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Having found a surprisingly warm welcome in the Fen of the Ice Mists, the party decides to make camp and rest up. While Marcus and Zavian work on crafting items, Lea invites the others to a card game.
Amelia bets her almost-expended necklace of fireballs, the ice nymph Svevenka bets a magical boon, the tiefling mercenary Reri bets a favor for added value purchasing, Lea bets a favor, and Ameiko bets an embarrassing task for Lea.
Lea wins the first round and Amelia bows out, replaced by their frost giant friend Grenja who bets some winter wolf teeth. Svevenka bets more magic, Reri bets information on safe passage between Korvosa and Magnimar, Ameiko bets more embarrassment for Lea, Lea bets more favors. She and Ameiko reach a draw, then Lea wins the double or nothing round.
Their crafting complete, Zavian summons the trumpet archon Ilmiring to forge an eaglesoul pact with her. He then asks her to teleport him and Marcus to Magnimar for some shopping. Reri watches with interest. In Magnimar, Zavian finds the dwarf collector Kunarv to sell him an anti-construct earthbreaker that he conveniently has an urgent need for. Zavian uses the funds to pick up a ring of evasion for Lea.
That evening, Marcus casts rope trick for the party to rest in. Grenja is too large to squeeze inside, so he shrinks her with reduce person. She is very impressed to be a “normal” size, if only for a few minutes, and considers Marcus’ offer to shrink her permanently. Her reaction reminds Marcus of the simple glee that Shayliss often expressed about spells like fly.
Reri asks Zavian about his experiences as an aasimar and his connections to celestials. She doesn’t know much about her own infernal heritage and is interested to learn what life is like on the other end of the planar heritage spectrum. Zavian tells her about his unique history as a fallen archon and his need to set things right with Elszevina.
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That morning, they discover Reri spent the night with Svevenka. The tiefling says she likes to try everything once and couldn’t pass up the opportunity. The nymph checks off an entry in her bucket list.
Marcus and Zavian cast true seeing on the Rune Wardens and their companions, while Svevenka blesses Lea with barkskin and resistance to fire for the next 24 hours.
With the spells in place they set out, following the bed of the ancient River Avah. Thanks to the magic, they are able to navigate the reality warping effects of the area with ease.
After traveling for some time, they are suddenly beset by a pair of strange, enormous giants with pale gray skin and lanky frames. The giant hurl stones at them from a perch high up in the valley wall.
A frost giant leaps down to attack Marcus with an enormous axe. The wizard blasts him with scorching ray and spurs the clockwork horses to run faster, leaving Grenja to face the intruder.
Zavian use stone shape to turn the ledge beneath the strange giants on the cliff into a ramp. One of them loses its footing and tumbles down in front of the wagon. The aasimar cleric then flies up into the face of the giant still standing. It swings a morningstar at him, but loses its grip. The weapon goes flying off. Zavian notices that a semi-hidden cave entrance is nearby.
Down below, the wagon comes to a halt in front of the face-planted giant. Lea charges forward to confront the flailing foe. She gets in a solid hit with her greatsword. Amelia leans out of the passenger hold to hurl glitterdust into the eyes of the giant up on the ledge.
The frost giant Bjormundal chastises Grenja for allying herself with the small folk and then runs after the wagon. He tries to flip it on its side, but due to the levitate spell this merely sends it spinning in the air. The motion does tangle up the harness for the clockwork horses, who are wrenched from their feet.
Meanwhile, the huge giant on the ground rises to its feet and punts Lea backwards ten feet. She lands among the confused clockwork horses.
Grenja bellows with uncontrollable fury and chases after Bjormundal. Meanwhile, two more huge cloud giants emerge from the cavern. One descends to attack Lea and immediately loses its morningstar. Another cloud giant joins its fellow in attacking Zavian, who discovers that the bigger they are, the harder they hit.
The reinforcements also sound a war horn that echoes through the mountains, to the party’s dismay.
Marcus enlarges himself, while Ameiko uses her magic to distract and lure away one of the giants on the ground. Amelia continues to throw around glitterdust. After taking a pounding, Zavian tries to strike back with holy word, but the cloud giants are too powerful to be affected.
Bjormundal, however, is not so fortunate. Paralyzed by the cleric’s word, he is helpless as Grenja twists his head off with her bare blue hands.
Reri has emerged from the wagon and approached the cloud giant on the ground. Using her tower shield to magically grant herself total concealment, she stabs it in the tendons with a vicious sneak attack. Lea assumes her greater angelic aspect and flies up to ram her sword through the giant’s jaw. He falls dead with a tremendous crash.
The three remaining cloud giants float into the air to gang up on Zavian, who is not in good shape. Despite their use of a fog cloud for cover, Marcus tosses fireballs at them. Amelia uses song of discord to get them to turn on one another and scatter. Two giants effectively kill each other.
Marcus grants fly to Grenja, and together she and Lea double team the remaining cloud giant. It is rendered asunder by their fury. After getting patched up by the paladin and the cleric, the adventurers loot the bodies before pressing on. Zavian flies out ahead of the wagon to scout the pass and avoid any other surprises.
So he becomes the first to glimpse the vast cityscape of lost Xin-Shalast. A great black-walled fortress guards the main entrance to the city and to the elevated Gold Road that stretches its length. The eastern district of the appears to have been devastated by an ancient volcanic eruption, but the rest of the skyline is unaffected. The spires rise up the flank of Mhar Massif, but stop short of it peak, where the stern face of Karzoug glowers over the landscape.
Here and there, Zavian can see distant shapes flying patrol over the city, including the black fort. They seem to be on alert and he hastily retreats lest they spot him.