Rise of the Runelords

Cauldron of Giantkind

Fortress of the Stone Giants, Part 15

Oathday, 8 Pharast, 4734

Having bought some time with the army of giants outside, the Rune Wardens head back down into the caverns. They discover that the stone barrier they had erect was bashed down. Inspecting the tracks, they realize that stone giants had battered through, ascended, and then retreated back below.

The knightly lamia Seleval, still in her human form, leads the party through the caverns to avoid a stone giant patrol. They pass through the chamber used by the two charmed red dragons. Seleval explains that Mokmurian and Longtooth captured them for use as sacrifices. One dragon, Encontredor, remains at large.

Seleval also swings by her quarters to pick up a few things. The party is repulsed by the thick scent of incense and the horrific Lamashtu murals, so they choose to wait outside. The lamia recovers some unknown items from behind the blood-soaked stone altar—the adventurers glimpse some scrolls and books. Once she’s gathered what she needs, the lamia takes them towards the entrance to the lower level, which is guarded by the troll brothers Hurek and Durek.

The party decides to lay a trap. Astrid perches on the ceiling in her slippers of spider climb, while the others lurk in a side passage waiting to pounce with steel and spell. Seleval, in her lamia form, is sent to coax the trolls into the trap.

Astrid listens in to the conversation (held in Giant). It takes some back and forth but the lion-woman ultimately succeeds in luring the brothers away from their post.

The ambush is swift and devastating. Zavian paralyzes the big troll Durek with a hold person spell, while Marcus’ flaming sphere scorches Hurek. Astrid attacks from about but has trouble keeping her footing. Lea charges forward and Amelia inspires the party. Hurek takes the brunt of the damage and is slain just before Durek breaks free of the spell.

The larger troll brother deals a grievous wound to an overconfident Seleval, but the collective might of the Rune Wardens is too much for him. Once he falls, the party hastily loots the well-equipped trolls and presses on the to the lower levels before a stone giant patrol can investigate.

It is a long, winding trip down the tunnel during which Marcus questions Seleval about the appeal of worshiping Lamashtu. She talks about the goddess’ patronage of the lamias.

The spiraling passage eventually transitions from natural caverns to worked stone. The ruins have an alien feel to them, as every hard edge and sharp angle has been beveled into a soft curve.

The adventurers come across a section of tunnel that appears to have collapsed many years ago. With that direction closed off, the party takes the only path available to them. The passage leads to the Chamber of Reduction, where hill giant and stone giant runeslaves wait in ambush.

Marcus is the first to enter and is stricken with both of the chamber’s strange effects: debilitating nausea from the warped geometry and a reduction in size to approximately halfling height. The affliction impacts the wizard and all seven of his mirror images.

Lea charges in to confront the giants, Iomedae’s grace shielding her from the baleful magic. Astrid sets up in the threshold with her bow and begins loosing arrows. Amelia strikes up a greatly inspiring tune for Lea.

Zavian takes wing and flits into the disorienting chamber, shaking off its effects and navigating around behind the hill giant runeslave. The party realizes that the stone giant runeslave was one of the laconic smiths that they slew after entering the caverns.

Astrid lands the kill shot on the hill giant runeslave, right through the brain. The stone giant runeslave is soon to follow and Lea does her best to make sure he won’t be coming back.

Astrid tries to cross the room, but the Chamber of Reduction takes its toll on her as well. Amelia uses dimension door to transfer herself and Seleval across.

Now significantly stealthier, Little Astrid scouts ahead. She comes across a large stinking chamber illuminated by a flickering fire. The room contains an ornate 12-foot tall cauldron steaming over an impressive firepit at the center.

The cauldron is being watched over by a stone statue that Little Marcus quickly surmises is some sort of construct. He and Astrid use message to coordinate a plan with the rest of the Rune Wardens, who are hanging back.

Little Marcus rushes up to the stone golem to use shape stone to snare its legs. Little Astrid dashes across the wall to strike at the golem with her shrunken double-bladed sword. The noxious fumes from the cauldron start to bother Marcus and Astrid.

It takes time for the rest of the Rune Wardens to catch up. avian swoops in and begins casting magic, while Little Marcus puts some distance between himself and the stone golem. Moments later, Lea and Seleval move up to join Astrid in fighting the golem. Little Marcus spider climbs up to the ceiling.

That’s when a big round walking furnace called a forgefiend bursts out of the wall with a loud “Oh yeah!”

Its first move is to vomit molten slag onto the paladin and the lamia. Lea is warded by her resist energy spell, but Seleval is badly scorched. The smell of burnt fur mixes with the noxious cauldron fumes.

Zavian uses stone shape to plug up the poisonous cauldron, then moves to flank the forgefiend with Lea. Astrid takes apart the stone golem.

The forgefiend tries to retreat back into the wall, but is stricken with Amelia’s cacophonous call as the Rune Wardens close in. The fiend starts coughing up debris from both its mouths.

Surrounded and nauseated, the forgefiend finally succumbs. Meanwhile, the plugged up cauldron starts to hiss ominously. The party flees the room before the explosion.

When they return, they find the cauldron unharmed. Upon inspection, they find that it is some sort of minor artifact used to create runeslaves from giant corpses. It is a thoroughly evil item thrumming with necromantic power, which can only be destroyed by reversing the runeslave ritual with a good aligned giant volunteer. Unable to destroy the cauldron, they put out the fire.

After healing up, the party carefully advances into the next room. They find a macabre trophy room full of stuffed giants wearing armor and posed as if rallying for war. Zavian senses necromantic energy from several of the figures, including the centerpiece—an enormous, headless ogre in armor.

None of the figures stir awake while the party lingers at the threshold, so the Rune Wardens concoct a plan.

Perched on the wall, Little Marcus unleashes a fireball that destroys two zombie hill giants and sets several of the stuffed figures on fire. Zavian blasts one of the other zombie giants with searing light from his sword Sunspark.

The Headless Lord rushes Lea, his double axes held high, but a grease spell from Amelia send it tumbling to the ground. While Little Astrid fires arrows from the ceiling, an overeager Seleval leaps into the fray and gets hammered by one of the other zombie giants.

The Headless Lord is swiftly destroyed and the party moves on to the other zombies. Still stinging from her misjudgment, Seleval kills the last one. After looting the corpses, the party scouts a little further.

They find a side chamber accessible only by narrow, 5-foot wide passages. Beyond that, they reach a hallway with a set of strange metal doors at one end and two other doors along the opposite wall.

After some discussion, they decide that after this last battle they have no choice but to rest and recharge until their spells return. They retreat into the side chamber and set up camp.

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