TOREN 1998 - Stories|
Against the Fire Giants - Part III
The Hall of the Fire Giant King
6 Characters of 10th Through 15th Level
Four days of arduous travel along high mountain trails brought the party to the
mountain of lava, slag, and jutting black rock that housed the Hall of the Fire
Giant King. It was late in the afternoon of Seaday the 3rd of
Zadstar 7401 AR.|
Smoking vents were everywhere, and some of the holes spurted out jets of flame
from time to time. A wide, well-trod path wound its way across the barren land up to
two great slabs of blackest obsidian which formed a portal into the
side of the mountain. Each valve was twenty-nine feet tall and ten feet wide.
Normal human strength would not even budge them.
The land about was most evil and drab in appearance. The sky was gray and filled with sooty clouds. A distant volcano could be seen, and far to the south a glowing river of molten lava moved sluggishly down a slope and out of sight. The air was hot and smelled of heated rock and metal. The ground was covered with cinders and sharp rocks that made walking cross-country difficult (and noisy). This was the land called "Muspelheim" in the fire giant tongue; "Mountainhome" in Torsan.
The Portal to the Hall of The
Fire Giant King
The party that stood looking at this sight had been through many great adventures and now faced what may have been their most difficult. The elven fighter/thief Fealon Woodholme, one of the founding members of the party, had been charged by King Elsias to find his daugter the elven princess. Fealon had in his quiver an arrow of giant slaying which would fell the mighty King Snurre Iron Belly in one shot, if he could just get to the Fire Giant King. Beside the tall elf stood his companions; the human fighter Eric and the human cleric Thomas were the only other original members of the party that started their adventuring career at Leth Keep in the Kingdom of Ranica two years before. Joining them were the half-elven ranger Praxus, the dwarven fighter/cleric Hardul, the human mage Cato, and their newest companion the elven mage/priest Seso Caune.
The party first looked for a good place to retreat to should their attack against the Hall of the Fire Giant King require more than one foray, and they knew it would. Praxus soon found a well-hidden cave in a secluded ravine that was just 3 hours travel from the Hall. The party decided to spend the night there and attack the giants first thing in the morning. Before they settled down, they sent Fealon out to scout. Fealon scouted out the front doors of the Hall from a distance and circled the mountain looking for some other opening. He found none and returned to the party.
The next morning the party woke at about 3:00 am. The mountains were still deep asleep below their sooty black vault. The air was surprisingly warm for the first month of winter this high in the mountains. After the party had memorized their spells for the day, they set out for the Hall. They went quietly in the dark with Praxus leading the way and pointing out how they should retreat if they needed to. The land was lit by a dim red light from flaming gases shooting forth from the bowels of the earth and from molten rock. The party arrived at the huge obsidian valves that formed the door to the Hall just as the sky was beginning to lighten. As the rest of the party waited around the corner, Fealon scouted ahead to take a close look at the obsidian valves.
The rock of the mountainside looked to have been carved or fused into a large, flat wall here. It was about 70' wide and 50' high. The obsidian valves were set into this wall. They were flanked by bas relief carvings of two fire giants. Fealon checked the wall and doors for any secret entrances. He spotted none, but he did spot a peep hole in the right bas relief fire giant. From beyond it he thought that he could hear a giant.
The party's newest companion, Seso, volunteered to see what was beyond the peep hole. First he cast an invisibility spell on himself, then he polymorphed into a small bird. In bird form he flew through the peep hole. On the other side was a small guard room flanking the entry hall. There was one fire giant in the room. Seso went on to the entry hall were he could see one ettin standing guard where the entry hall ended and a larger, pillared hall started. Beside the ettin was a large gong. The entry hall had a floor of polished obsidian, and great wall hangings adorned the walls. It was lit by large, flaming torches. The pillared hall beyond had more of the tapestries and torches. It was also lit now and then by natural gas jets shooting from the walls. The hall had many pillars of black carved stone. The lowest four feet of each pillar was carved to depict a dwarf struggling to hold up the mighty pillar above him or her. Seso returned to the party and told them what he had discovered.
The party decided to make a rush attack with the aid of several silence spells. Cato cast a passwall to make an opening into the guardroom for the party. Seso flew ahead to the gong with a silenced stone. Praxus attacked the giant and was temporarily beaten back. This was the first of many devastating wounds that Praxus received in the party's first assault on the fire giants. The party quickly overcame the lone fire giant guard and rushed forward to kill the ettin by the gong. As they did, another ettin at the end of the pillared hall saw them and started calling for help as he charged forward. The party quickly slew the two ettins, but the death cries of the second echoed in the halls.
Praxus spotted double doors being opened on one side of the far end of the pillared hall. From the doorway a fire giant stepped forward and rushed Praxus as soon as he saw him. The party killed this giant, but not before Praxus took another bad blow. As soon as that giant hit the ground, Praxus rushed forward to see what was behind the doors that he had come through. Beyond, Praxus saw another fire giant and, behind him, a huge chimera. Praxus stepped back and called for the rest of the party.
The giant and the chimera rushed after Praxus. The chimera breathed fire on Praxus and the fire giant cut at him with his huge sword. Praxus was badly injured and near death. He called for his companions to help him, but they did not get there in time. The chimera tore into Praxus again and this time left him torn and bleeding on the floor. With a desperate fury the party killed the giant and the chimera. When Fealon knelt down to help Praxus, he could see that the half-elven ranger was dead.
The party did not have long for grieving as one of the tapestries in the pillared hall was thrown aside by the giants that poured from behind it. There were eight of them in total and they were in the middle of the pillared hall between the party and the front door. Fealon, Eric, and Hardul fought the giants with all their strength and skill. Cato and Seso helped with slow and lightning bolt spells. Thomas was there to heal the fighters. Things were desperate for a couple of seconds as the giants out-flanked the party and attacked the mages. Luckily, both Cato and Seso were able to cast invisibility spells and get out of harm's way. The party just barely overcame the giants.
With dead giants all around them, a dead comrade, and the thunderous sound of their lightning bolt spell still echoing in the Hall, the party made a quick retreat. They tried to follow the route that Praxus had laid out for them in their return to their secret cave, but they knew there was a chance that they could be followed. They got back to their cave before noon. Thomas called upon the power of Sumeolus to bring the brave Praxus back from the dead and just barely brought him back to this world one more time. It would be at least a day before Praxus recovered enough to go back to the Hall. The party waited there, nervously, for Praxus to recover.
Praxus was back to fighting strength by noon the next day, the 5th of Zadstar. The party decided to return to the Hall just after sunset that day. They got there at about 8pm. Fealon again scouted ahead, but saw no additional guards. Seso again volunteered to sneak through the peep hole as an invisible bird. This time when he got inside he saw a fire giant and two hell hounds in the guard room, and the gong had been moved there also. The hell hounds quickly sensed that something was awry and began to bay in their eerie, hollow tone. Seso quickly retreated to the party. The baying soon stopped and the gong was not rung, the fire giant was not being as cautious as he should have been.
Again, the party decided on a rush attack with the aid of several silence spells and a passwall. They quickly slew the fire giant and the two hell hounds under the cover of silence. The entry hall beyond was dark, all the torches unlit. Seso scouted it out in invisible bird form. At the end of the entry hall he spotted a large ballista loaded with six spears trained on the entry doors. There was no one manning it, however. The pillared hall beyond was dark, and as far as he could see, unoccupied. The party sent Fealon out to disarm the ballista and Seso went beside him. Just a short way down the hall, Fealon tripped a wire that fired the ballista. Fealon and Seso both dodged the spears, Seso only narrowly. The sound of the spears crashing into the entry doors was very loud and echoed through the Hall.
The whole party quickly moved forward to the pillared hall as Cato took out his lightstone. The party was set upon by two more ettins who rushed out of the darkness of the pillared hall. They cut the ettins down easily but soon a squad of five fire giants came out of the room behind the tapestry where the eight giants had come from before. A couple of quick lightning bolts and nicely aimed shots from the fighters killed these giants. The party quickly looted the bodies and searched the room that the fire giants had come from. They found a couple of items of note. One of the ettins was carrying a human-sized morningstar and one of the giants was carrying a human-sized battleaxe. Could those weapons be magical? The fire giant room was a barracks full of huge cots, chests, and a table and chairs. There were cots there for ten fire giants. Seso also had the wisdom to check behind the rest of the tapestries in the pillared hall but found no other exits. The pillared hall had two large halls exiting and two sets of double doors.
The party decided to check out the hall beyond the double doors that the chimera and two fire giant guards had come from. Off the hall were three rooms. One was the chimera pen. Luckily it looked as if the party had slayed the only one. The other two rooms were storage rooms for giant weapons and armor.
Next the party crossed the pillared hall to the other set of double doors. They soon discovered that there were hell hounds just beyond the doors by the loud baying that erupted when they got close to them. Quickly, the party opened the doors and waded into the hell hounds. There were ten hell hounds in total. Eric and Fealon led the attack relying upon their magical fire resistance. The hell hounds were soon dead and the hall continued ahead. At the far end of their light, the party could see a canvas curtain screening the hall beyond.
The canvas curtain was suddenly thrown aside by two fire giants who came rushing out. It was the kennel keeper and his wife. The party killed them easily with the help of a slow spell by Cato. A search behind the canvas curtain turned up just one room, the kennel keeper's living quarters.
The party returned to the pillared hall and went through the smaller of the two exits. This hall took a couple of quick twists before disappearing into darkness. There were two sets of double doors in the hall. The first set was barred from the outside with a large wooden bar. Seso slithered under the door in the form of an invisible black pudding. Inside were three male elven prisoners. The party decided to let them be for the time being as they did not appear to be in any imminent danger. Seso did the same at the unbarred double doors. Inside was a squad of female pale elves! The party had heard that King Snurre was taking orders from pale elves, could that have been true? The party left the pale elves alone for the time being as further down the hall there was torch light coming from a side passage. At the end of the side passage were two fire giant guards in front of a set of double doors. The party secured some ropes around the double doors into the room with the pale elves to hold them shut and attacked the fire giants.
The fire giants did not last long but they did last long enough to cry for help. Soon the pale elves were tugging on the doors. The party left Hardul to watch the doors that the fire giants had been guarding and got into position to fight the pale elves. To the party's surprise the pale elves attacked from behind them down the hall and not through the doors. There were 8 fighters and a leader as well as a priestess and a male magic-user. In a pitched battle with magic flying both directions the party was able to fell the pale elven fighters.
Just as the last of the pale elf fighters was falling, Hardul called for help. Two fire giants had come through the doors that he was guarding. In the confusion, the last two pale elves, a priestess and the male magic-user, got away. Rather than follow them the party rushed to Hardul's aid and killed the two fire giants. Praxus was badly injured in the short melee. The party retreated to the room the pale elves were staying in. There they found a secret door that let out into the hall behind the party. After a short search through the room, Fealon headed out to do some exploration. When he stepped through the door of the elven room and back into the hall he was ambushed by archers. They were gnolls, but no ordinary gnolls. These gnolls were trained rangers led by a renegade elf. The party overcame the gnolls and their elf leader in a vicious battle. They made a quick exploration of what looked to be a large conference hall which the giants had been guarding and to where the gnolls retreated to make their final stand. After this they left the Hall and retreated to their cave to recover from their wounds.
6th of Zadstar 7401AR - Mecran Mountains - The party spent the whole day in their cave. They healed up and checked all the items they had found for magic.
7th of Zadstar 7401AR - Mecran Mountains - For the third time in a week the party set out for the Hall of the Fire Giant King. This time the giants did not post a guard on the front door. There was a trap rigged there but Fealon had no problem disarming it. For the first time in their assault on the hall, the party went through the huge obsidian valves that formed the front doors to the Hall. Fealon scouted ahead. The torches were all lit this time and as he advanced he could hear the sounds of giant footsteps retreating into the Hall. Someone had seen them come in and would be waiting for them deeper in the Hall.
The party headed back to the conference room where they had had their battle with the evil gnoll rangers. They found some papers in an alcove there which they took with them. They continued past the conference hall down a hall that went up a short flight of stairs and ended in double doors. From the other side of the door they could hear muffled giant voices.
When they threw open the doors they were greeted by a dreadful sight. Before them was the throne room of King Snurre and sitting on the throne was King Snurre himself. Also in the room were six fire giant guards, two ettins, and two huge hell hounds. Seso cast a haste spell immediately and the party charged into the room. Eric was killing one giant a round and things were looking good for the party. The tide soon turned, however, as the two pale elves who had escaped the party two days earlier emerged from behind pillars next to the throne of King Snurre. The male cast a slow spell which lowered the haste on most of the party and the female held Praxus and Eric in successive rounds with hold person spells. To make matters worse, two more fire giants joined the fray from a large hall leading out of the throne room. The party was just barely hanging on against the giant guards as Thomas went from Praxus to Eric removing the paralyzation on each of the fighters. With this done the tide started turning back in the party's favor. Just as they were gaining the upper hand, Snurre retreated through a secret door behind his throne. With Snurre gone the party was able to kill the rest of the giants and the two pale elves.
Now the party stood in the throne room of King Snurre with the dead bodies of his royal guard all around them and King Snurre on the run. Fealon had never gotten a clear shot at the King with his arrow of giant slaying.
Rather than follow Snurre through the secret door, the Party investigated the rooms surrounding the Throne Hall. They soon came to the royal apartments and there they met and killed Queen Frupy and her honor guard. Frupy's honor guard were eight of the meanest and ugliest fire giant females the party had fought yet. Their queen was a veritable harridan. Topped by a huge mass of yellow-orange hair which looked like a fright wig, Queen Frupy's face was a mass of jowls and wrinkles set in the middle of a very large head that seemed to grow directly out of her shoulders without the benefit of any neck. Her body was lumpy and gross, her skin covered with bristles the color of her hair. Her little pig eyes, however, were bright with intelligence unusual in a giant. She wore garments of black dragon hide set with iron studs and wielded an iron scepter as a weapon. The only other denizens of the royal apartments were six hell hounds guarding King Snurre's room.
While searching the royal apartments, the party found two secret doors in King Snurre's room. One led to the back of his throne hall. The other led down into darkness. Down this second secret passage was a large cavern inhabited by a huge hydra. The thing almost killed Fealon in a flurry of attacks. Fealon had to use the teleport power of his unicorn horn to get away from it in time. The hydra had no treasure but in the back of its cavern was a secret door, and boy what a secret door it was.
On the other side of the secret door was a cave filled with stuff - a pile of silver coins, three mounds of tapestries and furs, several dozen bales of cloth, scores of various vessels and containers, and urns and vases of pewter and brass and bronze. There were also eight iron trunks, six chests, and five large coffers. This was the treasure room of King Snurre! After overcoming the numerous traps in the place, the party gathered together many magical items, pieces of jewelry, and gems, and more silver than they could count.
It looked like they had hit a dead end but there was no sign of Snurre. They searched the treasure room for secret doors and, sure enough, they found one. Behind this door was a dark passage that twisted and turned and went deeper still into the mountain. Part way down it, Faelon tripped a block trap. He narrowly escaped as a huge block dropped to the ground with a resounding thud and blocked the passage. Unfortunately Faelon had jumped to the wrong side of the block and was separated from the rest of the party. Things were not so bad after Cato opened a hole right through the block with a passwall spell. At the end of the secret tunnel was another secret door. This one opened into a dark hall containing twenty huge sarcophagi standing upright along the walls, and four even larger ones laying upon the floor. The burial hall of the fire giant Kings and Queens. There was one set of double doors leading out of the hall.
The party decided to return to the treasure hall and rest long enough for the spell casters to get their spells back before they pushed on. Eric and Fealon guarded the two secret doors while the rest of the party rested. About four hours later Eric heard giant footsteps and could smell trolls approaching from the hydra cavern. Soon the party was set upon by twelve trolls. Behind the trolls was King Snurre. He had in his hand a huge flaming sword. After the party had killed most of the trolls, Snurre stepped forward to attack. Hardul stepped forward to buy Fealon some time. Only Hardul's keen dwarven abilities and his cloak of displacement saved him. Snurre's first blow missed. His second knocked Hardul into the wall and almost cut him in half. Eric and Praxus were preparing to step forward when an arrow sped over their heads from the bow of Faelon. The arrow seemed to sing in a single crisp note as it raced for Snurre's heart. Faelon's aim was true and the arrow buried itself deep in Snurre's chest. Snurre just laughed at the arrow, but soon the laughter turned to terror. His last words were lost in a gurgle of blood as he fell thunderously to the floor with his sword still flickering in his hand.
Snurre was dead and the party was quartered in his treasure room. Now they just had to get to the elven princess. They already knew that she was in a cell somewhere in the Hall. They proceeded down the ramp to the second level. At the bottom of the ramp they had the fight of their lives. The battle seamed to go on forever and in total they killed 18 trolls, 64 gnolls, 5 hill giants, 3 fire giants, 6 frost giants including Jarl Grugnur who had escaped them at the Rift of the Frost Giants, and 4 stone giants. During the battle, their old nemesis the cloud giant with the two swords made an appearance. This time he was accompanied by a beautiful cloud giant lady and two huge snow leopards. As he did all the times before, he stayed out of the battle and as soon as things turned against the giants he escaped, running deeper into the Hall.
After the battle, the party explored the second level. They found the cells and the elven princess. They also released 8 other elves, a human merchant, and 2 centaurs. They quickly took all the prisoners out of the Hall and back to their secret hiding cave. With the princess safe in their hiding cave and the others there to guard her, the party made one last foray into the Hall of the Fire Giant King. Walking through the huge, empty halls was eerie. There was no sign of any live inhabitants, including the cloud giants, and the place stank of death and gore. The party did find one last valuable piece of treasure, however. In the room that must have been the living quarters of the cloud giant and his lady there was a valuable box on a table. The box was made of platinum and adorned with sunstones and moonstones. Inside the box were nearly a hundred valuable gems and a single note. The note was written in large letters in poor Torsan.
"My Lady Goroda
Please join us in our war against the lesser races of the world. The aid of the cloud giants would be well rewarded.
That was it for the second level, but there was a ramp leading down into a warren of huge natural tunnels. Could the cloud giant be down there or had he made his escape when the party took the elven princess to their secret cave?
The exploration of the third level of the Fire Giant Hall turned up nothing. That damn Cloud giant had escaped for the third time in as many meetings. The fire giant halls were finally emptied. The party trekked back to their secret cave and gathered up all the elves they had rescued, including the elven princess and headed back toward Qualnda.
The Party returned to a Hero's welcome in Qualnda. King Elsias was overjoyed to see his daughter alive. He was even happier, if that could be possible, that the Fire Giant Armies had begun to disband. Their red dragon allies had already been spotting flying north toward the Wyrmspine Mountains.
After much revelry, the Party returned to Rinlor. It was now Firstar of the Year 7402. The great heroes, Fealon, Eric, and Brother Thomas, had been adventuring together for two full years now. Their companions, Praxus and Hardul, had been with them for nearly as long. The wizard Cato and the wizard-cleric Seso had only been with the party for a short time, but they shared in the party's sweetest victory.
They came out of the fight with the Fire Giants with enough loot to live like kings for the rest of their lives. They decided to take at least some time off from adventuring and each went their separate ways, vowing to meet again one day soon . . .
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