A Giant in Xuun Pt.2: Walking the Bazaar

The Whiskey Troll Tavern was a-buzz with the noise of conversation, sinister and riotous laughter, and the loutish shrieks and yells of its loyal but filthy patrons. Floating just above the clamor barely able to take wing in the thick sea of lamp-yellowed pipe-smoke were the sweet banjo notes of a doshpuluur (a 3-string long-necked lute) and its turtle-shell sound-box as a bard plied his trade. The young bard was dressed in the half-brown, half-green colors of the Bardic College at Ezmer bearing also the school’s mark, a golden acorn with a ram’s horn curling about it, on his breast. He was singing a traditional song which involved something about a maiden and a dragon somewhere in the Marshes of Gorloc. Nezor threw with some force a handful of gold coins at the musician leaving a few marks on the young man’s forehead. The bard was happy for the coin however and pausing, stooped to collect them from the damp, filth be-speckled flagstones.

Black Hoods before the Bazaar

Phenox worked the raw skull of the half-giant, the blue-boar, fashioning it into a helmet for himself. He was quietly chatting with Cantra, dressed in parti-color, about a group of Scaels that had just slithered in; one was lurking in the shadows. Corvo-Doom burst into the place making his way to a table by way of a wide angry stride his minions and shield-man in tow. His Ivoran shield-man bore a heavy spiked gold longshield bearing the image of a severed demonic head with a crown atop it and rimmed with demonic-script.

The night shapes up to be another in a long string of loud, vacuous, and uninteresting nights tinged with a strange and looming paranoia. Cantra eventually decided to retire to her apartment. Not soon after she had retired than Zevor the swamper pulled up a stool to table where Nezor continued to drink and eat and the Grim Warrior Phenox continued to carve. The Ivoran swamper set down a bucket of whiskey then sat after scooping some up in his jack.

Zevor: “They treatin’ ya right here?”

Nezor (played by me): “Well, ah ain’t droonk ye’eht!”

The swamper goes on to talk about some “highwayman work” somewhere in the swamp north of town. Nezor seemed a little interested but his ears perked up when Zevor, as if sensing what would properly motivate the giant, mentioned that the caravan was hauling a stash of “unearned” cash and certain “stolen” items. It was “vital to certain concerned citizens of Xuun” that they, meaning the tinder and gear, be “liberated”. Nezor mulled it over for about an hour while Zevor covered the tab. In the end the giant agreed and volunteered his companions whom he referred to as the “goodfellows”.

By about midnight Nezor had passed out drunk. It seemed that as soon as his eyes slid closed the screams of the “goodfellows” yanked him into the full blinding gold-light of morning out from his peaceful stupor. He was awoken to three human black-hoods armed with short-swords raised stood around his table and his prostrate figure. The dark shape of Phenox flew into the fray leaping on a tabletop and slashing away with his paired scimitars separating a hooded head from black draped shoulders.

Another slashed at Phenox’s legs but missed and the other stabbed Nezor in the side renting a hole in his cowhide jerkin. A ratling streaked from the shadows and slashed at Cantra with its dagger but she evaded the oiled blade easily. Yet another ratling made an appearance and this one buried its dagger to the hilt in Phenox’s side.

The Hill-Giant snatched up his club ‘dog-smasher’ and with a mighty sweep forced one of the human thugs to dodge out of the way clobbering the other and launching his corpse through the air into the dark inner reaches of the tavern.

The ratling on Cantra nicked her with its blade. The other on Phenox lashed out missing then quickly backed away. Phenox slashed at the creature in response but it dodged away disappearing into shadow. Cantra whipped out her bowie-knife and stabbed her tiny chittering foe wounding it badly.

The remaining human hood nailed Phenox with his weapon and Nezor immediately took him out with a sudden sickly wooden thud followed by an explosion of blood and gore. Cantra’s little foe struck at her but she avoided the blade and as it turned to flee she stuck it in the back killing it. The trio noticed that these thugs’ hoods were of fine black leather this time.

After looting the corpses of coin the trio makes their way to Xuun’s bazaar. The wide avenue was noisy with the clatter of people and wagons as the traffic jammed up under the continuous cloth awnings on both sides and the masses of vendor-carts and produce laden carpets dividing the cobbled street into two chaotic lanes. The sheer diversity of the people was still humbling to Nezor. There were civilized Ivorans, dirty Westlanders, Nagas (most being of the Scael persuasion, a few may have been of Southern Barbarian stock), dark-skinned Creschans, and even a few Hill-Landers though all had appeared to be pirates in need of a ship. The air was rich with scents of fresh spices, the delicious oily smells of cooking food, and the exotic bursts of scented oils and incents. However, the stench of unwashed bodies and the general filth and sewage which ran in the gutters was only just detectable underneath the exotic pall of the marketplace.

Phenox located an alchemist and Cantra purchased some items to fill out her disguise repertoire and a make-up kit. Nezor split off from his companions when an armorer called him over to his stand which was covered in crocodile and alligator leather and skins. The shopkeep directed the hill-giant’s attention to the massive skin with its head still attached hung on the wall behind. The crocodile had been massive and was perfect as a suit of hide armor for Nezor, so naturally he paid half up front and spent awhile he was measured for his new suit. It would be ready for pick up in about 3 days.

As the “goodfellows” found each other as they were heading back to the Whiskey Troll they caught eye of a large group of about 12 fighters all wearing white armbands. One of their number armed with a golden sword was killing a tentacle creature at one of the booths. Another wearing chainmail and wearing a white Acton with a gold solar-disc over a blue wavy line on its front turned and raising his straight bladed broadsword into the air shouted, “We seek the enemies of life; we are looking for witches to BURN!” By the looks of him he was either a Cleric or Paladin of the Brighthouse (the Creschan Church). Nezor wasn’t quite sure nor di he care much. The ‘witch hunters’ then proceed to savagely beat the gypsy purveyors of said shop-stand.

The “goodfellows” turned and head back to the tavern, there the roguish Zevor later met with them letting them know that there “has been a delay” and it would be about 3 and half more days until the liberation of the goods form the criminal caravan in the swamps. Phenox tossed 3 leather hoods onto the ale-soaked table and Zevor without missing a beat snatched them up and tossed out 30 gold pieces onto the damp board.

So, Nezor committed himself to drinking, eating, and waiting for his new suit of armor to be done.

To Be Continued…

A Giant in Xuun Pt.1: Black Oak Mishap

The sweaty greasy crowd in the smoke-fogged taproom of the Whiskey Troll Tavern was in a cacophony as the clatter of coin changing hands began to wash over the former uproar generated by the evening’s entertainment. Among the grungy ragged crowd were a group of ethnic Scael Nagas with a dagger and coiled serpent design on their pectoral plates, and a lizard-man (probably a descendant of slaves escaped into the swamps centuries ago) and his human companions all dressed in coats made of a patchwork of rat-skins with an embroidered patch bearing a rat impaled on a dagger sown on the backs.Giant Hogshead with troll-face

A stumpy Westlander with a studded black-leather cowl was the luckiest gambler in the crowd as he had apparently made a significant wager on the hill-giant and his two companions against the 7 black-hooded thieves’-guildsmen whose corpses now littered the place. The leader of the rogues lay splattered all over a far wall opposite the scene.

A silk-robed Hyvalian, a gold signet ring on his hand and a great sword at his side, seated at a private table and surrounded by servants looked on as he sipped whiskey from his golden goblet studying the giant and his two companions. He had passionlessly observed the brawl but seemed to take a little more interest in the night’s victors, at least for the moment. In the course of the night Nezor would learn that this glittering and seemingly out-of-place character was Corvo-Doom, a powerful slaver.

Nezor the giant flopped down near his table, back against the wall nursing two nasty spear wounds in his side made by the short-spear wielding thief-leader. Phenox, a dusky southlander in alligator-hide armor his face hidden behind a mask fashioned from a human skull, after tossing a healing potion to Nezor, went to lopping off the heads of the corpses that were still mostly intact with one of his paired scimitars. The giant poured the potion on his tongue like an eye-dropper and began beating his club on the stone floor.

Nezor (played by me): “Gimme some whiskey! A hero thirsts!”

Meanwhile Cantra, the other of Nezor’s two companions, had already buzzed away and disappeared somewhere behind the bar. She had been sporting a single but deep quarrel wound.

To the giant’s surprise the stumpy Westlander in the black cowl jogged up with a full cask of whiskey and eagerly filled his copper drinking horn to the brim instead of Ebuyah, one of the troll-mutilated maidens which worked the fetid place and one of Nezor’s favorites.

Cowled Westlander: “Those whoresons deserved what they got. The Black Hoods have been interfering with my business for years. I’m Zevor by the way!”

It turned out that the stump of a Westlander was a “swamper” which meant little to Nezor. The giant continued to drink on the little man’s tab for the rest of the night while the ‘swamper’ tried to recruit him for some sort of a job that could “use some muscle”. He also offered a bounty of 10 gold pieces for each hood taken from a black hood member.

Come morning all three companions rejoined at their table in the Whiskey Troll Tavern, Nezor and Cantra having met at the House of Healing run by the ubiquitous White Star Guild in order to get ‘fixed-up’. Phenox was not-so-subtly de-fleshing a severed human head, one that he had taken during the battle the previous night. Nezor was ordering breakfast, a mass of steaming meats, a massive bowl of some sort of thin stew and a bucket of frothing ale. Cantra fluttered away to the barkeep in order to ‘ask him something’. It was a short while till she jaunted back and said that the group was heading to the city’s wood mill in the extreme east separated from the swamp only by a deep creek. The group waited until the hill-giant finished his meal of course.

It was close to noon when the trio neared the mill. As they continued to tread the yellow dirt road high piles of cut logs began to rise to either side. Suddenly the Cantra and then Phenox ducked out of sight leaving the clueless giant to stride right up to the yawning front gate through which lay the mill’s front yard. Nezor shrugged at the apparent absence of his companions and looked about. He could see a small caravan that had curled into the yard some hours ago flying a green flag on each wagon bearing the images of a black axe in a black oak. A small group of men, southlanders mostly, were talking.

One noticed the hill-giant and approached introducing himself as the yard foreman. Not knowing what to say Nezor simply said that he was looking for a job, the foreman seemed pleased and told the giant to wait a while as he had to ask the boss before hiring anybody. The boss was busy he said as he motioned to 3 men at the lead wagon of the caravan. Between that trio and the rest of the yard was a handful of human fighters.

The foreman: “He’s over there meeting with Zaraid, the merchant.” Nezor dumbly nodded in the affirmative.

There was a half-giant in boar-skins armed with a boar-spear wearing a bright blue enameled pectoral plate, an obvious human merchant, a Westlander, decked out with lots of gold jewelry and wearing a brown & crimson studded arming doublet, and a brawny sun-darkened man probably the mill-boss. The foreman jogged over across the dusty yard past the group of armed men, probably hire-ons for the caravan and a few guards from the mill, to the brawny older man. Just then, Nezor noticed a Southern Nomad girl stride right in through the front gate. She was bare-footed, wearing a clean but simple gown and was painted like a prostitute. The heavy make-up probably a ruse to hide a Naga heritage, he couldn’t see any goatish features in her countenance.

The gypsy strode with a rapid gate straight towards the merchant and the caravaners. She had a certain resemblance in build and attitude to Cantra. Nezor continued to wonder where the hell his companions went. The mill-boss had in the meantime approached Nezor who still stood just inside of the gate.

Mill-Boss: “Yeah, you are a big one. We’ll pay you 1 gold piece a week.”

Nezor: “What? Why, dat wonna e’en pay m’beer tab for ah tree-day! Ya got any’un for me ta’ bash!”

He waggled his club.

While the two men were parsing the giant’s heavy Hill-lander accent, a girl’s shriek echoed through the yard. The caravaner half-giant had thrown the nomad girl over his shoulder and was striding behind a high wall of piled logs. Nezor gazed after them with head cocked. Not soon after the boar-skinned mug was out of sight than his voice bellowed, “YOU gypsy WHORE!” All heads in the yard whipped towards the discreet pile.

The merchant Zaraid waddled quickly to where his man was. After quickly excusing himself with, “don’t worry boss I’ll check dis oot”, Nezor followed him behind the wood edifice. The giant was in time to see the gypsy girl hopping up the wood pile part of her dress ripped off and her make-up smeared off of half her face revealing her as Cantra to Nezor. The boar-skinned half-giant had a bleeding knife wound on his throat. The brute threw a punch at Cantra but she easily evaded and back-flipped to the top of the pile.

Zaraid unhooked his battle-axe from his belt then out from nowhere Phenox emerged slashing at the barrel-shaped merchant with each of his paired scimitars. The fat man dodged backward 10 ft. and the Blue Boar forgetting Cantra lunged at Phenox with his flanged-spear to defend his master. The blow was easily deflected. Nezor brought Dog-Smasher to bear and prepared for battle.

Zaraid the merchant caught both of Phenox’s swords in a clinch with his battle-axe. Taking advantage of the Grim Warrior’s vulnerability, the Blue-Boar stuck him in the guts with his spear. Nezor popped the fat merchant’s head with his club using a single-handed grip. Both Phenox and the Blue-Boar skipped backward away from each other, though the Grim Warrior did so in order to recover from the grievous spear-wound in his stomach. The Blue-Boar held up his spear and shouted, “Parlay! Parlay!”

Cantra immediately leapt down to the ground to fall upon and search the merchant’s corpse. Phenox surged forward and viciously attacked the Blue-Boar. The Blue-Boar struck back unsuccessfully with his boar-spear. Nezor crushed the half-giant with a two-handed club strike. Phenox immediately fell upon the half-giant’s corpse and commenced to looting it.

Nezor just turned around and strutted back around from behind the pile towards the Mill-Boss and the Foreman. He gave as quick an explanation as he could without missing a step in his stride on his way out the gate. He blamed the Blue-Boar for the whole debacle as the ‘villainous’ half-giant had turned on his master over ‘first-dibs’ on the gypsy whore.

Later, back at the Whiskey Troll the three companions reconvened at their table. Cantra had received a bounty for the merchant and his servant and had lifted a lock box from one of the wagons after the giant had fled. She wanted to split it up ‘behind closed doors’ back at her apartment. Nezor basically threatened her to get his share ‘now’. As they were leaving a small group of thugs entered the place wearing black hoods over their heads.

Nezor stood up and roared at them, “this tavern is for the justly goodfellows only! NO Black Hoods!” He gestured towards his two friends. The black hoods ran back out the door.

To Be Continued…


A Giant in Xuun (Intro)

Freeman Nezor of Clan Formarch, ethnically a Hill-Lander and racially a Hill Giant, was raised on the hillside of a glen somewhere between the great Granfor Forest and the North-eastern tip of the Central Mountains just inside the southern border of the Hill-Lands north of the Westlands. Here his family, a prominent portion of Clan Formarch, own a small farm of about 13 acres used mostly as a graze for their sizeable herd of goats. The family, as is the clan, a devoutly Hyvalian Theocratic Lowlander family.

Nezor’s and his only brother’s mother is long dead whom died from a fever shortly after Nezor’s birth. Not long after, his father remarried a barren and bitter half-giant woman who despised both him and his older brother. Nezor himself has a bad rep among his fellows as a violent drunk whom is dangerous because he can appear warm and friendly when he’s not keeping to himself but can explode for no particular reason into a drunken rage earning him the nickname ‘Beer-Knuckle’.

It was inevitable that someone dubbed ‘Beer-Knuckle’ would fall into trouble that would necessitate some sort of exile. He had left in a huff cursing both his brother and his father on his way out the door. He had a habit of cursing his step-mother whenever he had the chance so on the day he left he didn’t give her the satisfaction of uttering a word to or about her. He left home with little coin and the only possession of his that he truly valued.

His club that he had carved from a single large log of oak with the head fashioned to memorialize the myth of the Hill of Skulls and bearing the images of the Old Satyrs dancing and cavorting over the stock. The haft wrapped in yellow haired dog-hide strips and the pommel fashioned of interlocked hearts wreathed in flames representing the Heart of Boahng (the Buddha-Christ-like figure of the Hyvalian Theocracy) providing a firm and comfortable grip. Naturally he constantly used it to show off when drunk.

The crime he had committed began harmlessly enough. He used to “protect” the family herds when it was his duty to shepherd by killing the wild dogs that were so prevalent there. Occasionally he would take it upon himself to seek out ‘worthy foes’, wild bulls that would wander up from the south and revel in the ability to literally break them in half with his mighty club which he had already dubbed “Dog-Smasher”. Of course, he wanted to append “Bull-Breaker” to the title but his friends and a much more clever acquaintance of theirs gave him a drunken challenge leading him to break the back of a certain black bull one fateful night.

The GIant Club Dog-Smasher the Bull-Breaker
Nezor’s Great Club in all its glory straight from the player’s notebook.

It was the dying beast’s pathetic mewling which had brought its owner just as Nezor brought down the killing stroke. Needless to say the man wasn’t pleased, Nezor’s father had to pay the man for his steer but the damage had been done the prize beast had been killed before it had been bred and only recently acquired at a greater price than Nezor’s father had been able to fully pay.

The bull’s owner was a member of a less successful Highlander clan that in the past had been in competition with the Formarch clan and whose multiple heirs populated the upper ranks of the local Fua band. It wasn’t long till the band ambushed Nezor but as most were of the human extraction with some faun blood in their veins they proved themselves no challenge. Needless to say almost all were killed, some as they cowered in the shadow of the enraged giant. The results would have been understandable and probably tolerated under normal circumstances but it was one of the heirs of the farmer that had limped bloody and broken into town claiming that Nezor had attacked them due to the situation with the black bull as they were just passing by. Unfortunately the one-sidedness of the battle lent credence to this lie.

Not long after the Formarch Clan disowned and expelled Nezor to avoid a feud. The offended Highlander Clan thirsts for his blood to this very day. So, he took his club “Dog-Smasher the Bull-Breaker” (hey to him it sounds AWESOME) and headed south along the coast eventually finding himself in the southland city of Xuun.

The city of Xuun lies in the Marshes of Gorloc on the banks of the Xin-Vador River with trade roads skirting the north and south and connecting it with another city, Chizan, on the shores of Gorloc Lake which is rather more like a murky freshwater sea, all surrounded by patches of swamp, coastal marsh, and blots of wet-forest. Here he figured he could make a living as a strong-arm or paid-thug if need be.

He soon took up a sort of residence in one of the few buildings that could accommodate his 12-foot height with its 20 ft. high vaulted ceilings, the tavern known as the ‘Whiskey Troll’ the central dominating figure being a massive wood barrel larger than a hogshead with a carved troll-face above the tap. The entrance had had a large double-door but which had long since been destroyed, fragments still cling to the old hinges leaving only the portcullis to secure the building should the need arise. The place was a smoke-choked den of thieves, criminals, and low-lifers with partially transformed troll-wives for barmaids.

It was in this place he met his current companions, a male human Southlander named Phenox, a Grim Warrior by class (played by Gil), and a female human named Cantra, a Deathgrin by trade (played by Jenn). Despite his companions, which anyone but Nezor can see are definitely not good-people, Nezor sees himself as a larval hero needing only to gain the riches and reputation deserved by him to become the hero he knows he already is in the eyes of the general public. He values truth & trustworthiness but tends to be somewhat irresponsible. He is a prototypical Hill-lander in most ways however, enjoying drink and food to excess and reveling in challenges of strength.

Freeman Nezor is of the Chaotic Evil Principled alignment and his personality is “impulsive, acts/speaks without thinking; emotional”. His CON and STR are his highest attributes being +12 and +30 respectively and both are supernatural due to his being a Hill Giant. His M.E. is at +2 with the rest of his base attributes being at or below zero. His flaws are Noisy and Shy. His class is Thug and his inborn traits are Bruiser and Kamikaze. His most notable abilities are of course his STR and CON not to mention his great height. Besides his great club he is equipped with a cowhide jerkin, a steel skullcap with a simple engraved border design, bronze greaves and bracers also with a simple border engraving, a curved dagger suited to his size, and a single cross-harness.

It wasn’t long after finding his friends, and after some ‘harmless’ shenanigans, that Nezor found himself with his new found pals facing off with a gang of black-hooded criminals, the local thieves’ guild, on the cold stone floor of the Whiskey Troll Tavern.

To Be Continued…