Dragon Age: Rise of the Runelords

Stoned giants and a journey "home" (Bral)

Tracking the things was easy, even without Garret. You even seen the kind of mess a bunch of drunken stone giants make? A trail even a gorgon could follow! We came across them in their revelries and put flight to them before running into Garret and one of the new dwaven garrison of Fort Ranik. Apparently Garret had come south looking for us as we moved north looking for him. Must have come across the same trail…. Giants don’t tend to be discreet.

From there it was easy to explain to Garret that Magnimar considers us pariah and Sandpoint needs us back. The suplies we had were sent on to help provision the fort and we found passage south along the Yondabakari and then cut across plains north of the Mushfern on horseback to get to Sandpoint. Other than some unusually large boars the trip was speedy and uneventful.

We were welcomed back to Sandpoint with open arms, nice for a change, and told of their problem. It would seem the Giants are threatening a larger area of Varisia then we thought, having been spotted to the north of Sandpoint , albeit in the distance. We spent a merry night re-acquainting ourselves with the town – well Bral did – the rest of the party was trying to ascertain exactly “what” was seen in the distance when Garret was able to confirm the reports with a firsthand sighting. Quickly sobering up, we made our plans to head out at first light.

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Mountian top and fall of the first giant (Bral)

Hook Mountain – the very name is reminiscent of the horrors that dwell there. Through guile and spell craft the orgryns who roamed the lower halls of the mountain complex were put down. Into a giant hole they were plunged and then purged from this life with fire. To the upper caverns we found the master of the mountain; a stone giant and his minions. Although hard fought, in the end our enemy capitulated and yielded to us. From our prisoner we found that this was only the beginning of a massive incursion from the giants beyond the boarder. Fortunately or frighteningly the giants we faced were but the dregs of the force sent here to create floods and foul weather ahead of the main force. The body of the ranger left to recover, which we found with a trio of hags, who quickly withdrew when they saw their giant masters had been defeated.

With direr warnings we look to return to Magnimar. There we can give them warning of the dangers to come and collect our reward for liberating fort Ranik and saving not only the remaining black arrows but also the nearby towns.

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A night at the Inn (Beldal) - [out of chronological order ]
Ogrekin and the barn of webs

Everyone was already gathered in the inn by the time the red bearded dwarf sauntered in for supper. He pretended not to see them and shuffled over to the seat he knew was waiting for him next to the hearth. His full beard hiding a broad grin as he spied the pitchers of ale sitting on the slightly raised table in the corner of the room. Presenting a sturdy mug of pure mithril inlaid with the symbols of the Brewmaster, he spit into the mug, wiped it out and with practiced ease filled it to the brim. Draining the mug in one long swallow, he wiped his mustache with the back of his hand and belched proudly. “Now where was I?”

“You had just slain the cowardly ogre waiting for you in the hall and the twisted ogrelings in the dining hall with the horrible face!” a young child blurted out in excitement.

“Aye! The ground floor had been cleared of the foul beasts! We ascended to the upper levels of the twisted and filthy house. By this time, we were wary of traps laid by these cunning beastmen and we found another at the upper levels as well! As we cleared the floor, we are beset upon by rats the size of wolves!” At that, the sound of scurrying and squeaking comes from beneath the floor. Many of the children, ladies, and quite a few of the men jump at the sound eyeing the floor woefully. “But fear not! The beasts were no match for Dwarven steel! Bral, the Mighty quickly dispatched them and set into the creature which was their master. With the aid of The Silken Lady, Zai, and the deadly bolts of Garret the Marksman the monster was defeated!” The sound of clashing steel is followed by the smooth clinking sound of a weighted scarf and finally the sharp, clear sound of a crossbow firing with a long gurgle of pain. As the crowd cheered, the dwarf poured himself another mug of ale and looked onto the crowd with a dour expression. Wondering what the expression meant, people quieted down quickly.

“Now, it was time to enter……the basement!” The crowd gasped and children pulled themselves closer. “While ye fine people may fear to venture into the earth, the cool, dark is home for the dwarves. We were ready. Proud as we were, we were not prepared for the filth which awaited us there. Putrid piles of rotting flesh and gore on monstrous tables and scenes so horrible, I cannot begin to describe them to ye! Then, we entered the moss pit of despair..(the quiet inn great room seems to fill with the distant sound of water dripping in the distance)..Bral the Mighty and Garret the Marksman went to explore and a creature pulled itself from the muddy pits buried under layers of muck! (a great squelching sound rings out across the room) A towering nightmare of moss, tentacles lined by thorny tentacles dripping with foul ichors, and a great gaping maw ringed with similar thorns. (a low moan-growl washes over the crowd) It lashed out and its venomous touch caused the The Marksman’s very muscles to freeze tight! The Mighty Bral pulled his companion to safety as we lay into the beast! The Silken Lady tore at it with her blades (more clinking silken tones); the wee Conjurer Iyan released streaming bolts of power (crackling energy sounds streaming from one side of the room to the other); his otherworldly beast tore at it with gnashing jaws and talons like short daggers (vicious snarling and ripping sounds); and with a prayer to the Brewmaster, I charged in to stab at the beast! (the mug begins to glow with a soft light) We fought bravely, but the beast seemed to be recovering quickly from our mighty blows!! Bral drew Garrett to the safety of a side room while we drew the monster away down the great hall. Drawing a fell item of power from her flowing skirts, the Silken Lady threw a bauble of fire onto the creature! (Turning quickly to point at the fire as a bright point of light emanates from the flames just as a low booming sound comes from the same fire) And how the beast cried! It was enraged! It attempted to draw me into its wicked maw! I fought and struggled, singing to the gods for aid in my hour of need! The Conjurer surely is the reason I live and breath before ye this day! Iyan drew on his eldritch might and made me slick as a greased pig at a fair, just as he sent his beast to ram me from the very jaws of death! The noble beast taking my place before sudden doom! The Conjurer released more arcane might as we pressed our advantage. It enveloped the Silken Lady and meself in its tentacles, the thorns digging into my flesh! By the grace of the Brewmaster’s frothy grace, we were able to lay low the great beast and claim the day!” People on the edge of their seats suddenly realizing they are gripping the table relax a moment.

“But there was more! Surely ye have not forgotten about the Barn of Webs! We had not yet found the rangers we sought, and we entered the Barn, wary of even more traps. (the sound of a creaky wooden door opening very slowly) Inside, we find more foul ogrekin and we fell upon them with righteous fury! I barely had time to raise me mug to strike by the time the Marksman’s bolts whizzed by me piercing the foul things in their vital organs! Bral laid low the last of them and we looked with grim faces at what foul beast might lay behind that wall covered in webs. (Turning to face the wall of the inn behind him an pointing at it as chittering sounds begin behind the wall.) Garrett checked the area for traps and clued as Bral tested his dwarven gut against the foul brew the ogrekin were making in their sill. He found it not to his liking. (sounds of retching and gagging echo from Beldal’s empty mug. ) Filthy stuff, he learned the cost of his blasphemous drink! Garrett came to tell us that there were red dragon tracks along the loft!”

“I knew it were a dragon! All the best stories have dragons!” cried someone from the audience.

NAY! They were FEEDING this thing dragons!” Beldal replied and waited with a long, dramatic pause as the disbelief and curiosity washed over the crowd, using the time to refill his mug. “The wise dwarves thought it best to draw on our vaunted wisdom and consider our next course of action in dealing with a dragon eater. The brave Zai and Iyan, unconcerned with their safety walked along the catwalks into certain DOOM! Knowing that there was naught where an elf and halfling would dare go but a dwarf not we rushed after them. Just in time too, as Zai was under attack by an enormous creature! Gorgospider! The vile ogrekin had been mixing gorgons with spiders and making new horrors! Suffering from its potent venom the lady was falling! Calling on the power of the Brewmaster, I pulled her out of the way and took her place in the face of this great beast! (chittering sounds get louder) The Marksman and Conjurer let loose bolts of deadly accuracy and arcane might at the monster! Both of them felt the piercing sting of its venom. Petunia, the faithful creature from another world, was enraged at her master’s pain and leapt onto the monster’s back tearing and clawing at it!” (snarling and ripping sounds mix with the chittering sounds)

“Meanwhile, seeing that the very men we sought were chained here as food for the foul monster, I called on the grace of the Brewmaster and defiantly walked in to save the men. Protected by the power of his Frothy Grace, I freed the men from their bonds! But foul magics! The Silken Lady had fallen! The foul monster must have developed fangs it could throw, b/c she was pierced and bleeding! Again, calling on the power of the Brewmaster, I found the divine strength to pull all three men and the fallen Silken Lady to safety!”

“The combined might of the Conjurer and the Marksman was too much for Gorgospider and it fell in a smoldering heap! (A sound of rapid fire crossbow bolts and the whizzing energy bolts, followed by an insectoid crunch) Bral the Mighty was attempting to build a fire to burn the foul creature just as we emerged. We nursed the men back to health and brought them here to the good people of this village! Home, warm, safe, and these wicked ogrekin will trouble yer people NO MORE! So swears the Grey Wardens!!!” Beldal finishes as he holds up his, once more empty, glowing mug.

The room erupts in cheering and clapping. People begin to dig through their coin purses. “Nay! Keep yer hard earned money! Ye are good people who live on the earth. Yer attention and time this evening is the payment I will accept! The people of the fort may yet need yer strength, yer blood, and yer arms yet! But that is for another night. Tonight, we drink!!!” And with that, Beldal tosses a small bag of coins onto the bar. “ALE for all of me friends here!!” The crowd cheers and whistles. Just as Bral and Garret walk in.

“Aye! I am magnificent aren’t I!?!” a grin which was probably intended to be cheerful, but only appears leering and fiendish on his scarred face, “Now, where is the ale and food!?!? I could eat a horse’s ass I am so hungry!” Beldal tosses another small bag on the bar.

“Here, lads!” as they approach, in lower tones, “The barkeep probably thinks we just did him a favor. Let’s show him we didnae!” followed by a wink.

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Raising the Sluices (Beldal)
Into the swamp

Aye, the foul water troll was slain, but still we had yet to figure out how to save the people of this valley. We searched high and low, but these humans are daft builders! Where are the bloody knobs and levers?!!? After a lively search, we found the room containing the hellspawn. Foul magics were afoot and the beast Evaxiel was trapped in some magic contraption draining his life energies to power the sluices. We searched and searched, but only the beast knew the method to work the magic of the fell device. The beast was summoned and trapped by a mage with a servant named “Carzug.”

It was a test of my faith to determine what to do with this beast. It was hellspawn and thus, deserved to be destroyed, but he was also a trapped beast and freedom is the way of the Brewmaster. I was about to free him, when Garrett and Ian used the other circle to open the sluices. The red beast was destroyed instantly, after I had made my peace with freeing it. But the people were saved.

In the ensuing celebrations a wee pixie named Yap came to tell us of a lost woman in the swamps. Following a night of celebrations, we think Garrett may have “befriended” the pixie. We travelled to the south and found that the wild lands had become haunted by fell spirits and lost souls. There were images of the past telling of a dark and troubled past for this valley, but now we know that the lady’s soul is lost to grief. It is only right that we set her free from this grief.

We head to Hook Mountain to retrieve her lover’s remains. Perhaps, the Brewmaster has put this freedom in my path to make amends for the loss of the red-spawn. The giants will know the wrath of the Brewmaster and her soul shall know peace.

This, I swear.

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The dam of the Dammed (Bral)

As we came to the foot of the great dam it seems our luck had not changed. Smoke from fires could be seen drifted into the rain soaked day. The steep stair that climbs to the top of the dam is lined with skulls – some only days old.

Several ogryn were atop the dam, seeking shelter from the storm on the lee side of the central building. The rain provided us cover and they did not see our approach. We made short work of them in the wet and closing darkness.

Inside, we were out of the rain but it was no less moist. Thick green mold and ropy vines were omnipresent and filled some of the smaller rooms completely. We found out why the giant kin chose to shelter outside when we were set upon by trolls. Foul things that should not be found in this climate, fierce fighters and an uncanny ability to withstand injury. By then end only we stood, although once again bloody and bruised. Having taken the top of the dam it was time to decent into the darkness of the great structure and face what horrors awaited us.

As we got deeper the temperature dropped and we came across an algae cover pool that had a faint luminescence. As eerie felling itched at the back of our necks and the blooded grey wardens shared a knowing look: daemon spawn. Garret looked from one of us to the next “what?” he asked as the water broke and something unexpected burst forth.

It was no daemon but was some kind of aquatic troll – larger and more cunning then its fellows. The smell alone would have felled lesser men. Iyan was pulled into the pool and Bral went in to save the Halfling – both made it out of the pool as little more than corpses. That was when the beast made a mistake and was lured out of the pool as it tried to feast on the flesh of Iyan’s summoned hellcat. Quickly the remaining wardens and the ranger filled the creature with arrow and bolt. Between the hail of death from one side and the furry of a cornered feline defending her master the troll was put down. It tried to slither off to the depths of its pool but Zia would not let it go so easily.

We decide to wait here and proceed with more caution – from here on in it is likely to get dangerous.

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The darkness in the water (Bral)

After clearing the fort, a rain soaked journey back to town was turned to an anxiety filled head long rush to get back before the overflowing river washed it away. Too late we found that the rising water and incessant rain were not what we should have feared. The darkness preying upon that accursed town has left us feeling as if the world is now spoilt and we will forever fear the unknown. Having seen it we cannot forget but cannot accept that such …. Monstrosities can exist in this world. I will say no more but feel as if some of the joy of this world has been torn from my heart never to be replaced.

Our boat has left, or was lost, and we have no way out of here.

We got out those we could and made for the fort. The high ground may be the only escape from the rising waters and …. Other dangers. With luck the ogre will not have returned yet and we can find some measure of peace there. The journey there was more treacherous then before but we lost no one – I do not know if that was a mercy or cruelty for those that must live with what they now know.

The flood seems to be more then the unnatural clouds that continue to wash away everything around us in an unholy deluge. The great dam is cracked. It would seem it was built by the same architect who build castle Greyskull but not built to last. If it gives way completely the entire valley will be washed away as will everything in its path until it the wall of water pushes Magnimar back into the sea. We have heard there are sluices that can be opened; this will still likely flood the area but will be less destructive then a great tidal wave ripping through the land. We set out at dawn tomorrow to find this ancient mechanism and open the sluices. Hopefully the giants who inhabit the other side of the dam have sot shelter from the rain far from here.

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The sun also rises (Bral)

Exhausted, battered, and closer to death then most people will walk away from, the party stared in silence at the rising sun. Sitting on the parapet of the Black Arrow keep, covered in blood, sweat, and bruises, the three dwarves, a halfling and a human sat, leaned, and lay where they were when the last of the ogres fled. Too tired to move any further much less give chase, each sat lost in their thoughts. Iyan worried about Petiuna, Beldal gave a pray of thanks to the Brewmaster. Zia mused on the unending beauty of a sunrise in the mountains, while Garret was thinking about the bolts he might need on the way back. Bral just wondered about what we might have for breakfast.
Eventually they picked themselves up and went about the messy business of looting and beheading the ogres. The dwarves piled the bodies outside the gate while Zia and Iyan double checked the keep and secured what they could. Beldal went to the chapel to see what could be done there.
Looking back it had been a good night – a vile Gorgon witch had been brought to final justice. There was some debate about if this was the same one from Magnimar. In the end it did not matter today – she was dead, her ogre army broken, the fort was retaken and no one had lost their life. The party all felt a sort of renewal, of inner strength welling up inside them as if they had broken through to some new level…. Well most of the party anyway, Garret seems to have falling asleep while looking out on the wilderness around the fort.

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Out of the pan (Garrett)

“Six” Garrett counted and frowned. He could only recover six of his bolts from the hideously disfigured bodies of the ogres. Garrett mused to himself that he really couldn’t tell the difference between the live ones and dead ones if they all lied still, they were that ugly without the burns, cuts and holes. “The burnt ones probably smell better than the live ones though.”

He quickly moved on, surveying his equally battered companions. Bral was reinforcing the barricades on the main keep doors. Zai and Iyanlo were quickly stripping the bodies for anything useful.

He helped Beldal to his feet “Sorry about the stray bolt, that usually doesn’t happen.”

Beldal’s usual humor had left him and he could only wince in pain as he moved about. His powers were almost spent. Exhaustion wore heavily on them all.

Bral returned exclaiming “That’s as good as she’s gonna get.”

“Is it a good thing that the ogre Army is locked outside or is it a bad thing that we’re locked inside with that she-snake?” Zai questioned.

“Doesn’t matter” Garrett huffed, sliding the bolt back into his quiver after a quick wiping “We’ll have to deal with them both at some point soon.”

Beldal finally chirped in “An old human once told me a tale about a party of dwarves and a single halfling who escaped near death at the hands of a goblin horde only to find themselves surrounded by talking wolves.”

The other’s stared blankly.

“He described it as ‘jumping out of the pan and into the fire’.”

“Which part are we at?”

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The trouble with elves (Bral)

..the dawn is not far off but some souls are still about, like the trio of dwarves at a table in a pub of a small town far to the north…

“I’m not saying we should kill her or anything only that the she-elf is getting out of hand. I mean it’s cute when she thinks she is all dwarfy and tries to fight the horrors that we encounter. And I don’t mind saving her all the time but it’s also true that she has no respect for person or property; we all have stories of being injured by her, Hell I still have a huge tear in my good sock!, But you can’t blame her for wanting to be more like us. No, the problem is she is so unpredictable, that fickle elven blood, did you see her looking to mate with that sasquatch of an ogre-kin? Errww”

“Then there was the matter of her trying to prove her bravery by taking on that dragon fed Octagorgon! She just does not think before she acts! (nodding to the child like figure sleeping on the table) she dam near got little man killed – look at him, poor thing had to drink himself to sleep. If you two had not run in there to save them, well I don’t know what would have happened. And again I’m sorry about that, I did not think it’s bite would pack such a punch.”

“Yes, yes Bel, we all know she proved very helpful against that mossy daemon, but you would think she would have found more of the traps in the ogryn funhouse we tromped through. I think I could have just thrown stones ahead of us and gotten better results. Hmh, elves, what are you going to do?!”

“Now what was that you were saying about retaking the fort Garret? Yes we sent word back to Magnimar and our “goods” are secure in town, now to the business at hand. If they drove off parties of rangers we may be in for a devil of a time. More Ogres, traps, and traitors; We’ll have to keep a close eye on Zia before she gets us into trouble, (muttering) or gets herself in trouble the family way – ewwww half ogres!”

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Party Foul (Zia)

I’m beginning to think that some god somewhere has a peculiar sense of humor. It seems as if everything we do comes back to haunt us in some way.

First, Garrett rejoined us, and there was much rejoicing (not really.) He is a very surly dwarf. Bral’s incessant whining over his sock puts him in that group.Now we have two thoroughly unlikeable dwarves. I don’t know if even my charm is enough to get us through social situations unscathed.

Garrett and the elf (Shahayla? Shaelu? Shamu?) tracked the ogrekin to their den. The hillbillies were prepared, so there were many traps to avoid and disarm. This is the first time Bral’s inability to stop and think caused problems. He set off a deadly trap on the porch. The second time he leaped without thinking (at least he wasn’t throwing people this time), he got greased up and leaped right into the stinking flesh rolls of the incestuous mother ogrekin. When he wormed his way out of there, he went and immediately opened the closet that has served as her (never cleaned) latrine for years.

At some point I may have stabbed or nearly stabbed Garrett (again). It was karmic repayment for his unpleasant demeanor, of course, for no one could say that I am anything but graceful.

My frequent injuring of party members seems to have earned me some punishment as well, for I was nearly slain by the son of Bral’s sweetheart. It was only the timely intervention of Beldal and the consumption of a potion that saved me. I owe Beldal a drink, and the Brewmaster an offering when next we reach a town.

That could be some time from now: we still have yet to clear this noisome den and must still solve the mystery of the missing rangers. Hopefully we’ll have some time between to dunk Bral and get rid of the smell.

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