Deep in the Sea of Dust, the party acquired the Ring of Wishes, commissioned by the local hetman Subvil. Despite the potential of retaining it, the party dutifully handed it back, then enjoyed a feast back at the Suel Fortress
CAELUM’s azimuth is different when they – more to the west, deeper into the mountains.
Given the choice by Subvil, the party decided to go via the wilder but closer northern route.
Subvil teleported the party near the northern route, within sight of the volcano. `
CAELUM indicates that the next piece is deep in the mountains, and the party decides to skirt the mountains to get a second directional line and help pinpoint the location of the third piece.
Simon noticed that the region is “healthier” than the rocky desert the party had recently left: the foothills are more fertile, giving Simon opportunities to hunt for fresh meat.
The mountains are daunting – the smallest are 12,000 feet, with clouds clustered around them and deep snow prevalent on most.
After three days travel (at ¾ hex per day); CAELUM indicates that the piece moved a little east… but not much.
After two more days (moving the same speed), Simon finds that wild game is incredibly plentiful (with, remarkably, very few predators).
CAELUM is still pointing into the mountains, so Simon estimated that the party would need to turn into the mountains in a day, maybe two.
The next day, Simon and the dog smell something rank (obviously some sort of decomposition) and discover an immense pile of bones. Some were not picked entirely clean, while some snapped and broken.
Further on, they discover an enormous palm leaf. Simon gives it a wide berth but looks at it and realizes that it is not a leaf but a colossal feather, the size of a table.
Simon thinks the feather is from a roc, and a gargantuan one.
While luring and killing it might remove the threat, avoiding it would be better.
The party continues north up into the hills.
Near the end of the day, Simon, while scouting for food, finds a lake.
The party has camped at an elevation of around 1,500 feet into the foothills.
Simon has scouted to about four thousand feet up the mountain.
Simon finds clear running water, and a channel that seems to go through the mountains.
Simon charms and speaks with a bird, who tells of creatures “like you” who have been seen here but move much faster. The bird saw them about half a day’s flight away, deeper into the mountains.
Simon scouted around the lake, looking for footprints and signs of life.
CAELUM says the piece lies to the northwest, where the mountains turn west.
The lake is spring fed and cold, but a welcome resource this high up in the arid mountains.
At around 3,500 feet elevation, Simon sees a valley and, beyond, a line of greasy smoke in the distance, smelling faintly of trash. Shepard and Jarlebank cast Invisibility and Fly on Simon to go check on the smoke.
At the smoke column, Simon spots a group of humans and orcs, tending a fire.
It looks like they are burning giant-sized furniture.
Simon returns and recommends that the party speak with them, as they know the area and have useful information.
The party approaches and can see the orcs and humans have weapons. One human approached us while the others watched.
“Stranger? If you have your own cup, we have wine and food.” “What is the occasion?” “We’re celebrating our freedom! This stuff used to belong to Surry Dragisdottir – she is the evilest fire giant to ever live.” “We were laborers, send down here with two guards, but they were killed by dragons.” “We fled. We’re not going back.”
Peaches mentioned to the group that the party had no wish to go in Surry’s direction – where was she?
The escaped slave pointed up to the clouds in which there was a large castle, shrouded in fog, “She’s getting her daughter hitched to some cloud giant and the ceremony will take place in that castle.”
It did not take long to determine that the escaped slaves had looted two giants, and they were in the process of getting the hell out of the mountains. Some of the slaves looked elderly, but despite that they assured the party that they were leaving, albeit they were unsure of where exactly they planned to go.
Simon asked them: “Are there still slaves under the giants? “Yes,” came the response. “But we can’t help them.” They also added that Surry’s lair is up in the volcano area, but she is not there since the wedding is coming soon. CAELUM pointed toward the castle, which the party interpreted as that the fire giantess Surry had brought the piece with her to the wedding.
The party stayed the night with the escaped slaves, enjoying the outstanding wine.
The castle is 16,000 feet into the mountains, where we’re at about 4,500, which means that travel to the castle will be complicated. After some discussion, the plan became to get under the castle, under cover of darkness, then use magic to enter the castle from below.
After some study, it turns out that the castle is not floating in midair but instead sitting on the top of a mountain. The party moves out the next day, approaching closer. The area begins to have more trees, pines and poplars, and the party finds a trail, not well used but with some recent footprints, both large and small. “We’re obviously in enemy territory,” said Simon.
Travelling upward is much slower, but nothing significant occurs until after lunch. Weariness sets in quickly as the party reaches around eight thousand feet – fatigue, difficulty breathing, the classic signs of altitude sickness.
“Halt, you varlets! Declare yourselves or you are icicles! Move not a muscle!” A silver dragon came upon the party, with frost tendrils emanating from his nostrils. A bit small as dragons go, but it is only fifty feet away and pointed right at the party.
“What is your opinion of giants?” It asks. We have never met them, but we’ve heard nothing good.“ said Peaches.
“There were some others like you here yesterday – they had a rug upon which they flew. But they were not like you, so I blasted them. Nice to look at, but not nice at all. My mother and father are out looking for my sister, and they think the giants have her. Her name is Ariel. My parents are convinced that my sister went to yonder castle to eat the silver of the cloud – it’s possible they have her. They have flying cats with eagles’ heads [gryphons?], and they may have captured her.”
The dragon continued: “There are lots of giants going into that castle this week. My father told me that some of the tall giants could be good, but I don’t see how that could be.”
The party pledged to release the dragon’s sister if they could but the possibility of finding a flying carpet intrigued the party mightily, and after the dragon left the party began searching for the site the dragon described.
After another day of difficult travel – colder, the winds are picking up – the party approached the snowpack. They continued to follow the trail to the castle, but the castle often disappears behind the clouds. Concerned they might be falling into an illusory trap, Jarlebank checked the castle with the True Seeing glass. All was what it appeared to be.
Simon convinced the dog to stay back, and the party continued toward the castle. By late afternoon, the party found themselves traveling around a cliff with a pile of shattered rocks at the base. They saw two elves, one male one female, who are studying two giant bodies that have fallen from the cliff. They were discussing something.
Simon: “What brings you so far off the path?” We’re going to a wedding; we’re studying these two stone giants. The party were invited by the groom’s side of the family. We’ve been hired to do some things up there by the bride’s side. Urik will not be pleased to hear that he has a dragon problem up here. There are some big claw marks on these, although the party were attacked by a small one. One has leather armor, the other no armor at all. How do you know the families? (at Sonia) how did YOU get on the guest list?
Simon and Sonia attack. The non-armored one is lightning fast and reacts quickly to Simon’s pulling his blade. An initial cone of cold took Jarlebank for considerable damage; Peaches slashed at one and hits a lot but draws no blood. Sonia kills the mage but the other tries to get on the carpet and take off. “Pooja” activates the carpet.
Simon jumps and tackles the carpet rider, who deactivates the carpet and knocks them both into freefall. Jarlebank cast Featherfall on Simon, who retained hold on the falling elf. JARLEBANK magic missiles the elf, Peaches shot it with arrows, as they slowly move toward the ground
“Tell these bastards I surrender!” he slumped to the ground. The party were hired to kill spiders, the party got an invitation, they’ve never met us, and we have a contract. My sister has that, now that she’s dead.
Simon and Sonia bring the elf up the cliff to the rest of the party using the carpet, which Simon was able to take control of. They reached the top, the elf being gagged.
What kind of spiders? We don’t know. The sister has an invitation and a contract to kill spiders. “Cillian and Russa” are the names on the contract. Sister has
Wand of Vapors (Jarkebank) 41
Bracers of Armor +6 (Peaches?)
Footman’s mace +1
Longsword +3 spider slayer (Sonia)
Longbow (non magic)
Masterwork arrows (peaches)
Boots spring and stride (Shep)
Leather armor +2
Cloak of the arachnid (Sonia)
Capet of flying, 10×5
He’s originally from Yeomanry, where they all do whatever for money.
We make our way by air toward the floating castle, nestled against the top of the mountain and shrouded in clouds. Simon schools us on giants: Darkvision, other info. Sonia talks excitedly about killing giants, as they are natural enemies of his people.
The size of the castle is enormous, as is the obscuring cloud. There is a path, and the party follows along in flight. The party land a few dozen meters from what looks like a front gate. As the party breaks above the cloud, upon it are farms, in an immense ring, surrounding the castle. 100s of creature work on the farms, producing unknown crops.
High above on the castle battlements, an immense giant held a griffon on his arm, like a falcon. The scope of the place was mind-boggling. Griffons fly around with aplomb. 300 yards to the west is another mountaintop, just barely emerging through the clouds, festooned with houses and shacks. The party dismount and head toward the gate, contract and invitation in hand. Peaches and Aladar are to pretend to be Russa and Cillian respectively, the rest of us hangers on to provide defense.
The portcullis is enormous and there are both cloud and firer giants moping about. One cloud giant, 24 feet tall, has a huge Morningstar on his shoulder. “Identify yourselves or die!” Aladar addressed them cordially. “Explain yourself and quickly!” when they see Sonia.
Aladar explains: these are mercenaries that we brought due to the danger of the area, what with dragon and whatnot. And the giant says that he will bring it up the line. “If they even twitch, kill the dwarf first,” he says as he passes by the others.
Jarlebank surreptitiously pulled out CAELUM to see where the 3rd piece is, and it’s definitely in the castle.
A group of fire and cloud giants approach, including one who is much larger and better dressed than the original cloud giant the party spoke to. Arm rings, diadem, and he looks through the portcullis: “Show me the invitation and show me the famous spider slayer.” Peaches orders Sonja to give her the spider slaying sword, and shows it to the cloud giant, who asks why they have brought these people with him. What better bait for dragons than a lowly dwarf? Asks Peaches rhetorically.
“I am Urik Colophon, we’ve never had spiders problems until recently, you’ll have to talk to the fire giant suri, she’s the one that seems to be having problems.” Suri was the orc prisoners’ master. The party follow Urik’s immense steps up to the castle, and Peaches suspects that the “spiders” might be those spider-like chaos creatures that attacked us at White Mood Cove. The castle steps are immense and difficult to negotiate. Inside, there is a great hall (we’ve seen nothing but giants inside, all the humanoids were working on the clouds). There are murder holes pointing down the mountain, with ballistae staffed by trolls and watching constantly. The hall is 60 feet wide, and huge double door (opened) and the original cloud giant guard waiting for us. Passed is another hall, with tables, one of which is on a dais. All furniture is giant sized. Seven chairs at the main table, plus space for another forty giants. “Don’t wander too far; here is where you will be guests for the dinner.” Jarlebank checks CAELUM: no reading (!)
On the other side of the room, a few giants bring out an odd-sized stool, which is reminiscent of baby chairs. Some giants come in, and talk about mundane topics – they’re bored and wish they didn’t have to attend this function. There are several windows, but they are high and out of our reach. More giants enter, and Urik comes in with a female giant, who asks to show the sword to the female fire giant. Among them are two stone giants, and several fire giants. We’re sitting at the western table. Two female fire giants come in, one young one old, and the younger goes and sits near a younger male cloud giant. The older comes and sits by us, introduces herself as Suri Dragosdottir, and the spiders are unbelievable. Some of them have wolf heads!” She is wearing a stickpin that looks like a piece of wood, clasped to her cloak. “One tried to climb into my hair – you’ll kill them all won’t you?”
Food comes out and the party are served stew, remarkably delicious. “Can you look at a splinter,” and Jarlebank took the gem of seeing to look through at the stone giants. They are dragons! The same color as the juvenile the party met earlier.
The feast carries on as usual, and troll servants brought out dish after dish. At the head table, Suri speaks with her daughter mostly about wedding plans. Peaches compliments the giant queen on her jewelry (by proxy). A fire giant pulls out a lute and begins playing, while servants continue to bring drinks etc.
The cloud giant k & q, plus Suri and her daughter, leave by the door that the party entered, and the party are soon approached by a cloud giant the party hadn’t seen before, and given blankets to bed down for the night. A few fire giants also were camped out in the feast room. After he departs, Simon speaks to one of the lions, makes friends, and inquires as to the spiders. The party just were told to keep an eye out for them. The also mentioned the fire giants brought “dogs”
The night goes without any disruptions. But about ¾ of the way through, three fire giants want to come over and rough up the dwarf. Aladar tries to bargain them away, and they are finally mollified and return to their side.
Everyone begins getting up a little before dawn, and work in the kitchen begins. A cloud giant (Fargas) enters and tells us he is our tour guide and will show us around the keep after breakfast. He does not seem very happy about it. He takes us through the kitchen, storage area. No spiders. The cook’s bedroom has no spiders either, then the party return to the large dining hall. The party go through other doors, where there is a privy and an outside turret. Then back into the main double doors, right turn, toward another turret but the party goes to a staircase leading both up and down, the party go down. the party walk past an area, and there is a burnt smell down here, sulfurous. Off to the right, there are fire giants with hellhounds and giant beds, tables, etc. Two have hellhounds, then there are four cloud giant beds. In a further room, there appears to be a giant bear skin rug on the floor, another room with a double door (knocks politely) “Chieftains son, may I show the spider people in?” (Son of the host). The fire giant daughter is in here, but no cloud giant. the party looked around but nothing. Another room has more beds (12), but no giants. Then back up the stairs.
The fire giants, when asked, say they have seen the spiders; the cloud giants, no. Where are they? Upstairs. “The party goes there, and it has a strange smell, and air circulates more freely. There are areas covered in straw with Griffon atop, giants doing giant things. The is a giant drum, plus some ballista (10) with troll gunner. Each griffon has a placed barred off from the others. They’re worried about intruders.
Up more stairs and a third of the level is devoted to the lions, whose door is pierced to allow access. A huge staircase goes up to another room, where the cloud giant king allows us in. A beautiful garden is sectioned off my a glasssteel wall. The wife and Suri the fire giant queen are in the garden. Griffons are circling above. The party enter the garden and the plants are enormous and unidentifiable. Suri is staying in this same suite of rooms, but there doesn’t seem to be any hanky panky. There is also the largest hellhound that anyone had ever seen.
Aladar approaches the queen of fire giants. “Have you killed any spiders?”
The attack took place over a week ago, and then again down the mountain bringing up the slaves (this attack took place first – half a dozen on the mountain, three down be, two hear in the garden. The party inquire with Suri, then examine Yurik’s office, where Suri is quartered. The King announces he is going down to lunch, and everyone leaves. Vargas orders us to follow, and the party departs.
In the feast room, Simon and Jarlebank get recruited to function as servants. In the kitchen one of the cookbooks “How to cook a giant lizard” (dragon?) The stone giants have not been seen all day, but when asked they referred to them as “witnesses.” The party eat. the party ask where Suri is and are brought downstairs.
As the party go downstairs, the party hear an anguished shriek, and the party see two giantesses looking into a large mirror “I can’t stand this! My hair sucks, etc. Peaches runs up and declares herself skilled in hairdressing and goes to work on Suri. He uses towels to block and then grabs the brooch. Suri likes the hair and Peaches leaves with the stick.
Continued question talks about the “lizard” that is going to be for dinner, everyone’s excited. But they mention it is color: silver, and Simon and Jarlebank both agree that if it’s a silver dragon, they must stay and try to assist it. The party stop int eh main chamber.