Session Thirty-Six: New “Friends”

When the dawn came, the giants’ foraging parties returned from their nighttime expeditions. Watching from the top of the lighthouse, Scratchy counted 3 or 4 hill giants, with a similar number of ettins. They bellowed once toward the abbey, “Ormagh! We brought deer and boar!” then settled down among the ruins of the surrounding village. They seemed more interested in enjoying their meal than in approaching the abbey, which was lucky because the party had some concerns of their own.

“We can’t bring Casamir down below,” Theodora was saying, “he’s too old and fragile.”

“What’s wrong with that?” Helanda asked, “The lighthouse was secure enough for him to survive the giant attack. We’ll just leave him up here and he can prepare extra healing for us when we come back up to rest.”

“Yes, but Koriah won’t leave him by himself, which means not bring him means not bringing her either. And she’s someone I think would help us a great deal.”

“Yeah, but we’re okay. After all, we have that vrock you charmed.”

“That’s just it, I don’t have the vrock either! Whatever spell they used to bring it to this plane also bound it to the bridge! It won’t come down below at all!” Theodora buried her head in her hands, “Yesterday I thought I had three new friends to help us out, and now I have none!”

“Ormagh!” the giants bellowed again, “Where are you? You want meat or not?”

“Um, Theodora?” Scratchy implored. He didn’t speak Giant, nor was he as good at creating magical sound.

Theodora responded by conjuring up the voice of the medusa. “We’ll come get it later,” the voice answered in Giant, “just enjoy it for now.”

“We are not speaking to you snake-woman!” the giants answered, “this meat is for Ormagh and the others of our kind!”

Oops. Theodora adjusted the voice to sound more giantish and replied, “The snake-woman speaks true! We will come to get the food later!”

The giants shrugged and went back to cooking their meal over the burning remains of a house.

“That was a terrible giant voice,” Milacent chided.

“Well, lucky for us that giants are stupid, and vulnerable to magic. It doesn’t take the most accomplished of magicians to manipulate giants into … ” Theodora’s voice trailed off as an idea came to her.

Zelcor, sensing what Theodora was thinking, said, “I’ll get Koriah.”

Koriah agreed with the plan, and even agreed to join the expedition, with her father trailing a safe distance behind. There were some preparations to be made; Theodora in particular needed some time to ready her spells, but the giants were just eating and growing groggier as the sun rose, so there was no hurry. Around noontime the party filed out of the lighthouse and toward where the giants were lounging.

The path they took was a roundabout one. The giants were sitting near a gap in the weather-beaten wall that surrounded the abbey grounds, and the party used the wall to hide their approach to the giants’ camp. “Camp” was a generous description, as it was little more than a cluster of ruined buildings that they were sitting in and around. As the party approached they could hear some giants snoring, while others engaged in sleepy conversation occasionally interrupted by a powerful burp.

Theodora climbed to the top of the wall, to a point where she could see two sleeping monsters: one giant and one ettin. She wasn’t particularly great at stealth, but the giants who weren’t sleeping were not paying very much attention, so she was safe enough. She cast the two charm monster spells she had prepared, then signaled to the rest of the party that they could begin.

Milacent popped out from behind the wall, in full view of those giants who were still awake. “Hello giants! I am here to defeat you!” she exclaimed, then began to swing around the spine flail in the clumsiest fashion she could manage.

“I think you’re overdoing it,” Helanda whispered.

Milacent ignored her completely. “Oh no! This flail is so hard to control!” she added.

The giants rose to their feet, let out a great war cry, and charged toward her. As soon as the first got close she snapped forward with the flail and sent it tumbling to the ground, and Helanda stepped out from behind the wall to finish it off.

An ettin approached next, its two heads shouting all manner of vile epithets. Koriah met this one. In her right hand she held a bastard sword whose silvery blade glittered in the sun, and in her left she held an aklys, a hooked club attached to a twenty-foot cord so it could be thrown and retrieved. She did not throw it, however. The ettin approached her, tried to strike her down and missed, and then Koriah tore into it with her twin weapons. Every time the sword hit there was a burst of cold, and frozen drops of ettin blood spattered noisily against the wall.

“Ooh, I want that sword!” exclaimed Milacent.

“Koriah, are you sure you don’t want to join us?” pleaded Theodora.

The battle was going well. Giants who charged at the party were shredded by Milacent, Helanda, and Koriah, and those who stayed back were roasted by Zelcor. Theodora even felt confident enough to stand on top of the wall, about a dozen feet in front of the three fighters’ meat grinder. She was casting spells from this high vantage point when one of the hill giants decided she was a much better target than Milacent. It reached up to the top of the wall and easily pulled her down. Milacent, seeing Theodora in trouble, stepped forward and started lashing at the giant, but even as it died another one approached the priestess lying on the ground. It lifted its club high above Theodora, shouting spittle-flecked invectives, and was about to smash it down when another giant came roaring from its side and pushed it away.

“Get away from the lady!” it roared, “Do not hurt the lady!”

Theodora looked up and recognized the giant she had cast the charm on just before the fight began. It and the charmed ettin had been woken by the sound of battle, and were now fighting their comrades to protect Theodora.

Soon the fight was over, and only the two charmed enemies remained. The giant glared angrily at Koriah, who had moved forward to help finish off the others. Koriah stepped gingerly back.

“Say something,” she told Theodora, “The charm spell makes them friendly to you, but they’ll still happily attack the rest of us.”

“Hello there, good work!” said Theodora, inserting herself between the giants and the rest of the party, “And don’t fight these people! They’re my friends! Come with us into the tunnels below the monastery, and we will find great treasure together!”

“Ormagh say to stay above the ground,” one of the charmed ettin’s heads said.

“Kob-Kog say below is strange magic, only for the elf priest,” the other head added.

“Yes, well Kob-Kog and Ormagh lied to you. They’re trying to keep you from getting the treasure. That and they’re dead.”

The charmed creatures thought about it for a moment before replying, “Yes, we will come with you. We will take the treasure from the liars!”

Theodora felt a rush of satisfaction over having successfully obtained two new friends for the party, the use of charm magic notwithstanding. Then she thought of a way that she could already start rewarding them for their loyal service.

“Hey,” she said, “have any of you ever tried medusa meat?”

Posted in Storyline

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