Stormy Weather (another Giantslayer adventure path campaign)

The True Story of the Liberation of Fort Redlake

(as told by Veyho Runs-to-Battle)

For generations my people will sing the songs of glory written about this day. But legends have a way of growing in the retelling, so I feel I must set the record straight and tell the truth so that it can be known to those who seek it.

It is well known that I left my tribe on a vision quest sent to me by the Lord of Dragons himself. And for many months I wandered alone, secure in the knowledge that He would send allies – those who would fight alongside me simply for the joy of seeing me fulfill my destiny. I met the first of these – a druid, a priest, and two warriors – when I saved them from an orc raiding party. They begged me to go along with them, nearly groveling in asking me to save them from the orcs and giants that dwell in this land. While I did not want to be bothered, the Lord of Dragons reminded me that I would need witnesses – those who would go out into the world to spread the news of my conquests and the glories I brought forth in His name. Soon after, a dwarf woman joined us, begging me to save her brother who had been captured by the giants.

One of the warriors was the first to fall, slain when he threw himself into battle with a giant to impress me. My retribution was swift. The second warrior soon departed, torn by the fear of being in my presence and eager to tell the tale of the battle he had just witnessed. There were tears in his eyes at the thought of leaving me. Tears of shame mixed with the tears of excitement of being my first herald into the world.

As I watched the warrior go, another stepped into his place – an elf. A simpleton from the way he talked – always asking if he could show me his magic tricks. His home had been destroyed by giants and he begged me to avenge his loss. I allowed him to attend, taking pity on his slow-wittedness and knowing that I would need other heralds to spread the tales of my achievements. I decided then that I would need to replace those who fell with others. From henceforth I would allow these followers, these disciples, to travel with me. To learn from me. And I would keep them safe or avenge them if they fell. With this in my heart, I told my followers that we would return to the fort where the warrior died, and we would kill every last orc and giant in our way until we got to their leader, ending their threat to this land.

But when we reached the fort, I realized that it would not be easy. And so I swallowed my pride and began to pray to the Lord of Dragons that He would be with me in the battle to come. I knew with him at my side, I would be unstoppable. For three days I prayed while my followers scrambled around, hoping to make themselves useful in the coming fight. Even lost in prayer, I couldn’t help but smile at their eagerness to please me.

At dawn on the third day, I rose from my knees. The others were all off on other tasks, but I knew the time had come to act. Concerned that they would be in danger by being away from me so long, I decided to look around. Soon I came across a raiding party of several orcs led by a giant. I nearly leapt with joy at the opportunity to slay them, but wisdom stayed my hand as I realized they could lead me to my other followers who had probably gotten themselves in trouble while I meditated. Sure enough, it was a short time later when I came across two of them – the elf and the priest – hiding in the trees desperate not to be seen by the giant. I lost my opportunity to slay the raiding party but knew I had a responsibility to calm the fears of my followers. I led them back to camp and a short while later, the druid and dwarf woman returned as well. Eager to impress me they had gone scouting and found out where the dwarf’s brother was being held. They had dug a tunnel and were simply waiting for my approval to rescue him. I was pleased with their initiative and gave them permission to continue and agreed to delay my assault on the fort until he had been freed.

I decided the attack should happen just after dawn. It had been revealed to me during my meditations that many dozens of orcs and giants had occupied the fort. Killing the large ones in particular can take time and so I wanted to make sure the sun would not set before I was done. I sent the dwarf and druid off to save the brother as I began my march toward the fort. The clouds above began to darken as if sensing my growing anger. Thunder began to sound in the distance and as we neared our destination there was a loud crash. Minutes later the druid and dwarf, along with another dwarf ran back to me. “The dam has burst”, the druid cried out. “The Lord of Dragons Himself has truly blessed your undertaking and has sent the river to claim the lives of many orcs!” She could hardly contain her excitement, and I was pleased.

The new dwarf fell to his knees before me, thanking me for saving him. I saw that he was eager to serve me, but I feared that he would only get himself killed in his zeal. Making him stand, I handed him the great hammer I carried on my back, charging him to slay many orcs. I then commanded the two dwarfs to stay near the druid and ensure she was not injured in her efforts to please me. Unfortunately, I had them protect the wrong follower. . . .

Tired of the distractions, I told my followers that the time had come for us to raid the fort. I knew the giants were the real threat and decided then that I wouldn’t waste time with the orcs. As we neared the clearing before the fort, one by one my allies disappeared until only I remained. I bellowed out a warning to those in the fort and began my slow, steady march to the front gates. The orcs inside howled with fear, their weapons shaking in their nervous hands. I continued my march, never wavering. As I neared the gate, the Lord of Dragons blessed me, raining fire down from above and slaying several of the orc guards. The dwarf twins and druid – now taking on the shape of a wild cat – inspired by my glory appeared from their hiding places, charging forward and quickly slaying the last two guards, further clearing the way for me to face the giant masters of the keep.

I smiled grimly as I moved forward, slow and steady. As I passed through the barbican and began to cross the drawbridge, I glanced to my right seeing dozens of orcs. They had obviously also gotten a taste of the holy flames of the Lord of Dragons as they stood, demoralized before me. I glared at them and they felt a fire even hotter than that they had just experienced. Even from this distance I could smell the stench of their fear as they suddenly broke and ran. Part of me wanted to give chase, but I knew I had other concerns. Seeing that one of my followers (I believe it was the simpleton elf, but I’m not certain) had fallen into the river below, I threw a rope to him, saving him with my swift action. As I did this, I noticed that the drawbridge had been blown apart – no doubt by the orcs themselves trying to keep me from reaching them. Barely speeding up, I leapt across the chasm, landing on the other side. But as I looked up, horror filled my sight. I saw the priest being thrown from the battlement of the inner wall, his lifeless body falling limply to the ground. As rage boiled up within me, I could hear the mocking laughter of the ogre-kin atop the wall. I was consumed by desire to avenge yet another of my faithful followers. I could take no more of this. In the edge of my blood filled vision, I could see the two dwarfs and the druid desperately trying to defend themselves from the ogre-kin trying to kill them as they had already killed the priest. “No more” I yelled, howling in rage. “No more of my people will die at your hands!”

With a single bound, I leapt upon the wall, striking down the first of the ogre-kin just before it could slay my newest dwarf follower. Inspired by my mere presence, the battle began to turn as the dwarfs and the druid were driven to impress me. Once again, the thunder grew louder in the sky and bolts of lightning hurtled against the walls of the fort, a physical manifestation of the rage burning deep inside me. Striking out in a flash, I dropped another of the ogre-kin. The dwarfs, following my lead, took advantage of the sudden fear in the ogre-kin as they realized whom they had angered. Perhaps they’d have begged for mercy – if I’d allowed them time. As the last of them turned to flee, the dwarf brother lashed out, striking him dead. I graced him with one of my grim smiles.

But it was too soon to celebrate. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw two giants approaching – one from each end of the wall. It was as I took in this new information that I also noticed the elf, quivering helplessly as the giant to the right approached him menacingly. The simpleton managed to avoid the giant’s first blow, but I knew he would not survive if I did not intervene. And so I charged. The giant saw me out of the corner of his eye and desperately lashed out, catching me on my left shoulder. I didn’t even notice until later that he had drawn blood. Cleaving info his left flank, I forced the giant to his knees. The dwarf sister ran up as well, eager to prove her martial skill to me. Wielding her dual axes, she struck out, confusing the giant just enough for me to deliver the final blow (I’ll have to gently reproach her for that later, her actions bordered on dishonorable). Cleaving down with my mighty axe, I neatly removed the head of the foul colossus.

I could not rest on my laurels though. Even in the continuing haze of my rage, I knew there was still another giant remaining, and that it was trying to sneak up on us from behind. Turning to my left, I saw him as he tried to duck behind the building. But his efforts were too little, too late. Launching myself forward I ran across the wall. At the last moment, I hurtled myself into the air. I felt a slight rush when I looked down into the eyes of the giant, and it realized for the first time that death was coming from above. With a single mighty blow, I drove my axe between those eyes, splitting the creature’s skull and slaying it instantly.

Looking around, I saw no one else approaching so I allowed myself a few moments to take deep, calming breaths. I knew other orcs, ogres and giants must be around, but clearly my deadly whirlwind of action had them quivering in their hiding holes. For the moment, I would allow that to be the way of things. It is not just the enormity of a man’s fighting prowess that makes him a hero, but the size of his heart as well. We had lost one of our number in this fight and my people, and yes, even me, needed to take a moment to grieve before continuing on. And so, the druid led us all into the chapel of the fortress. Some of them feared that it would offer no safe harbor for us, but I am confident that the giants outside are far too afraid after seeing me in action.

Once inside, the simpleton elf again groveled over to me, begging me to let me show him how his magical tricks would repair the scratch the giant had given me. But I rebuffed him. I’m sure he was crushed, but he must learn that to even remain in my company, much less earn my respect he so desperately seeks, he must stop with his sucking up. And so we wait for now. We rest, and we grieve. Farewell priest, and may the Lord of Dragons accept your misguided soul into His heavenly domain.

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kirk_spencer Danieleben

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