The troop of adventurers were happy to leave the blighted forest, they then had an uneventful journey back to Neverwinter. Before they departed the forest they had left Salazar in the empty Skur warehouse with some money to begin renovating the building, checking on him was the first logical course of action.
While walking through the city they notice that there is a largely increased number of beggars and ragged looking peasants walking the streets. Anxious to find out more about the increased number of beggars the adventurers picked up the pace. Manfred walked up to the door of the large building and spoke the magic word to allow the adventurers to pass.
He said quietly and the lock audibly clicked. They find Salazar sitting in the middle of the warehouse strumming a Lyre. The warehouse does not seem any different from when they had left. Lindal asks,
“Did you do anything with the money I loaned you while we were gone?””
Salazar informs the group that he spent the money on the “basic essentials”, like his new Lyre. Lindal did not seem very impressed with this answer but he decided to let it slide for now.
The group started unloading their heavy bags and began talking about what they plan to do next. Mara was very unhappy with the way things were going. She wanted to be an adventurer who does good in the world but has seen the group of adventurers do some things that most people would consider evil acts. She was not sure she would like to continue with the group. Mara comments about the new people in Neverwinter. Salazar presents a newspaper with some details around the influx of people. It turns out that there has been trouble in the mountains, towns destroyed and the extra people in Neverwinter are refugees. There had been sightings of Zombie Dragons and other creatures in the area.
“We should help these people!”
Exclaims Mara. Manfred suggests that the group hire some of the refugees to assist with the renovations and keep them on to help with upkeep if they wish to stay in Neverwinter. The adventurers, excluding Salazar, decides this a good idea and pitch in 500 gold each. Mara, after voicing her concerns about morality, decided to stay in Neverwinter to help the refugees and manage the guild renovations. Balasar suggests the group should also attack the root of the problem and go to the mountains to find what has been destroying the towns. Manfred points out that the king might be able to assist with the quest as he was summoning anyone who could help. The group all agree that they should go to see the King to find out more details about the destruction among the mountains and what could be done to put a stop to it.
Arriving at the Kings gates, two guards lowered their halberds to stop the troop.
“Halt! What business do you have here?”
Said one of the guards. With the man towering over him, Manfred meekly replied,
“We seek an audience with the King to assist him with his problem in the mountains.”
The guards seemed surprised with the response from the small person but one turned around and walked away while the other waited with the group.
Some time later the guard returned and signalled to the group to come forward.
“The King will see you now.”
He said and began briskly walking down the corridor towards the throne room with the group struggling to keep up. The room was vast with rich tapestries hung from the walls leading up to the main chamber. The main chamber itself was a marvel of architecture and magic. At the back of the room was the throne with the King perched upon it, visibly tired and stressed. The throne was not elaborate but obviously made from high quality stone. The most interesting part of this throne room was the overbearing statue of a giants head, with eyes of glowing red and orange hues. Streaming down the giants face was two great rivulets of pure lava which flowed beneath the floor to the smiths below.
The King, wearily, spoke to the group of adventurers.
“Good, good, you are here about the notice I placed in the papers?”
Manfred responded to the Kings query.
“Yes my Lord, we seek to help you out with the devastation in the mountains. Can you give us any more details about what has been happening?”
The King looked puzzled.
“How have you not heard what has been happening? The news of it has been spreading through Neverwinter like dragons fire!”
Manfred, slightly startled by the response replied
“I apologise my Lord, we have only arrived back in Neverwinter this morning when we heard the troubling news. We were hoping you may have better information, it has been hard to sort facts from fiction.
The King sighed,
“Yes, some of the stories have been far-fetched but I fear they may be true. My soldiers reports tell of a floating fortress, made of bones in the shape of a skull moving from town to town in the mountains releasing a hoard of creatures on anyone below. People are reporting of even seeing dragons trailing in the foray of the destruction.”
Balasar stepped forward next to Manfred, lowered his head and spoke
“That is troubling news my Lord, how may we assist you?”
The King looked slowly across the faces of the adventurers.
“You served me well in recovering the Eyes of the Colossus. I want you to find the source of this evil and destroy it.”
He paused, scratching his chin, then continued.
“I will assist you in what ways I can. You will be provided griffon mounts to travel to the fortress and if you succeed I will reward you with 1000 gold.”
Balasar bowed deeply and replied,
“We happily accept your request my King. When shall we depart?”
The King stood up out of his throne.
“Gather your required supplies for the journey and then return here when you are ready to depart. Do not delay long, too many lives have already been lost to this dark magic.”
At that he exited the room, surely to douse other fires in his kingdom. The party respectfully bowed to him as he exited then followed the guard back to the main entrance of the palace.
The band huddled together outside the palace gates and discussed what they should need for the expedition.
“We should need at least 10 days rations, just in case we get stuck in the fortress. We are not likely able to access food while in the bone fortress itself.”
stated Manfred. The group agree to meet back at the palace entrance in two hours, ready to head off on the griffons.
— Two hours later —
The group met back at the front of the palace and the guards led them straight through to the stable. They met the group of griffon handlers who introduced themselves and their mounts. Manfred was slightly worried about the griffons being unwieldy so ended up on Greggor, the most tame of the lot. The rest of the troop mounted up with their handlers and took to the air with one mighty beat of the griffons wings.
The flying was relaxed and uneventful apart from the motion sickness which Lindal felt as soon as his griffon took flight. The adventurers spied a hazy image in the distance one of the handlers called out that the mark on the horizon was the fortress. As the distant object slowly increased in size, the structure of the fortress became obvious. The structure was the tip of mountain, which had been flipped upside down to create a massive platform. On top of the surface a pristine white skull shaped fortress made out of millions of bones floated with a gaping maw which invited the adventurers to be eaten.
Koth and Lindal flying at the head of the formation, hear leathery wing beats from above. They look up just in time to see a lone Wyvern beginning it’s descent on the squadron of griffons.
Lindal let out a call and the group realises the danger from above and scatter. Turning in his saddle Lindal begins muttering and gesturing, a flame forms in his palm. He tries to throw it at the Wyvern ,but in his haste, did not let the fire fully form and it dissipates before striking the creature. Balasar swoops in close to the beast and slices towards the underbelly but loses his balance in the saddle and slides out. At the last moment the handler grabs at Balasar barely catching his hand. The Wyvern, seeing Balasar hanging off the side of the griffon and goes in to attack. It claws and bites at Balasar, trying to loosen the handlers grip, luckily he manages to hold on. Manfred, seeing Balasar in mortal danger frantically gestures. Balasar begins to float upwards, he is then dragged back onto the saddle by the griffon handler.
Koth, separated from the group, uses the distance to his advantage firing his bow twice in quick succession, striking the beast in the side. The Wyvern shrieks in surprise and becomes enraged at the attacker. Salazar begin to casting a spell, when released the creature goes from enraged, to desperate, to feared and begins to turn and flee. Salazar lets out a whoop of triumph as his spell takes effect. Lindal uses the break in attack to build another fireball in his palms. This time the fireball hits its target like the fist of a god and scorches the animal jolting it sideways causing Balasar’s attack to just clip the beast. The Wyvern thought the group was easy prey but now it tries to fly away. Manfred attempted to hit the fleeing beast but its desperate movements make it a difficult target.
“We should leave it be”
“No, it will attack the returning griffons if we do not deal with it now.”
Salazar tries to hit the creature with his short bow but the Wyvern’s hard hide defects the arrow. Lindal flying up beside Balasar sees he has blood trailing out from beneath his armour, he speaks ancient words of healing and Balasar’s wounds begin clotting. Not done yet, Lindal chases the Wyvern forming fire in his hand once more and then hurled it at the creature striking it in the side where the arrows impacted. Feeling a second wind from Lindal’s words, Balasar follows up Lindal’s fire with a mighty swing of his sword, lopping off the end of the creatures wing. Unexpectedly Koth ambushes Balasar by diving off his griffon and attempting to restrain the Dragonborn but is thrown back, barely grabbing a hold of his own griffon again.
“What kind of quality of life would you expect after that? Just finish it off.”
Salazar yells out as he lets loose another arrow, striking the animal.
Lindal uses both of his hands to form a melon sized fireball, which he then throws at the Wyvern engulfing it in flames as it spirals to the earth.
The griffon handlers regroup the beasts and, assuming the back will be loosely guarded, head towards the rear entrance. The griffons land on a flat area of the massive structure and let everyone dismount with their equipment. Before they head off, Manfred speaks to one of the handlers.
“I am able to project bright lights in the sky, this will be your signal to pick us up.”
“We will look for your lights in the sky before we return.”
The trainer replied and then took to the sky.
The group moved into the entrance of the keep. The arch was easily 25ft high with a massive door blocking the way. Manfred gasps
“What could possibly be living up here?”
Manfred suggested to boost him up to have a look through the key hole in the door. Balasar picked up Salazar and Manfred clambered up both of them. Despite this act of acrobatics, Manfred was not tall enough to see through the door hole but he had an idea. Manfred pulled Klaus off his back and propped him up to the key hole. Klaus cannot see anyone through the keyhole, just an empty hallway and possibly a door on the right.
Balasar signals to Salazar to give him a hand and both of them pull the door open slowly. The group moves into the passageway on the other side of the door. The room was lit from light streaming in through transparent sections of the bone wall which was constructed of various sized bones intertwined with each other to form an uneven yet solid structure. Soft dirt lined the floor, most likely from the mountain top which was visible from outside the structure. Koth spots numerous foot prints in the dirt but these foot prints are much larger than anyone in the party…
“They all seem to be going in one direction.”
“It might be a patrol. We should head the same direction else be caught by them if they come up behind us.”
States Manfred. With the party in agreement the group moved with the foot prints over to the large door within the corridor. As they approach the door they all could hear the sounds of movement and laughter from inside the room. Koth moved close to the door to tries to listen in on any conversations. He could hear laughter, drinking and possibly a language but he does not understand anything they are saying.
Without any warning Salazar knocks on the door.
Everyone stares at Salazar, dumbfounded. The room goes silent… Then the group hears a loud scraping sound like that of a chair moving against the floor, followed by booming footsteps. The door swung open and standing in front of everyone was a massive hill giant who yells in alarm when he sees everyone.
Salazar attempts to run but Balasar grabs him.
“You started this, you will see it through to the end.”
Koth, trying to avoid attacking the giants, waves his hands and yells
“We are not hear to cause trouble!”
The giant looks confused and yells out to the other giant sitting at a table. The giant stands up, picks up a club ,which resembled a whole tree yanked out of the ground, and swaggers towards the door. Seeing that negotiation is not likely to succeed, Koth throws all his weight behind an attack to the knee of the giant in the doorway. The giant howls and falls to the ground.
Manfred, at the back of the group is worried the noise from the fight will alert others. So he steps back against the wall in the corridor and begins chanting and gesturing, a thin veil of illusion blankets the hall. Balasar presses the advantage of the kneeling giant and lunges in to attack his throat but he misjudged his footing and only lightly grazed the chest of the creature.
Lindal ,seeking some form of advantage, shifts his form into a rat and sneaks past the giant into the room. Looking around he realises this is probably servants quarters and there is nothing much in the room to assist. The giant in pain takes a swipe with his club at Balasar, easily catching the large Dragonborn throwing him sideways.
While the scuffle has been going on the second giant could only see his friend’s behind sticking out of a closed door due to the illusion magic Manfred had placed upon the battle. He moved over to assist his friend and in doing so steps into the illusion realising what it is. Salazar, trying to disable both giants, casts thunder clap aiming at the doorway. A thunderous boom echoed through the corridor and does not seem to affect the giants but does throw back both Koth and Balasar. Slightly started by this Salazar tries to move away as the giant takes a swipe at the fleeing man, luckily the giant misses.
Koth stares at Salazar incredulously for a moment but regains his composure, he then tries to attack blindly and misses. Taking an even more composed second attack he cuts down on the giants arm severing muscle and tendons from the bone. The creature drops the club, screeches in pain and begins to cradle his arm. Koth tries a second go at negotiation, this time placing his weapon on the ground. The giant is too busy dealing with his arm and the other looks enraged at the situation.
A fire bolt from Manfred flies past the giant in the back missing him but striking a mug on the table behind which then proceeds to hit the giant in the head, slightly stunning him. Balasar dazed from Salazar’s attack, fumbles with a healing potion. He then attacks the giant in front of him with two mighty slashes to the chest. Lindal who is now behind the giants casts thorn whip and aims for the hand of the giant to restrain him. A lucky shot catches the hand and wraps it tight.
The giant with the deep gash in his arm wildly swings at Koth but he avoids the enraged attack and the giant smashes his fist into the ground. At the same time the second giant moves forwards to hit Balasar but the blow comes up short heavily glancing off his shield. Still behind the giants, Lindal slashes across the Achilles of one of the giants but the attack is not deep enough to sever the tendon. Noticing the Halfling behind him the giant takes a blind swing with his club collecting Lindal and throwing him roughly against the far wall.
From a safe distance Salazar begins to cast another spell. A loud ringing sound erupts in front of the two giants causing them to cover their ears. The loud noise also also affects Koth and Balasar due to their close proximity to the giants. Koth, bleeding from both ears, prepares to dodge any attack from the hulking giants in front of him. Balasar presses the advantage once again slashing the giant across the chest but not before being punched directly in the chest by the giant trying to protect itself.
Salazar begins casting once again - this time he yells out some profanity about the giants massive crown jewels. The giant does not seem offended by the insult but does feel a bit self concious that Salazar was looking at that in battle.
Koth strikes the slightly confused and distracted giant twice who then collapses in a heap on the dirt floor. Lindal picks himself up off the ground, takes a run up and drives his sword into the leg of the giant. This time he manages to sever the giants Achilles causing it to collapse. Koth then jumped up onto the giant hitting him in the face with the hilt of his sword knocking him out.
Manfred, slightly distraught, Whispers urgently,
“Pull them inside the door and close it, before someone comes along and discovers us!”
Together the group pulls the giants out of the corridor and closes the door behind before Manfred’s illusion spell ends. Luckily no one had come down the corridor with all the loud noises that had been made, almost exclusively by Salazar.
“We should suffocate them, anyone have any cling wrap?”
Says Salazar. Everyone looks at him, not too sure what cling wrap is. Balasar ponders to himself and comes to the conclusion that cling wrap must be an advanced wrestling technique.
The group start looking around the room. It resembles a normal servants quarters except everything was extremely large, a few beds, a table and several barrels containing a crude form of ale. The group battered and tired after the day decide to try and take a short rest inside the barrels before continuing deeper into the fortress…