Chronicles of Khaldun: Crux of Eternity

Revenge of the Giants, Part 13

Sunday, Patchwall 2, 552 CY (50 AN)

Bezaldooz, Bosabrieln, Peren, Torinn, and Valna return to Argent and deliver their results to Obanar at the Guardian’s Tower. They then discuss their next move. Although giants are on the march, they are not yet going to directly encounter them; instead, they need to forge an alliance among the settlements of Three Corners. Located to the northeast of the Sorrowfell Plains, the Three Corners are strategically placed to potentially prevent any giant armies from marching down into the Sorrowfell Plains. However, the Three Corners comprises three settlements, one human, one dwarven, and one goblin. None of them get along terribly well. As such, the Shields of the Sorrowfell will need to convince them that working together is in their best interest. They decide to take the afternoon to prepare, then set out in the morning. Considering all options, the Shields decide to speak to the dwarf settlement first.

The next day, the group returns to the Guardian’s Tower. Obanar performs the rituals to activate his teleportation circle, and the Shields find themselves somewhere else.

The Shields of the Sorrowfell appear in a circle outside a town carved out of stone, itself embedded in the side of the mountains. Greeting the guards, the Shields learn this place is called Broken Anvil. They explain their purpose, and the guards indicate the town’s mayor is a dwarf by the name of Baram Stonefist. They are led to his abode, and enter to speak with him.

Baram is displeased at the prospect of working with his neighbors — he claims to be at war with the goblins, and he refuses to work with Sala Brim, the human leader, until she has apologized to him on hands and knees. However, Bezaldooz and Bosabrieln manage to convince him that it is in his best interest, and that the giant horde requires his cooperation with his neighbors. They indicate they will send word when they have made contact with the other settlements. He bids them to rest a while and enjoy the hospitality of the town, and they agree, drinking for a while in the Cracked Cask. The barkeep, Kari Nulbaram, explains that Baram’s displeasure with Sala Brim stems from an incident a few weeks ago. Relations between the dwarves of Broken Anvil and the humans of Treeline have always been pleasant, but a few weeks ago was the annual fishing competition between Broken Anvil and Treeline. Sala Brim beat him, but was an intensely sore winner about it, insulting him the whole time. This is extremely strange, as everybody likes Sala, and she is usually quite gracious.

Given that they have a day’s travel ahead of them, the Shields depart within an hour or two. They arrive at the hardscrabble hills where the goblins are supposed to live, and are greeted by a war party with bows and arrows. The goblins seem to suspect duplicity, but Bosabrieln explains their purpose, and the goblins agree to lead the Shields to their leader, the hobgoblin Skruk. Bosabrieln again explains their purpose, convincing him that this is no trick, and that they have already secured the word of the dwarf leader, Baram Stonefist. Skruk finally agrees, but says they must complete a trial by ordeal to prove that their contention is correct. Skruk elects three champions — the goblin Chiss will challenge them to an enigmas contest, the bugbear Brubb will engage them in feats of strength, and the goblin Klik will test their ability to hide in the wilderness. It is agreed; Bezaldooz will face Chiss, Peren will face Klik, and Torinn will face Brubb. The goblins take a few hours to prepare, and create a ritual space for the trial. Bosabrieln joins in the drumming with their permission. For all the fanfare, however, the contest is over relatively quickly. Bezaldooz quickly displays his superior knowledge of arcane subjects, while Torinn swiftly pins Brubb in a wrestling match. No one witnesses Peren’s victory, as he and Klik enter the rocky scrub in a contest of stealth. But Peren is able to get the drop on Klik and returns to the tribe victorious. Skruk is pleased at their prowess and agrees to meet with the other settlements. The Shields set the meeting for the rocky tablelands in the middle of the Three Corners, and Bosabrieln conveys the meeting place and time (midday two days hence) to Baram via a sending spell. The Shields celebrate with the Skewered Rat tribe for an hour or so before heading to Treeline, the final location.

It is mid-afternoon when the Shields arrive in Treeline. They state their business to the guards and go to speak with Sala Brim. A well-dressed noblewoman, she assumes a condescending tone with the Shields, suggesting their concerns are exaggerated and that her guards can handle any errant giants that should come their way. Once she sends the Shields away, they regroup at the local tavern, the Harlequin’s Meadhall. They ask around and find that many inhabitants believe she has been acting strangely for the past month or so. Nothing presaged the change; she merely awoke one day in such a state.

Suspicious, the Shields take different approaches. Peren goes to follow her, hiding and observing her outside her window. When she leaves, taking a few guards with her to walk in the woods, Peren follows. Despite being well-camouflaged, she points him out to the guards and they interrogate him; he manages to convince them he’s wandering in the woods before heading on his way. He then decides to go look for giant tracks. He suspects she is a doppelganger, although he does not yet have a plan to deal with her.

Valna decides to watch next. She manages to find a good vantage point to observe Sala’s rear window. Bezaldooz decides to speak with her, convincing her to listen to his comrades; he offers her a gem as a peace offering, and then attempts to charm her with his preternatural vampiric abilities. She does not seem to be affected by it, or if she is, her attitude does not change. After he leaves, Valna tries to detect evil and good, but the woman does not detect as any sort of extraplanar being. While Valna is observing her, she stands and moves out of view. A few minutes later, Valna is surprised by a sharp, stabbing pain in her back. Alarmed, she wheels around to find Peren, shirtless and armed with a rapier, having stabbed her viciously. Her head spins and unconsciousness threatens as her wound bleeds profusely and she turns to run; Peren manages to stab her once more with the rapier as she flees. She screams for the guards as she rounds the side of the building, and they approach, trying to calm her and bandage her wounds. Having heard Valna’s screams, Bezaldooz, Bosabrieln, and Torinn leave the tavern to investigate. As Valna prays to heal her wounds, Bosabrieln sings a song to assist. Once they sort out what happened, and Bosabrieln goes to speak with Sala. Bezaldooz and Torinn follow. When they arrive, she is in her office, apparently having stepped out briefly. Before Bosabrieln really has an opportunity to speak, Torinn punches Sala in the face. She dodges, backpedals, and crashes through the window, running through the forest at top speed. Torinn follows in hot pursuit, but eventually loses her in the trees. He comes walking back to Treeline, running into Bezaldooz on the way back, as he followed through the window. He indicates he lost her. Once they return, the guards ask them to come to the guard post for processing — whether they have attempted assault or not remains to be seen. The four Shields agree.

Peren returns from scouting around dusk. The guards greet him and ask him to return to the guard post, explaining that there was an incident earlier in the day. He agrees. Once there, he greets the others. Valna seems slightly perturbed by his presence, and point-blank asks if he attacked her earlier in the day. He says he did not, and satisfied he is telling the truth, she hugs him. The group explains what happened, and he indicates his suspicion she is a doppelganger. Bosabrieln convinces the guards that they should search for her regardless, either to sort out this mess or confront an impostor. Two guards agree to accompany them into the forest.

Peren has difficulty following her trail, but Bezaldooz pauses as a distant howl sounds. A pack of wolves pads out of the forest, and Bezaldooz instructs them to follow her. The Shields and the two guards follow the wolf pack for an hour before the wolves part ways, but Peren has gathered enough information in the meantime to follow her trail. After a few more hours, they note a campfire in the distance. The group flanks her and approaches, and although the guards are loud enough to gain her attention, they manage to catch up to her, knocking her unconscious after a brief encounter with sword and spell. They awaken her and interrogate her, but she is still able to answer their questions perfectly. Bosabrieln and the guards converse briefly, and the guards ask if their priestess is able to revive the dead. Bosabrieln says she is, and they suggest killing her, as she should revert if killed. Bosabrieln agrees, borrows one of their knives, steps behind her, and slits her throat. She falls to the ground, and her form twitches and changes, forming the tall, grey, humanoid form of a doppelganger. Relieved at finding the truth, although saddened at the revelation that the real Sala Brim is likely dead, the guards build a makeshift litter, and the group conveys the body back to Treeline.

Once there, the guards awaken the town so that they and Bosabrieln may deliver the news and explain their purpose. One of the town elders, a man named Agranic Wesav, agrees to the alliance among Broken Anvil, Treeline, and the Skewered Rats, and says he will disembark with them in the morning.

The next morning, the Shields accompany Agranic to the meeting place, arriving in the afternoon. They find Baram and Skruk arguing, but Bosabrieln manages to defuse the situation. He introduces Agranic, explaining the unfortunate circumstances regarding Sala Brim’s death. Once the Shields have brokered the alliance and all parties have agreed, Bezaldooz performs the rituals to return them to Argent.

The Shields inform Obanar of their progress, and after discussing their options, they agree to travel to Flotsam to retrieve another piece of the divine engine before traveling to Frost Spire to prevent the frost giants from completing their mission there. The Shields rest for the evening, returning to the Guardian’s Tower on the morning of Earthday, Patchwall 6. Obanar again enacts the ritual to send them on their way.

They arrive at an old, disused magic circle a few yards away from a town hugging the coast. The town is divided by an icy river, crossed by a rickety wooden bridge. It is quite cold, with fresh snow covering the ground and howling winds all around. The winds pause for a moment before a blast of a horn breaks the silence. Approaching the town from the sea are three massive kayaks carved of ice, conveying a small force of five giants. One clad in furs and blasting on the horn bears a massive drum and a spear; the other four carry axes. As the Shields approach, Peren and Torinn move to block the drum-carrying giant from disembarking. Bezaldooz, Bosabrieln, and Valna sling spells at the other giants across the bridge. The panicking villagers flee, with four making it to the Shields. Two run across the bridge at the same time, and the old groaning thing cannot hold their weight, instead collapsing into the frigid water. Another villager is killed by a rampaging giant. A final villager is trapped on the other side of the bridge. The three giants across the now-ruined bridge disembark and begin smashing houses, while one kills the trapped villager. The other two giants, including the drum-carrier, are prevented from disembarking, and are quickly slain by the combined onslaught of the Shields of the Sorrowfell. Peren uses his ranger magics to dash across the surface of the water, while Torinn uses the jetpack on his power armor to cross the gap. The other three sling spells — all battle songs and holy prayers and flashing lighting and roaring fireballs — at the surviving three giants until they finally fall.

The invasion halted, the Shields stop to survey the damage, and scavenge what gold they can from the fallen raiders.