Storm King's Thunder

Chand's Journal, day 64

Castle in the sky

(written in Halruaan)

I write this using the feather from a giant vulture whose riders I have slain just hours ago. I write this while sitting on a giant bed, in a giant's room, in a giant's castle. The castle is well appointed, and as I write this, it flies high above the earth, borne by white-blue clouds.

This has been a long day.

It started well enough. We were going to Goldenfields, which I thought foolish and frivolous, but regardless I welcomed the chance to be on the road again, and to see a new city.

Then, seemingly without reason or warning, it appeared. A castle in the sky – laputa – which mysteriously stopped before and above us, and extended a stairway of clouds.

What else could we do? We ascended the strange steps and entered the grandiose structure.

We were greeted by a magnificently appointed foyer – the tiered crystal chandelier was of particular note – and a stranger's voice. The stranger appeared and introduced himself as Content Not Found: zephyros, a cloud giant. He was a very strange person, prone to insensible digression and random babbling. He repeatedly assured us that he was, in his words, crazy, but he has since gotten better – despite ample evidence to the contrary. His ceaseless tirade frustrated and befuddled me, and for a moment I felt my mind going blank.

Despite his obviously broken mind, he was doubtless a formidable magic-user, a natural like myself but with powers magnitudes greater. Back home he would have fit straight in, both his barely-functional madness and his method of travel.

He regaled us with a long-winded but enlightening tale about the Storm King Hekaton's disappearance (following the death of his wife, Queen Neri) and the disbanding of the Ordning (this being the laws and rules of the hierarchy of the giants are). The voiding of the Ordning has left giantkind in chaos as factions splintered and fought for supremacy. This explained – at least partially – the attack on Nightstone.

Zephyros told us that he would assist us, but only in certain ways. He would take us places, but he would not assist or guide us directly. He made us guest in his castle, but warned us not to enter his chambers upstairs. Arjan's curiousity was all but written on his face upon hearing this. The halfling was all too predictable.

After some discussion, we requested Zephyros to take us to Goldenfields, which he was happy to oblige. We then retired to our temporary quarters. The castle had several rooms, but one was plenty to sleep us normal-sized folks. The scale of the place was difficult to get used to.

Sleep barely started for me when I was woken up. We had company: a group of nine men riding giant vultures. They rudely demanded to see Zephyros, who eventually came and greeted him with his usual nonsense babble.

The bird-riders identified themselves as envoys from some giant prince (who styled himself 'prince of evil air'), and then attempted to half-bribe, half-threaten Zephyros to pledge allegiance to said prince. Zephyros' reply was unusually lucid and made me smile. The bird-riders did not take rejection kindly, but was not brazen enough to forcefully press the point, instead opting to reason with Zephyros, a course of action that was, in this Halruaan's opinion, futile at the best of times.

This one-sided diplomatic dance barely started when our young dragonborn companion, for reasons entirely unknown, walked up to the leader of the bird-riders and slapped him. This gesture was not well received.

The bird-riders were well armed and accustomed to combat, but fortunately so were we. Zephyros did not move to aid us, and the bird-riders knew enough not to provoke him. At the end we just used him as a piece of terrain. Laertes held the left front (the man's shield was like a second combatant, steering enemies around effortlessly), around which Arjan (after an unsuccessful attempt to sneak into Zephyros' chambers … really, Arjan? In the middle of battle?), Gumpsh (whose crushing but precise assault belied his brutish appearance), and Vrox flanked. I would note that, for a half-dwarf of religion, Vrox was unexpectedly and lethally adept with offensive magics. Anders held the right flank all by his own, his armor seemingly unpenetrable. Nohie (with unerringly accurate shots from an obviously-imbued bow) and Donaar (with elemental bolts) sniped from relative safety.

As soon as I was able, I hastened Arjan, who made excellent use of his newfound speed and introduced his daggers to the bird-riders multiple times. I could not remember much after that, combat being the chaos it always has been. I remembered only two of them by my feet, bodies scorched with strange, still-flickering green embers. My dagger was in my hands, which was odd. I must have drawn them in the heat of battle. 

Once it was clear that their masters have lost the battle, the vultures flew away. One of them left behind a perfectly-sized feather, which, as I mentioned, I am using to write this now.

This has been a long day. Arkle shedarram.

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