After the evacuation, the band was joined by Wenarus and Gunnar that had been directed to them by left messages and notes. The band traveled back to Hocath to verify what had happened. It became very clear that the giants decided that Hocath would exist no more and the entire village had been flattened. Every building had been torn apart and razed to the ground. Then with the timbers from the destroyed buildings, 20 crosses had been erected and 10 humans, 5 ogres and 5 orcs had been left hanging. It was obvious that they had been left to die.
The party removed the humans from the crosses and provided them proper burial as overseen by Calin. Though probably not believers they deserved to be given proper burial rites. The orcs and ogres were thrown upon a funeral pyre. Dagris looked for identifying marks on the humans to bring back news to Secath when it was possible.
After dealing with the remnants of Hocath, the party felt it was time to figure out what the best course of action was to take on the hill giants. First was the idea to teleport to the cave and set up watch again. The first group of characters to arrive was met by a large purple fungus that emitted horrible screeching sounds. The party wasn’t sure what to make of this but then saw that something was attracted by the noise. Calin put up a Blade barrier and whatever was outside decided not to venture inside…And the party teleported back to Hocath.
AS it was going to take some time to clean up Hocath and wanting to wait till dark, Elden was sent to range up the valley in eagle form to scout. Suddenly a large white reptilian form swooped out of the clouds and quickly flew closed on Elden. Elden tried to escape by diving to the ground and hiding in the vast conifers that stood alongside the road. The dragon merely swooped down and looked directly at Elden and said “ssshow yourssself”. Elden hastily transformed. The white dragon smiled and said his name was Icing Death (not a true dragon name but it certainly describes his abilities). Icing Death also told Elden that hill giants tend to drink and feassst after ssssunssset. That is when their guard will be down.
Once Icing Death determined Elden to not be a threat and wasn’t a tasty morsel he wanted to know why Elden had there. Elden then layed out what was going on with the Giants. Icing death responded with a proposal. If the Diamond of Elissee is found (it is the size of a human head) use his dragon tear to summon him and he will clean out the nest of giants.
Meanwhile, back at the ruins of Hocath, the party discussed options… and discussed more options. The discussion dragged on into the evening and Elden returned with the dragons proposal. Ardin decided that enough was enough and it was time to act. Saying a few words he teleported to the giant’s pantry where he had first appeared. Still sounds of the kitchen as well as the occasional loud thump and crash of something hitting something.
Ardin spotted the stairs and quickly descended halfway. Prepared himself and continued down the stairs. Bare underground cavern though it looked well used. Faint animal and other more rank smells. But no movement. Continued through walking and soon spied doors and exit passages. Ardin selected one and moved deeper into the caverns. Everything was quiet. Moving faster and deeper Ardin was sure that the diamond was close at hand… it wasn’t.
Instead Ardin walked into a room with 3 stone giants in it. They immediately reacted and attacked and struck down Ardin. In an unconscious state, he was taken to the Chieftain and forced down a drought of giant mead. He came back to consciousness, throat burning, bound and gagged, to a great hall full of giants and ogres. The gag was removed and Ardin was questioned why he was here. Ardin told them they were all dead. Which promptly had the result of gales of giantish laughter and the gag was reapplied and the ropes tightened. The general gist of the giants moot talk from that point was how crazy was this wizard to invade and attack a giant stronghold.
The party in Hocath noticed Ardin was gone and decided to ascend the valley and see if they could get close to the the giant’s steading. Midway up the valley the party was moving pretty quietly and saw huddled and slumbering forms scattered under the trees. Nothing seem to notice the party. The party moved on. Nothing else seemed to notice as the party moved closed.
Gunnar on his mighty griffon flew up the valley, saw nothing moving. Circled the steading with its six mighty chimney’s belching smoke and could smell the cooking and roasting food and the drink that was flowing in the main hall. But nothing moved outside. Gunnar also spotted the main doors were almost burnt away and had yet to be replaced. Inside Gunnar spotted two slumbering giants, tankards near at hand.
The rest of the party arrived from Hocath at about the same time. Nothing or no one seemed to notice the party. Gunnar leading the way moved past the drunk and slumbering giants and proceeded to go into the steading. Doors opened. A room full of rowdy giants. A room full of furs and beds and furniture. More bed rooms and resting areas. A large set of doors and Wenarus stealthily opened it to see Ardin tied up on the floor and many many giants all drinking and eating and talking. And dozens of hill giants and cloud giants and ogres all talking and eating make lots of noise. None of them spotted the slightly ajar door. Except Ardin.
Ardin noticed the door, managed to spit out his gag and then dimension-ed doored to the other side. None of the occupants of the room noticed. The party continue to move cautiously opening doors and searching. A gate that seemed to have wolves on the other side. More bedrooms and resting areas. Then a secret door was discovered. Behind it was a narrow stair…
Down the stairs. A intersection. Move to the right and Wenarus tripped a trap and fell into a 30 foot pit. Sustaining light wounds he was dragged back out. On the other side of the pit, chests and chests of treasure. The party moved in to pick it all up. Another passage was taken and led to a room that seemed to have shiny items heaped against the far wall.
The party went in and iron bars sealed the room and another set opened… and four manticores peered into the room and started attacking the party. Blows traded, spines flung everywhere and Dagris was damaged over and over. But Calin was up to the task and kept the party healed. Finally the manticores were slain and more treasure was discovered. As well as a small room with spy holes and levers in the wall. Suddenly loud clanging and shouts were heard from above. The escaped Ardin had finally been noticed.
The party dragged all the treasure into the small control room and sealed the secret doors. Plans were made to teleport back with the treasure….
While the party rested and made plans in the small chamber, Wenarus noticed movement in the large chamber to the north. A large disfigured giant came and went with a regular schedule from a passageway to the North. Also there was a large iron door that bugbears went into and out of with food and slop buckets.
The party rested long enough that the the giant search from above and below failed to check the areas that the party was in. The party teleported back to Ardin’s home. Plans were laid and the party went back to Secath.
There a Brother of the Winds was waiting for Gunnar. He was being summoned back to service for the Empire and the Templars. Seems pirates had raided one of the coastal forts and a punitive expedition was being put together to punish the pirates. Gunnar gave the party a farewell and took off on Skyclaw to return at a latter time…