December 22

Against the Giants: 139


5th Readying, 594 CY

Following the directions given to them by Malachi, the heroes head off to the bank of the White Oyt river, where the gate to the next vault lies. According to Malachi this vault contains the Seal of Water, and the gateway is under the surface of the river. To aid them he gives them each a potion of water breathing.

Sidni is sent to scout: imbued with water breathing cast by Xellos, and armed with a light coin supplied by Halmary, the invisible woman half-swims and half-wades along the bottom of the river, weighed down by rocks with a rope tied around her waist. The gate is a rusty circular portal, a lever sticking out. Weeds obscure it from the surface. She pulls the lever and the gate opens: the inrush of water into the dry chamber beyond pulls Sidni inside, almost yanking the others in who are holding the rope back on the surface. She sees a large chamber, some depression or pit in the middle, more gates leading out, but drags herself back along the rope and out. The water has more or less filled the chamber now, so she closes the gate on her way put and rejoins the others. Ungrid deduces that the chamber will be full of water, so they agree to all head in and see what lies within. Quaffing their potions of water breathing and blessed by Halmary, they make their way to the gate, pull the lever and swim/climb inside. They close the gate behind them and find themselves in a square chamber, three gates leading off, and in the centre a conical shaft, at the bottom of which is another gate, studded with gemstones, four large bolts fixing it in place and no obvious way of opening it.

They head north. The gate opens, flooding the chamber beyond: another room with another gate, and the added threat of a skeletal shark that catches Sidni by surprise and takes a bite of her before Halmary can turn undead and allow the others to smash it to pieces. They move further in, discovering that only one gate can be opened at a time. Another chamber has a depression that unsettles them and they lead it alone. A smaller one has a lever and no gate. Trapping Sidni inside, as that lever doesn’t budge as long the gate to the room is open, releases one of the bolts on the gem-studded gate in the first chamber. It takes some time to figure out how to open it with the others gates, and what it actually does, but once they’ve deduced it, they head back to the main chamber, closing the gates behind them.

Now they head east: the gate opens into a shrine or temple, with a coral altar in the middle of the room and four statues holding lightning bolts in their hands, all facing to the centre of the room. Another gate lies opposite. They leave Xellos outside, shutting the gate. Halmary pulls the lever to the other gate: as soon as he does, lightning surges through the flooded chamber, electrocuting everyone, especially those wearing metal armour (Ungrid, Halmary and Calibos); all are injured but still standing. Halmary tends to their wounds. They pass through the gate, into a long chamber that has a mural of an octopus-like creature on the floor. Along the walls are holes, with one blocked by a copper screw. Another gate and lever stand at the opposite wall. Halmary unscrews it: water starts bubbling forth, swiftly adding to the water already there. At the same time, black oily tentacles erupt from the holes and attack: Ungrid hastes himself and starts crushing tentacles with his hammer; Calibos cuts through more with his sword; Halmary crushes yet more with his mace; and Sidni ducks and dives through them, stabbing them with her spear. Soon the tentacles are all sliced apart and the remains slip away back into the holes.

Halmary struggles and eventually gets the screw back in; but the chambers they’ve just passed through are now full of water again. Sidni is left outside this time, closing the gate. Halmary, Ungrid and Calibos approach the next gate and Halmary pulls the lever: they brace against the water as it floods the chamber beyond. A large room, with a giant statue in the middle, gates leading off.

As soon as the water reaches its knees, the statue animates and strides forward to attack!

End of Session

Kills: 1 skeletal shark, eight tentacles.

December 14

Against the Giants: Session 138


22nd-28th Fireseek, 594 CY

With a freshly animated zombie giant, a coin illuminated with continual light, and bracing themselves against the howling and bitter cold wind, the heroes venture through the Frost Maw into the tunnels. They explore the side caverns, finding and quickly defeating a frost spider and a lonely troll, neither which poses much of a threat. A few gems are looted from piles of bones, but the main cavern holds their interest: four ice tunnels sloping below the ground, the wind howling from each. The air is so cold here that it cuts them to the bone, and Halmary has to cast resist cold on himself and Sidni, while Xellos finds a use for his long held Cube of Frost and conjures a cube to protect the others. Leaving their giant at the top, the heroes nail pitons and ropes in place after Sidni does a quick scout: below are tunnels of ice, the wind a gale. The going is slow, the cold enough to freeze the blood, but the heroes push on.

Hammering more pitons into the ice, securing ropes as they go, they move down a sloping tunnel and are immediately attacked by a whirling air elemental: it is dispatched far too easily. They carry on, using the ropes to stop the wind blowing them back. The tunnel ends at a large domed chamber, in the centre of which is the Seal of the Air, a spherical blizzard and the source of the wind. They hammer in more spikes and tie more rope and slowly, so so slowly, make their way nearer. Sidni goes round the back, and as the others near the sphere, the wind suddenly creates half-a-dozen whirlwinds: two medium, two large, and two huge air elementals that fly into attack, separating the main part from Sidni, who finds herself facing off against two of the elementals; one large, one huge.

The heroes are caught off guard, still hammering in spikes, and the elementals pummel both Ungrid and Sidni, almost knocking the dwarf off his feet, and badly bruising Sidni. She staggers under the blow and the wind. Halmary decides to quaff a potion of speed and wades into the fight. Calibos finds himself beaten up, but a timely lay on hands keeps him in the fight. Xellos evens the odds with a cone of cold that freezes and dissipates some of the whirling wind. Sidni finds herself in trouble as the elementals break bones and bash her against the wall. She ditches the lit coin she was carrying and goes invisible, but the elementals are not fooled and lash out: unfortunately for Sidni, they hit and she goes down! Worse, the winds blows her along the floor, and she tumbles out into the tunnel and is blown all the way back to the tunnel entrance.

Meanwhile, the fight is turning against the elementals as Halmary destroys one, and with his extra speed lays on hands on the weakening dwarf, allowing Ungrid to swing his hammer and destroy another, then cleave into and vanquish a third. Xellos disintegrates the huge one that felled Sidni, and Ungrid takes out another, leaving the last for Halmary and Xellos to finish off.

With the elementals defeated they use a net and their bag of holding to capture the Seal and hunt for Sidni, easier now that the winds have ceased and using magic to locate her. Thankfully, turns out she was just knocked out and suffering from shock. A night’s rest is all she needs, although her scars are much worse.

After spending the night in the giant’s hut, the heroes head back home to Pest’s Crossing, to learn that Malachi has found the third Seal: the Seal of Water.

End of Session

Kills: 1 frost spider, 1 troll, 3 medium air elementals, 2 large air elementals, 2 huge air elementals.

KO’d: Sidni (but just in shock, suffered a few more scars).

Levelled Up: Halmary is now level 9!

December 7

Against the Giants: Session 137

With the immediate threat over, our injured heroes plan their next move: using a wall of force conjured up by Xellos and while Sidni is still flying, they enter the room via the portal and erect the forcefield so that it forms a tunnel between the portal and the Seal of the Earth. As soon as Sidni picks it up and stuffs it in the bag of holding, the gemstone mosaics form into elementals: but they cannot bypass the wall of force, and Xellos and Sidni exit quickly, shutting the portal behind them by removing the spheres. They take them too and hasten out of the vault, across the Spires by means of flying and dimension door, and safely make their way back to Pest’s Crossing with their prize.

Back home, Malachi tells them to keep the Seal safe and informs them that the Seal of the Air lies in a vault that lies beyond the Frostmaw, a sacred cave at the base of the highest mountain in the Crystal Peaks. Frost giants are said to guard it. While they go and fetch that one, Malachi will research and locate the other vaults.

Meanwhile, the party rest and recover in Baron Calibos’ fortress. Sidni has herself a functional peg-leg prosthetic, complete with secret compartments, while Ungrid gets a fancy prosthetic arm made that can also hold a couple of potion bottles and a retractable dagger. Halmary just covers his missing eye with a patch, then goes out and paints the town red with the gold that still lines his pockets. Halmary and Xellos (via Philor) try their hands at brewing up some potions too, but both fail in their attempt. Seems that there are no other potions to buy on the open market, and other high-level mages and clerics seem to have been drafted by the Duke for work on the walls that he wants to surround his realm. He increased taxes too, and grants Calibos the title of Defender of the Hornwood, with the responsibility of building and maintaining, as well as manning the wall on his side of the border.

Finally, they head off and embark on their next adventure.

15th-22nd Fireseek, 593 CY

A week’s journey finds the party approaching the base of Mount Rungnirheim, across icy gullies and snowdrift paths. It begins to lightly snow as they reach the cave, Sidni scouting ahead and reporting back to the others: a huge cave entrance, with icicles like jagged teeth, forms a mouth from which a howling gale blows, gathering snow and ice in its wake. Just below a path that curves up and pass the maw, is a stone hut. Inside a pair of frost giants sleep. Guarding the cave are another pair, armed with a huge axe and sword, and standing close to a pile of boulders that look perfect for throwing at adventurers. A plan is formed and Sidni, invisible, sneaks off to flank the giants on guard. The others sneak up under the cover of an illusion of snow and mist conjured up by Xellos and his wand. The giants see it approaching, and don’t quite believe their eyes, but before they can do much more than point, our heroes attack!

Halmary starts it off with a well placed flame strike that is followed by Sidni and a lightning bolt from her shield, which is followed by a fireball from Xellos. Ungrid tries to follow that with his hammer, but the gale blowing from the maw is so strong it knocks the hammer away. Instead, Calibos uses his shield to enlarge himself and charges in, fighting against the wind: he hacks one badly burned giant down, then cleaves into the other, taking it out too.

They move to the hut, Ungrid hurls his hammer through the window and kills a sleeping giant, waking the other inside, and as he exits to see what the commotion is about, Xellos and Sidni hack at its legs, leaving it open for Ungrid to whack with his hammer, and Calibos to run it through with his sword. Inside the hut is a chest of loot, which they take. Then they approach the maw of the cave and Sidni carves herself out a thigh bone from one of the dead giants, while Halmary animates the other as a zombie.

End of Session

Kills:4 frost giants.

November 29

Against the Giants: Session 136

map of the Vault of the Earth

Vault of the Earth

As the heroes descend further into the caverns of the vault, Halmary blesses them again, as the original prayer has worn off with all the looking for traps, secret doors and loot that they engage in after every fight. In the middle of the cavern (#6 on the map), Sidni hovers over the plinth with another sphere and everyone else positions themselves around the piles of rubble they expect to turn into elementals. They are not disappointed and make short work of the three earth elementals that form: Ungrid takes two out by himself after activating his Ring of Haste, leaving Xellos to take out the other one. They collect the sphere, bind their wounds and lay on hands on the more injured party members, then head back to the first room.

In the main hall, after some heated discussion, they decide to wait for Ungrid’s ring to recharge, then Sidni quaffs a new potion of flying, Halmary blesses them all, adds some sparkles to his mace with a striking spell and quaffs a potion of speed himself. Calibos doesn’t want to be left out, so he quaffs a potion of growth before they place the spheres into the arms of the plinth in the centre. As each sphere is placed the amethyst stone in the middle begins to glow brightly. As Sidni places the last sphere, the gemstone opens up a glowing portal above it: a doorway that they can easily climb into… however, as soon as the last sphere is placed, the mosaics on the walls shatter and reform into elementals: this time including a huge and a giant one!

The battle is fierce and although Xellos manages to smash the medium elemental to pieces, the larger ones deal heavy damage to Calibos and Ungrid. Then the giant one stomps on Ungrid, crushing the dwarf beneath its feet! The vaultguard does not stand back up.

Halmary flame strikes a couple of then, allowing Xellos the time to back off and read aloud a scroll of Ward against Elementals. Sidni takes the huge elemental out, cleaving into another; but then the giant one stomps Halmary, the cleric is down!

Xellos moves towards Calibos and Sidni, bringing them into the safety of the ward. The elementals move to block the exits, allowing the still standing party members to gather their fallen comrades: Ungrid’s right arm is crushed, and although the dwarf lives he is in no fit state to do anything other than moan. Halmary comes around too, but he has lost his left eye, his face crushed on that side. Both need bed rest before they can continue on. Sidni takes the opportunity to fly through the portal: on the other side is a smaller chamber, more mosaics on the walls, and the Seal of the Earth floating above a plinth of stone. She reports back. Calibos activates his own Ward against Elementals as Xellos’ wears off. Then Xellos conjures up his own elemental, which he sends in to pulverise the enemy. Their ally manages to smash two of the enemy to pieces, but the giant one in turn shatters Xellos’ summoned monster.

With their exit blocked, the three survivors decide to risk a confrontation. They take plenty of potions of healing and position themselves to attack. Sidni releases a lightning bolt form her shield, angling it to avoid hitting anyone other than the elemental: the monster is rocked and pieces of its marble hide fly everywhere; Xellos follows immediately with a flurry of fiery magic missiles, and then all three charge into attack!

Sidni is stomped, but stands standing; Xellos badly wounds it, but is stomped in turn, but he too remains upright.

And then Xellos swings: he hits: the giant earth elemental shatters!

End of Session

Kills: 2 small earth elementals, 2 medium earth elementals, 2 large earth elementals, 1 huge earth elemental, 1 giant earth elemental.

KO’d: Ungrid (crushed right arm, 2 weeks bedrest); Halmary (lost left eye, 1 weeks bedrest).

November 22

Against the Giants: Session 135

The Seal of the Earth

map of the spires

The Spires

24th Sunsebb, 593 CY

The heroes leave Pest’s Crossing, travelling through the Hornwood and into the Barrier Peaks, hiking along the lower reaches of the mountains,and after several days arrive at the place known as The Teeth of the Earth (also known as The Spires). The small valley ends in this mass of jutting crystal spires, opaque quartz that surrounds ruins and a stairway leading below. Somewhere down there, according to the Duke’s Advisor– Malachi– is the Vault, wherein the Seal of the Earth lies. Not knowing what to expect, Sidni– invisible as usual– scouts around the spires, then begins to make her way through them: no sooner has she set foot amongst the spires, the very earth itself opens like a mouth and tries to bite her! She leaps back, narrowly avoiding a painful crunching. She tries again, this time with a rope tied around her, and Halmary tries to test the ground ahead by using his 10′ pole; both step foot inside, are nearly bitten by suddenly appearing stone mouths, and quickly retreat. The heroes circle the spires, looking for another way in, while Xellos keeps mentioning the various potions of flying that they have, and wouldn’t it be a good idea to use them?

Instead, they decide to rush in, and hope that they reach the safety– what they presume to be safe– of the ruins in the middle.

Sidni clicks her heels and hastes herself: she runs in, but one of the mouths opens and bites her leg off! She collapses, unconscious and bleeding, as the mouth disappears, taking her leg with her.

Calibos leaps to what he hopes is a safe spot, but a mouth opens beneath him: luckily, he lands with his feet planted on either side of the maw. Ungrid uses his Ring of Haste and is luckier than Sidni: the dwarf leaps over an opening mouth and finds himself seemingly safe in the ruins. Xellos rushes over to help Sidni, dodging mouths that open up beneath their feet, Halmary following on his heels: they manage to make it to the centre, Calibos too, and a timely Lay on Hands cauterises Sidni’s wound and brings her around. She’ll missing a leg though, but refuses to have it restored until after they have completed their mission: it’d take time to recover, and now that they are here they may as well continue; so she uses her spear as a crutch, and the party head down into the vault.

With lanterns and torches lit, a Find Traps spell cast by Halmary, they descend into a large, angular chamber dominated by a many-armed plinth of stone in the middle, with a jagged piece of amethyst sticking out of the centre. On the walls are mosaics of stone, showing caverns, hills, mountains and a raging volcano. A passage leads off, to a series of more angular chambers: the first has mosaics of obsidian; the second, quarts, and the third of different coloured marble. In each stands a granite plinth, on which is a sphere of stone matching the mosaics; and each depicts a hill, a mountain, and a volcano, in order of size. Expecting trouble, they ready their weapons, receive a blessing from Halmary, and lift the spheres off their plinths: when each is removed, the mosaics shatter and reassemble, forming humanoid earth elementals of varying size.

The obsidian elementals fall to the combined strikes of Halmary, Sidni, Calibos and Xellos; the quartz ones fall to strikes by Halmary, Ungrid, Calibos and a combination of axe and magic missiles from Xellos; and the marble ones all swiftly fall to blows from them all. Each time they take the spheres and place them in their bags of holding before moving on.

The follow the corridor to stairs going down, down, and down: it opens into a cavern, split by a chasm with a river flowing past. The plinth lies on one side, the heroes on the other. Piles of rubble too. Sidni quaffs a potion of flying and heads over the chasm: she grabs the limestone sphere, and the piles of rubble come together and attack. One disappears into the ground as Sidni is grabbed by another: she pulls free and the elemental follows, also passing into the ground, and the two join their allies on the other side; but the battle is over almost as soon as it has begun, with the heroes smashing their way through the elementals. They bag the sphere and follow a curving, sloping tunnel to another cavern…

End of Session

Kills: 4 small earth elementals, 4 medium earth elementals, 4 large earth elementals.

Injuries: Sidni has lost a leg.