We stayed a night in Bonro and signed up with a caravan heading to Patrof. A few days into the journey the map started indicating that a rune was nearby. We split with the caravan and headed into the woods to follow the map.
These were some really messed up woods. We found a buried sign that said in ancient Elvish, “Beware all who enter here, for this is Dire Forest.” The trees were huge, and seemed to know we were here. They moaned when Rakust burned a few twigs. The sticks burned bright red and for a long time, and we wondered if these trees were used to make everburning torches. We saw what looked like bear scratches very high up a tree, as if made by a really huge bear.
We walked for a little while, and saw this really gorgeous flower. I mean, I’ve never seen anything like it. It was absolutely perfect, and smelled like freshly baked cookies and nice raw steak and frosting… Yeah, I know normally something that smells like all of those things at the same time would probably be gross, but it wasn’t! I was admiring this generous gift of nature when Syra grabbed me and yanked me away from the flower. I cried out and started hitting her, then I saw Rakust, who had also been walking towards the flower, get hit by something tiny, then tendrils of the flower came up through the earth and grabbed him, starting to drag him towards it. The flower didn’t look as pretty after that. Sorry I doubted you, Syra.
Aris jumped into the middle of the flower to try to save Rakust, but it grabbed her, too, and started spraying them both with some sort of acid. Billy tried to help, but with his magic all wonky the best he didn’t want to risk hurting them, so he tried to whack at the plant with his staff. He ended up hitting Rakust right in the family jewels.
The part of Rakust’s face I could see through the mask turned bright red (I swear, even parts of the mask changed color) and he let out this bellow that would’ve rivaled Syra’s roar, then he burst into a vertical column of flame! It expanded out from where he was standing, encompassing him, the plant, Aris, Billy, and Syra. When it died away everybody was alive except the plant, which was just a mass of withered black tendrils, slowly retreating into the earth.
We rested for a day, and the next morning we heard noises of something large hunting. We realized it was a green dragon, and hid. It landed down next to us. It was absolutely huge! Later Aris told me that it was an ancient dragon, old and powerful. It was sniffing around, looking for us, when Aris stepped out and tried to talk to it. The dragon looked for a moment like it was listening to her, but then it drew in a breath and was about to breathe on her when two absolutely massive tigers showed up and began to fight the dragon. We all took the opportunity to run like scared bunnies, and it was a good thing, too, because as we scattered a second dragon showed up, even bigger and older-looking than the first. Aris told me that was was a great wyrm!
We eventually found each other and circled back to the dragon fight where we found a dire tiger corpse. We skinned it and cleaned it for meat.
More time walking, and we came across a giant walking towards a tower in the distance. According to the map, we could tell the rune was in that tower. We tried to talk to the giant, and he was polite at first, but cold. He told us the tower was called Grime Tower, and had been the home of his ancestors, but they were attacked long ago and only few of his people remained. He mentioned that there was treasure in the tower.
Apparently his people had once been members of the giant tribe in the desert. The giant king of the oasis had been overthrown by Aslor, a titan, and Aslor hated everyone and everything. He declared that this giant’s people were unowrthy, and cast them out. We offered to slay Aslor for him, and he said we could not possibly do such a thing. We asked to spend the night at the tower, and he told us we could not. At this point peace talks broke down and we attacked.
During the fight, Billy threw up this massive wall of ice, but it only slowed the giant down. It smashed a hole in the top of the wall and pounded Aris into the ground shortly before Rakust slew the giant. Aris’s wounds were too much, and she died. Syra turned to stone at the moment of Aris’s last breath.
Rakust told us he could bring her back from the dead if we could find a diamond large enough, and luckily there was one in the giant’s purse, along with some dinner plate-sized coins and a strange iron cross. The diamond was actually too large, so Rakust used spells and Billy used his training and together they were able to split off only what we needed from the diamond. We put away the rest of the diamond and the coins. In the morning Rakust made his prayer, crushed the diamond, and Aris began breathing again, all her wounds healed. Syra came back to life as well.
We continued towards the tower. It took us two days to get there. Outside of it we found two chained giants. They were a different kind than the one we had slain – he had been a cloud giant and these were fire giants. Rakust spoke to them in the language of flame, and they told him that the cloud giants ruled the tower. There were about five of them in the tower now, along with other giants that served them. None of the giants in the tower had any love for Aslor, the desert titan. They promised they would help us kill the cloud giants if we freed them.
I wasn’t a big fan of this plan, but I unlocked their chains (the lock was so big that I could actually walk inside it). We gave one of them the iron cross that we had found on the cloud giant, which turned out to be a magic fire sword, and we gave the other one a magic staff. While we got ready, the giants told us that dragons and giants didn’t get along, and the two green dragons from the forest had attacked this tower before. The giants gave Aris a magic repeating crossbow.
We broke into the tower and came across a cloud giant whipping two smaller giants. He didn’t seem to notice us, so we set some traps, then attacked. Billy summoned a huge demonic-looking centipede that killed the giant trainer. During the fight, one of our allied giants let off a fireball that killed the giants who had been getting the whipping.
While we were looting the corpse two more giants came by. We had found a star-shaped piece of iron on the corpse, similar to the magic cross-sword, and I threw it at one of the giants. The wound it made looked more like frostbite than like a cut. Alex hit it in the same place and it triggered my fireball trap.
During the battle, Billy accidentally created an anti-magic field. His crazy wand fell to the ground, finally able to be separated by him. While he was dealing with the wand, I sniped the last giant from hiding and dropped him.
Billy wrapped the wand in cloth and put it in one of the bags of holding. It seemed his powers were back to normal for now. No more lightning balls or giant scorpions, but no more accidentally peeing on the floor, either. I like Billy better when he knows what he’s going to cast.