Campaign Date: 20-27 Eleint (The Fading) 1493 DR, Year of the Purple Dragons
20th- After clearing the old crumbling tower, the Fool Hardy Fellows found themselves with one other problem as the evening sky draped over them- where did Keltar Dardragon's apparition lead them? A minor matter, for to be honest, our heroes didn't care much about that- they had magic items to identify!
With their new consumables pocketed and some clever stargazing later, the heroes coalesced on a new heading. They were to set out due East-Northeast, in the direction of the High Forest and a presumed trail. After all, Lifferlas had fought valiantly by their side in defense of Goldenfields more than a month prior and they felt a sense of duty to the awakened tree! (…A duty to acquire more magic items and answers.)
21st- Their heading proved competent indeed, for shortly after second-breakfast the heroes were back on something resembling a road. They followed the Stone Trail east for a bit before coming upon one of the finest feats of Dwarven engineering in all of the North: Stone Bridge. Smooth, fused granite, 15-feet wide with no railings or barriers spanned the two-mile distance from one plain to another, leaving any who cross at the mercy of the wind and cushion of the Dessarin River two-hundred feet below.
Tormir Stoneaxe was going on and on about the ancient kingdom of Besilmer dwarves, blessed by almighty Moradin, laid low a horde of orcs "at that very spot" while, unbeknownst to the heroes, a giant and his pet marched in a collision course in the opposite direction. A fire giant searching for Vonindod fragments and his ten-foot-tall pet hell hound were enjoying their last day on Abeir-Toril.
Finally, one party saw the other and a clash on the bridge began! Bjorn Earthenjaw shifted into allosaurus form, Edmund Kenting called some lightning, Pust commanded skeletal archers, Phineas Banderby doled out the misfortune, and Tormir Stoneaxe literally got high and became airborne after doing a line of pixie dust. Clawed, bitten, shocked, pierced, and slashed, the giant and his pet met a violent early demise. Unfortunately for the heroes, two huge bleeding corpses now blocked their wagon's 15-foot-wide path. An afternoon spent vigorously pushing and pulling purchased the way forward, as the corpses splashed down to a soggy early grave.
Onward they marched for another mile to the end of the bridge where it met a small ranching community known as Beliard. A market-moot for local cattle drovers, apparently undisturbed aside from the crusty, muddy footprints of the two recently slain that had just doubtlessly passed through. The permanent structures of the community stand at the intersection of the east-west Stone Trail and the north-south Dessarin Road, the most impressive of which is the local inn, the Watchful Knight. The Fellows noticed ranchers and oxen among the far sprawling hills, and nearby a posted sign for "Adventurer's Wanted!" caught their attention outside the Knight. Our heroes inquired therewith, only to find that hill giants have been stomping through town more frequently, stealing all food and livestock in view, but wanting no serious trouble from the locals. By the time the heroes arrived, fed-up working citizens pooled their resources enough to offer a reward of 500 gold for anyone able to track down the hill giant lair. Smelling a bloody opportunity, the heroes inquired and were directed Southward. They set off at once to "help" these poor people with their hill giant problem.
22nd-27th- Rested and recuperated from Stone Bridge, the heroes marched south. The compass direction being their only clue, the heroes let their druid handle the outdoor navigation and giant-tracking. So for the next six days, the Fellows traveled under Bjorn's guidance in a meandering but southerly route zigzagging between the Dessarin and the High Forest. Then finally, on the sixth day, hundreds of feet in the distance and through the Dessarin foothills, the heroes spotted an enormous structure on the banks of the river.
27th- Spying on the structure from a distance, the heroes observed a dozen or more giants coming in and out of the building. Flanked between two large stony outcroppings, the huge bulk of it dammed most of the Dessarin. An impressive, multi-story palisade of spiked logs and a single guard tower being the only identifiable defensive structures on the premises.
Now, our heroes surely could have ended their search for the hill giant lair from the comfort of the distant hillside, but by now you know that's not the style of the Fool Hardy Fellows! Why give away the location of such valuable spoils?!
Going for the glory, the Fellows charged as fast as their stubby legs could handle (and human Edmund compensated to match his allies' pace.) Eschewing stealth, the gang bounded forward drunk with bloodlust. They set their sights straight on the palisade, Edmund intending to blow it wide open with a shatter spell, but the guard tower occupants made the first move. Still a few hundred feet from spell range, the crash of a ringing gong was unmistakably alerting all but the sleepiest occupants to their presence. The heroes got their R.S.V.P. returned in quick fashion as a pair of boulders were telegraphed in quick succession in their direction. Although flying wildly, the head-sized projectiles would have given a more sane party a reason to rethink their decision. These heroes were overcome with zeal, however, as Tymora's blessing was commonplace in their thoughts these days. Fortune favors the bold, and all five of them knew it. Fanatically, they continued to charge head-first through the onslaught.
Their foolhardiness would punish them to start however, because the never ending, awkwardly-thrown boulders found purchase on more than one ally. Mindlessly protecting their gnome necromancer Iskaral Pust, skeletal minions shattered on the spot and returned to the afterlife as stoney, boney bits knifed in all directions from each collision's epicenter. Flying through the adversity, the bruised heroes closed the gap and got within spellcasting range to blast a 10-foot hole in the palisade.
A more suitable meet-and-greet was waiting for them therein as ten frothing, axe-wielding orcs charged forward to support the two hill giant hurlers who now picked up their greatclubs. Bones, Rattles, Bob, and the remaining minions assisted the Fellows who were just as eager for melee action. After taking a few more lumps and gashes, the Fool Hardy Fellows axed, clawed, bit, and shocked their foes down to the blood-soaked ground.
Done with the immediate threat, the heroes had a few moments to ponder their new surroundings. Sheep by the hundreds neighed and griped-about in the enormous fenced-in pens encircling an orcish campground. No other orcs were in sight, however, providing a chance for Tempus and Tymora's magical warmth to close wounds and repair ligaments, courtesy of their respective clerics Edmund and Phineas. Concurrently, the uninjured among them charted the next invasion prong, of which they had three clear entrances to choose from.
The path from the campground wound up around a sheer cliff and elevated up to the riverside entrance, blockaded by a 20-foot-tall boulder; a front door for a structure of clearly non-hill-giant engineering. Two thirty-foot-tall unobstructed archways also led inward, one carved in the cliff-face and the other through the dam underneath the structure. The former only reeking of filth and mud while the latter flavored the experience with shit.
Opting for the less-stinking open arch, the heroes took their first steps in the indoor compound.
They proceeded to follow the left wall, opting not to explore the two offshoots to their right. Curving around to their left, they were led right into a shitty, cavernous pigpen. The tunnel opened up into a muddy room with a 30-foot-tall ceiling supported by wooden pillars. On the ceiling were three sets of grates set in a circular opening, light from the floor above shining through beam spans into the bleakness below. Scores of pigs were clearly satisfied by whatever can fit between the massive, criss-crossing beams spaced wide enough for a human to fit through. The river seeped through a gash in the north wall to form a stream that cut across the eastern half of the area before it spilled out through a hole in the south wall. That wasn't the only sight, however, as immediately ready for the Fellows were seven bugbears and one ettin- a large, two-headed cousin of a hill giant with two brains but half the intelligence. Still, formidable foes nonetheless, as the ettin stood nearly twice as tall as Edmund, and with a weapon in each hand, to boot!
A squealing pig-projectile-shield in one arm and a morningstar on the other hand, bugbear and ettin alike charged to defend the fresh pork. The fight was over before it began, however, as bugbear tactics were well known to the heroes by that point since they faced waves of them in defense of Goldenfields several tendays prior. You can guess ettin "tactics" and the heroes did indeed, for they are foolish but not stupid! The dope got a few parting shots in but fell just like the several dozen other giantkin slain in the last two months. Another one bites the … shit?