May 1

Against the Giants: Session 204 – Sindi, Ungrid, Calibos and Xellos

ankheg
Six of These!

At the nomads’ camp, Sindi observes the nomads set guards as the boats come in. She reports back to the others and they make a plan: with Xellos, Calibos and Sindi invisible and everyone else reduced to 6 inches tall with potions of diminution they sneak back to the camp, steal a couple of boats, and as the nomads react, Xellos uses his wand of illusion to cause a distraction amongst the tents (attacks by shadowy monsters), allowing the party to escape without much fuss.

They sail and row out into the darkness, tying the boats together and taking turns sleeping as they take several hours to cross the lake. Around mid-morning the next day they reach the opposite shore and disembark. Sindi levitates up high, but can’t see any sign of Halmary. They make camp, lighting a fire in case the cleric is able to see it. They spend time discussing and discarding options (such as searching the entire lake), but eventually settle on heading to the mountains and the place where the nomads said there was a tunnel; hoping that Halmary also remembers the tale. To help them decide, Xellos Contacts Other Planes and manages to get some ‘yes’ answers to the following questions: (1) is Halmary alive, (2) is he at liberty, and (3) is he making his way to the mountains.

They head off into the dunes, straight east, Sindi managing to more or less keep them on track. A dust-storm slows them down for a few hours, but thanks to Xellos and his Wall of Stone, no one suffers. After several days they enter the foothills of the mountains and make camp, lighting a fire to keep warm and drive the wildlife way. While the others settle down to sleep, Sindi turns herself invisible and scouts ahead. She finds a wood higher up the slope, a few miles east, and decides to set a tree on fire, hoping that it will act as a beacon for Halmary if he is heading the same direction. Then she heads back to the others.

Sindi arrives just as half-a-dozen ankhegs burst from the earth!

She alerts the others with a well-aimed lightning bolt, wounding two of the creatures, and allowing Ungrid to smash one to pieces with his hammer. But it is too late to help Illinoss, the last gnoll, and Dara, all of whom are grabbed and pulled below the ground by one of the monsters. Calibos too is grabbed, but Ungrid manages to reach him before he is pulled under, and crushes the monster’s head. The rest of the monsters retreat, burrowing under the ground and taking their meals with them.

Of all the allies they helped escape from the prison, now only Wulsted remains.

The set guards and settle down for the night, keeping an eye on the darkness and the ground.

End of Session

Kills: 2 ankhegs.

Losses: Illinoss, Dara, and a gnoll.

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May 1

Against the Giants: Session 204 – Halmary & Eshan

Caves of the Meenlocks
Caves of the Meenlocks

After exploring the tunnels and caves (moss-lined steep tunnels, taking some effort to climb) Halmary and Eshan managed to find their way out: a stone trapdoor leading into some ruins that slide off into the dust-lake. They decide to leave the caves behind and hike a few miles north along the shore, digging a shallow pit and draping Halmary’s tent over it to make a shelter. After laying out a glyph of warding to protect themselves, the pair settle down to sleep.

In the morning Halmary waits for a few hours after setting a globe of darkness high in the air, in the hope that one of his fellow party members will spot it. When nothing happens, he divines with his goddess and asks if he will meet up with his comrades anytime soon: the goddess basically says yes, by finding the circle of charred earth and the blackened spire. This rings a bell: at the nomads camp they told of a tunnel that cut through the mountains, hidden beneath the blackened spire. If he followed the sun due east, aiming for the tallest mountain peak as the sun crests its top, then he should find it (presuming the tale was true). Eshan agrees, having no better ideas and no desire to be left alone, and the unlikely allies head off towards the mountains.

For the next four days they hike across the dust dunes and make their way into the foothills of the mountains. A dust storm almost stops them, but they huddle under the tent and survive, digging themselves out after the storm passes. A few times they have to divert off their path, but manage to reorientate themselves as they reach the hills. There they find a sheltered gully and make camp, Eshan standing guard so that Halmary can rest for his spells in the morning.

Sometime during the night, Eshan nudges Halmary awake and points to the east. A couple of miles away, something is burning. In the light of the fire it looks like a wooded area. They break camp and head towards it.

End of Session

# days in the Sea of Dust: 20.

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April 23

Against the Giants: Session 203

Caves of the Meenlocks
Caves of the Meenlocks

Back at the nomads camp, Calibos (with Xellos translating by whispering in his ear, the Ruinguard still invisible) does the talking but ends up insulting the tribe when he accuses the shaman of falsely blessing them. The chief is outraged and demands that they leave, never to return. Al around the heroes, nomads draw swords, ready bows and get ready for a fight.

The heroes decide to leave, and head off along the shore, making camp a few miles up north. There they discuss ways to locate and rescue Halmary… who, with Eshan, finds himself trapped in a cave as the kraken drops them off in a cave below the lake, an air-pocket keeping the liquid dust out. It seals the entrance with giant boulders. As the cleric and assassin sit in the dark, they hear noises, whispers, scuttling in the darkness. Halmary throws some light and sees that they are in a cave littered with bones, with a moss-covered tunnel leading out. He spends some time tending to his and Eshan’s wounds, then starts to explore. No sooner has he entered the tunnel, Eshan disappears. Halmary carries on, spying movement in a cave. He approaches and is suddenly confronted by a short biped with tufts of black hair, sharp claws and strange eyes. There are more suddenly behind him, and the creatures attack!

Meanwhile, and technically a while late, the others spend an uneventful night camped out while Sindi sneaks into the camp and manages to steal a 3-man boat. She returns, gets her head down, and in the morning they concoct a plan to deal with the kraken. In the morning, Sindi, Xellos and Ungrid row out into the lake, and after half-hour the lake surface breaks as the mighty kraken rises. It immediately lashes out with its tentacles, allowing just enough time for Ungrid to down a fly potion and activate his Ring of Haste, and for Sindi to activate Hawk and grab Xellos, flying up with him out of reach of the monster’s tentacles. Ungrid, however, is grabbed by one of the smaller tentacles and lifted into the air; it squeezes him tightly, breaking a rib in the process. One of its larger tentacles then comes slamming down on the boat, shattering it into splinters and firewood.

Sindi and Xellos manage to blast it with lightning bolts, leaving it badly burned. It tries to eat Ungrid, but the dwarf, as he nears its eyes, grips Grontdrengi with all his strength and smashes it in the eye, then through the eye, and into the monster’s tiny brain. Gore flies everywhere, and the beast is dead. It sinks beneath the surface, taking Ungrid with it, but as soon as its grip loosens, the dwarf flies out, triumphant!

They fly back to shore, just reaching it in time before the spells wear off. They return to the others, and realise that slaying the kraken hasn’t brought them any closer to finding Halmary. They decide that their best option would be sail across the lake and hope that they can somehow find some sign of Halmary on the other side. Sindi sneaks off to try and steal some more boats, but as it is daylight the boats are out on the lake. She settles down and waits for night to fall or the boats to come back, whichever happens sooner.

Meanwhile, back to the previous night, and Halmary finds himself confronted by several of the small creatures. He proves himself a much more capable fighter than he gives himself credit for, and without any help from Eshan (who turns out to be invisible and keeping out of the way), Halmary manages to slay three of the creatures and wounds another, sending it fleeing into the tunnels. He imbues himself with True Seeing and sets off in pursuit, but loses track of the creature in the moss-lined and steep tunnels that lead from the cave. He retreats to a cave that looks to be some sort of lair, with crates and valuables from past victims stuffed in a corner. Eshan reveals himself, and together they loot the treasure. They then set off to explore their environment, keeping an eye out for the wounded monster.

End of Session

Kills: 1 kraken, 4 meenlocks.

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April 17

Against the Giants: Session 202

map of nomads and ruins
Nomads

During the feast held in their honour, the heroes are approached by the chief (Mannatok) who, once he learns that they are seeking to cross the lake, offers to loan them boats and guides, if they will investigate the recently uncovered ruins that are within his camp. They agree, much to the annoyance of the shaman (Torlep). In the morning they head into the ruins, watched by the chief, shaman and various nomads (many of whom bet on the survival). Calibos puts his shoulder to the stone door and forces it open, revealing a sand-covered room with stairs leading down. Leaving Xellos and Ungrid on guard outside– just in case– the others head down, Sindi (invisible) scouting out the passages first. It turns out to be an ancient catacomb, with desiccated corpses in burial alcoves and three ornate sarcophagi decorated with symbols of flowers and birds. Before they investigate the tombs further, everyone heads down and spend three hours fruitlessly searching for secret doors. Calibos prises off a lid of the first coffin, and three wights come out to play: all are merely wiped out of existence by Halmary’s prayers. There is loot to be had, but after looking through them and removing anything magical, they generously give the rest to the chief and shaman, which puts them on more friendly terms that before.

Next, the second uncovered ruin is just a single room: some shrine, with an old obsidian alter on which a bowl of gems sits. Behind the altar is a statue of a man but instead of a head a scarab beetle sits on his shoulders. Expecting trouble, the heroes get ready for the statue to animate; which it does after Calibos messes about with the bowl of gems. The statue proves inadequate against the heroes, and is smashed to dust by the combined might of Calibos and Ungrid. They hand the gems over to the chief, who gladly accepts them and arranges for boats to be loaned, as well as guides who will also man the sails. They spend the night, and in the morning split between four boats and head off across the lake, after the shaman ‘blesses’ them with what Halmary believes is nothing more elaborate than resist cold. They are told that it will protect them from the creature that lives in the lake…

…but that proves false, for as soon as they are out in the lake, a giant kraken rises up from the depths and attacks: its tentacles crush Petula and Lilly, a few gnolls, and manage to grab both Halmary and Eshan! In return, it is whacked by Ungrid’s hammer, belted by magic missiles from Xellos, singed by a lightning bolt from Sindi’s shield… but it is too late, and the kraken dives beneath the surface, taking Halmary and Eshan with it!

The shocked survivors quickly lose sight of the beast and turn round, heading back to shore. As soon as they land they are up in the shaman’s face, accusing him of betraying them, and demanding that the chief do something about it. The chief doesn’t believe them, since he trusts his shaman and has no reason not to.

Meanwhile, Halmary and Eshan, alive but immobilised by the kraken’s tentacles, are all alone…

End of Session

Kills: 3 wights, 1 stone golem.

Loses: Lilly, Petula, 4 gnolls.

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April 9

Against the Giants: Session 201

# Days travelling in the Sea of Dust: 12.

After two days of further travel, with Sindi getting her directions right, the lake they spotted in the distance comes into sight. Sindi, levitating up to scout ahead, also spots what looks to be an encampment of nomads along the shore, mixed in with ruins poking out of the dust. Boats are out on the lake too. The lake itself looks odd, not reflecting the morning sun as you’d expect, more dusty and ashen. While the rest of the expanded party strike a cold camp about a mile away, an invisible Sindi goes off to explore the camp.

There are indeed nomads, a couple of hundred or so, tents dotted around old ruins. Crude docks have boats (some small rowers, a few with sails), and there are lots of camels hitched to poles. Some of the ruins are being used to store trade goods, a couple look like they have recently been revealed as a result of a dust-storm. A couple of nomads poke around these. She can’t understand their language, but suspects it is an ancient dialect that Sindi is sure Xellos has spoken before. Sindi also discovers that the lake is fluid dust, no doubt some magical effect. She reports back to the others, and they discuss whether to just go round the lake (although it is much longer than it is wide) and avoid potential trouble with the nomads, or head into the camp and either trade with them for boats to cross the lake, or just steal some. Judging by the size of the boats they’re going to need three or four to ferry everyone across. They decide to try bypassing the camp and make their way around the lake first, but after travelling for most of the day, with Sindi levitating up to see how far the lake stretches, they soon realise that it will take days to go round the lake, and Sindi can’t even see the end of it, even after rising a few hundred feet into the air. Across the lake is but a few miles, a couple of hours or so by boat.

They make camp and head back in the morning. As they near the camp another dust-storm bears down on them, but Xellos whips out one of his many scrolls and casts control weather, creating a zone of calm all around them. The storm passes and they head to the camp. Firstly, Xellos and Sindi (both invisible) scout ahead, checking out the camp with Xellos listening to their conversations and scanning them thanks to the blessing of Halmary and True Seeing. The nomads are just what they appear to be: desert nomads, sheltering here for winter, storing their goods. Some of the nomads grumble about the site, as it seems their chief is getting old and prefers the comfort of a stationery home rather than the nomadic life. The ruins are too small for these nomads, but until a new leader rises, they will make do. Some of them seem to favour their shaman, but most are unconcerned. There is talk of some beast that lives in the lake, but thanks to the shaman’s blessings, their boats are safe when they go out. A couple of nomads want to investigate the newly uncovered ruins, but are waiting for the chief to give them permission to explore.

Xellos and Sindi collect the rest of the party and they all head to the camp, and encounter nomads on camels as they approach. Halmary communicates using tongues and they are escorted to the camp to meet the shaman. The nomads are wary but not hostile. The shaman welcomes them in the common tongue, albeit with a strong accent and a few mixed-up words. He asks what they are doing here, and they tell him they seek to cross the lake. He says he can help, and will provide them with the boats, if they do him a favour first. Over tea and sweet meats he tells them that it is time the tribe had a new leader, and he would like them to remove the old chief from power (hinting that the chief must die), to allow his son-in-law (and the youngest son of the chief) to take his place. If they do this, he will help them.

They are reluctant to commit, so the shaman gives them the night to decide and in the meantime arranges a feast to be held in their honour as guests of the tribe.

End of Session

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