Chapter One Hundred Three

August 9, 2013


3rd of Woodmonth


            “Up ahead is a ruined tower with some old ruined walls.  It’s crawling with goblins,” Korvinean informs us with venom in his voice.  He and Ulric discuss the details, and we decide that Arany will create a distraction, and we will rush the gate.

            As we approach, Arany flies up and transforms into his normal skin, and lets loose a terrifying roar.  Tiny, screechy goblin voices begin to yell in dismay and chaos.  From its position at the top of the last switchback, the tower must have been a watch tower in its heyday.  The walls are crumbling and falling in in places, and the goblins have taken up positions along what is left of its merlons.  Arany continues to rampage through the ranks, initially taking out around a dozen goblins.

            Brianna runs up toward the opening where a gate used to be, and deftly takes out two guards.  Ulric charges in behind her, tossing a bottle of Alchemist’s Fire at a stable on one side of the courtyard.  The door to the tower appears to have been recently repaired.  Briggette charges in and runs around the side of the building where a goblin turns toward her and throws back his cloak to reveal a stunning mithral breastplate.  Briggette strikes him true, but he is able to withstand the blow and remain standing.  I fire at one of the goblins atop the tower, and he goes down. 

            The goblins have finally gathered their wits enough to make a counter attack.  Briggette is hit with a giant rock thrown down from above, and Ulric takes an arrow to the helmet, though it does not penetrate his superior armor. 

            Korvinean fires his own individual volley of arrows, taking out one of them.  Brianna takes out another with her furious fists.  Arany bites at one, and strikes another with both his tail and one wing, and two goblins join their less-than-honorable dead.  Ulric closes with three more goblins all trying to find their glory in a hit on the knight, but instead, they each meet their doom.  I notice a goblin crouching above Ulric atop the crenellations of the tower.  I bury two bolts in her, but she manages to stay up.  She jumps off the top, and lands on Ulric, and punches him right through one of the joints in his armor.

            The mitral-sporting goblin slices at Briggette’s knees, leaving a small wound, but is soon dispatched as she brings Helga down on his head.  The goblin on Ulric is flailing and trying to kill him, and I fire at her, but miss; however, Korvinean picks up the slack, burying an arrow in her skull.  He notices that several goblins are attempting to move a pot of boiling oil over the side onto Ulric, so he fires at them, missing one and killing the other. 

            The door opens, and five goblins pour out before it slams again.  Brianna greets one of them with a punch in the nose, sending it to meet its maker.  Ulric turns to join in that part of the fray, and he notices that one of the goblins has blue skin.  He focuses his attack on that one, and it dies at Jasper’s hooves.  Another goblin takes up the slack for the one that went down, and they toss the oil over the top of the tower, lighting up Briggette and Chancellor with horrid oil-fed fire.  Brianna moves in and kills the blue goblin, while Briggette and Chancellor take a quick roll in the snow to quench the flames.

            Arany breathes again, taking out two more of the goblins.  Ulric is interested in the door that slammed shut so quickly.  He rides by the goblin now attacking Boian, and slices his head off.

            Seeing their reduction in forces, and the sheer carnage we have dealt them, we hear the cry of a small, screechy goblin voice, “We open door, you let us live?”  I translate, and Ulric agrees, letting the remaining goblins flee.  Korvinean points out that he can barely make out an oddity above us, and when I look, I am able to make out several buildings.  I tell our friends, and Korvinean and I both agree that the horses will not be able to make the remaining climb.  We decide to house the horses in the tower and leave Chancellor in charge of the horses.

            Once inside the tower, we see that the second floor of the tower is mostly missing, but the stairs have been rebuilt.  I take some time to find a good place to hide the magical saddles, and secure anything we don’t want to cart with us.  There is a large pile of refuse in the corner, and Korvinean begins to go through it as we search the rest of the room.  Suddenly, he is hit with an arrow, as the box he’s found defends itself.  I search for, find, and disable the trap, and we open the box to find coinage from several different places, both old and new in mint.

            After much discussion, Ulric and Briggette agree to be covered in white to blend in with the landscape.  We slowly and carefully start to make our way up to the higher area of the cliff.  It takes about an hour and fifteen minutes for us to walk up to that area. Korvinean informs us that sometimes white dragons and frost giants will work in tandem. 

            As we move further up, we see a figure that looks like a man, but fourteen feet tall.  He is standing out in the snow by a door of the same dimensions.  He appears to be guarding the door next to him, which is equally as large as him.  With Finn’s help, we find a way up the ledge that is not in direct eye line of the giant guard. 

            When we reach the ledge, we regroup.  Apparently, an assailant heard us coming, and the frost giant comes out to greet us on the way in.  Ulric hits him hard, and Korvinean follows up with several good hits to the feathers.  The giant lifts his axe to attack, but then falls over, dead from his wounds.

            Ulric reaches up for the door, and after a bit of struggle, the door gives.  Inside, we nine ogres.  Ulric makes quick work of the first two.  Brianna and Boian are able to make their way into the room and assist in the ogre genocide.  I shadow jump through the wall and attack one battling Brianna.  I manage to kill her, and am ready to move on the next, but the room is exceedingly full of people who want to experience the joys of discreet and pure blood purchases.

            We defeat all of the ogres in the room, and move on to the next.  When we enter this small stone building, we see a fire in one corner and four giant winter wolves to one side.  The remainder of the room is occupied by ogres.  Ulric charges in to their apparent leader and hits him, just as he bursts forth from inside the building.  Two of the wolves turn toward them, pouring white frost from their mouths into the general area.

            Finn manages to execute the other two wolves, and Brianna ends the other three.  Briggette and Finn take care of the remaining ogres in the room, and we move on to the next building.  This room contains two ogres, one of whom is immediately a woman, and the other we’re able to see as female after a moment of consideration.  Between them, they have a baby.  Finn shuts the door and asks me to pin it.  I comply, and we move on to the next room.

            This room is quite small, and has a locked door.  After checking for traps, I unlock the door, and we open it to find shelves lined up along the walls.  Several shelves line the walls, and the room appears to be entirely too small for a frost giant. 

            We move on to the next door, fully ten feet wide and around sixteen feet tall.  After we’ve done a cursory search of the door, I unlock it and we open the door.  Inside, we find four frost giants. Only two of them seem to have noticed the door opening, and they look over at us just as Ulric charges in.  He lands a solid blow on the first one, as the rest of us filter in, except for Silas and Arany who guard the door.  After a few minutes of heavy combat, all four giants have fallen.

            We make a quick search of the area before moving on to the other buildings further into the settlement.  The first one we come to is much, much larger than the earlier ones.  Again, Ulric lifts me up to check it out, and I find that it’s neither trapped nor locked.  We open it to a room with a giant table and an enormous hearth glowing with a low fire.  There is an overwhelming scent of mulled cider that fills our noses.  Finn’s gruisarme begins to hum lowly, and he and Ulric charge into the room.  There is a bed on the other side as well as three low pallets covered in furs, one of which houses a frost giant.  Two other giants stand in the center of the room having a conversation, and a fourth is behind the bed.  This last one seems slightly bigger than the other three.

            Ulric charges the ones in the center, while Boain runs in to take care of the one sleeping.  Arany moves in on the large one on the other side of the bed.  Briggette and I make our way into the room, positioning ourselves for better attack.  Korvinean takes a position where he will be able to shoot well, and readies his bow.  Brianna also joins in the fray, taking the brunt of the hit when two large winter wolves run up and breathe their frosty breath in her direction.  She finishes off one of the giants in hand-to-hand combat, except the giant never gets a chance to hit back.  I fire twice, hitting both times.  Finn runs over and swings his gruisarme at the fiend, chopping his leg clean off.  The giant falls and does not rise again. 

            Suddenly, a tiny ball of flame-bright light shoots over to the far side of the room, and explodes into a giant fiery ball.  The two winter wolves immediately fall, but the giant in the area of effect manages to stay up.  He steps to the middle of the room where the remaining fighting is taking place, but Finn slices him open, and he breaths his last.

            About this time, Korvinean is hit in the side with a giant rock.  Four winter wolves pour into the open door, two targeting Silas and two targeting Korvinean.  Another giant stands in the doorway and is greeted by Ulric’s charge.  Silas falls to the wolves’ attack, but Boian is quick to jump on one of them.  Arany flies back across the room to bite one of the wolves, and Briggette turns to charge another.  I turn and join Ulric in fighting the giant in the doorway, using Frostfang to hit him.  Finn runs up and swings in a wide arc, taking out three of the wolves in the wake of his blade.  Silas disappears, and the last remaining wolf turns toward Arany. 

            Ulric swings once more at the frost giant, and it falls.  Ulric climbs up on top of its body and roars at the four ogres and one frost giant heading toward the door outside.  I turn and prepare to hit the ogre closest to me.  Brianna tumbles out among the ogres and attacks the frost giant, the poison inherent to evil creatures which runs in her hit making his veins glow gold.  Ulric charges over to him as well, and Arany comes to the doorway and breathes on the ogres.  Three of the four fall, the last remaining long enough to taste my blade for his death.  Korvinean shoots at the giant, and it falls.

            We decide to hole up in this house for a few minutes to heal and rest, and then decide to head on into the cave.  Korvinean, Brianna and I are sent ahead to scout.  We find what appears to be the back of the cave with a cell containing several people.  Two frost giants guard the cell.  We use hand motions to indicate that Brianna will use her Abundant Step to hop behind them, and will begin the attack.  Korvinean and I will take up the slack, attacking them from a flanking standpoint.  She pops back and screams as she kicks and punches at one of the giants, and both of them turn around.  I run up and stab the other one in the back, while Korvinean finishes off the first, and turns with two more shots on the second.  Brianna turns to this one, punching the back of his knee and pushing his shin bone out the front of his leg.  As he falls, she lifts one leg and kicks him in the eye, demolishing the socket and liquefying the eye.

            Brianna turns toward the cell, and begins to light up until her head is shining a light in a twenty foot radius.  We can now see that the cell holds two dwarves, an elf, and five humans.  All of them except one of the human women drop to their knees to worship at the feet of this strange woman who wears white robes, kills giants with her bare hands, and emanates holy light.  The woman who does not kneel is dressed in rather fine clothing, or at least what was fine clothing before it was ruined by captivity.  I walk over, and while I untrap and unlock the cell, I tell them, “Rise; she is not your god.  She wields the power of St. Cuthbert—give him your thanks.”  The people begin to file out of the cell, and we are going to lead them to the house where we were stationed.

            One of the dwarves squints at me and says, “Gizli?”

            I am taken aback, but as I study his face, I realize he is one of the dwarves we saved years ago.  “You have a nasty habit of being captured.”

            “I have a nasty habit of being hard to kill.”  He tells me that he and his party were ambushed while hunging and he got knocked out and woke up here.  We wrap their bare feet with cloth and lead them to the house.

            We talk with the people and find out where they’re all from.  The noble lady is Maeve from Tomasina, and her house is Monroe.  Ulric decides to see if Silas can teleport them to somewhere safe as the cliff face is sheer and dangerous for them to try to navigate.  We finally decide he will take them to Brasov and let Stefan help them all get on their way to their respective homes.  Silas and the prisoners pop out, and Korvinean uses the furs to make ponchos for everyone.

We add a few logs to the fire and head to the next house to clear it out.  The next door is trapped, but I don’t find it, so I take a giant needle to the face.  It hurts, but doesn’t do great harm, but the door is unlocked.  When we open it, the room looks much the same inside, except for different placement of furniture. 

Korvinean is eager to get to it and squeezes past into the room, firing at one of the five giants inside.  I follow suit and tumble in, lift up and shoot at the same one Korvinean already hit.  Finn and Ulric charge in, each hitting one giant, but one of them jumps over Finn and is attempting to land his axe into my skull.  However, Finn raises his gruisarme at just the right moment, and eviscerates the creature mid-flight.  It falls to the ground, and he cleaves into the next one over, doing significant damage, but not felling it.  Brianna rushes in and attacks a female who had been sitting at the head of the table, obviously the one in charge.  We notice there’s a relatively small white dragon in one corner of the room, and it steps forward to expel a cone of frost through the room. 

The woman giant begins to cast a spell, but we can’t tell what it is.  Arany jumps up on the bed and bites her hard.  Briggette moves in to join the fray, Korvinean shoots again, and one of them drops.  I move over to another near the one Finn is fighting and slash at him, but barely connect.  Brianna continues to wail on the female, but the giant is able to swing hard on her in return.  The dragon bites and claws at Ulric, but can’t find purchase. 

Arany breathes a gout of flames down the length of the table, and kills the white dragon.  Boain runs up, flips over debris in the room, and attacks the giant near me.  Briggette heals Brianna, and I slice at the giant once again.  I am able to land the killing blow.

Meanwhile, Ulric stabs into the spellcaster, but when she falls, she lands on top of him.  We manage to get her off, and decide to move on to the next house.  We realize that the next house is slightly different from the others.  There is some writing above the door, but we cannot read it.  As Ulric lifts me to check the locking situation, I hear music from inside.  I look through the keyhole and see several giants milling about with tankards in their hands.  Not finding anything in the way of traps or locks, Finn and Ulric push open the door.

Inside, there are two winter wolves picking apart what seems to be a dwarven body.  There are two giants standing nearby, seemingly discussing the wolves and their meal.  On the far side of the room a much larger giant sitting on what appears to be a throne.  He wears a black circlet, and next to him, another white dragon.  I charge in and attack the one closest to the door with its back to me.  Ulric moves into the room to set up space for a charge.  Arany comes in and breathes over the room, covering a large area with his fearsome flames.  Brianna attacks one on the other side of the room, and Boian stabs into the one I started with, killing him in a flamboyant arc.  Briggette charges at the one in the center of the room.  Korvinean fires twice, but on the third time, his bowstring snaps, nearly slicing into his leg in the process.  I jump over to the one Briggette charged, and kill him with a well-placed hit.

Ulric charges the jarl, and lands a few solid blows.  He utters some strange words in a language we don’t understand, and we see a wispy blackness clinging to the sword as he swings toward Ulric.  The hit is hard, and Ulric clearly feels the blow, but somehow still manages to strike the dragon as it attempts to move through the room.  Law’s Claw lands true, and the dragon’s head comes clean off and bounces across the room.  Arany picks Briggette up with his teeth and hops across the room next to the jarl, then turns to bite the giant.

“Oh, shit!” Boian yells, and charges the area with the jarl, landing a blow of his own on the giant.  Briggette calls on Cuthbert to bring his Divine Retribution to this evil beast, and when she hits, Helga releases a holy burst of light.  She cuts the giant completely in half with this blow, and his body falls to the floor in two pieces.  Brianna and Korvinean make quick work of the last remaining giant, and we all pause for a moment to catch our breath.

The next building also has writing above the door, but we cannot read it.  I notice that this lock only locks from the outside, and is not of very good quality.  I unlock it, and Finn opens the door.  Inside, there are giants everywhere, at least ten of them.  One female stands up and picks up a frying pan, standing in a defensive position.  The rest of the giants all appear to be women or children.  Ulric says we should lock the door, but the woman asks him, “You?”

He realizes she is asking who he is.  He brings forth the sword of the jarl, and she seems confused.  We indicate to her—though not entirely purposefully—that he is dead, and she believes that Briggette is the new jarl.  She kneels, and Briggette tells her to get up.  “St. Cuthbert saved you, not me.  I’m not St. Cuthbert.”  We decide to leave Brianna, who needs no food or drink or sleep, to explain to them about St. Cuthbert.  We also go back to the room where we pinned the ogre women and child in, and we take them back to this larger group.

Meanwhile, Brianna begins to explain the laws of Cuthbert.  She demonstrates his power by breaking one of the giant chairs in the room with a bare fist.  We return to the jarl’s house and make ready to spend the night there before we head off to find and fight the white dragon.