Part two of the ongoing adventures of my group. Original Google doc here.
Rogues Gallery – “General Puggin’s Moribund Mercenaries”*
- The Rogue – Giselle der Gauner the Soulknife due to a mutation granting her telekinetic powers (character #2, the previous character was Mirka the Rogue-Deceased)
- The Monk – Augusta “Tof” Bamberger and her henchmen Elmo the Ranger and pet pug General Puggins.
- Mage-Knight – Ms Squekers, gnomish eldritch knight and her badger mount, “Badger Badger”.
- The Knight – Lintelfaden Toshcobble, squire of Rufus the Bold. Mekataur.
- The Fighter – Fensal the Android (brain tape swap) (Character #2, the previous character was a cleric – Deceased) and his (henchmen Zof the Jarhead Wizard – Deceased).
- The Ranger – Bustov Daman and his animal companion, The Mou-Mou Bird (bloodthirsty sparrow).
- The Cleric – Lorenz Brandt (character #2), the scribe, Mouthpiece of the Golden Goddess (human cleric of UNITY).
The Druid – Lilie the Elf and her henchmen Wolfram and animal companion Fuyuko, the white wolf (retired).
*Due to a transcription error by the Verbobonc mercenary company registrar, “Merry” become “Moribund.”
Session 60 Recap
Next stop, the Howling Crag where the fortress of stone giants stood. This enemy was a surprising one for the people of Geoff as, unlike their other kin, these people were more on the neutral side. In fact, they had an alliance with the dwarves and their leader, Thane Arnak, was a close ally and a friend to the small folk. The sudden hostility came out of nowhere and the party was debating whether or not they should try to come peacefully or if they would be forced to use violence.
A group led by a human by the name of Martin Pierre had already been sent as a diplomat but no one had heard of him since he arrived; finding out if he was alive and bringing him back was another task they had to complete.
“Break the alliance, stop the raids, and find Martin,” Gisella summarized. “Honestly, if we can sort this out peacefully that would make our life a lot easier.”
“Is Arnak still in charge?” Lorenz asked. “If he’s gone crazy like the dwarves think he has then he won’t really be listening to discussion.”
Fensal tapped KITT’s hull and beckoned the party over. “We might as well head on over and check. It’s almost a week away then in the mountains. We’ll have plenty of time to think.”
KITT easily traversed across the empty plains towards the mountain range far from the city. Every now and then the natural beauty of the emerald grass, the occasional rivers cutting through, and the myriad of colors that flowers displayed as spring came to an end were marred by the destroyed towns. It was evident from the destruction that the giants spared no thought to the lives and property that were ruined and only chased the gold or the thrill of crushing the weak. But at least with the hill giants out of the picture the attacks wouldn’t be as relentless.
The steep mountain range wasn’t a problem for KITT who was more an all terrain vehicle than a tank. Thanks to the dwarves, they had a safe cave close by the fortress that could be used as a temporary base and a place to park KITT.
What they thought would be a hike ended up being a casual walk towards the enemy. A man-made path clearly made for giants led them all the way to the fortress and they didn’t encounter anyone along the trail. Save the howling wind echoing in the chasm on either side of the road, it was very quiet and unprotected.
“You notice it?” Lintelfaden asked without taking his eyes off the road.
“Yeah, directly above,” Fensal replied. “`They’ve been following for a while.”
A roc flew far, far above and circled them like a vulture, no doubt it had a rider who scouted and possibly relaying info to the base. It didn’t attack but it was a constant threat looming above that could throw them off the cliffside at any moment.
They didn’t have time to worry about that anymore as they neared the towering walls that protected the stone giants. Surrounded by sheer cliffs, the only way through was via the open path directly towards the main gate. The fortress was big even for giants; it was colossal compared to them and the thick stones were impenetrable from the outside.
“Halt!” one of the giants ordered from above the tower. “State your business!”
“Are you interested in any girl-scout cookies?!” Bustov yelled before being promptly hit over the head.
“We don’t want your girl-scouts or your cookies!”
“We’re here to speak to Thane Arnak about the alliance with the giants!” Gisella explained. “An ambassador by the name of Martin Pierre was sent but we haven’t heard of him!”
To this, the giant turned to someone behind him and began to talk to each other, trying to figure out what to do. After a short while, he waved his friend off and turned back to the party. “Martin is unharmed and is here.”
“Can we see him?”
Fensal scratched his head and tried to think of what to say. “This is why we always resort to blowing things up. We’re no good at this ‘talking’ thing…”
“Then we would like to speak with Thane Arnak!” Gisella asked, refusing to give up just yet.
“The Thane is not available to meet anyone!” the giant replied.
“The Duke of Geoff has sent us just as he had sent Martin! Is there not a second-in-command we could speak to?”
“No, there isn’t! Leave or we will-”
He was cut off by shouting inside and the guard began arguing with other giants behind the walls. The watchman eventually seemed to cave in and the gates started to open. “Come here, we’ll talk to you.”
The gates were barely opened a little but it was more than enough for the party to pass through. The wide open area was surrounded by stone giants, readying their weapons and prepared to crush the enemy at a moment’s notice. Their gray skin was indistinguishable from the stone the fortress was fashioned out of and they were uncomfortably hard to notice; there could be more camouflaged against the walls.
One stone giant woman came out to meet them accompanied by a frost giant about twice her size. She was adorned with the finest diamond rings and a crystal necklace and yet it wasn’t as obnoxious as when the hill giants wore jewelry. She was surprisingly beautiful for a giant.
“What do you want?” she snapped, glaring at the party.
“We would like to speak with Thane Arnak about the alliance with the-” Fensal began but was quickly interrupted.
“Who sent you? The duke? Did he give you any papers, any gifts, anything to show me respect, little people?”
“What? No, this is a-”
She refused to let them finish their sentence. “You’re wasting my time, what are you really here for?”
“Where is Thane Arnak?” Gisella snapped, wary of the giants who got on their feet just from the tone of her voice. “He’s here, isn’t he?”
“Can we speak to him?”
Lorenz sighed and turned down the volume of his mic, muttering under his breath. “What a warm welcome. Let’s just get out of here.”
But Gisella wasn’t done yet. “What about Martin Pierre? He came here, right?”
“He is safe and sound,” the woman replied.
“Can we speak to him?”
“So both Arnak and Martin are here but they’re both ‘busy’?”
The roc landed on the wall and the rider on its back slid his hand across a massive lance, imbuing it with the power of the storm. If the party stayed here any longer they would be completely surrounded with no chance of escape through the heavy gate.
“Any other pointless questions? You may take your leave.” And she rolled her eyes as she left the party.
Not wanting to start a battle in the middle of enemy territory, the party listened and left the fort and the Howling Crag altogether. Returning to KITT, they tried to think of a plan to deal with the stone giants. No matter how they looked at it, that woman hated them and refused to even listen to what they had to say. She greeted them with hostility; there was no chance to even try to talk it out. And both the Thane and Martin were at the fort but were busy? She was adamant that they couldn’t speak to them but she even stopped them from asking any questions.
“Something’s wrong,” Gisella muttered, lying down on top of KITT. “I don’t think diplomacy was an option from the start…”
“Isn’t the Thane that guy from the letters we had?” Lorenz called out, flipping through a few belongings inside the tank. “Uh, here! This was written by someone called Belastraya.”
One of the dwarven scouts who had led them to this cave overheard the conversation, specifically the name the cleric said. “Belastraya? Oh, ye shouldn’t have ever tried talking to ‘em.”
Augusta continued to go through her stretches and performed a handstand. “Agh, I’m so annoyed even thinking about her! Do you know who she is?”
“Belastraya is Arnak’s sister. She’s totally loyal to ‘im but recently he hasn’t been in his right mind. They founda crystal and ever since he laid eyes on it he kept mutterin ‘bout his lord the elemental eye or somethin.”
“Elemental… Eye?” Lintelfaden echoed. “So we really are dealing with a familiar enemy again.”
“Arnak’s been a friend of the dwarfs fer years but since then, he hasn’t done nothin at all. Which is exactly why that damn Belastraya took the throne and started breakin ties with us! Askin us our defenses and who’s the leader and whatnot. She hates little folk and the alliance we had is completely gone now.”
Fensal helped Augusta with her stretches and even began to join and compete with her. “So there’s no chance of talking this out,” he added. “Alright, so we’re going with the ‘punish the giants’ option now. What’s the plan?”
Lorenz set his sights on the roc perched on the bastion walls, surveying the territory and, to no one’s surprise, watching the party even from such a far distance. He waited for the party to prepare for combat and unsheath their weapons before taking the shot with pinpoint accuracy.
It had begun. Horns were sounded within the fortress and the roc screeched and took to the skies, charging towards the party while the troops behind the walls prepared for battle. Its rider raised his lance to the skies and it was imbued with violent winds; his intentions for the party were clear.
Charging past the fighters, the roc dive-bombed the cleric and threw him into the air and off the cliff side. It didn’t bother attacking him and turned its attention to the rest of the party after the toss.
“A little help?!” Lorenz panicked, trying his best to grab onto something jutting out of the cliff face.
Telekinesis halted his fall and yanked him back onto solid ground. “You’re fine, don’t worry. Can you guys ground the roc?!”
“You got it!” Bustov assured and charged the Lenz.
His accuracy was unbelievable and borderline inhuman. He almost never missed and even firing directly above him at an uncomfortable angle, his shot was true and struck the roc’s wings. The wound began to freeze and the beast’s movements were slower and obvious to avoid. Augusta flew up to it and struck it squarely on the head, stunning and forcing it to land to avoid plummeting down the cliff.
The stone giant rider slammed the ground as he fell and a mighty blast of wind launched Fensal and Bustov off their feet and off the cliff side. Any attacks hardly hurt them, even the roc was trying to kill with brute force, but the battlefield was under his control and he didn’t let the party approach without risking a fall over thousands of feet.
“I’ll help them!” Augusta assured and bolted past the party and to her falling comrades. “He won’t be able to fly, at least kill the roc!”
Lintelfaden slid his hand across his katana and pawed the ground. Rockets began to blaze beneath his hoofs and he charged towards the giant, resisting the powerful gusts without flinching. His upgrades from Kwalish made him stronger than before and his forcefield protected him completely as he began to hover off the ground. In a single slash, he severed the roc’s wings and it screeched in pain, thrashing wildly and knocking off its rider.
And Lorenz finished it off with a laser through the head.
In the distance, the gates began to open and multiple stone giants charged out while others took to the walls and began hurling boulders. An owlbear roared and shoved its way to the frontlines, hungry for battle and to tear through flesh with razor claws. A horn blared from behind and a hunting party spotted them, readying their weapons and letting loose their bloodhound while younger giants prepared the rocks to hurl.
From both sides, rocks rained from the sky and crashed beside them. Their aim was unerring and it was uncomfortable how close they were hitting from such a distance. All the while Lintelfaden had to hold the frontline alone while Squeakers did her best to stop the hunting party behind them. The giants didn’t even notice her and ran straight past, setting their sights on the cleric and slamming down with their massive clubs. And they crushed a hologram.
“This isn’t good,” Lorenz huffed, protecting himself with multiple duplicates. “I can’t fire a spell if they’re this close-”
“What the-?!” the giant cursed. “Can you stop that?!”
Squeakers dodged their stomping feet and continued to hit them like an annoying gnat. Except the gnat had a hammer coated in acid. For her size, her swings packed a punch and she diverted the attention off of the cleric and towards her, dashing around and stalling for Bustov and Fensal to come back. Aside from Lintelfaden, those two were the strongest and could turn the tide of battle in their favor.
“Did somebody call?!” Bustov laughed. Augusta threw him into the air and he posed as he took a midair shot. “Yours truly has arrived from the abyss like a shining star!”
A beautiful sound of shattering ice echoed from the shot and the arrow struck the gate. Charging and imploding, the impact knocked the charging giants to the ground and froze their bodies. Their movements were slowed and they barely staggered to their feet, unable to see or move straight and at risk of stumbling off the cliff side. Lintelfaden took full advantage of this chance and turned his attention to the hunting party and protected the vulnerable spell casters.
“Now help me!” Bustov panicked as he started to fall again.
“I know, I know!” Augusta laughed and tossed Fensal back onto solid ground. She chased after the ranger and trusted her party to fight off the giants while she was gone.
Lorenz escaped the hunting party’s attacks thanks to Lintelfaden and Squeakers taking the frontline and halting their advance. A powerful charge from the mechataur knocked one of the giant’s to the ground and a hammer flew from the gnome’s hand and directly to its head, quickly returning to the fighter’s hand after the blow. The rest of the hunting party were hesitant to approach as they watched one of their leaders be killed in seconds.
“Get out of here,” Lintelfaden snapped. It seemed the hunt consisted of younger giants around the age of a teenager. “Run and you won’t be harmed.”
They didn’t need to be told. They leapt off the edge of the cliff and slid down the mountain to a hidden path. It wrapped around the side and through a secret opening beneath the fortress. Compared to the near-death experience with a juvenile grendel queen, even multiple stone giants couldn’t compare.
The owlbear leapt over Lorenz and tried to slash at Lintelfaden but it harmlessly bounced off of the forcefield. Gisella’s circuitry glowed and a spray of mesmerizing colors knocked out the beast without hurting it. At the same time, her daggers spun around a single point and fired a ray of energy at an approaching stone giant, blasting him back and off the cliff side.
“Are all giants neanderthals?” Lorenz chuckled. “No guns, no armour, no enhancements, just wooden clubs and jagged stones.”
Bustov was thrown onto solid ground and Augusta leapt up with him. “Hill giants are the worst, though,” Augusta explained despite the boulders flying overhead. She kicked one as it fell and deflected it off the cliff. “They do get smarter, I’ve heard fire giants are masters at crafting weapons.”
A frost giant shoved the gates open and he slammed his staff against the earth. A sheet of ice covered the floor and the slippery terrain became treacherous so close to the cliffs. Preparing a blast of ice, the pale glow began to shine brightly and he set his sights on the mechataur.
And he obviously should have expected the skymetal robot centaur to start flying and charge him down.
“Go back, go back, go back!” The giant panicked and slammed the gate like a door. Lintelfaden slammed into the gate but it didn’t budge. Holding fast against their attacks, a powerful telekinetic wave struck it but it didn’t so much as crack under the pressure.
“Call for reinforcements!” one of the stone giants panicked. “We can call for backup before they break the door!”
“It’s a door enhanced by our superior craftsmanship,” another giant reminded. “It won’t break that easily.”
A fusion torch melted straight through and began to cut a human-sized door at the bottom. All the while a song was being hummed on the other side.
It took a while due to the door’s thickness but Fensal was able to kick down the smaller carving and the party entered the fortress. The place was desolate and not a soul could be seen, even the cages that were filled with dogs were yanked open and empty. No weapons, no armour, it seems the enemy had panicked and fled to the caves below. Stone giants did live primarily underground, what they could see here was not even half of the size of their base.
Searching the rooms, they didn’t really find anything of value, clues or otherwise. Nothing glittered much to Lorenz’s sadness and other than tracks leading to paths below, there weren’t documents or letters from other giants or from elemental cults. Dodging a primitive trap consisting of a tripwire and falling boulders, the party prepared to head deeper into the depths; the battle didn’t take too much energy out of them and they didn’t want to rest and give time for the enemy to muster their forces.
“Apparently there’s a dragon down below,” Squeakers reminded, heeding the dwarves’ warning. “An adamantine dragon made its lair here.”
“Is it friends with the stone giants?” Fensal asked.
“Uh, I didn’t ask that.”
“We should prepare for a dragon fight then,” Lorenz suggested. He waved his hand and a golden cog flashed around him. “I can protect a few others with some magic to spare.”
Let’s kill them! Blackrazor commanded Bustov.
The ranger glanced around him but couldn’t see anyone close nor could he sense anyone. “Where? Who are we killing?”
Oho, they’re here! Let’s give ‘em hell!
“Watch out, guys!” He locked the arms of the Lenz in place and pulled back the frigid string. “Something’s coming!”
Stop using the bow and swing me, man!
Silver cogs tore open acting as portals and six Mk I’s marched out, readying their weapons. Dozens of flashes of light struck the earth and beasts began to howl, mercenaries with glowing heads charged their electric batons, but the light shined brightest when the five leaders at the back teleported in. A warrior in blue armour seemingly wielding no weapon and a cybernetic monk flexed her iron fists stood beside a hunter who calmly stroked the fur of her cyborg pets. A spellcaster clothed in silver robes waved his hand and a cloud of nanites began to fly out of glowing canisters on his back and imbue them with magic for the coming battle. And a man in a black cloak riddled with cybernetics stood in front of them, clearly the strongest of the bunch and he pointed at Bustov
“Are you sure it’s here, Akkradyn?” the nano-mage said, scanning the party.
“Don’t worry, Beonre, Blackrazor is with that android ranger,” the man in black replied. “I can feel it. Our goal is to kill him and take it but you all have free reign to slaughter the rest. Aered and Francis… Go wild.”
“Let’s do it!” Aered laughed and slammed his chest, activating his auto-platemail. “You ready, sis?!”
Francis, the monk, tipped her straw hat and hit her brother’s shoulder. “Stick to the plan and let Evet do her thing.”
“Sic ‘em, boys,” Evet ordered, patting her pets and loading her crossbow.
Acradyn raised his hand and it hardened, sectioning apart to reveal blades. “Let’s give them hell!”