Vita est ludus
The thin line between fantasy and reality...













The City of the Spider Queen - Day 7 - Stone Giant Tribe

Uktar 4, 1372 DR (5:15 PM) Deep Wastes: Lake of Shadows

Veracity glances around the cavern and then up at the ceiling. The growling and laughter, previously heard through the ceiling, are absent: all is silent overhead. "Since these giants seem to have it in for drow, I think I'd better protect myself." She pulls out her godstone and invokes one of its powers. Her skin takes on a momentary gray sheen.

"Let's search these giants," says Hazen. This is done quickly enough, but not much is found.

"Each giant had only a sack of throwing boulders, and another sack with random junk in it," says Igor, holding up a piece of rancid cheese, his nose wrinkled.

"Ah, cheese never goes bad, Igor," says Hazen. "It just gets a new name and starts moving of its own accord. And we've got room to store these boulders in the portable hole, right?"

Tebryn snorts. "You're crazy. I'm not going to fill up the hole with boulders!"

"How about this?" says Veracity, holding up a finely made light glove. "I don't know why there's only the right glove, but it's magical."

"Perhaps that's one of those gloves I've been looking for," says Igor. "You know - one that can store stuff."

"Perhaps," agrees Veracity. "But we should keep our eyes open for a matching left glove, just in case." She looks around. "Well. I have a suggestion. Let's those of us who can go invisible and be stealthy go scout up ahead where those giants with the boulders came from. You and me, Igor."

"And me!" says Hazen. "I can go invisible!"

"But can you be stealthy?" asks Tebryn. "You don't seem to be able to keep your mouth shut."

"Aww, I'm stealthy enough. Sure, I talk all the time, but if they're not listening, what difference does it make?"

"You and me, Igor," says Veracity, firmly.

"After you," says Igor, gesturing for her to lead on.

"How about another message spell, so you can report back without having to return?" suggests Brianna.

Veracity beams at her. "Certainly, Brianna." Brianna beams back. She sings and points to each adventurer in turn. Veracity and Igor activate their rings of invisibility and sneak to the far end of the cavern.

Through the opening, Veracity and Igor see a wide passage going to the left and a narrow passage going to the right. The left passage goes a short distance and opens into a room. The room has a ceiling about twenty feet high with a hole in it. Peering up through the hole, the two can see four angry giants, hefting boulders, scanning the room below for targets.

Veracity ducks into the narrow passage on the right. This, too, opens into a room, with two small alcoves on the left wall. The far end of the room opens up onto a lake. Several huge rafts made of a light colored woody substance are pulled up on the shore. A huge column separates this room from the other room.

Veracity peeks into the first alcove and finds nothing. The other alcove is right next to the shore of the lake. She peeks in and finds that the walls are covered with rows of paintings. "I've found the lake," she whispers. "And an alcove near it, filled with paintings. Let me look at it..."

The walls of the alcove are painted in eight bands. From top to bottom, they seem to commemorate the interactions of a tribe of giants with a horde of kuo-toans - fish men. The earliest painting shows the kuo-toans making a temple. Later, they invade the giants, followed by the giants destroying the temple. Still later, there is a scene of giants and kuo-toans eating together, although just what they are eating is unclear. Finally, there is a scene depicting the giants helping the kuo-toans rebuild their temple.

Veracity's brow furrows, as she examines the pictures. Several of them show the long tentacles of a kraken stretching out of the lake and snatching giants from within these very caverns.

"I've seen enough for now," whispers Veracity. "Igor, let's go back so we can all talk face to face."

"All right," agrees Igor. "The giants in the hole don't seem to be going anywhere."

Back among the rest of their party, Igor and Veracity deactivate their rings and become visible.

"So, what kind of paintings were they, Veracity?" asks Hazen. "Well done?"

"They were fine, Hazen," says Veracity. "Seems like the giants first fought, but are now friends with a bunch of kuo-toans."

"We haven't seen any kuo-toans, Veracity," says Hazen. "What kind of pigments did they use on the painting?"

"Who cares, Hazen?" says Veracity. "Of course we haven't seen kuo-toans yet. Remember when we sought the Shards of the Day? We fought a band of kuo-toans, who had a temple in an underground lake. These paintings show kuo-toans and a temple in the lake."

"Did it look like it was the same artist who made all the paintings?" persists Hazen. "What kind of brush-strokes did he use?"

"Hazen, focus," says Veracity. "You can do your artistic evaluation when you see the paintings yourself. Oh - and I also noticed that a number of the pictures showed what seemed to be a kraken in the lake. Now, we also ..."

"A kraken?" interrupts Hazen. "Well, that's probably why they had a temple! How will we get past it?"

"I thought kuo-toans worshiped Blibdoolpoolp," says Veracity. "But, in any case, the kraken is not our first challenge. There's a hole in the ceiling with giants in it, and ..."

"Maybe the kraken is named Bliboopoo," interrupts Hazen. "How will we get past the kraken? I want to keep out of that lake if Bliboopoo the kraken is there!"

"Hazen, focus!" says Veracity, irritably. "As I've been trying to say, first we have to deal with the giants. Now, here's a plan. We ..."

"Let's just fly up and whack them," says Igor. "Should be simple enough. We'll get a couple before they even know what happened."

Veracity sighs. "Yes, that is, in essence, what will happen. But we don't all fly, and I think with a little bit of planning ahead we can get the drop on them and do it much more safely. I think ..."

"Yeah, that kraken will be a challenge," babbles Hazen. "Especially if there are a bunch of kuo-toans with it."

Veracity clutches her hair and looks down shaking her head. She calms herself, and looks up. "Hazen. Listen. Focus. On. This. We are getting the giants, first. My idea: Igor and you and I all go into the next room, invisibly. The rest of you hide around the corner, up there, near the exit. I sneak to the right through the other room and conceal myself near the other entrance to the giants' room. I ready a hold monster spell. Igor and Hazen fly up. Igor whacks one head. Hazen whacks the same giant. I hold a different one. Then, Kress flies in and whacks, and the rest of you come in and cast spells, as appropriate. Plan?"

"Good enough," agrees Igor. Hazen nods and opens his mouth to start to say something. Veracity puts her finger to her lips. "Shh. Let's go!"

"Focus, she says!" mutters Hazen to himself. "Here we're about to become kracken bloop, and all she wants to do is play with rocks. I am the only one who is focused!"

The three activate their invisibility and move down the room, followed by their visible companions. Veracity sneaks to the right, as agreed, and loops back to observe the giants from the other entrance. Igor and Hazen fly up and position themselves next to the nearest giant,

With a whack, Igor strikes the first giant powerfully with his greatsword, becoming visible. Veracity casts her readied spell at the second giant, who goes stiff, as Veracity becomes visible.

Kress flies into the room. Hazen stabs the damaged giant with his dagger. Igor takes the opportunity to whack it yet again, slaying it. As it tumbles out of the hole, Igor cleaves through to strike the paralyzed giant. Tebryn steps into the room and mutters, pointing to the third giant, who also goes stiff. Igor strikes the first held giant a truly immense blow, felling him instantly. He cleaves through and misses the fourth giant, but then swings twice more at that same giant, hitting him once.

Kress flies up and strikes the sole un-held giant with his sword. Igor takes the opportunity to slash it with his greatsword. This giant, too, falls out of the hole, slain. Igor cleaves through to hit the remaining paralyzed giant. Brianna steps into the room and cheers. Hazen flies up and stabs the paralyzed giant.

Igor sees a couple of giants through the hole, at the far end of the cavern. The new giants look with horror at the carnage inflicted upon their fellows in so few seconds, and turn and run. Igor flies through in pursuit. When he reaches the far end of the cavern, he looks around the corner and sees the two giants he was chasing standing with another giant at another hole.

Kress follows Igor. Brianna draws her bow. "Good thinking, Brianna," says Veracity. "We can finish off this guy." She draws her bow and shoots an arrow into the immobile giant. Hazen stabs the giant and slays it. "You, dummy, Hazen!" says Veracity. "Follow Igor and Kress!" "Huh?" says Hazen. "Oh, right!" He flies after the two warriors.

Yol steps in and surveys the scene. "How about if I ferry us all up?" she suggests, pulling out her wings of flying. Tebryn, Veracity, and Brianna all nod, and Yol dons the magic item and activates it. She carries up Brianna first, then Veracity, and finally Tebryn. As each adventurer is dropped off, he or she runs through the cave, following the warriors.

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Copyright © 2004 by Brianna Sollandry <brianna at hambo dot com> Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu
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