The fiendish apes rush down torwards the heros. Dorious and Thurenz each blast the onrushing beasts with fireballs as Zale summons his signature hippogriff who takes out one of the beasts. Victor calls upon his priestly domain ability to inspire and encourage his allies.
The apes keep coming and Porter and Athar charge forward and meet the fiends in melee combat. The hippogriff engages the apes on the right, Porter takes on the left, and Athar holds the center.
The party is surprised to find out they have additional help. Arrows slam into one of the apes and a familiar wolfhound joins the fray at Porter’s side. The heroes turn to see that the archer is none other than Ward.
Victor joins the melee as Ward, Dorious, Zale, and Thurenz support their companions with arrows and spells. Soon the last of the opposition is slain.
The party welcomes the return of Ward. Perhaps it is knowledge of the common challenges up ahead, but for the time being no mention is made of the fight between Zale and Ward that had resulted in Ward’s leaving the party. For the time being anyhow, the party seems content to let sleeping dogs lie.
The others do seem very curious as how Ward had managed to track them all the way into The Chimaeron. Ward plays his cards close to his chest and let’s the mystery linger. “Tracking you across the sea was a bit difficult.” He says. But he leaves it at that and the others don’t pry, although Victor expresses that he is impressed by the ranger’s display of skill. Porter only embraces his brother and welcomes him back.
The band of heroes, now back up to their former strength, continue up the ravine, the basin of which levels out and expands into a steep sided valley. At the far end the party spots a majestic waterfall and hidden in it’s shadow they spot the Cypress Tower.
The tower is hidden in a large cavern and is protected by a twenty foot tall semi-circular wall.
While traversing the valley on their approach to the tower they spot a herd of goats, being tended by a shepherd. Not wanting to have an alarm sounded they opt for stealth. Athar and Ward sneak ahead and past the herd and make their way to the waterfall.
They discover that the rocks behind the falls can indeed be traversed to the base of the wall around the tower. They also note four bugbear sentries.
They then move to sneak back to the group, but Ward is spotted by the shepherd, a woman who calls out in Khinasi. “Ahh! By Avani! What are you doing here!? Who are you!?” Ward does not understand her tounge, but Athar instantly recognizes his native language and steps out of hiding. To converse with the girl.
“We are travelers,” he explains. “And we were attacked by strange red apes.”
The shepherd girl looks at him incredulously. “You shouldn’t be here”, she says. “Rassan Al Hamman will kill you if he finds you here. Leave now while you still can.”
While Porter has the shepherd woman engaged in conversation, Ward sneaks behind her and grabs her from behind. The two tie her up and return to the grove of cypress trees where the rest of their companions are hiding.
Questioning the shepherd reveals that the tower is guarded by a giant and another beast that is “half lion and half dragon.”
The group decides that stealthily removing the sentries will be their best approach. Athar is to take out the guard on the far right. Ward, Thurenz, and Porter will take care of the other three.
Using the cover of darkness, the group separates with Athar sneaking up the wall on the right side. The rest of the group move up the other side of the river and to the far side of the waterfall. Thurenz turns Porter invisible and also casts spider climb on him. Then the three sneak under the falls and to the base of the wall while the rest of the party waits on the other side of the falls.
Ward and Porter have no difficulty traversing the rocks and climbing the wall, Thurenz follows but stops beneath the wall.
Porter’s armor is not totally quiet climbing the wall, the closest bugbear comes over to investigate. When he leans his head over the wall Porter whacks him with a pick through the jaw and Ward jumps up and finished him with his hand axe.
Thurenz signals Athar with a message spell and Athar then attacks the sentry nearest him. The bugbear although badly wounded by Athar’s sword is not killed and he cries out. The other two guards start running that way.
Thurenz uses animate rope to create an easy way up the wall and begins climbing. The rest of the party moves to follow him. Although Zale slips on the wet rocks and moves much slower crossing behind the falls.
Porter, Ward, and Athar work furiously to take on the remaining guards as the rest of the party is climbing up. As the last of the bugbears is slain a large door opens behind the tower. Standing in the doorway is a 13’ tall giant armed with a falchion larger than a man.
Victor, along with Dorious and Thurenz, take note of the layout of the courtyard below, and make for a stair that spirals to the top of a large pillar and the drawbridge that leads to the tower’s main entrance. Thurenz casts stoneskin on himself. Dorious casts shield.
Porter walks down the wall and retreats into the shadows near the pillar. Athar hustles along the wall to the top of the ladder. Ward runs back to the animated rope and reaches down to Zale to and helps him to the top of the wall. Zale remains silent for the time being as to his thoughts on Ward’s change in behavior towards him. He only accepts the extended hand and climbs up the wall to stand beside him.
The armored giant strides out to the wall and surveys the scene. His eyes fill with anger and hate as he sees the dead bugbears.
Thurenz again polymorphs himself into a girallion, Dorious casts a mage armor spell on himself as Victor ascends the stair only to find the mechanism to the bridge is locked. Sparks fly as he hacks at the lock with his greatsword.
The giant notices Victor and his efforts to lower the bridge. He roars and charges. Porter attempts to drive his pick into the beast as it goes by but the swing fails to solidly connect. The giant swings his massive falchion at the cleric and the weapon lands home. Victor’s breast plate takes the brunt of the brutal blow, but Victor is sent sailing through the air and off the pillar. He lands with a thud and momentarily wallows in agony as he gasps for breath, pain shooting throughout his body.
Zale calls upon the power of his blood and summons his earth elemental to attack the giant from behind. It lands a powerful fist on the giant’s back as Thurenz rushes in to flank the beast.
Porter also rushes in to flank the giant.
A scorching ray lances down from the tower to strike Dorious. The heroes look up to see Rassan Al Hamman standing on the balcony four stories above the fight.
Ward fires two arrows at the wizard which strike home. Rassan Al Hamand curses and drops for cover.
Victor takes cover at the pillars base and drinks a potion of cure light wounds to begin healing some of the damage he sustained from the giant and the fall.
Athar seeing the wizard uses his dimension door ability to teleport up to the wizard’s balcony.
The giant strikes Thurenz twice with his huge falchion, blasting through the wizard’s protections and drawing two lines of blood which matte up in his gorallion fur.
Thurenz, Porter, and Zale’s earth elemental furiously assault the giant. While Ward fires arrows into the giant’s tough hide. They land several solid shots, but the giant continues to stand defiantly against their barrage.
Victor castes a curing spell on Dorious, who was still reeling from the blast of flame from the wizard’s wand.
Rassan Al Hammand leaps past Athar and inside his tower. Athar slashes the wizard with his magical blade as the wizard passes, but Rassan Al Hammand closes the steel door to block pursuit.
The giant again delivers a vicious blow to Thurenz, but it thankfully misses on it’s second strike. Thurenz is badly wounded from the assault and knows that another blow could be the end of him.
Thurenz and the earth elemental renew their assault on the giant landing more solid blows and drawing blood from the behemoth, as Porter begins to climb the tower to catch up with Athar on the balcony. Meanwhile, Victor cures some of Thurenz’s wounds to help keep him in the fight a little longer.
Finally, after dozens of blows, Ward’s arrows pierce the giant’s throat who gasps and drops his falchion in response. The earth shakes when he falls down wheezing, his life blood leaking out of his neck and belly and pooling in a dark mass under his body.
From the other side of the door the Athar and Porter hear the wizard berating them. “Colgrevance should have come himself! Instead he sent his lackys! He will pay for this insult! His brother’s life is forfeit!”