Ranza (Changeling 4)
Gnarl (Wood Gnome 5)
Hobbs (Hedgefey 5)
Hobbs (Hedgefey 5)
Thrax (Fighter 4)
Vegarious (Changeling 3)
The party look leave of the Queen of Ravens and were once more escorted blindfolded out of the tower. There the Ravenguard left them, and the party had to decide what to do next. General agreement was to explore the surface fortress further. Since they knew Shangrat the fomorian giant had one of the seals to access the hidden areas below the fortress, they decided his tower was the first place to visit. But only after first checking the curious black flame Thrax had just observed off towards the ruined keep. It emerged from a narrow crack in the flagstone, and behaved just like a normal flame, except that it was jet black and produced no heat. Thrax did note it imparted some sort of strange property to a dagger he thrust into it, but this was indistinct and disappeared after a few moments.
Leaving this new wonder for now, the party trekked through the tumbled ruin of the fortress town to Shangrat's tower at the far eastern end of the fortress. The massive rectangular tower loomed over the party, and the 20' wide entrance led into pitch darkness. Snooping around the barest remnants of the original gates, Hobbs noted tracks of two different types of humanoids. One obviously the giant and the others smaller and closer to human size. There were also signs of a four legged creature, though the exact type was uncertain. Lighting a lantern, the party formed up and headed inside. The entrance led into a massive room with ceilings and walls lost in darkness. Scattered around was nothing but a fallen and rotted lacework of old wooded racks and frames. Moving in further, the party entered a second oversized room that had once been divided into many smaller spaces by wooden walls; Gnarl surmised this was likely once a stable for the garrison.
At this point Vegarious, at the rear of the party, heard something behind them. Turning, she saw a huge black feline with tentacles extending from each shoulder. It, like the shade hounds in the colossus, seems to shimmer or waver, it being never clear exactly where the creature was standing. This thing leapt past the changeling and fell upon Gnarl, slashing ferociously with the barb-tipped tentacles. At the same time, the strange black kitten he'd purchased at the Goblyn Fair poked it's head out of it's basket and started the mewl. Reeling, the wood gnome released the kitten, which bounced over to his attacker. That placated the beast. and the pair started to move away. But Gnarl was not about to let his pet go, and enticed it back with toys and treats. Which likewise brought back the larger beast, and a short vicious melee was required to finally kill it (out of sight of the kitty of course). It would seem Gnarl had a very interesting pet.
The party finished exploration of the entry level, finding nothing more of interest beyond an abandoned forge and more debris. A pair of stone staircases led up to another abandoned and ruined serious of rooms, these apparently old barracks. Beyond a serious a large fireplaces, all long cold and dim, they found a nest or bed of sorts make of boughs, rags and moss. While rooting around in it, the party heard behind them a shrill voice, demanding to know what they were up to. Turning, the observed a creature with a wizened little body and a huge, grossly ugly head. After some back and forth evasive banter, the creature screwed up it's face into a frightening visage, scaring several of the party into stunned stupors. Gnarl, now recognizing this thing as a spriggen like the once he'd fought in the black tower so many moons ago, hauled out his spear and with one swift thrust impaled and killed the dark fey.
After unsuccessfully ransacking the nest and the fireplaces for treasure, the party headed up to the next level. Vegarious first cast invisibility to scout ahead. She crept up the stairs, and just beyond the top landing came upon the giant Shangrat. He sat on the floor of a room lit by a blazing warm fire, cracking and twisting bones open to suck out the marrow. In the corner was someone or something, occasionally wiggling back and forth, tied up in a canvas sack, The changeling retreated and went to get reinforcements, and the rest of the party climbed up to the top of the stairs. There, they stood whispering back and forth for a bit, trying to decide what to do. The out of giant's room boomed a voice "I know you're there. Why do you disturb Shangrat?" Now caught, the party decided to parley. Although Thrax nearly got them squished with his banter, they did in the end talk the giant into trading the bronze aster (which they could see stuck in his ear like an earing) for the bear statue Hobbs had been hauling around forever.
Now made the feel unwelcome by the giant, the party turned to leave. After checking the roof of the tower, they talked about what to do next. Gnarl rightly pointed out that they had the seal, but giant's were also known to hoard treasure. And there was that captive who just might be of importance. Maybe a carefully laid ambush to take out the giant was the best course of action? No one could think of a really good reason why killing the giant was a bad idea, so they got to work. Looping back to the lower level, Gnarl crept up the second set of stairs and laid a snare spell there on the landing. He, Ranza and Hobbs then set up defenses at he bottom of the stairs. Vegarious, still invisible, lurked in the shadows at the head of the stairs while Thrax headed up to the roof too make sure nothing appeared there to take them from behind. Vegarious then caused a ruckus, attracting Shangrat's attention. The giant thundered across the tower towards the stairs, and tripped over the snare, tumbling down into a stunned heap at the bottom. Gnarl, Hobbs and Ranza then took advantage of the battered giant and charged in to attack. Vegarious, and soon Thrax as well, ran down the stairs to help. At this point, another spriggen appeared behind Gnarl, Hobbs and Ranza. After first scaring Ranza into inaction, it swelled up to near giant size and started to press hard against the remaining two. At about the same time, Shangrat recovered his wits, and lashed out with his weapon, a tree trunk studded with swords to form a giant spiked club. Between Shangrat and the spriggen, it was starting to look grim, especially for the battered Hobbs and Gnarl. But in spite of all, they soon succeeded in landing final blows on both and brought the battle to an end ...
Bronze Aster Seal (20sp)
2 Spriggan (Ollo and Grunk)
Shangrat the Fomorian Giant