Signs of War

The party sets out to the Storval Plateau a couple of days later, after they have finished recovering from the attack on Sandpoint. Hemlock has them sign affidavits so the city can prosecute the Scarnettis in their absence. After debating taking a boat to Riddleport before going overland, or perhaps even climbing the dam and hitting the giants from behind, they eventually decide to just ride straight up the Lost Coast Road, retracing Veshenga’s steps from the Summer.

Uncertain how they would manage their horses in hostile territory, much less get them up the Storval Stairs, Balekh instead summons mystical mounts for each of them, each steed a strangely monochromatic and soulless construct. The set out on a fine morning that has not yet fallen out of Summer, and make their way north.

It isn’t long before the Saviors of Sandpoint begin to see signs of the unheralded invasion of giants. A smashed caravan sits near a crossroads, all of its goods stolen. Huge campsites linger like scars on the plains, each absolutely scoured for valuables before being abandoned. Worst of all is the town of Wolf’s Ear, situated at the only natural crossing of the Lampblack River between the Storval Stairs and Sandpoint: the small village is now a demolished ruin, looted corpses lining the streets full of smashed and robbed houses.

With some effort, the group finds survivors that hid in the woods, and tell them a terrible tale of a squad of giants smashing through the town and its hasty Magnimarian guards like they were barely there, laughing at the villagers as they killed them. The people remember Veshenga’s visit, and were as prepared as they could be, to absolutely no avail. The party gives the survivors some gold and sends them south to Galduria, hoping they will be safer there, then takes a day to build a giant pyre for the corpses.

The signs of giants grow stronger as the party heads further north, and though many villages that aren’t directly in their path still stand, they are locked down in fear. Despite their questions, the party receives little help and advice on the plateau, and eventually decides to make due with the original plan: flying to the top of the cliff with Balekh’s magics. Despite a close call on the part of the theurge himself, the party makes it safely to the top of the plateau without alerting any of the sentries, and begins sneaking towards Jorgenfist.

Despite Veshenga and Taeva’s excellent leadership at stealth, the party is twice caught out in the open in the face of oncoming patrols of stone giants and dire bears. Both times, the groups fall almost before they are even aware they are under attack, with Balekh and Shayliss combining silence and fire to reduce the chance of being heard. However, the party saw more patrols that they did not interrupt heading away from the fortress. As they walk into the shadow of Jorgenfist, they can only hope that they have time before a returning patrol finds the scenes of carnage they have left behind and raises the alarm.