Secrets of the Therassic Monastery

…and enter a partially worked room, somewhere between cave and dungeon hall. The walls are covered with paintings of the hunt; they shift menacingly out of the corners of the eyes. What seemed to be a section of wall covered in furs moves to reveal an ancient stone giantess, whose gaze seems to recognize them, “You are the ones who put down Hook Mountain, yes? I saw you in the stones. Do you come to slay Mokmurian?”

With some trepidation, the party admits that is their goal, and the giantess, Conna, admits that they are allies in this. She then regales them with details about the giant runt exiled for wizardry who returned with ancient powers to throw down the stone giant clans and reforge them in his own mad scheme. She fears that he is being driven by the powers that had enslaved the giant races aeons ago, and his plans of war and greed are utterly against the best interests of the clans. But, until he is slain, there is little chance for the traditionalists to regain control of the giants.

She suggests that the party pass the guardian of the Black Tower and go by secret ways deep into the structure beneath, heading directly for Mokmurian. She can tell them little of the guardian, other than that the giants are frightened of it, and that Mokmurian himself is also a powerful wizard. She suggests that, if possible, they lure him into the library, which she has heard is warded against dimensional travel; this will prevent him escaping. However, the library itself is warded against entry without his key, and they will have to determine if there is some kind of password to lower its defenses long enough to force their way in.

After resting for the evening in her room due to her assurances that the other denizens fear the place, Conna goes off to stage a distraction and allow the party to gain access to the Black Tower. Inside, they find a mostly empty structure, its interior rooms long decayed, the entire insides rimed in frost. Without much effort, they find a trap door hidden within the drops down a shaft to a room below. All enter cautiously, finding a place of numbing cold lit by an unearthly glow, at its center a sarcophagus. As they step forward, the casket opens, and a man wrapped in black, decayed bandages floats free, bearing an ornate scroll case. He steps down to the floor and glares, challenging them.

Balekh confronts the creature in Thassilonian, and it tells them that they must pass its challenge. It sets down the scroll case and descends into a fighting stance that Haggor recognizes as eerily similar to his own. He suggests that the rest of the party step back and moves forward to begin the battle. The fight itself is eerily fast, each trading an avalanche of blows upon one another amidst attempts to grapple. As Haggor begins a particularly brutal flurry, the creature backs up and asks him to stop. When he does, the Black Monk, translated by Balekh, briefly discusses Haggor’s history of fighting, and the lack of any other practitioners of the style other than his own mentor. The Black Monk suggests that Haggor may be the last, and, as if weary from his long vigil, hands over the scroll case and sinks back into his coffin, naming Haggor the new guardian of the Therrassic Order. A gem on the case shatters, and within the coffin, all that remains is dust and the creature’s magic items. A password in Thassilonian flashes across the back wall, and, once Balekh utters it, the wall slides open to reveal stairs down.

They descend for some distance before reaching what appears to be another secret door. Beyond, they can make out giants arguing. Bursting in, they see two stone giants forcing another into a great black cauldron billowing with necrotic smoke. Haggor and Taeva enter without seeming ill effect, quickly putting down the two giants, but as Veshenga enters she is overwhelmed by blindness and nausea and is forced to retreat back into the corridor. As she does, the giant that appeared to have been killed by the cauldron surges out of it, destroyed flesh and bone instantly reknitting and growing into a freakishly huge giant covered in plates of stone. It begins to swat at the heroes, and they are forced to put the foul creature down. As it is destroyed, it returns to the soup that spawned it.

Once the smoke is completely cleared and Veshenga recovers, they set out through the door of the room that seems like it would have been too small for the rune giant, hoping that it was ultimately intended to be sent out. And, indeed, this door leads to a short corridor that empties upon a much larger one. The hallway runs up to an ancient bronze door bearing the Sihedron Rune, and the hallways itself is covered in prayers designed to calm petitioners before entry. Balekh, significantly calmed by the effect, is eventually coaxed into trying the password and mystically opening the door. This appears to be successful, and the door rolls aside.

Within is a huge library, well lit by magical lights and seemingly unaffected by the millenia. However, it looks like patrons were expected to fly to reach the shelves, as they climb up the outer walls and down along the walls of a deep pit in the center of the room. A strange, clockwork golem offers, in Thassilonian, to assist them, and they begin exploring the library for quite a while before realizing that there is no immediate help to defeat Mokmurian within. Believing him to be in a room behind one of the other doors in the hallway, they hatch a plan to lure him inside.

Minutes later, Mokmurian finishes buffing after his magical alarms alerted him to intruders, only to spy a strange half-orc entering his room. The hero seems far dumber than he had expected from those that had been thwarting his plans, and the monk has the gall to run. Not expecting a trap, the giant flies after the half-orc, chasing him towards the library, little realizing that his key had been stolen by a hiding gnome outside the door. The giant necromancer is smart enough to avoid entering the library, and dimension doors in front of the fleeing Haggor, only to find himself shoved bodily into the room, where the rest of the party begins attacking as Taeva sprints down the hallway to lock him in.

Initially, the fight looks grim, as the giant is ready for a battle, including numerous protections against attacks. He flies above the room and reverses gravity along the front of the library where all the heroes are standing, hoping to make them helpless. However, Balekh is able to kick off a wall and cast flight upon Haggor, while Taeva uses her magic armor to fly as well; she starts the door closing and she and Haggor soar up to engage Mokmurian. Veshenga pushes away from the wall as well, vaulting down out of the area of reversed gravity and beginning to pepper the giant with arrows which shatter off large chunks of his magical stoneskin. Again and again, Mokmurian attempts to escape the melee combatants and deal with Veshenga, his biggest threat at the moment, but Haggor and Taeva keep him pinned down, grappling and stabbing him as the rest of the party launches attack after attack. Finally, missing with his final swing of a spell-imbued club, Mokmurian falls unconscious and then splatters upon the floor a hundred feet below.

Exhausted from their victory, the party rests in the library, little aware of the sudden battle between the traditionalists and those loyal to Mokmurian above. Yet, when they emerge, all is eerily silent, and, free from the dimensional barriers, a voice echoes in Thassilonian from the captured Sihedron Amulets worn by Taeva and Veshenga, very similar to the one they heard long ago in Thistletop’s doomsday recording:

“So these are the heroes of the age. More like gasping worms to me, soon to be crushed back into the earth when I awaken the armies of Xin-Shalast, when the name Karzoug is again spoken with fear and awe. Know that the deaths of those marked by the Sihedron—the giants you have so conveniently slain for me—hasten my return, just as yours soon will. Fools, all of you. Is this all you could manage in ten thousand years?”

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