Gullhar had a magical figurine of a polar bear which he could animate to fight for him once a day. He decided to call it Larsh, after the bear that he had met in the winter adventure.
Benbo had a phoenix figurine, similarly animatable, which he named Florin.
Ferros now had a pseudo-dragon companion, named Rufus, who quickly made friends with Relic.
Alagon was very pleased with his wolf companion, which (perhaps rather unimaginatively) he named Wolf.
Alurax’s familiar was a hawk named Eristar, and he was delighted when he found that he could share its superior vision during daylight and that it could talk to him.
The party set off but soon heard the sound of hoofs echoing across the hilly terrain through which they were moving having just left the sylvan forest behind. They launched the Air Force (as the hawk, two pseudo-dragons and phoenix were now dubbed) who soon reported that the sound was that of the approach of a herd of wild horses. The party decided not to worry about them and rode on their way, camping that night and establishing a watch rota.
At a certain point of the night, the sound of lowing was heard from the darkness and soon the party was roused and alert. Alurax put an arrow to his bow and set off into the dark, aiming (for reasons best known to himself) to try and shoot whatever it was that was making the noise. He did actually hit something (more by luck than judgement) but managed to trip over twice in the dark (once on the way out, once on the way back), causing himself minor damage. The rest of the party decided that fresh beef was not worth the effort and went back to bed.
The next morning, the party set off again but it was not long before the Air Force returned from its reconnaissance en masse. The reason soon became apparent – eight flying shapes approaching, shadowing the party. A consultation with Relic, Russet and Eristar revealed that the newcomers were griffons and the chance was high that the party’s horses were on their ‘must try’ list. The party split (uh-oh) to try and draw some off whilst Ferros and Elysia decided to try the Fly and Parley option that had worked so well with the manticores a couple of days previously.
They conferred about the approach they were going to use for the griffons and settled on “We are very strong and can kill you if it comes to a fight but back up the trail a few miles is a nice herd of wild horses”. Fortunately, the griffons took the bait and flew off to try the latest take-out.
The party was rather relieved that they had escaped some potentially damaging action with aerial opponents who could have made their lives rather difficult. They rode on through the hills and it was only as the sun went down and they started to make camp that somebody realised that Alurax was no longer with them. He had ridden off when the griffons appeared and had not been seen since. Where was he?
Nobody seemed particularly keen on searching for him in the gathering dark and so they pitched camp, got a fire going and settled down for the night. The night was not to be an undisturbed one. At about two in the morning, there was the sound of approaching footsteps (big ones) and again, the party prepared itself for action. Elysia used her Wand of Illumination to pick out the opposition; four figures, each about twelve feet tall, with coal-black skin and flaming orange hair and beards.
|I don't actually have this mini but I wish I did.|
Lucky shots from Gullhar, Alagon and Ferros had actually managed to bring one of the giants down (a well-considered d30 roll helped) and Gullhar’s timely activation of Larsh gave the giants another opponent to fight.
Elysia used a newly-lit torch to cast Fire Charm, enchanting both the giant, Alagon and Galadeus (on the giant’s back) at the same time. Having removed one opponent from the fight, she moved on to the one that was pressing Gullhar back under the weight of its hefty attacks.
Meanwhile, amazingly, Larsh had managed to get two hugs in on his giant opponent and although he had taken some damage himself, his capacity to soak up damage stood him in good stead as eventually the giant succumbed to the claws and crushing power of the bear’s strength.
Elysia called on Gullhar to run for it, and he did so, drawing the giant straight past the magic user and into the effect of a Confusion spell. It staggered to a halt and stood there stupefied for valuable moments whilst Elysia used Unseen Servant to knock Alagon and Galadeus out of the Fire Charm’s influence, leaving the Fire Giant staring at the pretty colours.
The party withdrew into the night, leaving the confused Giant to wander hither and thither, eventually attacking its Fire Charmed comrade, nearly killing it although it fought back, having had the Charm broken.
At that point, out of the darkness came Eristar, Alurax’s hawk familiar. The party was about to find out what had become of the missing fighter.
Alurax having been chased by a griffon, had got lost in the hills and, being unable to find the party, had made camp on his own for the night. During the night, he too was disturbed by the approach of Fire Giants, three of them in this instance. They were part of the main group but had taken a slightly different route and come across the trident-wielding fighter. He had hastily scrambled to his feet and mounted his horse but unfortunately, a couple of accurately-thrown boulders found their mark and Warnado, his horse crashed to the ground, nearly killed by the incoming missiles. Alurax had loosened the horse bardings to try and get up some speed but it was to no avail. The fighter now faced three giants and, armoured as he was, could not outdistance them. He was soon to find that being the strongest fighter in the party was no guarantee that he could beat anything and was very heavily beaten by one of the giants as the other two moved in for the kill.
At the last minute, Alurax decided that discretion was the better part of valour and made a run for it, discarding practically everything that was slowing him down (except his beloved trident) in a bid to outdistance the giants. They pursued him for a while, half-heartedly, having had their fun. They went on their way, laughing about their ‘pasting of the little fellow’ while Alurax, leaking blood from several serious wounds, crept back through the dark to see to his horse, who was still alive but only just. He sent Eristar to seek out the party and let them know what had happened and that there were three giants heading their way.
The party were none too happy to hear this. Nevertheless, Elysia sent Relic back with Eristar to verify the condition of Alurax. Via this long-distance courier communication, Alurax declared that he would not leave his horse, so Elysia realised she would have to go to him. She was out of spell capacity that would have enabled her to fly there, but Benbo revealed that he had a Potion of Flying that he donated so that Elysia, Ferros and the Air Force could cover the short distance to where the fighter lay with his mount.
When they arrived, Ferros healed some of Warnado’s damage before turning his attention to Alurax. They then returned, albeit slowly, to where they had left the others. The three giants had arrived, found their fallen comrades and the other two, confused and battered had all gone off into the night.
The party licked its wounds and conferred over breakfast. The consensus was that the party had done quite well against the giants the previous night and with Alurax back in the fold, the remaining five giants were ripe for the picking. Two were known to be wounded, one badly. It should be pointed out that Benbo thought this an unnecessary diversion and was the only one to vote against this.
The Air Force began its scouting, looking for the direction that the giants had taken. Sightings of a group of stone giants in rockier terrain and a large band of goblins were ignored and the party followed the trail that had been identified. They rode all day and as dusk began to fall, spotted a camp fire in the distance, which they approached cautiously. Elysia had decided to use Fly and Fire Charm again, since it had gone so well the night before and she set about preparing for the attack.
Unfortunately for her, Benbo had ideas of his own. He activated his phoenix and lashed together two bombs made up of three oil flasks each. He clearly remembered the attack on the ogres in the ravine. Having assembled his bombs, he sent Florin off to drop them into the fire, hoping that the explosion would cause havoc to the camping giants. At this point, Gullhar pointed out that since they were Fire Giants, the attack would, almost certainly have no effect, but Benbo was unconcerned. Alurax pointed out at the same time that Elysia was in the area and would be in danger. If anything happened to her, they would view his actions in a very hostile manner.
Meanwhile, Elysia had arrived at the camp fire to find only the two wounded Fire Giants there. She nevertheless cast her Fire Charm spell and managed to entrance the less seriously wounded giant. The other giant, on the brink of death, was helped across by a Magic Missile. There was no sign of the other giants but Elysia had managed to remove the threat posed by two, at least.
However, just as she was assessing her next move, something dropped out of the darkness and landed in the camp fire. Benbo’s aerial assault had reached its target and Elysia was about to have a very unpleasant and oily experience.
Back at the party’s camp, the gang were waiting for Florin to return with reports of how well the mini-Dresden had gone. Benbo was in for a surprise as out of the darkness stormed a charred, smoking and very angry magic user. Elysia demanded to know who had been responsible for the oil bombing which had left her with serious splash damage and had almost set her Cloak of Elvenkind on fire. All fingers pointed to Benbo. Elysia instructed that the luckless hobbit should be tied up – for his own safety and for everybody else’s.
A disciplinary hearing was convened while Elysia recounted what had transpired at the giants’ camp site. By sheer good fortune, the oil bomb cluster had landed just at the edge of the fire and although the blast had happened just as Benbo intended, Elysia caught only the splash damage rather than a direct hit. She was nevertheless burning in several places and rolled on the ground to put herself and the Cloak out. The giant that had been Charmed – who had, unsurprisingly, suffered no fire damage - was released from the enchantment and hollered the alarm, causing the three Fire Giant sentries to leap into action. Elysia’s Fly spell was still in operation and she took off out of danger.
|Okay, that's the village secure; let's call in the hobbits|