Broken Bones

The party descends into the last path of the crossroads, passing a small and apparently little-used shrine to Lamashtu before exiting into an immense cavern with a ceiling open to the frozen sky. Carved faces of giants line the walls, and a path rises towards a rough-hewn dais upon which rests a giant throne. On it lounges a bored-looking stone giant flanked by two immense bodyguards. Barl Breakbones seems little surprised by their arrival, and taunts them, suggesting that if they leave now he won’t have to kill them. He says that they have done little more than disrupt and already nearly finished plot, and that they have done nothing to harm his master Mokmurian’s schemes. They aren’t inclined to bargain with monologuing giants, and he waves his bodyguards forward to attack.

Haggor and Taeva dash up the stony path to fight the giants, while Veshenga, Balekh, and Shayliss hang back to serve as artillery. Unfortunately, the giants have the same idea, and boulders begin to fly at the archer and casters. Meanwhile, Barl lounges on his throne casting spells, eventually levitating off of his throne to join the battle. As Taeva and Haggor tear into one of the giants, Shayliss and Balekh are forced to take cover from the continuing barrage of boulders while Veshenga unloads dozens of flaming, electric arrows into the enormous necromancer. For a moment, he thinks Haggor and Taeva are tied up with his remaining bodyguard, and descends to smash Veshenga with his massive earthbreaker, only to see his last guard fall and Haggor springing through the air. Barl manages to dodge the leaping half-orc, but puts himself open to a final barrage from Veshenga. She runs out of the way as his magics expire and he crashes to the ground.

The apparent lead villain dead, the party searches their bodies, makes sure they have the head of Lamatar to take back to the nymph, and make their way out. Taeva stops to co-opt one of the pots the ogres have been churning out; she thinks it will make her a fine house. Leaving these thralls behind to toil until another foreman makes his way back out of the mines, the party heads back to Fort Rannick with the assumption that the ogre activities will be disrupted for some time. The rangers agree, and the Captain, Vale, and Kibb travel with them towards the Shimmerglens.

As they travel into the marsh, they slowly notice insects being replaced by sprites, and they are eventually stopped by an array of tiny fey knights. After a moment of confusion, they remember the identity of their contact, and the tiny sprite they met at Fort Rannick leads them deeper and deeper into the increasingly fantastic swamp. They finally exit on a clearing, where an ankle-deep mire leads to an immense willow tree, within which a beautiful woman sits, weeping. The sprite goes to retrieve her, and she noticeably brightens, the plants of the glen blooming, and walks along the water to greet the party. They give her the head of her dead lover, and she asks them to wait as she completes her ritual.

A few minutes later, the head is placed on lily pads that have grown out of the mire, and they sink down with it into the muck. The water bubbles as a form begins to grow free of the water; it stops growing sooner than they expected, and a gnomish man rises to greet his lover. They talk quietly for a moment, then he turns to thank the party for their aid. He warns them that he was tortured by the giant, attempting to get military information from him about the disposition of Magnimar and its holdings, though he claims to have given nothing up. He again mentions the name Mokmurian as the apparent leader behind the giants, and points out that it is very strange that the stone giants would band together on such a plot, as they have always been antagonistic, but rarely so evil and motivated. He then turns to the Captain, calling her by her given name, Tessa, and asks her to take command of Fort Rannick. They talk for a minute more, sharing codewords and information necessary for control of the Black Arrow fort, and then he returns to the willow bower with Lady Myriana.

The heroes themselves are led to a fey party, where they can dance, relax, and look forward to their return home to Sandpoint.