Rise of the Runelords

Breaking Barl's Bones

The Hook Mountain Massacre, Part 8

Sunday, 17 Kuthona, 4733

Having reunited with their elven allies Shalelu Andosana and Captain Galodar, the Rune Wardens spent a cold and lonely night in the foothills. As dawn breaks faintly through the thick layer of unnatural rain clouds, the adventurers rise and prepare to ascend Hook Mountain for the attack on the Kreeg ogre clanhold.

Shalelu leads the party up the ogre’s hunting paths, while Amelia scouts ahead on her hippogriff. The wind and falling snow proves challenging to navigate, but she manages to spy the cave entrance to the Kreeg clanhold about a half a mile down from the summit. Smoke pours out of the opening and other smaller vents in the hillside. Two ogre brutes in heavy furs stand guard outside. Amelia reports this to the party then flies ahead with her hippogriff and hunkers down to wait for the others to catch up.

As the adventurers ascend the mountain, Astrid stealthily scouts ahead through the snow and fog. A lumbering shape with two lumps on its shoulder looms out at her—an ettin! Astrid charges towards it and cuts it to pieces with her double sword Echo before it can sound the alarm.

The party regroups at Amelia’s position and determines their next move. The bard proposes a bold plan for infiltrating the clanhold and heading straight for Barl Breakbones, the stone giant lord of Hook Mountain.

Following the plan, Astrid and the elves quietly approach the cave entrance through the snow and howling wind. Amelia, meanwhile, casts glibness upon herself and brazenly leads the rest of the party straight up to the cave. The ogre guards demand to know who they are.

“Ho there, friend!” the bard calls out to the ogre guards as they approach.

“Now what’s all this, then?” one of the guards shouts back.

“Reportin’ back to Barl after a mission,” Amelia says in her best ogre accent.

The ogre narrows his beady eyes. “I ain’t heard nothin’ ’bout no mission.”

“Need to know,” Amelia tells him. “Infiltratin’ the humans.”

“Are you sayin’ that underneath those pointy ears beats the red-blooded heart of an ogre?” the guard asks incredulously.

‘You know it!" she grins back. "Can’t you tell? Best enchantment there is."

The ogres buy her story hook line and sinker, inviting Amelia and the others out of the cold and advising them that there is some sweet tea on the fire once they are done reporting to Barl. While the guards’ attention is focused on the new arrivals, Astrid and the two elves stealthily slip inside the cavern.

The entryway to the Kreeg clanhold is impressive. The adventurers must stride beneath the 20-foot high rib bones of an enormous, long-dead creature. Beyond them, in a great domed cavern, is a gargantuan statue clad in jewel studded armor. The statue has ebony skin riven with cracks and fissures. It’s face is hidden beneath a demon-headed helmet, while its had grasps a glaive. Around its neck hangs an immense Sihedrun medallion. Not much farther down the passage is a foul smelling deep pit, which the adventurers assume is the clan’s cesspool.

Beyond the pit they reach a four-way intersection guarded by two ogres and a dim-witted hill giant named Lunderbud. Amelia repeats her story on the ogres, convincing them thoroughly. Lunderbud spots Astrid skulking around in the dark, but the ogres dismiss him as a dumbass. While they explain to Amelia that the hill giant is so dumb that he thinks he’s an ogre, Astrid and the elves sneak past. The rest of the party follow, heading down the corridor to the right.

They ignore the two passages leading down to the left and approach the end of the tunnel, where it makes a sharp right turn. Astrid stealthily creeps forward to peer around the corner. The tunnel opens out in a gigantic chamber that slopes upward between two ledges. Above, the ceiling opens to the slate gray sky above.

The ramp leads up to an enormous stone throne, on which the stone giant lord Barl Breakbones is seated. He is listening to the red haired woman standing beside the throne. Two other stone giant bodyguards stand nearby, while the ogre attendants wait nervously. Barely visible to Astrid are several alcoves at the far back of the cave, where she hopes that Prince Eldrin is being held.

After she relays her discovery to the party, they come up with a plan of attack. Marcus casts fly and mirror image on himself and enlarge person on Lea. Zavian casts silence on one of Astrid’s arrows, hoping she can get close enough to disrupt Barl’s spell casting. Astrid begins to stealthily infiltrate the chamber. Barl’s eyes flicker in her direction. Sensing that something is amiss, he orders one of his guards to investigate.

Zavian uses stone shape to seal off the tunnel to the throne room and the attack begins. Marcus swoops into the room and hurls a fireball at the throne. Barl and Lucrecia are singed, while the three ogre attendants are incinerated. The ground rumbles as the enlarged Lea strides into the chamber and challenges Barl.

The giant lord dismissively orders his minions to deal with the intruders, then casts a spell upon himself. Zavian enters the room and calls down holy fire on the throne. Astrid and the two elves fire arrows at the stone giant bodyguards as the giants grab boulders and hurl them at the adventurers. Amelia attempts to charm one of the giants, but it shakes off her spell.

From her perch beside the throne, Lucrecia dusts off some of the ashes. She invites the Rune Wardens to join her side, saying that “Mokmurian would love to meet you.”

Lea brags about killing her sister Xanesha, and insists that Lucrecia will meet the same fate. The red haired woman gapes in shock.

“Little Xanesha?” she says. Her face contorts into a snarl as her torso shudders and ripples. Her legs merge into a snakes tail and her eyes turn yellow like a cat’s. She draws twin daggers and launches herself towards Lea. The gigantic paladin takes a swing with her earthbreaker, hitting her square on. The blow staggers the lamia matriarch and Lea promises more to come. Looking frightened, Lucrecia attempts to cast a spell defensively, but it fizzles.

Amelia tries to sow dissention among the giants by using glibness to claim that Lucrecia betrayed them to the party. She is able to fool Barl’s bodyguards, but the stone giant wizard orders them to focus on killing the Rune Wardens.

A boulder thrown by a stone giant takes out one of Marcus’ mirror images. He flies over to the giant to engage it with his ranseur. Astrid charges the other stone giant bodyguard. Barl casts a spell, causing a ghostly hand to reach out of the stone floor and grasp at Lea, draining away some of her life energy and strengthening the giant lord.

Zavian moves up to Astrid to cast fly upon her and tell her that he is planning to teleport them both up to attack the floating Barl. Amelia, meanwhile, casts invisibility onto herself and creeps up onto the dais. In an alcove behind the throne, she spies a disheveled elf chained to the wall.

Lea hammers Lucrecia into unconsciousness and leaves the lamia matriarch bleeding on the floor. The stone giant fighting Marcus loses his balance on the ledge and falls to the ground. Astrid cuts down the other stone giant bodyguard, while Lea makes her way over to loom beside Zavian.

Over in the alcove, Amelia releases the elf’s bonds, breaking her invisibility. She greets the astonished Prince Eldrin.

Zavian uses dimension door to bring Astrid, Lea and himself up above Barl. The cleric and the paladin takes swipes at the stone giant wizard as they fall, while Astrid unleashes devastating blows with Echo. Barl is cut down and his body crashes onto his stone throne.

With his master dead, the last remaining stone giant, Sarktus, offers his surrender to Marcus. The wizard stands guard over the giant and the unconscious Lucrecia.

With the fighting over, Astrid and Prince Eldrin have an emotional reunion. The prince is also glad to see that Galodar is alive. Eldrin explains that he is the only survivor of the elven warband that was ambushed by the stone giants. He was taken back here to be held captive by Barl. Overhearing conversations, Eldrin discovered that his mother Queen Tavara and her Highborne faction have made some sort of alliance with the giants. She was responsible for the giant attack that destroyed Astrid’s village! Eldrin fears that a Highborne coup may be underway in Isandria.

Searching Barl’s body, the Rune Wardens come across a message scrawled on mammoth hide. Astrid translates it from the original Giant. The message is addressed to Barl from Mokmurian and instructs him to make ready to leave for Jorgenfist with his “ogre slaves.” Mokmurian writes that Teraktinus will lead a band of giants “and the dragon” on a raid against Sandpoint because the town “could hide what my lord seeks.” Because the giants could be pursued, Barl is instructed to help cover their retreat.

The adventurers then question their prisoners. Sarktus tells them what he can about the stone giants’ plans. He says that a might giant spellcaster named Mokmurian has discovered the lost magics of Thassilon and has gathered an army of young warriors to take back the empire that was once built by giant hands from the small folk who are squatting amid the ruins. The army has gathered at Jorgenfist, a once-taboo site with an ancient Thassilonian tower. Barl was Mokmurian’s apprentice, but Sarktus found that the stone giant wizard had no honor and has subsequently lost his faith in Mokmurian’s cause. If released, he will not rejoin Mokmurian’s army.

Sarktus also tells them that the ranger Lamatar Bayden was killed and then turned into some sort of undead creature by Barl’s magic. Lamatar is currently guarding an abandoned shrine to Lamashtu.

After disarming and tying up Lucrecia, the adventurers revive her. The lamia matriarch tries to negotiate for her release, but ultimately shares her information out of desperation. Zavian leads the interrogation. He learns that she sank the Paradise to kill the passengers marked with the Sihedron rune so that their greed would serve her master’s need. They learn that Mokmurian is another servant of Lucrecia’s own master, about whom she is compelled not to speak about directly. The adventurers guess that it’s a runelord, most likely the runelord of greed. She has no further information about the impending attack on Sandpoint. Lucrecia also reveals that a coven of hags in the clanhold is responsible for the unnatural rain.

Zavian uses divinatory magic to see whether Lucrecria will harm innocents if let go, and does not detect any danger. They allow her to flee and she dimension doors away.

Before they can warn anyone in Sandpoint about the impending attack, the Rune Wardens still have the Kreeg ogres to deal with, not to mention the hag coven and the undead ranger.

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