Against the Giants: Chapter 1, Part 7

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Thus far in the Steading of the Hill Giants Chief, the goddesses Urd and Verdandi had favored our heroes but only the goddess Skuld knows “what shall be.” The goddesses of Fate, and others, watched the party of adventurers with interest.

• Through the secret door Cara opened, she found a 30′ long hallway which ended in a dead-end.


• Through the other door Chunt opened, he found a small prison. In this area were two bugbears torturing an elderly human man (Ser Erik of the Song). Locked in the cells were a young human male (Viscount Ered) and a young piney female (Hoom). A quick attempt at deception quickly turned into a brawl as the party thrashed the bugbears. Callie summoned thorny vines to cover the staircase in case anyone approached them while they were facing the bugbears. This proved to be a good plan as one of the bugbears managed to sound an alarm before Chunt could stop him. This would bring more trouble their way.
• Callie tended to Ser Erik’s wounds while he and his ward were from Smoltenberg (a prosperous town to the northwest of the Smolten Hills). Ered’s father and brothers had left to join the military coalition facing the invading forces of the Mharoti Empire.
• The piney introduced herself as Hoom and explained she was exploring outside the Margreve Forest when she was captured by the hill giants. She sensed magic among the giants and she got too close. She believed the magic came from the “human with the mask” who she thought might be a seer. She was not much of a fighter (as the PCs would soon witness for themselves).
• At this point, Draeven heard something approaching from the stairs and he alerted Theodin who warned the rest of the group. The sorcerer cast water breathing on everyone (including Viscount Ered, Ser Erik, and Hoom) and then he, Kargarn, and Shadow escorted Ered and Erik to the pool of water so they could escape. Oddly, Hoom did not follow the retreating group and decided to stay with the PCs (despite Cara’s warning of the danger).
• A hill giant raider stomped down the staircase and stumbled into the thorny vines. There were others behind him and this brought their charge to a halt. One of the giants called for the group to retreat and use the other entrance to the dungeon level (which the PCs realized they had not found yet).
• The PCs decided the other entrance must be in the southern sections they had not explored yet and they head that way. As they passed the three rooms where the “cowardly orcs” still hid, Cara asked them where the second entrance was. The orcs insisted they did not know what she was talking about. They left the orcs behind.


• Southwest of the cowardly orcs, the PCs found a smithy manned by five dwarves chained to the forges they worked. When Theodin turned the corner, he recognized one of them as Moradin, an Ironcrag dwarf and an old friend. It was Moradin’s stonework Theodin had recognized earlier in the dungeon. A lengthy reunion was cut short under the circumstances but they did ask Moradin if he knew where the second entrance to the dungeon was. He told them the second entrance was through a secret passage just off the marshaling area (the secret hallway found by Cara) and it led up the chieftain’s quarters.
• The group rushed back towards the marshaling area in time to find the hill giants had already reached them. This group of hill giant raiders was led by the hill giant sub-chief and the hill giant’s sergeant. This group proved more challenging than the previous groups but in the end, the PCs managed to defeat them. Hoom joined the PCs in the battle and quickly demonstrated combat was not her forte, even if she was enthusiastic about helping them. During the battle, Cara’s off-hand weapon was shattered by the subchief. When the battle ended she mourned its destruction and Theodin used his mending cantrip to repair it (but his power could not restore its enchantment).
• Callie asked Moradin how many giants were in the steading and he thought there were 20-30 of them. When asked about the orc caves, Moradin confirmed the orcs had held up there for some time and there was a water source there as well.
• By this point, the group felt quite spent. They had not had a real chance to rest since they found the steading and they decided to use the orc caves to do that.
• When they passed the stone barricade made by the orcs, they decided to rebuild it for protection. After setting the barricade, they decided to explore the caves to make sure they were safe. The caverns were very labyrinthine and Chunt set himself to the task of memorizing its twists and turns. A short way into the maze, they found the stream and Cara realized they had been passed the door near the rubble twice without investigating what was on the other side. Meanwhile, Shadow explored the maze in earnest.


• The group opened the door and inside found a small temple carved in the rock. Moradin explained they had carved the temple for the evil seer and had not been back to the room since. Shadow returned to the group and reported he had found both medium-sized footprints and huge-sized footprints in the maze which were fresh.
• With Shadow’s warning in mind, Callie and Theodin moved into the temple to investigate while Cara checked a side hallway which led away to the south from the temple. In the hallway, Cara found murals of the people of the Crossroads being tortured by denizens of the Shadow Realm. Shadow and Cara realized they had not retrieved the magical warhammer from the subchief (the one it used to shatter Cara’s off-hand weapon).
• Callie and Theodin noted the wall was constructed of a purple-black glassy material and there was smoky glass. As they looked at the walls, they were assaulted by a psychic attack. The images depicted in the murals came to life in their minds and they witnessed horrid torture and dismemberment. Fortunately, the pair were strong-willed and despite their screams, they managed to fight off the attack and avert their eyes. They immediately realized if they had not been able to break contact, they would have been driven insane. They quickly decided they needed to destroy the temple. Theodin examined the pillars and realized if those could be knocked down, the temple would collapse. As he came to this conclusion, a ring and two red gems appeared on the altar. He was immediately intrigued by Callie warned him about meddling with such things. Theodin carefully picked up the items (without touching them with his skin) and hid them away for future examination.
• Theodin meticulously instructed Chunt that he needed the barbarian to enter the room but he needed to avert his gaze from the walls. He warned him about the horrors they saw when they looked at the walls. He should then go to the columns and use his prodigious strength to topple them. Callie began to wonder if the whole task was too risky and she tried to use her magic to knock down the columns but she could not do enough significant damage to bring the columns down quickly. Completing the task expeditiously depended on Chunt.
• Chunt averted his gaze and moved to the farthest columns. When he touched the columns to topple them, a second trap in the room was revealed. A magic trap assaulted the minotaur and he was poisoned (for 1 hour). Chunt steeled himself against the effects of the trap and as he pushed the first columns over a third trap revealed itself. Chunt’s ears were filled with sweet music which called to him to look upon the walls. He asked the others about the music and they realized he was being lured by a siren song. Callie immediately cast a counter-charm which cut through the magic and freed Chunt mind. The minotaur became furious he was being manipulated and he threw himself into the next columns and knocked them free. A cracking sound filled the room and Chunt rushed for the exit. He threw himself out of the room as the ceiling came crashing down! Callie was just on the edge of the room and Chunt used his body to shield her from the falling debris.
• Cara and Shadow returned with the magical warhammer (which was more like a maul to the medium-sized PCs). They also found a belt pouch with coins and a vial on the sergeant with an orangish-red liquid. Theodin recognized the liquid as a concoction crafted from troll’s blood.


• They retreated into the caves again and decided to investigate the footprint Shadow had found. Trying to rest would do no good if a huge-sized critter cornered them in the caves. Callie was still suspicious of the items which appeared on the altar in the temple.
• Shadow led the way to where he found the footprints. It looked like the creature had last moved into the water and in fact, there were two sets of tracks. Investigating the area further, they found a light-blue egg in a corner near the water. Callie and Theodin examined the egg closely and realized it was a froghemoth egg.
• Just then the froghemoth emerged from the water (two of them). The creatures attacked the weary party! In turn, the creatures swallowed Shadow, Theodin, and Cara but somehow the PCs kept managing to free themselves. They unleashed the last of their magical resources and thanks to some well-timed crits and well-placed spells, the froghemoth were brought low. However, the PCs had no choices left to them. They needed a long rest.
• But not before Theodin smashed the froghemoth egg.
• As they prepared to rest, Theodin cast identify as a ritual on the ring and gems he retrieved from the altar and the maul. The gems were not magical but the ring was revealed to be a ring of mind shielding. The hill giant warhammer was a +2 maul.