After some deliberation, my companions and I determined that our first stop would be the temple to the southwest that housed the incantation for reigniting the ancient giant forge. Without it, Urathash would be powerless to execute his plans, after all.
So, we set out, happening upon a herd of enormous mammoths upon departing the giant tunnels near the cathedral. Before we could determine how to respond, a river giant spotted us from the bushes, indicating for us to hold back as he calmed the beasts. To our amazement, he managed to do so, civilly introducing himself to our band as Kuedo as the mammoths retreated.
Following some discussion, we agreed to hire him as our guide in the valley, departing south and west along the river on our new giant ally’s raft. As we discussed our business in vague terms with Kuedo, he seemed very interested in our motives for our presence in Minderhall Valley, noting that I seemed to have no heart for giants, though he laughed the remark off as a joke. Still, it was…unsettling.
Along our voyage, we encountered a handful of giants who sought to harry our progress, though I was able to handle the first pair myself, and the trio that assaulted us from the muddy ruins further along were felled with timely magic from Elynnar and Leetsa’s surprisingly deadly flail (I still feel guilt at nearly getting my gnome friend killed, as well as for the loss of her bow in the process; still, I’ve tried to assist her in making a new one, and it’s coming along nicely).
At last, days later, we came upon the temple we sought, which had sunken to the bottom of a vast lake since its construction. Armed with appropriate magics from Elynnar, we dived in, instructing our giant guide to remain with the raft and guard the temple opening, to which he conceded, seeming contented with the jewels and baubles with which we’d bought his services.
No sooner had we entered the temple, however, when we were set upon by a large, vicious fish, a band of merrows, and a hideous chuul. Suited as we were to underwater combat at the time, however, we dispatched the temple’s denizens quickly, scouring the empty place for the incantation we sought.
We found only evidence of its recent departure, likely at the hands of one of the merrows who’d attempted escape, only to be slain by something beyond our sight.
Returning to the raft with deep-seeded suspicions, I surfaced to find Kuedo extending a hand to assist me up. Acting on my mistrust, I dived, resurfacing on the other side of the raft and hopping up to confront the coin-obsessed giant, declaring my suspicions.
Feigning indignance, thought not his anger, Kuedo threw me from the raft, attempting a speedy escape, as it was now clear I thought him our thief.
Thankfully, Elynnar came to the rescue, once again, arming both myself and Leetsa with further, water-faring magics that allowed us to give chase and bring the giant down, unconscious into the water.
My conscience overcoming me, I dived after, hauling the brute ashore before he could drown and tending to him through the night…after securing him fast with ropes.
Upon the next morning, and Kuedo’s waking, we renegotiated our deal. We’d taken his gear, though we’d return enough to maintain appearances, with pay still to be provided after we no longer needed his services, and, in turn, he would set aside his hatred for myself and the longspear, Heartspit, that I wielded; one he’d declared to be the very weapon to have slain an ancestor of his.
With everyone agreed, if not entirely appeased, we set out once more, this time with a slight detour at the mention of Kuedo. A great beast was laired nearby, it seemed, one that Kuedo believed to be guarding a great hoard of treasure. Thinking it would sate the giant’s bruised ego, the rest of us agreed, and, with the incantation we’d reclaimed in our possession, we made for our return journey down the river.
I only hope our giant friend has not manufactured an opportunity for him to be rid of us.