Land of the Giants (... a Stormreach Adventure)
As Norrin sipped on his dwarven ale, something he had been introduced to by Krag the dwarven fighter, he mulled over the week’s events …
Having gained some more news on possible locations of his parents, that they had been kidnapped by pirates from the southern continent of Xen’Drik, he decided to split from the party and headed south to these new and strange lands.
The journey through Khorvaire was easy enough for Norrin, being a Paladin of the Silver Flame, he was welcomed in many places in the Breland state, gaining work wherever he could, helping those in need and fighting off bandits to a caravan trail he offered protection too … everyday was an experience to the young Paladin as he fought orcs and goblins, trolls and ogres … and even a rouge giant who was terrorising a small coastal town. These where strange and difficult times for many in Eberron as political powers clashed for control over the various states.
Having chased off the giant from the town of Shadowlock Moorings, which was a few leagues south of the Shadowlock Keep, Norrin managed to book passage on a fast sailing ship to the city of Stormreach on the Xen’Drik coastline, from there he could continue his search, or so the locals told him. The ship was indeed fast and with prevailing winds to assist the sailors, he made good time to the fabled Stormreach … a haven for many; both good and bad who happily mixed in trade, barter and exchange stories of their exploits!
Norrin was fast becoming more confident in his travels as he used his charm, wit and charismatic looks to extract information from many, especially the barmaids in the various inns and taverns. Sadly, as the days passed, he began to realise that the pirates of olden days preferred gold and jewels to slaves, so the advice given to him about his parents being kidnapped and brought here had proven false.
Sipping on his sweet ale, Norrin heard the cry of a familiar name at the inn and then the reply from a familiar voice … Castus Wolf the Ranger; here in Stormreach! Standing tall, Norrin recognised the hooded ranger, and quickly making his way across the Crab Claw Inn’s cobbled floor, he welcomed the ranger and his new friend … Boris the Barbarian. As Castus picked up his drink and sat with Norrin, he spoke of their adventures, how they travelled the skies, fought off pirates … and watched as Squee & Krag died at the hands of sky pirates. He was both happy and sad to see the paladin as he had just received information of a quest to the north, under the support of the WayFinders Foundation … to seek out members and discover remains of the giants who once roamed here in these ancient lands.
“I’ll gladly go with you, my friend. My sword is swifter than before and my chest twice as strong!” Both where glad to have a trusted sword at their sides. Boris sipped his beer quietly as he listened to their banter, knowing that he had a lot to prove in these coming days to win the trust and admiration of these experienced adventurers.
“So”, Norrin pondered looking at the rough map, “we’ll need to get a lot of gear together for an expedition to the north, I see it’s all heavy woods and forests?” Castus nodded, but explained the WayFinders had given them enough supplies for the journey, they just needed to arrange transport … “To the donkey yard”, Castus joked! All laughed and made cheer with a couple more ales and beers to wet their whistles before leaving.
Arranging transport was easy, but Norrin suggesting visiting the WayFinders to see if they could offer any further help on the task at hand. Their offices where nearby, and making quick work of charming the clerk, the WayFinders had many parties exploring the area, offering rewards for any that could be returned or helped, along with any ancient writings, artefacts of anything that could offer an insight into what happened to the giants who used to roam this continent.
Making their way back to the Crab Claw Inn, the party visited the many stalls and market places for more supplies they could use on the journey … insect repellent’s, cure disease & poison potions and extra essential items before having a few more drinks and food at the inn. All had been arranged and they settled down for the night … the following weeks travel through the overgrown forests would be difficult for Norrin; not so for the Ranger and Barbarian who were used to being in the wilderness!
The journey north on the backs of donkeys was uncomfortable for Norrin, but the ranger and his new sidekick seemed at home in the overgrown vegetation. Days passed and midge’s feasted on the party, but they pushed on to the archways marked on the map. As they drew closer, the ranger darted off into the woods, shouting of a voice he could hear in the distance … a maiden trapped in a heavy spider’s web! As Castus approached, strange looking creatures appeared; half-spider-half-haster-knows-what! He quickly strung his bow and let loose a couple of arrows at the one nearing the maiden, causing it much pain, by which time Boris and Norrin had joined him in the fight as the vile looking spiders attacked! With slashing blade, raging barbarian and skilful thrusts of their blades, the party soon killed and scared off their enemies, and as Castus moved forward to free the maiden, who was ever grateful for the party rescuing her. She explained she was part of the WayFinders Foundation, a rouge guide, and one of a group seeking & searching for the arches.
“Fear not”, Castus spoke, “we too seek the arches and are working for the foundation, with the same goals in mind!” The rouge-maiden spoke of her fellow members, lost deep in this wilderness, having gotten herself separated from them. “We shall soon make ways to the arches and find your friends”, Norrin spoke, although he didn’t have a clue where the party where at that moment! Thank the Silver Flame for Castus, he thought!!
Quickly gathering their donkeys and supplies, they noticed Lauren holding a pendant and muttering strange magical words … “The pendant can help find my friends. To the north-east we must travel.” The party made quick progress to the arches, but settling down near the valley of the arches, Norrin had terrible nightmares as his dreams terrified and confused him; and the sleepless night would plague him for the rest of the day as he was tired from very little sleep. Moving amongst the arches, Lauren once again produced the pendant, and as she chanted, the party wandered off to see what the arches could offer them. Some broken and destroyed, others stood tall, covered in strange Elven and glyphs none could read, especially as the magical writing began to flow and twist when the party tried to read them! Norrin and Castus took out the shading paper and made etchings of one that was still upright, hoping that these could be of use to the WayFinders.
Suddenly, Boris shouted loudly … “Lauren, where are you going … STOP! WAIT!!” For some reason, she had run off to the east, and wouldn’t stop as all gave chase. Then she disappeared. Luckily, the ranger picked up her tracks and quickly uncovered a hidden entrance to an underground lair amongst the arches. Following the footsteps, through the dusty cobblestones, they could see the roofs where extremely high with large stonework … obviously built by giants! As the party followed, they caught her in a large chamber, standing still and muttering to herself. Castus shook her awake and realised that she had gone into a trance whilst seeking her friends.
Looking around the chamber, various remains lay at their feet, which could only be her party. As she realised that the pendant had brought her here to see only skulls and bones, Boris was pulling at a bookcase when he sprung a trap on himself! A massive steel net caught him and one of the bookcases opened to reveal a large skeleton, which fell to the ground and smashed into a thousand pieces! Obviously, the trap was to capture the thief and the living beast would then devour her, but centuries had passed and the beast was now only bones!
Pulling Boris free and examining the cage behind the bookcase, the party could see various cages of others, all now dead and lifeless in this ancient place. The party searched around the chambers and came across various statues of interest, one having an iron sphere in its hands. Castus soon pulled the object down and could see it was sealed, which he quickly unlocked. A strange looking tablet was inside, with the same twisting and turning Elven writing as was on the arches … “Some kind of key information on what the arches can do?” He mused. “Yes”, Norrin nodded, “… the arches could be portals to other parts of the land … the tablet will be the key! The WayFinders will pay a tidy sum for this artefact!” Both smiled.
As the party continued to search the area, another secret doorway opened to reveal a massive warforged warrior … strange; as the warforged where not meant to have been created till much later … these lands where indeed a mystery to all! The titan charged Norrin and Lauren, smashing the paladin heavily with his fist; crushing his chainmail into his body and pushing him back … a deadly and mighty blow. The rest of the party fell upon the massive enemy, which was heavily armoured and wasn’t easy to wound. Norrin called upon his deity to heal his comrades in their hour of need and each strike broke the warforged-titans defences down, until the barbarian went into a furious rage and struck the titan from behind, cleaving a massive gash across it’s back, killing it outright! Taking a breath, the party gathered themselves and healed up wounds with potions and magic … luckily, Norrin’s skills at healing had improved greatly as his prayers and focus on the magic’s within Eberron had become more skilful as he began to understand the mystical world of Eberron.
Scouring the hidden chamber the titan came from produced very little, and other than the tablet, the room had very little of interest. “Let us take the other pathway to see where it might lead?” Castus suggested. Luckily, he had been paying attention to the underground corridors that they had ran through earlier. The party left the chamber and quickly found the other corridor, which lead to a rather large, and heavy, door … which Norrin used all his might to open.
This was an alchemists room … filled with books, scrolls and quills; tables with flasks, staffs, wands, rods, potions and experiments which were covered in dust as the chamber hadn’t been used in decades, centuries even! Moving into the room, they searched the various tables for items of interest … potions and scrolls … and at the back of the chamber a heavy veil, where the sounds of a mechanical clicking could be heard. A large lever on the wall was used to raise the curtain and revealed another warforged creation … this time, a massive scorpion! Luckily for the party, it was caged … perhaps another experiment that hadn’t gone well and was still under construction? The party also noticed a doorway on the floor of the cell. Lauren was quick to advise the party that this creation would be a great find for them and would return a great reward, if captured alive.
“Alive”, Castus grunted, “... it’s more than a match for us!” It was at this point that Norrin remembered the heavy net that had trapped the barbarian in the other chamber … “Let’s use that to trap the scorpion?” Pulling the curtain down again to hide their plans, the party moved all the furniture to create a single walkway, and placing (and hiding) the net there, they needed a fast moving target to attract the scorpion when released … all looked to the barbarian as he glugged down a potion he had found on one of the benches. As he wiped his mouth from the refreshing drink, he began to change violently, morphing into a hell-hound … just what the party needed! With a rope tied to the levers to raise the veil and cage, the trap was sprung!
As the hell-hound barked wildly at the monster, it quickly chased him between the heavy tables that the rest of the party where hiding behind, out of sight. Seeing the scorpion’s claws, they quickly pulled the net over it and entangled it … welllll, after Norrin tripped over himself with Lauren & Castus, along with Boris the hell-hound, pulling and holding the net down! But, unknown to them, the scorpion could spray an acid-venom from it's pincers, causing the net to melt as it tried to escape. At this point, Castus Wolf cast an entanglement spell to trap the beast for an extra few seconds as Lauren sprung on top of the creature, striking it’s forehead with a magical immobilise rod … the scorpion-warforge collapsed to the ground, along with all the party. “What a magnificent creation”, she exclaimed!
As she bound its legs, claws and spray-pincers, the party made their way to the doorway, which revealed a chest of various wealth, artefacts and magical items … which they shared amongst themselves. Lauren discussed how she could use some of the parties donkeys to drag the warforge through the forest, which they argreed too, saying they would take their share of the rewards when returning to Stormreach … Lauren seemed honest enough and grateful for everything the party had done, and dragging the scorpion outside for tomorrows journey, the party rested for the night.
Sadly, come the following morning, Lauren, a couple of donkeys and the scorpion-warforge where gone … their trail leading to one of the standing arches before disappearing? As Castus and Norrin had gathered, the arches where indeed portals, but how did she know how to work them ... the tablet that had been hidden in the pouch of holding was gone! She had stolen the tablet and knew how to decipher it, using it to go … who knows where?
“What shall we do know … push onto the temple ruins to the north-west or return to Stormreach now and see if the charlatan has gone there?” Castus asked. “Let’s push on”, Norrin replied, “ … I’m sure we’ll meet up with her at Stormreach, or at least her employers to see what they have to say about her actions!”
Gathering the last of the donkeys, provisions and goods, they party took a bearing and heading off into the forests again …