By Beth Griese
Date: August 15, 1998
|Borreau||Blonde Human||Tempus Cleric||Brian Smith|
|Lorivar Menasson||Short, dark, & hairy||Monk||Vaughan Herron|
|Nory||Gnome||Illusionist / Thief||Stu Collins|
|Telaran||1/2 Elf, Buzz cut||Fighter||Jim Gaynor|
|Verence Gallow||Thin human||Mystra Cleric||Kent Jenkins|
Quote of the Day:
"Talk about throwing Cocoa Puffs in the Rice Crispies." - Brian
"Cone of clowns!" -Jim G
"But they're silent." - Stu
"Oh, God. Mimes." - Kent
To Garen Thundersson, cleric of Mielikki. From your faithful friend, Jade.
Borreau and Nory had to stay in Suzail for a while to seek out old masters, and Verence had a commission from his high priest to plan a temple for our castle Weston's town, so we all decided to stay in Suzail for a few weeks to prepare for our planned assault on the fire giants. Telaran took Stet, our friend from the merchant caravan, under his wing and gave him daily training lessons, with Lorivar helping out as he could. I decided to go on a hunt of a different stripe while I was in town; I wanted to find a better battle dagger than the simple knife I now carried. Verence agreed to help out, and he helped me write a notice for the Adventurer's Club to ask after daggers for sale.
As it turns out, there are a lot of people out there with magical daggers to sell. One over-dressed nobleman came by with a magical dagger that he was willing to sell for a pittance. Verence could tell me no more than that it had magic at the time, and it certainly looked fine, so I agreed to his tiny price. More study told Verence that the fine look of the dagger is its magic; so much for that attempt. I had better luck with a very fancy sorceress who showed obvious elven blood and, I guessed, years more experience on the road than I had. She had a dagger to offer of good magic to help me in battle, of good quality. She no longer needed it, so with a little haggling and Verence's nod of approval, I now have a fine dagger to complement my sword. It's taken some getting used to - this dagger is lighter, thinner, and a bit longer than my old one, but I've been practicing with it daily and I think we get along very well. Borreau gave his approval of it, too, when he returned to our room that night.
As it turned out, the next day one more fellow showed up at my door with a dagger to offer me, at an even more ridiculously low price than the fop nobleman had offered. But he refused to touch the dagger - a bad sign even a stable girl wouldn't miss. He broke into a sweat as I offered to let him leave the dagger on the floor and I'd pay him his price to help him along, but negotiations were cut short when the dwarf suddenly decided that he'd keep the dagger after all and marched - I do mean marched - down the hall and out the door. Whatever that dagger was, I'm just happy it's no longer near me.
After a moon or so's passing, we were ready to return to Weston. I'm starting to really think of that place as home, now, and it's an amazing sight to see. More houses and buildings have sprung up all around the castle, and when we arrived, representatives from three different merchant groups wanted to have audiences with us to request permission to set up shops in town, which we granted to all three. All of the Wayfarers seem to have taken pride in our blossoming home - everyone spent a few days catching up with their favorite people, workers, and residents. My Mielikki cleric friends are doing very well; they've set up a natural amphitheater near Mielikki's blessed spring at the base of our mountainside, and a deer has taken up residence within, which they've decided is as good a sign of the Forest Lady's blessing as they've ever seen. I spent my afternoons helping them with the building they were doing, and the mornings walking the surrounding forests with the castle's hunters. They told me about needing proper smokehouse facilities for the winter, so I commissioned the work to be done. My afternoons and mornings even started to mesh a bit; one of the Mielikki clerics, a young lad with bright eyes and an eager attitude, started coming along with us. I think he wants to be a hunter himself eventually, maybe even a ranger. I caught him one dawn strapping a long stick to one hip and a shorter one to the other, like my two weapons. I wonder if this is what it would have been like to have a little brother.
The evenings belonged to Borreau, and the other Wayfarers. What a strange thing it is to walk among a town where everyone knows us and half the people bow their heads as we pass by. I ran chores for our cabin, Garen. Borreau was a hometown acolyte. Telaran was a caravan guard. Verence was a young lad kidnapped by pirates. And now here we stand with a town of our own making at our feet. The people are already calling the town Weston, now, after the castle. Is this how all cities and their founders are born? I sure don't feel like a city leader, and I don't much see it in my friends, either. I still feel most at ease beside a campfire far from the reaches of the town, and with the exception of the addition of Borreau, I don't feel that much different than I did when we lived outside of Arabel. Or maybe I'm just not remembering the nights of old that well.
Anyway, after our brief but welcome stop in Weston, it was time to fulfill the request of King Azoun and launch our attack on the fire giants' stronghold. We followed our old route through the cold - and now mostly abandoned - caves that led to the room with the teleportation lever to take us to the fire giants. Sure enough, we ended up outside the same double doors as before. This time, instead of leaving through the pass, we pried open the huge doors that made us look like toddlers and slipped inside.
The cavern halls were floored with slate rock with torches placed high along the walls and tapestries in between them. The very first tapestry revealed a surprise behind it - a guard. Verence quickly slammed a spell of silence so he could raise no alarm, and we quietly fought him to the ground. We followed the main hall and emptied directly into what appeared to be an audience chamber; pillars of dwarves holding up the ceiling led deep into a room with gas vent lights toward a dais at the opposite end, which sported two monstrous thrones. And in the middle of the room, two two-headed ettins stood, one head facing in each direction. Which, of course, meant we had been spotted, and the ettins started throwing big rocks at us.
I've decided there's only one way to truly answer a shower of boulders - a direct charge. Which Borreau, Telaran, and I did. Nory had his own answer; he struck the ettins with a cone of cold and lightning. The cold was a new one - I assume it was another one of his illusions, but I swear I felt the temperature in the room drop.
We fought the ettins well enough, but our troubles weren't near to over; two giants now stepped forward to join the fray. But Nory was just getting warmed up with his illusions. Now a white dragon pounded his way into the room. a white dragon with a huge nametag around his neck that said "NORY." The gnome was taking no chances that any of us would accidentally believe our own illusion. The white dragon breathed ice on the giants. Thank goodness he did, because the fight started to slip from our control. In my case, literally - my fine new dagger slipped right out of my hand as I was swinging, and in front of the thrones, from thin air appeared a monstrous, chain-mail-clad giant with a two- handed axe that he threw right for Borreau. Thankfully, Borreau was hunkered down killing off an ettin and didn't get hit.
Another giant appeared out of nowhere and threw a rock right on Nory; the poor gnome hit the ground so hard I heard it from where I stood through 30 feet of raging battle. But Nory had been concentrating on figuring out where these giants were coming from; he yelled out a warning that there were two more to come and the dragon breathed again, towards empty space, but shouts and strange yips - dogs, maybe? - told us Nory had hit his mark.
I nearly took my worst hit yet in the battle from a hammer that one of the giants tried to throw at the dragon; did you know that it's harder to duck the wild swings than the aimed swipes? We three fighters threw ourselves into the fight against the giants now that the ettins were mostly taken care of. It was a long, nasty, drawn-out fight; Verence used a holy word to knock them down a peg or two, and the "dragon" was breathing for all he was worth and lightning bolts flew over our head. But even so, taking down those giants felt to me like felling trees - and trees never bled that much. Or fought back. Telaran was knocked nearly off his feet, and my head was swiped with a club hard enough to make my ears ring for an hour after the fight.
But fall the giants finally did, and none too soon. My sword was starting to feel heavy in my hand, and catching my breath was starting to get tough. The others looked in no better shape - some much worse. And then we found out we weren't done yet. The source of that yipping sound we heard earlier finally came into view a hellhound, wet, hurt, and angry from the ice storm it had suffered. And following behind it lumbered the fattest, hugest fire giant I have yet seen, wearing blackened iron plate armor, bald as a stone mountain cap, but with fiery red mutton chops. He carried a two-handed sword that looked to be the size of a roof rafter, and a sweeping cloak of white dragon hide swirled across his back. He was an impressive sight!
My immediate problem, though, was the hellhound that came right for me. I missed a swing at him and stumbled right into it, and found out the hard way that hellhounds burn against your touch. I finally sunk my dagger into the hound's heart and looked up just in time to see my worst fears for my friends confirmed - Borreau had just been knocked off his feet by the giant king, and had to scramble back and out of the way to get to safety while he still could. I scrambled forward as if I were on an ice pond, but managed to square myself in Borreau's old spot in front of the giant, and between this mountainous man and my cleric. Telaran was still by my side, although he stepped back for a moment to draw his magical horn that he had found weeks ago, the one that calls magical warriors to our side to help our fight. We were far from out of the fight, even though my sword and dagger both swayed a bit as I held them in front of me.
Telaran blew, which surprised the giant, and sure enough, warriors formed around him. warriors with feral, wild eyes and no spark of control or purpose in them. That damn horn didn't work as it should. A few of the warriors did plunge at the giant, but the rest fell on Telaran. I was left essentially alone against the giant king. I knew I couldn't take more than a couple of strikes from that incredible blade he carried. Every swing I took had to be with all my strength to have a prayer or sinking around that armor and through his flesh, and yet I had to be quick enough to dodge his sword. Thankfully, the wild warriors did help a bit with this - he concentrated on squashing them long enough to give me a few extra hits, and for our party to regroup.
I heard Borreau's voice first. He cast the same spell Verence had cast earlier, a holy word to strike the giant - and, as it turned out, the warriors - and I could hear the fury in his voice. He was not happy at all about the situation I was in. He shouted his word a second time, which hurt the giant more and also cleared out the warriors that Telaran and the giant had not already swathed through. Nory's white dragon joined the game, too, by aiming a bite right at the giant's head. Even if he was smart enough to spot an illusion when he saw it, it's hard to ignore a dragon chomping at your head. I was still swinging and feinting for all I was worth, even though my arms were starting to feel like lead. And just as I thought I couldn't lift a blade of grass one more time, I heard a scrabbling sound behind the giant, caught his surprised reaction, and then had to worry about scrambling forward between his legs as he pitched forward - with Nory's short sword - and Nory still attached - stuck in his back. Nory had used his jumping boots to aim his blade right into the nape of the giant's neck.
Startling silence fell in the aftermath, broken mostly by heavy panting and a couple of grunts as we regained our feet and surveyed the damage. Bodies lay like hillocks around us, the floor was awash in blood, and so were most of us. Borreau was back on his feet and next to me before my hands had managed to let go of my weapons. Nory didn't get up from the giant's back for an extra minute or two; he simply lay there gulping in air against the pain he was fighting. Verence and Telaran were both white-faced and ragged, and Lorivar looked surprised to find the enemy all dead. We had a lot of recovering to do, and very little time to do it before we were going to have to try to work our way out of this place again.
The Jade Letters are the property and copyright of Beth Griese, not to be published or redistributed without permission.
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