Against the Giants: Liberation of Geoff

Dyson's Delve (part 1)
Session 153

12th Flocktime, 594 CY

After some downtime in Hochoch, the heroes peruse their treasure maps and decide to head off to a dungeon one of the maps says lies in the hills beyond Pest’s Crossing. They head back home, then hike through the forest and into the hills that rise gradually up into the Crystalpeaks. The dungeon lies beneath a hill topped by the foundations of a former fortress. A cave leads inside, and spiral stairs lead inside from the ruins. As twilight sets in, the heroes waste no time checking out the cave using continual light conjured by Halmary, with the invisible Sidni scouting ahead. She finds tracks around the entrance and inside the cave– giant rat paw prints– and exploration of the caves reveals a nest of indifferent giant ferrets, munching on giant rat corpses; then a nest of giant rats in another. The heroes spy coins glinting in the light, and decide that they want it: Sidni incinerates several of the rats with a_ lightning bolt,_ sending the others scurrying. Sidni wades in, killing a few rats, as does Calibos and Halmary. Meanwhile, the ferrets are attracted by the noise and smell of blood and venture out: Ungrid kills one, leaving Xellos to cut the others down.

The coins turn out to be copper pieces, which the heroes decide aren’t worth the pain of collecting. Instead they follow some narrow tunnels into the manmade section of the dungeon, quickly coming across some goblins. Halmary knocks one out as the other runs off. A quick interrogation reveals possible loot in the nearby crypts, and that goblins lair on this level and the one below. They let the goblin go. Next up, the crypts: eight skeleton are found and blasted to ash by Halmary’s divine power; as is a zombie.

Deciding that lowly goblins and undead are not worth the time, they head back to the caves and take a stairway down to the next level: there they are surprised by a ghoul, who is equally surprised when Halmary turns undead and blasts the ghoul to dust. They find treasure hidden in a cleft in the rock, loot it, and carry on through the cave…

End of Session

Kills: 11 giant rats, 3 giant ferrets, 8 skeletons, 1 zombie, 1 ghoul; also KO’d a goblin.

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Quest Completed!
Session 152

28th Planting, 594 CY

Before heading in to Derelion, Halmary communes with his goddess and asks three questions: (1) is the elf king alive? No. (2) Is he in the city? Yes. (3) Is the scroll that was meant to close the portal on his body? Yes.

With the goal of locating the lost scroll and to then close the portal, the Heroes head into the ruins of the elven city at what they expect is around mid-morning, but the ever present Shadows make it impossible to tell day from night. As they make their way down the weed-choked paths towards where they know the Portal lies, they see ruin all around them: trees rotten and misshapen, soil turned to ash, once beautifully painted buildings now peeling and flaking. Within the ruins the remnants of elves, mere Shadows of their past lives, writhe and scuttle in the darkness, although they leave the heroes alone as they head deeper into the city.

They follow Xellos’ sword that locates objects, and after a couple of hours searching he feels a tug in the direction of the scroll: which lies right where the portal is. The Ruinguard protects himself with a Protection from Evil and Halmary blesses them as they approach; the cleric then blocks the portal with a scroll of Forbiddance, preventing any more Shadows from coming out. Sidni scouts ahead, as the area of withered tree-houses is oddly lit; invisible_, she spies the portal: a whirlpool of darkness sucking in the light. Shadowy figures, elven knights, stand nearby, watching and guarding. They seem to sense the heroes approach and as Sidni reports back, the Shadow Knights move in to attack: and step right into Sidni’s lightning bolt_ as she lines them up and fires off her shield. Then battle is joined!

Calibos strides into the midst of the Shadows and slays one that was badly injured by the bolt. Then, all around them, lesser Shadows manifest and move in to attack. One strikes Sidni and weakens her; another grabs Ungrid’s arm, draining his strength as its cold touch bites into his flesh. Xellos retaliates by fireballing a group of Shadows, destroying several Shadows and one of the Knights. Halmary activates his giant strength shield and joins the fight. As Ungrid hastes himself and starts to wreck havoc around him, Calibos steps up and dispatches another Shadow, as does Sidni, and Ungrid too: the dwarf follows this with a war cry that inspires everyone to fight that much harder, and he heads into the tree where the scroll is meant to be, followed by the others close behind. Sidni is reinvigorated as she cuts down another, joining the fight inside.

Outside, Xellos and Halmary fend off the Shadows: one falls, then another, then the way is clear and they follow the others inside: within the tree the last Shadow Knights are cut down by Ungrid, who also badly wounds the Shadow King (actually the remains of the elf king), leaving it open for Xellos to fly in and deliver the final blow.

They find the scroll on the dead king and Xellos immediately casts the_ reverse gate_, and the portal is sealed and dispelled by a soft pop and a sudden lifting of tension. The shadows already seem less.

In the tree they find the treasure of the Shadow Dragon and take the time to loot it.

Then, with their quest complete and the enemy defeated, they head back to Hochoch to rest and decide their next plan of action.

End of Session

Kills: 10 Shadows, 4 Shadow Knights, 1 Shadow King, 1 Portal of Shadow.

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Deeper into Darkness
Session 151

24th Planting, 594 CY

They Heroes travel on through the Dim Forest, occasionally losing the path in the enveloping darkness. The day passes without encountering anything, although during the night faint screams can be heard coming from deeper in the forest. Sidni suffers from night terrors and has a restless, sleepless night. In the morning they continue on, the darkness sapping their strength and will. They arrive at Hocholve around dusk, the abandoned town that the remnants of the forest elves took as their home while the Heroes dealt with the dragon and the portal. The place is a ghost town, the buildings falling apart, the ground dry and grass and trees withered. They approach some dark buildings after hearing noises of movement within: as soon as they enter, Shadows of elves detach from the walls and swarm in to attack!

Xellos finds himself a target for several at once, but shakes off their cold touch and manages to slay them instead. Ungrid, Halmary and Calibos wade into the mass, Sidni stabbing from behind. The Shadows prove easy to slay. Further search of the town reveals no one living, and no sign of where anyone went. The Heroes leave town and find a sheltered spot amongst the trees to make their camp. Another night passes, their vitality slowly ebbing away; Halmary has to resort of healing magic to keep their life force intact.

On the fourth day the continue following the path towards Derelion, to see what they can do with the portal. More screams are heard in the morning, and as dusk falls Sidni– scouting ahead invisible_– spots a pair of Shadow Giants (shadowy hill giant figures) heading in their direction. Halmary activates his Giant Strength_ shield and Ungrid hastes himself. The Shadow Giants walk into their midst, and one is slain immediately as everyone piles on it, swords and axes, maces and spears stabbing, cutting and bludgeoning away. The second follows quickly after, barely able to raise a fist to defend itself.

Another night in the forest gives Halmary night terrors, disrupting what rest he needed to cast spells the next day. Guards are posted, and during Xellos’ shift, four strange bulbous sacs of raw flesh festooned with eyes floats into the camp, totally surprised: Sidni incinerates two using her_ lightning bolt_ shield, and Ungrid takes out the others. They relocate the camp and sleep poorly.

In the morning, tired and feeling drained, they continue onwards up the path to the lost elven city and encounter another four floating fleshy eye sacs: Sidni again blasts one with a well-placed_ lightning bolt_, then kills two more with her spear, leaving the last for Calibos to cut down. None of the party have any idea what these things are.

As dusk falls on the fifth day, they reach the outskirts of Derelion. There they make camp, and during the night they are attacked in their sleep by several Slow Shadows: two each cling to Calibos and Halmary, sapping their strength and life and slowing them down; it feels like they are still asleep, struggling to wake. Ungrid, on guard, calls out the alarm, and finds himself kicking Sidni awake, dragging Shadows off Calibos and killing them. Xellos slays one and helps Halmary by pelting the ones on the cleric with magic missiles. The Shadows are soon destroyed, and for once the rest of the night passes without trouble or terrors, and in the morning everyone is refreshed and their vitality restored with more divine healing.

Standing before them: Derelion.

End of Session

Kills: 7 Shadows, 2 Shadow Giants, 7 Slow Shadow, 8 Bulbous Flash Sacs.

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Gathering of Shadows
Session 150

As the behemoth rages, the party at first decide to withdraw; but then Ungrid hurls his hammer at it, and Xellos fails to charm monster, and the massive creature’s attention is fixed on them. It tears through the stone and walls of the vault, the whirl of elemental energy ripping the rocks apart, and scouring the heroes. Undaunted, they decide to fight, unwilling to let it loose on an unsuspecting Duchy.

Sidni heads off to remove the Seals from their plinths: she topples two of them and then heads back to see if it had any effect. Meanwhile, Halmary flame strikes it, with no effect, and Xellos tries to disintegrate it, again with no effect. Calibos and Ungrid wade in to fight, ignoring the swirling aura of destruction, taking blows from the beast, but managing to eat away at it with hammer and sword. Calibos quaffs a potion of giant strength, but has to back off to heal himself, leaving Ungrid to batter it down: fortunately, the behemoth keeps missing, stomping on the ground and punching the air, the heroes narrowly skipping and dodging, allowing them to heal and regroup, and attack again, and again, and again. Sidni comes back in time to loose a few magic arrows, and the monster starts to fall apart. It manages to stomp on the dwarf, but he rolls out of the way to be healed by Halmary, leaving it to Calibos to deliver the killing blow!

The behemoth falls apart, destroyed.

They search the vault, loot the dark elves, but find nothing that might be a war machine, no hidden chambers, and nothing much to loot. Unsure whether that was the war machine or not, unsure as to whether the Duke or Malachi had set them up, or if it was simply a lack of understanding about how to deal with it, and wondering what the dark elves were doing there, the heroes rest for the night and decide to head off to the Dim Forest rather than return to the duke; thinking that whatever is going on, maybe the portal and the Shadow Dragon have something to do with it.

They head to the forest via Hochoch, and find the forest cloaked in shadows and darkness so thick that their lights can barely illuminate more than a dozen feet. They follow the road, heading towards Hocholve, where the elves relocated to after losing their city. It has been two years since they were asked to seal the portal in Derelion, and the consequences of their inaction is plain to see (or not see, since the dark limits their vision).

No sooner have they embarked on their journey, they encounter none other than the Shadow Dragon itself: out hunting it decides to attack, and with its deadly breath weapon manages to fell the cleric and injure others; unfortunately, it is badly wounded in return, and before it can fly away to safety, Sidni and Calibos cut it down, slaying the mighty dragon! Halmary, it turns out, was merely knocked out, and recovers quickly.

They continue on, camping for the night, and around midday of the following day they find that they have lost their way after taking a detour around a fallen tree. As they try to decide which way to go, a trio of Shadows reach out of the darkness and attack, but are swiftly defeated. They carry on, and as night falls (or as best as they can tell), they find the road again and make camp.

End of Session

Kills: 1 behemoth [30 HD], 1 Shadow Dragon [14 HD], 3 Shadows.

KO’d: Halmary (just knocked out).

Current Date: 24th Planting, 594 CY.

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Vault of the War Machine
Session 149

18th Planting, 594 CY (low summer)

The Heroes arrive at the secluded gully mid-morning under a heavy squall. They find a stone door, marked with symbols of the elements. Calibos puts his back into it and manages to lift the door: beyond lies a short corridor, the ceiling engraved with symbols for the element of air; the floor covered in symbols for the element of water; and the walls bearing the symbols for fire and earth. Opposite, another door, again marked with the four elemental signs. Expecting it to be warded, Halmary prays to find traps and the walls, floor and ceiling glow in response. The Heroes suspect that they have to use the Seals to enter, and Calibos touches the Seal of Water against the floor, which vanishes to be replaced with a 10’ deep pool of pure water. Unfortunately he also drops the Seal, and it sinks to the bottom. Xellos, flying, touches the other Seals against their respective symbols but all that happens is that when he touches the Seal of Air against the ceiling, a gust of wind nearly blows him down into the water.

Halmary and Sidni use the cleric’s net and ladder to make a crude fishing-net contraption and hook the Seal from the water. The floor returns when there is nothing there, but touching it with a foot makes the floor disappear again. Calibos tries the Seal of the Earth: the floor disappears, he holds on to the Seal, but then a freak wave grapples him and drags him underwater: a water elemental tries, unsuccessfully, to drown him. He retrieves the Seal and climbs out using Halmary’s ladder, after Xellos single-handedly slays it.

They deduce that the Seals have nothing to do with the trapped corridor, and instead fly over the water, open the other door and enter a hallway with passages to either side and another door opposite. They shore the front door up using branches, light a lantern, and with an invisible Sidni leading the way, they head north [right on the map] and come to a chamber with two passages: one guarded by an air elemental, the other by a water elemental; both quite large. Calibos tries to just walk past them, but they are having none of that nonsense and attack… by running into each other and merging, forming a hybrid blizzard elemental!

The Blizzard Elemental is quickly surrounded: Calibos uses his shield to enlarge himself, Halmary uses his shield to grant himself short-lived giant strength, Xellos pelts it with fiery magic missiles, and Sidni and Ungrid just wade into it with spear stabbing and hammer swinging. It manages to wound Calibos, who has to back off to heal himself, but the others gang up on it and Ungrid delivers the killing blow. The whirlwind fades away. The two passages each lead to a smaller chamber, pedestals of gemstones resting within; each just the size to hold one of the Seals. They place the Seal of Air and Water on the correct plinths, which glow, and somewhere inside the vault the sound of chains breaking can be heard.

Down the south corridor they head, following a twisting corridor to another chamber, this one guarded by a fire and earth elementals. Halmary blesses them, and bestows_ resist fire_ on Sidni, while Xellos increases his necromantic potency; then Ungrid starts it all off by hurling his hammer at the elementals: they too merge, but a swing of Xellos’ magic axe Hewer dismembers and separates them: each is then quickly destroyed, falling to Ungrid and Halmary. Two more chambers, two more Seals placed. More chains break. The vault shudders.

The Heroes hurry back to the first hall: they lift the door, and are surprised to find a trio of dark elves and spiders waiting for them. Halmary takes two of them out before they have a chance to do much more than swing a sword; the other falls to Xellos’ axe, and he follows that with a couple of cleaving blows that take out a couple of spiders. The third and last spider, however, manages to bite Sidni: she falls to the floor, poisoned! Xellos kills the spider. Calibos chugs a potion to neutralise poison and Sidni gets back up, unharmed.

Another doorway is lifted free: inside is a huge domed chamber, barriers of elemental energy dominating the centre. They are breaking down, fading away. Chains lie broken and dissolving around the chamber.

The Heroes gather. The final barrier disappears…

…and a 120’ tall behemoth comprised of the four elements stands up: for 20’ all around it, fire and wind, bits of rock and ice, swirl and tear up the ground. It reaches up to the ceiling and begins to tear its way out; daylight, rain, and the forest are revealed. The Heroes try calling to it, telling it to stop, that is has to obey them, wondering (hoping?) that this is the War Machine they came to get for the Duke, and not just some terrible monster they’ve unleashed on an unsuspecting realm.

Then Sidni blasts it with a lightning bolt and Ungrid hurls his hammer: both hit, barely scratching it; but they catch its attention and it looks down at their small bodies and stomps towards them. Xellos quickly hastes everyone, just before it pummels Halmary and Calibos, and everyone suffers as the behemoth’s area of destruction envelops them…

End of Session

Kills: 1 Blizzard Element, 1 Fire Element, 1 Earth Element.

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Massacre
Session 148

The sitting, feasting nobles scream and cry out as the men-at-arms skewer them with spears and chop them up with their swords.

Our Heroes leap into battle, placing themselves between the would-be assassins and the Duke. Xellos and Sidni dimension door into the banqueting hall, right on top of the Duke and immediately start slaying the assassins. Halmary drops a flame strike on the baron who made the toast, incinerating the fellow, while Ungrid and Calibos grab the nearest potential weapons (a carving knife) and hack away at the enemy; Ungrid hastes himself too, since he still wears his magic ring. Halmary clobbers another with a chair, and grabs the_ bag of holding_ lobbed at their feet by Sidni; the cleric draws forth his mace, as the others pile into the assassins and arm themselves with the swords of the fallen men: or are they men? Every time one of the men-at-arms is slain they fall to the floor, shattering like glass; just like the lords that accosted them in the cavern of fire.

The men-at-arms manage to slay all but one of the sated drunken lords and ladies, before the Heroes out the assassins to the sword. None are spared, but the Duke, Malachi and the High Priest of Pelor survive.

Loyal guards finally break down the barred doors and are tasked with clearing up the mess while the Duke, Malachi and the Heroes retire to the Duke’s study. There he thanks the Heroes for saving their lives, and they decide to now tell him all about the attack after they retrieved the Seal of Fire. The Duke believes that some of his lords are planning a coup, and that the assassins are part of that. There are rumours that some of these lords went hunting in the Dim Forest, which is now blockaded and thick with shadows. They suspect that the Shadow Dragon and the Portal that ripped open in the elven city might be responsible; no doubt a consequence of the Heroes not wanting to deal with that when the elves asked for help nearly two years ago. It seems there are consequences to inaction.

Which is why the Duke and Malachi believe securing the Vault of the War Machine is vital, in case anyone else gets their hands on what is inside. The Heroes at first want to investigate the Shadows of the forest, but decide to at least take a look at the vault, as it lies on the way to the forest in any case. The Duke arranges for horses and provisions, secures a few potions and spells to recharge Xellos’ ring, and bids them farewell.

Before they leave, Halmary restores life & limb to repair Sidni’s leg, but the restoration drains her -10% XP until next level and she requires bed rest. While she recuperates, Halmary brews up some potions of healing, and Xellos fetches the Seals from their hiding places. When everyone is ready, they off to the Oyt Wood, arriving at a seclude valley in the midst of a downpour and approach the Vault of the War Machine.

End of Session

Kills: 20 men-at-arms, 1 baron.

Date of Arrival at Vault: 18th of Planting, 594 CY.

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Festival Time
Session 147

Camping in the mountains, the party interrogate their captive (Baron Hector of Westown) and he tells them that he was merely following the Marquis’ orders and had no idea that he was an evil man; he did, however, think that they were considering staging a coup and removing the Duke from power, but he wasn’t certain. He claimed to have no idea why the Marquis and the Count shattered when killed. They keep him tied and head back to Pest’s Crossing, throwing him in jail until they can investigate themselves. Wary of the Duke and Malachi, Halmary communes with his goddess and believes that the Duke is not involved in the conspiracy and that Malachi may be either a bad guy, or someone is manipulating both of them. With only one way to be sure they decide to head off to Gorna to talk to the Duke. As luck would have it, while they are home, a message is passed on: the Duke is holding a banquet for the noble Lords and Ladies of Geoff, mid-way through the upcoming festival of Growfest. The heroes are naturally invited.

They lock three of the Seals away in Calibos’ vault, and Xellos takes the Seal of Fire and buries it under the earth somewhere close. Then they all travel to the capital, suffering through a rainstorm on their way, an arriving the night before the week-long festivities of Growfest. They decide to split up and arrive in small groups: Halmary and Xellos disguise themselves using magic and enter the city as weary travellers, Sidni following along invisible, while Ungrid and Calibos enter the city as themselves and are welcomed heartily by the men on duty. They take separate rooms at the same inn, and in the morning spend the day collecting rumours and gossip.

Ungrid and Calibos go to see the Duke, and are welcomed in by him and Malachi. The meeting goes well and they leave feeling that all appears well. They give Malachi the false Seal, but he tells them to keep it. The Duke wants them to complete the quest, by taking the Seals to the vault of the hidden war machines, but not until after the banquet. They return to the others, who have learnt that the Duke has increased taxes to 50% to support the building of the great walls (a couple of miles long now); that the Dim Forest has been declared out-of-bounds as Shadows have darkened the forest and all contact has been lost with the elves. Soldiers are watching the roads, not allowing anyone in or out. There are also rumours of nobles hunting shadow-creatures inside the forest.

The following day the heroes take long walks through the city, judging the mood of the people. They seem tired and a few complain about the taxes and labour of the wall, but the festivities have helped them to blow off some steam. A mob threatens to break into violence when the heroes pass by, spurred on by a stranger who quickly disappears when Calibos manages to calm the crowd down and send them home.

On the third day the heroes head off to the banquet. Halmary, Calibos and Ungrid leave their weapons and armour behind, dress as nicely as they can, and join the other nobles at a dusk-to-dawn feast, with music and song. Xellos and Sidni remain outside, invisible, and flying and watching the feast from the air, peering through the loop holes. Guards line the walls inside, keeping an eye out for trouble.

The banquet begins well enough, and people are eating and drinking and enjoying themselves. Then one of the Barons, Morris, raises a toast to the Duke, starting friendly enough and then turning insulting to not only the Duke but the heroes too. He finishes the toast with "…and may the gods have mercy on his soul. Death to the Duke!’

At which point the guards lining the walls of the hall charge at the feasters and attack!

One guard makes straight for the Duke, but Malachi dives in front of him and takes a spear to the chest, falling down and taking the Duke with him.

Then the guards reach the banquet tables and the slaughter begins!

End of Session

Kills: None, but a mob was calmed down.

Level-Up: from the XP of last session, Calibos is now 10th level.

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Seal of Fire
Session 146

The hydra surges forth out of the lava, following the party into the corridor as they retreat. Xellos manages to bag the fourth segment, Calibos enlarges himself and Halmary blesses them as the hydra moves in to attack. Sidni attacks it from behind, and Ungrid joins the paladin and cleric in a frontal assault: under their combined might, the poor beast is slain within moments, before it really got a chance to bite anyone.

The party fit the four segments around the fiery sphere in the other room, triggering an explosion of light and fire: the Seal of Fire is re-formed, but Ungrid and Halmary also find themselves blinded by the flash. Fortunately, a prayer to his goddess, and Halmary restores their sight with ease. They wrap the Seal up in hydra skin, make a stretcher for it, and head off back to the caverns above. Xellos is sent back to collect the diamonds they found, and everyone makes their way into the temple.

Expecting trouble– paranoid, but it often turns out justified– Sidni nips outside, invisible, and finds them twenty-odd guards and a few Lords are waiting for them, all recognised as members of the Dukes court: they don’t trust these newcomers, even when one of them shouts out to them, saying that they have come to help. Their distrust is reinforced as the guards advance. Then, two undead fire giants stumble into the temple and attack; one is invisible to begin with, but quickly fades into sight as it fails to clobber Calibos from behind. Halmary tries and fails to turn them, leaving Calibos, Ungrid to battle them; the cleric joins in, as Ungrid hastes himself. Meanwhile, Sidni is still outside, watching: she is detected by one of the lords, who pelts her with magic missiles, prompting Xellos to stick his head out and lob a fireball at them: a couple of guards are incinerated, the spell-casting lord and another are badly burned. That mage retaliates by erecting a wall of fire across the temple entrance.

Meanwhile, back inside, the two giant zombies are dispatched and the heroes inside quickly use some healing magic and then brace the wall of fire by leaping through it. Ungrid goes first, rolling forward and coming up with grontdrengi ready to hurl: the deadly hammer flies through the air, sweeping across the enemy, slaying three guards before they even realise what is going on, then smashing the mage to the floor, killing him, and rebounding off a marquis before returning to the dwarf’s hand. Sidni gets her own back by unleashing a lightning bolt, slaying a couple of more soldiers, wounding the captain of those men. They notice that the mage, and the lords that fall afterwards, all shatter like glass as they die; not so the guards, who simply die.

The marquis charges Sidni and they duel: the fight goes badly for Sidni, but she is saved as Calibos comes over to help, slaying the lord, after him and Ungrid cut and bash their way through another lord. One lord remains, and is held by Halmary, Xellos takes out several guards with fiery magic missiles, and the others are mopped up by Ungrid’s hammer and Calibos’ sword.

They gag and bind their captive (Baron Hector) and head off to find shelter in the hills. They camp for the rest of the day and night, tending to their wounds, and pondering what to do next.

End of Session

Kills: 1 hydra, 2 fire giant zombies, 20 guards, 3 lords.

Level-Up: Calibos is now level 10.

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The Vault of Fire
Session 145

Leaving the two fire giant zombies behind (as they are too big to squeeze past the door) the heroes pass through the secret door into a tunnel with a stream of lava cutting across it. On the other side is a pit. Xellos flies over, and from the lava a molten fire elemental oozes forth: it strikes Calibos, who strikes it back in turn– his sword of vengeance is pretty powerful– while Ungrid hastes himself and Halmary summons his spiritual weapon. Xellos and Ungrid attack, joined by Sidni, but before Halmary can even use his hammer, the dwarf delivers the killing blow and the elemental plops back into the lave, defeated.

Between them, Halmary and Calibos manhandle the lid of the ornate coffin and position it over the lava, and everyone crosses the crude bridge. On the other side they use Halmary’s ever-useful rope ladder and descend the pit, entering a cavern with more lava flowing under a bridge, and a wall of hardened brick and stone on the other side, an obsidian door visible in the dim glow of lava. Across the bridge they go, finding the door wizard locked. Ungrid uses his other hammer, smashing open the door with a mighty blow: some spell goes off, and from the lava a much larger fire elemental rises up and charges into battle! This, despite being larger and tougher and meaner, lasts no longer than the other one did. In quick succession everyone attacks it, diminishing it bit-by-bit, and Xellos ends its life. It dissipates and the heroes enter the vault. Inside they find an altar with a sculpture of the Seal, valuable enough to bag, another wizard locked door, and a cavern dominated by more lava with stone buildings in side caves, and a fourth on an island in the middle of a lake of lava. The land buildings all have wizard locked doors as well, and with the spell-casters low on magic and unable to dispel them all, they retreat back to the catacombs, rest for a few hours, and head back down after some healing, sleeping, and eating.

The inside door is dispelled by Halmary, and inside is a flaming ball of fire: they suspect a trap, and leave it for now. Outside they head to the first of the stone huts, bypassing the door to find a quarter of an obsidian sphere, which sits on a bed of coals. Halmary and Ungrid enter, grab the segment, and a fireball explodes, singeing them. Halmary tends to their wounds and they bag the segment. They head to another hut, Ungrid smashing open the door with his knocking hammer: inside is another sphere, on obsidian shards. Suspecting that it too may cause an explosion when removed, they loop rope around it and pull it free: lightning strikes, but no one is inside. They bag that one and move to the third: Xellos dispels the lock, inside is a third segment, on a bed of ashes. Again they loop rope around it, pulling it free. Three ashen wraiths materialise and attack: Xellos slays one easily, and Halmary turns the others, allowing Calibos to step in and send them to their final deaths.

One more segment remains, no doubt in the hut on the island. Xellos flies over, knocks open the door and sees the fourth segment sitting on a bed of diamonds. He loops rope around it, turns himself invisible and pulls: the segment topples off, and a deep bell tolls loudly. The lava lake begins to bubble and something huge rises from the molten rock: a ten-headed hydra!

End of Session

Kills: 2 fire elementals, 3 ash wraiths.

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The Temple of Fire
Session 144

Behind the walls of fog the giants gather, while Calibos and Ungrid retreat to join the others at the bottleneck by the cave mouth. The paladin gets knocked by a boulder as he withdraws, but it is a mild irritation to the tough fighter. The leader of the giants shouts for them to surrender, and Ungrid replies by hurling grontdrengi at a giant poking his head around the fog. As soon as everyone is back together, Xellos throws up an illusion of more fog and Halmary creates a globe of darkness, blocking the view of the cavern from both sides. Beyond it the giants can be heard gathering, their hell hound pets getting closer. The leader again shouts for them to surrender, but the heroes don’t bother replying.

Sidni quaffs down a potion of growth, doubling her size and strength and she drags one of the dead giants out of the zone of silence so that Halmary can animate it. Xellos throws up a_ wall of ice_ just behind the darkness, hoping that anyone passing through it will walk straight into the ice barrier. Two hell hounds do exactly that, smashing throw the ice, sliding to a stop in front of the heroes’ shield wall: Ungrid and Xellos take them out before the hounds can get their bearings.

Seconds stretch into minutes, and the heroes get the impression that the giants are stalling. Xellos thinks that maybe there are giants sent to flank them, and is proven right as a group of giants– who left by a tunnel to the surface and circled round– charge at their rear: at the same time, alerted by the war cries of the giants, the remaining hell hounds are sent in, the other giants advancing as their priest cancels the darkness with a light spell; battle is joined.

The battle is decidedly one-sided: a hell hound falls to Calibos’ sword as the beasts hurls out of the dark; it doesn’t even get a chance to flame the paladin. The other hound does burn Sidni, but she just stabs it back, leaving it open for Calibos to cleave it in two. Ungrid proves himself the most capable of dwarven giant-slayers and slays a giant as it charges into the battle. He then takes out another, then a third in quick succession. Halmary proves he is more than just a cleric as he takes out one too, albeit with the help of his pet zombie. Sidni blasts a pair of giants with her lightning bolt shield, then charges it and stabs one through the heart, spinning around and striking the other, leaving that one for Calibos to finish off.

Ungrid charges in: another giant falls to his giant-slaying hammer; Calibos takes out a second, leaving the path open to the giants’ leader and priest. That priest blesses his allies, but then an invisible Xellos cleaves it from behind, killing the giant. Calibos and Ungrid charge the chief, the last giant now standing, and the paladin badly wounds the giant, leaving Ungrid the honour of the killing blow!

With the enemy slain, the heroes check that there are no more lurking in the shadows, leaving the various buildings for later, and then head straight for the temple. Inside are old statues, an altar, steps leading below. On the altar is a warm sphere of semi-molten lava, which they– at first– believe to be the Seal of Fire. They wrap it up in wet cloth, bag it, and after a brief discussion head down the steps, looking for loot. Stone sarcophagi and caskets lie below, each looted in turn: they hold the skeletal remains of giants, fire opals in their eye sockets. The caskets are heavy obsidian, valuable too, so they too are looted. One last coffin is more ornate and inside is another skeleton, more gems, along with a ring, a cloak and a rod that is so large that for the heroes it is more of a staff. Calibos discovers a false bottom to it, opens it to find a lever and pulls it.

In the wall a secret door slides open. Beyond that, a passage, a stream of lava cutting across it, and a pit at the far end going deeper below the earth…

End of Session

Kills: 10 fire giants, 1 fire giant priest, 4 hell hounds.

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