The Beastmasters

Beastmasters #14 Shocking Developments

Things that happened:

Defeated last 3 giants, met Harshnag, told that Luisa is the key

Returned to Bryn Shander, turned in last of the giant heads, got reward, picked up Sirac, Artus Cimber's son.

Traveled to Fireshear, talked to Dasharra, received 3 days of training in riding griffons, noticed that one of the men in her employ had a flying snake tattoo (symbol of the Zhentarim)

followed him after leaving the Singing Manticore, saw him duck into an alley, Aera snuck up behind him and surprised him, he jumped a pulled an artificer's firearm from underneath his jacket, cliffhanger!

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Beastmasters #13 On the Hunt

The remorhaz burst out of the ground beneath the campfire, hurling coals around the adventurers as they scrambled to grab their weapons.  They attacked the centipede like creature, it's super heated blood burning them as they wounded it.  As the creature lunged at Aera, a second remorhaz reared its head behind the party.  The party came to the bird's aid, killing the first insectoid monster, then surrounding and dispatching the second one.  After wiping off the burning blood, the adventurers went back to bed.  Stark stayed awake for an extra hour or two, working on finishing his mechanical bear, Bandit.

Continuing their journey through the mountain pass, Mal scanned the sky for any dragons on the move, as Bran tried to use his nature sense to detect any giants in the area, and sensed a large group of giants to the rest.  Because of their numbers, the group decided that these weren't the frost giants that they were hunting, and they continued up the pass.  

As they traveled, they noticed the fresh snow atop the peaks of the Spine of the World and could tell that the pass would be closed for the winter over the next few weeks.  After a full day's travel, the group reached Hundlestone a few hours after dusk.

The group ducked down to enter the gnome and dwarven sized waystation and began to rest and relax for the evening.  Bran approached two gnomes and asked where he could find a gnome named Thwip.  The two gnomes laughed heartily, gave him directions, and told the ranger to "prepare to be surprised".  Bran left by himself to find Thwip.

Meanwhile, Stark, having a nice dry clean area to work, pulled out several of Bandit's appendages and begins to put the final touches on his construct.  

Bran followed the directions given to him by the gnomes.  Getting close, the ranger heard the melodious tones of chimes in the air.  As he rounded the corner of a building, Bran saw small twelve foot tall windmill sitting in a partially frozen field.  The blades of the windmill had hundreds of pieces of metal of various sizes dangling from them, jingling quietly as the blades spun slowly past.  Some of the larger pieces of metal showed signs of burn marks or evidence of lightning strikes.  A small circular door appeared to be the only entryway.

Bran approached and knocked on the door, and heard a shout of "Who's there?" come from inside the windmill.  Bran yelled back "a friend" and after a pause could hear various locks and chains being unfastened.  The door pulled back and an bald, wrinkly and aged gnome appeared, asking "Did Beldora send you?"  Bran nodded, and the gnome introduced himself as Thwip Ironbottom and then ushered him inside.  The inside of the windmill was a workshop, filled with clocks and knick knacks and all manner of gears and pieces of metal. 

After asking Bran about their giant slaying activities, Thwip gave the ranger a small mechanical dog that had a wind-up key sticking out of its back.  The tinkerer twisted the key, and handed it over.  The construct began yipping and bouncing around Bran's feet, following him.  

Finally settling down, the gnome told Bran about the Harpers, and asked if he wanted to join.  Bran said yes, and Thwip said that he should visit a wizard named Krowen Valharrow at Moongleam Tower in the town of Everlund.  As Bran was getting ready to leave, a loud clap of thunder shook the small windmill.  Thwip asked Bran to hand him a bucket of water, and then the two hurried outside.  Several pieces of metal that were bolted to the blades of the windmill were glowing and smouldering and starting to set the wooden frame alight.  The gnome tossed the water onto the glowing sections, squelching the hot fragments with a hiss.

Bran looked up, seeing not a cloud in the night sky and asked "what was that?"  

The gnome shrugged.  "I think I might have angered somebody. I'm not entirely sure."  Wishing the ranger well, Thwip headed back inside, and Bran returned to the waystation, the metal dog bouncing along behind him the entire way.

In the waystation, Stark realized that he had made a mistake in assembling his bear construct and will have to take the head off in order to get him outside.  Curious about Bran's toy dog, Stark examined it and discovered that it was non-magical, made of copper and tin, and could be given basic instructions.

In the morning, the group discussed where to go next.  After leaving the waystation, Stark finished putting the head on his bear construct and scared two gnome children in the process.  Before leaving Hundlestone, the group returned to Thwip's windmill to ask him about the Weevil.  Thwip told them that he didn't know anything and that Harpers usually operated in cells, so if Beldora didn't know anything, he wouldn't know anything.

Turin considered searching for "unsavory" characters in Hundlestone to see if they knew anything about the Weevil.  Aera knew of an inn and tavern in town called The Goblin's Groin that might suit their needs.

Approaching the Goblin's Groin, the adventurers noticed the tavern's sign hanging above the door depicted a gnome wearing oversized boots trodding on the groin of a goblin lying prone on the floor.  The goblin had a cartoonish expression of agonizing pain and dismay.  Turin walked inside, holding and jingling a pouchful of coins in his hand.  Stark walked around to the back door of the tavern, having Bandit sit down in front of the door.

It was morning so the tavern was near empty, with only a gnomish barkeep cleaning glasses and a table with a dwarf and a halfling sitting at a corner table.  Turin and Mal approached the barkeep and asked him if he knew anything about the Weevil.  After finding out nothing more than they already knew, Turin approached the pair at the table in the corner while Mal stared down the barkeep.  

The halfling was muscular and was armed with a pair of twin short swords while the dwarf wore plate armor that bore the insignia of the town of Ironmaster.  Turin confronted the pair which prompted the dwarven warrior to say "I overheard talk of a criminal.  I like this town.  I don't wish to see common petty criminals here."

At the back of the tavern, a dwarven barmaid opened to door and was startled by the metallic Bandit, spilling slop out of a bucket.  As the food scraps hit the ground, several dogs ran up the alleyway, scarfing up the scraps hungrily.  

Turin says that they are not criminals and produced the paperwork proving that they are deputized lawmen in Icewind Dale.  The dwarf read the letter and told Turin to watch themselves.  The dwarf and the halfling stood up and exited.  Mal and Turin tried to shake the barkeep down more more information but didn't learn anything.  Aera tried to send a message to the barkeep in thieves' cant, but he didn't notice the subtle hand signals.

Outside the Goblin's Groin, the group decided to head to Ironmaster.  On the first day of travel along the well kept trail to the dwarven city, the adventurers see a single cloud floating in weird directions against the wind.  Bran used his primal awareness and detected a single giant in the direction of the cloud.  After a few minutes, the cloud zipped upwards into a larger natural cloud above and disappeared.  The party breathed a sigh of relief and continued their journey.

The group decided to push through the evening and came across a wagon guarded by several armed dwarves transporting ore to Fireshear.  Bran spoke to the commander of the guards, asking him if he knew of the Brighthelm clan from Ironmaster.  The guard told them to approach one of the menhirs that marked the borders of Ironmaster and wait for a patrol to meet them there.

After leaving the wagon train, the party spied the arc of menhirs that mark the boundries of the dwarves' territory. They did not have to wait long as a mounted patrol approached and encircled them.  The dwarves asked them their business, and Bran told them that they were sent here by Aubrek Brighthelm.  One of the guards took off toward the west, while the others watched the party warily.  An hour later, a dwarf named Gwert Brighthelm rode up. Bran told him that Aubrek had sent them to ask her family for reinforcements in Bryn Shander.  Gwert gave each of the adventurers a 100 gp gem as a thank you.  Bran warned Gwert about the Weevil, but the dwarf did not know anything about the criminal.  Gwert also mentioned to the party that there was a woman named Dasharra Keldabar who lived in Fireshear who could train people in riding griffons.

Gwert and the patrol left the party, allowing them to rest if they wished on the outskirts of Ironmaster.  Instead, the group decided to return immediately despite their riding horses being exhausted. 

Close to midnight, three frost giants ambushed the weary party, knocking Stark unconscious and nearly destroying Bandit.  After felling one of the giants, Apa cast the spell Scorching Ray, which backfired, sending a puff of poison gas around Stark's construct bear, to no effect.  After the second giant fell, another burst of Apa's wild magic summoned a unicorn to the battle just as Bran buried an arrow into the forehead of the last giant.  The unicorn touched its horn to Stark, healing him.  Nodding to Turin, the unicorn vanished.

Mal beheaded the three giants and lashed them to the horses, setting up camp off of the road.  As the party rested, Bran sees a group of riders, riding close by.  Bran noticed that two of them were the dwarf and the halfling from the Goblin's Groin.  The dwarf saw the carnage from the battle on the road and wheeled his horse around to meet the party at their camp.  Introducing himself as Bannon, he promised to notify the dwarves at Ironmaster of the frost giants in the area, and left the party to their own devices. 

As they finished their rest, Stark remained awake to repair Bandit's broken body.  Bran communed with nature to discover the last three giants were located in the hills to the north, and the party made plans to hunt down the last of the giants who attacked Bryn Shander.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Beastmasters #12 Giant Hunting
Eleasis 15-16, DR 1492

The six adventurers recovered from the battle with Drufi and her frost giant soldiers at Kelvin's Comfort, resting in the large common room.  Mal gave a large sum of coin to Ogden Flamebeard to close up for the night so that the party could rest peacefully.  The next morning, the group discussed plans for tracking down the eight remaining frost giants who had quit the battlefield and fled to the west.  As they were preparing to leave, a loud knocking could be heard coming from the front door of the tavern.

Augrek's voice echoed up the stairs as she asked to see the giant slayers.  Ogden let her in and ushered her up to the common room.  The dwarven deputy appeared, manhandling six large parcels into the chamber. After dropping the packages onto the floor, she passed them out, giving each party member one.  Augrek told them as they opened the boxes that Markham had sent them yeti skin coats with scrimshaw buttons to help keep them warm in the icy northern winds.  "One more thing," the dwarf said, producing six star shaped badges that marked each one of them as a deputized agent of Sheriff Southwell.  

Grabbing their horses from the stables, the party left Bryn Shander by the southwest gate and began to search for the frost giant's footprints in the tundra.  Between Bran and Turin, the two rangers were able to quickly find a single giant's trail, with the pawprints of a winter wolf alongside.  Ranging left and right from the trail, the rangers realized that the giants had spread out over hundreds of yards, moving in parallel to the west.

After following the tracks for most of the day, the party discovered a large icy mound resting on top of the tundra.  As they approached, they noticed a large blue foot sticking out of the mound of ice and snow.  Circling around, the party saw the remains of a dead frost giant, his shoulder and neck ripped to shreds.  Looking closer, it appeared as if a sudden snow storm had covered the body of the giant.  Turin looked around and found the tracks of other giants who had converged on the dead giant, then scattered in all directions.

Malagoth began hacking the ice off of the dead giant, finding the creature's sack and also noticing that the giant's legs were broken.  The rangers zeroed in on a single giant's trail that continued toward the west.  The Beastmasters followed and discovered that the giant turned to the north, headed toward the town of Targos.  They continued to follow the trail as night began to settle across the dale.  Not wishing to camp in the open in the icy winds, the adventurers forged ahead.

After several minutes of trudging across the cold ground, the party could hear several creatures running at them full bore. Five yeti leapt out of the darkness at them.  The rangers fired arrows as Apa launched a fireball at two of them, engulfing them in flame. Smoke launched himself at one of the white furred creatures, knocking it to the ground.  Aera, taking advantage of the rangers attacks, pierced one of the yeti with his rapier.  Stark rushed in, wielding his great axe, but his attack missed wide.  Aera became paralyzed, falling victim to the yeti's mesmerizing stare.  Mal pushed the attack, lopping the head off of one of the yeti.

Stark continued attacking with his great axe, finally landing a blow, followed up by Crow, who latched his powerful jaws around the throat of the attacker, killing it.  Apa, having moved back from rushing yeti, cast three scorching rays against the creature next to Stark.  Arcane energies pulsed, causing the fiery rays to flare and singe the dragonborn.  Aera and Mal rushed the last remaining yeti, grieviously wounded it, but not quite putting it down. Stark dropped his great axe, and pulled out Mark II, firing once into the yeti's chest, killing it.

The party continued to follow the giant's tracks and soon the lights of the village of Targos could be seen at the southern edge of a large lake ahead of them.  The sky was cloudless, and a myriad of stars reflected off of its cold surface.  As they approached Targos, the rangers noticed that the tracks of the giant veered to the north, skirting the edge of the lake and avoiding the town.

Mal and Bran decided to ride into town to warn the guards of the giants as the rest of the party decided to rest on the gently sloping hill down to Targos.  The pair approached the wooden palisade and spoke with the town guards at the gate.  The guards told them that they hadn't seen any frost giants, but the guards found on the eastern shore of the lake giant hunks of ice that had been hollowed out.  Mal told the guards about the dead giant that they had found, and the guards told them that that was probably the "mad white dragon" Iceclaws. According to the guard's story, Iceclaws used to be ridden by a wizard in days gone by, but those who have recently sighted the dragon claim to see a skeleton mounted on the dragon's saddle.  At this news, the goliath and the ranger hurried back to the party's campsite.

1:27 (bookmark)

(List of things that happened but maybe not in the right order.)

Investigating the frost giant canoes and waking one up.  

Icedeath buzzing the party then eating their horses.

Returning to camp to see Bear Tribe Barbarians.  Most of the party held back, but Mal partied with them and discovered that they were searching the ice plains for the scoundrel who stole their princess's bridal tribal necklace.  Aera realized that she had been sold out.

The party returns to Bryn Shander. Aera confronts her guild contact about the betrayal and is told that being on the run was part of the test.

The adventurers collect Sirac (?) and head into the mountain pass back to Hundlestone and Fireshear.  They are attacked by a young rehemoraz as they are camping.

 

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Beastmasters #11 Rage of the Ranger AKA Choke on my vengeance!!
Eleasis 11, DR 1492

Beastmasters #11

North of Bryn Shander's Southeast gate, the majority of the party, along with Sir Baric Nylef of the Order of the Gauntlet, were ambushed by a Frost Giant that had broken threw the wall. The group began to attack the giant, delivering blow after blow to the frozen invader. Suddenly, the giant reached into a nearby house and pulled out a villager from the second floor shouting "GIVE US ARTUS CIMBER!" Turin then drew back his box and loosed an arrow into the eye of giant, killing it and releasing the villager from it's grasp. 

Hearing the destruction and chaos in all directions of the city, Bran suggested that they should move through the broken wall and sweep south, flanking the giants and catching them off guard. Agreeing quickly, Mal and the rest followed the ranger outside of the wall while Apa tried to swipe a bag of the giant's possessions as he followed behind. 

Meanwhile, Stark had felled one of the winter wolves that had appeared and set his sights on one of the three approaching giants, eventually killing one with a shot from Mk-II. Below Aera and Sheriff Markham fought off the remaining winter wolf. After getting her rapier stuck in the wolf's hide, the bird was finally able of kill the beast, retreating inside with the wounded sheriff. 

As the giants approached and bombarded the wall with boulders, Stark and Sirrac, the priest of the House of the Triad, moved lower to heal Markham and regroup as the towers of the wall shuddered under the impacts of the giants' assault. Just outside the gate, Bran and the rest of the group moved to flank the approaching giants when suddenly they were met with another winter wolf hiding in the snow. After Baric was able to end the wolf with a swift swing of his maul, the goliath was struck by a boulder thrown by the assaulting giants, they had been noticed. Bran and Turin moved to heal the raging barbarian only to have Turin struck by a boulder as well, knocking him unconscious. 

As Bran stabilized his fellow ranger, the goliath began attacking one of the giants while Apa and Baric supported him from behind. While her subbordinate was occupied with the group to the north, Drufi, the Frost Giant captain, moved to the wall and began attacking Stark and the rest of those in the wall.

Aera and Bran moved to assist the raging goliath along with Baric and Crow, who was struck by a swing of the giant's axe knocking him unconscious as well. After Bran and Smoke were able to knock the giant off its feet for a moment, the giant whipped around and slashed at Smoke, knocking him away, near death. The ranger watched in horror as his companion lay motionless, and with a barrage of slashes ended the giant. He then rushed to his old friend as Drufi blew 3 times on her jeweled horn and turned to face the weary fighters. Knocking Aera out cold as well, the giant captain began facing Malagoth and Bran. All of the sudden there was a thunderous crack as Stark and the remaining forces in the wall charged the remaining, including Saric the priest who with a final strike of his dart, finished off the giant shouting "LEAVE MY FATHER OUT OF THIS!" As the dust of their battle settled, those who were still standing watched as the remaining 7 giants retreated form the city moving east towards the sea. 

As Malagoth and Stark took out their anger on the corpses of the attackers, Bran and Sirac revived those who had fallen in the battle. Mal then moved to check the other two gates of the city, discovering that they had not been breached, the city survived. As the rest of the team licked their wounds and searched the giants for any sign as to what brought them here, the goliath was still seething at monsters that continue to ruin lives across the realm. He decided to mount the heads of the 3 fallen giant soldiers above each gate to the city, proof to all that came to Bryn Shander of the threat these monsters presented and a warning to any giant that decided to assault the free peoples of the North. 

Watching in horror at the goliath's gruesome actions, the rest of the team decided that they would revive Drufi to interrogate her and determine what they were here for. As the Goliath returned, Bran woke the colossal captain and demanded answers. Drufi informed them that they sought the man who held the Ring of Winter, Artus Cimber. The ring was desired by the leader of the Frost Giants, Jarl Storvald, in order to bring about a frozen apocalypse to level the realm and allow the Frost Giants to rise as the new rulers of the world. After Drufi refused to give them any information on the whereabouts of Jarl Storvald, Bran turned her over to Malagoth, who made sure to make her death a painful one. 

The wounded warriors returned to Kelvin's Comfort to rest and recuperate. After recuperating, they moved to check in with Markham and Aubrek, as well as the the town speaker, Beldora of The Harpers, Sir Baric, and most importantly Sirrac. As it turns out, Sirrac was the son of Artus Cimber, and had not seen his father in a long, long time. The party decided that before they could even think about moving anywhere else to continue their search for the holder of the Ring of Winter, they had to hunt down and eliminate the remaining giants that fled East…

To be continued…

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Beastmasters #10 Test of the Beastmasters AKA Have things gone south yet?
Eleasis 10-11, DR 1492

Beastmasters #10

Upon arriving in Bryn Shander, the team headed to the center of town to speak with Markham Southwell, the Sheriff of the town. Along the way their guide, the deputy sheriff Aubrek, pointed out an inn and shops in the marketplace where the party could outfit themselves to prepare for the looming frost giant attack. Aubrek led them to the jails beneath the town hall where they found Markham working. Mal warned Markham of the potential attack from the fearsome giants and advised him to have his men prepare to defend their home.

Mal then pulled the sheriff aside and informed him of the news from Nightstone, and the fate of his sister, Semile. Crestfallen at the news of his sister's demise, the sheriff set to preparing his troops. He turned to Goliath and asked to speak with him later about the details on what had happened to his sister. Leaving Markham and Aubrek to their work, the company decided to seek out armorers and weapon-smiths to outfit themselves for a siege.

The team began their weapons search at Blackiron Blades, a local smith shop making affordable weapons and armor as well as a purveyor of adventuring gear. As everyone was about to leave to check out the other stores in town, a strange noise started coming from around the shop, drawing the attention of the shop keeper. As the party looked around, they noticed the young sorcerer cast a spell, creating a distraction in order to allow him to steal a set of fine pocket knives from a case in the store. The group quickly moved to the next shop, chastising Apa for his reckless actions.

They made their next stop in Rendaril’s Emporium, where a couple of patrons informed Bran and the Goliath about the shoddy quality of the Blackiron weapons, regaling them with tails of the weapons failing against a horde of yetis. Leaving behind the Emporium, the party split up. Aera went off on her own on "business" while Bran, Mal and Smoke sought out a tanner to work their cragcat pelts into usable winter-ware. The rest of the group headed to Kelvin's Comfort for a drink and to rest up.

Split the Party Time – will be dispersed in player secrets probably

After a while the party regrouped at the Inn, where Mal purchased a cask of firebrandy for the group to thank them for their efforts against the giants. One by one, some of the party retired for the evening, leaving only Turin and Malagoth to speak with Markham when he arrived. The Goliath poured the weary sheriff a drink and told him what had happened in Nightstone, offering his condolences for the man's loss. As Markham took his leave, Malagoth offered his services to help man the walls in the morning to keep an eye out for giants. 

Early the next morning, Bran and Mal went to retrieve their cragcat coats while the Dragonborn made his way to the southwest gate to check on the defenses. The rest of the group recovered from their drinking while the sorcerer rummaged through his things with a strange look on his face. Not long after that, the town shuddered under the monstrous, booming voice demanding "GIVE US ARTUS CIMBER!" Everyone began sprinting to the southwest gate, directing the priest of the the House of the Triad to get the citizens to safety. 

As Stark joined Markum and Aubrek a top the wall, he watched in horror as the Frost Giant revers positioned themselves around the walls of the city. Their horror was quickly interrupted by the sound of impacts from the north and east gates of the city, followed be the shouting of guardsmen warning that more are approaching from all around. Stark and Aera decided to join Markham defending the Southwest gate against 3 Giants and their winter wolves, while the rest of them moved north to defend the other gates.

As Stark and the Giants exchanged boulders and bullets, Mal and the rest were stopped in their tracks by a Frost Giant destroying the city. The wall was already breached…

CLIFFHANGER!!!

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DGRB #9 Two Birds, A Few Stones
Eleasis 5-10, DR 1492

DGRB #9

The four adventurers hovered at the edge of the harbor of Fireshear and took in the devastation around them. Scuttled schooners littered the shallow waters, their sails soaked through and useless floating in the briny water.  The long narrow warehouse stood partly collapsed, with large holes in the walls and massive ballista bolts as large as tree trunks protruding from the rubble.  Dock workers and sailors scurried around, quickly clearing as much of the destruction.

The goliath stood there, his teeth clinched and hands balled up into fists, flashes of past events in the forefront of his mind.  As they stood there, a cloaked figure caught Aera’s attention, and recognizing some sort of hand signal, approached him and conversed quietly.  Aera returned to the others, and told her traveling companions that she had some business that she had to take care of, and that she would meet them in Bryn Shander.  Wishing the aarakocra well on her mission, the two rogues left.

The rest of the group saw a dwarf barking orders at a dwarven work crew clearing away broken timbers from the partially collapsed warehouse.  Approaching him, the dwarf introduced himself as Darius Gromm, son of Tharkus Gromm, one of the Triumvirate leaders of the town, and representative of the merchant company Hammaver House.  

Darius explained to the adventurers that under the cover of a cold choking fog, a frost giant greatship had sailed into the harbor, sending a hail of boulders and ballista bolts into the structures of the town.  Several giants had waded ashore, leaving death and destruction in their wake.  They appeared to be looking for something or someone, but none of the citizens of Fireshear could understand the frost giant’s language.  Several of the giants had entered the bluffs north of the city where miners of years past had carved out a maze of open air tunnels into the cliffs.  Just as suddenly as they appeared, the giants, having not found what they were looking for, had sailed away, leaving many townsfolk injured or dead.

Darius also told the goliath that two other adventurers had been hurt pretty severely in the attack when the southeast end of the warehouse collapsed in on a private bedroom.  Tharkus’ wife tended to them the best that she could, but without healing magic, they were still unconscious and mending back at the cabins that the Gromms owned as living quarters for the miners.  

Moving with purpose, the three adventurers visited the apartments, finding Tharkus’ wife carrying clean bedding and bandages for the wounded miners that they employed.  She showed them to the two newcomer’s apartment, and as they approached, they noticed a black bear sitting outside the door, as if on guard.   The bear sensed Bran’s connection to the natural world and let the ranger pet it.

Inside the cabin, there were two unconscious forms, one an older human male and the other a teenaged male half-elf.  The young half-elf had his left arm set in a splint, and the human had a wound on his temple.  Both Stark and Bran cast healing magicks on them, bringing them to consciousness. All of their belongings had been carefully locked up into chests next to their beds. As they began to outfit themselves, Mal questioned the two on the details of the attack, but since they had been inside a room in the warehouse when the frost giant attack happened, they didn’t see anything.

The sorcerer half-elf named Apa told the group that he had business dealings with Tharkus that needed to be concluded and that he needed to see the dwarf.  The older human was a ranger named Turin and his animal companion was a bear named Crow.  Turin had been traveling with Apa, giving him aid and protection on his quest.

The two newcomers had not eaten since they were knocked out in the attack, so the five adventurers reconvened at the Singing Manticore and continued to get to know one another over a fine meal that the dwarves brought them.  Halfway through their meal, Darius stormed back into the Inn, telling the group that there is an emergency and to please hurry to Tharkus’ office on the outskirts of the mines north of the city.

The party ran to the dwarven patriarch’s office and was let in by the guards.  Tharkus greeted the group, thanking the gods for Apa and Turin’s recovery.  Hurriedly, he told them that a few of his workers spotted a frost giant that had gotten left behind in the mines, and that they were keeping a close eye on the cave where the giant was hiding. The party told Tharkus that they would take care of the straggler, but first, they needed an hour to find some new armor and prepare for the battle.  Tharkus gave Mal a map of the mines a case with four healing draughts and asked him to return the remainder after they killed the giant.  

The group entered the narrow, high-walled dwarven dug canyon that led into the mines.  After following the winding gravelly path for a mile, the route widened into a central hub with several canyons leading off in several directions.  Three dwarven miners huddled behind a large open metal crate. On the opposite side, a freshly dug cave mouth stood fifteen feet high, leading into shadow.

As the adventurers approached the miners, a large rock whizzed out of the cave opening, impacting the side of the metal crate with a loud clang.  The two rangers and their animal companions flanked the opening as Apa and Stark took cover behind the crate, ready to snipe with spells and thunder cannon.  The barbarian, ready to face the first frost giant he had fought since the destruction of the Freewind, shouted out in the giant language to the creature in the cave.  The frost giant responded with threats of violence unless they let him leave unmolested, and continued to lob heavy rocks at anyone who could be seen in front of the cave.

Tiring of the obstinate giant’s tactics, Mal threw his crag cat pelt into the cave opening as a distraction.  The blue skinned giant reacted to the flash of motion, throwing a boulder.  As the pelt wrapped around the rock, harmlessly falling to the ground, Turin leaned around the corner, burying an arrow into giant’s shoulder.  Seeing their opportunity, the group rushed inside, landing blow after blow. The sorcerer, Apa, cast an acid splash spell, coating the giant from groin to forehead, nearly killing the creature.  Bran cast spare the dying, keeping the acid from killing him outright.  

 

 

Mal dragged the unconscious, nearly dead giant outside of the cave, then the group woke the giant so that he could interrogate him.  The giant told the barbarian that he was working for a frost giantess captain named Drufi, who in turn worked for the commander who destroyed Mal’s ship.  The frost giant’s leader, Jarl Storvald, was looking for a man named Artus Cimber, a man whom they believed could help restore them to their rightful place of power in the world.  The giants didn’t find Cimber in the mining town, and their prisoner told Mal that they would be attacking Bryn Shander next.

After Mal got every bit of information that he could possibly get from the critically injured giant, he shoved his sword into the giant’s neck, executing him.  Apa searched the giant’s body, finding a large burlap sack tucked into its belt.  Inside, the sorcerer found coin, several trout, and a live chicken, which the young teen immediately took a liking to.

The party returned to Tharkus, who thanked them for making the mines safe.  He paid them their reward, then spoke privately with Apa about their business venture.  The group wearily walked back to the town and rested for the evening, intending to set out for Icewind Dale in the morning.  That night, the two rangers told stories of their past to one another, and Bran discovered Sir Richard, the former company member of the Shrine of the Shining Way and key to Bran’s past, was Turin’s mentor from years ago, though he had not been seen for many years.  Turin recognized the black stone clasp of Bran’s cloak as similar to the one that Sir Richard wore every day.

That morning, Tharkus provided mounts for the entire party for their trek to Bryn Shander.  The horses were hearty enough to survive the cruel climate of the Spine of the World.   Setting off northeast along the Ten Trail, the five adventurers began their march for Bryn Shander.

After two days of travel, they reached Huddlestone, a tiny waystation on the route through the mountainous pass.  The town was populated by mostly dwarves and gnomes, one of which asked to buy Apa’s chicken from him, as he had not seen or eaten a chicken in quite a long time.  Mal asked several townsfolk if they had seen or heard word of giants in the area, but other than a few sheep going missing outside of town, quiet peaceful mountain living seemed to be the status quo.  The adventurers continued their travels up the mountain pass the next morning.

On the third night of their travels (after Apa finally befriended his newfound pet chicken), the party camped under a clear, calm, and chilly star-filled night sky.  As Malagoth stood watch, he noticed high in the sky a large oblong shaped cloud formation moving swiftly to the south despite the absence of wind.  Muttering “giants” beneath his breath, the goliath continued his night watch.

Having passed beyond the mountains and into the flat tundra of Icewind Dale, the adventurers arrived at Bryn Shander on the afternoon of the fourth day. Situated atop a flat hill that allowed a view of the surrounding icy countryside, the town was contained within a thirty foot high stone wall, with towers flanking the city’s southeastern gates.    As they climbed the hillside to the watchtowers, a female dwarf wearing a warm fur hat came out to greet them.

She introduced herself to the group as Augrek Brighthelm, deputy to Sheriff Markham Southwell.  Reading from a prepared statement that made the other guards at the gate roll their eyes, Augrek welcomed them to Bryn Shander and told them of the marketplace, the stables just inside the gates, and of an tavern named Kelvin’s Comfort, which customers could buy a drink called Firebeard’s Firebrandy.  

The adventurers warned the deputy of Drufi and the danger of a frost giant attack, and accompanied by Augrek, they entered the town and headed to the Town Hall to speak to Markham.

TO BE CONTINUED

 

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DGRB #8 Fun in Fireshear AKA Cheating at Gnome Tossing

Here we go!

"You have wronged me and my tribe, and I challenge you to a trial by combat," the barbarian told Stark after slapping him across the snout.  The muscular red-maned man introduced himself as Cretik Elklord and glared at the dragonborn.  Bran, Aera, and Malagoth stood up, protectively, and asked the tribesman what his problem was.  He responded, "I trained those animals to hunt food for the Elk Tribe.  It took me six months to train them after I raised them from cubs.  Your loud and dangerous weapon has threatened the livelihood of my family and my tribe."  

The party calmed Cretik, his anger still bubbling beneath the surface.  Eventually, they were able to convince the barbarian by offering to go with him on a hunt to capture a male crag cat alive to serve as a new stud because the tribe's previous crag cat had died in captivity.  Apparently, Cretik's hunting cats were offspring of a male crag cat and a female mountain lion.  

Having come to an agreement, Cretik told the group that he would return at first light so that he could escort them to a crag cat's lair.  

Deciding that the mountains would be too treacherous in their current state, the group went across the road to the most happening place in Fireshear, The Singing Manticore. The party quickly dispersed amongst the rowdy, and quite inebriated, patrons. Aera began to practice her craft on the unsuspecting miners only to realize that she was not the only professional in the room. Mal, on the other hand, decided to observe a rather peculiar form of entertainment, Gnome-Tossing.

Meanwhile, Bran and Stark consulted with the barkeep to find the local trackers and furies of Fireshear, in order to procure some winter-ware. They were successfully able to purchase some fine fur coats for the party (with the exception of the Goliath, who was accustomed to such climates.)

Eventually, Mal decided to try his hand at gnome-tossing, shot-putting a small gnome 21 feet across the room. Stark is then approached by a couple of drunken miners who challenge him to hit a target on the other side of the bar with his acidic spit (which he masterfully does). Bran then decides to join in the festivities as well and take up the gnome challenge himself, tossing his gnome (by the ankles) for 15 feet. Feeling lucky tonight, the dragonborn also partakes and hurricane-tosses his gnome for an astonishing 25 feet.

In the Final match to be crowned the "Gnome-Tossing Champion", and win a considerable amount of prize money, we saw four challenges step forward each tossing their gnome the furthest in each color category, Mal for the blue, a drunken miner for yellow, Stark for the red, and an unsavory looking fellow for the green.

Mal starts off the finals launching his gnome for 24 feet. The drunk miner fumbles his toss for only 15 feet. Stark steps up and lobs his gnome, barely beating the goliath with 25 feet. While all this is happening Aera takes it upon herself to assure that her fellow party members will win, deciding to warm up to the very stern green tosser and using her skills to tamper with his garments so that he will also fumble his throw.

As the shady character stepped up, sure enough, his pants fell around his ankles while winding up, and fell flat on his face sending his gnome a measly 4 feet. In a blind rage the man turns to a member of the crowd and begins attacking him while screaming "YOU SAID THAT POTION WOULD GUARANTEE MY WIN!!" The party began trying to pull the two men apart only to be tossed aside by the mans unnatural strength. It was only when he began assaulting the bird as well that the team drew their weapons and brought the fight to a swift end.

For delivering the finishing blow, Stark his hoisted high as a hero of the Singing Manticore (a welcome break from his recent misfortunes). While the crowd cheered Bran and Mal saw to the injured man, bringing him back to consciousness and healing his disfigured face. The man introduced himself as Ernie, a purveyor of potions, and confessed to giving his attack a potion of fire giant strength in order to secure his victory in the match. In gratitude, Ernie promised to sell the party potions at cost anytime that they were in Fireshear.

The party then retired to Drunken Dwarf after such… festivities, to plan and prepare for the hunt ahead. 

The next morning, before the sun even had a chance to rise over the horizon, they were roused by Cretik who scoffed at their state and demanded that they hurry up. As they company left town Bran stopped off at the farm and… borrowed… as sheep from the boy whom they helped the day before. after a day of travel they reached a small hunting camp where Cretik made them food and spoke on how to wrangle crag-cats. As they proceeded up the mountain they eventually reached the cliffs where the ferocious felines dwelt. 

Setting their traps and placing the sheep as bait, the group waited for the cats to descend from the cliff side. As one cat bounded toward the bait, it got caught in Stark's traps, prompting Cretik to leap onto the beast to lasso it. before they had a chance to assist, Stark and Mal were faced with 2 more cats appearing out of the snowy crags. After dealing with the 3 beasts, the party allowed Cretik to choose his favorite to return with him to his tribe, while the ranger and goliath skinned the other two for their pelts (proof of their conquest to win a 15:1 wager placed the night before)

Returning to the hunting camp, Mal spoke with the Uthgardt chief about spices and Giants in the area, unfortunately Cretik was unable to provide any new information on the latter. after resting for the night Cretik went his own way with his quarry, vowing to aid the party whenever they may need it.

On their way back to Fireshear, Bran returned the "borrowed" sheep to the boy (who was not too thrilled at his actions)

The group then decides to return to the Singing Manticore to collect their winnings for returning alive from their hunt. As they enter the establishment they discover the patrons unusually somber this morning. As they asked where the bookie was, the bartender informed them that he was "dead near the docks along with 15 of the towns best warriors". 

Rushing to the docks, the team was met with horrifying sight, ships broken and burning, homes crushed inward, and bodies strewn about. The large imposing warehouse stood half collapsed next to the bay, large holes torn through its wooden sides. The goliath, pale in shock and anger, recognizes the massive ballista bolts impaled in the shacks and boats and utters two words: Frost Giants…

CLIFFHANGER

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DGRB #7 Fistful of Dwarves AKA Get Me Offa This Crazy Thing!
Flamerule 21 - Shieldmeet, DR 1492

Here we go!  

Bran was stretching his legs on the spongy cloud-like ground around the flying tower when he saw the silver dragon.  The metallic beast held several dwarves in each of its front claws, stubby arms and boots dangling precariously.  The dragon flew towards Zephyros' tower and Bran and Smoke hurried inside to tell the others and make a plan in case they were hostile.

The adventurers shouted up at Zephyros, who seemed to be confused as to what exactly was happening.  The dragon dumped the dwarves in a heap in front of the tower, and flew up to the aerie, where Stark was attempting to tame the three unruly griffons.

The heavily armored dwarves charged the front doors, and gulped down a potion of gaseous form, turning into a misty cloud.  Mal stood guard in the vestibule, his tower shield pressed against the crack between the two doors. Aera and Bran made themselves ready for anything.  The dragon reached the aerie, his draconic presence sending Stark into an awestruck panic.  Before the dragonborn could flee, the silver breathed a mist through the open windows, paralyzing him and the four griffons.

The cloud-like form of the six dwarves pushed through the cracks in the entryway, and floated into the first floor of the tower.  Stark tried to fight off the magical effects of the silver, but was unable to pull himself together.  The dwarves circled the room and then began floating up to the second floor.  The party kept calling for Zephyros, who seemed unfazed by the whole situation.  Mal leapt into the air, trying to fan the cloud back down to the first floor with a mighty swing of his shield as Bran called upon Mielikki's sacred flame to stop the misty invaders.  

The dragon looked through the portal in the floor of the aerie, his serpentine neck uncoiling into the giant wizard's bedroom.   Grabbing a journal from his bookshelves, Zephyros shouted "I know what kind of dragon you are!" and began flipping through his handwritten notes in order to confirm his theory.  Mal shouted back, "It's a silver dragon," but the wizard was engrossed in his research and did not respond.

Mal continued to jump and fan his shield, trying to force the dwarves to ground but was unsuccessful.  Aera sprinkled Mal with a pinch of the magic dust obtained from the air cultists, giving him the ability to fly.  Mal grabbed Bran and Smoke and flew up to the second floor.   Aera, her claws making handholds in the hard spongy material of the tower, climbed up and across the ceiling.   Bran continued to cast sacred flame on the dwarves.

The goliath reached the giant's bedroom and tried to reason with the silver dragon, despite having to steel himself against the dragon's fear aura.  The silver told the barbarian that he serves the dwarves of Mithral Hall and is at their command.  Stark finally shook off the fear that gripped his heart and shouted for Zephyros to catch him as he jumped into the hole in the floor.  Zephyros started to grab for him, then thought better of it, as he cast levitate on the artificer.  Stark floated slowly down, the edges of the floor portals, tantalizingly out of reach.  

The misty forms of the dwarves started floating to the control sphere, located in the corner of the bedroom.  Aera jumped into the air and tried to use her wings to force the misty forms of the dwarves away from the floating control sphere, but couldn't generate enough wind.  Stark reached out and managed to grab the edge of the gap before he floated down to the first floor.  Mal pleaded fearfully to the cloud giant wizard, trying to get him to do something to stop the dragon and the dwarves.  Zephyros' head seemed to clear for a second, but the silver noticed the breathed a mist over Mal and the giant, paralyzing them.  

The gaseous forms of the dwarves floated up above the control orb, then suddenly coalesced into six dwarven warriors.  Each of the dwarves whacked at the orb with their battle axes as they fell, causing a small crack to appear on its surface.  The dwarves had been commanded by their Queen to attack and disable as many floating giant structures as possible.  Mal and Bran pleaded with the dwarves to cease their attack, showing them exactly how dotty and harmless Zephyros was compared to other giants.  Finally, the party was able to get the dwarves of Mithral Hall to see some reason, and a truce was struck.  Suddenly, the tower began to drift slowly down, as the orb began to show signs of breaking down.  After some discussion, the dragon got Zephyros to use some of the magical energies stored in his staff to juice up the control orb enough to get the tower to dry land.  Additionally, the wizard discovered how to put the tower into a high gear and would be able to get the adventurers to Ten Towns faster than anticipated.  The dragon and the dwarves left the crazy wizard and his traveling companions to their own devices.

Several days later, the tower reached the western edge of the Spine of the World.  A treacherous staircase made of clouds appeared, and the adventurers disembarked, happy to be away from the eccentric wizard.  Zephyros' mind seemed to wander as the group exited, and they wondered if he would forget about them after they left.

Everyone except for the goliath felt the biting cold as they set foot on solid ground.  They decided to head southwest to Fireshear so that they could buy gear and supplies for a trek into the mountains and to the tundra covered hills of Ten Towns.  Just outside of the town, the group spotted several large mountain cats attacking a herd of sheep.  The young shepherd boy tending the flock was panicking in the chaos.  The party, seeing a source of warm fur, attacked the large predators, killing them, with Stark taking a lot of them out with Serenity, his thunder cannon.  As they skinned the fur from the animals, the group noticed a single barbarian adorned with a crown of elk antlers, watching them from afar, then disappearing into the hills.

The adventurers headed into Fireshear, a small mining community with a large dock and warehouse along the shoreline. On the main thoroughfare, two taverns stood out: a small run down taphall called the Drunken Dwarf, and a large bustling business called the Singing Manticore.  All of the town's miners and workers seemed to prefer the Manticore, as the Drunken Dwarf was bereft of customers.  Mal took the pelts to a local tanner and asked if he could have them made into winter wear for the trip north.  After the barbarian told the tanner where he had obtained the pelts, the craftsman appeared panicked and refused to work on the pelts.  

"Those pelts are from crag cats that belong the Elk Tribe of Uthgardt barbarians," the tanner told Mal, "and if they find out that I helped you, they would come into town and kill me and my family!" Mal returned to the Drunken Dwarf.  As the sun set, the same Elk tribesman entered the bar, strode up to Stark, slapping him full across the snout.

"You desecrated and massacred my trained hunting cats. I have been wronged, and under the laws of the Uthgardt Elk Tribe, I challenge you to a duel."

CLIFFHANGER

 

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DGRB #6 Crazy Wizards Come in All Sizes AKA One Bloody Month!
Flamerule 14-21, DR 1492

Session #6, here we go!

The cloud giant floated down from the twenty foot wide hole in the ceiling, a wide grin on his elongated, grey-skinned faced.  He was wearing a long blue wizard's robe with cartoonish gold stars sewn into them, and wore a pointy blue hat adorned with the same stars to match.  His bare feet touched the ground and he smiled brightly at the party.

"Welcome to my home," the giant said excitedly.  "My name is Zephyros."

The room that they were in was hexagonal in shape, with six brightly lit crystal spheres floating just below the ceiling nearly a hundred feet in the air.  A tall dining table and single giant sized stone chair towered over them.  The party gaped at the amiable giant wizard.

Zephyros told the adventurers that he had been sent to pick them up, but he was evasive about exactly who had sent him.  After Mal and Stark told the cloud giant that he parked his tower on top of the artificer's workshop, Zephyros floated back upstairs.  Seconds later, the party could hear more items being crushed beneath them, then suddenly silence as the tower floated into the air.  Zephyros returned to them and he told them he had been sent to pick them and take them to Bryn Shander.  The group asked him how did he know all of this.  He told them that he had been casting this spell that let him talk to other planes, and he had been regularly casting the spell to find out what he should do next.  Zephyros was told to seek the four of them out and take them where they wanted to go, which the cloud giant thought should be Bryn Shander.  He had piloted the tower to Nightstone, but the party wasn't there.  

Curious, Mal asked the giant if he could cast a spell that would let them know where Kella and Xolkin would be.  After doing some research, the giant returned (with a pet griffon named Liam resting on his shoulder) and told them that the tower could not take them to the pair of villians, since they were underground.  

The group asked Zephyros about himself, and the giant told them that he was a learned traveler, who liked to explore the unexplored and was currently doing a tour of the Moonshae Isles, and writing in his many many journals.  As he spoke, the giant seemed even more eccentric, as the topic of conversation seemed to bounce back and forth between many subjects, and the party also discovered that it would take 624 hours (or 26 days) to reach Bryn Shander.  "One bloody month," exclaimed Bran as Zephyros brought the party some food.

Zephyros floated back to the upper levels as the adventurers finished their meal.  Unexpectedly, there was a knock on the front door.  The group looked at each other as if to say, "What now?"

Aera answered the door to see a stern, angry, but beautiful human woman with long silver hair, surrounded by twenty heavily armed guards mounted on hippogriffs.  She asked to speak with the crazy giant wizard of the tower, RIGHT NOW.  The group asked "Who should I say is calling?"

The woman replied "I am Laeral Silverhand, Open Lord of Waterdeep and I demand to speak to Zephyros."  Recognizing the name and not wanting to anger the powerful spell caster, the group retreated inside and called out to the giant, who hurried to speak to Laeral. 

Zephyros joined the Open Lord of Waterdeep outside and shut the door, leaving the party behind.  They could hear Laeral chewing the giant out, telling Zephyros that he had promised that he would never fly his tower over Waterdeep ever again.  The wizard apologized and the two continued to talk at a lower volume, their words becoming a soft mumble through the doors.  Several minutes later, Zephyros returned and the hippogriffs could be seen flying away into the night sky.

The giant apologized for the trouble and the group decided to retire for the evening.  Zephyros tossed down four incredibly large pillows and a big blanket for the group to sleep on.  In the middle of the night, Mal woke up and noticed that Liam the griffon had come down from the upper levels and had cuddled up to Bran and Smoke.  

The next day, Zephyros told the adventurers that he had created a new spell, Create Spiced Food and Water, and fed the party.  The group asked the wizard about the rest of the tower, and Zephyros offered to take them on a tour.  

The second floor held a large giant-sized four-poster bed, a single floating orb that Zephyros called a navigation orb, and a large chest that Mal managed to hide from the aarakocra as the wizard carried them up to the third floor.  The third floor was an open aerie where Liam and three more griffons lived, all of whom were pets.  Zephyros said that the other three griffons hadn't been tamed yet, and let the party help feed the creatures.

Looking out of the aerie, the party noticed that they were out over the Sea of Swords.  Mal questioned Zephyros about his directions, who told them that this was the best way to go and no one threw things at you.  As the group finished feeding the griffons, the wizard created on the first floor stained glass windows with the group's likeness so that the party could see out of the tower.  Bored, Bran asked Zephryos if he could find any info on Ser Richard in his many journals.

On the morning of the third day, as the cloud giant's snores reverberated through the tower, the party observed nine feathered cloaked humans flying giant vultures approaching the base of the tower.  The figures were abnormally thin, as if they were starving themselves. Through the windows, the party observed the new arrivals as they landed on the cloud and dismounted.

Two of the men approached the great double doors and knocked loudly.  The others remained back, holding on to the reins of the vultures.  Mal answered the door, and the two Illuskan men introduced themselves as Amarath, who held a large bag with a smiling face stitched into it, and Nvon of the Elemental Cult of Air and that the Great Yan-C-Bin has sent them to parley with the powerful cloud giant wizard Zephyros.  Stark pulled out his Serenity Mark II and hid beneath the giant sized table, ready to fire at a moment's notice.

After a bit of back and forth, and not very successfully attempting to rouse Zephyros from his slumber, seven of the air cultists left their weapons outside and together with the two leaders entered the tower.  The party spoke with the cultist leaders, trying to ascertain what they wanted, while Aera picked the pocket of the two leaders.  As Aera robbed them, an invisible force slammed into the aarakocra's back, trying to prevent her from stealing.  A fight almost broke out as Amarath accused her as being a thief, but Zephyros floated down from the second floor and asked what the cultists wanted.

Amarath and N'von told the wizard that their god, Yan-C-Bin, had commanded them to convince the giant to join them in their quest to bring the world back to a primordial state of existence.  They had even brought gifts to give to the giant, but as N'von reached for his pouch, the cultist realized that it was missing and attacked Aera.

Stark let his new thunder cannon roar, to the amazement of Zephyros.  The two cult leaders cast hold person, command, and spiritual weapon as the other seven attacked with daggers.  Mal, Bran, Smoke and Aera retaliated and were able to make short work out of the cultists.  Their invisible attacker eluded them until Zephyros was able to bumble about, catching the creature, and taking him outside and booting him from the tower.

The adventurers had left Amarath alive, so Bran interrogated him as Mal and Aera clean up the mess that the melee had made.  Stark piled all of their belongings into a pile in the corner.  Mal and Bran lock the air cultist outside the tower.  Mal noticed that the bird had gone missing, and he asked Zephyros to look up information on frost giants in his journals so that he could look for him.  Aera hid beneath the giant's bed, as the giant sat on the bed, flipping through one of the journals, and then giving the aarakocra a sideways glance as the bird escaped down below.  

After Mal returned to the first floor and Zephyros returned to his studies, Mal took Aera outside and gave her a good talking to, telling her not to anger the cloud giant whose magic tower was currently keeping them alive and floating in the air.  As they were talking, Bran stealthily grabbed a pouch from Aera's belt, which contained sparkly dust.  Bran called out Aera for the theft, telling him that he can do it too, and Aera praised the ranger for the "good lift".  Aera told the group that the dust allowed him to fly without having to use his wings.  As the group was tossing the bodies of the cultists, and looking below for any land they could use to identify their position, Amarath decided to sacrifice himself to Yan-C-Bin. As he leapt off of the clouds, Stark fired Serenity and shot him dead, his lifeless body falling down to the ocean's surface.  

Stark cast detect magic on the items, discovering that the bag with the smiling face stitched into it was magical, and after casting identify, discovered that it was a bag of holding.  

Zephyros, amazed at the sound of Stark's thunder cannon, asked the dragonborn if he could fire the weapon thirty minutes after sunrise everyday, so aid the eccentric wizard in waking up.  The giant paid Stark for his duties.

Over the next several days, the party began training and bettering themselves, and reading some of Zephyros's journals, which were written in giantish.  The wizard was unable to find any mention of frost giants in the journals.  On the 11th day, Bran was outside the tower, letting Smoke run about, when he spotted in the distance a silver dragon holding a handful of dwarves in each claw making a bee line for the tower.

CLIFFHANGER!!!!

 

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DGRB #5 Chasing Serenity AKA The Blindside
Flamerule 10-13, DR 1492

Session #5, here we go!

From the northern tower, Xolkin repeated "Give me Kella Darkhope!" down to the assembled crowd below.  The party, confused, tried to quickly come up with a plan, but Xolkin had one of his men shoot dead one of the villagers, Brynn Osstra, the rest of whom began panicking and backing away from the palisade walls.  Xolkin once again called out, "Give your weapons to Kella and back away from her!"  One by one, the group handed their weapons to Kella, who awkwardly held Bran's bow and arrows, Stark's thunder cannon, Malagoth's long sword, and Aera's rapier in her outstretched arms.  

As the party took a step back and tried to hide the smaller weapons from view, Kella stepped forward to the edge of the moat. Suddenly, an arrow flashed from the tower and shot into Kella's shoulder.  She lurched forward, dropping into the water below.  At the same time, Xolkin's men shot two more villagers, Barley Summerhawk and Renarra Hulvaarn, as they fled into the forest in a full blown panic.  

Aera grabbed a silk rope and glided over to the other side of the moat, tying it off on a post for hanging lanterns.  Malagoth tied the rope to a sword and slammed it into the ground, then began moving across the moat.  Stark, seeing his precious Serenity plummet into the river with Kella, dove in after it.  Bran sent Smoke after the villagers to protect them and then covered the barbarian as he crossed.

Stark searched beneath the waves for his weapon, but was only able to find the rapier, long sword, and bow and half-empty quiver.  Malagoth finished his crossing as Aera leapt up onto the roof of the northern tower.  From his vantage point, the aarakocra saw two of Xolkin's company, gathering six horses, readying them to run across the drawbridge once it was open.  Malagoth gripped the edge of the bridge with his meaty hands and began pulling the bridge away from the wall. 

Aera moved to the walkway between the towers as the two horsemen on the ground fired volleys of crossbow bolts at her.  Aera injured one of them as two more guards opened trap doors on the tops of each tower.  Outside the walls, Bran began to make his way across the rope, but only made it halfway across when someone inside the towers released the drawbridge, which came crashing down.  Malagoth ran inside and headed for the entrance to the north tower.

Stark kept searching for his weapon, but was still unsuccessful, and was getting pushed downstream.  Aera glided down, killing one of the horsemen.  The other rider, angry at seeing her compatriot die, fired her crossbow blindly with one hand, but missed.  The two guards on top of the tower moved to the middle of the walkway, hoping to jump onto the horses as they rode by.  They fired crossbow bolts at Aera, hitting and wounding her.   As Malagoth rounded the corner and made it to the north tower door, the door was ripped out of his hand as a guard opened the door and just as quickly, slammed it shut.  A sixth guard ran out of the south tower.  

Bran whistled for Smoke, who turned around and ran at breakneck speed back to the bridge. The barbarian tried to break down the door, but failed, somehow.  Aera attacked the other rider's horse, killing it and knocking the rider to the ground.  Bran ran into the gate and moved to intercept the guard at the south tower entrance. As Aera dispatched the fallen rider, Malagoth heard a crashing sound and saw flames lick up from the bottom of the door.  The barbarian joined the ranger in taking down the guard at the south tower, then ran inside. The two crossbowmen on the walkway fired two more bolts at the aarakocra, one of them hitting and nearly killing her.  After they fired their weapons, they turned and dove into the water.  Bran and Mal heard the splash coming from the moat.  Mal hurried outside while the ranger checked the upper floor of the tower and found Alara Winterspell tied up and unconscious.

Outside in the moat, Stark sees the two guards jump into the water and swim to the wall of the moat.  He looks around and sees Kella climbing up a rope ladder that hung on the outer moat wall, west of the keep, Stark's thunder cannon strapped across her back.  Angered, Stark swims for the outer wall and begins to climb.  Back at the north tower, the guard who set the door on fire had climbed through the trap door in the roof and dove into the moat.  

Malagoth ran across the drawbridge and waited for one of the guards to crest the edge of the moat.  Bran, who heard the third splash, decided to return to the gate.  The dragonborn grimaced, flecks of acidic spittle on his lips, as he saw Kella mount a horse and join a second mounted rider and gallop towards the coast.  Aera made her way back to the moat and threw a dagger into one of the guards attempting to stay afloat.  As the first guard pulled himself up over the edge of the moat, the barbarian wound up and struck out at the enemy, killing him.  The guard with the dagger in his shoulder attempted to climb, but fell back into the water and succumbed to the current.  Malagoth threw a rope to the remaining guard, who called out his surrender.  Malagoth tied him up and knocked him senseless.

The party regrouped outside of the village and Stark told the other three adventurers of Kella and the other rider.  The villagers, escorted at arrow point from the forest by the wood elves, returned to the gates of the town.  The party entered Nightstone with the survivors, who scattered to check on their homes.  Morak, the dwarven owner of the Nightstone Inn, approached the group, thanking them for rescuing pretty much the entire town.  The dwarf takes Malagoth aside and tells him that a close friend and neighbor of his, Semile Southwell, was killed in the giant attack.  Apparently, Semile has a brother named Markham who is the sheriff of Bryn Shander of Icewind Dale.  He asked the barbarian if the party could deliver the sad news of Semile's passing to Markham.  Malagoth said yes and gave the party 250 gp as a reward for freeing the villagers.  

Interviewing the prisoner, the party discovered that Xolkin was the leader of a Zhentarim organization named the Seven Snakes, and that they were working with Kella to inflitrate the town of Nightstone and make it into a Black Network outpost.  Kella was inside of Nightstone when the giant attack happened.  The Snake told the group that Kella got a message to Xolkin using the flying snake, which is a symbol of the Zhentarim.   The message told Xolkin that Kella would get their weapons and then take an arrow to distract them and then she would dive into the moat to escape with Stark's thunder cannon, which would be very important in the future of the Black Network.  The party left the prisoner in the custody of Morak, who surmised that he was the leader of Nightstone now.  Morak told the party to replace any lost weapons from the Lionshield Coster's shop, though Stark would not be able to replace Serenity until he tinkered in his shop for three days to build another weapon.

Grabbing horses, the adventurers hurried to the gates of Waterdeep, asking the guards if they had seen the two Zhents.  The guards at the gate hadn't, so they entered the city and discussed their options.  The group decides to split up.  

Malagoth heads to the docks and finds a ship that is heading for the Icewind Dales area and asks if they could deliver a letter explaining Semile's passing to Markham Southwell.  The captain of the ship agrees and takes the letter.

Stark asked Bran to sell the dwarven chain main shirt to raise money for supplies for the dragonborn's new weapon.  Bran visited one shop but suspected that he was being cheated, so he found another armorer's, and managed to sell the chain mail for a good price.

Aera visited her contact with the thieves' guild, asking to be notified at the Whirlpool Tavern in the Dock Ward if anyone in the guild spotted Xolkin and Kella in the city.  Aera's contact doubted that, since the Lords of Waterdeep banned the Black Network from openly operating in the streets of Waterdeep long ago.  Aera now owed the thieves' guild a favor.

Stark returned to his workshop and found the halfling Gizmo minding the shop.  He looked around and found the blueprints for his devices safe and sound.  Sending Gizmo home, he begins the first of three days' work on the new thunder cannon.  

Mal visited Luisa's magic shop and bought a potion of healing as Luisa engaged the goliath in friendly conversation.  As Mal left the shop, he noticed a mysterious figure observing him and the shop from the shadows. Seeing the barbarian notice him, the figure wrapped his cloak close around him and backed into the dark alleyway.  

The party rents the "good" room at the Whirlpool i.e. the one with the least amount of holes in the ceiling.  Aera sat in the common room at the Whirlpool, waiting for word from her contact, but no one showed up.

After an uneventful night, Stark started his second day of tinkering on Serenity Mark 2.  Mal guarded the dragonborn as he worked, watching the street from the shop's dirty window.  Aera returns to the thieves' guild contact, finding a woman this time.  The woman tells her that no one of Kella and Xolkin's description was seen by any of the thieves' guild cells in the city.  However, the woman told the aarakocra that it could be possible that the two Zhents went below the city to the pirate city of Skullport.  Aera was directed to Durnan at the Yawning Portal in the North Ward.  

Aera walked to the Yawning Portal and went inside to talk to Durnan.  The retired adventurer leaned against the bar, a large sword hanging on the wall behind him.  The common room's main feature was a gaping hole in the floor with a three foot barrier containing it, a locked off winch standing next to the wall.  Aera tried to find out information from Durnan and warn him about the Zhents getting Stark's thunder cannon, but the innkeep tired quickly from the roundabout questioning, complaining of the illegal artificer's guild in the city.  Durnan told Aera that the Zhentarim agents would probably blow themselves up trying to figure the contraption out.  Aera asked about Skullkeep, but Durnan assured that all the known entrances to the pirate city was watched and kept closed, and that his tavern was the only entrance to Undermountain, and from there, to Skullport, and besides, anyone foolish enough to enter Undermountain's dungeon halls would have to deal with the lich, Halaster's traps, and possibly the lich himself.  

Meanwhile, Bran and Mal visited the Shrine of the Shining Way to see if Nasisi and Marin had returned from their "safari".  Enid, the halfling answered the door and let the two adventurers in to meet the elven rangers.  Malagoth asked about Captain Ventus, and the rangers told them Ventus' sad story and got his address.  Bran asked the women about the man in the painting who wore the same clasp that Bran wore on his cloak.  The elves told him his name was Ser Richard, and he had a strange accent, and was possibly from Sembia.  Ser Richard left the Shrine twenty years ago.  

The ranger and the goliath went to the address for Captain Ventus, only to find a small dilapidated home. They knocked on the door, and a tired looking man answered, and introduced himself as Ventus.  Ventus told them that he used to ferry passengers from Neverwinter to Waterdeep and back.  Malagoth and the former captain discussed their experiences and discovered that their respective ships were attacked by the same frost giant, the one wearing a red gem on a chain around his neck.  Captain Ventus told the barbarian a legend from the distance past of how the frost giants of the north and white dragons warred on and off for many years, with the white dragons using their icy breath to freeze the giant's longboats into a glacier. Ventus made Malagoth promise to get revenge for the both of him, and gave the barbarian his shield, marked with three wavy green lines, the symbol of the goddess of the ocean.  As Malagoth turned to leave, Ventus told him "May Umberlee guide you on your journey and into clear waters."

The next day, as Stark was finishing his weapon, Luisa visited the shop while Bran and Mal waited and Aera explored the Trade Ward.  Luisa was worried about Stark, somehow gleaning from her brief conversation with Mal that Stark was upset.  She checked in on the dragonborn, and told Bran and Mal that she was only a clerk at the magic shop, and that she took classes and was an apprentice mage at Blackstaff Tower.  Smoke seemed intrigued by Luisa, who took Smoke outside and played with him in the dingy street outside the shop.  

Later that evening after Luisa went home, Stark finished the weapon and test fired it at a crude drawing of Kella Darkhope.  As the three spoke, the sounds of timbers cracking and the tin roof crumbling sounded above their heads.  The ceiling slowly started collapsing on them, and the three of them grabbed their belongings and ran outside, meeting Aera on the street corner outside.

Stretching into the night sky, a tall three hundred foot tower floating atop a cloud descended, crushing Stark's workshop.  The tower was made of white stone with four black arches supporting it from all sides.  Incredulously atop the tower was a giant blue wizard's hat flapping in the breeze and adorned with gold stars.  As the party gaped at the sight, a narrow staircase made of clouds formed in front of them, beckoning them inside.  

The adventurers climbed the stairs and entered the massive and tall doors in the front of the tower.  Inside was a large chamber, lit by several globes, burning with a magical light.  The chamber was one hundred feet high and contained a giant sized table and a stone chair.  From a large hole in the ceiling, a twenty-four foot tall giant with grey skin, wispy hair and beard, floated down to greet them.  The giant was wearing a blue robe and a pointed hat identical to the one that sat atop the tower.  The party stared at the cloud giant as he landed gracefully on the floor and said, "Welcome to my home."

TO BE CONTINUED

 

 

 

 

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