In Which We Mess With Giant Politics
Waterday, 12 Reaping, CY 601
The party distributes the fallen giants’ goodies amongst themselves, including a mantle of faith that will protect Tyrrell from damage that is not evilly aligned, a ring of resistance +3 for Scar-Eater, and a cape of the mountebank for Archie, granting him use of dimension door once per day. There is some potion distribution as well and then the party regroups. They have managed to take over the top two floors of the Citadel without anyone except those who were there knowing about it. Outside, the dragon/giant battle rages.
In Kagro’s room, as Riddle attempts to cast his spell, a voice in his head chimes in: Isn’t this a terrible idea? Won’t that inadvertently result in the Vault being opened? Riddle manages to resist the compulsion to leave alone anything to do with the Vault. He asks, focusing primarily on Itifaar and a bit on Ahlissa “Do we need to get the second key or can we open the Vault with just one?”
Itifaar replies: Your quest has begun, now it continues.
Ahlissa says: Open the vault and the ward will end, all will know.
Itifaar: It continues with the Betrayer.
Taurah: Slay him and end his insurgency now.
Jane attempts a greater scrying on Charlgar, while Archie checks the stairs down to a 20-by-100-foot room. There are closed doors in every wall, and listening to the closest one, Archie hears nothing beyond. Across the room, however, kitchen-type sounds can be heard, reassuring him that the Citadel is not currently on alert. Behind a giant-sized door on the far wall to his left, Archie hears the unmistakable grunting, clawing and steaming of the pyrohydra the party has heard so much about. There is also another set of stairs going down from that room. Archie and Tyrrell rig up a sort of early warning system as this room seems to be a place where anyone would come from if they were headed the party’s way.
As they did with Riddle, the voices in Jane’s head make every effort to get her to not to do what it is she’s trying to do. She tells them, firmly, and with the full force of the Order of the Storm behind her, “It’s time.”
Meanwhile, Riddle attempts to speak with the fallen female giant, whose corpse tells him all of the giants are on lockdown until the dragon attack ends, that the Vault is three or four floors down from the party’s current location, that between here and there are slave facilities and entrance defenses, as well as Bram Cleftshank and his pets, including his cube. Riddle gently advises the corpse, “Your watch is ended,” and promptly casts the spell again on the other corpse, from whom he gets a little bit more information about Cleftshank and the cube.
Just as Jane feels her attempt to scry overcoming the resistance of the Vault itself, the spell fails anyway. Many ideas about next steps are discussed and discarded and then Jane goes outside using the ring of invisibility to commune with nature and perhaps get some more information. Again, she must overcome the voices in her head warning her away from tampering with the Vault in any way. A clearer picture of the layout of Kongen-Thulnir begins to form. Behind the Palace, there is a whole other massive interior cave complex, and another city back there where this King and his cohorts and armies have seasled themselves away. This undercity is roughly the same size as the common area of the upper city and there is lots of construction on it, except where there is just a massive cavern, somewhere several hundred feet below, with access through a fissure in the back wall. Nestled within that massive cavern is something so horribly wrong, so wildly unnatural that it offends Jane’s senses just to perceive it. As usual, Jane’s commune registers Riddle and Tyrrell as powerful, unnatural creatures, along with a presence lurking at the front of the bridge leading to the Citadel, and another on the cliff wall between the upper city and the undercity (probably the fang dragon). She can also sense Brazzemal around the fortress, and something else down in the basement of the Citadel itself.
Jane attempts to scry Charlgar again and succeeds this time. She peers into a once-organized living chamber that has been torn apart, all its furniture swept aside, huge piles of furs being used as bedding, even bones strewn about the room. Skulking in the corner, with a look of madness on his face, there is an enormously muscular hill giant who looks as though he has been on the bad end of a couple of terrible battles. He has wrapped a filthy bedsheet around the bottom half of his face. Chewing his fingers, fondling a greataxe, Charlgar sits, heavily armored in banded mail, wearing a massive belt, surrounded by a pile of carrion crawler heads, he looks nothing less than cagey.
The party develops a plan, trading gear and buffing each other as needed, and soon teleports to Charlgar’s chamber. Tyrrell manages to get the jump on the giant and holds up the key. “We’re here to help,” he says, revealing the small flaw in the party’s plan: Tyrrell does not speak Giant.
Riddle does, however, and a makeshift translation game of bluff, diplomacy and intimidation unfolds. “Here to help?” Charlgar asks. “How?”
“We want to protect the keys,” Riddle/Tyrrell says. “We want to take them far, far away. We want to prevent the dragons from getting into the Vault.”
Charlgar considers this. “Kagro allows this?”
Tyrrell shrugs. “Why else would I have the key?”
“Is Kagro dead?”
“Kagro,” the dynamic duo explains quite persuasively, “lives in shame. He is no longer in command. He has been cast out of the Citadel.”
Charlgar hums as he considers this news.
“But we must take the keys away or the dragons will destroy the Citadel.”
“The Citadel is mine,” Charlgar announces. He stands and juggles a carrion crawler head. “Take key and live. Citadel is mine.” He points to another door and the party assumes this is where the second key that will open the vault housing Dragotha’s phylactery.
“Citadel is yours,” Riddle/Tyrrell reply.
As soon as Charlgar is gone, Riddle casts locate object to find the key, but because the forces surrounding the vault have convinced him this is such a bad idea, the spell fails. He tries it again and manages to push the voices back this time. The key appears to be within the range of the spell, about one hundred feet below the party, sort of…over there. They open the door Charlgar pointed to, revealing a cage of iron grillwork beyond. Through the gaps in the cage, only darkness is visible. There is a five-foot-side opening in the wall above.
Outside the cage, thousands of carrion crawlers writhe.