Giant Slayer

Leetsa's thots

After checking that evil queen giant as she claims, I am glad she’s dead. She who caused all this just for love??What about my love for my parents…. As I pull out the deadly arrow I unleashed at her neck, its strike truer’ than many in the past, I think of my parents killed by these beast, and wonder where & when it shall end for me. But I know, the revenge not quite satisfied, there is a much better price for my folks’ death than a giant queen. Her a giant queen,,, ha. Yet I must go on, shuddering I think of my beautiful hair turning gray.. I must…
The presence of something pulls all of us to it; I can sense the magic all around us. I look over at my ragged warriors & am assured nothing can stop us & so I must go one, arrow knocked in Vemcin Sventar will it be a true strike again, there are more for all of us…..

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A glorious battle!
Grenseldek's defeat

I will write this quickly because I fear we most be moving quickly. Besides, this place unnerves me! There is an ancient evil about this place that I do not understand. It almost overtook me. It….it felt like overwhelming grief or guilt would consume me for a moment. As I look around I can see that the siblings Umlo and Ingrahild may have been overcome by it already. They are tentative in their movements while they search the room and Ingrahild seems to be holding back tears.

Leetsa and Elynnar are busy plundering the corpse of Grenseldek! Yes we have defeated her! The battle was fierce as she had two direwolf pets guarding her. Yet we finished the hounds quickly and surrounded her. Both Umlo and Ud were badly wounded in the exchange but, our greater numbers and superior tactics prevailed. Ud, hero as ever; stood at her front. He spun wildly, with the defense only a master marshal artist could summon. Yet even so, one of Grenseldeks wicked axes almost took his lower jaw off. If not for his quick reflexes, Ud would have only half of his face instead of, the nasty gash that graces his right cheek and jaw. Once again Ud’s bravery allowed the rest of the party to position themselves to, overcome our enormous adversary.

It was Leetsa’s arrow that finally took down the pitiful foe. Elynnar’s magic played no small part either! However, I get the feeling the battle was tilted in our favor because of, our adversaries state of mind. She fought desperately but carelessly. As if she had nothing to loose. Maybe the pain of being rejected by this so called Storm Tyrant pushed her sanity over a teetering cliff. Our maybe it was something more. I can still feel it….the presence of loss and regret. An ancient presence…..an evil presence…we must leave here soon and seek our answers elsewhere.

Torstern Stein

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From the Journal of Ud Nibbleaxe, trap expert
The art of trapping seems to elude me...

It’s been an interesting day of traps thus far. Following our visit with the half-orc enchantress, Droja, we made contact through her with Karrguk, leader of the orcs in the exterior of the fort. He was less than receptive to our offer of joining forces, despite the deception we took care to sow that Grenzeldek was plotting against him. Still, thanks to Thorsten’s fancy talking, we secured a passage into the fort through the back of Karrguk’s tent, even persuading him to allow us to take Droja, his concubine, along.

Once inside, we took quite a beating from the traps in the first passage, but Leetsa’s skills emerged victorious in the end, and the two of us set about trying to find a clear path toward our first goal; the chapel that housed the imprisoned spirit of Fabian Blix. We found none. Giants lay everywhere in the fort: along the battlements; squabbling in the courtyard over an unfortunate orc; patrolling the apparent sleeping quarters…

At last deciding that there was nothing for it but to make some noise, we attempted to lure a pair of the brutes toward a section of crumbling floor on the second level that would, we hoped, drop them to a room on the first story where we would have them lethally surrounded. The plan, however, went awry, and our trap was left unsprung as the giants sniffed out our intentions at the last second, stopping short and declaring that they would go and sound the alarm.

At this, Thorsten bravely, and foolishly, charged forward, bludgeoning one of them so mightily with his magic hammer that the beast shrank to nearly human-size and taunting it forward to spring the trap after all. That one was quickly bludgeoned still by Ingrahild’s brother, Umlo, and his mighty skillet, while Leetsa, Elynnar, and Ingrahild peppered the other giant with magic and arrows from below. As the remaining giant made to flee, Thorsten, Elynnar, and I intercepted, dropping it before it could make good its escape and betray our position.

Still, the encounter was far from silent, and I have no illusions that no other enemies are prepared for our push deeper into the fort. And…I find this Droja woman unnerving to my very soul. I find myself flinching from her supposed healing hand, nearly gagging on the stench of death that pervades her being. Can it truly be Apsu’s will that we ally ourselves with harbingers of darkness such as she?

These thoughts and more trouble my mind as we seek to conclude our mission. Somewhere in this fortress, Grenzeldek awaits…

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From the Journal of Ud Nibbleaxe, infiltrator
Perhaps this will be more difficult than we thought...

The boulder was followed shortly by a team of orcs and their large, oafish leader. A harrowing fight ensued, during which both of our gnomes displayed great courage and deadliness, and we emerged victorious.

We were, however, unable to locate Ingrahild’s brother in the brutes’ encampment, leaving us to assume that he had been taken with the other band; the one that had made for Redlake Fort.

So we returned to Captain Bloodtusk’s boat, Fijit departing back for Trunau to continue her training, and we set off down the river once more, arriving at our destination some days later, armed only with Calrianne’s map and varied rumors for knowledge. What we found was…disconcerting. The moat, it seemed, had been drained, and, after an extensive scouting flyover by an invisible Elynnar, we learned of the fort’s extensive defenses and deadly denizens, both orc and giant.

But, at last, we were able to locate Ingrahild’s brother, Umlo, the poor fellow having been held captive and forced to battle a group of fearsome bears. The night after our arrival, we moved in silently to rescue him, using magics and great care, we were able to do so without incident, bringing him back to our camp and learning from him much of the intrigue that pervaded the fortress.

The leader’s mistress, it seemed, was hardly content with her station, and, as a powerful magic-user, had been able to help Umlo keep up his strength.

Thinking that we may have identified a potential ally, I posited that we infiltrate the fort again that night, myself, Ingrahild, and Umlo seeing this thought through (the two of them, we’d found after some discussion, being distant relatives of mine). Both have sworn their service to my allies and me, though I’ve tried to make it clear that they are free to leave at any time. Still, in times such as these, great loyalty should not be squandered, and I was grateful to have them at my side as, when night had fallen once more, we made our way through the cold, dark underbrush to seek the favor of the half-orc enchantress.

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From the Journal of Ud Nibbleaxe, the naive
Again, my trust is misplaced...

Upon passing the sleeping vapor plants, we entered a great chamber filled with brambles and rot, almost immediately set upon by two more giant plant creatures. Though each of us was bloodied in the fight, we managed to slay them, thanks to a spell from Fijit that allowed us to move freely amidst the tangling muck and limbs. Almost before our eyes, the rot began to recede once the primary creature was felled. Though I found this curious, Fijit seemed to think this was normal.

A vault in this chamber revealed many weapons and treasures, however, as we entered it, Ewiga, who had accompanied us since her throne room, suddenly turned on poor Elynnar, revealing her true self as a horrible hag. A pitched battle ensued, during which our casters were drained of magic, and the rest of us were battered nearly to death by Ewiga’s clawed arms.

At last, however, she lay unconscious at our feet, and so we bound her and retreated to the treasure room to rest, hoping that we might question the hag once we had all recovered.

That night, I was assailed in my dreams by a vision of a hellish dark, landscape and a child far out of reach across a sea of swarming darkness, retreating up a jutting rock as the darkness climbed toward it. I tried to call out to the child, preparing myself to plunge into the demon sea, but then, my lord, Apsu, appeared as a great dragon of purest light, banishing all the darkness he touched in as he settled to perch behind me.

“Save the child!” I pleaded, looking up into the dragon’s fearsome, beautiful face. “Or, if you will do nothing, grant me the strength to do it!”

Apsu, however, only looked to the child, then back to me with a tear in his eye, and, before I could pursue my plan of leaping into the darkness, I awoke, shaken into consciousness by a concerned-looking Torsten.

Ewiga was awake as well, and, as we began to question her, revealing the baby boots and rattle we’d found on her as we did so, her story began to unfold, one of a barren wife, desperate enough to mother a child that she struck a deal with the hags of a nearby swamp to bring life to her womb. A daughter was born, one that the hags had demanded as part of the deal, but Ewiga had refused, leading to her husband’s flight from her with their daughter when he learned the truth, and leaving Ewiga to be taken by the hags to complete the contract. Bound to the hags, and to the swamp, she had become a hag herself, and, as I looked into her tearful eyes, I believed I saw some trace of her humanity resurface.

So I assured her that, if we all returned to the swamp peacefully, she would be left alone, though I would return to see the swamp cleansed should I hear of her corrupting it. I needn’t have worried, for, no sooner had we exited the treasure room than she attacked Leetsa and myself, slamming the door shut behind her to keep the rest of the group from assisting. I, however, managed to striker her with my newfound spear, and the owl, Whisper, slashed the hag’s throat before she could transport away.

Holding the once human woman’s body as she bled out, I then understood that her very nature rendered her incapable of being trusted, and so I delivered the killing blow, carrying her body back to the main atrium to return to the nature of this place. The weight of this act seemed to drag me back to the stone itself. Sworn as I am to shepherd new life into this world, and being forced to slay someone whose fall to corruption began with the pure intentions of wishing to become a mother…it continues to be a great burden on my heart, heightened by the darkness of my dream.

Not soon enough for my liking, we left the Vault of Thorns behind, reemerging into the stone circle to find Ingrahild waiting, urging us to make haste for a band of orcs and giants that had taken her brother.

So we set off to the tune of Torsten’s marching song, only to be set upon by a swarm of awful bugs as we neared our destination. Though we tried to subdue them with stealth and a lack of bombastic spells, we heard the sound of approaching foes as the last of bugs flew into the night, the new enemies obviously the band we sought, and just as obviously searching for us.

We all rushed to hide, but, seconds later, a large boulder struck the ground where we’d just stood, and booming, giant-ish voice called out for us to emerge. I clung to the shadow of my cover, hoping the others would do the same as dusk and the heightening raindrops began to fall in earnest…

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From the Journal of Ud Nibbleaxe, lilypad hopper
And the plants get bigger...

Following our fight with the bramble fiends, we pressed on into the next room, a great, domed atrium, only to be attacked by a pair of invisible light creatures. We eventually managed to drop them, but the encounter held great promise of danger had we not formed up so quickly on the great bridge that led deeper into the vault.

Reaching the far door, we discovered an ancient elven woman who claimed familiarity with the Vault of Thorns in centuries past. Agreeing that the evil here must be expunged, she accompanied us into the next chamber.

A series of floating lilypads awaited us, leading to a ledge on the far side of a chasm, and, without thinking, I nimbly hopped to the other side, only to find that I had awakened a vengeful guardian of the place. A great swarm of insects surged up from the swampy water far below, and a single large entity rose up, swooping down at us to attack, eventually taking up poor FIjit in its jaws. Just as it was about to devour her and her owl, we managed to slay it, retrieving them and a fallen Torsten as we regrouped to treat our wounds.

Agreeing that we should approach with more caution, we followed a passage down to the base of the chamber with the bridge, easing inside and keeping alert for any danger. While many small, friendly creatures approached us with benevolent intent, we were set upon once again before we were able to reach the far side of the atrium. A giant, tendriled beast laid into us, with Torsten and myself bearing the brunt of the attack to keep the others out of reach of the lashing, deadly vines. Flame and blade at last overtook the thing, the creature succumbing to its wounds like a toppling tree, and we ascended a staircase out of the atrium unhindered.

No sooner did we reach the door at the top of the stairs, however, than Fijit quickly warned us of sleep-inducing, carnivorous plants, leaving herself and Elynnar to carefully harvest them while the rest of us remained ready to pull them back from danger. Though not the most severe threat we’ve faced, it did nothing to quell my unease in this strange land of magic and chaos…

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From the Journal of Ud Nibbleaxe, tree-burner
I don't care much for the Faery world thus far...

The dwarf woman, Ingrahild, spoke of great monsters that had taken her brother, and she accompanied us thereafter in hopes that we would find strength in numbers. We did so, gratefully, for we soon fell into battle with a wretched wil-o-wisp that seemed to be speaking even as it tore into us. It shocked us a great deal with arcs of painful lightning, but we managed to subdue and kill it, tucking it away in Fijit’s lantern, as we’d been instructed in the efforts to guide our way to the stone circle we sought that was to serve as our gateway to the Faery world.

The lamp fulfilled its purpose, the light guiding us the stones. No sooner had we arrived, however, than we we were set upon one of the beasts that had taken poor Ingrahild’s brother. It was a tough fight against the monster, with many of us taking grievous wounds, but we managed to fell it, retreating through a portal opened by the lantern’s light and respecting Ingrahild’s wishes to be left behind to search for her brother.

Before us on the other side was a large flower-like door. As we approached it, lightning-quick wooden fiends set upon us, trying to batter us with thorns and wooden stakes. I was able to dodge every assault, but my teammates suffered greatly before we were able to use fire flasks and spells to burn the things to ash.

Afterwards, Fijit was able to commune with the animals that scurried in from around, though she learned little about wait awaited us beyond the door, save that an elf woman had previously done so, it seemed.

Despite the positive effect this land seems to have on healing magics, I find myself wary of it. I’m sure whatever lies beyond the flower door is just as foul as what attacked us on over here.

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memories of my little brother
The diary of Jinni Nibbleaxe

Father, Mother, Soem, Mimn, and myself are returning from Kaer Maga. Although, mother, myself, and Mimn are sorely disappointed not getting to see Ud; Father seems somewhat pleased and Soem seems to echo Father’s sentiments. I personally don’t believe it not of Father and certainly not of Soem. Father hadn’t seen his youngest son in almost 7 years! No matter how strict Father had been with Ud, I know he still loves and misses his youngest son.

As for Soem, he was closest to Ud Nibbleaxe besides myself. in fact he was almost closest in age except that Mimn was born 3 minutes after Soem. Soem was/is the only one of Ud’s five brothers that didn’t relentlessly tease him about lack of facial hair and his personal choices about life. To be honest our two eldest brothers were already out of the house raising their own families when Ud came along. Rundl simple ignored Ud and still barely acknowledges him in public. However, second brother Delin was often the worst offender when it came to mistreating Ud. At family and clan gatherings, Delin would often openly embarrass Ud by talking about the latest brews and asking Ud his opinion in front of other male Dwarves. Once on Ud’s birthday he actually threw Ud a party only to humiliate him by giving him silver beard clasp as a present.

Ashamed, Ud walked out of his own birthday party. He later gave those clasp to Soem, who wears them now. It’s a pity Ud’s own kin and clan drove him away to that strange city. Kaer Maga isn’t much bigger than Janderhoff but it’s much more bizarre. We didn’t visit all the nine districts of the city instead sticking mostly to to the core Hospice district and the ring district of Tarheel Promenade district ( the district where the Aspu shrine and house of worship was located. )

It was an odd place Ud Nibbleaxe my brother, chose to run away too. The Dragon Dojo wasn’t even a true church by standard practices. It seemed just a collection of run down buildings arranged into classrooms and dormitories. There was a pretty central garden located among the buildings surrounded by a veranda that connected the various structures. In it’s midst was a large white jade statue of a regal Dragon that served as the Shrine to this makeshift temple.

We stayed overnight at the behest of headmaster Shunyi. Not many visitors came to pay homage to the Apsu shrine despite it being one of the only known shrines in Golarian. Headmaster Shunyi was kind enough to explain to me some of the teachings of the way of the Dragon, as the worship of Apsu is known. He explained very few humans or demi-humans worshiped Apsu because he offered few divine gifts in the form of spells. In fact not one of the students or teachers (also known as Senseis ) had any traditional form of divine magic. Instead they drew on a magical pool of energy from their deity known as Ki, to help augment their already stringent training.

Most of the school practice one form of martial arts or another. However, master Shunyi assured me their were others that had disciplined their minds enough to move objects with mere thoughts and even more marvelous things! I was very intrigued by all this and begin to see why Ud Nibbleaxe had left his home and joined this fringe cult. This collection of people were also outsiders among their own-kind. Many members of the monastery were from far away Tian Xia. Others were from Varisia , Cheliax, Galt, and even River Kingdoms. There was only one other Dwarf and she had taken a vow of silence. Few other demi-humans were part of monastery although I did see a couple half elves and one of the senseis was a halfling!

We learned early on that Ud Nibbleaxe no longer was being mentored at the temple. That, he had chosen to go on a life pilgrimage . Master Shunyi explained that most of the students eventually abandoned the monastery to wonder the world abroad in search of purpose and people to help. That their duties after taking on the life journey consisted of nothing more than battling evil at every turn and helping those in need. He further explained that Ud Nibbleaxe was under no ones authority but his own and only needed to keep his self-imposed vows and battle evil to fulfill his purpose in life.

It was particularly interesting to learn that worshipers of Apsu held a particular loathing of evil Dragons and lies. These teachings were not too far from the the Earth Father Torag. It seems both Apsu and Torag are mortal enemies of Rovagug. This knowledge pleased my father immensely. When he found out that Ud Nibbleaxe had taken the path of a life pilgrimage I could swear I saw a glimmer of pride in his eyes. He even mumbled to Master Shunyi that. " it sounds like my son has found an Honorable endeavor to fulfill his life purpose. "

It seems the only thing my father questioned was Ud Nibbleaxe’s vow of cleanliness. He dismissed it as un-necessary and still believed Ud was trying to get out of some of the dirty jobs just as he did as a boy back home. Master Shunyi had a different explanation however; he said that he felt Ud took this particular vow because he often journeyed to the Ankar-Te district in Kaer Maga to help with midwife duties on pregnant refuges.

It seems the Ankar-Te district has some dubious practices including using the un-dead as servants and even more un-natural acts! In order to assure his monasteries honor Ud Nibbleaxe took on the vow of cleanliness. That way he could still help the needy while avoiding subversive talk about himself or the school. My father still thought this vow was un-necessary, especially if Ud Nibbleaxe still practiced it while out on his life pilgrimage. Father always says “if your hands aren’t dirty by days end, you’ve wasted your day doing nothin’ good most likely!” Perhaps that was the beginning of Ud’s self-conscious behavior. He always was a neat boy.

We are almost to Sirathu now. We spent a week in Kaer Maga trading and visiting distant clan members. No one knows where Ud Nibbleaxe is now or when or if he’ll ever return home. We’ll stop in Sirathu tonight and trade a few goods we got from Kaer Maga. The rest we’ll take back to our home in the hills Broken Column borough. If the weather holds in will only be a couple of days before we are home; under the shadow of the Storval plateau and a days journey from Janderhoff.

I look forward to my hearth and my husband Fafnir’s embrace. Our little community of seventeen families is important to the the larger settlement of Janderhoff. Why my very own sheep have been served as mutton legs at banquettes and parties of the Nobles of that city. Our little town’s root vegetables and cabbages also play an important part in the diet of that great city. We also have a some of the finest wood carvers among all of Dwarven kind, if I do say so. And lastly the leather made from my father’s own steers is in demand all the way to Korsovo!

Yes we live a happy sheltered life here in Broken Colum, I hope you can return to us one day little brother Ud Nibbleaxe and live in peace….

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From the Journal of Ud Nibbleaxe, wrestler of necessity
The oddities in this awful place...

After defending the deck from those orcs, we set out the next morning after Fijit’s arrival and into the swamp. It was good to see the druid woman again, and her small owl. I had a feeling that we would need them both before our foray into the wild was over.

Proving my hunch, it was scarcely two hours before we encountered a deadly beast the others would afterward identify as a hydra, its many fanged heads tearing into poor Leetsa and nearly tearing her apart. Thankfully, Fijit’s druid fire was able scorch the beast to its final rest once Torsten, Leetsa, Elynnar, and I were able to drop it, and we pressed on, beginning to understand the true perils of the Ghostlight Marsh.

Some time later, we saw a faint smoke trail from afar, tracing it to a small encampment. Before we were able to approach, however, an inebriated Elynnar compromised our position, and we were challenged by the camp’s single occupant. Though I attempted to call out diplomatically, I was answered with an arrow, which I was barely able to dodge, and a haggard-looking dwarf leapt out of the bushes to attack us. Brave Leetsa charged in without hesitation, attempting to grapple the dwarf, and Torsten and I did likewise, finally managing to subdue and put to sleep the obviously crazed woman who seemed to think we were orcs. It was then I realized her filthy state, quickly cleaning myself and eagerly accepting Leetsa offer of magical cleaning as we moved to explore the campsite. As one who has taken a vow of cleanliness, I know in my heart that Apsu’s presence was close to departing my soul; a dark fate, indeed, should that day ever come. Renewing my will and vigilance, I set about exploring the camp with the others.

By providence, it seemed, we were able to identify a potion to remove the dwarf woman’s cursed, crazed state within her own supplies, bringing her back to consciousness. Her words were strange and foreboding…but I’ll detail them in my next entry.

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From the Journal of Ud Nibbleaxe, defender of the deck
Such hostile waters...

Following our tussle with Melira, her accomplice, the cook, Gashnakh, was sentenced to death. I did my utmost to supply the poor soul with forgiveness and hope before the end, but I still found the execution to be a most brutal affair. I’m only thankful he didn’t make good on his request to have me push him over for the keelhauling, as he thought he might require. I sincerely hope the man finds some measure of peace.

Shortly thereafter, we we came upon a damaged outpost along the river, the members of our team rowing ashore to investigate. Sneaking up to the nearby house, I heard sounds of distress from within, bursting through the door to find a surviving guardswoman of the outpost bound and beaten by a team of brutish orcs. Though Leetsa and I made a good account of ourselves, it was only with the timely arrival of Torsten and Elynnar, who’d already slain a pair of direwolves, that the gnome and I survived. It was here we found a small, skull-like bomb, much like one that had been used against me in the fight, only to discover that Leetsa, the person who had last touched it, was doomed to burst into flame should the bomb shell be compromised. Whether through stupidity or bravery, I quickly snatched up the item, transferring the curse to myself. Though I saw gratitude in Leetsa’s eyes, there was also a marked annoyance. I didn’t mind. What good is telling your companions that you would die for them if you fail to make good on such claims?

Resuming our voyage, it wasn’t long before we came upon a hastily constructed dam along the river, finding it to be a trap as a team of horrific water giants scaled our vessel, attempting to clobber us and the ship to pieces. Through luck and quick action, I was able to down one quickly, and, with Urul’s help, drop another with the ship ballista. Another was felled by the crew, with the final one retreating from Leetsa’s deadly arrows from the crow’s nest. Finding the one with the ballista bolt in his chest was still alive, we wrapped the evil bomb in its hands, at Leetsa’s suggestion, tossing it overboard to burst into flames on contact with the water, ending the threat of the curse. I was quick to convey my gratitude to the quick-thinking Leetsa, who had likely, in turn, just saved my life.

Tired from our encounters, we arrived later at the site of a druidic stone that marked the entrance to the Ghostlight Marsh, our first real destination along the river. Having sent the pigeon to fetch Fijit and her promised help from Trunau, we set about making ourselves busy for the days it would take for her to receive our message and arrive. The second night, we had a dark encounter with another band of orcs, who attacked the ship while much of the crew was out foraging along the shore. While we were able to slay most of them quickly, their leader, a large, imposing fellow fell in on me, rage pulsing in his eyes as he called out for the dead Melira and slashed me to pieces. Just as I was about to fall, Leetsa dropped the brute, saving my life once again. Though I respect and cherish all of my teammates equally, I am finding that I often owe my life to that small woman’s arrows. So long as I need rescuing, may the bleaching or death never claim her brave, noble heart.

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