A Giant in Xuun Pt.10: Snake & Dagger

It was another humid morning in the Whiskey Troll Tavern and it was late morningDagger and snake assassins guild mark by the time Phenox and Cantra came rolling in looking for their hill-giant companion, Nezor. They found him at his usual table, the wall behind decorated with the trophies from last night’s fight with the Black Hoods along with what appeared as a pair of new recruits, a pair of very young men, accoutered in the standard equipment of the city guard: quilted azure gambesons, a dagger, a pike, and a wood longshield painted with blue and yellow vertical stripes.

Nezor introduced the young guards as Derig (an Ivoran youth from a prominent Northside family) and Oxwulf (a Westlander from an immigrant family). They were his “men” and with them he was going to clean up “this whiskey town”! Sent by Lt. Krolin both boys had been officially put in the giant’s charge.

A pair of hunters stinking like the marsh pushed past the stunned pair of killers carrying a butchered pygmy-deer. Shaken from the stupor of ill-surprise the grim-warrior and deathgrin rolled their eyes as they sat down. They wanted to talk business, something about a mage; the giant was again not paying particularly close attention to them as he kept turning to his “men” to throw what he thought were clever bits of wisdom their way about the harshness of the streets and the worthlessness of the criminal element.

The trio could overhear two well-dressed Southlanders discussing something about a deal to sell a dozen gladiators being “off” and now they had to deal with Corvo-Doom. His name was mentioned with a palpable level of distaste.

Suddenly all of the tavern patrons stood up and began to hurriedly file out into the streets and slithering through the entrance-way with the trio in their sights were 5 Scael-Nagas armored in scale-mail marked with the coiled serpent and dagger symbol. Another flopped out of the shadows apparently running into a table fumbling his crossbow the poisoned bolt thudding into the table just in front of Cantra. The fight was on.

Nezor stood up and kept the young guards behind him ordering them to guard his flanks. Phenox leapt headfirst into battle behind a storm of scimitar strokes. Cantra knocked away another bolt with her brand new buckler and ducked into the shadows. Phenox dropped one of the assassins and when 3 others converged on him waving their naginatas, Nezor swept them away with a single deadly swing of his great club ‘dog-smasher’. Another nailed the giant with a lucky thrust of his naginata.

It was then Cantra shouted out a warning, “There’s THREE crossbows over there!” Then the twang of the bowstrings signaled the flight of the poisoned quarrels one aimed at each of the ‘goodfellows’. Phenox was struck but the poison didn’t stop him, the giant was mostly unaffected but Cantra froze in place paralyzed by the exotic toxin. Seeing this Nezor flattened the last Naga within his reach and intended to move to her aid.

Phenox moved in her direction as well but was caught up in a fight with another assassin as was Nezor who easily squashed his enemy. Another Scael slithered from the shadows near Cantra’s paralyzed particolored form as he pulled his naginata off his back. Grinning the creature put the blade of his weapon on her throat and slid it in nice and slow then twisted before ripping it back out. She collapsed and died on the dirty floor of the Whiskey Troll Tavern in a pool of her own blood.

Nezor roared and finished Cantra’s killer in a single blow. Phenox finished his foe. After finding that they had “won” the fight the pair stood over the corpse of their dear departed companion. Phenox went through her gear and checked for valuables.

Nezor: “She’s gonna get a heroes’ burial, nah expense sparred!”

Phenox (a large amount of gems and coins in his hands): “Um. Okay?”

Three days later Phenox and Nezor were sitting at their table in the Troll, their mug and bucket of whiskey untouched before them. The hill-giant had been carving something into the mutilated tabletop with his dagger for the past few hours or so. Cantra’s funeral had been two days ago in the age-old cemetery that bordered the city along the swamp just outside of the old battlements.

A fair portion of the graveyard was partially submerged under green swamp-water the ground studded with whitened grave-stones and stone tombs of varying sizes and degrees of decoration. They had hired professional mourners and had a procession of flowers that had moved along the streets from the charnel house to the cemetery. The money that Phenox and Nezor had found on Cantra’s body had also paid for a small stone tomb. On the front of the mausoleum was an image of her grinning hastily carved and painted with bright colors.

Nezor punched the table and went on a tirade about the hoods that they were “gonna pay for what they did!” Confused, Phenox simply let him go on until the giant just suddenly stood up and stormed off. The grim-warrior looked at what the giant had carved expertly into the booze-soaked wood of the heavy oak table: an image of Cantra grinning and balancing on the blade of her bowie-knife with a flute in her hands which she appeared to preparing to play.

Phenox had neglected to clue in the giant as to exactly what had actually happened. It was the Coiled Snake & Dagger, Xuun’s premiere assassin’s guild, which had killed her because she had foiled their attempt on Corvo-Doom as well as adding insult to injury by working freelance right under their noses. The final straw was when she had taken an extremely high bounty on the head of a Creschan merchant, a mission on which Phenox had accompanied her returning bloodied but victorious during Nezor’s celebration of his signing with the city guard. But Phenox had a plan, he had the information on the last bounty she had taken up and the grim-warrior would need the giant’s might.

To Be Continued…

A Giant in Xuun Pt.9: Club & Hood

An arrow flew towards Phenox but missed by a mile shot by the ranger skulking with the hoods through the shadows into the Whiskey Troll Tavern. The ear-shattering crack of colliding wood thundered through the smoky-thick tavern atmosphere as the hill-giant mercenary, indeed that’s what he appeared to be as he was not like his partners wearing a hood, struck with his spiked great club the blow parried by Nezor’s own hardwood great club. Thunder struck again and again as Nezor swung, was parried, swung again and again parried.

Phenox yelped when a bolt from the lead-hood’s crossbow hit him. Immediately another bolt flew from the shadows imbedding itself in Nezor’s new plate-mail armor. Cantra somersaulted to avoid two quarrels launched in her direction both of which thudded into the wall. Two of the hooded thugs went at Nezor but their short-swords were parried easily. The other leathern-hood wearing thief moved into the tavern bearing a bearded-axe and another of the hooded thugs charged and swiped at Phenox whom dodged the blow.

Thunder exploded again as the hard wood of the great clubs met once again this time clinching. The weapon-wood creaked painfully, muscles pressed and bulged, and the battle of raw brute strength took all of Nezor’s concentration as the tavern battle raged on around him. Both giants identically matched neither giving an inch each was intent on plowing through the other. Nezor kicked at the other giant’s groin but missed his mark.

Meanwhile Phenox was engaged with the bearded-axe wielding leather-hood managing to avoid every blow and Cantra got a lucky shot in with her bow and a poisoned arrow which paralyzed the hood allowing Phenox to claim the coup de grace. One of the thugs that was looking for an opening between the giants to try to stab at Nezor saw this and went after Cantra. She parried the sword-strike with the wood of her bow as she backed away. The other thug finally found the opening he sought and stabbed Nezor but only managed to score the hill-giants plate. The sound of Nezor’s teeth gritting could be heard by all.

Phenox spotted out the enemy ranger and hacked a gory wound into his neck nearly killing him. The merc-giant broke loose of the clinch and Nezor taking immediate advantage smacked him with ‘dog-smasher’ then on the backswing the mercenary clinched again with his parry. Both giants grunted as they found themselves frozen in the same strained stances. Again veins bulged, muscles creaked as loud as the weapon-wood and sweat rained on the flags and filled Nezor’s plate-mail and the merc-giant’s scale-mail.

Again the battle raged and another hood dropped with one of Cantra’s arrows in him. One of the petty human thugs close by Nezor stabbed him, again only mauling his armor so the hill-giant stomped on him. Crossbow bolts flew, the tavern was in an uproar as the drunks and tavern-goers crowded into the opposite half of the place and began chanting ‘”goodfellas” over-and-over again. Then the mercenary giant jerked unexpectedly and broke the clinch disarming Nezor of his great club in the process flinging it across the bar.

The enemy ranger dropped dead his head partially shorn from the neck by the stroke of Phenox’s paired scimitars. Two of the remaining hoods converged on Cantra their angry blades gleaming in the candlelight.

Nezor lunged at the other giant trying to grapple his enemy. He managed to get inside the reach of the spiked great club but could not find a grip on his opponent. It was his only chance to survive as he knew the merc-giant could easily kill him with a single lucky blow. The merc-giant knew this as well and tried to take a step back underestimating Nezor’s penchant for dirty fighting. Nezor kicked one of his enemy’s feet from under him tripping him and immediately stomped on his head crunching his skull. A crossbow bolt launched from an unseen assailant sailed into a chink in the triumphant giant’s armor wounding him.

Nezor took a moment to assess the situation and take in some desperately needed air. His other two companions were still fighting with both of the leather-hooded thugs and a ratling, probably the unseen archer that had put that bolt into him. The hill-giant scooped up his club and rejoined the skirmish.

Nezor missed with an initial attack on the hood with the bearded axe but struck him on the backswing wounding him. Cantra began to laugh unnervingly chilling the spines of all that could hear her as she dipped her dagger in a vile of Black Thorn Poison. The hood with the axe swung at Nezor scoring a critical strike due to Nezor’s clumsy defense forcing the hill-giant to back off in order to recover his bearings.

Phenox moved in and struck the other leather-hooded thug wounding him. The axe wielding hood moved after and struck at Nezor clinching with him when the giant attempted to parry the blow. Nezor then realized that this thug was as strong and about as large as a half-giant. More arrows and bolts flew from the shadows at Cantra whom barely avoided them. Nezor forced the half-giant to his knees with some effort. The half-giant tried to force his way back up but could find neither the leverage nor the strength to do so.

Phenox was in a duel with the other leather-hood and more arrows flew at Cantra. Nezor broke the clinch and swung on the half-giant who lunged to his feet parrying the club with his bearded-axe. Splinters flew everywhere but the axe remained intact to clinch Nezor’s club yet again. Nezor using all of his might tried to force the hood down to his knees again but the hood was barely able to hold his stance and tried to use his newfound leverage to break free but Nezor easily kept the axe bound up.

Phenox finally gained the upper hand in his duel with the other leather-hood and cut him down, the body instantly teleporting away in a flash of light from the magic hood. Cantra ducked under a table for cover and downed a healing potion. The half-giant and Nezor continued to struggle strength opposing strength the half-giant ever at a disadvantage but Nezor severely wounded. Cantra and the ratling suddenly disappeared from sight undoubtedly both playing at a very deadly shadow game. The half-giant suddenly broke the clinch with a sudden spot of luck.

Nezor in utter panic power-attacked putting all of his supernatural strength behind the blow in an all-or-nothing bid for victory and life the concussion of the killing blow stunned the crowd and the half-giant’s corpse was gone in a magic flash just as was his companion.

Phenox and Nezor looked about and saw no other enemies nor did they see Cantra though Phenox detected the ratling squeak as if it had been hit. Nezor was distracted when he saw the faun bartender and the trollish barmaids looting the merc-giant’s corpse.

Nezor (thrusting forth a stern finger): “Hey YOO! I impounded that criminal’s stuff! Tha’s the LAW’s property!”

After a few minutes it became evident that the ratling had escaped when Cantra finally emerged from a dark corner. The looting of the corpses that were left behind commenced. The take was disappointing though Nezor took delight in pegging up the spiked great club and giant suit of scale-mail as trophies on the wall behind his table. Phenox and Cantra retreated to her villa to recuperate. Nezor left to get a free healing at the local White Star house of healing due to his status as a city guard then returned to pass the rest of the night eating and drinking as usual.

The next day was for the most part a quiet one. The air was heavy and it was muggy, dense cotton-clouds hung in the stark blue sky. It felt like a heat wave was picking up. Throughout the day the usual patrons came and went. The rat-trappers, those with coats of patchwork rat-skins and an embroidered patch of a rat impaled on a dagger on their backs, sat and drank with Nezor eventually paying for their own drinks in rat-tails cut from the vermin that had infested that very establishment. The Black-Skull pirates also filed in around noon and filled the place with rowdy laughter and salty language. A fish-monger wandered in with his cart trying to peddle fish-stew but was chased out by the Troll’s owner. Phenox on his way in bought a jack of stew as the monger was leaving. Cantra wandered in shortly thereafter.

The trio enjoyed some drinks until sundown when the Black Skulls stumbled back to their ship. Phenox and Cantra left as they were meeting someone for something. Nezor wasn’t paying attention he was mulling over an idea. Shortly after they left he decided to put his idea into action and gathered up some random guards and friendly toughs in the streets and led a mob rousting the local pimps along the way. Nezor ended the night at the Troll as usual though 30 silver pieces, 100 coppers, 100 gold pieces, and 1 gold medallion richer.

Later that night, the hill-giant was awoken by a foul stench on the air. He saw the large hunched figure of a troll lurch into the tavern bearing a very large barrel. The tavern owner came out and talked for a bit with the creature, some coin exchanged hands, and the troll wandered out leaving the barrel which the publican had some hefty servants drag into the back. The giant rolled over and commenced to snore.

To Be Continued…

A Giant in Xuun Pt.8: Whiskey City

Morning in the cavernous taproom of the Whiskey Troll tavern and Nezor wiping Heraldry---Nezorthe sleep from his eyes picked over the cold leftovers from the previous night’s repast, a large number of swamp-constrictor steaks. After breakfast he hit the streets in search of an armorer and a herald. His friends had dropped off his pay last night, 10 gold talons, and went about their business afterwards. The “goodfellows” were to reconvene in the Whiskey Troll later that night.

It didn’t take long to locate the services he required in the city bazaar. He put in the order with the armorer for a suit of polished plate-mail which would take a surprisingly short time to be ready, 1 week. He also found a herald who quickly drew up a heraldic device for him: a white eagle’s claw on a round purple field with the motto “the Great Liberator” beneath in Hyvalian characters but the giant being illiterate took the herald’s word at what it actually read. When the armor was ready the herald was to enamel the device over the breastplate.

While wandering the impossibly crowded bazaar marveling at its smells and sights of strange animals, vast arrays of brightly colored fruits and pungent vegetables, and the shear variation of people and dress Nezor noticed a tight group of dusky Creschan sailors fresh and salty from the docks escorting a fat and apparently very rich merchant judging by his rich attire, also Creschan, by way of the bazaar to the “better” end of town and one of the nicer inns found there, most probably the Golden Moon Inn. He also noticed what appeared to be a very poor local following close behind them whom struck him as somewhat suspicious. What he didn’t realize is that it was Cantra in disguise.

The giant continued on his way deciding to patrol the streets as a sort of vigilante until he ran into some of the city guard. He tried to join in on their patrol but was denied so he got directions to the city guard headquarters for the Southside. He couldn’t find anyone but a clerk there and was thus directed to the North Gate instead. It wasn’t long before he found himself there under the auspices of one Captain Vorbaer signing up for the city guard. Apparently they saw recruiting one of the few, possibly currently only, hill-giant in town a major asset plus there was a definite lack of guards in the sector of the city around the Whiskey Troll for some reason which the captain seemed reluctant to elaborate on.

Nezor would get paid 15 silver pieces at the finish of each seven-day and it was his duty when he heard the guard bell being rung, to make haste to the Southside headquarters. For the now he was to keep a light patrol around the Whiskey Troll. Captain Vorbaer gave him what was essentially an old city flag clumsily stitched into a makeshift Acton bearing the arms of Xuun: A bold orange phoenix with a green man-faced serpent in its beak and talons while above a golden chalice radiated golden sun rays flanked by a white bladed broad-sword pointing upward on the left and a white-bladed black hafted scythe at the right with the motto “the path is clear” in Hyvalian characters along the bottom. Tears of happiness filled the giant’s eyes as he strode to immediately take up his duty. He would in time have to report to training sometime soon under his commanding officer named Krolin.

Of course, on his way back to the tavern he managed to gather up around 15 other city guards and even a few well-meaning street thugs into a vigilante mob which stomped through the streets and alleys of the Southside rousting beggars, pimps, and pickpockets eventually landing on the Whiskey Troll at the end of the night. He bought them all the whiskey and ale they could drink and the place was alive with a riot of drunken guardsmen around Nezor’s table, the candles had never burned brighter. Later in the night his companions, Phenox the grim-warrior and Cantra the deathgrin, stumbled in on the scene.

Cantra was in her “noble lady” disguise which was mostly torn away and she was obviously badly beaten up and sporting many savage sword wounds. She quickly buzzed through the clatter of guards and behind the bar where she predictably disappeared. She had been carrying a bag that may have been bleeding but he hadn’t got a good look at it. Phenox limped over to the drunkenly singing hill-giant. He was holding a rag saturated with his own blood tightly to his side, his armor was in shreds and he dripped a crimson trail on the floor behind him. Overjoyed to see him Nezor slapped the grim-warrior on the back causing him to have to recover himself from the friendly blow.

Nezor: “Hey! Wh’as happenend ta yoo!”

Phenox: “Nuthin’, nuthin’ I’ll be fine.”

Phenox waved away the giant’s concerns and dragged himself to a nearby seat. Nezor shrugged it off and went back to celebrating his new office in life.

Come morning the sudden blare of a bugle rudely awoke Nezor and the rest of the guards passed out on the benches and strewn about the filthy floor of the tavern. The giant shot straight up suddenly wide awake, the harsh light of morning searing his bloodshot eyes and when he caught a glimpse of a superior officer in the city guard before him, immediately stood at attention.

The man was in gleaming full-plate armor studded with diamonds and his azure & gold striped cape billowing, in Nezor’s mind anyway, behind him. The officer introduced himself as Lieutenant Krolin. He first scolded the drunken guards quickly dismissing them for the day as well as fining all of them for drunkenness and then escorted Nezor to the Southside headquarters to be cleaned up and assigned his gear. Lt. Krolin would be Nezor’s commanding officer and when he heard the guard bell ring he was now supposed to beat it to the Southgate.

Krolin gave the giant a quick verbal tour of the city while they walked to the station; his attendants were leading his horse behind them with the bugler and a handful of elite guards also in polished plate armor. The important points were that there was a Brighthouse church in the Southside, that faith having certain dominance in this part of the city. The Hyvalian faith dominated the north. Apparently there were frequent riots between the different parishioners from time to time. The Southside was also the poor side of town consisting of a large conglomeration of slums and shanties as well as densely packed apartment buildings, several old Hyvalian built estates, and several abandoned buildings and a few ruins. The only other places of note in the southern part of the city were the City Guard Headquarters (for the Southside) and the Whiskey Troll Tavern.

As the giant and his commander were about half way to the station Phenox passed by and halted for a brief moment at the sight. He decided to inquire of the giant as to what was going on.

Nezor: “Join’n da guards!”

Phenox (flabbergasted): “Wait, what, WHY!”

Nezor (looking to the sky, his chest inflating): “I have ta. For my sense o’ duty, the strong blood in mah’ah veins, and da need ta’ stomp out CRIME!”

Phenox just rolled his eyes and walked away. The lieutenant seemed genuinely impressed. They continued on. After a short while and seemingly out of nowhere the conversation turned and Lt. Krolin spat out his utter hatred of Corvo-Doom and pretty much all slavers. The giant mentioned that “he really didn’t seem that bad o’ a guy” but otherwise Nezor kept quiet on the subject of the master-slaver fortunately it was just before they entered the courtyard of guard H.Q.

Lt. Krolin took a certain pride in the appearance of his men and had a barber shave Nezor and even set up a bath for him, in the courtyard. He was given a clean and newly tailored cloak bearing Xuun’s colors, azure & gold vertical stripes, and a pike crafted from a flag-pole. After the giant was equipped and cleaned Krolin gave him his orders. He was to maintain a patrol that included the Whiskey Troll Tavern and the immediate surrounding area and after a 7-day he was to report for training. Nezor saluted him and strode off back to the tavern his ego vastly inflated. When he got to the Troll he burst in his chest puffed out and declared, “I am the guard responsible for this place and all Black-Hoods are sentenced to death on sight! I am the law!” The regulars applauded and a random slurring voice exclaimed, “buy that lawman a drink!”

A week later the three ‘goodfellows’ were once again sitting around a table in the Whiskey Troll trying to figure out what to do with themselves. Cantra had spent all of her money on leasing a two-story villa in the Southside complete with serving staff, the only downside according to Phenox was that the place was probably haunted. The grim-warrior himself was claiming indigence though he was sporting a pair of spiffy crocodile hide boots and some new armor. Nezor was due to report for training on the morrow. He was wearing his new suit of armor, he had the crocodile head refurbished to use as the helmet and hide gorget of his new suit. He was quite proud of his brand new armor often stopping to burnish it a little with a dirty rag. Along with his guardsman cloak he felt like a real hero.

Just when the trio thought they would again split up and call it a night in stomped a group of 7 black hooded thugs led by 2 others in leather hoods and scale-mail shirts followed by a hill-giant with a spiked great club also in scale-mail. One of the leathern hooded thugs was seemingly about to declare something when without prompting Nezor was up like shot charging at the hill-giant waving his club which whipped the pipe-smoke-ocean of the tavern into a candlelit cyclone.

Nezor: “DIE, HOODS DIE!!!”

To Be Continued…

A Giant in Xuun Pt.7: The Slave-Pits of Korvo-Doom

After 10-days of drinking and healing the trio reflect on the now semi-mythical Similar to the shield image of the master of the slave-pitsfour way bar-battle between Brighthouse witch-hunters, Corvo-Doom and his lackeys with whom the trio were now lumped in with, the black-skull pirates, and a gang of Naga assassins which rumors assert had been targeting the Hyvalian slaver. Some of the slithering killers had born a tattoo of a serpent coiled around the blade of a dagger. Cantra had already bragged to her companions that she and she alone had stopped one of the Nagas from getting a sneak-attack with an envenomed dagger on the slaver unseen by all including her semi-doubting companions single-handedly saving Corvo-Doom’s life. They were debating the merits of her story when a tall, skinny Ivoran with a shaved head approached them whom they recognized as Corvo-Doom’s interpreter/shield-man.

He introduced himself as Ilhand, the hill-giant simply didn’t pay attention he let the others listen for him while he drank his breakfast, and invited the trio to meet with his lord Corvo-Doom in the Slaver Quarter. So after the giant finished his breakfast all three of the ‘goodfellows’ followed Corvo-Doom’s shieldman letting him lead the way. Eventually he guided them to a large opposing building seemingly grown from a combination of stone, reclaimed ruins, and adobe brick, the slave-pits of Corvo-Doom.

The slave-pits consisted of a circular three story edifice of stone with a large adobe gatehouse enclosing a wide stone-flagged courtyard at the center of which were a few wide stone-lined pits lidded with rusted bars. Iron-barred cells of varying sizes faced inward to the courtyard built into the circular building and along the ground floor of the inner side was a covered adobe walkway along which Cantra and Phenox followed Ilhand, Nezor had to walk along side that uncomfortably close the goings on in the wider courtyard.

As they sauntered they could see that the pits and countless iron-barred cells were mostly vacant. They also spotted a hairy fanged humanoid of indeterminate race whipping a group of slaves herding them into one of the many empty slave-tanks. Two of the trio entered a fair-sized meeting chamber where Nezor could sit just outside and be able to see and listen through the gaping oak double-door.

Corvo-Doom joined them not long after they sat around the long plain wood meeting table atop which sat a decanter of fine wine and a bowl of various regional fruits. The meeting was short and terse with the trio accepting a 10 gold talon apiece pay rate in exchange for a raid on a slaver stronghold hidden in the marshes. Nezor saw and heard the proceedings as an assignment to liberate the helpless and immediately imagined himself as the shinning hero amongst a crowd of cheering newly freed slaves. Ilhand passed Phenox a blood-stained map.

After another 10-day stretch which Nezor had spent in the Whiskey Troll tavern making quick friends with the city rat-trappers, the trio found themselves in familiar territory astride a log raft manned by their old acquaintance Gator-Tooth. The swamp was even more stifling and stench ridden than they had remembered and the boredom and intermittent attacks by monstrous swamp vermin over the several hours that it took to reach their destination served to remind them why they preferred the city. Gator-tooth brought the raft to a small makeshift dock and form there the trio took off on an overgrown path.

Nearly invisible in places, the very narrow path twisted through the thick pungent bush with Phenox leading the ‘goodfellows’, Gator-tooth did the “sensible thing” and was waiting with the raft. The trio did run into a small group of tusked swamp apes and did away with them after some difficulty; Cantra was badly wounded in the fight but was able to restore herself to full health by downing a potion of Heal. It was not long after that they approached the slaver fort.

It appeared a ruin covered in over-growth save for the brand new iron-bar portcullis at the rounded mouth of the front gate. Nezor just strode right in as the portcullis had been carelessly left wide open. Cantra and Phenox were exasperated, they had a plan that they had neglected to clue the giant in on.

Nezor saw that the design of the place was much the same as Corvo’s slave-pits but all the befouled cells here were crowded with human slaves filthy hands feathering the caged pits as they reached up through the bars. It seemed most of the slavers themselves were away currently but the human staff were still there and 10 Naga guards 2 of which were in full plate armor and heavily armed, undoubtedly captains of the guard. Suddenly a noblewoman in a crushed velvet dress and jewels around her neck jaunted in through the front gate after the giant. He at least had sense enough to recognize Cantra in disguise. Needless to say, the charade didn’t last long and in a lightning quick turn of events the trio was engaged in savage combat with the Naga guards.

A naginata bearing Scael-Naga immediately charged and attacked the giant and took a powerful retort from Nezor shattering some of the Scael’s ribs and the backswing of the gigantic great-club finished him. The body flew clanging as it hit the rusted lid of a nearby slave-pit. Two more Naga guards went at Nezor both nailing him with their polearms as the killing stroke dealt their compadre had left the giant wide open. Nezor fell to the ground bleeding, dying.

The next thing the hill giant remembered was Cantra forcing a Heal potion down his throat. He noticed his armor was irreparably damaged being reduced to a tattered half-suit. He stood up anger smeared across his broad dirty face.

Nezor (pointing to his armor): “Ya RUINED it! Ya lousy snakey RUNTS!”

Nezor raised both his arms into the air and shouted to the slaves in the cells and pits, “I am the HERO Freeman Nezor of the Hill-lands! I am prepared to DIE for your freedom! Rise up and turn on yer masters and be FREE!” His words actually inspired the slaves, as probably did his sheer size. They began to try to pry their cages open and tried to fight the other more inconsequential slaver-staff with their rusted chains as improvised weaponry.

The 2 naga guards that had initially dropped the giant turned their attentions back to him and attacked. Nezor held his ground against them as they leveled attack after attack letting fly a virtual storm of flashing blades. Cantra tried to shift the odds in the giant’s favor using her bow against his foes but was too close and took a blow from a naginata blade that nearly killed her.

Phenox shouted his battle-cry as he leapt from the auction block at a Naga-guard. The armored captains made their moves and charged Nezor dramatically shifting the odds of victory in their favor. Nezor barely held out by parrying blow after potentially lethal blow and with a roar of desperation swept his club in a wide and deadly arc killing all 4 of his enemies in a single powerful sweep of his great club.

Phenox was working his way to the cells where he found a single chain securing the cell-doors of a considerably long row. He shouted to the giant as his strength was needed to snap the chain. The grim-warrior then easily dropped a human slaver that charged him then took the keys from the corpse and tossed them to a nearby slave. Two Scael-guards converged on him. Nezor rushed through the chaos and grabbed the chain with one arm and yanked, the rusted chain snapped and all of the doors along that row clanged open immediately.

Phenox continued to battle the two guards on him and the giant spotted 3 more Scaels coming at him. Nezor charged them with a roar killing them all in another great single sweep of his massive weapon. Phenox finally chopped down one of his two foes and Nezor squashed the second with his club. The freed slaves surged over the courtyard overwhelming the rest of the guards and slavers, many were chanting Nezor’s name. Even though he was bloodied and his fine armor was destroyed a very wide and toothy smile broke across his sweat slicked face.

Meanwhile Cantra found the fort lockbox and goaded the giant into snatching it up as they fled from the now burning stronghold as it seemed the liberated slaves had begun to set it aflame. Phenox and Cantra began to lament that they were missing out on the 10 silver piece bounties on each of the slaves’ heads that Corvo-Doom had offered for their return. Nezor wasn’t paying attention.

Later, the trio of “goodfellows” turned off of the trail into an old long-neglected campsite to divvy up the booty from the strongbox. Nezor’s cut was 124 gold pieces, 217 silver pieces, 58 platinum pieces, and 789 copper pieces. From there they discarded the small iron chest and moved quickly back to the raft. It was well past dawn when they finally arrived back in the city, a few minor incidents including an attack by a pair of giant constrictors had occurred on the return trip.

Cantra and Phenox split off from Nezor at the old gristmill intent on collecting the payroll, Nezor made sure to remind Cantra that if they didn’t pay him his fair share he would “squash” her with his boot. He had caught her trying to cheat him on the split back in the marsh. The pair was quickly out of sight on their way to see the master-slaver of Xuun. Nezor was heading back to the Whiskey Troll dragging the carcasses of a pair of butchered giant swamp constrictors behind him.

To Be Continued…

A Giant in Xuun Pt.6: Paladin Versus Doom

Corvo-Doom shot up from his seat battle-axe in hand and his translator/shield-Pirate Coin Bman raising the gold demon-shield just in time to ward off the first blow from the golden broadsword of the paladin. Phenox leapt onto a table while roaring something incomprehensible in a clear effort to intimidate the enemy. He failed miserably and the crowd of on-looking bar-patrons burst into riotous jeering. The grim-warrior barely dodged the arrow that thudded into the table shot by the ranger that accompanied the witch-hunters.

The Brighthouse cleric in lead of the witch-hunters said a prayer over his mace which began to glow ominously. Jokingly, Nezor shouted out, “So which o’ya would pay me to NOT hurt ya! Haw! Haw!” That’s when the golden helmed paladin that had already swung his golden sword at Corvo-Doom shouted out an insult, that which compared the size of a giant’s genitals with that of his brain. Nezor snatched up his weapon in ill-temper and launched himself at the witch-hunting paladin with a clumsy one-handed stroke of his club.

Phenox flew from his tabletop perch at the cleric landing a flying slash with one of his blades. The ranger turned and shot Nezor in the back. Cantra back-stabbed one of the 3 fighters that had surrounded Corvo-Doom and then the Hyvalian slaver did a sweep with his golden axe cleaving through all three of them in a single blow. The paladin leveled a blow at Nezor whom barely parried the glittering golden blade.

Three witch-hunters bearing bearded axes attacked the hill-giant, one of their number fumbled badly; the giant parried the other two easily. Nezor retorted with a wide, powerful sweep of his club fumbling the strike badly, losing his grip on the weapon tossing it into the entranceway of the tavern some distance away from the action. Nezor jaunted after his weapon with the three axe-men on his tail.

Corvo-Doom engaged the golden-helmed paladin in one-on-one combat. The three axe-men in pursuit of Nezor were able to put themselves in between the giant and his weapon attacking him in unison. The giant simply trampled them to death. The ranger worked himself between the Brighthouse cleric and Phenox. Phenox responded with savage blows from both of his weapons to the ranger’s throat. The ranger expertly parried one of the paired scimitars but the witch-hunter’s second short-sword failed to block the second incoming blade and as a result exposed his jugular. Blood spurt and he fell limp to the besotted tavern floor, dead.

The cleric tried but failed to complete a prayer his features overcome with shock that his defender, the ranger, had fallen so quickly. One of Cantra’s arrows shot from somewhere in the shadows nailing the cleric in his right hip. One of the other witch-hunters, what appeared to be the squire of the golden helmed paladin, threw himself at Phenox getting in a lucky blow wounding the grim-warrior somewhat. Corvo-Doom and the paladin were fighting furiously their golden weapons glittering and flashing brilliantly in the candlelight turning the sea of smoke into a swirling maelstrom as they exchanged blows.

Suddenly, from the rear of the place a gaggle of near a dozen drunken pirates with tattoos of a black skull on their bared chests threw their pipes down and rushed into the chaos adding to the uproar. The paladin side-stepped and made a restorative touch to the cleric healing his wounds somewhat. The squire continued to furiously swing his longsword at Phenox whom parried with one of his blades hacking a wound into the boy’s belly with the other. A black lacquered bolt shot suddenly from the shadows narrowly missing Corvo-Doom. The quarrel appeared besmeared with venom.

A pair of the pirates jumped Phenox with an amazing flying tackle and Phenox was able, by some miracle, to move gracefully out of the way. Seven buccaneers surged over the paladin and the slaver blocking them from sight with their stinking bulk. Another pair of the drunken seamen attacked Nezor, one of them landing a nasty blow on the giant, Nezor responded with a powerful buffet knocking the sea-dog to the ground. The cleric uttered a prayer and in a shower of heavenly sparks all witch-hunters still standing were healed almost completely.

Nezor turned as he picked up his club and saw a well-armed Naga tumble out of the shadows apparently wounded by one of Cantra’s arrows whom in turn shot into the shadows on the other side of the bar, Cantra then leapt from the dark remaining in sight for only a quick second as she dodged the bolt. The giant then stomped on the prone pirate squashing him.

Suddenly a blue lightning bolt exploded from the center of the pirates that had overwhelmed Corvo-Doom sending them all retreating, smoking, and obviously horribly wounded. The slaver himself was visible for only a second after before he disappeared in a flash of pale blue light. The paladin shouting in rage as his desired quarry was now gone hacked down a retreating pirate.

Phenox attacked the squire whom was ready for the attack and put all his strength behind his weapon in an effort to pre-empt the grim-warrior’s overwhelming offense. Unfortunately the more seasoned fighter leapt out of the way of the clever strike and countered with both of his scimitars cutting the boy down. The pirates’ captain blew an earsplitting whistle calling his men, the ones still able to walk anyway, back and stopping another group from joining the fight.

The cleric made some motions with his hands and weapon and a ray of light sprung from his freehand at Phenox whom dodged the beam easily. Meanwhile the giant could hear the scuffle where Cantra played her deadly rogue-games in the dark with an unknown number of Naga assassins. The paladin charged Phenox but the grim-warrior was again able to dodge the righteous blow. The grim-warrior flung the golden sword from the paladin’s grip with one his scimitars in a successful disarmament and hacked into the church-knight with the other. The paladin answered with a stunning shield bash.

Of the foes left standing only the Paladin and the Cleric remained of the witch-hunters and an unknown number of the mysterious Nagas were skulking about the perimeter. Nezor moved forward and power-attacked the paladin with a two-handed blow launching the broken corpse into the far wall on the opposite end of the tavern where it stuck for as few seconds before falling messily to the flagstones. Cantra was visible now at the far end of the bar where a black crossbow bolt stuck into the board right by her head shot by an unseen crossbowman.

Phenox moved on the cleric and struck him once and as the priest was backing away to the door, hit him again with a pair of vicious sword-strokes. Cantra moved towards the giant as another black bolt chased after her narrowly missing her back. Yet another black dart oozing black poison thudded into Nezor’s armor fortunately it didn’t penetrate his thick armor. The Brighthouse cleric broke from Phenox and ran out into the streets. Another black quarrel flew from the shadows and nailed Cantra the toxin paralyzing her. She fell to the floor as stiff as a board.

Nezor turned towards the direction from which the bolt had come and roared at the top of his lungs flexing his awesome muscles making him seem to swell to double his already immense size. Every single bar-patron still in the place began to rush towards the exit. From the corner of one his eyes the giant spotted the same Naga that he had seen stumble from the shadows just a minute or so earlier creeping towards the door trying to use the crowd as cover.

Phenox apparently spotting the creature as well rushed in and hacked a gash into its neck then barely dodged a naginata blow from another formerly unseen Naga assassin. Nezor took the head off the one with the neck gash using his club. Phenox battled the one bearing the pole-arm and another slithered from the shadows. Both were wearing scale-mail vests. Another envenomed bolt struck the giant this time penetrating his armor poisoning him. Fortunately its effect was not quite so severe due to his supernatural constitution. He was slower and his joints had stiffened painfully but he could still move and best of all, still swing his club with full force.

It wasn’t long before both Nagas were dead and a quick cursory check of the near empty taproom revealed that the other had fled. Phenox picked up the 3 gold talons that were sitting atop the table Corvo-Doom had been sitting at and brought his “last” potion of Neutralize Poison to Cantra. The hill giant looted the corpses of the assassins. The other bodies had already been stripped by the bar-wenches.

The giant went back to his table and plopped onto the floor. A barmaid brought a cask of whiskey to him and said it was sent with complements from the pirate captain whom she pointed out. He was the only other patron left in the place. Nezor assumed that it was a “no hard feelings” offering.

Sometime later as once again the cream of the poor quarter of Xuun had re-coagulated in the Whiskey Troll’s taproom, a plainly dressed Ivoran approached Nezor through the clamor and introduced himself as the owner of the Troll. He was interested in buying the midnight steel box. Once shown the item the man offered 30,000 gold pieces, a cask of superior quality whiskey, and 1 month’s credit. Nezor ecstatically agreed as did his two companions.

To Be Continued…

A Giant in Xuun Pt.5: Selling Booty

About three days later Cantra, Phenox, and Nezor stumble back into the city of Brighthouse Clerics Heraldry group fights after selling chest contentsXuun, dirty, and not only foul from the slimy heat of the swamp but Nezor had spent about a day wading in the murk searching for the sunken chests in the muddy bottom. He had recovered both the smaller oak chest and the other chest the contents of which Zevor supposedly had already divided amongst the robbers. The mithral chest was lost.

Fortunately after a day had passed Gator-tooth had rowed back to the campsite on a newly built log-raft. He had come back for his promised pay. After a treasure exchanged hands he transported the surviving trio back to the outskirts of the city by the old gristmill.

The oak chest had contained: 10 blue-steel great axes with a single large black pearl in each of the pommels, 40 pigs of blood-metal, 10 lbs. of raw mother of pearl, a poor quality lacquered turquoise figurine of an armored warrior, and a high quality bronze-wood jar with a dragon carved over its face. In the other chest was a small superior quality midnight steel box with mithral rivets and hardware, a master book lot, a carven alexandrite skull which was given to Gator-tooth as payment, a superior quality dragon-metal tool hammer with a dragon-bone handle, and a high quality manticore hide cloak. Needless to say the hill-giant was a little miffed that such a haul had escaped his sight when shares had been split before the hoods had attacked.

As soon as the three hit town they opted for a quick drink at the Whiskey Troll tavern and Phenox after taking one of the blue-steel great axes and the dragon-metal hammer as his own left to destination unknown. Cantra took possession of the cloak and left for her apartment for “a bath”. Nezor mentioned before she left that he was going to the bazaar to lay out a carpet and hawk the wares that were still up for shares; the mother of pearl, the bronze-wood jar, the turquoise figurine, the booklot, the midnight steel chest, the blood metal pigs, and the rest of the blue-steel axes.

It was in the noisy, over-crowded, and bustling marketplace that Cantra found the giant when she came looking a few hours later. He was haggling with a group of bullywugs (frog-men) on the price of one of the blue-steel axes. He eventually let them have one for way below its actual market value as the entirety of their coin amounted to only a few hundred gold pieces. She sat with Hill-lander for a couple of more hours making sure he wouldn’t attempt to cheat her out of her share of the profits. Not long after Cantra had settled in that a mage wrapped in brown robes with an eye insignia on his chest walked up to the giant.

The mage bought all of the blood metal pigs for 400 gp. Cantra had initially failed to properly assess the value of the small bars it later dawned on her that each 2 lb. bar was worth around 20,000 gold pieces! Nezor just shrugged. Later, the giant successfully sold the booklot which Cantra was able to figure out the proper value of, to a man named Korfin whom passed along an address to where the books were to be delivered. It was a C.O.D.-type of deal. Just before packing up shop, Nezor managed to sell the mother of pearl, the figurine, and the bronze-wood jar for a combined 175 gp.

All three met back up that evening at the Whiskey Troll for a meal and several drinks after eating they would deliver the books to the address provided. Later that night it was Nezor who stumbled back some 3,075 gp richer. Phenox had stayed in the courtyard for some wine with the mage, for that is what Korfin turned out to be. Cantra buzzed away to her apartment again.

Nezor was about halfway back to the tavern when he decided to wander the streets and “do some good” if he spotted any “villains” about. It wasn’t long before the giant heard, “Die!” from a dark alley. Immediately he was beset by half-a-dozen black-hoods with a ratling shooting at him with a crossbow from the rooftops. The hill giant made short work of three of the thugs with a single sweep of his club sending their fellows fleeing. The ratling was suddenly nowhere in sight. Nezor decided to make a bee-line back to the tavern.

Back in the gossamer yellow glow of lamp-light in the pipe-smoke-fog of the Whiskey Troll Nezor settled in with a bucket of ale and a pitcher of whiskey. During the course of drinking himself unconscious Nezor talked to an older human in chainmail who, “thought it was a little suspicious that they went into the swamp with you guys and you’re the only ones that came back.” He was apparently a compadre of Zevor and his rogues. Nezor had just shrugged it off as the man stormed away. In the course of the night Nezor had put out the word to the trollish bar-maids that he had a midnight steel box for sale. When word reached the faun bartender he seemed intrigued but nothing came of it before the hill giant passed out.

When he came to, his friends were at the table, Phenox had sprung for breakfast. The three sat in the place for almost the entire day and by early evening were contemplating what should their next caper be when the slaver Corvo-Doom entered with his small entourage. It was after about a half-an-hour or so when the Brighthouse Witch-Hunters clattered into the place.

It was the same gaggle of fighters that Nezor had seen in the marketplace before the venture into the marsh. However, this time they were led by a Creschan (judging by his dark skin) cleric with the image of blue octopus impaled by a golden sword on his white Acton. At his side was a paladin bearing a golden broadsword and a gold great helm. Corvo-Doom with the unmistakable air of both hostility and over-bearing arrogance shouted something in Hyvalian at them almost as soon as they had stated their purpose to the bar. The golden-helmed paladin was the one that seemed to understand the gravity of the insult and seemed determined to face down the powerful slaver right there. The rest of the witch-hunters likewise readied their weapons and began to slowly surround the slaver’s entourage. Corvo-Doom’s right hand man which Nezor had seen act as his translator before shouted out, “A gold talon to any souls brave enough to help my lord!”

Phenox drew his weapons and Cantra hers. They both looked to the giant who didn’t seem like he was going to do anything. Phenox tried to convince him to join on the slaver’s side against the witch-hunters if for nothing “for the money!” But Nezor was determined to sit it out since the Brighthouse were supposed to be the “good guys”. The hill-giant took a healthy gulp of cheap whiskey.

To Be Continued…

A Giant in Xuun Pt.4: Never Trust a Mage

The successful gang of highwaymen came tramping into the camp not much The treasure chests the mage and his partners were gunning formore worse for the wear. At the head of the line was Zevor with the hill-giant Nezor on his heels, a large chest tucked under each arm. The reassuring and strong scent of heavily spiced stew met the raw nostrils of the exhausted adventurers. The 3 rogues Zevor had brought along were hefting a third chest, an oak chest, smaller than the previous two but still substantial, on a creaking pole-carriage followed by the mage. Pulling up the rear were the deathgrin Cantra and the grim-warrior Phenox.

Gator-Tooth (as he met the hungry eyes of each of the rogues in turn as he stirred the steaming stew): “It. Ain’t. Ready. Yet!”

The gruff leatherback tossed in a handful of chopped roots probably fresh pulled from the muck of the marsh. The other new thing about camp that Nezor noticed as he tossed his burdens onto an open patch of earth was that there was now a second raft on the shore, the wood white and newly chopped.

Zevor (he patted the giant as passed by): “For the chests my friend!”

Nezor: “Yeah, well. I’m ‘a stickin’ by dem until I get ma’ fair share!”

The sneering giant turned around and eyeballed the gleaming mithral chest. He roughly approached one of the thieves and appropriated one of their short-swords. The mercenary mage noticed what he was up to and said, “um, I wouldn’t do that if I were you!” The mage finally introduced himself to Nezor as Ebaknor. Nezor duly ignored him and went to pry open the chest. The sword blade splintered and a bolt of lightning immediately exploded on the giant’s breast.

Zevor quickly intervened and had one of the more experienced rogues pick the lock of the other large chest and had the mage work on the mithral chest to try to pacify the giant. It took about an hour, the plain wood chest was opened and Zevor was taking inventory. Nezor looked on like a marsh-owl as he gulped down some of Gator-Tooth’s stew. Ebaknor the hireling mage finally conceded that he could not defeat the wizard’s lock spell or the lightning bolt ward on the mithral chest.

Nezor’s cut from the opened wood chest was 25 star metal pieces, 75 platinum pieces, 100 gold pieces, 625 silver pieces, 10 diamonds, 10 pieces of quartz, and 3 instead of 2 black pearls. The hill giant had insisted that he deserved the odd pearl as “hazard pay”. No one argued with him. Zevor then told everyone to relax and they would be leaving come early dawn and he would watch the remaining chests. Nezor refused to leave guard duty solely to the stumpy Westlander thief-captain and insisted that the chest would not leave his side until its lock was broke and he got his fair share of the loot.

It was when the conversation between the giant and the stump-of-a-rogue was about to get heated when a 9-and-a-half-foot-tall warrior wearing a leathern black hood with red-trim wielding a bearded axe crashed through the bushes charging straight at Nezor.

A rush of several more hoods followed the giant axe-man doubtless there were even more skulking where Nezor couldn’t see them. Phenox pulled his paired scimitars and dashed out of sight into the bushes. Nezor parried a blow from the other giant’s axe with his club. An arrow flew at Zevor and he dodged out of sight. Cantra knocked and drew but her bowstring snapped. That was when Ebaknor made a dash for the rafts.

A shout from Zevor signaled he was hit by a poisoned bolt but still on his feet. Nezor battled the other giant both too evenly matched for one to easily overcome the other. Nezor while caught in a clinch between his carven great club and the hooded giant’s bearded axe looked over to see Cantra pegged with a crossbow bolt drop unconscious to the ground. The hoods had already made onto the rafts with the smaller oak chest, Zevor was nowhere in sight and Gator-tooth was fighting with his falchion and being steadily backed towards Nezor.

Finally, Nezor landed a crushing blow into the ribs of the giant hood and was able to deflect a reciprocal power-attack from the bearded axe. Crossbow bolts and arrows continued to fly and bristled in the bodies that littered the beach. Gator-tooth hacked down a ratling and Phenox tumbled out from behind the bushes engaged in furious combat with what appeared to be the hoods leader. The big axe-man chopped deep into Nezor whom was only spared from a quick and savage death by his new and by now very ragged hide-armor. He replied in kind with a power-attack putting all he had behind the single blow, an all-or-nothing gambit for survival.

The giant axe-man gasped as he dropped heavily onto the black earth, the hood that he was wearing emitted a bright sudden flash of magic light and he was gone, teleported away. Gator-tooth dropped another ratling and backed up to the hill-giant’s side. Phenox dropped to the ground felled by a paralyzing spell from the traitorous mage Ebaknor. Nezor growled. Another rogue with a hand crossbow slid out from the overgrowth and shot an envenomed quarrel at Nezor fortunately the tiny barb couldn’t penetrate his armor.

Gator-tooth charged the crossbowman and the leader who had been dueling Phenox dropped his paired swords and pulled a fighting spear from his back all the while keeping his eyes locked on the raging hill giant. The hood-leader thrust his spear at the giant who barely parried but leaving himself wide open and as a result was skewered by the second. The blow very nearly proved fatal. Nezor rendered temporarily helpless as he recovered from the blow.

The hoods were on both of the rafts and on one of them was the mage along with the oak chest. Their plan had obviously been to snag all of the chests and abscond with them and the rafts, unfortunately the giant had thrown a wrench into those plans. Gator-tooth continued to fight valiantly and Nezor took another nasty jab from the hood-leader’s fighting spear.

Gator-tooth chopped another hood down and just as before the leathern hood flashed with light and the thug’s corpse was magicked away. Cantra began to move and crawled painfully over to Phenox pouring a potion of Neutralize Poison down his gullet but to no effect. Nezor broke away from the hood-leader and charged the nearest raft getting stabbed in the process again onn an attack-of-opportunity by the leader’s spear but he successfully smashed the first raft to pieces along with some of its occupants using his club. Cantra began to giggle, the hideous sound of her insane laughter crawled up the spine of all who could hear it. She had made it to her equipment and snatching up a long spear tossed it at the spear-bearing hood-leader wounding him.

The hooded spearman charged after the giant and Nezor after parrying another dangerous spear thrust responded with a massively powerful attack. The hooded leader taken by surprise leaned into the attack and was thus launched in a spray of blood and innards into the air splashing down somewhere in the unseen distance. Gator-tooth moved to back up Cantra as it appeared the hoods were in retreat. The second raft was too far away from the shore for Nezor’s club. He snarled as he could see the traitor Ebaknor astride unsteadily upon it.

Without a word, Nezor walked over to the mithral chest, picked it up as if it weighed nothing and after shouting, “YOU fergot sumptin’”, tossed the chest at the raft. The weight of the treasure within the metal chest completely shattered the lashed raft dumping the remaining hoods and the unfortunate mage into the slimy drink. Apparently Ebaknor couldn’t swim and sank along with the chest into the slime and muck of the swamp. Gator-tooth began to rant and rave about his “boats” and stormed off.

Among the corpses scattered along the shore was the arrow-feathered body of Zevor. Gator-tooth and the “goodfellows” were the only survivors. Cantra tossed the giant a potion of healing and it took quite a while before the spell over Phenox wore off. They hadn’t a clue where in the swamp they actually were or in which direction Xuun lay.

They were stranded.

To Be Continued…

A Giant in Xuun Pt.3: The Swamp Venture

Heraldry of Woodcutters' Guild caravan that the trio waylaid in the swamp3 days had passed since the trio of “goodfellows” had traversed Xuun’s bazaar and outfitted with their new gear the trio finds themselves in the swamp astride a crude log raft piloted by one Gator-Tooth a swamper leatherback with tattoos over his bald sun-baked pate in a crocodile skin vest and canvas pantaloons. At its head serving his role as fearless leader, Zevor the Westlander rogue, and filling out the rest of the motley crew3 more rogues dressed similarly in studded black leathers and a Westlander mage dressed in a brown robe with gold trim serving as mercenary.

The small party of desperados had sat sweating on the wet logs of the raft in a reeking swamp located somewhere in Gorloc hidden in steaming shadow as the wilting dripping canopy of the marsh was thick enough to completely blot out even the noonday sun. The party was currently on edge as they had already braved giant constrictors that prowled the green waters and giant spiders the size of large dogs which dropped from the black sagging canopy.

The raft ran into a shallow and skidded roughly onto a sand-bar quite a distance from the barely visible shore. Nezor and Gator-Tooth hopped into the waist-high (for Gator-Tooth anyway) opaque waters, a thick film of bright green slime clung to their clothes as they dragged the raft onto the shore to allow the others a dry disembarkation.

Gator-Tooth (to Nezor): “Watch yer-self! Leeches everywhere!”

As soon as the old leatherback hit the sand-clay shore he immediately began to search himself and scrape several fairly large black leeches from his belly and arms with his broad-bladed bowie-knife. Nezor just shrugged, his hide was too thick for the tiny black specks to even try to bite him. He hefted the few water-tight barrels the crew had brought with them onto the shore and into their newfound campsite.

It was up to Gator-Tooth to set up a hasty camp while the rest of the party, the rogues and the “goodfellows” huddled around Zevor to hear his plans. The ambush spot would be scouted tonight by himself and two of his three rogues, the ambush would be tomorrow at first light, he tried to smooth the “goodfellows’” dander with a typically greasy smile and an open-palmed gesture then when that didn’t do it he pulled a rare and expensive timepiece from his studded leathers. He went back over everyone’s role and discussed positioning.

Come morning the rogues and Zevor took up their positions with crossbows ready as did Cantra with her bow, all out of sight in a large clump of broad-leafed bushes. Phenox was just off the narrow black road in a grass-choked ditch with weapons ready. Nezor was leaning against a thick warty tree waiting for Zevor’s signal to step out onto the road blocking the caravan-wagons. They were waiting for a caravan of 3 wagons bearing arms that consisted of a field split per fess with a winged lion against a blue field atop a white lotus against black. Nezor spotted a mossy sand-stone boulder in a mass of wet reeds and murky green water in a pit-pond to the side of the road. He had a plan.

It was a few hours later when the sounds of steel clad wagon wheels sloughing through sticky black mud and the huffing of horses could finally be heard coming up the road. It wasn’t long after that the beleaguered and mud-laden wagons came into the thieves’ hungry view. Zevor had yet to give the signal but eager to put his plan into motion Nezor leapt out from behind his tree chuckling stupidly as he chucked a boulder at the lead wagon.

The boulder crashed into wagon’s side pushing it into a water-filled ditch hopelessly stranding it. It was only then that the impatient giant could see that it was in fact, a gypsy caravan. The southern-nomads scattered and fled like cockroaches before him disappearing into the overgrowth. The other wagons immediately began reeling and took off down an invisible side-path and the boulder-crippled wagon slowly sank. It was another hour or so before their actual target rumbled into view. Zevor gave the signal, the sly hoot of a swamp owl. So with a disappointed sigh, the hill-giant did his part and stepped out onto the road.

That was when Nezor saw that an Ivoran Knight in full chainmail and a ranger with full kit were leading the wagons, both mounted. With utter calm they signaled the wagons to stop. The knight clacked shut his great helm’s visor.

Nezor (Played by me): “We’re here to liberate da’ gold!”

The Knight (lowering his lance): “Prepare yourself filthy giant!”

The shady mage that Zevor had brought along fumbled his spell and Phenox moved from his position trying to sneak around and flank the knight. The teamsters on the wagons became the first victims of Zevor’s and his rogue’s bolts. With a ringing shing the ranger drew his paired short-swords leapt from the back of his horse and charged grim-warrior Phenox. Nezor immediately charged the knight and dismounted him with a single mighty metal-crunching swing of his club. The knight immediately leapt up and in a single movement drew his long-sword.

A fighter from the rear of the wagon-train began to charge at the giant. Crossbow bolts and arrows flew in a brief but harrowing exchange. The mercenary mage cast a spell at the Ivoran knight but he was able to apparently shake off the malignant sorcery. A teamster shrieked and fell dead from the lead wagon. The knight struck with a savage swing against Nezor scoring his new suit of hide armor badly and barely touching the giant’s flesh beneath. The charging fighter hit the giant with a blow from his battle-axe but only managed to hack into the crocodile’s hide. The knight followed up with another armor chopping blow from his broad-bladed long-sword.

Phenox was engaged in his desperate duel with the ranger and another fighter, Cantra was somewhere unseen, while crossbow bolts continued to fly and occasionally when a fighter or teamster wandered too near the bushes, one of Zevor’s rogues would shoot out of nowhere and stab them in the back or slit their throats. The fighter wielding his axe against the Hill-giant fell with a bolt in his back. The merc-mage finally dropped a fighter with an acid type spell. The knight renewed his attacks against Nezor and the giant replied with a smashing two-handed club swing flinging his broken corpse off into the dark of the swamp.

Phenox dropped the ranger; the fighters were picked off as they began to flee. The battle was over. In the end the rogues and the goodfellows made away with 1 large mithral chest covered in runes and locked with a large iron lock and another very large and heavy chest, unlocked, and 10 superior quality spears found in one of the wagons. Nezor was a bit put off as his new armor was pretty badly, at least in his estimation, damaged though it had performed admirably especially against the knight’s weapon.

The armor was that he had made from the hide of a giant crocodile. It was gleaming brown spotted with black scales in places and covered the giant almost completely from his knees to his shoulders. The helm expertly crafted from the beast’s skull and head had come complete with polished black-wood carven eyes. The giant was proud of his new outfit and very pleased with its performance in battle he just hadn’t thought that it would take such punishment.

He refused to move any of the chests as the entire party of thieves struggled even with crudely fashioned bar-hoist which had snapped at first lift. Zevor had to pay the stubborn giant up front, 100 gold pieces to get him to pick them both up and take them to the camp, which he did with ease almost as soon as the coin dropped into his massive palm.

To Be Continued…

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…

New Setting – Arvan: Land of Dragons!

Dragons infest the land of Arvan a high-fantasy setting with the dark and brutal overtones of sword & sorcery. Set during the rise of an age of exploration and trade it’s a world fraught with the ruins of former ages inhabited by the folly of the Mad-Mages and dominated by Dragons!

The Land of Dragons

Player Races include Arboreans, Amazons, Fauns, Hill-Giants, Humans, and Ratlings!

This Dice & Glory world book includes a mass of general information on the planet and its peoples. Also a great many details about geography, flora, fauna, natural resources, places of interest, religions, cultural spheres, ethnic groups, and archetypal equipment for each of the 7 main regions of the sub-continent of Ar. There is supplemental and background information on the ancient nations of the eastern side of the continent, named Van. There is also introductory info on the world of Eu on which the continent of Arvan floats and a GM section dealing with time measurement and the multiple Moons of Eu among other GM-Only details!

250+ Pages!

Coming in 2016

Written By: Robert A. Neri Jr.

Cover Art By: Jamie Noble