Chronicles of Khaldun: Crux of Eternity

Revenge of the Giants, Part 18

Earthday, Patchwall 13, 552 CY (50 AN)

The following morning, Bezaldooz, Bosabrieln, Peren, Torinn, and Valna, their companions Geverspike and 254, and Torinn’s new shield guardian, leave Mordenkainen’s magnificent mansion to again wander the Frost Spire. Peren casts pass without trace and water walk upon the Shields of the Sorrowfell so that they may cross the lake around Zaelex’s tower of ice and traverse the snows without difficulty. They march.

After crossing the lake within a half hour or so, they continue to walk until a few of the Shields feel a tremor under their feet. They have only a few seconds to prepare before a massive insectoid creature, like a monstrous blue centipede with flames licking around its mouth, emerges from the snow and attacks. Torinn skirts around the beast to flank it as ten great, white wolves emerge from the snow, their pelts allowing them to blend in against the white backdrop. As the great beast attempts to bite Torinn, the wolves breathe ice upon the Shields, raining ice chips and sleet upon them, and Bonatos dies from the onslaught; the icy breath appears to not affect the monstrous centipede at all. Torinn lashes out at the great worm with his axe, and flames erupt from its wounds, mildly scorching him. Peren erects a fire wall while Bezaldooz lashes out with chain lightning, quickly killing six of the beasts and badly injuring a seventh, although the fire wall again appears to leave the centipede creature unaffected. The wolves break away and flee in search of easier prey. Although the centipede-creature is mighty, it is little match against the Shields and is quickly slain. After resting for an hour and applying some healing magics, the Shields are ready to continue.

Unable to scavenge much from the fallen beast, Peren decides to follow its raised tunnels back to its lair, particularly since they seem to be in the same westerly direction the Shields are heading. After another half hour, they find a burrow melted into the snow and rock. Inside are the remains of several humanoid adventurers, including a handful of blue spinels, several gold and platinum pieces, a staff topped with an adder’s head, an ornate amulet, a suit of studded leather armor, and a wicked-looking dagger. The Shields divide the items and decide to investigate them at a later time.

The march west and south is uneventful, and the Shields cross an ice bridge to a small island; according to Gorrick Frostcaller, Jarl Hargaad is interred here. Previously having decided to ignore Gorrick’s demands to deposit Helstaff and Zaelex’s bodies at the base of the stairs, they merely wish to investigate. Finding little before night falls, Bosabrieln conjures Mordenkainen’s magnificent mansion and they rest for the night. Bezaldooz again summons Bonatos. Bezaldooz identifies the four items they retrieved, revealing them to be a staff of the adder, whose head turns into a striking snake when activated; an amulet of health; a suit of armor of vulnerability, a cursed item which resists blunt trauma but makes the wearer take grievous stab wounds; and a vicious dagger. Bezaldooz erroneously lists the suit of armor as armor of invulnerability, and offers it to 254, but a suspicious Geverspike recommends against taking it.

The next day, the Shields continue to survey the small isle, eventually finding a cave to the east. They carefully enter, and Peren notes a hidden trapdoor in the floor, commenting for the others to avoid it. Two torches burn in the entrance, but give off no heat. Two boulders block two entrances to the east and south. The Shields move the ice boulder to the east aside, and descend into darkness.

At the base of the stairs, they are in a grand chamber. Two frost giant skeletons flank a throne, in which sits a corpselike frost giant wearing a mask of iron with an attached crown and dangling chains for a beard. As they approach, the creature speaks, not making eye contact, introducing itself as Jarl Hargaad and asking why they have come. Bosabrieln explains that they have come here with the understanding that these graves have been defiled. They have recovered two funerary urns, which he presents. The skeletons take them, and Jarl Hargaad says there is a third urn. If they recover it, all his treasure is theirs. Bosabrieln agrees, and the Shields take their leave. Once back upstairs, they suspect Jarl Grugnurson has the last urn. They also suspect Gorrick Frostcaller sent them to Jarl Hargaad’s tomb to die.

The Shields continue their trek across the ice, leaving the island and again resting in Mordenkainen’s magnificent mansion once they cross the ice bridge. The next day, Patchwall 15, their journey continues; they cross the ice until they reach Gorrick Frostcaller’s hut. Bosabrieln knocks on the door and Gorrick answers, indeed looking somewhat surprised to see them. They indicate they have deposited the bodies in Hargaad’s tomb, even giving a brief description, and tell him they are ready to craft the ice key to enter the vault and meet Jarl Grugnurson. Both sides agree to continue the journey tomorrow, first thing in the morning.

The Shields rest in Mordenkainen’s magnificent mansion, and after conversing on the subject, they decide there is no reason to include Gorrick Frostcaller since Bezaldooz can decipher the Tome of the Frozen Gate and craft the key. Particularly since Helstaff is still alive, which would no doubt lead to an awkward conversation. So, the next morning, the Shields inform Gorrick that they can craft the key themselves, but can he give them the elemental ice they need? Gorrick laments the fact that these outlanders penetrate the frost giants’ greatest mysteries, but says such must be the price of their hubris for plundering the tombs of their ancestors. He gives them the ice and lets them leave without incident.

The Shield’s march to Helstaff’s forge to craft the ice key. He is displeased to see them, but glad they will be gone soon enough. It takes three hours for Bezaldooz and Helstaff to craft the key, a massive, toothed icicle, and when it is done, they take their leave. Although Bosabrieln is certain to note that they spoke with Gorrick Frostcaller, and if he ever comes poking around the forge, he is under the impression that Helstaff is dead. The old blacksmith can do whatever he wants with that information.

Once the Shields leave, they continue to march south. As they are about to rest for the night, they come across a large collection of slain frost giants, most of whom were killed by heavy axe blows, although one or two appear to be withered and enervated. As Bosabrieln is about to cast Mordenkainen’s magnificent mansion, two frost giant corpses rise and a translucent giant form appears. The Shields make short work of the undead, particularly with the assistance of Valna’s holy might, and rest for the night.

That night, Peren has foul dreams he cannot quite recall. The next morning, Patchwall 17, he approaches Bezaldooz, who suspects the involvement of primal magic. He cannot remove the curse, however, as he did not prepare such a spell. They then approach Bosabrieln, taking a bath, who sings briefly to remove the curse. Peren suspects he was cursed by the night hag they met on the voyage here, and doesn’t know what else to expect.

After breakfast, the Shields continue their march. Spotting another guard tower in the distance, they sneak to it and use the same tactics as before: Bosabrieln, Geverspike, 254, Valna, and the shield guardian will approach from the front and parley while Bezaldooz, Peren, and Torinn climb the tower around the back to surprise them. Again, the frost giants appear unhinged, and when combat appears imminent, Bezaldooz blasts the giants with lightning. While Bezaldooz, Peren, and Torinn struggle with the bulk of the frost giants, their leader bangs on his drum and summons an air elemental. Both move forward to attack the remaining Shields at the base of the guard tower. One by the one the giants fall, although the leader manages to smite Geverspike and leave him bleeding in the snow. Eventually, the strain of battle disrupts the elementalist’s concentration, and the air elemental is unleashed. The elementalist falls shortly thereafter, Valna revives Geverspike, and Bezaldooz, Torinn, the shield guardian, and the air elemental fall upon the remaining frost giant. He is quickly slain.

After the Shields have rested and recovered, they continue their march south, then west around the tip of the mountains, before finally reaching a massive set of double doors, carved from ice and recessed into the mountain. The doors are decorated with tentacles erupting from the sea. After some discussion, the Shields order the shield guardian to open the door, and as they do, a vision overtakes them. The storm subsides and fire plays upon the peaks and illuminates a shadowy, tentacled form beneath the ice. It struggles and writhes, attempting to free itself, and with a final flash of fire, the Frost Spire returns to normal. Stairs descend into the dark. The Shields descend.

Before they enter, Geverspike notes that Peren previously retrieved a vial of oil of sharpness. Since it can be used on ammunition, and makes it able to harm things immune to normal weapons, would he be able to use it before this fight? Peren agrees, and Geverspike treats five of his bullets with the substance. The Shields likewise agree that 254 ought to get the vicious dagger, as according to Geverspike, he is prone to occasional rages against foes in which he becomes a very effective combatant.

On a small landing lies the corpse of a massive, ancient white dragon, its chest cavity cracked open and its heart removed, apparently by heavy axe and sword blows. Bezaldooz, Bosabrieln, and Valna suspect this could be part of some dread rite to Suulkar, perhaps an awakening ritual. The Shields continue the trek downward for almost an hour before the steep stairs emerge on a landing. Before they enter, Bezaldooz casts greater invisibility on Peren. A hole leads into a chamber, cliffs among icy sea water. At the far end of the chamber, a frost giant — by his bearing and diadem, likely Jarl Grugnurson — stands next to a large heart that still beats and pumps blood into the sea. He appears to be casting some manner of spell over it. Three frost giant hunters wait with him as the enormous form of an icy humanoid appears, an ice titan. As it appears, it bellows, asking why he has called it away from its work when they are so close to freeing Piranoth.

The Shields leap into the fray. Peren attacks the ice titan and dashes across the battlefield, putting himself near the king. Torinn rushes into combat with the ice titan, while the rest of the Shields begin pelting it with bullets and spells. Bezaldooz sends Bonatos to grapple with the titan and attempt to plane shift it, but the ice titan resists and Bonatos travels back to the Abyss alone. As the chaos erupts, Breven Foss appears next to Jarl Grugnurson, grabbing a piece of the divine engine hanging from his belt and dashing away, near the dragon’s still-beating heart. Jarl Grugnurson runs after the wizard, attacking him with a sword while Bezaldooz prepares a potent fireball. Breven Foss attempts to counterspell the fireball, but is too far away from the source as it lands, instantly killing him and scorching several of the frost giants as well as the beating heart. A hunter manages to land a net on Torinn, but he cuts it off himself as he continues to slash at the frost titan.

Peren, still invisible, moves to harry the giants while the rest of the Shields focus on the ice titan. Bezaldooz continues to sling long-range spells to take out the giants. Suddenly, everyone feels a presence in their mind attempt to wrest control, and 254, Geverspike, and Torinn immediately grow rigid and seem to fall under its control. Geverspike turns his gun on Bezaldooz, trying to disrupt his concentration so that Peren is visible, and though he fires, Bezaldooz maintains the spell. Before 254 has the chance to attack Bezaldooz, Peren rushes for the heart and slashes it three times, pouring all the souls from his helm of seven deaths into the last strike. The heart shudders and stops beating as 254, Geverspike, and Torinn appear to return to normal.

With the threat of Suulkar’s influence diminshed, the Shields quickly dispatch the ice titan. In the chaos, one of the frost giants falls, while Bosabrieln manages to stun Jarl Grugnurson. One of his hunters, badly injured from the fireball and Peren’s invisible strikes, shakes him back to consciousness. The injured hunter is quickly slain, leaving only a last hunter and the jarl to engage the Shields in combat. As they move into melee, a combination of blade and spell fells the last two giants.

The Shields search the bodies, retrieving a cache of coins, the jarl’s diadem, and a bone talisman on a gold chain. Breven Foss’s charred remains hold a wizard’s scroll, another bone talisman, the stolen piece of the divine engine, and a plaque bearing a picture of a tower with the words “Flamefall Tower” written in Giant. He also holds a brooch bearing the crest of the Broken Chain among his personal effects. There is no giant funerary urn among them.

The Shields ascend the stairs before resting for the night in Mordenkainen’s magnificent mansion. Bosabrieln arranges for massages from the ghostly servants after the arduous climb. Studying the objects, they determine that the bone talismans are both talismans of the seven winds, which will enable them to quell the storm over the island and escape. The scroll appears to be a telepathy spell.

The next morning, Patchwall 18, the Shields discuss matters over breakfast. They decide to use the talisman of the seven winds to calm the storm, and Peren will use his obsidian steed to survey the rest of the island, searching for places that might contain the last funerary urn.