Lamashan 16-18, 4708 AR
After laying low the fearsome Frost Giants, our heroes tended to their wounds and then resolutely followed the path to Xin-Shalast. While the discovery of the remnants of a golden road might arise excitement in the hearts of most adventurers, that was not the case of this stalwart band.
Nay, this group complained that the giant bricks weren’t made of solid gold. The Runelords just cannot win with these characters…
So, on they marched, camping when they could and now, with the altitude effecting most of the band, they made use of their Necklaces of Adaption, stowing their Sihedron Medallion for the time. Lindin, who traveled without the use of any namby-pamby necklace, took the Sihedron Medallion, in case its False Life ability was needed.
On they went, ever upwards, following the path told to them in Silas Vekker’s journal and their ally on the mountain, Svevenka. The mountain was treacherous, with the wind, snow and cold working against the group, but with magical enhancements, and grim determination, they persevered.
However, intermittently through the days, up high in the sky, winged creatures were seen in the distance. These creatures looked to be man sized, but they rarely stayed in sight long enough to investigate; they seemed to have a precise flight pattern, and retreated soon after any visual contact.
As they traveled, their skill and luck was sorely tested when they came to another sheer, ice-covered cliff face. While not as tall as the climb to the Icemists, the domain of Svevenka, this climb was of sheer ice. That, combined with the punishing wind made for their most dangerous ascent yet.
Lindin and Erekhil plotted the best route to climb this rock wall, then, the sell-sword began his ascent. The sell-sword is a nimble and dexterous individual, but even his considerable skills were challenged, but, in the end he managed to climb the cliff, inserting piton and ropes for his comrades along the way. And, when he reached the top, he was greeted with the sight of a narrow cavern, crawling through the mountain’s rock, thick with frozen, giant-sized webbing.
Peering into the dark cavern, the Korvosan kept his eyes peeled for the source of the thick webbing, ready to slide down the ropes to safety in the event he meets the beast.
No beast appeared as slowly, ever so slowly, the remaining Heroes of Sandpoint made their way up the mountain. After hours of grueling travel, all five Heroes were atop the cliff, staring at the web encased cavern.
Taking swords and hacking their way through the web barriers, the noise and vibrations alerted the residents of the cavern. Two huge, frost-covered spiders climb down from their lairs and struck, quickly.
Climbing down, the spiders’ huge fangs bit into the sell-sword and the dwarven fighter, their poison running through our heroes’ veins. The dwarf’s constitution, stout, managed to shake off the poison, but Erekhil wasn’t as lucky and he felt his strength waver.
Thankfully for the duo, their comrades were not far behind. With a flurry of arrows, magic, sword strokes and hammer blows, the giant spiders were killed without any unnecessary damage done to the group.
As the group searched the area, finding no material treasures, Ayra and Lindin deduced that the cavern they were traveling through was once a bridge of cyclopean proportions crushed together by some cataclysmic force. Moving on, exiting the cavern, under the dimming mountain sun, the Heroes of Sandpoint were greeted by incredible sight: a one-hundred-foot wide rode of solid gold.
Patches of ice here and there could be seen, but for the first time since entering the Kodars, a flat, even roadway was available for the group to use. Making good use of this road, the group made quick time through the mountain until they reached to gargantuan statues of Karzoug, similar to the ones they saw on the Storval Stairs so many months ago.
Cautiously the group headed forward, but no amount of caution could conceal them from the four sets of giant eyes that had been waiting for them. From the waist of the statues, huge boulders were being thrown at the group with terrifying accuracy.
The rock projectiles battered the group as they tried to find cover. No cover could be found along this roadway as four towering giants of pale skin and finely chiseled features came floating down from the statues.
The group, separated from each other in the mad dash to avoid the boulder assault, became easy individual targets to the incoming giants. Bahne, alone after Erekhil abandoned him to his fate and staring down two giants became the first victim of the giants’ immense two-handed maces.
Gamely taking the fight to the giants, Bahne fell in a bloody, mangled heap after repeated blows from these ungodly maces. However, he was too far for anyone to reach as Ayra’s healing magic could not revive him.
As Bahne died, and made his way to Torag’s Hall, Deivon Altorre, Chosen One of Varisian Lore, decided he did not want to become giant fodder again, quickly cast a powerful invisibility spell upon himself and proceeded to unleash spell after spell of Evocation magic on the giants.
Lindin, identifying these giants as Cloud Giants, began to mark his quarry and fire arrow after flaming arrow into their thick, armor plates, finding an occasional seam, but his arrows seemed to have little effect and the giants kept coming.
Erekhil, healed and ready to get back into the fight, charged forth with his typical springing élan, but was unaware that his comrade Deivon was invisibly in his path. With a thud, the young sell-sword ran full bore into the back of the Varisian and fell to the ground.
Confused, but focused on his task, the sorcerer kept unloading death from his fingertips towards his foes.
Ayra had her hands full casting healing spells to keep her allies in the fight and avoiding giants’ reach. She prayed to Calistria continually, and Calistria answered, as her magic kept her allies alive, but still, she was unable to revive their fallen fighter, and her phallic whip was no substitute for his Runeforged earthbreaker.
Erekhil, Lindin and Ayra scampered along the road, trying to stay out of harm’s way, but they could never quite extricate themselves from the gaints and the future looked bleak for the group, but Deivon’s force of will would not be undone. Wave after wave of potent magic hammered the giants as they slowly began to lose their momentum, and their lives.
The first Cloud Giant fell to an explosive Fireball, then a second. Soon, the fight became a battle of will between heroes and villains, and our heroes would not falter. Deivon’s unending onslaught of evocation pyrotechnics battered one of the remaining giants, while Lindin’s arrows, and Erekhil’s razor sharp blades, bled the other.
In a final crescendo of energy and arrows, the final two Cloud Giants succumbed to their wounds and with a last gasp, maces falling from their bloodied hands, breathed their last.
It was no time for celebration, however, as the group hurried to their fallen comrade. Digging through his belongings and finding the diamond he keeps to be called back from Torag’s Hall, Ayra took it and began to chant her prayer to Calistria, bringing the soul of the dwarf back to the body.
With a cough of blood, a shudder and a colorful dwarven curse, Bahne Verember was back.
As darkness descended on the battlefield, and Erekhil making his way through the hollow statues, the group decided to make camp inside the statues, where the Cloud Giants obviously had their camp. If any foes came for them, they would hold their ground there and accept what the fates had for them.
The night passed slowly, each member on watch peering into the darkness to see any foe, and straining their hearing for any sign of enemies. Midway through the second watch, foes did appear.
A group of six winged creatures flew down and inspected the dead bodies of the giants. These foul beasts appeared to be an unholy cross between human and vulture. Their powerful avian legs ended in wicked talons and their clawed hands clutched oversized bows. Their wings, filthy and blood-crusted, extended from broad shoulders. The creatures finished their inspection quickly, scanned the two statues, then in a rustle of flapping, flew back off towards the direction they came.
The remaining night was quiet, and peaceful.
The next morning, the group, fully healed, moved out and, soon, as they made their way through the last turn through the twisting cavern, the golden road still underfoot, they saw what they had sought: Xin-Shalast.
Although only a few of the outer buildings could be seen, the proportions defied belief. Built in a colossal glacial valley, under the ever watchful eye of Karzoug’s likeness high on Mhar Massif, the city grew upwards in prodigious heights, as each towering spire and vast building appeared to try to outdo every other.
The golden road led to a massive fortress of shining, black stone whose towers rise over 200-feet, but another, almost as large golden road veered to the left, around the fort. A mass of some ancient glacial flow seemed to have covered a wide chunk of the city’s eastern reaches, burying it in a great mass of jagged ice and broken buildings.
Although the exact dimensions and length of the city could not be ascertained from their position, it must be many miles deep and wide, the group observed that the golden road must wend its way through the city and come out far to the north, at the base of Mhar Massif, as it continued its path, taking no heed of the sharp elevation elevation change, leading onwards, almost straight up.
The city’s builders also paid no heed to the elevation change as more cyclopean buildings clung precipitously along the mountains side. Finally, just under the gaze of Karzoug, the road ended at a spired citadel, its size, proportion and majesty truly magnificent.
As the Heroes of Sandpoint gazed upon this sight, six of the vulture-headed humanoids flew towards them, foul of appearance and stench. In the tongue of Thassilon, they asked the party their business. Ayra was about to reply that they were here to kill Karzoug and that they could suck it, but Lindin and Erekhil held aloft their Sihedron Medallions, quieted the half elf, and mentioned something about joining Karzoug’s army.
Their bluff seemed to work, as the birdmen waved them on, pointing them towards the fort, and then flew off. The group made the mile long walk to the fort and began to take in the monumental size of the city.
Passing through the fort’s gate, they realized the walls were at least 50-feet thick and 75 feet high at its lowest point. As they entered the colossal courtyard, they could see, behind a thin wooden pen, about two dozen mountain aurochs milling about as a half dozen bird creatures flew above or lounged about.
Then, all Hell broke loose.