Storm King's Thunder

Chand's Journal, day 63
Water and giant troubles

(written in Halruaan)

After many dirty and dusty days, this wretched convoy finally arrived in a little village called Nightstone. Anders would usually do the talking but he was busy haggling our pay – again - so that new dragonborn opened his mouth and almost got us attacked. Which would have been inconvenient.

Presently, we found a tavern, and after much effort, I was able to procure a drink of water. Anders was not helpful. He was too busy haggling with the tavern man.

Note: Earlier, the guard, having been persuaded not to attack us, told us that Nighstone had just survived a siege assault from giants stationed atop flying castles. Judging from his expression, I surmise that this is rare occurence in this land.

Note 2: There was also some trouble with the nearby orcs, whom the villagers ran into when they tried to escape the giants' assault.

At the tavern, we spoke to the tavern man, who made strange requests of us. He wanted us to travel to three places and find relatives of three people who died in the giants' assault. I remain perplexed why he asked us to do this. I inquired why he did not simply use his klefexe, to which he replied that he has no such thing, but later changed his mind and said that his klefexe was broken.

Note 3: I should mention that not all of us went to the tavern. It was just me, little Arjan, Anders, and the shield man. Nohie went her own way, as she usually did, and later we learned that she had been speaking with the local beasts, gathering information.

Note 4: Another thing I learned later. Gumpsh and Vrox also foregone the tavern and instead found some dead to speak to. Vrox did this often, and usually to good effect, but all he got this time was confirmation of the guard's story.

I should mention that the tavern man had a name, and that he was Morag. He was strangely unwilling to serve me water, instead he kept giving me "beer", which Anders had earlier informed me to be a common drink in this land.

Note 5: I forgot the dragonborn, who also did not go to the tavern, but instead went scouting the surrounds. He learned little of note.

I inquired Morag as to the location of the orcs. I suggested to my companions that we seek these monsters and rout them. Was this not a worthier endeavour than delivering messages to people of little importance? Regardless, my companions seemed set on this course of action and we prepared to travel to Goldenfields, which was one of the places. 

Gumpsh had to sleep in a more expensive room for the night. I suspect there was foul play, most likely by the dragonborn. Him and Nohie seemed to have a grudge against Gumpsh, because he is a half-orc. I do not understand this. He is a half-dragon. Surely he understands that we are not defined by our ancestry? We are what we become, not what we have been.

We depart tomorrow. Arkle shedarram.

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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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Chand's Journal, day 65
Bribes, dreams, and stories

(written in Halruaan)

Due to fatigue, I had omitted a few details regarding our encounter with the bird-riders. I will correct this presently.

First – the bribe for Zephyros. Recall that I mentioned the bird-riders trying to bribe Zephyros to join ther cause. The gift they offered was a pouch. After the battle, Zephyros gifted this to us, citing that it was of no use to him. After some prompting, he explained that it was a pouch of pixie dust. Upon examination, I concluded that it was similar to our ferispak, which can be dusted on persons to bestow them with a random effect. There seemed to be approximately ten doses left in the pouch.

I was also informed that we had looted 31 gold pieces, 9 scimitars, 9 leather armor, and a bag emblazoned with a smiling face symbol. I was going to examine the bag but Xy had done the work instead. He said that it was just a plain bag.

We questioned Zephyros, who gave us little beyond what we already knew: The Ordning, power struggles among giants, and so on. He did mention a Harshnag, a giant supposedly friendly with the 'little people' (meaning us). He also mentioned the Royal Court but did not offer further explanation.

While my companions retired to tend to their battle fatigue and related ministrations, I engaged Zephyros in conversation. He was an odd sort to say the least, but I was keen to learn of the ways of the cloud giant. Perhaps he could tell me something that would give me deeper understanding of my powers.

What I ended up learning was a more tidbits about the royal family. Queen Neri's mysterious death was followed by the disanding of the Ordning and shortly after King Hekaton's disappearance. The royal couple had 3 daughrtes: Mirran, Nym, and Serissa, who allegedly did not get along.

Nothing else of import happened today. Tomorrow we will hopefully reach Goldenfields, and we can find Mirros and be done with this sad quest. 

I had that dream again, that night when the bird-riders came. Endless, ever-burning expanse of fire-cracked rocks. Acrid, choking stench of brimstone. A shadowy, rumbling horde in the far horizon. Most disturbingly, a sense of familiarity.

I will now go to sleep. I do not wish to have that dream again. Arkle shedarram.

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Chand's Journal, day 66
Goldenfields

(written in Halruaan)

Zephyros dropped us a short distance from Goldenfields, like a coach at the end of a journey, and left. I am hopeful that we will see see him again.

Goldenfields was a fine city, even with its worn walls. We were greeted by someone from the Emerald Enclave, a local faction to which Nohie and Anders belong. We asked for Mirros and was directed to find him in the tavern. Turned out that Mirros was local tavern man! A chance to both complete our quest and acquire water. This was well indeed.

On the way to the inn, we chanced upon a magnificent statue of a local goddess (Chauntea, the Great Mother, the inscription noted) and a promisingly vital establishment called the Earth Mother's Bounty.

Mirros did not disappoint. He was exceedingly welcoming and promptly provisioned me with the local specialty: goldengut water. It was faintly sweet and fresh and clear. I was sorry to have to break him the news of his parents' death at the hands of the marauding giants – fortunately I was spared of that task as Nohie took it upon her to break the news.  I do note that Revek was playing his lute throughout all this, which I thought was mildly rude given the gravity of the news, but I said nothing since this might have been a local custom that I was not aware of. I will say that the melody had a strangely calming effect.

Mirros took the news as well as anyone could. He left to compose himself and while he was absent, we were joined by a local patron by the name Barry Monteo. Master Monteo dispensed some gossip, including the news that Goldenfields too were recently attacked by giants. It was an ineffective attack, as the attackers were earthbound and stupid, and they failed to meaningfully breach the walls. He also mentioned Captain Strogg, leader of the city guard.

Mirros returned, having composed himself, and treated us to a veritable feast of magnificient foods, and more of that marvellous goldengut water, served in charmingly carved mugs (I later proposed to purchase a carved mug for keepsake and Mirros generously gifted it to me.) I was quite taken with Mirros and his sad news. All I could do was raise my mug of goldengut water and wished his parents a proper messertofe farewell.

I would note that Mirros corroborated Master Monteo's story regarding the giant attack. We mentioned Captain Strogg and it was clear from his expression that Mirros did not think much of the captain.

After the feast, I went to see the captain to seek information, and I too did not think much of him. He was a fundamentally lazy man who somehow  ended up in a position of leadership. I hate that. I hexed him with a minor illusion to get him off his bottom, a harmless goblin who appeared just in the corner of his sight. This juvenile trickery amused me.

Xy and Revek went to brewery to seek information – and in Revek's case, more brew. Again the learned of the giant attack, and also of Naxene, a wizard-protector of the city. More on Naxene later.

(Hell with it, let's talk more on Naxene know. We found her later on in Mirros' tavern, dining among the other patrons. Reserved, obviously intelligent, and beautiful in her own way. She was sent by the lords of Waterdeep on a guardianship assignment in Goldenfields. I can sense that she was very skilled in the arts, although we could not quite connect in this matter as hers is the learned discipline of wizardry, while mine is soul-magic of the storms.)

(Yes, yes, I was smitten, and yes, I did attempt denrezou and failed miserably. But I had to try. And I might try again tomorrow.)

I should mention that Nohie and Scarlet went to talk to their animal friends and were able to acquire substantially new information: sighting of red giants and cloud giants in the area. Unfortunately they were only able to get cursory information on the giants' current whereabouts, but still it confirmed that the power struggle was well underway. Also, there seemed to be no sign of the supposedly friendly giant Harshnag.

We discussed and agreed our next course of action: see if we can find Zephyros again, and continue on our assigned missions. We would keep our eyes and ears open and try to learn more of the giants.

I will sleep now. Alone, regretfully, but perhaps tomorrow night would be different. At least I did not have that red dream anymore. Arkle shedarram.

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