blasted Smolderheart back, releasing Bui from the tongs. The orc minions were dispatched quickly. Ja’Elle joined the fray, initially helping pick the lock on manacles that were slowing a dwarf slave. Ja’Elle and Tyzzer told the dwarves to help free each of from the manacles.

Smolderheart only got off a few hits before succumbing. Rowena scalped the fire giant, planning to use the scalp as a negotiation tool later.

The party searched all areas in the area (smithy, torture chamber, hill giant bedroom) and found 500 gp and a potion of vitality (Kissandi) in the hill giants’ bed chambers.

Javok spoke with the party, sharing a little more information about what is in the lower level and brainstorming what to do next. Javok says he was initially captured while trying to do reconnaissance here. Then, while leading an attempted orc revolt, he was quickly captured again and brought to the torture chamber where you found him. He learned about the stone giants commanding the orcs and watching the dwarves in the mines, about a rock beast with long arms guarding the entrance to the mines, and that part of the mines were off limits to the slaves.

After much discussion and planning, the group decided to use Javok to escort the slaves to freedom, asking him to return to the hidden cave near the Steading and wait for the party, once all are delivered to safety. He agreed. This will likely take him days to accomplish and return.

Ja’Elle scouted to make sure the residents on the upper level hadn’t discovered the breach yet. It appears they hadn’t. The party that we heard still rages on in the great hall. All is quiet on the western side of the Steading, in the wake of our group’s path.

The coast appears clear. All 17 former prisoners slowly and quietly followed the party to the upper level and to the entrance. Javok led the prisoners out.

Rowena used a ritual (cost 270) to see what is in the great hall while Ja’Elle and Kissandi investigate what appears to be guest chambers occupied by Stone Giants. After Kissandi successfully picks the lock, we found 10 500 gp gems (5000 gp), 700 gp, and a stone tablet engraved in dwarven to Laerthar from Belastraya.

Ja’Elle notices an orc slave going back and forth from what we guess is a kitchen to the great hall.

The group discussed the best strategy going forward. Should they try to find poison or a way to get the giants to fight each other? Should they attack the main hall? Should they enter the kitchen and try to get the orc slaves to help? Should they explore more?

Ja’Elle scouts out the passage leading to the eastern side of the Steading and hears many giantish voices there, too.

In the end the group decides that the great hall is likely too much to handle right now. The kitchen and the great hall seem connected by the food supply, so the group decides to hold off on the kitchen, too.

The next point to attack is the eastern side of the Steading, in hopes of depleting the giants forces, possibly gaining a prisoner for a negotiation, and hopefully not alerting the great hall to our presence and joining in a fight. Having a plan of escape may be necessary as many of the party have only a couple heal surges left.

Priorities (in no particular order):
Major quest: The stone giants, frost giants, and fire giants have hidden strongholds in the mountains. Look for a map or some other clue that reveals where these allied strongholds are located.

Special Quest: Free the Dwarf Slaves– The hill giants have captured several dwarves, and the dwarven clanholds (Bofgim, Thokak, Vonhak) have posted generous rewards for their safe return. PARTIALLY COMPLETEDFIVE SENT WITH JAVOK

Minor Quest: Rescue Zandor Caskerhill – The hill giants have captured Zandor Caskerhill, a human merchant who has ties to local nobility in Estias, the Finnara family. Locate and rescue him. COMPLETEDSENT WITH JAVOK, ALTHOUGH ZANDOR WAS KNOCKED OUT BY KISSANDI

Minor Quest: Find the Abandoned Temple – The hill giants have built their stronghold atop an old dungeon complex, within which is rumored to be an abandoned temple. Find this temple, explore it, and bring back proof of your discovery.

Total Party Loot = 20,308 g.p.
Magic Item Update = Potion of Vitality (Kissandi)
Additional Item Update = Engraved stone tablet from Belastraya to Laerthar
2 Milestones: 4 encounter since last extended rest.
Time: Currently around 11:30 pm – midnight on January 9, 994.


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