DM When last we left our heroes, the goddess Pallas Minerva had sacrificed her supernatural nature to banish the paragon creature in the garden with the help of the Lords of Dragonfyre. We now return to their adventures in the city of Krommhalt, mighty fortress of the Uvar.
Kryss Kryss assesses the new lady, his fighter’s eye judging her stance and balance to ensure she is ready to walk on her own.
Kryss “We’re going to get you out of here,” Kryss assures her, draping his cloak over her.
DM “Ok, let’s do that. Where is ‘here’, incidentally?”
Kryss “For now, let’s just walk,” Kryss offers her his arm and escorts her from the garden. “What do you remember?”
DM “I remember my name, Min, and I remember…hmm. I don’t remember much else.”
Kryss “Well I don’t want you to worry,” Kryss says, “We’re here to help. We’re friends.”
Kryss He leads her randomly through the streets while Shael and Julian determine what to do with her.
Shael Shael shrugs out the kinks in his muscles as he stands up, recovering from the ritual, to follow along and ponder that very thing.
Kryss “Are you hungry?” he asks her.
DM “What is hungry?” she asks. “This word sounds like it has a meaning but it is not one that I know.”
Julian As the others converse Julian stops by the temple of the Dii Procellis to thank the head priest and offer a gift in thanks for his timely assistance.
Shael Shael pulls Kryss along in Julian’s wake, towing the conversation along with him. “It’s your body telling you that you need sustenance.” he says aside.
Kryss “Let’s just show her,” Kryss suggests, looking for a place that may sell hot food.
Kryss Kryss puts a finger on his nose, “I’m not teaching her to poop!”
DM The Uvar priest is flattered by the gift, “but I may not receive payment for mediating between gigas and giant…or gigas and man, as the case may be. Please, keep your gift, and perhaps next time, render a sacrifice and prayer in my name to Mighty Joven.”
Shael Shael seems taken aback and he bites his lips and nods, “Yeah -” he clears his throat and says, “- I didn’t think of that.”
Julian “Oh, I understand.”
Julian “Well, thank you once again.”
Kryss “Right but we can make a donation, right? In order to repay you for the cost of the bull?” Kryss presses.
DM “No, my gift was in accordance with your need.”
Shael Shael blinks and asks, “Well, what do you need?”
Kryss “Or who do you know that is in need?”
DM The Uvar laughs. “Stop, little men. You feel indebted to me, but you should not. I follow the will of Mighty Joven, and it is that will that led me to provide you with your first sacrifice. The next time you wish to commune with He of the Sky, you will know the way. That is all I require.”
Kryss “Quite generous. Can you recommend a good restaurant?”
Shael “I like him.” Shael tells Julian with a smile. “Good guy.”
DM “Seek out Marcus Gavius Apicius, whose love of cuisine is rivaled by none.”
Kryss “Thanks again.”
Kryss Kryss leads the party towards food, a talent that he seldom uses lately.
Julian Julian heads that way, finding his way from passerby if needed.
Shael Shael follows them away towards the meal.
Kryss “If this is ‘giant food’ then I’m going to suggest we split an appetizer,” Kryss says.
DM Apicius’ Table is a massive structure, easily the size of a Brindinford wall, though turned so its plane is on the horizontal, obviously. Uvar, Skye and even Stein sit around, enjoying meals that smell delicious, even from so far above them.
Shael Shael laughs suddenly, “Yeah, I had the same thought.” he looks around to see if accommodations for smaller folk are available in any form.
Kryss Kryss looks around for a server or proprietor.
Kryss “What are you doing Shael?”
DM The ‘kiddie’ tables are nearby, although still sized for twelve foot tall individuals. Firbolg and verbeeg eat here, along with the occasional minotaur.
Kryss “I want to eat in the giant restaurant.”
Kryss Kryss plants his feet.
Shael Shael appraises the larger man, “The same as you, I suppose -” he leads them over to the tables he found.
Shael Scratching his head with hesitant thoughtfulness, he looks at the other two.
Kryss “Three words… Giant Banana Pudding.”
DM The process of obtaining food here seems straightforward. You go to the table, and someone comes to you with food. It does not seem you get to choose what you are getting however.
DM (There is a distinct lack of pudding.)
Kryss Kryss climbs up in an empty spot, helping Min if she allows.
Shael “Gross.” he looks at the giant tables in the distance to identify the pudding and, unable to do so he shakes his head. “There are tables right here.” he shrugs and follows along. “I guess it won’t matter.” he says, precognitively.
DM Min allows him to help her up. “So this is food?” she asks.
Kryss “When in Alsoor, do as the Alsoorians,” Kryss reminds Shael.
Julian Julian quietly takes a seat.
Kryss “It looks like food,” Kryss replies. “It seems like someone will just bring us something.”
DM A massive amount of cheeses, ham, oysters, fish and garum, wild game, cabbage, nuts, soup and more flows from the kitchen to the tables. Some of these platters are set within reach of the humans. The giants all appear to be taking the food as they choose.
Kryss Kryss isn’t shy to grab whatever he can reach.
Shael Shael follows suit, sampling methodically from the dishes as they come within reach.
Kryss He politely passes Min as few choice items.
DM Two Skye scrunch their noses at him, but a rotund bearded Uvar laughs and pushes one of the platters out of reach closer to them.
DM “Enjoy a taste of Krommhalt, Men!” the giant bellows.
DM “Men, that is what we are,” Min nods.
Shael Shael considers her observation and allows that it is true with a nod. He tries the Krommhalt before matching that consideration to the dish.
DM Wine and water in cups the size of barrels are passed around.
Kryss “Don’t get started down that rabbit hole yet,” Kryss warns. “Just try to fill your belly and get some rest. Take things slowly.”
Julian Evidently lost in thought at first, Julian eventually notices that they are being observed and helped. He stirs himself and fills his plate. “Thanks, friend.”
DM “You mentioned pudding,” a short Uvar child, scarcely ten feet tall, holds up a bowl of pudding towards Kryss.
DM It’s not made from bananas, but milk and honey, with pepper and garum.
Kryss “Thanks!” Kryss says, leaning back to give him room to safely put the bowl down.
DM The little giant stands on her tiptoes to reach the table, and pushes the bowl up next to Kryss.
Kryss “Everything looks so good,” Kryss tuck into eating like he hasn’t in years.
Shael Shael eats more or less the same as he has for years, nothing at all remarkable about it except the portion sizes.
Kryss “So one time, in Fae World, we met these dryads,” Kryss says to the giant Uvar. “You would have loved them.”
DM “This sounds like a fun story.”
Julian Julian takes a more modest portion than Kryss and eats quietly.
Kryss Kryss eyes him, judging if it would be appropriate in this setting.
DM Min, meanwhile, is lighting up every time she tastes the food. “This is delicious!”
DM The food is scrumptious, and the Uvar gregarious eating companions. Below, at the smaller tables, the Firbolg and Verbeeg seem to be drinking beer and eating dire bacon sandwiches, and it gets pretty rowdy at times. A pair of ogres literally get hurled from the place when they try to enter.
Shael Shael imagines what it must be like for her, the first time for many things despite her long experience of the world. “I wonder if that’s how it was for the first people.”
Shael “Men.” he corrects himself, glancing towards the Uvar.
Kryss After the party has eaten their fill, Kryss leans back in his chair. “When are we scheduled to meet with the Paramount?” he asks.
Julian Julian does more listening than talking with their eating companions, man or giant, and tells no stories of his own, but he courteously thanks everyone after they have eaten their fill.
Julian “Is it true that there are cyclopes in this city as well?” he asks one of their companions. “I heard tell of them, but I have not seen any.”
DM A Skye woman faints dead away at Julian’s question.
DM A Skye man sniffs. “This is why we don’t invite men to our abodes, absolutely no manners.”
DM The fat Uvar just laughs. “The cyclopes serve the paramount directly,” he explains, “so you won’t find them mingling with the populace.”
Julian “Ah, thank you. I meant no offense.” he looks sidelong at the thin-skinned Skye.
Kryss “Then that’s where we should be. Is everyone ready to go talk to the one eyed monster?”
Shael Shael looks between the two hesitantly and then says, “Yeah, let’s get out of here.” He suits words to action.
Kryss Kryss follows, helping Mia down and leaving Julian to settle the bill.
Julian Julian bids everyone a good day. He springs lightly down to the ground and looks up at Minerva.
DM She freezes, caught in a quantum paradox.
Julian After bills are settled and after reminding the universe that paradoxes aren’t real, Julian joins his companions on their way towards the center of town.
DM The paramount’s palace awaits.
Julian But it does not await interminably, as Julian soon approaches.
Kryss Followed by Kryss and a naked girl under a cloak.
DM The guards nod and allow the party entry without much more than a glance. They are clearly expected.
Shael She is not naked, she just doesn’t have any scales. They definitely found her some clothes.
Shael The guards interrupt that discussion though, and Shael turns his attention back to their destination.
DM The air as they enter the paramount’s palace grows more charged. The hairs on the back of their necks and arms tingle and stand on end. Their lips feel quite dry, as though the moisture is evaporating away without an excessive heat source.
DM The first hall they enter could hold all of Rukhaus Steading within it without touching either wall.
DM Upon the walls are massive murals, paintings, and other magnificent art pieces, some historical, some fantastic.
Shael Shael is certainly confident that some are fantastic and some are historical, but the longer he looks the less certain he is of which is which.
DM Without any idea of how to proceed in this vast castle, it is heartening when a familiar face shows up. Princeps Elektra smiles, Lady Orage on her arm. “Men of Dragonfyre!” Her face grows contemplative as she appraises the woman with them.
Julian Julian seems to pick up energy even as the air does, the lassitude that clung to him falling away with each step, though his eye is less for art and more for the hall’s people.
Shael “Min.” he prompts, “Uh, Minerva.” he nods encouragingly.
Kryss Kryss smiles and offers her a hug,
Shael He tilts his head sideways to the woman to clarify.
DM “Hello, I’m Min,” the former goddess replies.
Julian “Princeps, Lady. Your city and your hall alike are even more wonderful than I could have guessed.” Julian greets them both.
DM Elektra looks at Kryss, and extends her pinky down for him to embrace if he chooses.
DM “I am so glad to see all of you again,” gushes Lady Orage. “Thank you so much for freeing me from those vile fiends.”
Shael Shael doesn’t seem to know how to answer that; what else would they have done? “Thank you for all your help, too.” he decides, “The city is beyond imagination.”
DM “You are kind. I hope our hospitality has greeted you in the same spirit your own met with us.”
Kryss “Everyone has been great. The smith showed me how to quench a sword in a cloud!”
DM “Sword in a cloud? Ah, you must mean Volcanavitch. He is a strange one, that’s for certain, but you cannot argue with his results.”
DM “Are you here now to meet with my father, or did you have some other business in the palace?”
Shael Shael nods, blushing a little. “Yes, for certain.” he answers her. For her question, he looks between Julian and Kryss.
Kryss “We were hoping to meet with the cyclopes.”
Julian “And also your father. But whichever first pleases you best.”
DM “The praetorians? Well, you’ll definitely see them with my father.”
Julian “Very good, then. Will you be so kind as to advise us on any courtesies we should observe?”
DM “Well, then let us kill two rocs with one, as they say. Follow me.” She proceeds to mention a few of the faux pas to avoid and gives them a primer on Uvar nobility as they stride through the huge hall. She takes several turns, seemingly at random, before they arrive before a double door crafted of electrified mithril.
Kryss “Oh my…” Kryss says.
Kryss “Can I stay here forever?” he asks.
DM “If you take an Uvar wife or husband, I believe you may,” Orage informs him.
Kryss “What if I apprentice myself?”
DM “Less likely to get forever, but probably ‘longer than a day’,” Elektra grins.
Julian Julian pays careful attention.
DM “Alright, go on in, win the combat, and speak with my father.”
Shael “Wait, combat?”
DM She opens the doors. “Good luck!”
DM Before them lies an amphitheater’s sandy floor, with a crowd of Uvar, Skye, and lesser giants all crowded in the top seats. The lower seats are filled with trolls, firbolg and verbeeg, all cheering.
Shael Shael steps out into what is, by all reasonable accounts, definitely an arena.
Kryss Kryss follows, looking back at their hosts. “What are the rules?”
DM “Win,” Elektra informs him before closing the doors.
DM A quartet of burly ogres shuffles towards them from across the arena.
Julian “Well, if it’s a spectacle they want…” Julian throws aside his cloak to display his gleaming armor and whirls his blade of light overhead.
Shael Shael charges straight towards the ogres, demonstrating the same speed he closed the distance between the garden and the temple with – but, when he closes he begins pulling them off-balance and into Julian and Kryss’s attacks instead of attacking directly himself.
Julian Julian grins. “No ogre in all the world will ever strike me down.”
Julian “Let’s not leave them all to Shael, eh, Lord Kryss?” Julian leaps into the fray.
DM “Come to Pappy!” roars the largest ogre.
DM The crowd is on the edge of their seats, cheering for the tiny lords.
Julian Allowing himself to indulge in a bit of showmanship, Julian lets all four ogres surround him as Shael flits around the flanks.
DM The ogres try to kick sand in his eyes, stab him with their massive spears, one tosses a net to try and entangle him.
DM Shael is missed by flung sand, clubs and in one particularly notable incident, the smallest of the ogre quartet.
Julian As the ogres raise their weapons to crush the tiny lord, Julian shows off the same speed he did with Quintus Maximus. Again and again a blow pulps only empty sand as the paladin whirls through an ogre’s legs or as Shael’s hindering sends a net just overhead.
Julian The pair may well be the only two humans to learn the secrets of dwarven defensive training since before the War, and it shows.
Shael With only four of them, they stand little chance against the lords — very little. Shael clearly feels reticent to return their attacks.
DM While the crowd is by and large giants cheering their success, the Lords notice that some among the Skye are not at all happy with their impending victory. Neither are some of the trolls, but it appears that the animosity there is largely due to impressive sums of coin lost in wagers that went afoul of the odds.
Julian Finally as the ogres begin to pant and stumble with weariness Julian goes over from the defensive to the offensive, and unlike an ogre, he quickly proves that Lightbringer strikes true. And as the knight neatly takes apart each ogre in turn, a trained eye might see how Shael is always in the right spot at just the right moment to make that happen.
Shael Shael makes certain the blows are immediately fatal – no suffering at their end.
Julian Julian turns to salute the crowd as Pappy falls last of all.
DM The losing trolls fling literal body parts at the victors, the disapproving Skye leave the games, but the crowd mostly goes wild. There are even some ogres among the crowd, cheering on the lords of Dragonfyre. Firbolg fling mugs of ale onto the field, which does create a shower of clay and tin missiles as well as a wave of alcohol.
DM The din suddenly dies away, as the paramount holds up a hand. Unlike many elder storm giants, he has no beard, but his powerful presence silences the crowd. A crown of leaves sits upon his head, and his eyes are piercing. His skin is golden, with just a tinge of violet, and there is no doubt this twenty nine foot tall giant is king among them.
Julian Julian sheathes his weapon and approaches the giant ruler.
Shael Shael follows protocol as instructed by Lady Orage and Elektra; his weapons never drawn, he does not have to repeat Julian’s prior step.
DM “Hail, victorious ones!” A dark storm cloud forms on the ground before Julian and Shael, it looks solid enough to stand upon. The paramount beckons to them to take their place upon it as he looks down from his high box.
Julian Julian and the others step onto the solid-looking cloud.
DM It lifts off the ground, bringing them up to the paramount’s box. As the next gladiator, a massive lion headed beastman, clashes against three firbolgs, the paramount gestures, sending the dark clouds to provide the lords and he with some measure of privacy.
DM Only the paramount and his praetorian guard, six hulking cyclopes, remain within.
DM “Welcome to Krommhalt, Lords of Dragonfyre,” the paramount begins without any sense of irony in his voice. “It is my honor to have you here in our city.”
Julian “Hail, Paramount Krommbalt.” Julian greets their host now that he is close enough to be heard.
Shael Shael replies easily, “We are honored to be invite as your guests.” to expound on Julian’s greeting.
DM “We have much to talk about. For little men, your footprint is quite large.”
DM A footprint that does not match the size of their boots, Loyal Readers! Our Lords are massive in deed indeed! Will they sway Krommbalt to action? Will they find a cyclops able to make their lightning bolts? Will they ever want to return to the lands of man after walking among giants? Find out next time!
DM Krommbalt looks over the trio of lords carefully, appraising them. The paramount’s shrewd gaze seems to strip them down to the core of their character, and they realize this giant might be more dangerous than all the hosts of Imperagon. They stand on the sword’s edge now, god fearing men before god hating giant. Will they make an ally of him? A foe? Convince him to stand aside and let be what will be?
“How did you defeat the ogres when they are far larger than you?” the paramount asks. He knows the answer. This is a test.
Kryss “Ogres are strong, but they tend to be top heavy and off balance. They rarely maintain their weapons or train with discipline. Julian fights for his cause, Shael fights with his thoughts. They are of many talents that they can capitalize on at any given time,” Kryss explains.
Kryss “And I am a dragon,” he closes, as though that’s a clear enough answer on its own.
DM The paramount looks at Kryss, considering his answer. The dragon has been judged.
Kryss "Would you have assumed the ogres would defeat us, Mighty Paramount? " Kryss asks, leveraging all his Julian Diplomacy Training.
DM “I assume very little. It helps to keep me alive.”
Kryss “Then you have taken measure of us already, both while we traveled your beautiful city and before we arrived.”
DM The barest twitch of the paramount’s mouth at the corner is all that reveals he may have judged hastily.
Kryss “If I may speak first among my companions, Majesty, I am amazed and astounded by the things I have already experienced in your beautiful city. Your invitation is deeply appreciated.”
DM “That is good. Krommhalt has certainly seen better days, but if we still have the wherewithal to impress a representative of the Dragon Clans, perhaps we are not utterly lost. Ogres were not always that which you fought in the arena, you know. Once they were a proud people, held in esteem even by the giants for their wisdom and dignity.”
Julian “Will you tell us what changed, Paramount?”
DM “The idra lord Demundza and his wife Danika were tempted into accepting power from Inma, the Empress of the World. Corrupted by the oni daimyo, they attacked the Thunder King in the north. The battle nearly tore the world asunder. The idra were defeated, their hatred poured into the blade Palsifal that had spillt so much of their blood. They became the ogres you know today. However, the Ogre War was not yet over. The ogres, thrown down by the uvar, turned against the world of man. And the gods, who had stood idly by while giant blood was shed in the world’s defense, now took an active role. They sent the three Sky Knights, the Twelve Zodiac sages, and a host of angels to fight against Demundza’s forces. Demundza was sealed away, his ogres and oni scattered on the four winds.”