Kaicl takes a swing and the second dire wolf! He hits it hard and it falls over, dead. Kaicl steps forward and hacks away at the hill giant. He lands another solid blow, and the giant shouts at him.
Beast, seeing that all of the beasties are dead, casts Calm Animal on Honey. It doesn’t work!
The giant swings back at Kaicl with his club, hitting him once solidly, taking a step back, and swinging again but missing.
Erihild moves up toward melee range and keeps singing.
Honey swarms over the corpse of the dire wolf and attacks the giant!
The giant takes a swing at Honey as she gets close! He connects solidly with Honey! Honey grunts and dies.
Brother Beast: “Nooooooo!’
Tikkaer takes a step to put him in range of the giant, and slashes! He misses badly, though.
Kaicl climbs the mountain of bodies he created and attacks the hill giant. The giant swings at him but misses. Kaicl hits, though, slashing the giant a good one.
Brother Beast walks around to the giant’s back, but isn’t fast enough to attack as well.
The giant takes a couple more swings at Kaicl, as he is the shiniest. He misses twice, cause he’s the worst giant ever. Then he takes a step back.
Erihild just moves a bit closer and keeps singing.
Tikkaer moves into flanking position and attacks again! He hits solidly this time. The giant looks like he’s having second thoughts about this.
Kaicl takes a giant swing and puts a huge gash in the giant leg! The giant howls in agony!
The giant seems to have had enough of getting hit by rodents, so he withdraws! And when he gets a little ways away he starts digging through his bag for rocks.
Kaicl: “Everyone attack with missile weapons!”
Erihild stops singing, drops her sword, and pulls out her short bow.
Brother Beast drops his spear, takes out his sling, and attempts to peg a rock at the giant, but ends up flinging it into his own foot.
Tikkaer ignores Kaicl’s instructions and yells as he charges! He gives the giant another powerful slash; the giant is now bleeding profusely from multiple wounds.
Kaicl charges as well! The giant gets a swing in before Kaicl can get all the way there, and connects solidly, but Kaicl is an unstoppable force of nature and kills the giant horribly, blood and guts everywhere!
Tikkaer - “YEAH! THAT’S WHAT YOU GET YOU HALF WITTED LOAD OF SLAG!” He swings his glaive to get some of the blood off of it.
Brother Beast: “Not a complete waste then.”
Erihild looks stunned, like she’s never seen that much blood before. She naps out of it. “Oh Brother Beast!”
Brother Beast: “Is Lord Kaicl the only one injured?”
Kaicl: “Am I? I hardly noticed.”
Erihild- “I think so, yes.”
Beast goes over to Kaicl: “I have some healing spells, Lord Kaicl. Do you want them?”
Kaicl: “Has anyone checked on Honey?”
Brother Beast goes over to Honey and checks for any sign of life. She’s dead. He picks up his spear on the way back to Kaicl.
Brother Beast: “She’s dead.” He casts both of his cure light wounds spells on Kaicl.
Kaicl: “Poor creature.”
Tikkaer kicks the giant as he searches him for anything other than rocks.
The giant’s bag is sitting open with stuff spilled out of it at this point. Tikkaer finds four large rocks, 2 each giant-sized bowls and spoons, a rusty short sword, a tinderbox, what appears to be a sewing kit using an arrow as the needle, 3 candles, a whetstone, a smaller bag with gold coins in it, 2 potions, a ring, and a spiked wooden shield, that looks like it was used as a dinner plate.
Tikkaer gathers up the gold bag, the potions, the ring and the shield, and carries it back to the group. He looks around, and sees that Honey is still on the ground. He pats Brother Beast on the shoulder and then presents the tray of things to the group.
Tikkaer - “This is all the useful stuff he had on him.”
Erihild gathers up her sword.
Kaicl: “Can anyone tell what those potions are for?”
Brother Beast: “I can detect magic.” He casts the spell on the pile.
The gold is not magical, but the shield, potions, and ring are.
Brother Beast relays this information to the group.
Erihild- “Since he lost the most, maybe Brother Beast should get first pick.”
Beast concentrates for a while. The ring radiates abjuration, the shield transmutation, while one potion is illusion and another is conjuration.
Brother Beast relays this information as well “...but I can’t tell you what their actual effects are.”
Kaicl: “Whatever they do, I don’t think any of them would be useful to me. Everyone else can pick what they want.”
Brother Beast: “I will take the shield.” He waits for everyone else to claim their items, since the shield is currently being used as a serving tray.
Tikkaer - “I wouldn’t mind the ring or the potion that’s probably a healing potion. But, if the ring is a ring of protection, perhaps it would be better for you to take it, Erihild.”
Erihild- “Maybe, but I have some oils I can use to make me harder to hit. You seem like you’ll be way closer to harm’s way than I will, so maybe you should keep the ring.”
Tikkaer picks up the ring and inspects it. “I do like a good shiny bit of jewelry... “ and pops it on his finger. He offers her the potions instead. The ring feels a little cool.
Erihild- “Sure, I guess.” She takes them both.
Tikkaer hands the shield to Brother Beast, wiping it a bit with his sleeve first. “So, should we… do anything with the bodies?”
Brother Beast: “The predators and scavengers’ll take care of them, as always. I expect they’ll appreciate the meal.”
Erihild- “So we’re just going to go, then?”
Brother Beast: “Up to Lord Kaicl.”
Kaicl, looking like he expected more of an observance of Honey, says: “Yes, it looks like we have everything we need. Let’s continue.”
So the party trods on in the direction they were going, Tikkaer leading the way. Brother Beast brings up the rear, radiating mopy-ness.
You travel the rest of the day, seeing and hearing nothing important. In the evening you approach what was a camouflaged position for the dwarves guarding the border of Thorrim Clan territory. As you approach what looks like a rock pile, a dwarf steps out and waves.
Sentry- “Welcome back, Lord Kaicl. I see you’ve met some of the locals.” he indicates your now blood-splattered armor.
Kaicl: “Indeed. His minions got so excited they quite lost their heads about me.”
The sentry smirks. “What did you meet? Our generals will want to know.”
Kaicl: “A hill giant and his dire wolf companions.”
Sentry- “What were they doing, as far as you could tell?”
Erihild- “I think they were just passing through, sir.”
The sentry notices Erihild, and eyeballs her and Brother Beast. “Lord Kaicl, are these two dwarves both...Fireforge dwarves?”
Kaicl: “There’s a good explanation for that. One thing all dwarves can agree on is our hatred of hill giants. These Fireforge dwarves are assisting in that endeavor.”
The sentry doesn’t look pleased. “Look, I could get in a lot of trouble for letting a pair of Fireforgers pass through our land these days, even if they are fighting giants.”
Kaicl: “Perhaps it might help if I addressed your clan leader? If I take the step to explain things to him immediately, it might put him at ease.”
Sentry- “I suppose. Camp here for tonight, and you can proceed to the clan hall in the morning. And don’t let the fireforgers stray from you.”
Kaicl: “Thank you for your understanding.” Kaicl turns the others. “We’ll have to set up camp here.“ Kaicl leaves a hint of “I’ve lost my diplomatic mojo in my old age” tone to his voice.
Erihild, under her breath- “Good, I didn’t want to go to stupid smelly Thorrim Hall anyway.”
Brother Beast nods and scouts out the best spot nearby.
Kaicl: “Let’s do the same watches as before.”
Once a spot has been located, Tikkaer pulls out rope and canvas and makes a shelter for people to sleep under. He then takes out a cooking pot and some other items to make dinner with. It’s all rather more than you’d think could fit in a backpack the size of the one he has.
Tikkaer - “I do know another route, Lord Kaicl. It will add half a day to the journey, but it goes around Thorrim territory.”
Kaicl: “Thorrim clan already knows of our presence here. If we leave it will at best look rude, and possibly suspicious. If we want any chance of them working with us, I can’t have Fireforge dwarves acting suspiciously.”
Tikkaer nods and goes back to cooking.
You notice that another dwarf has emerged from the pile of rocks. He doesn’t speak to or try to get your attention; he just sits down and makes sure you’re all in sight. He does have an axe out, but in a non-threatening manner.
Unless you all try to do something suspicious, the night passes without incident. In the morning, it’s a different dwarf seated outside, but the same otherwise.
Kaicl approaches the dwarf. “I was told we were to go to Thorrim hall in the morning.”
Sentry #2 (his first sentry gig) stands respectfully. “Yes, Lord Kaicl, if you pass through our land, you would have to go there to pay proper respects. And we would hold you responsible for anything the Fireforge dwarves do or say in our territory.”
Tikkaer snickers to himself at the “or say”.
Kaicl: “Understood.” Kaicl takes aside to Beast and Erihild. “Just remember the giants are our enemies, not each other. Keep it together and watch what you say.”
Erihild says nothing, but her demeanor says, “annoyed teenager.”
Brother Beast, much quieter than usual: “Yah, Lord Kaicl.”
Kaicl goes back to the sentry. “Lead the way, if you please.”
Sentry #2- “A warrior of your reputation and honor needs no escort, sir, it would be an insult to you. Besides, you have Tikkaer, who knows these lands well and is known to us.”
Kaicl: “Then we shall proceed.” Kaicl signals the others to follow, and Tikkaer to take point.
There is possibly an exchange of tongue sticking out and rude gestures between the locals, but Kaicl doesn’t see it.
You get to the Thorrim Clan Hall around noon without trouble. The sentries stop you, especially with the Fireforgers in tow, but once you explain what’s up, one of them escorts you to find the elders.
Old Guy- “Greetings, Lord Kaicl, how was your trip?”
Kaicl: “Greetings! We engaged in some severe diplomacy with a hill giant, but we made it through.”
Old Guy- “Good, one less giant is one less giant. What brings you back here? Did you speak to the Fireforgers? Oh. I see you did. Hm.”
Kaicl: “We’re headed back to regroup with Kemp Konsum.”
OG- “Hmm. Can I expect to have legions of Fireforgers crossing my lands now?”
Kaicl: “Only ones interested in protecting all dwarven lands from giant invasion.”
OG does not look like he appreciated that, but says nothing.
Brother Beast speaks up: “We two are the only Fireforge dwarves who decided to follow Lord Kaicl. If the clans cross your land, it will be because of the Low Kingship, not the giants.”
OG looks like he’s deciding what to say. “Just the two of you is fine this time, but do not cross our land again until the Low Kingship is settled.”
Kaicl: “I thank you for your kindness, good sir. It won’t be forgotten.”
And so you escape the Thorrim dwarves without causing another international incident. You keep heading northeast, camp overnight and travel all the next day. Just after sundown you crest the last hill and can see the apparently ruined town of Talbaire. There are a few gnomes moving between buildings.
Erihild- “Wait, is that the town?”
Tikkaer - “It was taken by the giants 8 years ago, we only started occupying it a couple years ago. We figured it would be safer to rebuild underground for the most part.”
Kaicl: “Let’s find Kemp. I have at least some good news for him.”
You approach the town, are noticed by a gnome sentry (who appears literally out of nowhere), who lets you pass. You find the correct ruined building, the right hidden door into the right tunnel, and start wandering through the maze that is underground Talbaire.
As Kaicl and Tikkaer lead the other two through the town, you’re noticed by a very fit human, who walks up and shakes Kaicl’s hand. It’s Dragon. “You look like you met a giant.”
Kaicl: “And he looks like he met me.”
Dragon- “Ha! Oh, guess who got here while you were gone?”
Kaicl: “I can only guess.”
Dragon- “Katreana, and she brought along a few friends. They’re an interesting bunch. But, you’re looking for Kemp, he’s in the meeting hall with Salach.” Dragon politely greets the other three (he only knows Tikkaer in passing), and leaves you alone.
Kaicl: “To the meeting hall, everyone!”
Tikkare leads the way again, probably somewhat unnecessarily at this point.
A couple of minutes later, you make it to the meeting hall, where you see several gnomes and a half-elf (Salach, obvs) sitting around drinking beer. A gnome stands up when you enter.
Kemp- “And you’ve returned! How was your trip?”
Kaicl: “More successful than I had hoped.” Kaicl is melancholy sometimes. “Allow me to introduce Brother Beast and Erihild, both Fireforge dwarves.”
Kemp greets them both politely. “Just the two of you, hmm?”
Kaicl: “They’ve proven themselves more useful than many of my own.”
Erihild looks like she would have fought anyone who said that who wasn’t a dwarf.
Kaicl: “Any updates here? How is the training going?”
Kemp- “Yes! Your friend the elf wizard arrived a few days ago, with some compatriots of hers, after an arduous journey from...what town again?”
Salach- “Exile’s Haven. She visited your stronghold on the way, Kaicl. Everyone is doing well.”
Kemp- “Yes, and I think they will do well in reconnaissance missions to the north. Do the dwarves seem agreeable to trade, if not troops?”
Kaicl: “They were very open to trade material items. Putting their lives on the line was… another matter. We’ll have material. We just need well trained troops.”
Kemp drums his fingers on the table. “That’s better than nothing, I suppose.”
Kaicl: “What reconnaissance do we have since I was last here? Do they giants seem to planning anything?”
Kemp: “Nothing much new. We’ve moved a few more gnomes into Gorna to clear out some more rubble and expand the citadel there, and we have six new allies in the last week, which is nothing to sneeze at either.” Kemp clearly refers to Brother Beast, Erihild, Kat, Grenda, Beldren, and Kochevnik.
Tikkaer has gotten bored and is twirling his glaive.
Brother Beast: “With all respect, sirs, it’s been a long journey. Might we see where we are to stay, and perhaps meet our new allies?”
Kemp- “Certainly! My apologies, yes, Salach, Kaicl, please take them to the area where you stay, there’s still room there.”
Salach gets up and heads in that direction. A couple minutes of walking through tunnels and you get to what was probably a storage room at some point. (Tikkaer has to be pretty careful with his glaive to not hit the ceiling.) Here, in a central area, you find several humans (apparently humans, at least), another dwarf, and an elf.
Salach- “Kaicl, want to make introductions?”
Kaicl: “Everyone, this Erihild the bard, and Brother Beast the druid. Both Fireforge dwarves. They’ve realized the dire need of the hour Against the Giants and have joined our cause.”
The elf speaks up. “Good to meet you. I’m the wizard, Katreana.”
Erihild waves politely.
Salach, indicating people in turn- “And here we have Zelda, our rogue, Karla, our cleric, Momenrech, our...other cleric, Dragon- oh you already met- and Katreana’s compatriots, Kochevnik a paladin, Beldren, a warrior and stonelord, right? And finally Grenda, another cleric.”
Brother Beast stops moping long enough to make the local signs of respect to Beldren and greet the others.
Erihild is impressed that Beldren is a stonelord, and also greets him politely.
Beldren greets them both in proper dwarven fashion, which is similar to their greeting but has exotic flourishes.
Zelda, who is lounging half upside down on whatever is handy, waves. Grenda and Karla greet them politely. Grenda seems awfully tall for a human.