Giant Slayer

From the Journal of Ud Nibbleaxe, Guardian of Children
The people of this land have endured so much...

Following the death of Ingrahild at the tooth and claw of Sermapholith, the vile white dragon, Umlo and I returned to the tomb of Nargrym Steelhand, laying the remains of my poor cousin’s sister to rest near the sarcophagus of Nargrym himself. Though Umlo still grieves, and will for some time, he can at least rest in the certainty that he has done his fallen sister a great honor.

When we rejoined the others, who’d held a ceremony for Leetsa’s fallen comrade, Thorsten informed me that he’d released Stilgrit into the wild. I listened to his reasoning, even admiring them, to a point, but I do not know if this is a rift that will easily heal between us. He claims to defer to my judgment, even when I feel I don’t deserve it, then countermands it the second my back is turned. The trust lost there is not easily regained.

Joining the caravan of Abadar, we continued our journey, some time later hearing cries for help along a narrow ravine. We rushed in to help, arriving just in time to see a human woman felled by a great boulder. Enraged, I scaled a nearby drop-off, catching the giant culprits in a narrow passage and using the tight quarters to my advantage. Soon, both lay dead at my fee, one with Leetsa’s arrows in its back.

The woman was dead when we went to her, so we tracked the giants’ steps back to where they met hers, finding a hideous troll attempting to devour a small, abandoned child inside. We slew her quickly, with Leetsa burning it with a grenade as I fled with the child, and we found the remains of the child’s father, as well.

From there, Leetsa and I carried the child onward to the nearby town, finding it ransacked by a giant horde the day earlier. As fortune would have it, the child’s surviving grandmother met us, thanking us for, at least, saving Elsie, her granddaughter, and urging us to recover the townsfolk captured in the raid.

The next morning, we set out to do so, encountering an enormous cyclops in the forest nearby. Though I was able to dodge the awful blasts from its eye, its monstrous axe was nearly the death of me before Umlo smashed in its knee and smashed its horrible eye to a pulp.

Delving further, we encountered a band of ogres who were about to banquet on the townsfolk they’d taken. We set up a clever ambush, making quick work of the brutes and setting the townspeople free.

More, however, remain to be rescued, and I worry about what all these dark tides mean for what we will find in Minderhall Valley. Whispers of a giant cathedral have caused my dreams to take darker turns even that usual…

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leetsa's journal

As we journey into the ice cave at the top of this mountain, our bones chilled to the insides, many of us are thinking can we really kill a dragon? A foul beast, that with the swift pulse of a breath can freeze a person to death. And yet we move on, our minds faced with the possibility of instant death. All I can think about is recovering my friend & the blessed papers he was carrying & returning them both back to safety. My trusty foe, ever present in the face of danger and always, always there to fight beside me, Ud his frozen fingers blue to the eye still trudges on.

As we searched the cavern only to find ice & snow we made it back to the end of the cave. There we discovered a floor of glass ice. As some of us investigated it, the white beast burst forth attacking me viciously and with intent on total inhalation of us all. I went down feeling the warm blood oozing from several parts of my body. Still unable to move I watched in horror as the party was attacked several times, the cold breath of the beast & its claws making mockery of our feeble attempts to kill it.

Then Elynnar blasted it & then was overcome by its attacks. Could this be the end of our crusade to rid the worlds of giants? But true to the test Ud, his new hand & weapon struck true & the beast went down for good. But as I was healed & others too were attended I discovered that Umlo’s sister hand been torn apart by the white dragon.

When we were able to again move around we entered the vault below that the fallen dragon had opened up in its dying fall. There to my horror was my friend, half eaten half frozen. Buy we found the papers & several other valuables along with some scales from the beast. But as we make our way down the mountain, I contemplate the cost of these trinkets. We lost a great fighter & friend, almost lost 2 others including myself. Dragons shall always be part of my nightmares, but perhaps when all the foul giants are gone from this world, dragons shall be my next target with Abadars guidance. Anything to keep the bleaching from taking over my soul. Onward we go.

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From the Journal of Ud Nibblaxe, Steel of Hand and Slayer of Dragons
Once again, loss strikes at our company...

The tomb of Nargrym Steelhand was as harrowing as expected, as we arrived to find the obelisk atop it strewn with foreboding webs. Within, we were assailed by spider creatures much like the ones that had ambushed on the road, the beasts led by a dwarven-spider hybrid born to mother these foul guardians of the tomb in the name of Nargrym’s betrayer, Lokmorr.

A vicious battle ensued, during which I leapt to tackle multiple foes, including Stilgrit, the mother guardian in a deep chasm of a stairwell. Though I fell unconscious to Stilgrit’s attacks, my companions were able to best her, and, when I came around, I found myself feeling pity for the monstrosity that had not chosen her dark path. To the disapproval of my kin and comrades, I chose to spare her life, attempting to show her the error of her beliefs that Lokmorr was the true hero of legend, but to no avail.

I rendered her unconscious as we carefully opened the tomb door, armed with the knowledge of Nargrym’s legend. However, no sooner had we begun to explore the interior than we were attacked by Lokmorr himself, the villain having been cursed to live immortally in the tomb of his rival. He was a clever foe, having set up traps that nearly drained me of my life force, but we managed to slay him, severing the steel hand he had stolen from Nargrym’s body on display below us.

Realizing the strength such a hand could bring, I volunteered myself to wield it, sacrificing my own hand for the ability to wield Nargrym’s ancient, giant-slaying spear, and we departed Nargrym’s tomb feeling more certain of our mission than ever. If giants wish to bring a fight to us, we will be ready.

Shortly after departing the tomb, however, we saw a caravan of travelers on the horizon, deciding to go forth and meet them, as they were on our path toward the Minderhall Valley. As we approached, my heart was gripped with terror as a large white dragon swept down to attack the travelers!

Though we rushed in to aid them, we arrived only in time to see the dragon carry off a poor gnome cleric of Abadar, finding that the one left behind was an acquaintance of Leetsa’s. Our gnome champion vowed to return or avenge the gnome who’d been taken, as well as to reclaim the holy relic the captive had been carrying; Leetsa’s former religious instructor.

So, we set out to scale the nearby mountain where we believed the dragon to reside, finding the conditions harsh and frigid. As we neared the cave, I was beginning to succumb to the cold, but the mission drove us inside, carefully peering around for any sign of danger…just not carefully enough.

The dragon burst forth, declaring its own, fearsome name, and tearing into poor Leetsa, nearly rending her apart right there. Acting on impulse, I attacked the horrible beast with my new spear, shouting stupidly for it to step away from what I was sure was Leetsa’s corpse.

A ferocious battle ensued, during which Elynnar proved his magical prowess by blasting the dragon with furious flame, but, even as the dragon’s wounds began to overcome it, it felled Elynnar with a blast of its frosty breath, shredding the unfortunate Ingrahild as well, while her brother, Umlo, could only look on in horror.

Snarling to those of us who still stood with finality, the dragon reared up as though to depart through the great opening in the chasm above us, but, with rage spilling over in my heart, I thrust forth my spear, Heartspit, the weapon earning the name as I skewered the dragon through its blackest of hearts, the beast letting out a cry of shock and anguish as it fell back to earth, crashing though the icy floor of its lair.

Beneath was the partially-eaten body of the captive gnome, as well as the relic Leetsa sought. So, as we revived both Leetsa and Elynnar, my companions set about retrieving our prize, as well as harvesting the dragon, while I was left to console my remaining kin, Umlo, as he heart-breakingly gathered the remains of his fallen sister.

I shed many a tear for the brave Ingrahild, recalling her ferocity at our first meeting, as well as the courage and nobility she’d displayed in our time together since, and I joined Umlo in reciting a brief eulogy for the great warrior she’d been.

Our mission concluded, we made a morose procession back down the slick, wind-sheered slopes of the mountain and back down into the valley, performing a small ceremony for Ingrahild as we laid her remains to rest in the ground. “I forgive you, my sister,” I heard Umlo whisper as he scooped the dirt and rock back in place over her mangled form, "for leading us into the Ghostlight Marsh. “I was only ever at my best when on the path of adventure with you.”

With righteous hatred in my heart for all dragons so vile as the one we slew, I eagerly await our return to Leetsa’s remaining gnome friend…as well as the horrid captive I left in his care…

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From the Journal of Ud Nibbleaxe, Tomb-seeker
The path is laid out before us; I hope we do not stumble.

With Karrguk slain, we gathered what we could from the spoils of Redlake Fort, rendezvousing with Captain Bloodtusk back at his boat and making our way back along the river. My mood was forlorn, though my companions and kin rejoiced at the victory. I still felt the sting of failing in my path to Apsu.

Still, I agreed with the others that we should spend some time in the great keep of Vigil on our way back, as the servants of Iomedae there deserved to know of the pendant we discovered with the help of Fabian Blix, as did the man’s descendant, Calrianne. So, after informing the girl, we made our way to Vigil, finding a lukewarm welcome there, as we were in the company of orcs. They heard us out there, however, notably marking the news that we had heard of giants congregating in the Minderhall Valley.

Along with Halgra, Chief Defender of Trunau, the priests and warriors of Vigil charged us with seeking out the growing giant horde, so, after spending some time to recuperate (and ensure that I had found my feet on the path of purity once more through a cleansing ritual), we set out once more on behalf of the peoples of this region, making our way deep into the Mindspin Mountains to seek out the giant-killer, Nargrym’s, tomb for aide in our quest, accompanied again by my dwarven kin.

Twice we were attacked on the trail; once by a fearsome, scaly creature Elynnar marked as a Bullette, and once by sickening spider creatures in the trees about us, but both times we bested our foes quickly. I feel, however, that whatever we find within the tomb and beyond will not be so easily overcome.

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From the Journal of Ud Nibbleaxe, vow-breaker
I can only hope my good deeds speak louder than my failings

We fell in on the beasts who stood outside the chanting chamber, finding ourselves in a pitched battle that extended into our destination room and the massive brutes inside. Seeing a giant mage past the two that charged us, I slipped inside to keep the monster’s magic at bay, thankfully keeping it distracted long enough for my brave comrades to slay the others and join me in finishing the fight.

Within, we found the bones of the traitor we sought, then retreating back to the room of treasure to determine how we might take these riches home. As we debated, however, Karrguk called out for us to surrender. We declined, our answer delivered in fist and steel as we burst out of the chamber and fell in on the remaining orcs from Karrguk’s attack on the fortress. After a timely spell from Thorsten, Karrguk retreated his feeble mind unable to stand up to our skald’s power, and we slaughtered the remaining orcs, Leetsa and myself even sneaking around the perimeter to execute another who stood ready to snipe us from above.

The immediate threat taken care of, we made our way back to the chapel, appeasing Fabian’s spirit by destroying his enemy’s bones. As his soul departed, Fabian spoke of a talisman of his goddess nearby, which we recovered, setting out to the chamber across the courtyard where we believed to have heard the noise of a retreated Karrguk.

We were wrong. Arriving there, I was set upon by a vile thing as I attempted to pierce the dark with my dwarven eyes, and, unthinking I…I struck out at the enemy with my fists, finding that the light of Apsu had abandoned me for the breaking of my vow of cleanliness. My spirit nearly shattered, I barely managed to drop the undead giant hand that had attacked me with the help of my friends, slinking off alone in my melancholy state to end Karrguk and his remaining orcs.

Spotting them, I made my way around the outer courtyard to catch them unaware, hearing the bold gnome, Leetsa call out a challenge to Karrguk from below. When I reached the tower where I had seen the orcs, I found only two remaining, quickly dropping one with my bloodied fists and hurling the other off the top of the tower. Then, peering down below, I saw that Karrguk had engaged with the others, Elynnar landing what would have been a mortal blow on a lesser orc, and Leetsa ready to cleave the brute from behind.

My anger overcoming me, I leapt from the highest point of the tower, screaming Karrguk’s name in a moment of vengeance. His people and their filth…they have no place in this world, if there is ever to be peace. So, as Karrguk looked up to bare his teeth at me, I landed a blow to face, snapping it aside to sever his spine with a mighty crack.

The monster felled, I glared down at his body, knowing that even this great feat in the name of Apsu, who gives me strength, was not enough to wash away the stench of what I had done. Though it had been to protect my comrades, I had betrayed a vow to both myself and my lord. Not even the vision I was gifted, feeling Apsu’s flames of vindication surround me, could undo such a wrong.

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From the Journal of Ud Nibbleaxe, assassin
Have we become the shadows of death?

Following our encounter with the two giants, we found ourselves greeted by a pair of great, winged beasts in a nearby room. Though they were caged, I knew their presence to be foul, but we all decided that we should hear the offer they wished to present. The arrangement was simple; their freedom for the treasure they guarded, a treasure apparently spurned by one Volstis of the Minespin Mountains after it had been offered by Grenzeldek as a kind of dowry.

Cautiously, and alert for any betrayal this time, we released the beasts Elynnar identified as a male and female manticore, quickly killing them when they attempted to turn on us. It was clear they particularly wished to feast on Thorsten’s human flesh, but we saw fit not to grant them the opportunity.

With the beasts dead, we ascended the tower above them, finding that a sobbing Grenzeldek awaited at the top, guarded by a pair of dire wolves. Seeing our chance to end the giant’s life, we burst in, taking quite a beating from both Grenzeldek and her wolves, but finally slaying the miserable woman where she stood. A great aura of sadness clung to the air, however, and we eventually found the source of it behind a cordoned-off alcove. The culprit was what appeared to be a human skull, its presence still filling our hearts with dread and sorrow even as Thorsten tucked it away in his pack. More happily, we discovered with the help of Umlo and Ingrahild that we now possessed both halves of a sort of geode map to the tomb of the great dwarf, Nargrim, their ancestor, having found the final piece in Grenzeldek’s spoils. However, we still had work to do in Redlake Fort.

From there, we pressed on toward the chapel to seek the spirit of Fabian Blix. The pair of ogrekin atop the bell tower overhead gave us little trouble, as we were able to kill them before they could sound the alarm, and we headed inside the chapel. In contrast to Grenzeldek’s chambers, the chapel seemed to exude an aura of peace and tranquility, and we were soon able to make contact with the unfortunate Fabian.

He told us his sad story of betrayal and instituted cannibalism under siege by the fortress’s former steward, and that the only way for us to bring peace to his soul was to burn his killer’s remains at the chapel’s altar. Producing the skull on a hunch, we learned that this was part of what we sought, though the rest of the man’s remains lay elsewhere. After an unsettling communion by Droja with the skull, we thought we had a hunch of where to begin our search; back in a room where we heard a dark chanting.

We rested that night in the chapel, awakening the next morning to find that Kargukk was making his move against the giants, seeming to have learned of Grenzeldek’s demise, and, departing the chapel, we thought to use the confusion to reach the chanting chamber. On the way, Droja slipped while attempting a climb, and I saw fit to let her fall, rather than breaking my vow of cleanliness, as she oozes the stench of undeath. She was relatively unhurt by the fall, but I can tell that resentment has been seeded within her. How this will manifest remains to be seen.

Still, unchallenged by any foe, Leetsa and myself pressed on for the chanting chamber, finding that a small band of ogrekin lay in our path. It seems that, even with our enemy distracted, it will not be easy to remain undetected in this awful place…

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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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