Original Game Date: September 21, 2019
The game resumes in The Shiny Path, a roadhouse just outside the goldrush town of Deadsnows, in the foothills of the Nether Mountains. Fortune’s Irregulars are on a quest to retrieve The Draakhorn, preferably before it is found by Maximillian de Rigueur and his party.
Releasing the Carver
Justice Hespa is secretly enjoying the attention and the opportunity to create what she perceives as a minor headache for her cousin, Lady Arletha (she underestimates the very real threat of a giant attack on Deadsnows). She bases her decision to help on self-interest and becomes a hard non-cooperative if Tilda is invoked, or if they suggest her cousin might appreciate it. Aesar convinces her to allow them to question the prisoner, but only in her presence. She is not a pleasant person to deal with. In the end, the party’s approach is a more straightforward bribe for the giant’s release.
Some years ago, a knight of the smallfolk and his tiny gnome companion arrived in The Vale of Hallowed Stones (Deadstone Cleft), in pursuit, we believed, of one of our raiding parties that had chased away some encroachers. But this Loch Dundarrion claimed not to be after any raiders, he claimed to have come to discuss some pieces of ivory that had been taken as part of the booty. Tempers were hot, a humsinan had walked right into our most private sanctums. I remember he tried to explain their evil nature but any claim to fair hearing he had disappeared when scouts discovered his other compatriots hiding nearby and slew them. It is a wonder he was allowed to leave, but with the message to tell the other smallfolk of the area to keep away.
Our leader, Thane Kayalithica, became curious of this ivory after the knight’s departure. She had gnomes captured and put to work crafting a musical device with which the keys might be played. The music was hauntingly beautiful, but the Thane became obsessed with finding the perfect place in the cave terraces to place her instrument. Soon she sealed the Lower Terraces, allowing only her favorites entry. I, a Carver, was even turned away!
They have fortified themselves within the lower terraces and have grown obsessed with gold. Never have our people coveted this metal, and yet now they attack the smallfolk and stir up trouble for this shiny metal. They bully any who object and act with impunity.
As Carver, Meneaus is responsible for the spiritual well-being of the tribe and holds the title of Hand of Skoraeus Stonebones (Shaman). She has grown convinced that Kayalithica has become corrupted by maug.
She knows the general location of Thane Hylae’s tomb, and is familiar with the landmarks identified in in the cypher (Follow the tri-part water stair. Ascend beyond the stone tree. Discover the Vale of Arnoch. Stride toward the face of death). She is shocked to hear the names spoken by smallfolk. She will help the party in exchange for their help cleansing the evil. Save the stone giants if they can, but she knows they might need to die. She knows a secret way into the lower levels, come at them by surprise and overthrow Kayalithica.
The party decides to sneak Carver Menaeus out of town by convincing her to accept a polymorph spell to transform her into a human. She finds the experience very upsetting but does agree.
On the journey up into the mountains, Carver Menaeus reacts strangely when someone mentions seeing Cloud Giants working with dragons. Their own scouts had reported seeing Cloud Giants in the company of both blue and white dragons and the Stone Giants have no idea what it could possibly mean, it was maug, and not of the Ordning. Menaeus had gone to see Thane Kayalithica to suggest they seek the council of the Storm Giants but never got in to see her. Menaeus is shocked and does not entirely believe what they tell her of the Cult of the Dragon and their plan to restore Tiamat.
The stone giant thane is possessed by the spirit of a dead dragon and has subverted some tribe members to her cause. They have sealed themselves in the lower terraces and unbeknownst even to Meneaus, allied with troglodytes who worship the emerging spirit of Khisanth, a venerable black wyrm.
The stone giant thralls seek to improve the harmonics of the device, attaching it to a system of natural pipes that amplify the music. The louder and more fulsome, the greater Khisanth’s presence. Khisanth also believes a horde will help anchor her to the material realm and has ordered her servants to procure her gold and riches. The giants raid the gold towns, and the troglodytes have attacked dwarf mines.
A Stink in the Tunnels
Carver Menaeus is enraged at the appearance of troglodytes in the secret tunnels, an outrage against all custom. The way she intended to use to enter Deadstone Cleft will require an assault through tunnels of troglodytes. But there is another way she is reluctant to use, through The Linjenstein. After meditating on the issue she decides to lead Fortune’s Irregulars through the stone giants’ most secret places, but first extracts a vow of secrecy from all of them.
Within Deadstone Cleft
The Linjenstein – Rows of calcifying stone giants. The sound of quiet voices can be heard from the next room.
The next room is the Hall of the Speaking Stones, where the records are kept. Two stone giant acolytes have taken refuge here, Erastus and Crassus. They are not yet under Khisanth’s complete influence, though Crassus is nearly there. Both are shocked that Meneaus has brought smallfolk through the Linjenstein, but she is able to pull rank and put them in their place.
Seeing as they have come in this way, Menaeus suggests they stop by The Arcade, where there is a Temple of Skoraeus Stonebones and she keeps her Runestick, which will help them in the conflict. It is hers by right of being Carver and would remind the giants of her rank in the Ordning.
Erastus says the troglodytes have brought large snails that flash debilitating light to guard the Mazework Catacombs that must be passed through to get to the The Arcade.
That is when first Crassus and then Erastus ‘snap’ and attack, the party forced to fight back but manages to restrain them and calm them. The party presses on, with Carver Menaeus ordering Crassus and Erastus to remain behind and guard, not trusting them not to succumb again to Khisanth‘s influence.
The party battles four Flail Snails and make enough noise doing so to draw a band of 10 troglodytes lead by an Alpha Troglodyte, and 10 Troglodyte Blowdarts (+5 to hit, 1d4+3, DEX Save DC 16 for 8 Acid Damage or half) from The Arcade. The troglodytes are quickly massacred as Grellosh invokes some righteous anger on them.
The Arcade is a vast and high cavern, almost cylindrical for most of its height, with terraces and alcoves throughout displaying magnificent works of illuminated art. It is astounding, particularly for those with darkvision, who can see how they work with the subtler ranges of light. Across the bottom ground of the cavern, a group of troglodytes idles. About 100 feet up, on a ledge there are two Stone Giants standing guard outside The Hold. There is a giant, 300-foot-tall statue of Skoraeus Stonebones that dominates the chamber. Between its feet lies the Temple of Skoraeus Stonebones.
As they near the heart of Khisanth‘s power, she discovers the party’s presence. Recognizing that Aesar is a musician who could be a more useful player than the stone giant thane, Khisanth attempts to possess him but Aesar is able to fight her off.
Antigone, daughter of Menaeus, is hiding in the temple, nearly entirely under Khisanth’s control but protected somewhat by her faith. Menaeus can bring her around and she can explain the situation within and that Khisanth is bound to the music of the organ that Kayalithica is playing. She is always protected by five stone giant warriors within the hold, two of which stand guard at the door of The Hold.
The Battle of Deadstone Cleft
Khisanth is a ghost, AC 13, 245 HP, Withering Touch +10, 5d6+6 necrotic, Horrifying Visage DC 14 Wisdom, Possession DC 15 Charisma.
If the organ is destroyed or inhibited somehow, Khisanth soon retreats into Kayalithica and possesses her, imbuing her with the following properties:
- 156 HP, AC 18
- 2 Legendary Resistance, 2 Legendary Actions per round (Kick, or if wounded Fling Blood cone of acid spray 3d6 Dex DC 12 for half damage).
- Acid Blood – a non-bludgeoning attack on Kayalithica causes acidic blood to spray all within 5 feet of her, causing 3d6 acid damage. Dex DC 15 for half damage.
- Acid Spit – a 30-foot line of acid. Dex DC 15 or take 20 acid damage, save for half. Must role a 5 or 6 at start of turn to recharge.
Once the organ stops playing, Khisanth persists for 3 +1d6 rounds. If Kayalithica is destroyed, then as a ghost she attempts Withering Touch and then tries to possess the healthiest Stone Giant warrior nearby, but she does not gain the bonus abilities. The countdown stops when she has possessed someone.
The party first fights there way up towards the door to The Hold, dealing with the stone giants who lob stones at them. Ander is able to use Dimension Door to transport he and Aesar to the ledge with the two giants, and Aesar takes aim through the door as a third giant comes out and delivers a Fireball-enfused bullet directly into the organ.
They are able to defeat Kayalithica after Saul drives Khisanth from her body and fleeing from his presence. Unable to reach a new host, she slowly fades away in fury.
More stone giants burst into The Hold, shocked to find smallfolk in their fortress.