February 4

Against the Giants: Session 193

stockade-wip

It is quiet in the prison known as The Stockade. Xellos paces the entry hall, keeping an eye out for trouble, while leafing through the papers Dara gave them, using the last residual magic from the scroll to decipher the ancient text: something about the anti-magic barrier and the iron doors that can be wheeled shut catches his eye.

Then suddenly, the deepest, darkest shadows around the room burst into flames and stepping forth from them are three figures: glowing ash, resembling ancient soldiers of a long-gone age. One goes straight for a sleeping Calibos, its hand burning into the dwarf’s flesh and waking him up: he immediately leaps up and lashes out with the Sword of Vengenace that is never far from his side. Xellos takes his axe and cuts deep into the second ashen wraith-like creature, scattering a large part of it across the floor. The sounds of fighting wake Ungrid and Halmary. The dwarf hurls his hammer, causing one to explode; then Halmary brandishes his holy symbol and destroys undead, sending their angry souls back to the hells that they came from.

Sindi, softly snoring, slept through it all.

A few hours later, with Halmary suffering from a restless night (partly due to recurring nightmares, but also sleeping in his armour), they break their fast and end up following Dara and the gnolls as they go down the stairs to the Gardens: while the gnolls pick berries and uproot vegetables, Dara warns the heroes not to venture far. They ignore his advice and once he has left, all but Xellos (who remains in the entry chamber along with all the magic items of the others; and is also still trying to decipher the rest of the papers), they start to explore the Gardens.

After the domed chamber of berry-laden bushes and vegetable patch, a cluster of giant mushrooms dominates a central domed room, with two more garden areas leading off: one leads into a small woods, the other to a small lake and surrounding marshland. A door, warped and jammed shut, stands off the corridor. Halmary manages to kick the door in, and Sindi enters to see nothing more than rotting seeds and bulbs: then a green slime drops on her back and begins to eat away at her armour. Halmary tries to help, whipping out his torch and burning it away as Sindi cuts herself free from the armour; she manages to do so just in time, leaving Halmary to incinerate it.

They carry on, and Sindi hears a faint buzzing nearby. She also spots a mushroom, plastered with flies, standing in the corridor connecting the mushroom room to the lake room: she fires an arrow into it, and a swarm of flies explodes forth, heading straight towards her; a moment later, alerted by the flies, the trees up the other passage explode with movement as nearly two dozen stirges fly out and make a line straight for the heroes.

The flying blood-sucking critters attack in a flurry of wings and stabbing proboscis: thanks to their lack of magic armour and shields, Halmary, Sindi, Calibos and Ungrid find themselves suddenly overwhelmed as the stirges latch onto them, sucking precious blood, as the flies swarm around Sindi and Halmary, biting and scratching. Calibos manages to kill several of the critters, tearing them off himself, only to find another replaces it; Ungrid smashes one after the other, but also keeps getting attached; Halmary manages a bit better, and after throwing another off, he goes to help Sindi who is covered in flies. He waves his torch at them, attracting their attention. Sindi, meanwhile, has three stirges attached to her back, draining her blood. She can feel herself growing weaker. Taking advantage of Halmary’s intervention, she decides on a course of action that some would say is reckless…

Sindi runs for the lake, intent on diving into the water and either driving off or drowning the stirges. She leaps over marshy ground and dives in…

…and a giant serpent rears up out of the water, opens its toothy maw, and dives straight for her!

End of Session

Kills: 1 green slime, 11 stirges.

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January 31

Against the Giants: Session 192

12th Ready’reat, 594 CY

Mere seconds after the betrayal in the battle against the demons, the Heroes find themselves in a vaulted chamber supported by four ancient pillars, cracked and crumbling in places, each carved with figures of men and women, naked and in chains. Similar scenes are pictured in the faded frescoes that adorn four walls; the fifth, where the exit is, has an archway with carvings of chains etched deep into the arch. Opposite the archway, stands a tall, hunched black marble statue of a robed and hooded figure, draped in chains. In the centre of the room is a large circle of arcane symbols, inside of which stand the Heroes.

A shrill whistle sounds from beyond the arch: there is light coming from a flickering torch, and doors open and a foursome of archer gnolls come down a corridor, flanking a middle-aged man with greying hair. He stops before the archway and introduces himself as Dara, and informs them that they are in a prison and wonders how in the Scarlet Brotherhood they pissed off to be sent here. He then tells them that he and a couple of others have taken over this section of the prison having escaped their cells. He asks them to join his faction.

They also quickly discover that the arch holds an anti-magic barrier, which won’t even allow anyone wearing or carrying magic items to cross. After searching for an alternative exit, they strip off their items (and realise that most of their stuff is actually magical) and stow them in their bags of holding, which they leave behind with Xellos; he decides to remain in the room, thinking that he probably can’t cross the threshold due to his permanent fly spell in any case.

Dara is pleased to have them join and shows them a spare room that they can use. He also gives them a short tour, allows them to equipment themselves with mundane weapons from an armoury, and introduces them to Papak, a necromancer who was also a former prisoner.

Dara shows them some paperwork he has been trying to translate and decipher, which he believes will show them the way out. He allows them to look them over, and Xellos takes a look and after a few hours reports to his companions that the way out seems to be down something called the Path of Redemption, hidden behind a secret door in a storeroom. With a bit more time, he thinks he can locate the room.

Meanwhile, the Heroes– worn out and battered from the battle– decide to use the room they arrived in as their resting place, since they can remain fully equipped, and settle down for the night after tending to their wounds.

End of Session

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January 24

Against the Giants: Session 191

After a month spent travelling and living with the restored Duke at the capital of Keoland, the Heroes arrange to rendezvous with Medmyr and their own army of resistance in the depths of the Dim Forest. From there they intend on joining the Duke and his loaned army (borrowed from the King of Keoland, his father-in-law and liege) at Hochoch, and from there reclaim the land from the false Duke.

Three weeks of travelling by boat and horse finds the Heroes hiking through the forest, as the late afternoon sun makes it way to the horizon, the golden beams of sunlight filtering through the autumnal leaves. Ahead they hear the faint noise of a battle, that grows louder as they approach the rendezvous: screams, the ring of steel, orders to rally, roars from some beast. Xellos and Sindi, invisible, quickly scout ahead and discover a couple of dozen demons battling Medmyr and their allies. The two lords, the Baron and Marquis, lie dead surrounded by a score of slaughtered soldiers. Watching the battle, a demonic snake-creature issues orders to the crab-men demon soldiers, the eyeball scouts, and the deadly hounds with their stork-like handlers. They also spot a couple of the snake-women, whose powers are unknown since Xellos slew the first one they ever saw without her even being aware of the attack.

Hasted and Blessed, the Heroes charge into the battle, catching the demons unawares. Sindi hurls one of the orbs that she found in the mysterious box that was bigger on the inside, and it exploded close to one of the hounds, badly wounding it as it was engulfed in white-hot flame. Halmary pointed a finger of death at the demonic lord overseeing the battle, but the beam scattered as if it had hit a magical barrier before it got close. One of the larger hounds, the one that cut off divine users from their gods, stood close to the demon lord, obviously negating the attack. That hound dives for Halmary, clawing the cleric, but then Calibos steps in and with his mighty strength he pulverises the beast.

The demons notice them, and several of the soldiers, scouts and the hounds head their way. The demon lord and snake-woman lob fireballs, catching Halmary, Ungrid and Calibos, before Xellos dives in and decapitates the snake-woman. Ungrid hurls his hammer at the demon lord, who promptly teleports away, appearing on a ridge with another of the hounds. One of those hounds, the lithe one that negates arcane magic, attacks Sindi, but quickly finds itself outmatched… and soon dead. She cleaves the head of its handler, then charges into battle with one of the soldiers. Halmary too engages one of the demons, smashing away with his mace. Then another snake-woman appears, and lobs another fireball, catching Halmary and Xellos. Halmary backs off, healing himself, after Xellos cuts down the soldier. Calibos dives into the fight, pulping an eyeball scout, while Sindi and Ungrid both find themselves battling more demons.

Across the clearing, Medmyr and his men fight valiantly. The henchman to Calibos finds he is outclassed, but scores a few hits for every one he takes. His elite mercenaries– who have proven valuable assets over the last few weeks– take out some of the scouts and hold the line, while other soldiers have already broken through and are slaughtering the infantry behind them.

The Heroes see this and feel a renewed sense of purpose. Sindi cuts down a soldier, then one of the hound handlers, allowing Halmary to step up and heal her. The snake-woman lobs another fireball, this time burning Calibos and Xellos. Ungrid smashes his way through a scout and hurls his hammer at the snake-woman, crushing a few bones, and Calibos charges right at her, chopping her in half and ending that threat. Xellos kills and drains the life-force of another scout and takes out another two as he makes his way over to battle the demons fighting their army. Ungrid finds himself cut off as a demon soldier steps up and whacks him back, but suffers a hefty blow itself. Behind them, Calibos cuts his way through the remaining hound and finds he has a bee-line for Medmyr.

Meanwhile, Sindi decides to take out the wounded demon lord herself. Using her spear to fly, she charges up and stabs once, twice, and the lord falls down dead!

The others kill a few more demons, clearing the way between them and the battling army. The elites have also made their way through, standing close to the Heroes as they approach. Medmry, fighting bravely, finds himself surrounded and takes a savage blow, nearly felling him. Calibos starts to charge in to help… and then suddenly, at a gesture from one of them, the elite mercenaries sling something at the Heroes: caught by surprise, Calibos has but a moment to realise something odd is happening, when a glass bead strikes him… and in a poof of black smoke, he has disappeared!

Halmary, Sindi and Xellos follow, as more beads spin through the air and shatter against them; each vanishes in a cloud of black smoke.

Ungrid sees this and decides to retreat. He sees Medmry fall, and turns to flee into the forest. But it is too late…

…the last thing he sees is a tree looming ahead, when the bead hits him in the back, and suddenly everything goes black!

End of Session

Kills: 6 demon scouts, 4 demon soldiers, 4 demon hounds, 2 demon executors, 2 demon handlers, and 1 demon lord.

KO’d: Medmyr (fate unknown at present).

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January 12

Against the Giants: Session 190

The tomb holds a mummified corpse clutching a wolfs-head rod and a mithril sword: the rod is just what they are looking for.

Wasting no time, they first loot the treasure vault, then take the sword and rod from the corpse; but as soon as Sindi walks out of the room with them, the corpse animates and attacks; elsewhere in the barrow, the sound of stone lids crashing to the floor echoes loudly.

Xellos hastes the Heroes, and while he and Sindi watch out for suspected monsters arriving from the corridor, the others attack the mummy: Halmary tries and fails to turn undead, and almost ends up whacking Ungrid when the area around the fight suddenly is plunged into darkness; that doesn’t last long, as Sindi chucks her light coin in, dispelling the dark.

The mummified corpse falls to the combined blows of Ungrid, Calibos and Halmary, who venture out to see Sindi and Xellos battling a couple of wraiths and several skeletal knights. A lightning bolt from both Heroes takes care of the wraiths, leaving them weakened enough for Sindi and Calibos to finish off.

A search of the barrow uncovers nothing else of interest, so they exit, and camp nearby. Using the rod they resurrect the Duke, filling him in on what has happened during the past year since his capture and petrification by none other than Malachi and a Mirror Duplicate of the Duke (which the Heroes already suspected). He is pleased that they also recovered a piece of his wife, so that they can take that to her father, the King of Keoland and hopefully return her to life as well.

The Duke then asks for their help in reclaiming his land. They head off to the capital of Keoland to make plans, getting the aid of the King, and borrowing a small army to head off to the Grand Duchy of Geoff to remove the imposter Duke and restore peace to the land.

Weeks pass…

End of Session

Kills: 1 Sleeping King, 2 Wraiths, 4 Skeletal Knights.

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January 12

Against the Giants: Session 189

As the ancient and huge green dragon dives at the Heroes sheltering in the trees, Ungrid levitates up, just in time to avoid a billowing cloud of poisonous gas that blossoms from the dragon’s maw: Halmary collapses, gasping for breath as he struggles to breath.

Then, with a speed nothing of its size should be capable of, the dragon turns its attention on the others, lashing out with tail, tooth and claw, but superior armour and magical protection saves Sindi and Calibos from its attacks.

The Heroes then prove themselves truly heroic and themselves capable of dealing with anything thrown at them: in the space of a few beats of their hearts, even as Halmary gasps his last breathes, the ancient dragon who had seen nations rise and fall, is blasted by Sindi’s lightning bolt, pummeled by Ungrid’s mighty hammer, slashed deeply by Calibos’ sword, and finally sent to its death by a flurry of fiery magic missiles from Xellos’ rotting hand.

They spend some time chopping bits off the dragon’s corpse, looting its hoard, and bringing Halmary back to life with a well-placed kick from Calibos [healing proficiency, neutralise poison, needed a 18+, rolled a 19].

The barrow of the Sleeping King is sealed by a great stone door that is rolled aside. They peer into a dark, twisting tunnel that disappears underground, and decide to rest for the day and venture inside as soon as everyone has clear minds for spells, no wounds, and are well fed.

Unfortunately, Halmary suffers from nightmares in the night and in the morning hasn’t the wits to cast any spells. Nevertheless, they descend into the barrow and after the tunnel snakes for a few dozen feet, they reach a stone door. Halmary fishes out a scroll of Find Traps, and finds a carefully hidden glyph of warding on the door. He uses a dispel magic scroll to remove it, Calibos pushes it up; they hammer pitons in place, and enter narrow corridors, dark with damp and age. They explore first, finding plain and ornate stone sarcophagi, plus a corridor with walls lined with skulls with empty eye sockets. Halmary’s spell spots traps all along the corridor, but it is easily bypassed by Xellos flying them down and along to another room; here is a shrine to the god Kord, and another stone door. Calibos tries to open it, but triggers another trap, and is shocked by a lightning bolt, that doesn’t really do much other than make his hair stand on end.

When the door refuses to move, Ungrid uses his other magic hammer and knocks the door in: beyond is a tomb, and Xellos locates a secret door behind it, that opens into a treasure vault.

End of Session

Kills: 1 ancient green dragon.

KO’d: Halmary, but restored to life thanks to Calibos’ skill.

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