No rain but thunder, and the sound of giants.

3. To Bryn Shander in 101 Days

Three weeks of downtime ensue!

 

It’s been two days since the group left with Zephyros. The party finds itself camping on the first floor, and are told to stay out of the second floor (not that they are able to easily reach it). The ceiling height of the first floor alone is already at a hundred feet tall, and is 80 – 90 feet in a wide hexagonal shape. The tower travels at a cloud’s pace, and it stays above the clouds to avoid rain. They are given another houserule — don’t piss off the griffins roosting on the roof.

 

Deni asks Zephyros to reach her magic on the second day. Zephyros agrees or thinks about it and disappears to the second floor — by noon the next day, he still hasn’t reappeared.

 

Deni and Garonne bicker about cantrips, Valkur, and religion, but this is interrupted by Alara calling them outside. Up on the second floor window, Zephyros seems slumped over the window sill, visible from the outside. Deni tries to send him a message to wake him up; the giant startles awake and meets them downstairs. It appears that he had been trying to talk to the voices again, but he doesn’t remember that they said.

 

It’s at this point that Deni asks to be brought upstairs. Zephyros insists that he does not want them there because it has magicks, which Deni refutes by saying she “dabbles”. This interests Zephyros, but before they can pursue their argument too far, suddenly says, “This must be where the visitors come in.” Silas seems nothing outside, however.

 

Alara offers to keep watch, and she is joined by Garonne.

 

“How do you know what to do?” she asks, and Garonne responds that it is all instinct. She tells him that she had been a willful child growing up, but Moraq had set her straight so that she uses her head more.

 

During their conversation, the griffons become agitated. From underneath the cloud they are floating on come large bird shapes that fly up. “We seek Zephyros!” The newcomers are Amarath and Nuval, and they desire to speak to the old man. They are accompanied by nine gigantic vultures and their riders, humanoids wearing bird-like helms and head dresses. They say that they come from the mountains; Garonne chats them up while Silas hides behind a large suit of armor.

 

Zephyros lets them in. Deni identifies that these people are cultists of Yan-c-bin, a religion of the elementals of evil. Garonne starts sending messages in their head to bother them.

 

The group gives Zephyros a present of pixie dust from the Prince of Air, in exchange for help, although they don’t want to share what the help they need is. Garonne, not wanting Zephyros to agree to such terms, begins to message the giant in his head to confuse his already addled mind, which confuses and appalls the cultists. Garonne tries to persuade the cultists that since Zephyros is very forgetful, they should just tell him and Denithione their business. Zephyros goes up to the second floor of the tower thinking that the voices want to talk to him, but soon returns lamenting at their silence.

 

The cultists camp outside, and Zephyros contemplates what they want. The party, meanwhile, tries to persuade him not to ally with them, and upon being persuaded, shooes the cult away. He gives the pixie dust to Deni, who identifies that once sprinkled on a person, they will be given flight… or get knocked out… or become confused… or be invisible… and whatnot.

 

Right.

 

As the days go by, Deni tries to befriend Alara, who is a rather tall northerner, who might be from am Uth-gard or Glacier Barbarian tribe. She has a magical bear amulet, which seems to be the identification of the tribe. She’s rather anxious to meet them, and Deni cajoles her into befriending the rest of the party.

 

Meanwhile, Garonne befriends the griffins roosting in the tower’s hat, and Deni learns the spell Sleep from Zephyros. She also teaches Alara and Silas giant-script, although it doesn’t take as well yet. Garonne dreams of the northern cold. Some time in all of this, Garonne accidentally summons a Tressym, a winged, elven cat sacred to some gods.

 

By the tenth day, the party finds itself passing by the Sword Mountain, and they realize that Zephyros’ constant casting of Contact Other Planes seem to be slowly sapping him of sanity.

 

On the eleventh day, the tower enters the skies above the Neverwinter Woods. They wake up to large wingbeats outside, where a giant, silver dragon flies. Deni is beside herself with excitement, as a dragon fan, and Garonne notes the humanoids it carries in its claws. It lands on the cloud outside the tower and sets down four heavily-armed dwarves. As Deni attempts to communicate with them in Dwarven, they turn into mist and seep into the doors of the tower, investigating. They head up to the second floor, where the dwarves cry out “Moradin!” their dwarven god and set about attacking Zephyros. With great urgency, the party uses the pixie dust on themselves to fly up to the second floor.

 

Up in the second floor, Zephyros is trying to hold the dwarves at bay from getting to an orb in the middle of the floor. As the party attempts to intervene, the dwarves renew their attack on the orbs thinking that the party has been brainwashed by the giant. The party is eventually able to convince them to hold their weapons down, after much skepticism.

 

“I’m on a mission!” a dwarf shouts. Their crest is that of a beer stein, and are identified as from the Clan Battlehammer, from the Citadel of Mirabar. They say that the Swordcoast is being attacked all over by floating castles and towers like this, so the had attacked as well. The party tries their best to explain that this tower in particular is benign.

 

The Lord’s Alliance has mobilized, and utilizing the services of creatures like the silver dragon outside (who owes Queen Dagnabet), have been sending strike forces up against the giant threat. It seems that the orb controls the movement of these floating castles and towers, and so the dwarves had endeavored to destroy it. The leader of the dwarves they are speaking to is Voldric Firehammer.


Garonne inquires if other relics have been taken. Triboar was attacked by giants from under the ground. Silas proposes that the dwarves should sign on a banner to indicate to other strike forces that this tower should be left alone. The other dwaves, Griswald and Dana, help him with that task.

 

Outside, Deni tries to talk to the dragon, Clarion, in dragonic. “The vermin speaks now, too,” it says, and appears beleaguered at having to help the Lord’s Alliance. It sulks, in general. The dwarves talk about sending reports to the green, but are likely to run into more trouble. Icewindale to the north has been attacked by Frost Giants. Silas and Deni ask the dwarves to send some letters for them — Silas to Arize, and Denithione to the Harpers.

 

Upstairs, Zephyros shows the party how the org works, but otherwise doesn’t make a fuss about the events of the day.

 

Twenty days later, the party finally arrives in Icewind Dale. In the span of those twenty days, Garonne has been casting spells to test his new powers. The Tressym familiar is named Blackie, despite its white fur. Sometimes, it speaks to them in Garonne’s voice. The days become longer as they approach the north. Garonne’s dreams increasingly focus on the mountain of ice.

 

A day away from Bryn Shander, Zephyros prepares their party for their parting. They ask how to contact the giant, but there doesn’t seem to be a way. They go their separate ways.

 

As the party approaches Bryn Shander, they note the long queue of wagons and merchants lined up at the gate. Bryn Shander is a fairly large settlement surrounded by stone walls, 20 – 30 feet tall. The wagon they come up behind of is full of fur, from the south. The man is amazed at their story of covering that distance in three weeks.

 

As the party enters the town, they are greeted by a cheerful dwarf named Ogric, the deputy sheriff. She’s in charge of directing people about where to go, much like an infomercial. Alara asks for Markum, her uncle and also the sheriff of Bryn Shander, and Ogric leads them through the market to get to his the city hall, where he is currently inspecting the jail.

 

The jail is in the basement of the city hall, and made of walls of frozen earth. Markum is a large, bald, dark-skinned man. He welcomes Alara warmly, but become saddened at news of her adoptive mother/his sister’s death. The party explains what happened in Night Stone, and are given some money to make themselves comfortable in the in, the North Look. Hopefully, they are able to find work there.

 

The party checks into a tavern, which is full of mercenaries and adventurers. Garonne approaches the bar, where the owner, Scramsacks, offer them the last room in the inn. The rent is 1 silver per person per day. The serving girl, Belldora, tells them that adventuring here is fairly lucrative and there are lots of yetis to kill. Silas finds a Waterdavian copper coin in one of the pallets, and opts to sling a hammock over Garonne and Deni’s heads instead.


Eventually, the party heads down to grab some of the elk on the spit, and chat up a Knight of Tyr, Baric Nylief. The man is looking for some friends. Interested in the good work of the Triad and offering their services as an investigative team, the party is invited into the House of the Triad and look for Devlan, to the Southwest gate of Bryn Shander.

 

It’s at this point that Deni finds another Waterdavian coin in her pocket, and finally realizing that the coin is a Harper sign, sets off to the market to look for her fellow agent. The duke on the coin is grinning, and so she connects it with the stall The Grinning Duke. The stall is being run by Gemet, who takes the copper for some wine. As payment for their silence, Garonne and Silas also innocently purchase some wine for one copper from him, much to his chagrin.


Gemet tells Deni to tip their waitress in the North Look, and that “the knight is closer than he thinks, and he will pay the price for it. The weevil draws ever closer.”

 

Bothered by this warning, the party moves off to the temple of the Triad, and find Father Devlon. He’s a kindly looking old man who entertains their inquiries on Baric’s activities. It seems that Baric is after the a dwarf who is of interest to the Order of the Gauntlet. The dwarf is called Weevil, but his real name is Warvil Forkville, and a bandit. There is some involvement of the Zenths, and sabotage may be involved given that witnesses have been going missing. Baric is rooming in the Golden Stag’s Rest.

 

For now, Baric seems to be at the Speaker’s mansion. The Speaker, Duvessa Shane, is a young girl who is now leading the town. They are also interviewed by Sirac, an apostle at the temple who is eager to hear of their adventures. Sirac takes them to the Speaker’s mansion, which is located south of the market. On the way, they find out that Sirac is from Suzale, all the way in Cormyr.


As they are walking, they hear a horn bugle blast and feel the temperature drop further in the town. Unrest brews and a troop of guards rush past them. In the distance, they hear a bellow: “Surrender Artus Cimber!

View
2: Politicos of the Drippy Caves

The party resupplies and gains some weapons from the keep. As Deni rests the full duration of an elven reverie, Silas and Garonna take some short rests and do a sweep of the town. They find some bodies under rocks, six in total. Many of the houses are heavily damaged by the boulders, though most still stand.

Alara, the human guard, has volunteered to bring the party to the Dripping Caves, but requests to make a stop. She goes into a collapsed farmhouse near the inn, but only remains for a minute before returning to the group and resuming their travel. They take the horses, though Silas ends up riding with Deni.


The way to the Dripping Caves is only a mile up north, but the party converses with Alara on the way. She’s a polearm user who does not have much by way of experience, and is very impressed with the three adventurers. Deni is very encouraging. Alara explains that her adoptive father is the dwarven innkeeper, Moraq.

 

The party arrives at the Dripping Caves quite quickly, and stop about a hundred feet from its mouth to hide their horses. Alara explains that inside is a series of natural tunnels, and Silas takes up his usual role as scout. Unfortunately, even the impending sunrise is unable to illuminate far inside the cavern, and a blinded Silas is found out by a few goblins. He hears a large figure approach and flee outside, where a naked ogre 12 feet in height follows him out.

 

They engage the naked ogre and its armored companion and surprisingly make quick work of them, before marching into the cave.

 

Goblins surround them on ledges inside. Silas nimbly leaps his way to one and slaughters it, which Garonne uses to convince the other goblins to surrender to them. The goblins indicate that the party should talk to their boss, Hark, if they want to know where the villagers are, and lead them further into the caves. Hark, they find out, is a rather large goblin in patchwork armor with yellow, mottled skin. There is a dead villager being eaten by giant rats under his feet, which riles the party up, especially Deni.

 

Garonne and Deni negotiates with Hark; after some thought, Hark says that he will give them the villagers if the party kills “the blob”. A bit of prodding reveals this blob to possibly be a black ooze. Hark has a woman brought over to prove that the rest of the villagers are alive; the woman is Daphne, lady in waiting to Lady Velrosa. She’s in a sad state and seemed to have been slated to be the next meal of the ogres.

 

Garonne asks to check on the rest of the villagers, which is granted by Hark. He and Alara are led by a goblin, Flik, to the rest of the villagers. There is a pit with ledges all around it, where the villagers are quietly huddled. It seems that the pit is full of rather large bats that eat even goblins, so silence is necessary. There are rope ladders that the goblins use to retrieve the villagers. Garonne continues to converse with Flik, and eventually convince him to help them free the villagers in exchange for leadership of the goblins, Gurash’s salted head, and 5 gold coins. All he has to do is to leave the throne room when the party slays Hark. Flik is enticed by this and agrees to cooperate.

 

Back in the throne room, Deni tends to Daphne and threatens Hark with swift retribution. Upon Garonne’s return with Flik and Alara, more negotiations continue and they speak of this black blob. Silas gets exasperated with the proceedings and demand to be led to this blob alone, much to the protest of Deni.

 

When Silas and another goblin rounds the corner of the tunnel, Silas attempts to ambush the goblin and drop it silently. Unfortunately, the goblin notices his attempt and is able to shout — the throne room erupts into a fight.

 

Garonne immediately works to reduce the number of goblins and rats in the area, by convincing the goblins to leave Hark to his death and the rats that there is an earthquake in the tunnels. Deni engages Hark, holding him off as Silas creeps back into the throne room to join the fray. Between the three of them, the goblin leadership is successfully deposed!

 

Garonne joins the villagers, who have been led our by Flik and Alara, while Silas and Deni scour the rest of the tunnels for threats and villagers they may have missed. They make sure to keep away from the black pudding, though. Deni finds a chest with a few gold, some expensive salt and pepper shakers, and a holy symbol showing a silver tree. She keeps for herself a scroll of divine favor.

 

Alara introduces Moraq to Garonne, who has to break the news to him that Lady Velrosa is dead. It seems that some of the villagers were lost to the ogres, but for the most part remain intact.

 

Deni, incensed at what has been done to the villagers, threatens the goblins to never come near the villagers again. After that, she and Garonne argue about the leadership of Nightstone, and then the Nightstone phlint; the villagers don’t seem too fussed about its loss.

 

Back in the village, everyone pitches in to help with the wounded, taking stock of the people, shoring up the village’s defenses, and cleaning up the mess all the attackers left behind. Deni gives up majority of the loot they acquired since arriving at Nightstone so that the villagers might have some money.

 

It’s morning when the party finally gets some rest, hosted by Moraq the innkeeper. They wake up later in the afternoon to the smell of bacon, and Moraq gives them a more detailed damaged report on the village. It seems that most of the families had lost a member to the attack.  Silas goes off to help with the rooftops, while Deni heads to the keep to continue the investigation that brought the trio there in the first place. Deni finds the family genealogy and discovers that the Nanbar family branched a long time ago, but otherwise everything seemed in order. She has the document sent to Waterdeep, along with a written cypher for the Harpers.

 

Back in the town, Silas is approached by a young, halfling girl, Dollop who gives him a doll named Lala as thanks for helping them. Silas gives her his own lucky charm, a rabbit’s foot, and speaks with her mother Tayla. They seem to have lost a son to the attack, but the father is away on a trip. Furtively and making sure the others don’t see, Silas gives Tayla some of the money that he has to help.

 

Deni and Garonne investigate the boulders to determine where they are from — Moraq identifies the stone as granite, although there is no granite anywhere near Nightstone. The good thing is that making something out of all that rare rock might help Nightstone recover financially. Sidery comes soon after to give news that Waterdeep will be sending in help soon, in the form of new guards and a new high steward.

 

In the evening, Moraq and Alara approach the party for help. After some bickering between the three of them, they finally hear the father and daughter out. Alara wants to be taken home to her people up north, now that she is of age and can leave her foster parents. She wants to learn more about her roots in Bryn Shander, up in Ten Towns, in the region of Icewind Dale. The journey alone will take months at the fastest. Alara shows them an amulet that she has, of an unknown metal and shaped into a bear paw. It might be from barbarian tribes.

 

Silas is quite happy to take this job, if only because he can secure them passage in a ship for it, and finally, finally get Garonne on a sea journey as befitting of any follower of Valkur.

 

With that settled, the party once again hunkers down to rest. They wake up in the morning to screams. Above the village is a tower floating on clouds a hundred feet above them, sending the citizens into a panic as they once again rush to evacuate Nightstone.

 

A rope falls from tower, and a humanoid figure forms on the ground. “Zephyros will see you now,” it says softly to Denithione’s indignant demands, and despite their wariness, the party does climb up the rope. The rope is made of clouds, though solid. Above them, they notice that the tower is topped off with a rather large, pointy and blue wizard’s hat, with stars on it.

 

When they reach the tower, they find out that the door is 60 feet tall, and that inside, the ceiling is another hundred feet in height. There is a hexagonal chamber beyond the front door, separated by a thin but large curtain. There is a hole in the ceiling, and all the furniture are gigantic. After a couple of minutes, a giant floats down from the hole in the ceiling — it is an elderly man, 28 feet in height.

 

The man doesn’t notice them for a while, so Garonne casts Thaumaturgy to enhance his voice. The old man seems senile, and has a tendency to write everything they are doing on his book. He seems delighted to recognize their name, and seem to be looking for fourth — Alara. Since Zephyros is so addled, they decide to come up to the table and read through his book themselves, much to his curiosity.

 

Someone told Zephyros to look for the party — voices in his head from the other planes, apparently. “The four would be needed to restore the Ordning.” The Ordning, they find out, is the Giant caste system, starting from the Storm giants on top, to the cloud giants, the fire giants, frost giants, and the hill giants at the bottom.

 

Zephyros will take them to Icewind Dale where Bryn Shander is, and the trip will only take three weeks if done by air. The party murmurs amongst themselves and ask the giant for a day to make a decision.

 

They descend to questions from the fearful villagers, and they explain that the giant asked to take them away. The party stocks up on furs and other cold-weather gear. Silas sends off a letter to Arize Levy, Garonne’s twin sister and Silas’ own captain, even as Garonne finds out that the air humanoids from the tower is able to provide the town with protection.

View
1: Big Trouble at Little Nightstone

The party is hired to travel to Nightstone, a hamlet found between Waterdeep and Daggerford. There has been trouble with the wood elves of the area in recent times; House Nandar, the governor of the territory, put up a hunting lodge in wood elf territory for pleasure hunting, and the elves had retaliated and killed half the lodge’s occupant, including the high steward of Nightstone. The party is being tasked to investigate the genealogy of the steward’s wife, Velrosa Nandar and the new high steward of Nightstone, to ascertain the legitimacy of her inheritance.

It is just before sunset and after some days of eventless travel, that the trio arrive at a fork showing the way to Nightstone. They opt to walk the remaining few miles to the village hoping to make it to supper. As they travel through the forest, though, they hear the unending tolling of a bell, and discover that it is coming from Nightstone itself.

 

Nightstone is a village that bisects a river, which has formed a moat around it. It has palisades for defense, and a keep in the eastern side. The party notes that the ramp between the keep and the village has been broken in the middle, and that the watchtowers flanking the drawbridge are empty. The party cautiously but openly approaches.

 

From the drawbridge, they can see that the square ahead of them is empty except for a large crater and a boulder in the middle. There are many boulders botting the place. Silas moves ahead and skulks to the temple at the left of the drawbridge, which is the source of the bell sounds. As Silas inspects the temple, which seems to hold the motif of many gods (one of them Lathander), Garonne and Denithione outside see the figure of two massive wargs gorging on a cow. Deni and Garonne head up a watchtower and promptly pelts the wargs with magic and arrows. The wargs eventually realize that they cannot get up to the two, and hide behind some boulders. Deni and Garonne give chase, but the wargs circle around and ambush them, knocking Deni down even as she kills one of the wargs.

 

Meanwhile, in the temple, Silas finds the source of the bell’s movement — two goblins are in the bellroom playing with it. He locks them in and exits the temple, where he is able to assist Garonne in dispatching the remaining warg.

 

Nearby is the Nightstone Inn. Silas scouts it and finds that the middle has been smashed through with another large boulder, which has gone in from the roof and through its upper floor to the mess hall. A dead goblin, freshly slain, is also on the floor, an arrow through its neck.

 

Garonne finds a female human in robes is upstairs, who insist that she is a monk of Lathander. Her leg is hurt, which is why she has been unable to escape with the rest of the villagers. It seems that there was an attack at the village with the boulders some time during the day, which came from a castle in the clouds, and when she had come to the village was swarming with goblins. Kela, the girl, says that she is only visiting the village. Garonne and Denithione feel that she is lying about something, but only Deni continues to prod at her for information.

 

Kela reluctantly reveals that she had been here to study the Nightstone, an actual obsidian phlint in the middle of the town square with magical runes on it. During the attack, four giants had come down from the castle and taken it. The dwarven innkeep had rallied the villagers to evacuate them to the hill caves north of the village. Kela says the village had about 40 people in it.

 

Meanwhile, Silas, who had tired of the interrogation long ago, leaves his party members to explore the village. He comes upon the Lion Coaster trading post, which is basically the town’s general store, and finds a lone goblin looting the place. He catches the goblin in a barrel and rolls it over for further interrogation by Garonne.

 

Garonne uses Thaumaturgy to boom his voice louder, and speaks to the goblin in orkish. The goblin in the barrel mistakes Garonne for his boss, and tells them that the villagers ran into a cave — their cave. The goblins had nothing to do with the rocks, however, so Garonna satisfies himself with the interrogation and manacles the goblin.

 

As they are leaving to look for the villagers, seven figures on horseback enter the village via the drawbridge. They are all in black leather armor and are heavily armed — they call themselves the Seven Snakes, a group of bandits with a reputation for odd targets. Their leader, Zolkin, steps forward and blithely questions them on their purpose here. Kela materializes behind Deni and returns to Zolkin a snake. It seems that Kela had sent a message after being forced by Deni’s questions, and these are people she works with.

 

Zolkin interrogates their goblin captive before ruthlessly killing it. As Zolkin threatens them and they argue about whether or not Zolkin should spare their lives, they hear the sound of an orc bugle in the distance. There is a troop of thirty orcs coming up in the distance, though some seem injured. The party and the bandits reluctantly agree on a truce to fend off these orcs and set to work preparing for a siege.

 

Garonne broadcasts his voice from the watchtower to speak with the orcs, and the orcs mistake him as one of them. Apparently, Gurash and his band had been in a skirmish with wood elves, who are hot on their heels in pursuit. They demand to be let in. Garonne reveals himself to be a half-elf, which sends Gurash into a rage. He promises to get in, and retreats to ready his troops.

 

As the party and the bandits get ready and reprovision, Garonne hears a voice in his head…

 

The goblins that they haven’t dealt with in the village emerge to take potshots at the group, though they are very quickly disposed of. Garonne and Deni assist the bandits in repelling the orcs from climbing up the palisades, while Silas toils on securing them an escape route behind the keep. It’s as he’s doing this that he bumps into the guards who have hunkered in the keep the entire time. There are four of them, with their captain Siderie. Silas bids them to hide for a while, since he’s unwilling to deal with them, and continues to build his evacuation route.

 

The orcs find the prospect of getting burned and shot at while scaling the palisades to be too daunting, and after being challenged by Garonne, Gurash changes tack and moves to bring his forces to the gap in the wall where the ramp to the keep is. Silas bids Deni and Garonne to come to the keep side so he can trap the Snakes in with the orcs, but Garonne stays on the village side, forcing Silas to follow him on that side. Meanwhile, Deni commandeers the guards in the keep and rallies them to help in the battle. While Thorim is reluctant, Alara agrees and begin preparing crossbows at the keep roof. They prepare pitch and fire, which prove useful against the mass of orcs later on.

 

Silas and Garonne engage Gurash from the palisades. Silas gets a good hit in before Gurash clobbers him half to death, which prompts Garonne to humiliate Gurash in front of his band “for choosing to fight a child”. An attack at Garonne with the intervention of Valkur ends Gurash, however, and a victorious Garonne uses the orc chief’s severed head to dissuade the other orcs from continuing their frenzy. The orcs retreat, chased by an incoming battalion of wood elves.

 

The skirmish over and done with, the party realizes that the bandits have fled the village via the drawbridge. They retrieve some potions and a cypher from their dead and leftover saddlebags; here, Deni finds out a Zenth encryption stating, “The town is ready, come soon. — K”

 

The party discusses their next actions. While the village has been saved from the orcs, the villagers themselves remain missing, and in danger of having walked into a goblin-occupied cave.

 

In the keep, the guards somberly show them the body of the Lady Velrosa Nandar, who perished upon being hit by a boulder as she was helping the villagers evacuate.

 

Next up, the Dripping Caves!

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.