DM When last we left our heroes, they had entered Krommhalt, and Julian wrestled a storm giant trainee to a standstill. Now they stand, sweaty and tired, with the giants in a similar state. Will this be the beginning of a beautiful new relationship? Or have the seeds of their own destruction been planted? Read on!
Julian Thanking his new friends for the accolades, Julian asks for a recommendation about where a few newcomers in the city ought to visit.
DM Quintus Mercius, Julian’s combatant, mentions that the menagerie is second to none, and the gardens are spectacular, even by giant standards.
DM The trainer suggests that they visit the temples, where the true gods of giantkind are worshipped.
Julian Julian thanks them both. “Shall we?”
Julian With his comrades’ assent they choose the gardens for their first destination.
Kryss “I wish Shael had made the journey. He would have liked it here.”
Shael Shael looks at Kryss and nods, “Yeah.” he agrees.
Kryss “Oh hey, I got you a key chain.”
Shael “Oh, that’s great!” he exclaims, “Now I just need keys…” he murmurs concernedly.
DM The gardens of Krommhalt are massive, and not devoid of fauna either. Towering plants and flowers make for an experience not unlike a huge field before harvest for the diminutive heroes. A butterfly as large as Kryss’s head flutters before them as they approach.
Kryss “If anything tries to carry me off, aim for its head.”
Julian “Haha, hello,” it’s not entirely clear whether Julian is greeting Shael or the butterfly. “I wondered whether these gardens would compare to the storied gardens of King Sesneshariab, before the War and even Azlant.”
Julian “Quintus Mercius did not lie, this is magnificent!”
DM “Welcome,” booms a voice from above them. An elderly storm giant, wielding a sickle with a scythe slung over his shoulder, smiles at their approach. “We do not often have guests here. And Sesneshariab’s gardens were beyond compare…but of later date than Azlant.”
Shael Shael smiles.
Kryss “Are you the caretaker of these gardens? If so you are an artist.”
Kryss “Are these simply giant versions of the plants our kind are used to?”
Julian Julian indeed is looking around to discern just this, putting his horticultural cavalry lore to the test.
DM “I am their humble servant, I can claim no art in my work, only honesty. I am Vitis Vinifera. You will find the true forms of many pygmy plants you are familiar with, although some have no counterpart.”
Kryss “So these plants are the forebears to our plants.”
DM “Some of our kind took seeds when the world was young, although without the proper nourishment, their crops did not thrive to the extent they do here.”
DM “If you look over there, you will see the Barromett blossom.”
Julian “Vitis Vitifera, I am Julian of Brindinford.” Julian inclines his head in a tiny gesture. “Even now our folk have not forgotten the stories of the gardens of Sesneshariab, but I did not think their like was still in the world.”
Julian He looks in the direction the giant points out.
Shael Shael directs his gaze hence.
DM Before their eyes, a vibrant green plant some seven feet tall begins to sprout what looks almost like a wool flower.
DM As minutes pass, the flower opens up, and two massive sheep emerge.
Julian “Haha, it is true! The wool-bearing trees! Katun, they called it in the old tales of men.”
Shael Shael stands up straight, “Yeah, but sheep just came out of that plant.. that’s not right, is it?”
Kryss “I’ve certainly never seen anything like that.”
Shael “It’s quite odd.” Shael agrees.
DM “The sheep are the plant’s flowers,” Vitis explains. “Its fruit. You may pluck them, if you wish.”
Kryss Kryss selects a plump one.
Julian Julian explains how King Sesneshariab planted alongside his palace a legendary pleasure garden, a replica of Mount Amanos, which had all kinds of perfumed plants and fruit trees, trees from the mountains of Kur and trees from the Kaldaan plains collected inside it, “and even wool-bearing trees.” he swears, “katun.”
Kryss Kryss marvels at how smart one must have to be to be a cavalryman.
Julian “This must be a relative of the Barromett.”
Kryss Kryss plucks the sheep from the tree and gives it a little shake before setting it on the ground. “So does it…?”
DM Vitis smiles at Julian’s story. “This is true, for my great grandsire told me its tale when I was a young giant. But katun and barromett are slightly different. The katun’s yield breathes easier, and,” he gestures to Kryss who is even now struggling with a lamb his own size, “does not run away.”
DM The lamb butts Kryss in his thigh. It’s as strong as a colos.
Julian “Do you shear them just like a mortal sheep?”
DM “There is no difference once they are plucked. They can be sheared, roasted, anything.”
Shael “Are they plants or animals?” Shael wonders, poking at the sheep Kryss is struggling with.
DM “Yes. There is truly less difference between the two than you might think.”
Kryss “Do they have…?” Kryss asks, turning the sheep over.
DM There is a place where the sheep attached to the plant. The sheep does not enjoy being turned around, and kicks at Kryss, trying to squirm out of the lord’s grasp.
Shael He blinks and looks at the giant keenly, “I mean, I guess — but..” he looks at the sheep, “..well, anyways. Would it be okay if I spent some time communing with the garden?” he wonders, tilting his head to the side after turning his attention back to the giant.
Shael He shrugs, sheepishly.
DM “Ah, you speak to the Green?” Vitis asks respectfully.
DM “I am not one to say who is allowed to speak with the gardens. They may choose to speak with you, or not. It is not my will done here.”
Shael Shael nods and replies, “Yes.” he seems like he might be saying more, but settles with that. Upon the giant’s agreement, he smiles and glances at his companions to take their leave briefly.
Julian Julian nods.
Shael Shael makes his way off a small ways, taking in the scenery and life of the garden, as he begins his ritual to commune with nature.
DM The garden’s lifeforce is unnaturally potent, Shael senses as soon as he falls into the ritual. It throbs with energy.
Julian “Do you think the wool-bearing trees would still grow in our own lands?” Julian asks the garden’s caretaker while Shael communes and Kryss sheepwrestles.
DM “The katun? Nay, it is far too cold here for it to take root. The barromett might grow, although it requires properly nourished fields. Without nutrients, it will wither away.”
Kryss “What nutrients do you use?” Kryss asks.
Shael He falls into that lifeforce, experiencing it wholly to get a better understanding of this ancient topiary.
DM “You must rotate the crops year by year. In the first year, you should grow phorbs, in the second, gramanids, the third, the barromett.”
Julian Julian listens to what the giant caretaker has to say of all these wondrous crops.
Kryss “In our homeland, we try to responsibly clear forest area for farmland. Would you recommend a similar routine for us or do you think the buildup of peat has put enough nutrients in the soil for us?”
DM The lifeforce seems akin to Lord Viridius, although it names itself Fonmaro. The gardens stretch for several square miles, he senses, far beyond the range of his spell. Within the gardens lie trees, grass, fruits, vegetables…his mind spins as the different images flood in, and he realizes he is only touching part of the full scope. As he turns his attention to planar influences within the garden, both he and the Fonmaro suddenly are alerted to something strange, and very close by. Whatever is coming is coming swiftly.
Shael He turns his attention to identifying the anomaly; especially whether it is a foe.
Shael “Warning!” he shouts, seemingly at a loss for words to otherwise advise his companions and the giant they are visiting.
Shael Calling his armament to hand, he falls into his place in a practiced defensive formation with the other lords, “Something approaches; swiftly—”
DM From out of the pepper plot stumbles a man, wearing simple peasant clothing. His hair is messy, and he has a piece of straw in his mouth. He looks confused. He has a farm hand’s build, standing about five feet and seven inches, with rough skin.
Julian Alert for trouble but confused by the man’s appearance, Julian looks to their giant host to see whether this unexpected company is unexpected to him also.
DM Vitis looks perplexed. “I did not realize there were so many humans invited to the city today.”
DM Julian notes the man’s feet sink several inches into the ground as he walks, as though he were far heavier than he appears.
Shael “That is not just a man.” Shael corrects Vitis, despite the human’s appearance, “There is too… much of him.” he struggles to explain what he sensed.
Julian Julian invokes the blessed sight of Heaven.
Shael He looks at Vitis and explains, “Fonmaro is alarmed by his presence.”
Kryss “He’s not with us,” Kryss says calmly, his hands in his pockets.
DM Through the sight of Heaven, Julian sees…a man, wearing simple peasant clothing. However, as he looks at the man with his enhanced sight, his head begins to pound, with a terrible aching. The longer he stares, the more pronounced it becomes.
DM Whatever this effect, it is not an illusion masking the creature’s true form.
DM The man stares at the four of them, blinking several times and wiping his eyes. He squints, as though he cannot see them clearly. He begins moving towards them.
DM It’s quick. He seems to take a single step, but appears before them in an instant.
Julian “Yes, see his feet.” Julian agrees with Shael. He grimaces and shields his eyes. “Who are you?”
DM The man cocks his head to the side, as though he can barely hear Julian. He opens his mouth to speak, and all of them, Vitis included, find themselves in the midst of a cacophony of horrific noise.
DM Several nearby plants explode in response.
Shael Shael covers his ears quickly and turns away.
DM Vitis stumbles backwards, falling over, his nose bleeding in the wake of the assault.
Kryss Kryss takes a few steps back from the screaming man and waits.
Shael Shael frantically holds his finger to his lips in the universal ‘shhh!’ sign that he is so practiced at as a part-time librarian.
DM The man doesn’t appear to see the sign, blinking and squinting, and grabs at Shael.
Julian Julian intercedes, attempting to strip away whatever strange magic has brought this assailant here.
DM The confused man seemingly ignores Julian’s magical attack, and grabs Shael. Despite the action seeming to be not more than a grab and shake, the man’s hands sink deep into Shael’s flesh.
DM He opens his mouth again and the noise explodes in their heads.
Kryss Shatterspike explodes from beneath Kryss cloak and splits the area between Shael and the man like a clap of thunder.
DM The axe strikes the man, and…fails to penetrate his flesh even a scratch.
Kryss But in the moment, the man is distracted enough to allow Shael a chance to get away.
Kryss Shatterspike flies back to Kryss and he tucks her away calmly.
Shael Shael shouts at the top of his lungs, his voice augmented by thaumaturgical magic, “QUIET DOWN! WHISPER! YOU ARE HURTING US!!”
DM The man cocks his head again, and yells. If Shael were to guess, he’d say the man cannot understand him, although he does hear him now.
DM It does not seem as though this has calmed the man at all, however.
Shael Shael tries again in Azlanti, on a hunch.
DM It does not seem that this stranger is from Azlant. The noise level continues to assault their senses, and the man is still intent on getting a hold of them, a painful experience as Shael can attest.
Kryss Kryss looks around, wary to be underfoot of any responding giant guards.
DM Their response time to a dirty human commoner, even if exceptionally loud, in the gardens seems to be criminally slow. It’s almost as if they were completely unaware of this happening at the moment. Eventually the noise is sure to draw them though.
Julian “I wish to grant Shael the gift of tongues, to understand and be understood in universal language.”
Shael Shael glances aside at Julian and then tries again to make himself understood, “QUIET DOWN, YOU ARE HURTING US! WE CAN HELP, BUT WE NEED YOU TO BE CALM —”
DM As Julian speaks the wish, the man suddenly fixes him with his gaze, lunging towards him well before Shael can speak.
DM He grabs Julian, putting finger sized holes in his shoulder.
Kryss Kryss’ draconic eyes focus on the man’s fingers entering Julian’s skin.
Kryss Things look pretty well under control from where Kryss is standing, and so he chooses to stay away from the strange man and not cut him limb from limb.
DM The man steps back from Julian, looking around for the source of Shael’s voice. He whispers, a sound loud enough to curl the hair on them all, but it isn’t quite as deafening. “Who are you? Why are you so blurry? Are you ghosts?”
Kryss Kryss tries to check on their host.
Julian Julian moves to help him.
DM Kryss determines that the elderly giant has been knocked completely out, and is likely to remain unconscious for sometime. He also senses something beneath the giant, maintaining his vitality.
Shael Shael shouts the explanation as clearly as he can; “YOU ARE DISPLACED; WE NEED TIME TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO HELP. WHERE ARE YOU FROM?”
DM “Dragonfire Dyrr,” the man whispers, rustling the grass.
Kryss “That’s where were from! Shael! Tell him that were from there too!”
Shael He looks aside at Kryss and Julian, surprised. With a faint grin he relays Kryss’ words, “DO YOU KNOW HOW YOU GOT HERE? DO YOU RECOGNIZE OUR NAMES; SHAEL, JULIAN, AND KRYSS?”
DM “You are the Helllords who plague our people with suffering?”
Julian “Um, no.” Julian supplies.
Julian “We are the founders of the town.”
Shael Shael looks taken aback and clears his throat before saying, “NOT IN THIS WORLD – I THINK YOU ARE VERY FAR FROM HOME… IN THIS WORLD, WE ARE THE FOUNDERS OF DRAGONFYRE.”
DM “No, Shael, Julian and Kryss are the destroyers of Brindinford. Dragonfire Dyrr was founded by the refugees.”
DM “I was on the road to Ossington, when a headless knight began to chase me on his steed. I ran, hoping to cross the bridge to Ossington Ferry, but when I turned back to see if he was still chasing me, I found myself here, in this blurry world. I think he slew me and I am dead.”
Julian “What’s his name?”
Shael “WHAT IS YOUR NAME?”
DM “I am Kael.”
Julian “The Horseman slew a man named Kael on the road. When we first came towards Ossington.” Julian reminds Shael.
Shael He looks at Julian and replies, “But, the story still doesn’t match – Dragonfyre was not founded by refugees.”
Julian Julian agrees.
Julian “I do not know what to make of it.”
Shael “If I knew the planar key, I could return him home — but, would he even want to return?” he decides to ask, “IF WE CAN RETURN YOU TO YOUR HOME, IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT?”
DM “I must move on to the next world.”
Shael “OKAY, GIVE ME A FEW MINUTES —” Shael offers Julian and Kryss a significant glance, but shrugs his shoulders. He performs a divination, calling again on Fonmaro to assist, as he asks, “Is there anywhere safe to send Kael, both to himself and the place I send him? How can we help him?”
DM Fonmaro’s inclination is to bury Kael in the dirt, and allow his body to nourish the garden.
DM There is no other response that comes forth to Shael’s divination.
Shael Shael frowns at the unhelpful garden and grouses; he attempts to redirect the spell to those powers who would be more inclined to provide a more compatible answer with his intent.
DM “Flee the entity, your magic cannot hold nor move him. His presence harms the veil.”
DM The hairs on the back of Shael’s neck stand up, as though a hundred eyes were turned his way.
Shael Shael’s comfort around Kael becomes feigned upon receiving the answer and Fonmaro’s response makes more sense. He glances at his companions and begins silent communion with Serra, “Is there anyone we can go to for help to resolve the dilemna Kael presents in less than an hour?”
DM “If you were outside Krommhalt, the archangels would be at your side immediately. I cannot enter the giant’s city without sparking a war.”
Shael He tells Julian and Kryss, “We need help — we should go to the temple…” he glances at the disabled giant and then back at Kael, “WE’RE GOING TO GO GET HELP — WILL YOU PLEASE WAIT HERE? WE WILL HURRY, I PROMISE.”
DM “I can wait, Hell Lord.”
Shael In silent communion to Serra he asks, “If I can gain their permission, would you act in alliance with them?”
DM “No. You will never receive their permission. Alert them to the threat and have them deal with it.”
Shael He motions for Julian and sprints out of the garden towards the temple — once they are out of sight he asks, “Can you teleport us to speed things up?” Shael looks worried, it’s an unfamiliar expression.
Shael “Understood.” he silently communicates to Serra; trying to make his subvocalization lighthearted he asks as he always does, “I hope you are well?” with his final question.
DM “No one will be well if you do not hurry.”
DM Hopefully Shael hurries, Loyal Readers! If not, the entire world’s fate may hang in the balance. Will he make it to the church on time? Find out next week!