The group of six hill giants and five ogres marched toward the keep. The orcs, still in full retreat more frightened of the hill giants than anyone imagined. Keep archers train every missile attack at their disposal on the giants. Before the giants and ogres enter ballista range, something in the woods distracts them. The giants spot the Elves! The giants change direction, move toward the woods and begin shaking trees. Those with night vision witness at least two elves shaken from a tree and then pounded horribly . With this single violent event, the other elves scatter. Emboldened the lead hill giant swings his massive serrated two-handed sword in the air directing the ogres to lead the way to the keep! Just as the ogres enter range, the Castellan takes aim and let loose a ballista round pinning the lead ogre to the same tree the elves fell from. The hill giants, perhaps seeing the keep well-manned, alert, and occupied with magic missile casting wizards, avoid it completely and instead follow the road southeast right behind the orcs.
The keep peoples celebrates the giant’s disengaging after the Castellan’s winning shot but the moment is brief. Everyone returns to the problem at hand: dealing with the aftermath of Macrobius’ invasion. The group and Castellan talk strategy. Find Macrobius’ lair, enter it, and slay him once and for all? Or, as the Castellan boldly suggests, take on the Steading of the Hill Giants by surprise. The Steading is in a difficult to reach vale some 15 miles southwest in the Stoneheart Mountains. The Castellan says that the giants are stronger today than ever and are now in league with other types of giants as well. In the end, everyone agreed Macrobius is the immediate threat. The giants, however, may be the next.
Morning arrives. The party travels the to where their records say the barrows should be between the Caves of Chaos and Blueheart's Tower. They take the path straight through the Fellgrim Forest following the trail of undead that retreated from battle the night before. About halfway through the forest, they clash with a traveling band of four mutated ettins! The warriors engage and wizards let loose their magic. The Ray of Enfeeblement once again shows its usefulness deadening the power of one ettin. Nilbog’s Scorching Rays of Mitra sets two of them aflame. In the end swords, arrows, magic missiles, and sleep magic put all the ettins down.
Before searching for Macrobius’ barrow they make plans to construct a quick base in Blueheart’s old tower. Before moving too closely to it, they spot orc tracks everywhere and find the windows shuttered from the inside. They forget the base and head toward the supposed location of the barrow. To the southeast, about six hundred feet, they find a set of five earthen mounds one of which is in the Fellgrim. Each has dugout entrances leading underground. The center mound is about twenty feet high and sixty feet in diameter. Then there are four satellites about ten feet high and twenty feet around. The group searches and finds skeleton and zombie tracks emerging from the outer mounds. The center mound has all sorts of tracks leading to and from it. They decide to explore larger central mound.
About twenty feet down the passage opens into a dark cavern. There is a stench of death and decay. A pack of feral giant hedgehogs attacks the party. The party takes them out sustaining a few minor quill injuries. They continue exploring the passage the leads deepest and the cavern path takes them to a set of stairs. Being careful, they find themselves in a maze and sense a familiar presence. Winding through the maze they stay in formation. Despite this, the elephant-headed minotaur-man beasts still manage to surround the group. Faldalf, Rothaga, Darthon hold both sides while the spell caster’s and Chopper finish them off. They find a pile of about 500 gold pieces in the creature’s lair.
They discover another set of stairs leading even further underground. They pass a couple of intersections and find themselves in a room full of old broken statuary and furniture. Heaps of junk lie everywhere and there is a reinforced wooden door on the left side of the room. The next thing anyone realizes, fungaloid-tainted men creep from the clutter and engage the party.
To be continued in session #14.